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Social/Search: Buzzfeed builds news gathering bot

A bot that crowd-sources information and photography has been launched by digital publisher Buzzfeed.

A BuzzBot how-to guide published by Buzzfeed.
A BuzzBot how-to guide published by Buzzfeed.

Users log onto Facebook’s Messenger app to “chat” with the artificial intelligence-powered “BuzzBot”, which was launched to coincide with the US Republican Party’s National Convention.

BuzzBot then asks users whether they are attending the convention or protesting, what emoji captures their feelings towards it and whether they would be willing to share photos, video or other information that is interesting.

It may also ask for something specific of users and will push out news updates.

BuzzBot will also be open-source, meaning its code will be available for other publishers to adapt for other events or purposes.

Bots are software designed to facilitate a conversation-style interaction and were made widely available through Facebook’s Messenger app in April.

This week News Corp Australia launched a bot of its own that allows readers to have a “conversation” with a real World War One veteran.

The ‘Archie Barwick’ bot allows readers to ask questions of the soldier. Its responses are based off Barwick’s extensive diary entries which have been programmed into the bot.

The bot is part of News Corp’s Anzac Live project.

Fairfax Media’s Domain Group became the first Australian company to use Facebook bots in May.

Other publishers to have utilised bots include CNN, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post.

WaPo held up as a success story for Google’s AMP

The Washington Post utilisation of Accelerated Mobile Pages, a Google web page format designed to improve the speed and experience of the mobile web, has produced a 23 per cent increase in the number of mobile search users who return to the site within seven days.

These results were published in an AMP case study of The Post which also found the masthead’s AMP content loaded 88 per cent faster than traditional mobile web content.

The Washington Post publishes more than 1000 articles in AMP every day and almost 55 per cent of the masthead’s traffic comes through mobile devices.

“We are committed to improving speed across the board,” The Washington Post’s senior product manager David Merrell said in the case study.

“If our site takes a long time to load, it doesn’t matter how great our journalism is, some people will leave the page before they see what’s there.”

This week, Google expanded the AMP project with the launch of AMP for Ads, which allows advertisers to produced similarly speed-optimised content.

Social media outsourcing content

Microblogging site Twitter has signed a live-streaming deal with America’s National Basketball Association that will see the NBA produce original programming created exclusively for the platform.

The NBA will produce two new shows that Twitter will stream for the 2016-2017 season, although the rights for broadcasting the actual basketball games are held with more traditional media companies.

The deal follows a number of examples of social networks like Twitter and Facebook paying content creators and media companies to produce content exclusively for their own platforms, or in a bid to promote new features.

The Wall Street Journal reported last month that Facebook paid almost 140 media companies and celebrities to produce video for its new livestreaming service, payments topping $50 million.

The list included CNN, New York Times, Huffington Post and Vox Media.

As social networks pay for what could be construed as freelancers, and implement editorial type positions to work in tandem with their algorithms, questions are now being raised as to whether they should be regulated in the same way as traditional media companies.

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