Jan 6, 2017

Why we can't kill off "fake news" in 2017

1) It's hard to define: Sophisticated audience measurement companies, like ComScore and SimilarWeb, are agnostic in their definition of what is considered fake news.

2) Which makes it hard to measure: SimilarWeb spokesman Ariel Rosenstein says the site can't always draw accurate conclusions about a website's overall reach based off inconsistent traffic patterns from sites frequently changing domains and subdomains.

3) It's still easy to monetize. Fake news sites can buy advertising through self-serving platforms once they receive enough impressions. Third-party ad-servers, like Google's AdSense, have implemented policies against fake news advertisers, but they have to be wary of over-characterizing which sites are considered real or fake.

4) Because regulators aren't acting: The FTC has the power to penalize sites that mislead consumers or affect consumer behavior. But the Commission rarely enforces the Act on accounts of libel that don't affect consumer behavior.

5) And it doesn't need Facebook or Google to survive: As Digiday notes, ad networks that distribute content to publishers at a low cost are also struggling to keep fake news sites off their distribution channels.

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The novel coronavirus has spread from China to infect people in more than 40 countries and territories around the world, killing over 2,700 people.

The big picture: Most of the 80,000 COVID-19 infections have occurred in mainland China. But cases are starting to surge elsewhere. By Wednesday morning, the worst affected countries outside China were South Korea (1,146), where a U.S. soldier tested positive to the virus, Italy (332), Japan (170), Iran (95) and Singapore (91). Just Tuesday, new cases were confirmed in Switzerland, Croatia and Algeria.

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Sen. Bernie Sanders wanted to keep his momentum after winning contests in New Hampshire and Nevada, while former Vice President Joe Biden hoped to keep his own campaign alive. The other five candidates were just trying to hang on.

What's happening: Seven contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination were in Charleston, South Carolina, for the tenth debate, just days before the South Carolina primary and a week before Super Tuesday. They spoke, sometimes over each other, about health care, Russian interference in the election, foreign policy the economy, gun control, marijuana, education, and race.

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4 takeaways from the South Carolina debate

Former Vice President Joe Biden, right, makes a point during Tuesday's Democratic presidential debate, while Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders listens. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

The 10th Democratic debate was billed as the most consequential of the primary thus far, but Tuesday night's high-stakes affair was at times awkward and unfocused as moderators struggled to rein in candidates desperate to make one last splash before Saturday's primary in South Carolina and Super Tuesday.

The big picture: After cementing himself as the Democratic favorite with a sweeping win in Nevada, Sen. Bernie Sanders came under fire as the front-runner for the first time on the debate stage. Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who will be on the ballot for the first time next Tuesday, was a progressive foil once again, but he appeared more prepared after taking a drubbing at the Nevada debate.