A Social Media Hiatus
(Photo: Joshua Roberts/Reuters)
"Lions and tigers were kings of the jungle, then they wound up in cages. I believe the same will happen to us."

This comment from Internet pioneer Josh Harris opens the documentary We Live in Public, a film about about loss of privacy in the digital age.  

The film's centerpiece is a surveillance-as-art-project shot in the late 90s, featuring more than 100 people living underground for a month in New York City. The bunker was equipped with food, drink and a fleet of webcams that captured a first-of-its-kind, live stream experiment. It also follows Harris' personal life outside of the bunker, where he and his girlfriend opened their lives to the world through more than 30 cameras installed in their apartment.

The not-so-surprising spoiler: Neither the group nor couple's experiment ends well. The film concludes with Harris suffering a mental breakdown — foreshadowing the heavy price that comes with Internet fame. 

While the film takes status-chasing to the extreme, it's viewed today as an early warning of the risks of oversharing on social media, related questions about well-being and willingness to exchange privacy for connection. Last week, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
 (D-NY), one of the most influential political voices on social media, was the latest public figure to delete her Facebook. She cites feelings of anxiety and addiction while suggesting social media is a public health risk. She continues to publish several times a day to Twitter. 

The conflict of quitting versus committing is tough for public figures or quasi-celebrity influencers who rely on the medium. Social media is instrumental to the power game that people like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
 can't afford to lose.   

Still, it's hard to overlook a growing social movement gaining momentum. Headline-making leavers span well-known figures in media, technology and entertainment. In aggregate, the steady stream of departees and post-deleters suggest that disappearing from view is in fashion

Entrepreneurs are hopping on the trend through apps like Jumbo, which allows you to wipe old posts, clear search histories and remove voice interactions from connected devices. 

Despite shifting sentiments toward building a social presence, people continue to spend plenty of time on social media (see Twitter and Snapchat earnings yesterday) and will use new platforms where connections and status can be built. With 2020 U.S. elections heating up, politicians like South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg plan to establish their social media stardom using new playbooks, including a first-of-its kind influencer approach outlined in today's Deep Take.

Building social capital is fraught with volatility thanks to shifts in sentiment, mutual value and impact on our own well-being. But don't count on a mass exodus from social media anytime soon. For those seeking power and influence, it's a hell of a drug. 
Chris Perry 

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What We're Reading
Media Forensics
High Schoolers are Inviting Thousands of Strangers to Watch as They Get into College — and Get Rejected
By Abby Ohlheiser, The Washington Post

Every year, high school students film themselves as they discover which colleges they've been accepted to. These videos, racking up millions of views on YouTube, document life-altering news and emotional rejections that bring many teens quasi-celebrity status.

Content Experience
Global Attention Span is Narrowing and Trends Don't Last as Long, Study Reveals
By Dream McClinton, The Guardian

A recently published study from researchers at the Technical University of Denmark suggests our collective attention span is narrowing due to the amount of information that is presented to us.

Platform Dominance
Snapchat is the Next Evolution in Photography
By Owen Williams, OneZero

Snapchat's newest features mark the beginning of the next wave of photography: The fusion of what’s real and digitally fabricated. It's a big bet to reshape the way we experience the world — invisible to the naked eye.

Artificial Intelligence
The Dawn of the Cyborg Journalist
By Thomas McMullan, OneZero

Artificial newsreaders and machine learning will change how news is gathered, reported and presented to us. This technology, seen today through virtual anchors and automated reporting, is already making waves in newsrooms around the world.

Media Forensics
Publishers Are Building Teams to Recruit Expert Networks
By Max Willens, Digiday

In the search for new ways to drive audience engagement, publishers are seeking new influencer business models. They have discovered that smart commentary from expert sources can be a great way to build a community and a new source of advertising revenue.

Media Forensics
What Will Journalism Do With 5G’s Speed and Capacity? 
By Joshua Benton, Nieman Lab
5G will have a significant impact on news. Better and more reliable data connections for journalists in the field will facilitate automatic live streaming, better AR and VR immersive capabilities within stories and new types of interactive experiences.
Artificial intelligence
We Built an ‘Unbelievable’ (But Legal) Facial Recognition Machine
By Sahil Chinoy, The New York Times

The accuracy and speed of modern facial recognition technology means that building a dragnet surveillance system is now feasible. Thousands of cameras in New York City and a lack of any legal regulation on the technology have opened the doors to a wide range of both promising and alarming applications.

Media Forensics
Banning Social Media In The Wake Of The Sri Lanka Attacks Doesn’t Make Much Sense
By Megha Rajagopalan, Buzzfeed News

After the Easter Sunday bombings of churches and hotels in Sri Lanka killed at least 290 people, the Sri Lankan government quickly did what many governments now do in times of crisis — it cited the threat of misinformation and temporarily shut down social media. Some commentators have praised the decision — while others say Facebook is being blamed for violence with far more complex causes.

Emerging Technology
Andrew Yang Plans to Use a 3D Hologram for Remote Campaigning
By Adam K. Raymond, Intelligencer

Andrew Yang, a presidential candidate who’s attracted a devoted online following, has a plan to win more in-person converts: By being in two (or three, or four) places at one time. To make that possible, he wants to use a 3D hologram on the campaign trail.

Deep Take
Pete Buttigieg's New Influencer Handbook is an Extremely Online Way to Campaign
By Nicole Gallucci, Mashable
Pete Buttigieg, the South Bend mayor who announced his presidential bid last Sunday, already has a strong following online. But he's taken things a step further by releasing an entire set of digital assets, social media guidelines and detailed explanations behind each of his visual campaign aesthetics so that influencers and fans can easily show him support online. These efforts to inspire social media influencers to share their support for him online prove he's more native to social media than most in the race so far. 
Copyright © 2019 Weber Shandwick

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