Last week, WSJ broke The Facebook Files. The day after day pummeling of Facebook created a snowball of stories, podcasts, and Twitter Spaces with over 1500 listeners and, possibly, a watershed moment for Facebook as social harm. However, we thought Cambridge Analytica was such a thing. The full series is below.
Make time for Wired’s story on how the UK is somehow less likely to be polarized by the concoction of Murdoch’s new TalkTV and amplification on social media. Let’s see about that… Meanwhile, A.G. Sulzberger is trying to rebuild trust through a new cross-functional team that will help the NYT’s leadership establish a vision for how NYT evolves to convey its values and ensure accuracy. The goal is to reach 10 million subscribers.
Bezos also has plans. His plan includes hiring 41 new editors and launching a digital ad network for premium publishers like the Washington Post. “The Post will be onboarding other publishers onto Zeus Prime to create a broader ad network, giving any advertiser the opportunity to buy and target ads across an array of premium publisher websites.”
Happy weekend reading,
Inside A.G. Sulzberger’s Top ‘Times’ Project | Vanity Fair
For the NYT to reach its 10 million paid goal, it needs more readers willing to pay for its journalism. So a major project is building trust beyond typical Times constituencies and across political lines.
Misinformation is a global problem. One of the solutions might work across continents too. » Nieman Journalism Lab
Is there something WEIRD about fact-checking?
Much of the research about combating misinformation with fact-checking comes from experiments that looked at single countries in North America, Europe, and Australia. By over-relying on Western, educated, industrialized, and rich countries — known, charmingly, to scholars as “WEIRD” populations — for data, were scholars making claims about fact-checking that would not hold up in other nations? Two researchers, Ethan Porter from George Washington University’s School of Media and Public Affairs and Thomas J. Wood from Ohio State University’s political science department, wanted to find out.
Washington Post launches digital ad network - Axios
Two years ago, The Post launched Zeus Prime, a product that allows companies to buy ads in real-time–it was only available to a small group of D.C.-based advertisers and they could only buy ads on the Post.
Beginning Tuesday, The Post will be onboarding other publishers onto Zeus Prime to create a broader ad network, giving any advertiser the opportunity to buy and target ads across an array of premium publisher websites.
An expansion, a departure, and the same dire questions - CJR
As Tony Haile, the founding CEO of Chartbeat, wrote for CJR last year, “The New York Times has more digital subscribers in Dallas–Fort Worth than the Dallas Morning News, more digital subscribers in Seattle than the Seattle Times, more digital subscribers in California than the LA Times or the San Francisco Chronicle.” In many newsrooms, it’s not just a matter of audience numbers or subscriber numbers––it’s a question of vitality.
GB News and talkTV will never start a culture war | WIRED UK
talkTV, a News UK TV channel, will launch next year, offering “sports and entertainment shows, current affairs, debate, opinion, and documentaries”. It will also feature a star anchor: Piers Morgan. On the face of it, the channel stands a better chance of success than GB News. Nevertheless, it seems that talkTV, like GB News, will be driven into the financially murky territory of relying on social media to engage our hearts and minds.
Like GB News, talkTV faces a fundamental question: who is its audience? GB News emerged out of the pretence that the right is underrepresented in the mainstream media. In fact, right-wingers in the UK are – and feel – well catered for. The kind of “culture war” the government is stoking, with appointments like Nadine Dorries as culture secretary, has a very American flavour.
Murdoch set up a TV station because he ‘wanted something to watch’ |FT
Rupert Murdoch’s launch of talkTV is about opportunism as much as ideology | Emily Bell, The Guardian
Opinion | Facebook, Google, and Twitter are the new ‘oligarchy of speech’ – WashPost
Eugene Volokh who wrote “What Cheap Speech Has Done: (Greater) Equality and Its Discontents” in the UC Davis Law Review, notes that the Internet, by making it possible for almost anyone to speak to many others, has radically reduced the importance of the “oligarchy of speech” that existed when large media entities acted as gatekeepers to the public forum.
While the “old expensive-speech system” may have seemed “undemocratic,” at least the media owners were disciplined by market forces (loss of their audience’s confidence could be costly), they valued their reputations, and because they had financial assets, they were disciplined by the risk of liability for, say, libel. The democratic and egalitarian Internet has, Volokh says, “the vices of those virtues.” The mainstream media had defects, but, says Volokh, they “didn’t offer much of a voice to people obsessed with private grievances, or to outright kooks, or to the overly credulous spreaders of conspiracy theories.”
Many people who spread hoaxes and “fake news” with a few clicks have no significant assets, financial or reputational, that are risked by issuing, say, defamatory falsehoods. The First Amendment generally protects reckless speech by the credulous or malicious from criminalization.
(August )Special Report: Top brands are sending $2.6 billion to misinformation websites each year - News Guard Tech
An analysis of programmatic advertising data conducted by NewsGuard and Comscore finds that misinformation publishers are reaping billions in annual advertising revenue from top brands
Facebook Chief Technology Officer, Schroepfer, to Step Down - Bloomberg
Facebook Inc. Chief Technology Officer Mike Schroepfer, a 13-year veteran who oversees the social network’s work in artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and the blockchain, will step down next year.
Another longtime Facebook executive, Andrew Bosworth, will take over as CTO, according to an internal message on Wednesday from Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg. Schroepfer’s move marks the most significant departure from the company in years and follows the recent exits of several other top executives.
Facebook Grew Marketplace to 1 Billion Users. Now Scammers Are Using It to Target People Around the World. — ProPublica
Facebook Says Its Rules Apply to All. Company Documents Reveal a Secret Elite That’s Exempt. A program known as XCheck has given millions of celebrities, politicians, and other high-profile users special treatment, a privilege many abuse.
Facebook keeps researching its own harms — and burying the findings. A series of leaked internal reports show Facebook knows far more than it lets on. That’s by design.
Facebook Knows Instagram Is Toxic for Teen Girls
Facebook Employees Flag Drug Cartels and Human Traffickers. The Company’s Response Is Weak, Documents Show.
Facebook Tried to Make Its Platform a Healthier Place. It Got Angrier Instead. Internal memos show how a big 2018 change rewarded outrage and that CEO Mark Zuckerberg resisted proposed fixes
Facebook Hobbled Zuckerberg’s Bid To Get America Vaccinated
Facebook Is Too Secretive. Its Oversight Board Should Change That - Bloomberg
An upcoming report on its work with Facebook would be a good chance for the board to put its foot down on the company’s chronic opacity.
Tech Policy Editor interviews WSJ Keach Hagey on Facebook - Tech Policy
Stopping the hostile online attacks hurled at candidates – Policy Options Canada
Parties, social media platforms, legislators, the candidates themselves, and individual Canadians need to be part of the strategy to combat incivility.
Dark news: The murky world of undercover EU lobbying - Politico
Brussels news outlet EU Reporter’s blend of corporate press releases, original news, and paid-for content makes it impossible for readers to determine who’s behind the coverage.
What I learned from a year on Substack - by Casey Newton - Platformer
Google will let you check up on advertisers’ campaign histories – The Verge
Screenshots indicate that the advertiser info is pretty basic — it gives you the legal name of who placed the ad, the country where they’re located, the rough number of ads they’re running, and a list of the ads. You’ll be able to see information about campaigns on both Search and YouTube.
Facebook, which dominates online advertising alongside Google, offers similar functionality through a database that users can check to see all ads running across Facebook and Instagram. Google also offers an advertiser database, but it’s focused on political ads.
Sky plans to launch its own smart TVs in battle with streaming services - FT
Hardware push would be one of the broadcaster’s boldest moves since its £30bn purchase by Comcast.
Barry Diller’s IAC in Talks to Buy Magazine Publisher Meredith - WSJ
Deal would add titles including People, Better Homes & Gardens and Allrecipes to IAC’s stable of online lifestyle publications.
Despite Risks, ViacomCBS’ Streaming Push - Hollywood Reporter
The all-in Paramount+ plans to double its streaming content — it currently spends $15 billion annually, split between linear and digital — and is hunting for partnerships. After merging CBS and Viacom, shedding non-core assets like publisher Simon & Schuster, and redeploying freed-up money toward streaming, some on Wall Street are becoming less skeptical of Redstone’s plans.
By the end of 2022, he (Wells Farg analyst) forecasts 70 million subscription VOD subscribers and 147 million subscription VOD and advertising VOD subscribers with around $8 billion in streaming revenue. “This is a stronger start than we expected and already makes the recent long-term guidance appear beatable,” Cahall concluded. But he also warned: “We expect ViacomCBS to hit or exceed our key estimates, and if that falters, our Hulu-style valuation is overly generous.”
The company struck a joint venture with Comcast’s Sky to roll out a joint streaming service dubbed SkyShowtime in more than 20 smaller European markets.
But who is buying? While Amazon has agreed to buy MGM, one banker notes that Facebook, Apple, and Alphabet have not shown much appetite for huge Hollywood buys so far.
Comcast has been the most widely rumored deal partner for ViacomCBS. Yet their European streaming venture may mean the companies are happy to focus on streaming growth and punting on any major M&A.
For-profit newsrooms, philanthropy as another way to make money – Poynter
Local news unbundled: where audience value still lies | Reuters Oxford
Maryana Iskander, Wikipedia's Next Leader, on Misinformation - NYT
Teen Vogue’s complicated political transformation - CJR
Last March, ANNA WINTOUR, the editor in chief of Vogue and global content adviser at Condé Nast, selected Alexi McCammond, a twenty-seven-year-old political reporter for Axios, the Beltway-insider publication known for covering the news in bullet points, to run Teen Vogue. The hire was controversial; soon after it was announced, readers began circulating anti-Asian and homophobic tweets that McCammond had posted when she was seventeen. It was also a surprise to the magazine’s staff, who suddenly found themselves fielding online blowback to McCammond. Many were frustrated that they had not been given a heads-up about her appointment and found McCammond—who had no magazine experience and was dating someone from the Joe Biden administration—a confusing pick to lead Teen Vogue, which, alongside celebrity-fashion photography, runs rabble-rousing articles claiming that Biden and the Democrats represent a “ruling class.”
Lindsay Peoples Wagner, the outgoing editor, had not included McCammond among her list of potential successors, and she cautioned Condé Nast that the tweets might pose a problem. Soon, a rumor went around, one that aimed to explain how Wintour had arrived at McCammond in the first place: perhaps, it was suggested, she’d sought recommendations from Biden.