Facebook Cracks Down On Infractions In Groups; Sinclair Is All In On Sports Betting

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Group Think

New rule! Facebook will begin telling users who are about to join a group whether said group has ever violated its Community Standards. Facebook is trying to get its act together when it comes to flagging hate speech and misinformation, especially after the Jan. 6 mob attack on the US Capitol, which ultimately led to former President Trump getting booted off the platform. Business Insider reports that Facebook will also stop recommending groups that have violated its standards and reduce the distribution of the group's content in the news feed. Users who have repeatedly broken Facebook’s rules will be barred from creating a group, inviting others to join a group or posting in any groups. The new rules will be rolled out globally in the coming months and build upon Facebook's decision, in January, to stop recommending civic and political groups to US users. Read on.

Dice Roll

In yet another sign that sports media is getting cozy with the gambling industry, Sinclair Broadcast Group is rebranding its regional Fox Sports networks in the US as Bally Sports. Yep, just like the casino, which is paying Sinclair $88 million over 10 years for the naming rights. The Wall Street Journal reports that the TV station giant is promoting the role its regional television networks play in distributing live games and other sports content about local teams and players. Bally’s sports betting content will be integrated into broadcasts, and although actual sports wagering will remain separate for now, it’ll eventually be available through Bally’s Bet platform. In addition to promoting the renamed networks on its other properties, Sinclair is spending more than $10 million this year on marketing this endeavor. Media companies have long resisted the association with gambling, but that’s changing as more states begin to legalize sports betting, and networks feel the pain of cord cutting fueled by the pandemic – not to mention a decline in ratings for live sports. “Numerous media companies are investing in gambling because they believe the combination of broader legalization plus advancements in technology will ensure that gambling becomes a future revenue stream,” said Ross Benes, a senior analyst at eMarketer.

A Challenger Speaks

With the Senate Judiciary antitrust committee hearings underway — and with the Department of Justice’s lawsuit against Alphabet also ongoing — it would be an understatement to say that the federal government is leaning on big tech over alleged anticompetitive practices. And even Google’s former ad chief is challenging its search engine monopoly. In an interview with Fast Company, Sridhar Ramaswamy says that current antitrust law has trouble measuring the competitive harm in free services from huge aggregators and are therefore in need of an overhaul. Ramaswamy is a cofounder of Neeva, a new subscription search engine – and would-be challenger to Google – that doesn’t sell ads or track user behavior. Asked whether he thinks it’s reasonable to consider regulating companies such as Google and Facebook like utilities, Ramaswamy said that the idea needs to be seriously considered. “I think they run the real risk that a few companies essentially become gatekeepers,” he said. “This has already happened in other sectors, not just tech. Especially in a world where the internet is literally the gateway to everything in our lives, both digital and physical stuff, to have two or three gatekeepers is, to me, a real problem.”

But Wait, There’s More!

France’s competition regulator has rejected a plea from advertising companies and publishers to block Apple’s plan to restrict tracking of individuals’ mobile-app usage. [WSJ]

Preparing for Apple’s crackdown on app tracking is perplexing enough – but on top of that here are five common misconceptions about the restrictions. [Digiday]

Travel ad spending and revenue tumbled more than 60% in 2020, but the industry sees a recovery on the horizon. [Ad Age]

Audio ad agency Oxford Road is partnering with Ad Fontes Media on a new brand safety tool. [release]

Growth marketing automation platform Act-On Software has raised $20 million in equity and debt. [GeekWire]

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