Splice News Trends: Snap’s Al Jazeera order, HK lifts digital ban, Apple sparks anger

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


Snap was ordered by the Saudi government to cut access to Al Jazeera’s content on the chat app. Al Jaz says its website and apps have all been blocked in Saudi Arabia since May as part of a diplomatic containment of Qatar.


…Saudi Arabia is lifting its 4-year ban on internet calls. Skype and WhatsApp calls will finally work again — but will be monitored and censored.

The Hong Kong government will lift a ban on digital media journalists at its press conferences. This will make a difference for online-only services like HKFP. Chief Executive Carrie Lam said the long-standing ban “is behind the times.”


Facebook has been brushing up against governments around the world as regulators try to rein it in. “Governments started waking up as soon as a significant part of their powers of communication of any sort started being invaded by companies.” Here’s a look at Facebook’sproblems around the world.

The Daily Beast says Facebook has been “disappearing” posts by Rohingya activists in Myanmar and elsewhere. Amnesty International claims there’s a targeted campaign in Myanmar to report Rohingya accounts to Facebook to shut them down.

How much money are publishers making off Facebook? Not much, according to a survey by WAN-IFRA. On average, Facebook represents just 7% of digital revenue — and yet a significant amount of referral traffic.

Apple updated its Safari browser this week with a feature that prevents third parties from tracking you for more than 24 hours after visiting a site. The advertising industry, understandably, is livid. Apple isn’t in the advertising business so it doesn’t have to care. But it does turn the screws on publishers.

Twitter says its internal controls have been effective in weeding out accounts used to promote terrorism. It removed almost 300,000 accounts in the first half of this year — often even before the first tweet went out.

…The U.S. Senate’s investigation into Russian interference in the presidential election is turning its attention to Twitter. They’re keen to find out more about the role of bots and how those could have been used to make misleading tweets viral.


Chen Siyi, who works for Quartz, wants a different narrative of China — one that goes beyond the default Western stories of human rights and bad air. “I can please an American audience with a ‘China sucks’ story that confirms their stereotypes; or I can surprise them with a ‘China is awesome’ story because I want to defend my country.” Read her bold and honest thoughts — it’s shared by many Asian journalists working in international media.

Start ups

How much difference can a 3-person team make in fact-checking “fake news” in India? It’s tough, but that’s exactly what Alt News is doing and they’re going deeper, beyond content. They’re unmasking the creators themselves. “Our aim is to strike fear: we know who you are. It’s very easy to spread fake news under cloak of anonymity, and there are websites that are spreading fake news and videos that could potentially lead to riots.”

With all the pivots-to-video, it’s surprising that there isn’t more ad tech going into traditional TV. That’s why Singapore-based AsiaMX wants to fix the TV industry with an algo-based ad platform for planning, booking, management and reporting.

Matter — the big media accelerator in the U.S. — is looking for its new cohort of startups to support. Details here.


Have you tried Nuzzel? It shows you what the people you follow are sharing on Twitter. I use it every day. It’s so good that Twitter copied it.


CNN Digital, which has been pouring money into new hires and web video, is reportedly facing a $20 million budgetary shortfall. It’s tightened expenses and scaled back on travel.

BBC News has been adjusting its editorial focus to what it now calls “slow news” journalism. It’s trying to move away from breaking news coverage to deeper stories. “People find the unrelenting nature of the 24-hour news cycle ultimately unrewarding and unfulfilling — it’s like a sugar rush.”


Google introduced a new payment app in India that transacts money through sound. This is worth shouting about: It uses ultrasonic frequencies, so you can’t actually hear it.

What’s the most popular baby name in England and Wales? Muhammad. Step aside, Oliver.

Quote of the Week

“When everybody’s celebrating you is when you should be most scared.” — Satya Nadella on his rise to the top at Microsoft. He’s profiled in Fast Company this week.


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