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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Tech companies are ramping up efforts to support news companies as they face pressure to elevate quality news and information ahead of the 2020 election.

Why it matters: Tech titans, particularly Google and Facebook, have been blamed for their role in spreading misinformation during the 2016 election that may have impacted voter turnout or results. They've also been blamed by publishers for cutting into media ad revenues.

Driving the news: Google says it has adjusted its algorithms and the guidelines used by the people that rate its searches to elevate original reporting in search results. It says it's doing more to help train search raters to reward high-quality reporting.

  • There have been multiple reports about Facebook investing millions to pay publishers to provide quality news content for its platform, both via its video tab "Watch" and on a tab dedicated specifically to news that will launch in the U.S. early next year. A new report suggests that it's hiring editors to help curate the tab.
  • Snapchat is creating a dedicated news channel specifically for the 2020 debates. The company is doing more to increase civic and political engagement on its platform as it readies a more aggressive push into news, sources tell Axios.

Yes, but: Snapchat didn't take much heat for fake news during the 2016 election, in part because it has heavily invested in journalists and editors to manage its news and content curation from the start.

  • "This is what happens when a platform actually has values around curation and news," Snapchat's political show host Peter Hamby tweeted in response to Axios' report about Snap's 2020 news push.

Between the lines: Despite the fact that Twitter often takes heat for the misinformation on its platform, it has largely avoided bad skirmishes with news publishers.

  • Publishers that work with Twitter say their partnerships, though smaller in scale than Google and Facebook, have been built to be more equitable and consistent long-term. Twitter takes a cut of ad revenue that publishers sell around their content on Twitter and vice-versa.

Be smart: News aggregation has become a big part of the online news business, thanks in part to the way publishers were rewarded by search and social media algorithms for delivering buzzy content, quickly. But tech companies have long tried to avoid hiring journalists to actually curate that news.

Our thought bubble: The public relations fallout from reports that fake news may have contributed to the surprise 2016 victory of Donald Trump spooked Big Tech, inspiring the companies to make fundamental changes in how they think about news ahead of the next election.

Go deeper

"Atmospheric river" swings Northern California from drought to flood

Satellite view of the bomb cyclone swirling off the coast of the Pacific Northwest and the atmospheric river affecting California on Oct. 24. Photo: CIRA/RAMMB

A series of powerful "atmospheric river" storms are delivering historic amounts of rainfall across parts of drought-stricken California and the Pacific Northwest.

Why it matters: The atmospheric river, packing large amounts of moisture, was causing Northern California to whiplash from drought to flood, as it slowly moved south overnight. It's triggered widespread power outages, flooding and mudslides.

Updated 1 hour ago - World

U.S. threatens to cut aid to Sudan after military takeover

Sudanese Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok during a 2020 news conference in Khartoum, Sudan. Photo: Mahmoud Hjaj/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Sudan's civilian Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok was put under house arrest and several other ministers were detained Monday in what appears to be a military coup in the country, per local reports.

The latest: The head of the military faction of the Sudanese government, Gen. Abdul Fattah al-Burhan, said in a statement that he is announcing a state of emergency, suspending several parts of the interim constitution and dissolving the civilian government and interim sovereignty council — the highest governing body in the country.

Facebook's pivotal week

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

They're battening down the hatches at Facebook headquarters this week as the company faces a trifecta of tumult: a continuing wave of negative press coverage fueled by document leaks, a critical earnings report Monday and a reported name change looming.

The big picture: All this is unfolding as Mark Zuckerberg tries to transform Facebook from a social network into the prime mover behind a new "metaverse" of VR- and AR-driven remote work and play.