The Splice Slugs: Facebook’s ongoing policy problems, hate speech in Myanmar, and Nadella’s transformation of Microsoft
Here’s your weekly roundup of the biggest trends, threats and tools in media. Human curated, algo-free in small-batch goodness.
I’m filing this from Hong Kong. I’m here to help the the j-school at the University of Hong Kong figure out something that’s very close to my heart: What are the jobs to be done in journalism in the future? And what programs are needed to ensure that students are prepared for these future jobs?
I have an obsessive, stubborn view — journalism needs to double down on understanding and serving a customer. That’s a job worth doing well. News is a relationship business and we can’t fix it if we have no way of understanding what our customer wants. While every consumer-facing industry has figured out a way to think about customer service, journalism still believes that people will consume our product because it’s gospel truth. Wrong.
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On Friday last week, I watched a guy in Indonesia hang himself on Facebook Live. The video was accessible until it was taken down 11 hours later with about 100,000 views and more than 3,000 shares. Facebook put up a simple notice to say “Warning — Graphic Video.” I tried to flag it, but when you hit the option to “Report Video,” you get three options: 1. It’s annoying or not interesting; 2. I think it shouldn’t be on Facebook or 3. It’s spam. What horror.
Hate speech is on the rise in Myanmar where the rapid growth of the internet is bringing people in contact with social media content that they have no way of validating. The rise of “fake news” demonizing Muslims is especially worrying on Facebook. A draft law to combat hate speech online will reportedly give extensive powers to the Ministry of Religious Affairs to decide what constitutes hate.
What happens when you try to post a “disputed” story on Facebook? Here’s a look.
There’s an interesting study by The Media Insight Project. Apparently the main factor in determining a reader’s trust in an article appears to be who shared it, not the news organization that published it.
The New York Times takes a look at how a school in Brooklyn is teaching six graders how to distinguish “fake” news. “[What] we always asked students to do — think critically — now has new importance.”
Google is taking steps to ensure that brands are safe on its ad network after clients started seeing their ads beside against hate content. It’s rolling out new controls for clients to blacklist sites and provide better insights into where those ads are appearing.
…But it’s too late for some. AT&T, Verizon, Johnson & Johnson and GlaxoSmithKline have either pulled their campaigns or suspended them on Google.
…Btw Google is doing something really interesting to its News & Weather app: It’s started to stack related stories under headlines. So if you’re reading about the London stabbings, you’ll be able to also see similar stories from other publishers. This isn’t terribly sexy — but it’s an important way to surface similar stories by credible publishers, adding to the authenticity of news stories: If a story is true, then other credible publishers will carry it.
…Google is as much a frenemy to publishers as Facebook. But this is how Google managed to win publishers over. “For Facebook, it seems to be more about trying to engineer things among journalists to help the platform, rather than have journalism be strengthened so the platform can be of use.”
Apple’s video app Clips hits the App Store next month. You’ll inadvertently compare it to Snapchat and Instagram because it has filters, stickers and a super easy of recording, editing and sharing videos. But there’s a killer feature: It automatically transcribes what’s being said into subtitles, and syncs it to the speed of your voice.
CNN has 4.7 million people on its LINE account. And they’re using LINE stickers to to raise engagement.
The News Lens in Taiwan closed a Series B funding round from both local and overseas investors. The funds will be used for expansion, including building out sub-brands beyond news — sports, food, women. So if you haven’t heard of them, you may want to start paying attention.
Svenska Dagbladet is one of Sweden’s top newspapers. But it no longer has human editors running the home page — it’s all done by an algo. Humans need to make two choices for the content that appears on the home page: How important is the story, and the lifetime of the story. The algo does the rest.
The Economist ran a solid profile of Microsoft’s internal transformation under Satya Nadella. It’s a worthwhile read about the importance of getting culture right. Technologies come and go, Nadella says, so “we need a culture that allows you to constantly renew yourself”. Important lessons here for the digital evolution of newsrooms. (Via Marc Lourdes)
…Nadella reads it. So do Zuckerberg and Pichai. Techmeme holds sway with the titans in tech, yet it doesn’t do any original reporting. It doesn’t have an app. Or a newsletter. And it’s ugly. “Ugh, we really need to work on design. But I guess, in a way, that’s kind of who we are.”
Medium pitched a $5 membership plan to some of its core users as part of a promise to continue delivering an ad-free experience. The fee goes toward paying for top writers and promises inside access to the new “Medium experience.”
…Not everyone is convinced. “If Ev Williams truly believes this is the ‘something better’ to turn the corner from ad-supported publishing, then I stand by my original statement: he’s lost his goddamn mind.”
Adobe is now fully in the ad-tech business with its launch of Advertising Cloud — a platform for its customers to manage and buy digital and TV ads. “We are trying to bring a lot more sanity to ad buying.”
Adland’s favorite contrarian creative director Dave Trott shares his view on leadership: “It’s not my job to score goals, but it is my job to put the team together that scores goals. Then protect them from interference.”
There’s a massive shakeup in the Indian telco space that could see the more villages getting online. Vodafone Group is merging with Idea Cellular to create India’s largest telco of almost 400 million subscribers.
Beauty and the Beast will be released in Malaysia without any cuts after Disney rejected local censors’ demands to remove a gay scene in the movie. It goes out on March 30 with a PG13 rating.
The U.S. is secretly barring airlines from 13 countries from allowing passengers to carry any electronic gadget bigger than a cellphone. No cameras, no laptops, no Kindles. Saudi Arabia’s Saudia Airlines and Royal Jordanian airlines are among those affected.
American brewery Stone Brewing produced a pale ale made from “purified” sewage. “Some caramel notes, some tropical fruit notes. It’s a very clean-tasting beer.”
Quote of the week
“Hate is a lack of imagination.” — Graham Greene
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