Aug 25, 2014 9:59 am

Where was Ferguson in my Facebook feed?

If you are an avid social media user — and have been following recent events in Ferguson, Missouri — you may have noticed a difference in the content of your Facebook and Twitter feeds on the story. The reason goes back to a complex and somewhat mysterious interplay between the platforms’ designs and your own behavior.

How people on Facebook use it for newsA number of journalists and commentators observed a jarring disconnect between the mostly uncontroversial posts on Facebook (like chatter about celebrities taking the Ice Bucket Challenge to raise funds for the fight against Lou Gehrig’s disease), and the stream of visceral reportage from the tense scene in Ferguson, where citizens had gathered to protest the August 9th police killing of an unarmed black teen, Michael Brown.

Some, like sociologist Zeynep Tufekci, noticed a delayed reaction to the breaking news on Facebook. Others, like Gigaom’s Mathew Ingram, attributed the lack of news on Facebook to the way that interactions are structured on the social network. They and others argued that Facebook’s algorithmic filtering heavily influences the content Facebook users see on the site, and why their newsfeeds haven’t been flooded with images and stories about tear gas, demonstrations and arrests.

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Topics: Digital Media, Internet Activities, News Audience Trends and Attitudes, Social Media, Social Networking

Aug 25, 2014 7:00 am

In search of libertarians

FT_who-is-libertarianThe question of whether libertarianism is gaining public support has received increased attention, with talk of a Rand Paul run for president and a recent New York Times magazine story asking if the “Libertarian Moment” has finally arrived. But if it has, there are still many Americans who do not have a clear sense of what “libertarian” means, and our surveys find that, on many issues, the views among people who call themselves libertarian do not differ much from those of the overall public.

About one-in-ten Americans (11%) describe themselves as libertarian and know what the term means. Respondents were asked whether the term “libertarian” describes them well and — in a separate multiple-choice question — asked for the definition of “someone whose political views emphasize individual freedom by limiting the role of government”; 57% correctly answered the multiple-choice question, choosing “libertarian” from a list that included “progressive,” “authoritarian,” “Unitarian” and “communist.” On the self-description question 14% said they were libertarian. For the purpose of this analysis we focus on the 11% who both say they are libertarian and know the definition of the term.

These findings come from the Pew Research Center’s political typology and polarization survey conducted earlier this year, as well as a recent survey of a subset of those respondents via the Pew Research Center’s new American Trends Panel, conducted April 29-May 27 among 3,243 adults.

Self-described libertarians tend to be modestly more supportive of some libertarian positions, but few of them hold consistent libertarian opinions on the role of government, foreign policy and social issues. Read More

Topics: Political Attitudes and Values, Political Party Affiliation, Political Typology

Aug 22, 2014 7:00 am

News companies make play for India’s growing digital market

India Online News ConsumersIndia, with its emerging economy and vast population, is becoming an attractive market for news organizations looking to grow their international audience. The Huffington Post joined a growing number of outlets expanding into the country when it recently announced partnering with The Times of India to launch HuffPost India in November.

While India has had a strong newspaper market, the country’s digital penetration lags behind that of other countries. Just 13% of Indians went online in 2012, according to International Telecommunication Union. A recent Pew Research survey found only 8% of Indians with cell phones use them to access political news.

News companies are betting on speedy growth in the digital market to replicate that of newspapers, given the potential for growth as more in India go online. Internet adoption in India is up — about three-fourths of the population own cell phones, and the country recently surpassed 100 million active Facebook users. Online news consumption is also increasing. India’s unique visitors to online news and information sites grew from 31 million in 2011 to 45 million in 2014, an increase of 45%, according to an analysis by comScore. And the government is actively trying to accelerate India’s move toward embracing digital technology.

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Topics: Asia and the Pacific, News Media Sectors, Newsroom Investment and Resources

Aug 20, 2014 3:43 pm

Cable, Twitter picked up Ferguson story at a similar clip

The shooting death of an unarmed teenager in Ferguson, Missouri, quickly became a national news story on mainstream and social media last week. A new Pew Research Center analysis of media coverage of the event and subsequent protests finds that the story emerged on Twitter before cable, but the trajectory of attention quickly rose in tandem, peaking on both mediums the day after two journalists were arrested and protests turned more violent. Read More

Topics: News Content Analysis, Race and Ethnicity, Social Media

Aug 20, 2014 7:00 am

Who are the Iraqi Kurds?

A Kurdish peshmerga fighter flashes the sign for victory after re-capturing the village of Tel Asquf from Islamic State (IS) militants. Credit: Ahmad Al-Rubaye/AFP/Getty Images)
A Kurdish peshmerga fighter flashes the sign for victory after re-capturing the village of Tel Asquf from Islamic State (IS) militants. Credit: Ahmad Al-Rubaye/AFP/Getty Images

In the continuing conflict in Iraq, Kurds frequently are mentioned alongside Iraq’s Sunni and Shia Muslim populations as one of the key groups involved in power struggles for which sharp religious divides have played a major part. But while the Kurds are a crucial part of Iraq’s political makeup, they are an ethnic group, not a distinct religious sect within Islam. Kurds are more appropriately compared to Arabs, the largest ethnic group in Iraq, or other regional ethnic groups such as Assyrians or Turkmen.

Much has been reported about the desire of many Kurds for greater autonomy or even independence from Baghdad. However, when it comes to religion, Kurds share a good deal in common with the Arab majority, especially Sunni Muslims. Read More

Topics: Middle East and North Africa, Muslims and Islam

Aug 18, 2014 7:00 am

Dept. of Ed. projects public schools will be ‘majority-minority’ this fall

Teacher Haiti Johnson helps her first grade students with learning about the rhomboid shape during class.  Credit: Getty Images
Teacher Haiti Johnson helps her first grade students with learning about the rhomboid shape during class. Credit: Getty Images

A milestone is expected to be reached this fall when minorities outnumber whites among the nation’s public school students for the first time, U.S. Department of Education projections show. This is due largely to fast growth in the number of Hispanic and Asian school-age children born in the U.S., according to a Pew Research Center analysis of Census Bureau data.

A steady demographic change over the years has resulted in a decline in the number of whites in classrooms even as the total number of public school students has increased. In 1997, the U.S. had 46.1 million public school students, of which 63.4% were white. While whites will still outnumber any single racial or ethnic group this fall, their overall share of the nation’s 50 million public school students is projected to drop to 49.7%. Since 1997, the number of white students has declined by 15%, falling from 29.2 million to 24.9 million in 2014. Read More

Topics: Education, Race and Ethnicity

Aug 15, 2014 11:00 am

As machines take on more human work, what’s left for us?

For decades, labor economists have sought to quantify and predict the the impact of computer technology on both current and future employment, a subject that a new Pew Research Center report  probed with a survey of nearly 1,900 experts. Computers had typically been thought of as best suited for jobs that involve routine, repetitive tasks that can easily be reduced to lines of code. But with computer-controlled devices and systems already capable of doing far more than projected even a few years ago, many experts now see more complex jobs coming into play.

The first approach is perhaps summed up by MIT economist David Autor and David Dorn, an economist at Spain’s CEMFI institute, who’ve done much of the spade work in this line of research. They wrote in a 2013 paper: “The adoption of computers substitutes for low-skill workers performing routine tasks — such as bookkeeping, clerical work, and repetitive production and monitoring activities — which are readily computerized because they follow precise, well-defined procedures.” Read More

Topics: Emerging Technology Impacts, Work and Employment

Aug 15, 2014 9:00 am

5 facts about the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program

Two years ago today, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services began accepting applications for the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Known as DACA, the program provides temporary relief from deportation and a two-year work permit to qualifying young adults ages 15 to 30 who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children. Many of those approved are now eligible to re-applyto renew their work permit. The program does not provide a pathway to citizenship.

Here are some facts and figures on DACA.

Most applications received for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) have been approved.1The vast majority of young unauthorized immigrants who applied have received relief from deportation and a temporary work permit. Through March 31, 2014, 86% of 643,000 applications accepted have been approved, according to government data. When the program started, the Pew Research Center estimated that up to 950,000 young unauthorized immigrant youths were immediately eligible to apply for the new program, but not all those eligible have applied for the program. Each application carries a $465 fee.

2Some 77% (428,000) of those who have received a temporary work permit are Mexican. Those from El Salvador, at 4%, have the next highest number of approvals. No other country accounted for more than 3% of approvals.

3 California has 162,000 deferred action recipients, compared with 88,000 from Texas. Both states border Mexico and have the highest populations of Mexican immigrants. Arizona, another border state with many Mexican immigrants, has the highest application rate. Some 66% of 34,000 eligible people have applied, according to the Migration Policy Institute. Read More

Category: 5 Facts

Topics: Barack Obama, Immigration, Unauthorized Immigration

Aug 15, 2014 7:00 am

Chart of the Week: The hype cycle of emerging technologies

The 20th edition of the Gartner Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies tracks the rising (and falling) expectations for various emerging technologies.

Have you been hearing a lot about “the internet of things” lately? Maybe you even read our recent report collecting expert predictions on the subject. The 2014 Gartner Hype Cycle might help explain why this volume of attention has risen. This annual report plots the rising expectations and enthusiasm (and subsequent disappointment and disillusionment) for various emerging technologies. As Quartz’s Leo Mirani points out, the Internet of Things has “reached the zenith of its hype,” egged on by copious, “breathless” news coverage.

Also at or near peak hype and headed for the downward slope, according to the Gartner analysts: natural language question-answering systems, like Apple’s Siri, which help computers to understand human thoughts; wearable user interfaces, like Google Glass or Apple’s anticipated iWatch; and autonomous vehicles, like Google’s driverless cars. Read More

Topics: Emerging Technology Impacts

Aug 13, 2014 7:00 am

Birth rate for unmarried women declining for first time in decades

Fertility RatesFor the first time in decades, the non-marital birth rate in the U.S. has been declining, according to a new report from the National Center for Health Statistics. The rate peaked in 2008 at about 52 babies per 1000 unmarried women of childbearing age, before dropping to 45 births in 2013. Like declines in overall fertility that have occurred since 2007, it’s quite likely that this recent decline in the non-marital birth rate also occurred as a result of the economic recession of 2007-2009.

Will the non-marital birth rate continue to drop as the economy slowly recovers? It’s difficult to know, but many experts believe that overall fertility will bounce back as the economy improves, as has been the case with past recessions — and indeed, the sharp fertility declines that occurred during the recession have already begun leveling off, and it appears as though non-marital birth rates may be following the same course.  Read More

Topics: Birth Rate and Fertility, Demographics, Economic Recession