Splice News Trends: The ‘Netflix of news’, GDPR and Jeff Bezos on the Amazon way

In his latest media roundup, The Splice Newsroom’s Alan Soon unpacks Apple's plans to launch a news subscription product, the flawed Facebook response to GDPR and the must-read annual shareholder letter from Amazon's boss

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Apple is reportedly planning to launch a premium subscription for news. You’ll recall that Apple bought a magazine app called Texture recently. It’s going to start integrating that into Apple News and launch a subscription service. Some are calling it the Netflix of News. We can only hope.

Facebook rolled out privacy updates ahead of Europe’s GDPR regulations. It will start asking users in the EU if they want data about likes on external websites to be used in ad targeting. Techcrunch tore into the design of the new settings, saying Facebook is trying to simply get you to accept the default settings. Here’s their flaw-by-flaw guide to the update.

Torn apart: Facebook’s latest ad targeting efforts

GDPR will drastically change Facebook’s ability to target. In many ways, the EU changes are bigger than the problems the company faces in the U.S. This is what marketers need to know.

Facebook started a third-party fact-checking project in India with BOOM. When BOOM rates a story as false, it will appear lower in the News Feed to limit its distribution.

Facebook started blocking at least 10 websites in the Philippines that are said to be pushing fake news. Two of them are known for publishing stories defending Duterte. If you’re trying to post a link from any of these sites, you’ll see a message that says, “The content you’re trying to share includes a link that our security system detected to be unsafe. Please remove this link to continue.”


The Philippine press office protested Facebook’s inclusion of Rappler and Vera Files in its new fact-checking network. It said the two media companies are “sometimes partisan themselves.”

This is a major victory for a grassroots movement in China.China’s Weibo did a 180 on its ban on LGBT content after its users protested. The microblogging site had planned a 3-month “clean-up campaign” to clear out LGBT posts along with other things it considers obscene.

The Committee to Protect Journalists and Reporters Without Borders will jointly document challenges that journos face in entering or leaving the U.S. They want reporters to share instances of extra screenings, searches of their electronic devices, or if they’ve found it hard obtaining visas for the U.S.

Russia is going all out to take down Telegram. It’s told local ISPs to start blocking Amazon and Google’s cloud platforms, where Telegram traffic routes. Really dumb, because that’s affected a whole bunch of companies that rely on the cloud to work.

I’ve been saying this for a while. Glad to see that NYT agrees: Forget Hong Kong — Taiwan is now Asia’s bastion of free speech.


This is worth watching. And it should keep you up at night. This is a *fake* video, using an emerging technology that you can use to get anyone to say anything on video. Anything. This features a real Obama, saying fake things. This is what the future looks like. “Stay woke, bitches.”

Netflix beat analyst expectations for user growth and revenue in Q1 by adding over 7.4 million new subs. Not bad. Free cash flow will however run at a negative $3-$4 billion this year as the company continues to plough money into building more original content. Btw, ICYMI, Netflix’s stock is already up 60% this year.


Singapore Press Holdings is distributing its news and podcasts on Google Home. “Ok Google, listen to news from The Straits Times.”

We reviewed the re-designed Nikkei Asian Review. Nikkei says the new website, aimed at global readers, is designed for reduced load times, grid-based navigation, and better skimming. This is what we think of it.

What, me worry? MAD Magazine has just relaunched. Its publisher, DC Entertainment, and its editorial “gang of idiots” have decided its time has come again. Bi-monthly, at $5.99 a pop, the cult ‘70s mag also has plans for a Twitch channel and a podcast. In the first issue: a “Make America Greet Again” line of Trump-written greeting cards.


Australia’s Stockhead uses the best of digital marketing to build a niche audience of stock traders. Custom audiences, re-targeting, lookalikes. Not the kind of stuff you’d hear in a newsroom. But that’s the difference. If you had to build a news product from scratch today, this is how you should be thinking about it.

Remember last week we featured a story about how tech will eventually allow us to build an audience of one? We’re not there yet, but here’s a story about how a startup in Chicago is building digital radio stations for Chinese listeners.


Google is expanding its tool to help publishers deal with ad-blocking to more countries. Funding Choices (an odd name!) asks or requires people to turn off their ad blockers after they hit a certain number of articles. If they don’t want to turn it off, they can choose to pay for it. Google takes a 10% cut on revenue.


Uwe Parpart wears many hats. He’s the publisher of Asia Times (he bought it off a Thai media mogul), its editor, and one of its writers. You may even have seen him on CNBC or Bloomberg talking financial strategy.

Jeff Bezos’s annual shareholder letter is widely seen as a must-read for business leaders. It contains nuggets of insight into management, and more importantly, how a giant like Amazon works. This year, he talks about handstands (odd, I know) but also details how their famous 6-page memos work (they have a no-PowerPoint rule).


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