Features

Splice News: Yahoo! hack, content farms and has Zuckerberg lost touch with Facebook?

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

Platforms

“We have been working to ensure the integrity of the German elections this weekend,” said Zuckerberg recently. Now read that carefully. This isn’t the kind of language we’d expect from a mere social media platform. Something has shifted internally at Facebook. New York Magazine is asking an interesting question: Does Zuck even know what the company is anymore?

Facebook, which is pushing for more transparency in political ads, apparently spent years blocking it. Since 2011, it’s been lobbying the election commission to set aside blanket exemptions on political ad disclosure rules.

Google is also getting its share of scrutiny this week. Its algorithm pulled up a story from 4chan which incorrectly identified the shooter at the heart of the tragedy in Las Vegas. No one would ever consider 4chan as a news source, so why did Google?

Trends

Content farms are coming up around the world, just to create stories that would appeal to an American audience. You already know about Macedonia. Have you heard what they’re doing in Pakistan, Philippines and Kosovo? And here’s another interesting bit — there’s a farm in Vietnam churning out stories for Native Americans. Hello globalisation.

Is there enough disclosure from publishers when it comes to branded content? There’s an argument afoot that instead of just carrying a disclaimer (eg. “Brought to you by…”), publishers should also disclose the terms of their deals in quarterly reports and on their websites.

Facebook appears to be grabbing more time spent on Watch videos – about 23 seconds, instead of the 17 seconds that people spend on videos in the News Feed. That’s not bad, but those aren’t YouTube numbers either. But it crosses the 20-second mark, which is vital for mid-rolls.

Vox Media is launching two live video shows exclusively on Twitter, one from The Verge and another from Polygon. Interesting plan — but it’s 2017. Do live shows work outside of sports and finance?

If you had a Yahoo account in 2013, you can be certain that you were hacked. Yahoo disclosed that the hacking incident wasn’t limited to just one billion accounts like it said last year. It’s now three billion. Names, email addresses and passwords were all breached.

Start-ups

Did you hear about Khmerload, the “BuzzFeed of Cambodia”? With funding from Silicon Valley, they’re expanding across South East Asia. This is how they see the opportunity.

India’s veteran journalist Shekhar Gupta left print to create a digital news startup called, well, The Print. It’s a premium news service covering politics in India. “Depending on which brand you prefer, you can call it the Bentley of political journalism or the Bloomberg of political journalism in India.”

Design

I’ve just discovered my new favourite podcast – 99 per cent Invisible.It’s about the subtle design that goes into our world that we don’t often think about. This is a good one to start with — why algorithm design is probably the biggest challenge of our age.

Transformations 

This isn’t as crazy as it sounds. Frederic Filloux argues that Apple should buy Sony. Why? Grab Sony’s image sensors, distribute Sony’s video content catalog, and connect the Playstation ecosystem to the iPhone. Something to think about.

BBC News launched new services for Indian languages – Gujarati, Marathi, Punjabi and Telugu. The Delhi bureau — already the Beep’s largest outside the UK — will also be turned into a video, TV and digital production hub for all of South Asia.

Notables

An American trolled the social team running The Straits Times’ Twitter account. His complaint: The Singapore paper should be using American English.


This is weird but worth thinking about. Google launched a small little squarish camera that you can leave around the house. Now, here’s the thing: It uses AI to “look” around –

and takes pictures on its own when it finds something interesting. Creepy? Creepy.

Ryerson University’s School of Journalism in Toronto is concerned that their journo students can’t handle the stress of the industry. So they’re going to start including mindfulness as part of the curriculum.

Quote of the Week

“A magazine is a mix of constancy and surprise.” — Si Newhouse, Jr., who passed away this past week. His work at Condé Nast is widely credited for the success of GQ, Vogue, Vanity Fair and The New Yorker. Here’s a tribute.

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