FBI Now Investigating Net Neutrality Comments – Spotlight #277

Good Monday morning. It’s December 10th. Look for Google CEO Sudar Pichai to testify before the House Judiciary Committee. Citing no proof, some lawmakers and the President have accused the search company of presenting results with political bias.

Today’s Spotlight takes about 4 minutes to read.


    • We’ve been telling you that Facebook wasn’t doing illegal things regarding data privacy, merely sleazy things. That issue came home to roost when the UK Parliament dumped 250 pages of unredacted emails that were seized a week ago. Sleazy, but not illegal is the industry consensus, and you can read for yourself in this HUGE PDF.


    • More data breaches were reported, the biggest at question-and-answer site Quora, where hackers stole 100 million passwords. We’re linking to a new, well done guide called “The Wired Guide to Data Breaches” that is worth your time.


Breaking news this weekend: BuzzFeed is reporting that it has seen two subpoenas from the FBI to third party companies regarding millions of fake comments opposing net neutrality that were posted with the names and addresses of Americans who did not make them. FCC Chair Ajit Pai acknowledged this week that “millions of Russian and fake comments” influenced the repeal of net neutrality.

Visual Social Media


Facebook garners most of the attention when social media is discussed but its Instagram subsidiary and Alphabet’s YouTube subsidiary are where almost all growth and innovation are occuring. The top 50 accounts at each platform all have more than 20 million followers. And they’re not all celebrity accounts either.

About 85% of all U.S. adults online use YouTube–and one quarter of adults use YouTube more than once per day.  At the same time, the number of active Instagram accounts grew from 800 million to 1 billion in the last 14 months. Analysts expect that U.S. and worldwide growth will continue increasing at a 20% plus rate for the next several years.

Don’t ask who is doing all of this. Instead, understand that it’s just about everyone.

And people are making money.

Vox interviewed Viral Nation co-founder Joe Gagliese who admittedly has every reason to hype the markets he serves but claims that influencers with 10,000-50,000 subscribers can charge “a few thousand dollars for a post”.  Keep the numbers quoted as anecdotal and enjoy that interview here.

This week also featured Forbes’ annual ranking of the Highest-Paid YouTube stars. Seven-year-old Ryan (with no last name publicized) is the face of Ryan ToysReview and a new line of toy collectibles sold at Walmart. Ryan TR generated $22 million in revenue this year to go along with last year’s $11 million.

Ryan also has 17 million subscribers. When this was written during the weekend, a two day old post of his about riding a bike with no training wheels was viewed nearly 2 million times. That was followed the next day by a 6 1/2 minute post that generated 388,000 more views.

All told, Ryan has 26 billion-with-a-b views, including at least one video on YouTube’s list of all-time Top 50 viewed videos. Most of the videos feature Ryan getting new toys which he unboxes and plays with as a “review”. He’s got the former CEO of Nickelodeon guiding his channel now. For context, that traditional kids television network has about 1.2 million daily viewers.

Ryan moves merch for toy companies. The video showing him unboxing and playing with “Pet Dinosaur Jurassic World Alpha Training Blue” has received 2 million views since it was posted 10 days ago. The toy’s cost: $229.

Check out the video.

What Does All This Mean For You?

Instagram has been Facebook’s ace-in-the-hole for the six years since its been acquired. The same people often frequent Facebook and Instagram but behave differently on each. Meanwhile YouTube continues to be Google’s stake-in-the-ground for consumer living rooms. Amazon’s Alexa has entered the fray with deep discounts on its TV Fire Stick that adds functionality and big Prime Viewing library.

Organizations that advertise are going to have to develop video and visual display advertising.

Consumers will eventually be migrated to primarily video advertising such as the 6 second short form and in-video commercials that spark complaints but are no different than a television network would air.

The biggest difference: when I watched Ryan’s channel to write this, I saw ads for things that interested me specifically like advertising and music. Those aren’t what would air on Nickelodeon or someone buying space on Ryan’s channel. Personalized targeting makes markets more efficient than ever.

Fun read: NY Times technology writer Brian Chen is out this week with a fun piece called “I Tried to Make My Dog an Instagram Celebrity. I failed.




  • The National Health Service in the U.K. has now been forbidden from buying fax machines and must stop using its existing ones within the next two years. Presumably 1996 called and wants its technology back.


  • And during this holiday season, you need to be aware of BrainGate, a project from researchers at Brown University and Boston University. To quote WBUR’s great story, they are “using a tiny brain implant to allow severely paralyzed or ‘locked-in’ patients to move a computer cursor with their minds.”  With. Their. Minds.  It’s not science fiction. It’s fantastic.

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