The Splice Slugs: Shutting down hate on the internet, Cambodia’s media at risk, and Medium’s pay-for-claps plan
Here’s your weekly roundup of the biggest trends, threats and tools in media. Delivering fire and fury since 2015! This is what we’ve donethis week in building the newer, better Splice.
Welcome to our new subs from BBC, SCMP, CNN, Chartbeat, Mundo Deportivo, Atlantic Media and CIMA. — Alan Soon
HATERS GONNA HATE
Big tech companies — including Facebook, Google, Reddit, Twitter, GoDaddy — recently clamped down on hate speech on the internet. Even Spotify cleaned up ‘‘white supremacist’’ music from its library. What has this done to the relationship between tech and the community of users it claims to serve? “This felt and functioned like freedom, but it was always a commercial simulation. This contradictionis foundational to what these internet companies are.”
…Cloudflare was one of the companies that pulled the plug on neo-Nazis last week. The CEO is now doubting his decision. “The pre-internet analogy would be if Ma Bell listened in on phone calls and could terminate your line if it didn’t like what you were talking about.”
…So why is it so hard to define hate speech on the internet? “Understanding context does suggest, in the most dramatic interpretation, that you understand the world and everything in it.”
Plenty of hate in the Philippines. Rappler has a report on the accreditation and access given to pro-Duterte bloggers covering the president. Apparently they get to continue using profanity (“You’re all sons of bitches” comes up a lot) in targeting critics and media.
Cambridge University Press quickly reversed its direction to remove papers from its website in China after being accused of censorship. “The university’s academic leadership and the press have agreed to reinstate the blocked content, with immediate effect, so as to uphold the principle of academic freedom on which the university’s work is founded.”
Cambodia’s tax authority threatened to shut the Cambodia Daily over an alleged $6 million tax bill. Media companies and NGOs are under pressure in Cambodia after Prime Minister Hun Sen ordered a probe into funds by NGOs.
A key Australian senator accused Facebook of not acting fact enough in dealing with “fake” news. Nick Xenophon, in discussions with the company, questioned why FB’s mantra of “moving fast and breaking things” didn’t apply to misinformation. “You are taking a very conservative, cautious approach which is damaging the integrity of news.”
Factwire is a Hong Kong-based crowdfunded news agency. This is how it works. “Most of the media owners in Hong Kong have direct or indirect business, political or social relationships in China. So there is widespread self-censorship.”
This is a small but significant change in the way Facebook delivers news content in your feed. Right now, you can barely tell publishers apart. So they’re going to add publisher logos to help you distinguish news brands.
…Facebook confirmed that it will add subscriptions to Instant Articles to win back publishers put off by poor monetization. For starters, it won’t take a cut from subscriptions on the platform. They will test this out with a “small group” of U.S. and European newsrooms later this year.
Google is reportedly putting together new tools to boost subscriptions for news publishers, including targeting people who are most likely to pay. They’re apparently testing them with the New York Times and Financial Times.
You may recall that Medium introduced “clapping” as a replacement for its “recommend” button last week. It now plans to pay writers on its partner program based on the number of claps received. As you as baffled as I am?
WhatsApp says it’s hard to clamp down on “fake” news on its platform because it can’t read the contents of your encrypted messages. “Any change that would weaken the encryption will be detected very quickly. It’s impossible to make a secret backdoor.”
Tencent apologized for putting out controversial emojis featuring wartime sex slaves on its QQ chat platform. The emojis used images from a documentary on comfort women with the phrases “I am lost” and “I am wronged” next to them.
TRENDS & TRANSFORMATIONS
HuffPost revamped its home page design four months ago, embracing a tabloid-styled format. Direct traffic to the home page is now up 23% year on year. Shows that home pages still matter — it’s where your brand lives.
Singapore broadcaster Mediacorp named Tham Loke Kheng as its new CEO. She was pulled from PCCW in Hong Kong where she ran the pay TV business.
Here’s something that will make stock photo agencies squirm. Researchers at Google developed an algorithm that automatically moves watermarks in photos.
Snapchat has a drinking problem. Alcohol brands don’t want to advertise on it because the platform can’t say for sure whether it’s targeting people 21 and up.
You can do everything with QR codes in China. Here are some amazing examples.
Joseph Lichterman at the Lenfest Institute put together a great list of media-related newsletters (we’re honored to be in there!). Check it out here.
Singapore-based SumoStory wants to take the middleman out by sending press releases directly to journalists. “PR is an industry that’s ready for disruption. I see myself as an outsider who can look at the industry from a new angle and not be confined by the legacy of PR.”
The hashtag is 10 years old. Check out the tweet that changed the way we group fragments of content.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“Your brand is what people say about you after you leave the room.” — Jeff Bezos
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