Murdoch’s News Corp calls for Google breakup

Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp has called for Google to be broken up in Australia, the latest salvo in a battle between the corporate media giants.

In a petition to Australian regulators, News Corp’s local subsidiary complained that “Google enjoys overwhelming market power in both online search and ad tech services.”

Going a step further, the company accused Google of “abusing its to the detriment of consumers, advertisers and publishers.”

Earlier this week US presidential hopeful—and former federal consumer watchdog—Elizabeth Warren became the latest in a line of commentators to argue that firms such as Amazon, Google and Facebook hold “ too much power” in society.

News Corp echoed her argument that Google’s businesses should be split, or failing that, search and advertising businesses should be firewalled off from each other.

“While News Corp Australia recognises that divestment is a very serious step … divestment is necessary in the case of Google, due to the unparalleled power that it currently exerts over news publishers and advertisers alike.”

Australian watchdogs are seen as unlikely to recommend that Google be split, but the petition represents an intensification of the worldwide fight between Australian-born Murdoch and Google and Facebook.

News organisations accuse the tech giants of gaining huge commercial benefit from expensive to create content, while paying nothing and syphoning off advertising.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is one of several regulators across the world investigating the effect that have on competition in the media, advertising and advertising services markets.

News organisations in Australia have struggled in recent years with falling revenue and shrinking staff, as giants like Google and Facebook dominate the digital economy.

The downturn has prompted a string of mergers that have left the market with only three or four major media companies.

Local newspapers, once the lifeblood of communities across this vast country, run on a skeletal staff or have been forced to close.

Among them Murdoch’s News Corp is a dominant player, owning a slew of newspapers, television channels and the country’s only major cable television network.

Murdoch’s vast political influence has frequently come underfire from former prime ministers on both sides of Australian politics and is widely seen as pushing the tone of public debate to the right.

News Corp Australia is a subsidiary of News Corp, which owns 21st Century Fox, the Wall Street Journal, Fox News, and a raft of papers and TV platforms in Britain.

FOLLOW THE LINK FOR THE FULL REPORT – JR

https://phys.org/news/2019-03-murdoch-news-corp-google-breakup.html

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Washington Post Admits Reporting Fake News in Covington Coverage

The Washington Post issued an editor’s note Friday evening correcting previous reporting on the Covington Catholic school confrontation last month.

In a major correction issued late Friday evening, The Post more than a month after the January 18 incident finally addressed inaccuracies, mischaracterizations and falsehoods in their initial coverage, which sought to paint “menacing smirker” Nicholas Sandmann, 15, and other students as instigators who surrounded and mocked Native American activist Nathan Phillips.

A Washington Post article first posted online on Jan. 19 reported on a Jan. 18 incident at the Lincoln Memorial. Subsequent reporting, a student’s statement and additional video allow for a more complete assessment of what occurred, either contradicting or failing to confirm accounts provided in that story — including that Native American activist Nathan Phillips was prevented by one student from moving on, that his group had been taunted by the students in the lead-up to the encounter, and that the students were trying to instigate a conflict. The high school student facing Phillips issued a statement contradicting his account; the bishop in Covington, Ky., apologized for the statement condemning the students; and an investigation conducted for the Diocese of Covington and Covington Catholic High School found the students’ accounts consistent with videos. Subsequent Post coverage, including video, reported these developments: Viral standoff between a tribal elder and a high schooler is more complicated than it first seemed”; “Kentucky bishop apologizes to Covington Catholic students, says he expects their exoneration”; “Investigation finds no evidence of ‘racist or offensive statements’ in Mall incident.

The Post additionally clarified it incorrectly described Phillips as a “Vietnam War veteran.”

A Jan. 22 correction to the original story reads: Earlier versions of this story incorrectly said that Native American activist Nathan Phillips fought in the Vietnam War. Phillips said he served in the U.S. Marines but was never deployed to Vietnam.

“They also deleted a tweet claiming that Phillips was a Vietnam Veteran,” reports Mediaite.

FOLLOW THE LINK FOR THE FULL REPORT – JR

https://www.infowars.com/washpo-admits-reporting-fake-news-in-covington-coverage/

UFOs suddenly serious news — thank the guy from Blink-182 for that

Now in his early 40s, with his music career cooled but his financial resources apparently intact, DeLonge has channeled those bizarre passions into his next act.

You’ve seen it without knowing it. Remember that wild news in December about a secret Pentagon UFO program? And those grainy military videos showing radar images of unexplained phenomena white, Tic-Tac-shaped objects that appear to fly at remarkable speeds, at impossible angles, without wings or exhaust?

Tom DeLonge helped ring the alarm about those things, as part of his new business venture: To The Stars Academy of Arts and Science. For his advisory board, DeLonge recruited physicists, aerospace experts and former Department of Defense officials, who have been talking publicly about UFOs and arguing that the government has failed to fully investigate them.

In the past six months, DeLonge’s associates have appeared on CNN and Fox News, written for The Washington Post and been cited in the New York Times usually in the context of those eerie videos.

“What the f— is that thing?” a Navy pilot says in a video released by To The Stars in March, but perhaps the more pertinent question is: How the f— did the guy from Blink-182 get wrapped up in it?

‘Perpetual funding machine’

Rich men have the luxury of looking to the stars for investment and wish fulfillment. SpaceX founder Elon Musk wants to colonize Mars. Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen wants to make interplanetary travel cheap and routine. Amazon chief executive Jeffrey Bezos, who owns The Washington Post, envisions moving industry off Earth and shipping products down from space.

Tom DeLonge says he wants to build “a perpetual funding machine” to investigate UFOs and thereby advance our own species.

At a launch event for To The Stars Academy in Seattle last fall, he explained that he was expanding his small entertainment venture which has mostly published his graphic novels and books about UFOs and the paranormal into a far more ambitious scientific operation, to explore “the most controversial secret on Earth.”

DeLonge, who declined to comment for this article, explained at the launch that he had used his fame to meet with the keepers of that secret, in “clandestine encounters” in “desert airports” and “vacant buildings deep within Washington D.C.”

Some of those people sat behind DeLonge onstage, including former intelligence officer Luis Elizondo, the former director of a hush-hush UFO program at the Pentagon.

“The phenomenon is indeed real,” Elizondo said when it was his turn to speak. Just days before, the 22-year Defense Department veteran had submitted a resignation letter to the Pentagon, citing its disregard of “overwhelming evidence” that unexplained phenomena have been interfering with the U.S. military.

Elizondo had overseen the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program, quietly created in 2007 by then-Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid, D-Nev., with the encouragement of a reclusive Nevada billionaire named Robert Bigelow. Like DeLonge, Bigelow made his fortune through earthly pursuits (real estate) but was fascinated by the otherworldly; he had funded research into crop and cattle mutilations. After he got Reid’s attention, Bigelow’s aerospace company then won the $22 million contract to run the Pentagon’s secret program, as first reported by the New York Times late last year. (Reid and Bigelow did not respond to requests for comment.)

Despite its peculiar mandate, Bigelow Aerospace’s output was typical of federal bureaucracy: It produced paper. There was a 490-page report on alleged UFO sightings, and a series of studies on experimental physics. One study written for the Defense Intelligence Agency (“Traversable Wormholes, Stargates, and Negative Energy”) urged federal research into interstellar travel and was illustrated with a childish drawing of a dinosaur greeting Albert Einstein through a hole in the space-time continuum.

FOLLOW THE LINK FOR THE FULL REPORT – JR

https://www.stripes.com/news/us/ufos-are-suddenly-a-serious-news-story-you-can-thank-the-guy-from-blink-182-for-that-1.530224

Facebook Has Begun To Rank News Organizations

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Tuesday that the company has already begun to implement a system that ranks news organizations based on trustworthiness, and promotes or suppresses its content based on that metric.

Zuckerberg said the company has gathered data on how consumers perceive news brands by asking them to identify whether they have heard of various publications and if they trust them.

“We put [that data] into the system, and it is acting as a boost or a suppression, and we’re going to dial up the intensity of that over time,” he said. “We feel like we have a responsibility to further [break] down polarization and find common ground.”

Zuckerberg met with a group of news media executives at the Rosewood Sand Hill hotel in Menlo Park after delivering his keynote speech at Facebook’s annual F8 developer conference Tuesday.

The meeting included representatives from BuzzFeed News, the Information, Quartz, the New York Times, CNN, the Wall Street Journal, NBC, Recode, Univision, Barron’s, the Daily Beast, the Economist, HuffPost, Insider, the Atlantic, the New York Post, and others.

The event, called “OTR” (shorthand for “off the record”), is an annual gathering meant for new media news executives to talk shop. It is in its second year. Zuckerberg’s remarks were initially meant to be, like the name of the conference, off the record, but he agreed to answer questions on the record.

Zuckerberg said the company will invest “billions” of dollars in a combination of artificial intelligence and tens of thousands of human moderators to keep both fake news and deliberate propaganda at bay, especially in elections.

“We’re essentially going to be losing money on doing political ads,” he said of the investment the company is making to avoid a repeat of the spread of Russian propaganda in the 2016 US election.

“The big miss is we didn’t expect these kind of coordinated information operations” in 2016, said Zuckerberg, and that the company was more focused on hacking in malware. He said the company is expecting that kind of information war now and has already successfully countered it in elections from France to Alabama.

“We deployed AI tools that have taken down tens of thousands of accounts,” he said of those elections.

FOLLOW THE LINK FOR THE FULL REPORT – JR

https://www.buzzfeed.com/bensmith/facebook-has-begun-to-rank-news-organizations-by-trust

Malaysia proposes jail for up to 10 years, fines for ‘fake news’

The bill was tabled ahead of a general election that is expected to be called within weeks and as Najib faces widespread criticism over the scandal at state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

Under the Anti-Fake News 2018 bill, anyone who publishes so-called fake news could face fines of up to 500,000 ringgit ($128,140), up to 10 years in jail, or both.

“The proposed Act seeks to safeguard the public against the proliferation of fake news whilst ensuring the right to freedom of speech and expression under the Federal Constitution is respected,” the government said in the bill.

The government defined fake news as “news, information, data and reports which is or are wholly or partly false” and included features, visuals and audio recordings.

The law, which covers digital publications and social media, would apply to offenders outside Malaysia, including foreigners, if Malaysia or a Malaysian citizen were affected.

The government said in the bill it was hoped the public would be more responsible and cautious in sharing news and information.

Opposition lawmakers have questioned the need for such a law, arguing that the government already had broad powers over free speech and the media.

“This is an attack on the press and an attempt to instill fear among the rakyat (people) before GE14,” opposition lawmaker Ong Kian Ming said on Twitter after the bill was tabled, using a Malaysian term for this year’s election.

Parliament, where the government has a comfortable majority, is expected to vote on the bill this week.

FOLLOW THE LINK FOR THE FULL REPORT – JR

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-malaysia-politics/malaysia-proposes-jail-for-up-to-10-years-fines-for-fake-news-idUSKBN1H20FM

Free news gets scarcer as paywalls tighten

For some analysts, the trend reflects a normalization of a situation that has existed since the early internet days that enabled consumers to get accustomed to the notion of free online content.

“I think there is a definite trend for people to start paying for at least one news source,” said Rebecca Lieb, an analyst who follows digital media for Kaleido Insights.

Lieb said consumers have become more amenable to paying for digital services and that investigative reporting on politics in Washington and elsewhere has made consumers aware of the value of journalism.

A study last year by the Media Insight Project found 53 percent of Americans have paid for at least one news subscription. A separate report by Oxford University’s Reuters Institute found two-thirds of European newspapers used a pay model.

“Services like Netflix and Spotify have helped people get into the habit of paying for digital content they used to get for free,” said Damian Radcliffe, a journalism professor at the University of Oregon and a fellow at the Tow Center for Digital Journalism.

“People recognize that if you value journalism, especially in the current political climate, you need to pay for it.”

– Making the transition –

Newspapers seeking to make a transition from print to digital have found it difficult to replace the advertising revenues that were long the staple of the publications.

News organizations are unable to compete against giants like Google and Facebook for digital advertising, and are turning increasingly to readers.

“For large-scale news organizations whether they are national or regional, that want to have a large reporting staff, reader revenue needs to be the number one source,” said Ken Doctor, a media analyst and consultant who writes the Newsonomics blog.

Doctor said some news organizations are getting close to 50 percent of revenues from subscriptions and sees that rising to as much as 70 percent.

The New York Times reported the number of paid subscribers grew to 2.6 million and that subscriptions accounted for 60 percent of 2017 revenues. The Washington Post last year touted it had more than one million paid digital readers.

FOLLOW THE LINK FOR THE FULL REPORT – JR

https://www.yahoo.com/news/free-news-gets-scarcer-paywalls-tighten-020350136.html

The Rise of Tech Giants May Be Bad News for the Economy

Tech giants like Facebook and Amazon are the tip of the iceberg of a trend toward market concentration. That’s good for profits, but a new study says it also risks harming productivity and growth potential in the long run.

According to Sophie Guilloux-Nefussi, an economist with France’s central bank, the market share of the eight largest companies rose in more than 60 percent of the sectors of U.S. between 2002 and 2012.

FOLLOW THE LINK FOR THE FULL REPORT – JR

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-02-21/the-rise-of-amazon-facebook-may-be-bad-news-for-the-economy

Twitter stopped showing retweets in embedded tweets, which is bad news for bots.

The company started experimenting with new ways to show how many people engaged with a tweet late last year, according to Twitter spokesperson Dan Jackson. “We found that people viewing Tweets off-platform were more likely to engage with them when we focused on providing conversational context,” Jackson said. In other words, if a tweet shows up on a news story read by someone who isn’t a Twitter user, seeing that it’s been retweeted thousands of times might not make much sense. But Twitter believes that knowing how many people are sharing andcommenting—that is, “talking about” the tweet—is a clearer indicator of popularity for those who aren’t familiar with how Twitter works.

By being less specific about the how much tweets embedded around the internet are shared, Twitter is in a way downgrading the importance of retweets as an overall indicator of a popularity. It’s also a move that could help counteract the social network’s massive bot infestation; bots are automated accounts that use software to act on their own to tweet, follow, and retweet others. (There are also bots that automatically reply to tweets, but they are less common.)

FOLLOW THE LINK FOR THE FULL REPORT – JR

https://slate.com/technology/2018/02/twitter-stopped-showing-retweets-in-embedded-tweets-which-is-bad-news-for-bots.html