Inside Facebook, YouTube and Twitter’s Struggle to Purge Video of the New Zealand Mosque Attacks

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

The daunting, near-impossible challenge of purging violent attacks from major tech platforms like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube was made clear on Friday in the minutes and hours after the horrifying mass shootings at two New Zealand mosques that killed 49 people and left dozens of others wounded.

The attack, and others like it, isn’t something that can be proactively blocked from social media. Instead, the shooting, which the shooting suspect livestreamed using Facebook Live and then recirculated on other platforms, is something that forces human moderators and artificial intelligence tools to act quickly to block. But the reaction isn’t instantaneous or flawless.

The responses of Twitter, Facebook and YouTube underscore the whack-a-mole nature of policing massive social media platforms — with massive audiences. Facebook has more than 2 billion users. YouTube pulls in more than 1 billion views each day and has hundreds of hours of content uploaded each minute. Twitter has 321 million users.

Entirely eradicating the video is immensely difficult, if not impossible. While the platforms are busy deleting posts, some users are working to share the attack. It’s the digital equivalent of capping a busted fire hydrant.

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The attacker, a 28-year-old Australian named Brenton Tarrant, may have known this would be the case. By livestreaming the bloodshed as he entered a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, and opened fire, he was able to maximize the anguish while allowing a faction of the internet to pick up where he left off, re-sharing the attack and thereby searing it into the memory of anyone that watches it.

And as one person familiar with Facebook’s review process told TheWrap, taking the draconian measure of banning new uploads that mention keywords like “mosque” or “shooting” isn’t feasible. Not only would it fail to block all uploads of the attack video, it would stifle innocuous reports and commentary on the tragedy.

The livestream, which captured the anguished cries pierce the brief moments between gun shots, remained up for nearly 20 minutes before Facebook was alerted by New Zealand police officers that the attack was being broadcast.

Also Read: Death Toll in New Zealand Mosque Shootings Rises to 49

Facebook spokesperson Mia Garlick said the company then “immediately removed” the livestream and deleted both the suspected shooter’s Facebook and Instagram accounts. Facebook is also “removing any praise or support for the crime and the shooter or shooters,” Garlick said, adding that the social media giant is continuing to work with police on its investigation of the case.

TheWrap has been unable to find video of the livestreamed attack on Facebook on Friday. That’s largely due to the measures Facebook took after removing the livestream — which include producing a scan of the video that allowed the company to detect new uploads that include the same scenes as the livestream.

According to one Facebook rep, the company’s AI technology is also able to spot blood and gore from the livestream — enabling Facebook to immediately remove uploads showing the most gruesome aspects of the livestream while allowing news reports on the massacre (which are unlikely to include graphic footage). The company is actively looking for links to the livestream on other sites, then alerting those sites to take the video down, the rep added.

But the recorded shooting continues to linger on other platforms, despite a unified push to remove it.

A person familiar with Twitter’s review process said the company is using a combination of AI and an international team of moderators to scan the platform and remove the offending video. This process hasn’t been foolproof, however; several tweets sharing video of the attack have remained easily findable on Twitter on Friday, with many of the tweets remaining up for hours at a time. An individual familiar with Twitter’s moderation team said the company strongly encourages users to flag tweets sharing the video so that its moderators can more quickly remove the clips. (Sharing the video violates Twitter’s rule against “glorification of violence.”)

Twitter declined to share how many tweets of the video it has removed.

Also Read: PewDiePie Is ‘Sickened’ After New Zealand Mosque Shooter Names Him in Attack Video

YouTube, the biggest video hub on the planet, has run into similar issues keeping the video off its site. A person familiar with YouTube’s response said it has removed thousands of uploads of the shooting on Friday. News reports showing segments of the attack will not be removed from YouTube, as the company allows exceptions to its ban on graphic content if it contains news value. But the company, like Facebook and Twitter, is leaning on machine-learning tools and its human moderation team to remove uploads of the raw video.

Our hearts are broken over today’s terrible tragedy in New Zealand. Please know we are working vigilantly to remove any violent footage.

— YouTube (@YouTube) March 15, 2019

Even after thousands of uploads have been removed, a constant stream of new uploads are added each hour by users looking to skirt YouTube’s enforcement mechanisms. Most are quickly caught and taken down, as a YouTube search of the last hour of uploads showed, but some slip through the cracks and allow viewers to watch the attack.

Right now, these tech giants are left with an imperfect solution — a reliance on flawed technology and moderators with a finite amount of time and energy —  to the problem of completely blocking video of violent attacks from spreading.

Jon Levine contributed to this report. 

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Apple Fires Back at Spotify: Music Streamer Wants to ‘Squeeze’ Its Competitors and Artists

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

We’ve got an old fashioned tech fight on our hands. Apple shot back at Spotify late Thursday night, saying the music streamer has been “misleading” the public while spending much of the past week lambasting Apple’s “unfair advantage” against its competitors, adding that Spotify is looking to take advantage of the App Store in the same way it’s taken advantage of artists in recent years.

At the heart of the matter is Spotify’s complaint that Apple charges its competitors a 30 percent “Apple tax” anytime users upgrade their service within the App Store. Spotify CEO Daniel Ek said earlier this week that Apple forces the world’s biggest music streamer to “artificially inflate” its prices — putting it at a disadvantage compared to Apple Music, its chief rival.

Spotify stopped paying the fee in 2015, opting to have its customers upgrade their service outside the App Store. Apple, in its response, said Spotify wants to “keep all the benefits” of the App Store without contributing to its upkeep.

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“We share Spotify’s love of music and their vision of sharing it with the world. Where we differ is how you achieve that goal,” Apple said in its response. “Underneath the rhetoric, Spotify’s aim is to make more money off others’ work. And it’s not just the App Store that they’re trying to squeeze — it’s also artists, musicians and songwriters.”

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The company response comes after Apple had stayed mum for the last two days. On Tuesday, Spotify filed an antitrust complaint with the European Commission against Apple, and on Wednesday, Ek said in Berlin Spotify’s relationship  with Apple had turned from something that was “mutually beneficial” to something that was “completely unsustainable.”

Apple said Spotify’s framing of the cut it receives from apps has been wrapped in “misleading rhetoric.”

“The only contribution that Apple requires is for digital goods and services that are purchased inside the app using our secure in-app purchase system,” Apple said. “As Spotify points out, that revenue share is 30 percent for the first year of an annual subscription — but they left out that it drops to 15 percent in the years after.”

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Spotify left out other important information, according to Apple, including that most of its 207 million subscribers only use the free version of its service. (Apple Music has gained 56 million paying customers, compared to 97 million for Spotify, since launching four years ago.) Apple argued much of Spotify’s success is due to the App Store — and failing to contribute part of its revenue is unethical.

“Spotify wouldn’t be the business they are today without the App Store ecosystem, but now they’re leveraging their scale to avoid contributing to maintaining that ecosystem for the next generation of app entrepreneurs. We think that’s wrong,” Apple said.

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Lori Loughlin’s YouTuber Daughter Olivia Jade Is Dropped by Sephora as College Admissions Bribe Case Unfolds

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Sephora has dropped its partnership with YouTuber Olivia Jade Giannulli on Thursday, two days after her parents, “Fuller House” star Lori Loughlin and fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, were charged in a nationwide college admissions cheat…

Spotify CEO Daniel Ek Says Apple’s Stiff Rules Place a ‘Gag Order’ on Its Competitors

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Spotify CEO Daniel Ek continued to rip Apple on Thurday, one day after the music streaming service filed an anti-competition complaint against the tech giant with the European Commission, saying what started off as a “mutually beneficial relation…

Twitter’s Camera-Driven Redesign Mirrors Popular Snapchat and Instagram Features

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Twitter is rolling out a major redesign on Wednesday, aiming to encourage users to share more pictures and videos, with its new features mirroring some of the more popular aspects of competitors like Snapchat and Instagram.

The app update’s key difference is that it will make it easier for users to quickly access the camera function. Once the app update hits their phone, users can swipe left from their timeline in order to take pictures. Previously, users had a more circuitous route to adding a picture or video, needing to tap the camera icon after clicking its compose tweet button on the bottom right of its app. Another swipe allows users to record video or live audio.

The easy-access camera isn’t the only change that’s similar to Snapchat. Users can add color, hashtags, location, and up to its standard 280 characters of text on pictures, drawing on some of the staple features of Snapchat and Instagram.

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Twitter will also recommend locations for users to tag in their pictures based on events that they’re close to, with Engadget reporting that Twitter will initially place an emphasis on sports games and other big events. Twitter wants the new features, which were unveiled at South-by-Southwest in Austin, Texas, to allow users to better engage with topics and events that they’re interested in or nearby.

“It knows where you are and what’s going on around you,” Keith Coleman, Twitter’s head of product, told NBC. “So if you’re at SXSW, it knows that, and it will suggest you add the SXSW hashtag.”

Additional major changes could also be released. Twitter is experimenting with hiding the number of likes and retweets each tweet gets behind a tap, according to NBC. The outlet had to issue a correction on Wednesday afternoon after initially reporting Twitter was considering completely removing the number of likes and retweets each tweet receives, something that would’ve fundamentally altered the app. The move could be another push towards improving the “health of the conversation” on Twitter, something that chief executive Jack Dorsey and other company execs have stressed in the last year.

NBC has a CORRECTION on its New Twitter story and it’s important pic.twitter.com/6VEHv34XCg

— Gene Park (@GenePark) March 13, 2019

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Facebook and Instagram Are Down for Some Users

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

If you’re unable to access Facebook or Instagram, you’re not alone. The social network and the popular pictures/video sharing app are both experiencing an outage on Wednesday, with many frustrated users venting on Twitter.

“We’re aware that some people are currently having trouble accessing the Facebook family of apps. We’re working to resolve the issue as soon as possible,” a Facebook spokesperson told TheWrap.

Facebook has been down since about 10:15 a.m. PT for many users, with downdetector.com, a website that tracks outages, receiving more than 10,000 reported problems between 10:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. PT.

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Some users who are unable to access Facebook from their desktop computers have been able to use its app without issue on an iPhone. According to The Independent, many Facebook users were greeted with a message that said that the site was “down for maintenance” when they visited on Wednesday. Instagram, meanwhile, has had difficulty loading user profiles and refreshing pictures on its timeline.

Rather than wait for Instagram or Facebook to go back online, many people — including Soulja Boy — raced to Twitter to joke and complain.

Facebook???? Instagram???? Atleast the Soulja App isn’t down ????????‍

— Soulja Boy (@souljaboy) March 13, 2019

Hello to everyone who has come back to twitter while Facebook and Instagram are down. Yes everything is still terrible and yes we are still all arguing with each other.

— TechnicallyRon (@TechnicallyRon) March 13, 2019

Me: Instagram and Facebook are down.

Wife: Oh, no. You’ll have to interact with people in person.

Me: No. There’s still Twitter.

— James Breakwell, Exploding Unicorn (@XplodingUnicorn) March 13, 2019

When #instagram is not working … Everybody run to twitter to check on it…

— Eddy Manolo (@syahchixchad) March 13, 2019

Everyone running from Instagram to twitter to see if other peoples Insta is down lmao #instagram pic.twitter.com/jKj6bnXxR9

— Nic???? (@HeyNicky_) March 13, 2019

Everyone running to twitter to see if facebook and instagram are down pic.twitter.com/lXCcHdASFx

— VT (@vtdotco) March 13, 2019

We’ll update you when both are back up and running at full capacity.

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Rupert Murdoch and News Corp Push for Google’s Breakup

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. is calling for Australian regulators to break up Google, saying in a petition that the company enjoys “overwhelming” search and advertising dominance.

“Google leverages its market power in both general search services and ad tech services to the detriment of consumers, advertisers and news publishers,” News Corp. said in its petition to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. News Corp. owns several major publications, including Fox News, The Wall Street Journal and a number of high-profile international outlets.

The petition comes a week after presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) unveiled her plan to break up tech companies like Facebook, Amazon and Google. Warren’s proposal to rein in Silicon Valley compared the current tech landscape to a modern day Gilded Age, where smaller companies are “bulldozed” by the big players. “We need to stop this generation of big tech companies from throwing around their political power to shape the rules in their favor and throwing around their economic power to snuff out or buy up every potential competitor,” Warren said.

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News Corp. recommended Google could either sell Google Search or “divest the rest of its businesses to a third party” to “remedy” the “harms” its placed on its competitors. Alphabet, Google’s parent company, reported last month it earned nearly $137 billion in revenue last year, with the vast majority of its sales stemming from its advertising business.

The company added: “While News Corp Australia recognises that divestment is a very serious step, and not a foregone conclusion in cases where there is a finding of market power, News Corp Australia considers that divestment is necessary in the case of Google, due to the unparalleled power that it currently exerts over news publishers and advertisers alike.”

Google did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment.

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It’s unclear how the Australian regulators, even if they’re inclined to follow each recommendation from News Corp., would begin to break up the American tech giant. Still, the proposal shows once again Murdoch’s willingness to take on Silicon Valley. Last year, Murdoch pushed Facebook, the internet’s second-biggest ad company after Google, to pay publishers a “carriage fee,” similar to cable television.

“If Facebook wants to recognize ‘trusted’ publishers then it should pay those publishers a carriage fee similar to the model adopted by cable companies,” Murdoch said.  “The publishers are obviously enhancing the value and integrity of Facebook through their news and content but are not being adequately rewarded for those services.”

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Elizabeth Warren Rips Facebook After It Reinstates Pulled Ads

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren ripped Facebook on Monday night, saying it has “too much power,” after the social network removed — and later reinstated — her ads lambasting the company and other tech giants for trampling competition.

The ads came after the presidential candidate recently unveiled her plan to break up “anti-competitive” tech mergers, like Facebook’s buyout of WhatsApp and Instagram.

“Three companies have vast power over our economy and our democracy. Facebook, Amazon, and Google,” the ads, which started running last Friday, said. “We all use them. But in their rise to power, they’ve bulldozed competition, used our private information for profit, and tilted the playing field in their favor.”

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The ads were taken down for violating Facebook’s ad policy, Politico first reported Monday. A Facebook rep told the outlet the ads were pulled for using the company’s logo but were later reinstated to encourage “robust debate.” Facebook did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment.

Warren weighed in on the matter on Twitter soon after Politico’s story broke. “Curious why I think [Facebook] has too much power? Let’s start with their ability to shut down a debate over whether [it] has too much power.”

Curious why I think FB has too much power? Let’s start with their ability to shut down a debate over whether FB has too much power. Thanks for restoring my posts. But I want a social media marketplace that isn’t dominated by a single censor. #BreakUpBigTech https://t.co/UPS6dozOxn

— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) March 11, 2019

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Warren added in a follow-up tweet, “you shouldn’t have to contact Facebook’s publicists in order for them to decide to ‘allow robust debate’ about Facebook. They shouldn’t have that much power.”

Warren’s proposal to rein in Silicon Valley last week compared the current tech landscape to a modern day Gilded Age, where smaller companies are unable to compete with the big players. “We need to stop this generation of big tech companies from throwing around their political power to shape the rules in their favor and throwing around their economic power to snuff out or buy up every potential competitor,” Warren said.

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Google Paid Former VP up to $45 Million to Leave Company After Being Accused of Sexual Misconduct

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

The board of directors at Alphabet, Google’s parent company, agreed to pay a former high-ranking executive up to $45 million when he left the company in early 2016 following an accusation of sexual misconduct, according to court documents released on Monday.

The payout to Amit Singhal, a former senior vice president overseeing Google Search, came after he was accused of drunkenly groping an employee at an off-campus event, according to The New York Times. The company investigated the employee’s accusation and found it to be “credible,” per the Times.

The previously undisclosed exit package was revealed in a shareholder lawsuit against Alphabet, which said that the board acted irresponsibly by paying former executives accused of sexual misconduct rather than firing them for cause.

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Singhal was paid a combined $30 million for the first two years after he left Google in February 2016, according to the suit, and between $5 million and $15 million for his third year away from the company, depending on whether he worked for a competitor. According to the Times, Singhal took a job at Uber a year after he left Google, but resigned a few weeks later after the accusations became public.

Google has “made many changes to our workplace and taken an increasingly hard line on inappropriate conduct by people in positions of authority,” a company spokesperson told the NYT. “There are serious consequences for anyone who behaves inappropriately at Google.”

For Google’s critics, the payout reinforces a disturbing trend. Last fall, it was reported Google paid Android co-founder Andy Rubin $90 million when he left the company in 2014 after an employee said that he “coerced” her into having oral sex. A rep for Rubin denied any sexual misconduct accusations in October.

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In a company-wide email from CEO Sundar Pichai in October, he said Google had fired 48 people in the last two years for sexual misconduct, including 13 people who were “senior managers and above.” The following week, hundreds of Google workers around the world walked out to protest the company’s perceived mishandling of sexual misconduct accusations.

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Spotify Premium Members Now Get Ad-Supported Hulu for Free

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Starting Tuesday, Spotify Premium subscribers will now receive access to ad-supported Hulu at no additional cost, signaling the latest partnership between the world’s biggest streaming service and the streaming home of “The Handmaid’s Tale.”

New Spotify Premium customers can get a free 30-day trial, then are charged $10 per month for both services. The offer is also available to existing Spotify Premium subscribers, who are able to immediately activate their Hulu accounts.

The $10 per month combo package comes almost a year after Hulu and Spotify offered a similar package for $13 per month last year. (Customers paying the old prices will be automatically migrated to the new prices.) Hulu recently dropped the price of its ad-supported streaming from $7.99 per month to $5.99 per month; its “no commercials” plan remains $11.99 per month.

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One hangup, as The Verge pointed out, is that customers won’t receive Showtime — something that is included in Spotify’s $5-per-month student plans when they sign up for Hulu’s ad-supported streaming.

Spotify Premium subscribers will be “restricted,” per The Verge, from adding HBO or Showtime to their free Hulu service, meaning they’ll need to download and pay for the individual apps to watch the latest seasons of “Game of Thrones” or “Billions.”

The companies said the offer is available until June 10 or as long as supplies last.

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How Doing Things Media Laughed It Up to 30 Million Instagram Followers and a TV Show in 2 Years

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

The key to a booming network of Instagram accounts? Making people laugh, according to Doing Things Media co-founders Reid Hailey and Derek Lucas.

Two years after launching, Doing Things Media now has more than 30 million people following its array of social media accounts, combining for 500 million views each month. On Instagram, where the lion’s share of its fans are, you can find a small army of “Doing Things” accounts — “Animals Doing Things,” “Drunk People Doing Things” — dedicated to finding and posting funny videos. Staples include dogs wearing sunglasses and looking cute on boats and drunk people doing, well, stupid stuff.

Doing Things Media is also leveraging its library of 100,000 clips, partnering with Netflix, Tinder and MTV’s “Ridiculousness” to share content. It’s also brought a TV show, “Howie Mandel’s Animals Doing Things,” to Nat Geo Wild, where the comedian narrates the funniest and quirkiest videos from the “Animals Doing Things” Instagram account. The show’s second season will air this summer.

“Everything is lighthearted and fun on all of our brands,” 28-year-old Hailey told TheWrap. “We come from a place where we started in memes, where if it isn’t funny it doesn’t work. All of our pages have that theme to it.”

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But how do you know which videos will and will not rack up the likes, follows and views on Instagram? It’s an inexact science, but one they’ve “definitely learned over time,” Hailey said, after going through “hundreds of thousands of videos” in the last few years.

The most important thing to their millennial and Gen-Z audience is the internal urge to share a video to someone else after first seeing it. “If you want to show it to someone else, if you think it’s funny or interesting, then other people are going to want to show it to other people, too,” Hailey said.

That’s the mantra Hailey and Lucas have passed on to their Atlanta-based team of 20- to 30-year-old employees who are now charged with going through thousands of video submissions each month.

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Still, when pressed on what it takes to make videos really pop on Instagram, Lucas said it takes more than just a good clip. Instagram, after an early-2017 algorithm shift placed an increased emphasis on video, is now flooded with an endless stream of clips. Lucas said it’s critical to “create a narrative” around clips — even if it doesn’t necessarily fit the video’s original theme — that will resonate with Instagram’s young audience. Sometimes, finding that narrative can take months.

“We [received] a video where a mom and a dad, probably middle-aged, and some 20-year-olds were all drunk eating fast food. And one kid had food spilled all over himself. And the description that got sent to us what they were bar-hopping. I tested that video out on ‘Drunk People Doing Things’ and it did mediocre,” Lucas, 29, recounted.

“I came back to it about six months later and decided to put a caption on it that they ate edibles with their parents and we tried it out with that, a totally different narrative, and it went super-viral.”

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Doing Things Media, like many other media companies, has grown in large part thanks to repurposing content generated by everyday users of the internet. This budding industry has recently been in the spotlight, with F—Jerry, the wildly popular Instagram account, skewered in the last month for taking jokes and memes and failing to acknowledge their original creators. Barstool Sports was also roundly criticized last week for the same transgression.

Lucas said Doing Things Media doesn’t want to make the same mistake as F—Jerry, where it’s essentially stealing other people’s work. Instead, Lucas and Hailey credit creators for their video and give a “submitted by” shout-out on all Doing Things” Instagram posts.

“We’re definitely well aware of what’s happening with F—Jerry,” Lucas said. “We want people to have an incentive to submit videos to us. That’s kind of what powers the business, and we also want to help them out.

“We grew our whole business with originals memes and content and crediting people, and I think that’s what kind of makes us different from some of the other people in this space,” he added. “We really respect creative voices.”

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Jeffrey Katzenberg’s new digital startup Quibi is creating a series based on the rise of Snapchat. And yes, even Katzenberg sees the similarities to “The Social Network,” the 2010 movie about the birth and growth of Facebook.
“W…

20 Most Streamed Women in Apple Music History, From Ariana Grande to Lady Gaga (Photos)

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Apple Music revealed its top 20 most streamed female artists in its history on Friday, in honor of International Women’s Day. Check out where some of the biggest names in music rank, including Ariana Grande, Lady Gaga, and Rihanna.
1) Ariana Gran…

Ariana Grande Tops List of Most Streamed Female Artists on Apple Music (Exclusive)

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Ariana Grande is the most-streamed female artist in the four-year history of Apple Music, the service announced on Friday — just in time for International Women’s Day.

The 25-year-old “Thank U, Next” singer edges out Taylor Swift, Rihanna and Beyoncé on Apple Music’s “Top Women in Streaming” list, announced as the service is set to showcase several visionary female artists during March on its radio shows and curated playlists.

Grande is the first and only female artist to cross the 3 billion total streams threshold since Apple Music launched in mid-2015, according to an individual familiar with its streaming figures. She’s joined by Swift and Rihanna as the only three women in the 2 Billion or More Streams Club.

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Of course, Grande’s streaming numbers have been goosed by the success of her latest album, the Scooter Braun-produced “Thank U, Next,” which set an Apple Music record in its own right when it debuted in February with 185.4 million worldwide streams in its first week — the most by any male or female pop artist ever. That easily tops Ed Sheeran’s 107.5 million global streams — the most for a male pop artist — in the first week after “Divide” came out in 2017.

Nicki Minaj, meanwhile, edged out her rival Cardi B to close out the top 5. Cardi B still has some bragging rights, though: Her 2018 album “Invasion of Privacy” set an Apple Music record as the most streamed female R&B/hip-hop album in its first week of release, pulling in more than 100 million global streams.

Other noteworthy results include Lady Gaga coming in at number nine, Selena Gomez at number 14, and 17-year-old singer-songwriter Billie Eilish cracking the top 20. And for anyone wondering who is Apple Music’s most streamed artist, male or female, of all time, it’s Drake.

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As March continues, Apple Music will also release more than 100 Apple Music playlists, spanning upwards of 3,000 song, dedicated to female artists.

Below you can check out the full top 20 list of Apple Music’s “Top Women in Streaming”:

1)         Ariana Grande

2)          Taylor Swift

3)          Rihanna

4)          Beyonce

5)          Nicki Minaj

6)          Cardi B

7)          Adele

8)          Sia

9)          Lady Gaga

10)        Halsey

11)       Lana Del Rey

12)        SZA

13)        Demi Lovato

14)        Selena Gomez

15)        Katy Perry

16)        P!nk

17)        Camila Cabello

18)        Mariah Carey

19)        Ella Mai

20)        Billie Eilish

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Democrats Push ‘Save the Internet Act’ to Overturn the ‘Trump Assault on Net Neutrality’

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Democrats in both the House and the Senate announced a new bill on Wednesday aiming to return to Obama-era net neutrality rules, more than a year after Trump-appointed FCC Chairman Ajit Pai spearheaded their repeal.

The “Save the Internet Act,” available to read here, aims to bar internet service providers like Verizon and AT&T from blocking or throttling access to certain content without government recourse. The bill would reinstate rules put in place by the FCC in 2015 under President Obama and later repealed by Pai in late 2017.

“With the Save the Internet Act, Democrats are honoring the will of the people and restoring the protections that do this: Stop unjust discriminatory practices by ISPs that try to throttle the public browsing speed, block your internet access and increase your costs, giving to entrepreneurs and small businesses a level playing field and ensuring American innovation can continue to be the envy of the world,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said on Wednesday.

Also Read: FCC Sets Date for Net Neutrality Pullback

Pelosi said the bill will come to the floor in the coming weeks, adding that 86 percent of Americans oppose the “Trump assault on net neutrality,” including 82 percent of Republicans.

Opponents of Pai’s decision have argued that the repeal of net neutrality grants too much power to a select few ISPs and hurts consumers, who could see price hikes; those in favor have said the Federal Trade Commission, which the FCC ceded power to, will be able to tackle companies that act anti-competitively. Pai has also argued the 2015 rules have stymied internet investment.

“The FCC’s return in 2017 to the bipartisan, light-touch approach to Internet regulation has been a success,” Pai’s spokeswoman Tina Pelkey told CNBC on Wednesday. “This time-tested framework has preserved the free and open Internet. It has promoted transparency in order to better inform consumer choice. It has unleashed private investment, resulting in more fiber being deployed in 2018 than any year before and download speeds increasing by an astounding 36 percent.”

The FCC’s 2017 decision, Pelkey continued, has “proven wrong the many hysterical predictions of doom from 2017, most notably the fantasy that market-based regulation would bring about ‘the end of the Internet as we know it.’”

Also Read: AT&T Calls for Congress to Pass Net Neutrality Law

Sen. Chuck Schumer said he expects the bill to pass in both houses of Congress, but whether that’s the case is up for debate. With Republicans in control of the Senate, the bill could be “dead on arrival,” as The Washington Post said on Wednesday. Sen. John Thune (R-SD) has already come out against the Democrats’ plan, although he tweeted he’s “ready to work on a bipartisan legislative solution when they are, too.”

Dems earned three Pinocchios from @washingtonpost for last year’s bogus claim that @FCC’s #NetNeutrality repeal would grind the internet to a halt. How many will they earn today? I’m ready to work on a bipartisan legislative solution when they are, too. https://t.co/CbjGqDenT8

— Senator John Thune (@SenJohnThune) March 6, 2019

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Senate Votes to Block FCC’s Repeal of Net Neutrality

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Pluto TV CEO on Impact of $340 Million Viacom Deal – and a Possible Premium Streaming Plan

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

The demise of traditional, ad-supported TV has been greatly exaggerated, according to Tom Ryan. The CEO of Pluto TV has tried to take the best of what old-school television has to offer — accessibility, quality programming, curation — and use it to power his Los Angeles-based streaming startup that Viacom acquired for $340 million in a deal that closed on Monday.

“We’ve grown fast, but we’re going to grow a heckuva lot faster now that we’re partnering up with Viacom,” Ryan told TheWrap.

At a time when Netflix is reinventing the way viewers watch and pay for content, Pluto TV has doubled down on the sanctity of free, ad-driven entertainment — though Ryan said Pluto TV could consider a paid “premium” option down the line. Ryan, who will remain as Pluto TV’s CEO, also teased that a “significant” portion of Viacom content will migrate to Pluto TV.

Though he declined to detail the exact number or any specific titles that might stream on Pluto, Viacom has held back hit shows like MTV’s “Jersey Shore” and Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show” from streaming services like Hulu and YouTube TV.

Also Read: Viacom Buys Streaming Service Pluto TV for $340 Million in Cash

Viacom chief Bob Bakish, who has spearheaded the company’s digital push since taking the reins two years ago, said last week that Pluto TV will serve as the “cornerstone” of its direct-to-consumer strategy by giving Viacom a free platform to upsell viewers on content from Noggin, Comedy Central and “a new Nickelodeon product.”

Since launching in 2014, Pluto TV has added more than 100 free channels covering movies, TV and news. After doubling its user base last year, the company now boasts more than 12 million monthly viewers who are streaming on mobile, smart TVs and a myriad of devices, including Roku and Apple TV.

TheWrap caught up with Ryan one day after the Viacom deal closed to discuss his new overlords and how much time viewers are spending watching free TV.

You launched Pluto TV as an ad-based video on demand [AVOD] service, just as Netflix was ramping up the SVOD revolution. Why did you pursue that strategy?

When you launch a company, you need to look for opportunities that are unmet customer needs and often times opportunities that are under-appreciated to most players. If you’re building something that everyone already believes is the way things are going to be, even if it scratches a customer itch, then you’re probably already too late to the market.

AVOD has been overlooked and under-appreciated for a very long period of time. We made a bunch of contrarian — or seemingly contrarian — bets whens we launched the business, about the power of linear. At the time we launched Pluto TV, everyone said the world was moving to subscription video on demand, that people won’t watch ads, people want to DJ their way through video experiences and play everything from start to finish on demand. We knew people are creatures of habit and people like to be programmed to.

Also Read: 5 Questions With Pluto TV’s Amy Kuessner on Creating ‘Truly Unique Entertainment Options’

What lessons from “traditional TV” has Pluto TV brought to the streaming world?

Traditional TV has done so many things right over the years. It’s given you a great place to go for a wide range of premium content, aggregated into interspace channels and delivered in an easy-to-channel-surf guide. Those are fantastic things that served traditional TV over the years.

But I think, as with any new thing, once there’s a view the world has changed and you see some of the major SVOD players emerge, there becomes a conventional group think that that’s the only way to compete.

Consumers want to have a lot of the things traditional TV has done well over the decades, but they want it on an internet-connected product. They want to watch it over the internet or on their phone.

If we look back over the course of television history, a significant portion of the great content that we’ve known and love has been funded by advertising, so why would that change in the future? A significant portion of television will continue to be funded by advertising, even though we’re in this golden age of television in part because the major SVOD services are investing so heavily [in ad-free content]. That’s great for consumers, but consumers are only going to subscribe to so many subscription services.

A look at Pluto TV

How can Pluto TV alleviate “subscription fatigue”?

Ampere Research said [last June] the average OTT household subscribes to 2.8 subscriptions.

So that’s Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and everyone else fighting for that 0.8, right? So what Pluto allows is we gives you an easy, free and highly-curated way to create your bundle.

Also Read: How Xumo Became an Acquisition Target: Active Users Jump 60 Percent With Push Into Free Movies

Pluto TV has experienced you’ve called “explosive” growth, doubling monthly viewership to 12 million users by the end of last year. How much time is the average user spending per session on Pluto TV, on both TV and mobile? 

We’ve seen growth on both mobile and connected devices. Our average session duration on connected TVs is over two hours. And our average session duration on mobile is about a half an hour, which is really good when you think about consumption on a small-screen device.

But clearly the session duration on connected TV, which is true lean-back living room viewing, is much longer, which has been so gratifying. We’re looking to be the predominant free-streaming TV app that you engage with in your living room on your connected TV, whether that’s a smart TV, connected video player or a gaming console.

Why was Viacom the right partner for Pluto TV?

They help us accelerate our growth even faster. Our mission has been to entertain the planet, and we want to be a free streaming platform that is entertaining people around the world with the best-in-class free television service.

I come back to the main categories of value that were really driving the decision to do this deal in the first place. They have a massive amount of premium content that they’ve held back from SVOD services that can come to Pluto TV — and that can make our offering that much more premium that much more quickly.

We believe that partnering with a world-class media company like Viacom brings premium content to Pluto, brings a marquee brand to Pluto. [Viacom is a company] that can help us advance our advertising capabilities — I believe they sell $4 billion worth of ads each year — and also has a global footprint. These are all major accelerants to what we’ve already built.

Also Read: Mastering the Ins and Outs of Building Linear OTT Channels

Is “Pluto TV Premium,” or a paid subscription version of Pluto TV, a possibility?

We’ve always had a vision at Pluto as a standalone company of building a freemium offering over time. And Viacom has also announced since the deal there’s an opportunity for Pluto to serve as that free, highly-engaged OTT audience that can be presented with products like Viacom’s subscription services. So there’s already a shared vision there. How that will manifest itself is not yet fully determined or announced.

But absolutely, when you have a group of highly engaged free users and they’re making your service one of their go-to destinations services for their TV viewing, it absolutely makes sense to look at providing them with additional services and paid services.

What digital trends are you keeping an eye on in 2019?

I do believe you’re going to see an explosive growth in the viewership that comes from connected TVs. Not just from app stores but from an increasingly sophisticated set of services. Because hardware companies want to be in the content and services businesses. Hardware is a low-margin business but they build up very valuable audiences and they want to further monetize what they’ve built by being higher-margin content and advertising based revenue. and I think companies like ours are really well positioned to assist companies get into that.

So I think there’s going to be a lot more that rolls out in terms of built-in television experiences that provide a free and instant out-of-the-box entertainment experience for customers of smart TVs and other products. It’s not an unknown trend, but I think it’s a trend that’s really poised for rapid growth.

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Viacom Buys Streaming Service Pluto TV for $340 Million in Cash

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Gene ‘Bean’ Baxter to Leave ‘Kevin & Bean’ KROQ Radio Show

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Gene “Bean” Baxter, the co-host of morning drive-time “The Kevin & Bean Show” on Los Angeles’ KROQ for nearly 30 years, announced on Wednesday that he is leaving the show later this year, and moving to England, his birth country, with his wife, Donna.

Baxter made the announcement at the beginning of the 7:00 a.m PST hour, before tweeting about his departure as well.

Just announced on the @KevinAndBean Show, after 30 years I am leaving the show at the end of the year to move back home to England, the ninth largest island in the world. Much more to come on this. ???????? pic.twitter.com/XjPfasWwJw

— KROQ’s Bean (@clydetombaugh) March 6, 2019

Also Read: ‘Loveline’ Radio Show to End After 33 Years

Baxter and co-host Kevin Ryder debuted their show on Jan. 2, 1990, which rose to strong ratings behind a mix of comedy segments, interviews with rock and movie stars, and alternative rock hits from the ’90s and ’00s. “The Kevin & Bean Show” became a launching pad for several former contributors, including Jimmy Kimmel, Adam Carolla, “Psycho” Mike Catherwood, and radio host Matt “Money” Smith.

Baxter’s quirky personality and interest in the onetime-planet Pluto (his Twitter handle pays homage to Clyde Tombaugh, the man who discovered Pluto) and fascination with the U.S. Postal Service endeared him to listeners, while also leaving him vulnerable to jokes. For years, Baxter and Ryder have been the hosts of the Weenie Roast and Almost Acoustic Christmas, KROQ’s two biggest annual concerts, as well as April Foolishness, a yearly comedy show put on by “The Kevin & Bean Show.”

Baxter said that he plans on pursuing a radio job once he returns to England, although it might be difficult because of his “stupid American accent.” Baxter was born in the U.K. and moved to the U.S. decades ago. It’s unclear what direction the show will take at the end of the year once Baxter exits.

Also Read: iHeartRadio Music Awards Move Networks Again, Will Air on Fox in 2019

Baxter notoriously moved away from Los Angeles more than 15 years ago but continued to co-host the show from his home in Seattle, and later, New Orleans. He took several months off from the show in 2018 to deal with medical issues. Baxter and Ryder were inducted into the National Association of Broadcasters’ Broadcasting Hall of Fame in 2015.

Ryder saluted his departing co-host on Twitter on Wednesday morning, saying “this will make [Baxter] happy. And that makes me happy.”

Just gotta say, Bean’s been thinking about this for a LONG time. And this will make him happy.
And that makes me happy @kevinandbean https://t.co/0ZcPx85aNu

— Kevin Ryder (@thekevinryder) March 6, 2019

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Allie Mac Kay Says She Received ‘Death Threats’ After Replacing Lisa May on KROQ’s ‘Kevin & Bean’

Ralph Garman Exits KROQ’s ‘Kevin and Bean’ Show After 18 Years

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