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Splice News Trends: Facebook rapped over China claims, Astro boss exits, Tencent eyes India

In his latest media roundup, The Splice Newsroom founder Alan Soon mulls Facebook's latest woes, the end of the Trending tab and what's behind Apple's latest upgrade

To sign up to his newsletter, from which this content is taken, visit The Splice Newsroom.

Platforms

The spotlight is back on Facebook after the New York Times reported that the company has been sharing data with phone makers. It isn’t surprising that FB works with phone manufacturers like Apple and Samsung. But the company was reportedly providing personal data to China’s Huawei, which U.S. intelligence says presents a security risk.

Australian lawmakers may ask Zuckerberg to testify in parliament over Facebook’s data access deals with phone companies. “It is completely unacceptable that information from Facebook users has been slyly handed over to Huawei, by Facebook.” Yet another government is set to embarrass itself with pointless questions.

The New York Times’ editorial board makes the case that Facebook needs to be broken up. It says Facebook has undermined trust with consumers “by leaving the door unlocked for its partners and clients to come in and help themselves.”

Facebook removed the Myanmar-based Buddhist nationalist movement Ma Ba Tha and a pair of firebrand monks from the platform for hate speech against Rohingya Muslims. “They are not allowed a presence on Facebook, and we will remove any accounts and content which support, praise or represent these individuals or organisations”.

Facebook ran a full page ad in the 7Day Daily in Myanmar. The ad warns against hate speech and online bullying.

Facebook killed its Trending section. Finally. After four years, it was clear that the algo, which was designed to pull up what people were discussing into a “trending” box, couldn’t figure out what was newsworthy or just bullshit. That’s what a four-year test looks like.

Fool me once, shame on you… But hey look, there’s money on the table! Facebook is going back to big video publishers like ABC, CNN, Fox, and Univision, and offering them money to create original content. All this goes into the Facebook Watch video platform. Who said the pivot-to-video is dead? ☠☠☠

Instagram is reportedly building a destination for longer videos, positioning it as a competitor to Snapchat Discover.Who knew there was more to rip off?

Apple went after Facebook by announcing an upgraded Safari browser that blocks out all private data related to how you’ve been sharing and liking stories. The clash shows a fundamental difference in how these businesses work. Facebook wants to get more ads in front of you. Apple wants to sell you more phones and computers while positioning itself as a guardian of your privacy.

Governments

Australia’s competition watchdog has been investigating the role of Facebook and Google in soaking up the digital ad dollars in the country. Sadly, they’re missing the point: Australia’s media market is in the poor shape it’s in because of the domination of Fairfax and News Corp. So who is this probe meant to protect?

Freedom Film Network, a group of social filmmakers and human rights activists in Malaysia, is calling on the new government to reform the country’s media laws. In particular, they want the 2002 Film Censorship Act reviewed or repealed.

Transformations

Astro’s CEO Rohana Rozhan is leaving her post at the pay-TV provider. She’s one of several high-profile departures in Malaysia since the recent election upset. The company’s stock has lost half its value this year alone.

Australian news wire AAP is cutting between 20 and 25 jobs.AAP attributed the cuts to some media customers reducing or dropping services “while rationalizing their own businesses”.

WSJ picked Matt Murray as its new editor-in-chief. He replaces Gerard Baker who wasn’t morale-friendly, to say the least. The staff felt Baker was going soft on the Trump administration; Baker told them to go find jobs elsewhere. So they did.

Media start-ups

India’s news aggregator Newsdog raised $50 million in a funding round led by Tencent. The app curates content from various news sites in 10 local Indian languages. This is Tencent’s first bet on news in India.

Notables

Conference organizers need to stop using bar stools on stage. I’ve complained about this myself, and it’s good to see it written up: It’s embarrassing for women in skirts and simply awkward for men (no spreadeagles, please!). No one wants their crotch at audience eye level.

Kimbho, brother? I missed this one last week. Patanjali — started by a guru — launched a chat app in India to take on, well, WhatsApp. The product development is guided by “disciples, young monks, and nationalist specialists.”

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