"A link on a pointless free for all directory or free blog is worthless anyway. "
Yes, but that's a dangerous position John, because it severely limits the ability of fresh news to breakthrough the main providers. It's a kind of censorship.
Hopefully, not too bad of censorship.
I think it's OK to trust established hubs more than newbies. That gets tricky where an upstart has the mechanisms of an established hub because of mimicry via SEO - eg incoming links placed (paid for) on other established hubs, and other links placed on sites that could belong to readers.
I appreciate that Google tries to keep track of paid vs natural linking. Their fiddling with SERPs is crazymaking to web marketers, but this link-related thing they've created can be gamed, so they need some checks and balances to try and mediate the importance of what's been jacked up to *look* like it's got more heft than it really does. Google has to keep some things to itself, to slow down those who want to game the system.
Social media can be a real thorn in the side for mimic-oriented SEO. When real people with real relationships are involved, discernment goes up and the importance of personal (real person) opinion sidesteps Search results. Since Social Media, if I'm hunting for a term I'll go to Search, but if I want to know what is trustworthy I'll combine that with shaking a few trees in my contact pool.
For instance, I set a hard and fast goal for myself to be back to my pre-pregnancy weight by the time I have another birthday. Any search I do for [how many calories in cheesecake] (just kidding) is going to lead to well-monetized sites with a page for that keyphrase - usually lots of content in a database, lots of ads and programs to sign up for, often low on depth and insight. If I ask the right group of real people on Social Media, they'll have tips, personal recipes, alternative foods that may hit the spot, a cooking site they like - much more depth and insight, and they'll sometimes check back to see how I did. You can't SEO that. You can't automate that. You can't mimic it, or automagically create a personal network that works. And you can't google that -- in that context, both mimic-oriented SEO and Google's veil of secrecy are superfluous.
Google (and SEOs) have learned to live in a world that lives and breathes depending on Google's algos. That world has management issues, and things outside of their/our control are changing - so does any Social Media application. Such is life.