Splice News Trends: Singapore gets serious on fake news, Facebook’s next move and Logan Paul’s downfall

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


Mark Zuckerberg’s goals for 2018 leave plenty of room of speculation. He wants to fix “important issues” with the platform. This has been talked about before, but we could finally be at a tipping point. What if Facebook were to decide that given the structural problems with publisher content, media and news, it would just throw up its hands and de-prioritize publishers altogether? Does your newsroom have a Plan B for referral traffic?

Mark Zuckerberg’s 2018 plan could push publishers further into the newsfeed periphery

There’s plenty of speculation that Facebook is likely to split the news feed, as it demonstrated with its Explore tab “test” last year. The drop in impressions and referrals will be dramatic. This is what newsrooms could do in response.

Digiday took a look at the one-year-old Facebook Journalism Project. The result is mixed. Critics say FJP has only served to placate publishers and there’s no meat in what they’re trying to do. Others — myself included — would like to remind everyone that it isn’t Facebook’s job to solve journalism.

Facebook is putting local news and events into a section of its app as part of a test. It’s called “Today In” and it carries a feed of local information, announcements and events. It’s just six U.S. cities for now.

Google found a sweet spot with publishers. Its Accelerated Mobile Pages thing has found more use by publishers at a time when Facebook’s Instant Articles has stagnated. “They’re giving publishers tools. And they’re giving us more ways to monetise. That’s more than we’ve gotten from Facebook in the past six months.”

Google is finally fixing one big pain point around AMP: the bloody URL structure. It will finally show the actual publisher URL, instead of Google’s. About time.

Slow clap for YouTube. They finally took dickhead Logan Paul down as a preferred ad partner. It’s also suspended Logan’s YouTube Red original projects.

YouTube turns its back on Logan Paul


Myanmar prosecutors formally charged two local Reuters reporters under the Official Secrets Act, which carries a maximum prison sentence of 14 years. The two were covering the military crackdown in Rakhine state. The information ministry said the reporters “illegally acquired information with the intention to share it with foreign media”.

Gotta hand it to the folks at the Committee to Protect Journalists. In response to Trump’s fake news awards, CPJ put out an award to recognise “press oppressors” around the world. What a classy line up. (Thanks, Victoria Milko, for this.)

Alleged ‘keyboard trolls’ and the twisting of facts have played a key role in the Duterte presidency in the Philippines. This is how they went from the fringes of politics to mainstream.

Singapore will appoint a parliamentary committee to gather views on fake news. The group will also decide if Singapore should introduce laws in response. This is a shift in process — the law minister said in June last year that he was going to deliver new legislation against fake news, which many were expecting would arrive early this year. Perhaps there’s a realisation that additional steps are redundant, if not futile.

Heads up. Facebook found another way into China. It’s getting Xiaomi to produce its Oculus headset for the Chinese market. Oculus developers can get their content on Xiaomi’s headset, which gives Facebook a way around China’s strict media regulators.


Newsonomics’ Ken Doctor took a look at the cross-subsidy thinking at Singapore Press Holdings. Why is Singapore’s media monopoly investing in seniors’ homes? “The best deal is a sunrise instead of a sunset industry. We wanted to go into health care.”

Media start-ups

I missed this last week. The News Lens — one of Taiwan’s fast-growing digital media startups — did something unusual in the media startup space. It acquired another media startup.


Have you heard of Bilibili in China? They’re a social video platform that’s popularised the use of danmu — bullet comments. It’s crazy. It’s intense. And you’ll wonder why this hasn’t made its way out to the global video platforms. This is how it works.

Chinese giants like Tencent, Baidu and Alibaba are ramping up investments in the U.S. But don’t be fooled. They’re not trying to acquire American users; it’s the Chinese citizens in the U.S. that they want.

Is it too soon to declare the death of chatbots? Facebook killed off its Messenger-based virtual assistant M. The idea was excellent, but ahead of its time as humans still needed to do the heavy-lifting behind the scenes. The star of the 2018 F8 conference is dead.

Quartz doesn’t do programmatic ads. Nothing in IAB-spec boxes. Quartz publisher Jay Lauf explains in this podcast why he’s steering clear of that. Bonus: There’s a bit at the end where he explains how the name Quartz — and qz.com — came about.

Safari’s new Intelligent Tracking Prevention feature means internet ad firms are losing hundreds of millions of dollars. The inevitable outrage has ensued. The Apple browser only has 15% of the browser market, but Google’s Chrome owns 55%, and their ad-blocker is coming in February. Design thinking — browser-style!


So over reacting to the news? Now you can delegate that. Genies is an app where you can customise an avatar that looks like you — and reacts to real-time news and events like you. Mine just looks dumbfounded all the time. There’s a waiting period.

Speckyboy has a cool list of Related Post plugins for WordPress. We all like a good Related Post, but only if it isn’t some Taboola-esque nonsense.


Carrie Gracie quit as the BBC’s China editor over what she called a “crisis of trust” around how the broadcaster paid its female staff. Gracie alleged that she was paid 33% less than her male counterparts. “For far too long, a secretive and illegal BBC pay culture has inflicted dishonourable choices on those who enforce it. This must change.”

MTV Asia is looking for someone to write and co-manage content on their digital platforms. They’re seeking great writing skills, a love for music and pop culture, and social media wizardry.

I stumbled on this gold mine of advice recently. It’s great for entrepreneurs, or just about everyone. Fantastic advice in here on leadership and management. I assure you, these aren’t cheap tips. They’re worth your time.


Kodak missed the pivot to digital and filed for bankruptcy protection in 2012. Now it’s betting its future on digital currencies with an initial coin offering that’s meant to help photographers sell their work. Kodak’s stock doubled on the news. Their moment has arrived.

Thailand’s prime minister Prayuth has a way of avoiding journalists’ questions. He carries a life-sized cutout of himself. He tells reporters to talk to his cardboard self instead. He’s also reputed to be a RES (Random Ear-Stroker). Crazy? See it for yourself.  Note his hand gesture.


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