Jan 15, 2019

Axios Login

By Ina Fried
Ina Fried

Good morning. Ina remains felled by the flu, so I'll once again be your Login host.

1 big thing: Instagram politicians and online myths

Photo illustration: Axios Visuals

No, Beto O'Rourke did not live-stream his teeth cleaning on Instagram — any more than Al Gore ever actually claimed to have invented the internet. But if you were under the impression that O'Rourke did precisely that, you're not alone — we did, too!

This is how online myths start. And they are that much harder to counter because there's no original of O'Rourke's posted video we can consult: Stories on Instagram and Snapchat typically disappear after 24 hours.

What actually happened: O'Rourke interviewed his dental hygienist as part of a series of posts about life on the Texas border.

  • His Instagram Story opened with a few seconds of scene-setting featuring the former Senate candidate (and possible presidential hopeful) in the dentist chair.
  • A still of that moment — the now-familiar one at the top of this story, which evoked a storm of "Yecchs!" on Twitter — came to represent the entire video in the world of social media, meme-making and late-night comedy.
  • The video as O'Rourke posted it can still be found online, but some other versions now on the internet have been altered or manipulated in misleading ways.

O'Rourke was following the lead of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, whose Instagram Stories — from congressional orientation to her kitchen — also seem to have inspired presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren t0 crack a beer and go live.

The big picture: As Instagram and Snapchat Stories become a dominant mode of online expression and political outreach, their ephemerality becomes a problem — both for fact-checking and for history.

  • Open government advocates say it's on Silicon Valley and government institutions to make sure that politicians' messages on these new channels aren't lost to history.

We don't have an Internet Archive for Instagram Stories like O'Rourke's. What we do have is political opposition researchers, who have long sent young staffers to record candidates in person.

  • Sarah Dolan, the executive director of America Rising, a conservative group that tracks Democratic candidates, says it is already recording and archiving Instagram Stories from anticipated top-tier 2020 candidates.

Yes, but: For political operatives, this isn't that new a world.

  • "It’s generally also ephemeral when people talk to a town hall, or at least it was until everyone had a smartphone, so I don’t see it as particularly different," says liberal group American Bridge's research director Pat Dennis.

Online myths emerge when partial or inaccurate but iconic freeze-frames of a moment in a public figure's saga replace the truth and context of the event.

  • The same thing happened to Al Gore when journalists, pundits and comedians misrepresented his attempt to claim (deserved) credit for his part in opening up the internet to the public and business.
  • This happened even before the internet era: George H.W. Bush's "Wow, these supermarket scanners are incredible" moment didn't really happen that way, but it hurt him with voters anyway.

The bottom line: New technologies and media formats keep making it easier for people to get things wrong.

Go deeper: Beware of live-streaming politicians

2. Facebook commits $300 million to local news

Photo: Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/Getty Images

Facebook says it's granting a total of $300 million to news programs, partnerships and content over the next 3 years, a similar amount to a commitment from the Google News Initiative last year, Axios' Sara Fischer reports.

Why it matters: The relationship between the news industry and Facebook has been rocky since news organizations blame tech firms for taking away ad revenue and Facebook algorithm changes dramatically affect how newsrooms get web traffic.

The efforts are meant to show Facebook's' support for quality journalism, and particularly local news, which it says is important to building community on its platform.

Details: Facebook says the project is meant to support local journalists and newsrooms with their news-gathering needs in the immediate future and help them build sustainable long-term business models, on and off its platform.

  • Roughly one-third of the money from the effort has already been allocated to local news non-profits and programs, as well as Facebook's own local news initiatives.

Why? Facebook says it's investing heavily in local news, in particular, because having spent more time with local news publishers via its accelerator programs over the past year, the company believes it will have the biggest impact in those areas.

"I strongly believe that because smaller publishers don't have the same resources as larger ones, this is really where we can have the most impact."
— Campbell Brown, head of news partnerships, Facebook

The big picture: Google last year announced a similar commitment of $300 million towards news initiatives over three years. Other tech companies and moguls have also been pouring resources into local news efforts for years. While many have made great progress, local news as a whole continues to struggle sans a sustainable business model.

Between the lines: Local news publishers have traditionally had a more welcoming relationship with technology companies than some of their bigger, national counterparts.

  • Jim Friedlich, executive director and CEO of The Lenfest Institute for Journalism, says Facebook and local news are "co-dependent" and calls the investments from Facebook "a sincere effort to help the local news business," as well as Facebook.

Yes, but: While the news industry welcomes these contributions, it will be difficult to reverse the tense relationships tech companies, and in particular, Facebook have had with some local and national publishers. "

Go deeper: Read Sara's full story on Facebook and her bigger dive into Big Tech's investment into local news.

3. Apple exec on Intel's CEO candidate list

Ina sent this one in from her sickbed ... As Intel's quest for a new CEO passes six months, one name that has been on the company's list but hasn't been previously reported is Apple's Johny Srouji.

As SVP of hardware technologies, Srouji has overseen the company's push into, among other things, designing more of its own silicon. While not an insider, Srouji does have quite a bit of experience with the chipmaker, having worked at its Israel facility from 1990 to 2005.

Intel declined to comment.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg reported Monday that several executives that had been under consideration are now out of the running. These include former Motorola chief Sanjay Jha, and two former Intel executives Anand Chandrasekher and Renee James.

Flashback: In case it's been so long that you've forgotten, Intel has been looking for a CEO since cutting ties with Brian Krzanich for a consensual relationship with an Intel employee. 

CFO Bob Swan has been interim CEO and is not currently a candidate for the gig full-time.

Read more about Srouji in this 2016 Bloomberg feature.

4. AV startup Zoox picks Intel veteran as CEO

After months of search, autonomous driving company Zoox has a new CEO: former Intel chief strategy officer Aicha Evans, Axios' Kia Kokalitcheva reports. Last August, the company’s board ousted co-founder Tim Kentley-Klay from the position.

The big picture: Zoox’s choice of a seasoned executive with experience from a large tech company over cowboy entrepreneurs shows that these companies know that’s what they need if they want to bring their futuristic tech to market—their next big challenge.

  • “The vision is intact ... Nothing has changed about the company,” Evans tells Axios, adding that the task now is to nail each next step for the company to reach its ultimate goal of getting fully self-driving cars on the road.
  • “My goal is that a year from now no one remembers that I wasn’t here at the beginning,” she says.
  • Born in Senegal and raised in Paris, Evans has been at Intel since 2006, leading various units and becoming its chief strategy officer in 2017.
  • While she says she wouldn’t call herself an “expert” in autonomous driving, she has been involved in the area thanks to Intel’s own foray into the industry, especially via its acquisition of computer vision company Mobileye nearly 2 years ago for $15 billion.

Background: In August, Zoox’s board of directors ousted Kentley-Klay one month after it announced a new $500 million funding round, valuing the company at $3.2 billion.

  • Kentley-Klay described the move as a surprise at the time, while sources told Axios that the decision was made because of his abrasive and uncompromising personality.

What’s next: “We still believe we’re on track to get our vehicles on public roads by 2020 with paying customers,” Zoox co-founder and president Jesse Levinson tells Axios.

Editor's note: The story has been updated to correct the spelling of Zoox president Jesse Levinson's last name.

5. Take note

Trading places

  • HP and Apple veteran Allison Johnson is joining PayPal in the newly created role of chief marketing officer.

ICYMI

6. After you Login

Watch UCLA Bruin's gymnast Katelyn Ohashi earn her perfect 10 score over the weekend at the Collegiate Challenge in Anaheim, California.

Ina Fried