Sep 15, 2020

Axios Login

Situational awareness:

  • Apple is holding a product launch event at 10am PT, where it is expected to introduce new watches and iPads, but not the next crop of iPhones. You can check out for our up-to-the-minute coverage.
  • Facebook is launching a new "Climate Science Information Center" to connect users with reliable information on climate change, though environmental groups argue the move is still a half measure against rampant climate misinformation.

Today's Login is 1,543 words, a 6-minute read.

1 big thing: Melinda Gates sees social media "reckoning"

Illustration: "Axios on HBO"

"It may be time for a reckoning" with social media's role in spreading disinformation, Melinda Gates said in our "Axios on HBO" interview that aired last night — but she doesn't see that happening until after the pandemic ends.

Between the lines: Bill and Melinda Gates are clearly big believers in technology. But they've also seen firsthand the impact of disinformation, as they've become targets of conspiracy theories amplified and spread via social media.

"It's disappointing, quite honestly, when you see that level of vitriol on disinformation that you know isn't true," Gates said. "But on the other hand, I can also kind of understand it, right? I mean, people are home, they're anxious, they're losing their job. Their kid isn't in school."

Gates also said society may need to start holding social media companies to account for their role in helping such disinformation spread.

  • "I think it's up to society to start to figure out, 'OK, what do we do about that?' How do we think about disinformation in a society or how do we think about political ads and where they should be placed and what they do or don't get to say?" Gates said.
  • "So it might be time for some reckoning on that after this pandemic is over. I don't think in the middle of a pandemic, though, that that's what we're gonna get done."

The big picture: The pandemic is where Melinda Gates is focusing most of her attention.

Her foundation is out with a new report showing COVID-19 has led to a global increase in the number of people in poverty and a decrease in those being vaccinated for other diseases. In all, the report finds the world losing ground in all but one of 15 global sustainability goals established by the United Nations.

  • Some 37 million people's income fell below $1.90 per day, considered the global poverty line. "It's the difference between being able to put food on your table or not put food on your table and go hungry," Gates said, adding that, at $3 per day of income, families in much of the world can start saving.
  • Globally, vaccination rates plummeted as COVID-19 fears kept parents from taking their kids to the doctor. "What we know," Gates said, "is that 25 years of increased vaccinations that have saved children's lives all over the world was set back in 25 weeks."
  • Banking was the only category to see gains over the prior year, as governments around the world looked to get stimulus funding quickly into the hands of their populations. Gates said she expects that to prove lasting and meaningful, reducing graft and giving women more money to feed their families.

Meanwhile: Gates also blasted the Trump administration for neutering the CDC, politicizing basic health knowledge and pulling funding from the World Health Organization amid a global pandemic.

  • "We've had terrible leadership on this issue quite frankly," she said, reiterating that the U.S. hasn't improved on the "D-" grade she gave the administration's COVID-19 response back in May.
  • Nonetheless, Melinda Gates said she and Bill would not endorse a candidate in the presidential election. "We're always tempted," Gates said with a laugh. "But it's important for us as private citizens to, you know, keep our votes to ourselves and for our institution to be nonpartisan."

Go deeper:

2. Match CEO calls Apple's policies "inconsistent and unfair"

Match Group CEO Shar Dubey stepped up her criticism of Apple's App Store policies in an interview with "Axios on HBO" Monday, saying the way that the company applies its policies is "inconsistent and unfair" and take choices away from consumers.

What happened: In the interview, with Axios' Dion Rabouin, Dubey said the App Store relationship, under which Apple controls billing and subscriptions, had been "a great source of dissatisfaction."

  • Match, the parent company of Tinder, OkCupid and other dating apps and sites, previously issued a statement criticizing Apple's 30% take on App Store purchases.

The big picture: The latest comments follow increasing scrutiny over Apple's business practices and the way it operates the App Store, including an antitrust investigation by the European Union and a legal battle with Fortnite maker Epic Games.

What she's saying: Dubey argues Apple has been "unclear" on why Match and other makers of digital goods and services must give control over billing matters to Apple — and pay a hefty fee — when apps like Uber aren't subject to the same conditions.

  • "This has been a great source of dissatisfaction for a number of our customers because we cannot really help them when they have issues around subscription and billing."
  • "All we are able to do is send them to Apple and we have no transparency on how they service or, you know, treat these issues with our customers. And so that is our contention that there should be a choice. There should be a consumer choice."

What's next: Dubey says Match is currently hoping to resolve the issue with Apple through "direct conversations" but hasn't ruled out legal action.

Go deeper:

3. Smart ring maker Oura partners with UFC

Image: Oura

Oura is today announcing a partnership with mixed martial arts league Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), the latest in its deals to get its smart rings onto the fingers of sports stars.

Why it matters: The deals provide the startup with both visibility and validation that its rings can offer meaningful data on sleep, health and other metrics.


  • Oura and UFC will make the rings available to all 600 of the league's fighters, though it will be up to them whether they choose to wear one. More than 60 have been distributed in the last couple of weeks.
  • The partnership follows months of study of the Oura ring, along with other fitness wearables including watches, chest straps and fitness bands. "One of the great things about Oura is the form of it and the subconscious simplicity of wearing a ring," UFC Performance Institute VP Duncan French told Axios.
  • The deal follows earlier tie-ups with the NBA and WNBA.

Between the lines: While UFC's interest predates the pandemic and was focused initially on issues like resilience, the ring has an extra use in relation to COVID, by flagging deviations of an individual's health metrics from their personal norm.

  • Separate from the UFC Performance Institute's research, one Oura-wearing UFC champion noticed a drop in his readiness score and decided to get a COVID-19 test, which ultimately came back positive.

The big picture: Oura isn't going into details on the structure of its deals with UFC and other sports leagues, but CEO Harpreet Rai noted that 90% of the industry's revenue still comes from individual sales. Oura also has yet to say how many rings, which start at $299, it has sold overall.

  • And while clearly Oura is looking at its deals with the sports leagues more as a way to boost awareness and interest in the device than as a source of revenue, the company is also trying to build a business offering services to organizations, in addition to selling hardware.

Go deeper: How the NBA's "smart rings" work to assess coronavirus risk

4. Gen Z is eroding the power of misinformation

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Gen Z may be more immune to the lure of misinformation because younger people apply more context, nuance and skepticism to their online information consumption, Axios' Stef Kight reports.

Why it matters: An innate understanding of social media influence, virality and algorithms among Gen Z — defined by Pew as the cohort born between 1997 and 2012 — could disarm the misinformation and disinformation racking the U.S.

By the numbers: 83% of Gen Z college students said they get the majority of their news from social media or online news sites, according to a new survey from polling firm College Reaction of 868 students provided exclusively to Axios.

  • Despite it being their go-to source for news, young people are skeptical of social media. Just 7% said they found it to be the most trustworthy news platform.
  • More than half said online newspapers or media sites were the most trustworthy, and 16% chose physical newspapers.

Younger people are confident in their ability to detect false information but have little faith in older generations.

  • 69% of Gen Z students said it is somewhat or very easy for them to distinguish real news from misinformation. Half said they think it is "very difficult" for older generations.
  • Studies have found the youngest American adults are far less likely to share misinformation online than are older Americans.
  • "Young people are internet locals," College Reaction founder Cyrus Beschloss told Axios. "Because they swim through so much content, they're wildly savvy at spotting bogus content."
5. Take Note

On Tap

Trading Places

  • Amazon's Audible audiobook subsidiary has hired Aisha Glover to head a new Global Center for Urban Development based in Audible's corporate hometown of Newark and to be responsible for the company's overall community development efforts. Glover, who starts next month, has served as CEO of the Newark Alliance for the past two years.
  • Twilio named Lybra Clemons its first chief diversity, inclusion and belonging officer. Clemons, previously global head of diversity and inclusion at PayPal, will report to both the company's HR chief and to CEO Jeff Lawson.


6. After you Login

I have found the mask compliance officer that 2020 needs.