Sep 14, 2019

Big Tech's 2020 news push

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

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 4 p.m. ET: 5,463,392 — Total deaths: 344,503 — Total recoveries — 2,195,325Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 4 p.m. ET: 1,653,904 — Total deaths: 97,948 — Total recoveries: 366,736 — Total tested: 14,163,915Map.
  3. World: Italy reports lowest number of new cases since February — Ireland reports no new coronavirus deaths on Monday for the first time since March 21 — WHO suspends trial of hydroxychloroquine over safety concerns.
  4. 2020: Trump threatens to move Republican convention from North Carolina — Joe Biden makes first public appearance in two months.
  5. Public health: Officials are urging Americans to wear masks over Memorial Day.
  6. Economy: New York stock exchange to reopen its floor on Tuesday — White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett says it's possible the unemployment rate could still be in double digits by November's election — Charities refocus their efforts to fill gaps left by government.
  7. What should I do? Hydroxychloroquine questions answeredTraveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

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Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Italy reports lowest number of new coronavirus cases since February

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The Italian government reported 300 new cases of coronavirus on Monday, the lowest daily increase since Feb. 29.

Why it matters: Italy, the first country in Europe to implement a nationwide lockdown after emerging as a hotspot in March, appears to have finally weathered its coronavirus outbreak. Italy has reported nearly 33,000 total deaths, the third-highest total behind the U.S. and U.K.

Joe Biden makes first public appearance in over two months

Photo: Oliver Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

Former Vice President Joe Biden made his first in-person appearance in over two months on Monday to honor Memorial Day by laying a wreath at a Delaware veterans park, AP reports.

Why it matters: Biden, the Democratic Party's presumptive nominee, has taken the unprecedented step of campaigning from his home during the coronavirus pandemic, ever since canceling a rally in Cleveland on March 10.