Splice News media trends: Singapore and fake news, Vice OTT service and Spotify

As a leading light of the commentariat in Asia, newsroom consultant and former alumnus of Yahoo, CNBC and Bloomberg, Alan Soon knows a thing or two about the media. Here is his roundup of developments inside the bubble this week


This is an important point that’s often missing in conferences about fake news these days: If the media industry and tech giants can’t figure this shit out, it will give governments an excuse to tighten legislation or add new ones. This week, the Singapore government said it’s going to bring in new laws to curb misinformation on the internet. While companies like Facebook, Google and Twitter have a “voluntary commitment” to take down hate content, Singapore is making it clear that this isn’t enough. “We know what the end point should be. It should be to delegitimise fake news, help people identify what is and what is not fake news, and to deal with the perpetrators of fake news.”

Facebook says it’s going to apply algorithms to track down extremist posts. The company is under pressure as terrorists use the platform to communicate and share their views. Facebook says its AI would be able to track down people who spread extremist views by their behavior. “Ideally, one day our technology will address everything.” That’s a creepy thought. Have you seen Minority Report?

…YouTube says it’s also going to apply more AI to pick out extremist content. It will also expand its pool of expert NGOs that are given special privileges to review flagged content.

…German police raided the homes of 36 people accused of hate speech on social media, including threats, coercion and incitement to racism. Under German law, you could face up to 5 years in prison for inciting racial hatred. “Our free society must not allow a climate of fear, threat, criminal violence and violence either on the street or on the internet.”

European Union regulators are expected to hit Google with a fine of at least one billion euros for the way it allegedly favors its own shopping services in its search results. And this could have ramifications for how it handles news articles as well.


Paper. Instant Articles. Live videos. And now, TV-style original videos. These are “experiments” that Facebook pushes on media companies that come at a huge cost for newsrooms. It’s no wonder that some of Facebook’s most important media relationships are souring. “Media companies are like serfs working Facebook’s land.”

According to a BuzzFeed investigation, Facebook Live has a bigger violence problem on its hands than what gets reported. It says there have been at least 45 instances of violence — shootings, rapes, murders, child abuse, torture, suicides, and attempted suicides — on Live since the feature debuted in December 2015.


The Los Angeles Times issued buyouts for editorial staff to “address the current economic realities.” Participation is reportedly voluntary.

Justin Smith

Good, common sense advice from Justin Smith, CEO of Bloomberg Media, on building sustainable media businesses in this age of disruption. “Media companies that have strong affinity with their audience, lots of data and knowledge of how to create content for that audience—those media brands can build large, less disruptable revenue streams around other services beyond just advertising.”

Vice Media raised $450 million from TPG, putting its valuation at $5.7 billion (that number baffles me). The funds will be used to build a new OTT streaming service as well as a “global scripted studio.”


The closely read Reuters Institute Digital News Report for the year is out with some interesting surprises from around the globe. Key findings from the report (which you can download here):

  • The use of WhatsApp for news is starting to rival Facebook in several markets
  • News apps may be making a comeback with significant growth in mobile notifications
  • Voice assistants like Amazon Echo have surpassed smart watches in some markets

LINE is launching its mobile phone service in Thailand, the second country after Japan. It’s selling a SIM card pack that provides access to LINE’s services such as messaging, calls and video chats.

Newswhip crunched some numbers to rank the most engaged news publishers on Instagram. Here’s the leaderboard.


If you’re sick of getting constantly interrupted by colleagues in Slack, try out Twist. This new Slack rival  (made by the people behind Todoist — my favorite task tracker) wants to help you focus by simplifying the way you communicate.

One journalist in Boston has found a better way of informing and educating a community. He’s using postcards.


There’s some interesting work being done to revive a beloved printing method in the digital age: the letterpress.

Publicis Group is apparently barring all its agencies from entering award shows in 2018, including Cannes Lions. It’s looking for “2.5% cost synergies for 2018”.

Spotify started testing “sponsored songs” in playlists — basically trying to serve you a musical ad it thinks you might like. But no thanks.

An ABC radio broadcaster in Melbourne apologised for the racist comments he made in one of his interviews. He asked an ethic Asian on air if she was “yellow.”

This gets the mention for headline of the week: “NASA wants to probe Uranus in search of gas.”

Quote of the week:
“All photographs are accurate. None of them is the truth.” — Richard Avedon


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