OnePlus 5T promo campaign smashes other phones

OnePlus has a history of questionable promo campaigns and this one might get your blood boiling too – “the OnePlus 5T smashes the competition, literally”. Here’s the setup. A OnePlus 5T goes head to head versus Apple’s iPhone X and iPhone 8 and Samsung’s Galaxy S8 and Note8. The challenges include unlocking the phone, shooting a photo, play music and so on. We don’t want to give away the outcome, we’ll just say you’ll get flashbacks of the infamous OnePlus One campaign that had people smashing their old phones. Source

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It’s at least getting harder to argue that the Trump campaign helped Russians buy Facebook ads

There are plenty of links between the Trump campaign and the Russians. But the Mueller indictments and a Facebook exec’s commentary may be deflating this particular theory.

Robert Mueller and his team are the latest U.S. officials to argue that Russia tried to use Facebook to interfere with the 2016 election.

But the indictments against Russian nationals that Mueller unveiled last Friday, coupled with commentary from a Facebook ad executive, may also undermine a compelling theory among some analysts and lawmakers — that the Trump campaign worked in concert with Russian agents to place Facebook ads and other posts during the election.

Here, for instance, is Hillary Clinton, talking to Recode co-founder Walt Mossberg at last year’s Code Conference:

Clinton: “The Russians — in my opinion and based on the intel and the counterintel people I’ve talked to — could not have known how best to weaponize that information unless they had been guided.”

Mossberg: Guided by Americans.

Clinton: Guided by Americans and guided by people who had polling and data information

Here’s another version of the argument, via a Vanity Fair report last fall:

Mapping the full Russian propaganda effort is important. Yet investigators in the House, Senate, and special counsel Robert Mueller’s office are equally focused on a more explosive question: did any Americans help target the memes and fake news to crucial swing districts and wavering voter demographics? “By Americans, you mean, like, the Trump campaign?” a source close to one of the investigations said with a dark laugh.

But on Friday, two different disclosures made that theoretical cooperation harder to imagine.

  • Mueller’s detailed, 37-page indictment didn’t offer any suggestion that the Trump campaign worked with Russians to exploit Facebook and other digital platforms. In fact, it says that when the Trump campaign did interact with Russian plotters, it was at the lowest level possible — local Trump campaign workers and activists — and that the Trump campaigners who did interact with Russians had no idea they were talking to Russians — they just thought they were talking to enthusiastic Trump fans.
  • Facebook ad executive Rob Goldman, via Twitter, said the majority of Russian-financed pro-Trump ad spending on Facebook didn’t show up until after the election. It’s worth noting that while Goldman’s comments generated serious blowback this weekend, particularly after Donald Trump retweeted him, Goldman hasn’t backed away from his assertion. (It’s also worth noting that I’ve talked to current and former Facebookers who back Goldman up. They feel bad that his comments have turned into a pro-Trump cudgel to beat up the media, but they think his commentary is also correct.)

If you take both of those items at face value, it doesn’t leave you much room to believe that the Trump campaign worked with Russians in a sophisticated campaign to buy ads on Facebook aimed at electing Trump.

That doesn’t rule out active Trump/Russian collaboration in other parts of the campaign. And there are certainly many other connections between Trump and Russia that remain unsettling, at the very least. Recall, for instance, Donald Trump, Jr.’s email expressing excitement over proposed campaign help from Russian backers.

You can add other caveats as well.

Perhaps Goldman is flat-out wrong. Or perhaps Mueller will eventually make a much more explicit connection between Russians and high-level Trump campaign officials, which will include Facebook activities. And, or, perhaps the Trump campaign and Russians collaborated, but only on unpaid Facebook posts.

But some people have been waiting to see evidence of a connection between the Trump campaign and Russian social media activity for more than a year. Right now, they are still waiting.


Recode – All

Democrats lashed Facebook and Twitter for not fully investigating if Russian bots spread the #ReleasetheMemo campaign

Rep. Adam Schiff and Sen. Dianne Feinstein want them to respond to more questions.

Top Democratic lawmakers slammed Facebook and Twitter on Wednesday for dodging new questions about Russian efforts to spread propaganda on their platforms.

For Rep. Adam Schiff and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, their continued concerns center on the #ReleaseTheMemo campaign. The hashtag, popular at times on Twitter, calls attention a still-secret report produced by congressional Republicans that its leaders say shows abuse of power at the FBI.

Beyond doubting its credibility, Democrats remain fearful that Kremlin-aligned bots and trolls on major social media platforms have sought to amplify and spread #ReleaseTheMemo — all in a bid to discredit the Justice Department’s investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election. Earlier this month, Schiff and Feinstein wrote to demand Facebook and Twitter conduct a full investigation. On Wednesday, though, the lawmakers said they are dissatisfied with the tech giants’ replies — and demanded that they look more closely.

“As the 2018 election season begins in earnest, we cannot allow Russia or any other outside power to manipulate U.S. public opinion or degrade Americans’ trust in the authenticity of domestic political and policy debates,” the Democratic lawmakers wrote in their new letter.

For the moment, Republican leaders are barreling toward releasing their memo, despite the objections of FBI Director Christopher Wray, who reportedly has questioned its accuracy. President Donald Trump, for his part, appears to want to see the document made public. Democrats don’t agree.

And some Democratic lawmakers have taken particular interest in a study produced by the German Marshall Fund, which found that #ReleaseTheMemo had been trending among the suspected Russian troll accounts that the organization tracks. For lawmakers like Schiff and Feinstein, it was reason enough to write Facebook and Twitter, months after the tech giants testified on Capitol Hill that millions of their users had fallen victim to Russian propaganda.

In their initial Jan. 22 letter, Schiff and Feinstein asked the tech giants to detail how many accounts tied to “Russian influence operations are involved in the campaign.” And they requested that Facebook and Twitter detail the total number of users who may have been affected.

In their replies, however, the two social media giants offered few specifics.

Facebook’s short response merely said that it is “committed to protecting our platform from bad actors who try to undermine our democracy,” while suggesting that #ReleaseTheMemo largely proliferated on Twitter.

That didn’t sit well with Schiff and Feinstein, who charged on Wednesday that Facebook had failed “to indicate whether the company has conducted any analysis of the issue we raised concerning possible Russian-affiliated attempts to amplify calls to release a misleading, classified memo written by Republican staff.”

Twitter, meanwhile, offered a more lengthy reply, stressing that its “initial inquiry, based on available data, has not identified any significant activity connected to Russia with respect to tweets posting original content to this hashtag.” It also pointed to the fact that #ReleaseTheMemo had been spread by “several prominent, verified U.S. accounts” — including President Donald Trump’s own son, though the company didn’t name him.

Twitter further questioned the methodology behind the German Marshall Fund’s work, noting that the organization does not publish the list of accounts it tracks — so it can’t review them as part of an investigation.

Still, Twitter’s reply disappointed congressional investigators, too. Schiff and Feinstein slammed the company because it “inexplicably confined its response to ‘original content’ and neglected to answer the question of whether Russian sources were actively engaged in promoting the #ReleaseTheMemo hashtag, as illuminated by the Hamilton 68 dashboard of the German Marshall Fund.”

As a result, the two top Democrats asked again for specifics — everything from the geographical breakdown of posts about Republicans’ memo to the accounts that had reposted or retweeted it. They again demanded that companies detail the total number of affected users and commit to informing them, much as the tech giants had pledged to do in response to disinformation shared during the 2016 election.

And lawmakers appeared to expand their inquiry, citing an investigation from The New York Times this weekend that illustrated the extent to which celebrities and political campaigns purchase fake followers to amplify their presence on Twitter. Without mentioning either the publication or company by name, Schiff and Feinstein asked if the tech giants had analyzed whether Russia employed such a tactic.

Lawmakers demanded another round of responses by Feb. 7.


Recode – All

Apple’s New ‘Selfies on iPhone X’ Ad Campaign Features Brazilian Carnival and NHL All-Star Steven Stamkos

Apple last week shared a new video that showcases selfies taken with Portrait Lighting effects on the iPhone X, kickstarting the company’s new “Selfies on iPhone X” ad campaign across different forms of media.


Next up in the campaign is a video promoting the annual Carnival of Brazil, a weeklong celebration of music, dance, food, and drink, with particularly large festivals in cities like Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. The ad, accompanied by a webpage, highlights selfies taken with Portrait Lighting effects on the iPhone X.


Apple shared a similar Brazilian Carnival video last year amid a reported push into more regional marketing campaigns.

The campaign extends to billboards, which will likely appear in major cities across the world over the coming weeks. NHL all-star Steven Stamkos recently announced his participation in the campaign on Twitter, and shared a photo of him standing in front of his own Portrait Lighting selfie at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida.


The captain of the Tampa Bay Lightning is likely just one of several notable figures who will be featured in the campaign, which is similar to Apple’s larger “Shot on iPhone” series. We’ll be sure to keep an eye out for more ads, and if you spot one yourself, feel free to share it in the comments section.

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