cio blogs

Bias Labeling Is Useful, but We Need a Better Approach

I am a big advocate of fact checking. I’ve recommended that fact-checking plug-ins be standard extensions on every browser.  I’ve also cautioned that fact checkers should avoid value judgements and restrict themselves to the veracity of a factual assertions. But what about bias labeling?

Many fact check services also indicate the political bias of a resource. Isn’t categorizing content as liberal or conservative, left-leaning or right-leaning a form of value judgement?  If the designation is done arbitrarily, then yes. Bias labeling of this form is unquestionably problematic and should be rejected. To avoid this issue, most bias checking features depend on third parties, such as AllSides and Media Bias / Fact Check.

Media bias evaluation services claim to be neutral, explicitly chartered to assess bias without value judgement. They adhere to transparent and published methodologies to assign ratings.  Importantly, they are not intended to “warn, discourage, or prohibit” but rather to encourage viewpoint exploration. For example, AllSides’ declared mission is to “help you to easily identify different perspectives so you can get the full picture and think for yourself. Hidden bias misleads and divides us. By making the political leanings of hundreds of media sources transparent, AllSides frees people from one-sided filter bubbles so they can better understand the world — and each other.”

Admirable, but also worthy of scrutiny. The most biased media sources usually present themselves as “fair and balanced” while being anything but. Mediators, fact checkers and bias raters need to be held to account; judged according to their own published methodologies and the highest standards of professionalism.  They don’t always measure up.

According to University of California Los Angeles Communication Professor Tim Groeling “almost all the claims of bias that are out there are exceptionally poorly supported.” For example, the Poynter Institute  has called out Media Bias / Fact Check as “a widely cited source for news stories and even studies about misinformation, despite the fact that its method is in no way scientific.”

The problem is there is no standard methodology or rubric for identifying and quantifying bias. Poynter developed a code of principles for the International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN) but these are ethical guidelines not a procedural methodology.  Current bias-ratings amount to little more than good faith, best efforts by “armchair media analysts.” Most fact checkers are acting in good faith to try to highlight problematic content without suppressing it.  But if we are ever going to build a resilient, reality-based infosphere, we are all going to need to up our game.

Unscientific methodologies are not going to cut it in the disinformation wars, especially as we become more and more dependent on machine learning to make our judgements for us. Radical transparency and rigorous evaluation are necessary if we are to evaluate information without suppressing viewpoints.

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Healthcare Digital Marketers Must Rethink Their Reliance on Personalized Messaging

According to healthcare digital marketers, one of their top objectives this year is to identify quality leads and convert those leads into ‘sales,’ i.e., refill the top of the patient funnel. In fact, the objective to “Drive increased sales among identified leads,” jumped 11 percentage points in response rate between 2020 and 2021. Following a challenging year with diminished visits, such priorities aren’t terribly surprising.But one element of this that is concerning centers around how healthcare digital marketers intend to reach these new customers. The only objective which increased more in response between 2020 and 2021 amongst healthcare digital marketers was “Create and Deliver Personalized Experiences to Customers,” which rose 14 percentage points year over year. And two-thirds of healthcare digital marketers say they employ a one-to-one, customized approach to marketing and messaging. Not only is this significantly higher than other industries – the avg. for all industry digital marketers was ~50% for one-to-one marketing – but healthcare digital marketers have more reason than most to diversify their approach and build up their segmentation muscles.Inherently, personalization within healthcare marketing looks different than in other industries, however these constraints only add further concern about the reliance on a more customized approach. Alongside HIPAA and the sensitive nature of medical information, recent digital evolutions such as EHRs and virtual care, have in-turn, given rise to fears over data/technological privacy amongst consumers. And this is all before anticipated changes to Google’s cookie policies go through, which will only further make microtargeting and tracking a more difficult and less reliable option. Taken together, personalization within healthcare is already at-times controversial and difficult to get right, and likely to only become more difficult going forward.The dream of being able to precisely customize, compelling messaging to anyone and everyone may have been the holy grail for digital marketers, but the limitations and challenges, both current and forthcoming, particularly within healthcare, demand reevaluation and reprioritization. The good news is that more customized messaging isn’t always necessary and could actually be distracting marketers from focusing instead on what matters most to actually encourage visits. That’s because we know what keeps people from going to the doctor and easing these barriers offers a different kind of mandate to marketers. Gartner asked consumers who had a health-related issue or concern within the past six months but did not go in to seek treatment for that concern, why, and the results highlight three major obstacles to healthcare for consumers: affordability, trust, and access. These three themes are at the very core of why the patient journey has both lengthened and broadened, as people, in hopes of avoiding such challenges, spend more time attempting to circumvent the established system.
To successfully reach potential patients and remain competitive in an environment that will only become more challenging for customization, healthcare providers will need to develop accurate personas, segmentations and journey mapping, but can begin more broadly by highlighting efforts and tools to help alleviate issues related to affordability, trust and access.For more, read: Digital Marketing Survey 2021: Healthcare Provider Strategic Priorities and Opportunities (subscription required)

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What you need to know about the CDC’s new mask guidelines

On Tuesday, July 27, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that vaccinated individuals wear masks in public indoor spaces in communities where covid cases are spiking. Along with the new policy, the CDC recommends that children in grades K–12 attend school in person while continuing to wear masks inside.  Why is the CDC making this switch?   The announcement comes on the heels of rising infections with the delta variant, the highly infectious strain of covid that was first detected in India earlier this year. The new policy may seem like backtracking, but Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC, explained that the agency’s decisions aren’t made lightly.   “Our guidance and recommendations will follow the science,” said Walensky during a press briefing. “The delta variant is showing every day its willingness to outsmart us and to be an opportunist in areas where we have not shown a fortified response against it.”  In May, delta was responsible for just 2% of cases sequenced in the US, but today 82% of samples contain the more contagious variant, according to Johns Hopkins.  Does this change affect me?   Probably (if you live in the US). More than 63% of the US is experiencing what the CDC calls “substantial transmission rates,” which means the new policy would apply there. To find out if you’re living in an area where covid is surging, visit the CDC’s Covid Data Tracker, which tracks infections by county.   (If you’re not fully vaccinated, this may not be much of a change, depending on where you live. Eight states, including California, New York, and Nevada, have already been requiring unvaccinated people to mask up.)  How is the delta

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BrandPost: Can InnerSource Bring Open Source Practices to Closed Corporate Bureaucracies?

In Part 1 of this 3-part series we explore the apparent triumph of open source software over its antiquated counterpart, proprietary software.  In the battle between software created openly by anyone who wants to contribute and those rigidly coded in closed shops, it was no contest. If you used closed source software and you wanted new features or bugs fixed, you had to wait for the product to change, complain about it, or develop a workaround, hoping the change made it into the product someday. With open source, you can participate by offering changes and improvements yourself, as long as you can demonstrate that you are willing to be part of their community. To read this article in full, please click here

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