🥞 Good Sunday morning! Today's Smart Brevity™ count: 1,185 words ... 4½ minutes.
Photo Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Ad targeting is how Facebook, Google and other online giants won the internet. It's also key to understanding why these companies are being held responsible for warping elections and undermining democracy, managing editor Scott Rosenberg writes in the opening installment of our "What Matters 2020" series.
How ad targeting works: Facebook and Google have somewhat different systems for targeting ads, but both allow advertisers to bid on narrowly defined demographic groups or keywords.
The link between ad targeting and misinformation ... Tech platforms stand accused of multiple sins, including:
Facebook and Google didn't invent these phenomena — they existed pre-internet. But by tying them together, ad targeting can kick misinformation into overdrive:
Banning all political ads vs. banning targeting: Many critics have urged social media platforms to bar political advertising altogether — a move both Google and Facebook have resisted, even as their smaller but politically high-profile competitor Twitter said it would embrace it.
The idea of a targeting ban has gained momentum recently, with figures like Bill Gates and FEC chair Ellen Weintraub endorsing it.
President Trump blessed and helped win, against the odds, the Florida and Georgia governors races in '18 — an astonishing display of political muscle.
In Louisiana, "Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards claimed a second term [last night], winning a stunning victory in a heavily Republican state and beating back repeated attacks," tweets and visits by President Trump, The Advocate of New Orleans reports.
How it happened: "Urban ministers, organized labor and black politicians worked for Edwards, the 53-year-old who is the only Democratic governor in the Deep South," per The Advocate.
Photo: Zhang Hengwei/China News Service/VCG via Getty Images
2020 Democrats are using Taylor Swift as political leverage against the private equity industry, after Swift publicly noted that The Carlyle Group had helped finance a deal whereby Swift lost control of her old master recordings, Axios private equity expert Dan Primack writes.
Thought bubble from Primack: Private equity excess is a legitimate political issue, particularly when it comes to taxes and treatment of workers. But Warren and AOC are conflating those issues with what is essentially a contract dispute between a wealthy record label and its wealthy artist.
Go deeper (from Friday): "Taylor Swift escalates battle with ex-record label," by Dan Primack.
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph goes after Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett, who's holding his helmet!
The result: One of the biggest melees in NFL history.
"Pete Buttigieg has rocketed to the top of the latest Des Moines Register/CNN/Mediacom Iowa Poll," the Des Moines Register reports.
When I dug into the N.Y. Times spread on the leak of internal Chinese government documents about the mass detention of Muslims, I found this insight into why President Xi Jinping has been escalating repression:
Xi is the son of an early Communist Party leader who in the 1980s supported more relaxed policies toward ethnic minority groups, and some analysts had expected he might follow his father’s milder ways ...
But the speeches [in the leaked documents] underscore how Mr. Xi sees risks to China through the prism of the collapse of the Soviet Union, which he blamed on ideological laxity and spineless leadership.
The "Saturday Night Live" cold open imagined the impeachment hearings as if they were one of the soap operas they're preempting — "like tweets through a timeline."
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