Why did Facebook buy a social analytics tool used by media companies?

Facebook Instant Articles
Facebook has repeatedly denied it is a media company. So why did it just go and buy a startup best known for its social analytics platform for media publishers?

Arriving on the scene in 2011, CrowdTangle has become an indispensable tracking tool for media outlets. Its real-time dashboards, custom notifications, and personalized visualizations help publishers compare their social leverage with their competitors’ and discover trending content. In its own words: “Hundreds of newsrooms and thousands of journalists use the tool every day.”

A message on the CrowdTangle website claims its team is now joining Facebook. On the surface, it could be speculated that the social network simply acquired the company to boost the analytics tools it provides to Pages and Instant Articles publishers. But that ignores the fact that CrowdTangle deals with more than just Facebook insights. The platform also allows users to track Twitter, Reddit, YouTube, and Instagram.

CrowdTangle’s dashboard

Despite claiming it will be business as usual for CrowdTangle going forward, the takeover has some concerned about its implications for the way the platform deals with its parent company’s data.

Reporters including BuzzFeed’s Alex Kantrowitz and the New York Times’ John Herrman have utilized the tool to track the spread of fake news stories on Facebook, notes Mashable.

The company’s failure to tackle misinformation on its flagship social network has led to much criticism in the wake of the election. For its part, Facebook claims the notion that hoaxes or fabricated stories on its platform had a hand in swaying the outcome of the presidential election is, to put it simply, bonkers.

“Personally I think the idea that fake news on Facebook, which is a very small amount of the content, influenced the election in any way … is a pretty crazy idea,” said Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg at the Techonomy conference on Thursday. However, he concluded that Facebook needs to do more to ensure its users engage with a diverse array of content.

In light of its new acquisition, we can assume Facebook may use CrowdTangle to stamp out fake news, spam, and click-bait on its platform. It could also assist the company in surfacing more relevant (or “newsworthy”) items on the News Feed, as it promised to do in October. Curating news in this manner will inevitably draw more of those media comparisons that evidently irk Facebook’s management.

It is easier to accept that Facebook (as a large company) builds technology products, including hardware, that primarily fall within the connectivity space. On the other hand, when it comes to its flagship social network, it is muddying the waters courtesy of its recent updates and acquisitions.

Emerging Tech

Dark side of the moon: Why lunar landing conspiracies flourish online

Social media platforms seemed lovely at first, places to share dumb jokes and the minutiae of everyday life. Those sites have an underbelly, however, and have been a breeding ground for conspiracy theories.
Social Media

Instagram is crashing repeatedly for some users. Here’s the latest on the outage

Thousands of Instagram users said Tuesday that the social media app was repeatedly crashing or not opening at all, the third time in just over a month that the social network has experienced issues.

The U.S. Senate really doesn’t like Facebook’s Libra cryptocurrency plans

Facebook Libra had its first big regulatory test when Calibra head David Marcus appeared before the Senate Banking Committee. It didn’t go well. Senators of both parties had major concerns about Facebook's proposed cryptocurrency.

Facebook says it won’t launch Libra until regulators are happy

Facebook says it won’t roll out its Libra cryptocurrency until it’s fully addressed regulatory concerns – though it added that regulation of the currency itself would largely happen in Switzerland, not the U.S.

Stop Facebook from tracking you and using targeted ads with these tips

Facebook and businesses that use the site track what pages you like, your political affiliation, and even try to guess your race. All of this is done so the site can target you with relevant ads. Here's how to opt out.
Social Media

YouTube offers creators more ways to boost their bank accounts

Whether you're a top YouTube creator or just breaking into the game, the video-streaming site has some new features designed to help you please your fans and increase your bank balance.

President Trump attacks Facebook Libra, says it’s not dependable like the dollar

President Trump attacked Facebook's new Libra cryptocurrency on Thursday, claiming it will have "little standing or dependability" and that Facebook would need to seek a banking charter if it wanted to move forward.
Social Media

The FTC will hit Facebook with a $5 billion fine over privacy violations

Facebook has agreed to a $5 billion settlement with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over its numerous “privacy missteps." Once it goes through, this would be the largest FTC fine for a major technology company – and a huge chunk of…

Lua uses animated emotions to help you keep your plants happy and healthy

The Lua Smart Planter is currently seeking funding on Indiegogo to make this smiling plant pot a reality. The device helps you take care of your plants by showing their needs through a series of animated faces.

Flex your thumbs (and your brain) with these fun texting games

Gaming consoles keep getting more advanced, but you can still have fun with the good old Latin alphabet. Here are our picks for the best texting games, so you can make the most fun out of that limited data plan or basic cell phone.
Social Media

Twitter’s mobile-inspired dark mode desktop makeover isn’t just about looks

Twitter.com may have a new look, but it's one that already feels familiar. The new design for Twitter's desktop version borrows heavily from the platform's mobile apps, with a sleeker look, a new dark mode, and easier navigation.
Digital Trends Live

Digital Trends Live: Twitter’s redesign, Libra’s possible delay, Neuralink

On this episode of DT Live, we take a look at the biggest trending stories in tech, including a Twitter redesign, Facebook's delay of Libra, Neuralink's first public event, growing food in space, and the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11.

Dirty deeds are uncovered dirt cheap with these online background check resources

There are plenty of reasons for carrying out a background check, and not all of them are creepy. Here are several methods to run a background check on someone online, whether you need to vet a potential hire or a new babysitter.
Social Media

Study suggests using emojis makes you appear more friendly — even at work

Can emojis be a clue into your personality? A recent survey suggests that emojis make a person seem friendlier and more approachable, even when used within a professional work environment.