Oct 25, 2019

Big Tech's 2020 news push gathers steam

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram all hosted or will host news events this week to discuss what they're doing to promote quality journalism ahead of 2020.

Why it matters: Social media companies have been under attack since the 2016 election for not doing enough to combat misinformation and promote quality content, especially around politics. Now, they want to get ahead of the problem before it's too late.

Details: At several events in New York City this week, top social media executives are talking about the future of news.

  • Instagram head Adam Mosseri addressed Instagram's role in promoting quality news and information at the company's first-ever Instagram News Summit by saying that it was just as big a target as its parent company Facebook when it comes to misinformation.
  • Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said at Twitter's first-ever News Summit that the company wasn't interested in paying publishers for their content right now, because sharing advertising revenue is more "sustainable" long-term.
  • Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg will unveil its highly-anticipated "News" tab at an event in New York on Friday, where he will be interviewed by News Corp. CEO Robert Thomson.

Be smart: The leaders of major tech companies barely spoke about news ahead of the last election, so it's notable that all of them are participating in news events hosted by their own companies now.

News executives participating in the events noted that there's been increased investment by Big Tech companies to bolster quality news, but some are skeptical that it will be enough to reverse all of the damage that's already been done to the news industry.

  • USA Today publisher Maribel Perez Wadsworth told Axios on stage at the Twitter News Summit, "What's important is that this is an acknowledgement that not all news is fake and that true, quality, trusted journalism is not free and it's worth investing in."
  • Buzzfeed editor-in-chief Ben Smith pressed Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey on whether the company had become a news publisher, since it has hired journalists to curate its news "Moments" section. Dorsey dodged the question.
  • CNN CEO Jeff Zucker said at CNN's "Citizen" Conference Thursday that Facebook shouldn't accept any political advertising "until they can get it right.” It was reported ahead of the event that CNN plans to launch its own news app to take on Big Tech.

Our thought bubble: With 2020 just around the corner, Big Tech companies are on a PR blitz to ensure they can't be blamed for a surprise outcome of another election.

Go deeper: Big Tech's 2020 news push

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