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Twitter to allow brands to buy commercials on its video streams for Periscope

Twitter is allowing a select group of advertisers to purchase pre-roll videos, meaning those that run prior to the publishers’ content, on Periscope streams

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March 30, 2017: Twitter, trying to boost its sagging advertising revenue, will allow brands to buy commercials on its video streams for Periscope, signaling a major push to make money off the live-streaming platform, the company announced on Tuesday morning.

With sponsors growing more wary of exactly what kind of online videos their ads are being placed against, Twitter is allowing a select group of advertisers to purchase pre-roll videos, meaning those that run prior to the publishers’ content, on Periscope streams.

Twitter acquired Periscope in 2015.

Google’s YouTube, long the dominant force for online video ad dollars, has seen an exodus from brands upset to find their ads running alongside anti-Semitic and other videos that shocked customers. Companies that left included Verizon Communications, AT&T Inc and Johnson & Johnson.

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YouTube’s selling process automatically places ads next to videos that meet the criteria for the audience advertisers want to reach, but the Alphabet unit has had difficulty policing the vast array of videos that are uploaded.

Twitter is only offering up a select group of publishers for brands to buy ads against, which will let advertisers know exactly where their ads are showing up. “This is the solution to that problem,” Matthew Derella, Twitter’s vice president of global revenue and operations, told Reuters. “We believe the advertiser should have control.”

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The video ads will only be seen when viewed within Twitter’s platform. Twitter allowed for Periscope streams to be integrated within Twitter last year. The advertisers will be able to purchase ads on Periscope videos through Twitter’s Amplify program.

Until now, Twitter has monetized Periscope by relying on brands to purchase Promoted Tweets, which are placed in user feeds, even for those who do not follow the company on Twitter. The goal is to draw more attention whenever the company is live-streaming something on Periscope.

Twitter is looking to turn around its sagging fortunes. Its stock has slumped 8 percent so far this year as investors have worried about slowed user and advertising revenue growth, along with mounting competition from Facebook Inc’s Instagram, and Snap Inc’s Snapchat.

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In the fourth quarter of 2016, Twitter posted the slowest revenue growth since it went public four years earlier, and revenue from advertising fell from a year earlier. The company warned that advertising revenue growth would continue to lag user growth during 2017. The company is also considering a paid subscription offering. (VOA)

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Social Media Giants Face Complications Dealing With Online Offensive Speech

Tech companies are known for constantly tweaking their products and software. Now it seems they are taking the same approach with speech.

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Social media. Offensive Speech
An iPhone with Twitter, Facebook and other apps, May 21, 2013. U.S. internet companies are taking a harder look at their policies that have promoted free expression around the world.. VOA

Twitter users are blocking companies like Pepsi, Nike and Uber on Twitter to pressure the social media firm to permanently ban American broadcaster Alex Jones for what they say are his abusive tweets and offensive speech.

Meanwhile, Twitter reportedly is facing a shutdown in Pakistan because of a government request to block what it deems objectionable content.

The moves come as U.S. internet companies take a harder look at their policies that have promoted free expression around the world. The companies have a mostly hands-off policy when it comes to curtailing speech, except when it comes to inciting violence and pornography. But that largely permissive approach is getting a new look.

Alex Jones
Alex Jones from Infowars.com speaks during a rally in support of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump near the Republican National Convention in Cleveland. VOA

Twitter and Alex Jones

Twitter recently slapped a seven-day ban on conservative American radio host Jones for violating its policy on abusive speech, when he appeared to call for violence against the media, something he denies.

On his show this week, Jones noted that Twitter had removed his videos.

“They took me down,” he said. “Because they will not let me have a voice.”

Earlier this month, Apple, Spotify, Facebook, YouTube and other social media limited Jones and his InfoWars media company from their sites. But InfoWars’ live-streaming app can still be found at Google and Apple’s app stores. The on-air personality has put forth conspiracy theories calling some U.S. mass shootings hoaxes.

No more hands off

Internet firms are moving away from the long-held position that they didn’t want to monitor expression on their sites too closely, Irina Raicu, director of the Internet Ethics Program at Santa Clara University, said.

“The companies are stuck in the middle and no longer trying to avoid responsibility in a way that I think they were even a few years ago when they were saying we are just neutral platforms,” Raicu said. “They are increasingly taking a more open role in determining what content moderation looks like.”

It’s not just in the U.S. where the internet companies are having to make hard decisions about speech. The firms are also grappling with extreme speech in other languages.

Comments on Facebook have been linked to violence in places like Myanmar and India. A recent article by the Reuters news agency reports that negative messages about Myanmar’s Rohingya minority group were throughout its site.

social media apps
It’s not just in the U.S. where the internet companies are having to make hard decisions about speech. Wikimedia

Some call on social media companies to do more to target and take down hate messages before they lead to violence.

“If Facebook is bent on removing abusive words and nudity, they should be focused on removing these words as well,” said Abhinay Korukonda, a student from Mumbai, India, who is studying at the University of California, Berkeley. “This comes under special kinds of abusive terms. They should take an action. They should definitely remove these.”

Objective standards

Ming Hsu studies decision-making at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business. He is researching how to come up with objective standards for determining whether certain speech could lead to real-world dangers against people both in the U.S. and across the globe.

“We don’t have actionable standards for policymakers or for companies or even lay people to say, ‘This is crossing the boundaries, this is way past the boundaries and this is sort of OK,’” Hsu said.

Those calls are even harder when looking at speech in other languages and cultures, he added.

Also Read: Twitter CEO Expands on Why He Won’t Ban Alex Jones, Infowars

“We don’t really have any intuition for who’s right, who is wrong and who is being discriminated against,” Hsu said. “And that gets back to relying on common sense and how fragile that is.”

Tech companies are known for constantly tweaking their products and software. Now it seems they are taking the same approach with speech as they draw the line between free expression and reducing harm. (VOA)