Why tech companies are choosing to hire human beings

Tech companies are becoming media companies. That’s why Facebook is teaming up with publishers like The New York Times, that’s why Yahoo is making TV, and that’s why platforms are opening themselves to hiring human beings instead of relying on algorithms.

It’s not a recent phenomenon, but it is one that’s gaining traction among tech-turned-media companies. According to this New Yorker article, Netflix’s secret to its algorithm lies in a person—its CCO Ted Sarandos. Despite Netflix’s data-driven approach, their programming strategy boils down to 70 percent data and 30 percent human judgment. But, as Sarandos notes, the 30 percent is more important. Human judgment is more valuable to Netflix than any algorithm could be.

Recently, tech companies have taken a note from curated mobile news apps and have begun to look for humans to work for them in an editorial capacity.

  • Twitter is hiring journalists to “identify the best tweets, photos, Vines, and videos around the biggest real-world events and high-profile opportunities.”
  • Apple is hiring editors to “help identify and deliver the best in breaking national, global, and local news” for its Apple News app.
  • Snapchat is hiring content analysts to evaluate the editorial value of submitted Snaps for their breaking news coverage.

As tech companies become media companies, they become publishers—ones with the responsibility to uphold the integrity that algorithms can’t be accountable for. Tech companies like to blame the algorithm for lacking judgment, but now that they are becoming media companies, it’s simply unacceptable.

Look at the outrage caused by Facebook’s most recent “Year In Review” blunder, in which Facebook pulled photos and posts culminating the last year without realizing that some people had crappy years. Perhaps this blunder could have been avoided with more media-trained employees.

In fact, people have not been kind to these types of blunders. Research has shown that people judge algorithmic mistakes more harshly than human ones. If a person encounters an algorithm that makes a mistake, they are more likely to discredit and ignore the algorithm, even though the algorithms outperform people by 25 to 90 percent.

Public opinion and feelings have always been more powerful than rational thought among the masses. Tech companies then need human judgment to create transparency and accountability of their product/platform/service. And they need them even more now that they are becoming media companies. Most of all, they need the very journalists they pushed out of work to do so.

Isn’t it funny how things come full circle?

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5 Platisher-Hybrids Worth Talking About

By Emily E. Steck

Publishers are turning into platforms & platforms into publishers, where open user-generated content policies exists. Here are 5 notable publishers-turned-platform hybrids.

  • Condé Nast Traveler

    By Emily E. Steck

    Condé Nast is experimenting with an open community contribution section for a travel section, where writers will be paid based on traffic. 

  • Gawker Media

    By Emily E. Steck

    The snarkiness behind Gawker extends to their readership. They allow for contributors to write and post stories. 

  • Entertainment Weekly's The Community

    By Emily E. Steck

    The Community is part of the Time Inc. owned magazine to let fans write & review television. They do not pay for this content.

  • Forbes

    By Emily E. Steck

    Forbes is opening its doors for a community where brands will able to post and repost content on their own channels on Forbes' website.

  • Medium

    By Emily E. Steck

    Medium was a platform first, but it has always paid some of the writers and content. Now, it is known as a publisher-platform with great typography and white space.

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