Sara Fischer
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Tech adoption skyrockets among older adults

Over 40% of American adults ages 65+ own a smartphone, more than double the amount since 2013, according to the latest survey from Pew Research Center. At the same time, more than two-thirds of seniors use the internet — a 55% increase from 2000. And for the first time, half of seniors have broadband at home.

Reproduced from 'Tech Adoption Climbs Among Older Adults' Pew Report

Why it matters: Despite these milestones, seniors still report feeling disconnected from the internet and digital culture. The study also found that roughly one-third of older internet users say they have little to no confidence in their ability to use electronic devices to perform online tasks, and roughly half of seniors say they usually need someone else to set up a new electronic device for them or show them how to use it. As more aspects of daily life become dependent on technology, particularly health care, senior adoption of new technologies will become increasingly important.

Other takeaways: The study also found that broadband access was dependent on household income and education levels. It's important to note that tech adoption among seniors is happening as the average population of seniors is on the rise in the U.S. Today, people ages 65+ account for 15% of the overall U.S. population and that number is expected to jump to 22% by 2050, according to U.S. Census Bureau projections.

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Co-founder: "I'm sorry" if Twitter helped elect Trump

Richard Drew / AP

On Friday, Twitter co-founder and Internet mogul Evan Williams said that if Twitter is to blame for the presidency then, "Yeah. I'm sorry." He added, "It's a very bad thing, Twitter's role in that." His remarks come less than a month after Twitter co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey said "it's important" the president has the power to tweet because it holds him accountable.

Why it matters: The conflicting perspectives resemble a familiar dilemma for tech media giants: Could their openness and accessibility, meant to promote democracy, be causing more political chaos than we are equipped to responsibly handle?

Everyone's pressured:

  • Facebook: Following the election, media experts and political flacks alike pointed the finger at Facebook, saying fake news on its platform helped sway the election, but Facebook has continued to profit and retain more users than ever. Mark Zuckerberg initially shrugged off the allegations, but has since made a big deal of his fight against fake news globally. Facebook has invested millions in providing resources and attention to local newsrooms through the Facebook Journalism Project and has taken out ads in the UK, Germany and France showing users how to spot fake news ahead of their elections. It's made numerous tweaks to its ad format and algorithms to nix bad content.
  • Twitter: In an interview with Stephen Levy in Business Insider Friday, Dorsey said the platform is always looking for opportunities to "show what matters faster," to limit distracting conversation. Twitter recently moved from a time-ordered to elevating content they feel users should be seeing and content that pertain to their interests, "and potentially showing the other side of what you're interested in, as well."
  • Google: Last month, Google announced it will start using data from more than 10,000 human contractors known as "quality raters" to teach its algorithms how to better spot offensive, incorrect or misleading information. The company has made tweaks to it's algorithms to weed out bad content, and added a fact-checking tool to help flag bad content.
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Conservative media, Russians push same conspiracy

This week a conspiracy theory tying the death of a young DNC staffer to Wikileaks spread through conservative media. The story ignited outrage from the victim's parents and the public. Then today:

Why it matters: The President tries to distance himself from the idea that his campaign colluded with Russia, but conservative media that helped elect him (and who go to great lengths to defend him) is pushing the same false narratives as the Russian government.

Fox coverage: The victim's family is particularly upset with Fox News after the network discussed the topic during nearly every hour of its primetime coverage Tuesday night — even though NBC debunked the theory hours before around 5 p.m.

Between the lines: The sloppy reporting was used to pivot from coverage of a report that could be potentially damaging to Trump and his administration.

How it unfolded, per CNN's Oliver Darcy

  • The network claimed on air that they got the information — that the DNC staffer was in touch with Wikileaks prior to his death — from a private investigator named Rod Wheeler.
  • But, Wheeler later told CNN he didn't have any evidence and that he actually heard the report from Fox.
  • Online Fox cited a "federal source" who said the FBI found emails linked to Wikileaks on the staffer's computer, but a law enforcement official told CNN that the FBI never had possession of of his laptop.
  • The family is now demanding a retraction and apology from Fox and a local affiliate who also aired the false story about the unresolved murder case.
Featured

Music streaming gets messy

In the past month, three of the largest music streaming companies all declared major business changes:

  • Pandora, which has 81 million users, is reportedly in talks with SiriusXM about a potential acquisition. Pandora said last Monday it has raised money to potentially explore a sale next month.
  • Spotify, which has 100 million users, is reportedly planning a direct listing on the NYSE as early as this fall.
  • IHeartRadio, which has over 100 million registered users for its streaming service, announced last month it expects bankruptcy this year.

What it means: The business changes at each organization may not be related, but they point to a growing trend of competitiveness driving instability in the music streaming market.

  • Earlier this year, Jay-Z sold 1/3 of his streaming service, Tidal, to Sprint after facing major losses in 2015.
  • Meanwhile, Pandora and iHeartRadio both launched subscription services to compete with the likes of Spotify and Apple Music, who are leading the market in subscribers.
  • And like we're seeing with the cable industry, all the players are facing messy disputes over licensing fees with the content creators.
Featured

Facebook hit with another EU sanction

Alessio Jacona / Flickr cc

The EU's competition chief Margrethe Vestager announced Thursday the EU is fining Facebook 110 million euros (roughly $122 million) for giving "incorrect or misleading" information during the Commission's 2014 review of Facebook's acquisition of WhatsApp.

Why it matters: Experts have pointed out that Facebook's ability to identify WhatsApp as a lucrative acquisition in 2014 poses an antitrust issue. Facebook's ability to analyze the enormous amounts of data it collects about users online and offline habits helps it make strategic investments that other companies would be unable to assess.

Double whammy: The penalty comes one day after French and Dutch courts ruled that Facebook had violated European data privacy standards. Facebook was sanctioned 150,000 euros as a result.

The details: The EU approved the merger with the understanding that Facebook would not be able to combine WhatsApp's data of over 1 billion users with its' own (and Instagram's) user data. But last year Facebook announced it would use some of WhatsApp's user data to better target ads (Facebook's largest revenue source) and improve user experience. Facebook said in a statement that the errors in its filing were unintentional.

Between the lines: Europe has been coming down hard on American tech companies violating privacy and antitrust laws, a sign of changing attitudes toward U.S. tech giants trying to penetrate and profit in those markets.

Our thought bubble: These fines are a slap on the wrist for Facebook, a company that makes roughly $27 billion annually in revenue. But the increased scrutiny means Facebook has to tread carefully as it tries to expand its business model in Europe, forcing Facebook to instead focus its revenue growth on emerging markets. Next to the U.S., however, Europe is Facebook's largest revenue driver.

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Roger Ailes dead at 77

Charles Sykes/Invision/AP

Roger Ailes, the former founder, chairman and CEO of Fox News, died today, Drudge Report first reported. He was 77.

His wife Elizabeth Ailes gave a statement to the Drudge Report:

I am profoundly sad and heartbroken to report that my husband, Roger Ailes, passed away this morning. Roger was a loving husband to me, to his son Zachary, and a loyal friend to many. He was also a patriot, profoundly grateful to live in a country that gave him so much opportunity to work hard, to rise—and to give back. During a career that stretched over more than five decades, his work in entertainment, in politics, and in news affected the lives of many millions. And so even as we mourn his death, we celebrate his life.

Fox News coverage below:


Rupert Murdoch's statement:

"Everybody at Fox News is shocked and grieved by the death of Roger Ailes. A brilliant broadcaster, Roger played a huge role in shaping America's media over the last thirty years. He will be remembered by the many people on both sides of the camera that he discovered, nurtured and promoted. Roger and I shared a big idea which he executed in a way no one else could have. In addition, Roger was a great patriot who never ceased fighting for his beliefs.
At 21st Century Fox we will always be enormously grateful for the great business he built. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Elizabeth and son Zachary."

Ailes before Fox: He was a media consultant for Presidents Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and George H. W. Bush, and advised other politicians, including Donald Trump on the campaign trail. Prior to his work in political consulting, Ailes worked in local TV.

Aile's Fox News tick-tock:

Ailes was a notorious media mogul who led Fox News for 20 years before he resigned on July 21, 2016 amid allegations of sexual harassment and assault. Ailes wrote to his boss Rupert Murdoch:

"Having spent 20 years inside this historic business, I will not allow my presence to become a distraction from the work that must be done every day to ensure that Fox News and Fox Business will continue as the standard setters that they are. I am proud of our accomplishments and look forward to continuing to work with you as a consultant in building 21st Century Fox."

While Ailes denied all of the accusations, the reports from the six women who spoke out against him caused a career-ending controversy. Chief among his accusers were former Fox News hosts Megyn Kelly and Gretchen Carlson, who both alleged Ailes made unwanted advances toward them when they worked at Fox.

Read the complete timeline of how Fox responded to Ailes' accusations here.

Between the lines: After his resignation, Ailes was reportedly in talks with over media heavyweights to start a new conservative network that could rival Fox News, which many had believed had swung too far left. (The Murdoch family who owned the network began to reshape the franchise around less divisive personalities.) His and Bill O'Reilly's departure was timed with conservative rival Sinclair Broadcasting Group's acquisition of a slew of local cable channels, including conservative WGN, which could have been used to launch a rival to Fox under Ailes, some speculated.

In May, Fox News paid $45 million in settlements to the women accusing Ailes (and Bill O'Reilly). They also reportedly paid Ailes a $40 million exit payment. The Justice Department launched a probe into Fox News to determine whether or not the network should have notified shareholders about the settlements paid relating to Ailes' assault accusations.

Ailes was eventually replaced by Bill Shine, who resigned amid criticism of the way he handled O'Reilly's allegations.

Featured

Twitter updates privacy policies, lets you in on secrets

Yesterday, Twitter began informing users that it updated its privacy policy, including how Twitter uses offline browser history to inform advertisers of your interests. Twitter used to store data it collected on users for 10 days, but it says it will now store that data for a month. Of course, users can opt out of this collection entirely, and have always been able to, but Twitter made a point to flag users of this via a very visible full-screen pop-up.

Why it matters: The move comes after Facebook was penalized in France and Belgium for failing to adequately disclose details of user data collection given to third-parties to sell advertising. This is Twitter getting ahead of that problem. The update also lets users edit their audience targeting system, so that Twitter can better target you with ads you actually like.

Gut check: More than a quarter of internet users in the U.S. use ad blockers, and that number has been steadily increasing year over year, according to estimates by eMarketer.

Fun take: Recode's Kurt Wagner notes that the update now allows users to see what "interests" Twitter thinks you have based off on-platform Twitter data as well as off-platform data that it has collected from browsing history, cookies, etc. Users can also request how many audience segments they've been pinged to and how many advertisers are targeting them.

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Facebook cuts down on clickbait

Paul Sukuma / AP

Facebook announced last week it will begin burying junk websites with bad ads in the Newsfeed and threatened spammy publishers with "a decline in traffic." For publishers that don't publish crap, Facebook says they will likely see their audiences increase, which makes sense given that the Newsfeed has reached peak saturation and there will now be less clutter.

Why it matters: It's another step Facebook is taking to curry favor with premium publishers and cut back on fake news.

The catch: The latest move is meant to reward and elevate good publishers, but there could be unintended consequences. The websites they deem as "containing little substantive content," will be evaluated based on their guidelines, but will be forcing the tech company to make editing decisions. The platform has faced backlash from publishers for using measures to censor content that they felt was appropriate. For example, last Friday Facebook was criticized by pro-choice activists for removing the page of an organization that helps women obtain abortion pills. Facebook says it violated its policy against the "promotion or encouragement of drug use."

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Digital video ad spending is growing but TV is still huge

Marketers have almost doubled spending on digital video advertising since 2015, according to a new study from the Interactive Advertising Bureau. Also 80% of marketers and media buyers plan to increase spending in original digital video through the end of the year. But digital video ad revenue has a long way to go until it catches up to TV.

Data: eMarketer; Chart: Lazaro Gamio / Axios

The big question: Experts have long predicted that TV ad spending will eventually plummet, similar what happened in newspapers in 2000, but the timing will likely depend on a few factors, like retransmission and programming contracts, and most importantly, ad-buyer efficiency.

TV isn't dead, yet: Despite the explosion of mobile video, Americans still watch TV more than any other medium. Per Nielsen's latest Total Audience Report, U.S. adults spent 86% of their media viewing time with traditional TV, compared to only 14% for all other screens combined. However, digital investments now are still important, as these margins shift dramatically towards digital for younger audiences who are migrating their content consumption habits to mobile and cutting their cable cords in favor of cheaper, on-demand options.

"TV ad rates have without question gone up," says Steve Passwaiter, Vice President and General Manager at Kantar Media, a widely-used advertising measurement group. "Every year you hear about them (networks and cable channels) bumping up CPM'S (cost-per-thousand rates) by 8-10% just because it takes so many more spots to accomplish the same targeting goals than it did 10, 20 years ago. But at the same time, every year the subscription numbers keep shrinking, creating an artificially inflated supply and demand.

"For TV networks, right now, it's a perfect storm."
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How Facebook skyrocketed after going public 5 years ago

Lazaro Gamio / Axios


When Facebook's went public 5 years ago today — the third-largest U.S. IPO ever — it was largely seen as a platform for teens to share photos and play silly games. Now, it's the fifth-largest company by market capitalization and rivals Google as the biggest online advertising platform. Here's a look at how the company has grown over the past five years:

Reach: Five years ago, Facebook primarily reached young adults in the U.S. Today, Facebook's Daily Active Users (DAUs) feature a cross-generational mix around the world. The number of businesses also using the platform to communicate and market has increased substantially.

Revenue: When Facebook went public, it had just made its first major investment in Instagram for $1 billion. That expense impacted Facebook's ability to make a significant profit that year, earning just $53 million in net income. By the end of 2016, Facebook had pocketed $10.2 billion in net income, becoming not only profitable, but lucrative.

Mobile: At the time of its IPO, Facebook's user base was mostly accessing the platform on desktop, so Facebook was making only 11% (roughly) of its ad revenue on mobile. Today, Facebook is a mobile ad cash cow, with 85% of its ad revenue coming from mobile. It accounts for roughly 20% of all U.S. mobile ad revenue, per eMarketer.

Competitors:
  • Facebook's biggest competitors in 2012: Twitter, Pinterest, Flickr
  • Facebook's biggest competitors in 2017: Google, Snapchat, Amazon

Problems:

  • Facebook's biggest problem 2012: Mobile ad measurement
  • Facebook's biggest problems 2017: Fake news, Facebook Live, data privacy

Milestones: Just prior to its IPO, Facebook struck a deal to acquire Instagram at $1 billion. It's since made a key number of high profile investments to diversify its revenue stream, build out new products and thwart competition, including a $19 billion acquisition of the WhatsApp messaging service. But as it became a major news-sharing platform, it also became embroiled in heated battles over the veracity and bias of its content and some horrific scenes broadcast on its Live feature. Facebook has spent the past several months fighting the backlash, building closer relationships with media organizations and hiring human fact-checkers to keep an eye on its content.

  • Aug. 2011: Launched Messenger
  • Jan. 2012: Launched Timeline
  • Apr. 2012: Acquired Instagram ($1 billion)
  • Feb. 2014: Acquired WhatsApp ($19 billion)
  • Mar. 2014: Acquired Oculus VR ($2 billion)
  • May 2015: Launched Instant Articles for publishers
  • Jan. 2016: Launched Facebook Live
  • May 2016: Trending Topics controversy
  • Oct. 2016: Fake News controversy
Mission/Tools: Facebook told investors in 2012 it's stated goal was "to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected." The tech giant focused its investments on enhancing the Facebook platform itself, as well as buying other messaging and asset-sharing platforms to grow its reach. Today, Zuckerberg's stated mission is to grow a social infrastructure company that fights worldwide health and infrastructure challenges and brings humanity together through advanced technologies, like drones, satellites, fiber cable, artificial intelligence, and virtual and augmented reality.

Zuck: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was a 28-year-old, unmarried college drop-out when the company went public. The tech mogul has since married, had a baby (and has another on the way), and embarked on a nationwide its-not-a-campaign tour, leading many to speculate about his political ambitions.