Media Insider: Twitter To Slash Fake Accounts, YouTube Puts $25M Toward News Initiatives, Sinclair To Launch Streaming TV

Welcome to Media Insider, PR Newswire’s round-up of media stories from the week.

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THE NEW YORK TIMES | NICHOLAS CONFESSORE AND GABRIEL J.X. DANCE
Battling Fake Accounts, Twitter to Slash Millions of Followers

In an effort to restore trust, Twitter has announced its initiative to immediately start removing tens of millions of suspicious accounts from users’ followers. The company recognizes that users inflate their followers with automated or fake accounts to boost their social influence and therefore are going to crack down on those fake accounts. Those users who have bought fake followers and any others who are followed by suspicious accounts, will see their follower numbers decline. The New York Times reports that the removal of these accounts will reduce the total combined follower count by about 6 percent — which is a substantial drop.

Related: How Twitter is fighting spam and malicious automation

DIGIDAY | LUCIA MOSES
YouTube puts $25 million toward news initiatives

YouTube announced its plan to contribute $25 million as part of Google’s News Initiative to help the news industry. The funds will be used to hire more specialists to support publishers, help publishers build their own video operations, and create a working group with news organizations to develop and improve video product features on its’ platform. The company also plans to expand its Player for Publishers  a tool that allows publishers to embed videos on their own sites while letting them keep all associated ad revenue. Neil Mohan, chief product officer with YouTube, stated at a press event that “news is important, and we’re committed to working with you to help the industry.”

ICYMI: The Google News Initiative: Building a stronger future for news

BUZZFEED NEWS | STEVEN PERLBERG
Sinclair’s Fox News: The Conservative Broadcaster Plans To Launch A Streaming Service Called STIRR

Sinclair Broadcast Group announced its plan to launch STIRR — a streaming TV service that could potentially create a new competitor for Fox News. Buzzfeed reports that sources familiar with the project state the new streaming app will have a 24/7 TV channel featuring local news and national programming in addition to offering a variety of other live and on-demand programming. The proposed launch of STIRR, which could still change in the future, comes as Sinclair awaits the approval of its $3.9 billion offer to take over Tribune Media. Sinclair already is the largest owner of local TV stations in the nation and if the acquisition goes through, the company would inherit an additional 215 TV stations in 102 local markets.

More on the proposed Sinclair and Tribune merger: Sinclair Defends Tribune Merger Plan and Dismisses ‘Exaggeration’ of Critics

TECHCRUNCH | BRIAN HEATER
Univision confirms it’s exploring sale of Gizmodo Media Group and The Onion

Univision has announced its plans to explore of selling of Gizmodo Media Group and The Onion — popular entities that are part of Fusion Media Group’s brand portfolio. According to TechCrunch, Univision isn’t offering a lot of detail right now, but the “proposed sale includes a bevy of strong media brands, including Gizmodo, Jezebel, Deadspin, Lifehacker, Splinter, The Root, Kotaku, Jalopnik, The Onion, Clickhole, The A.V. Club and The Takeout.” Just this past year, Univision has had some CEO changes in addition to ongoing restructuring with multiple rounds of layoffs. A press release issued by Univision stated that although it’s exploring the process of selling these assets, there’s still no guarantee it will end in any kind of transaction.

Read the press release issued by Univision here: Univision to Explore Potential Sale of Gizmodo Media Group and The Onion

POYNTER | DANIEL FUNKE
WhatsApp launches a feature that labels forwarded messages

In hopes to prevent the spread of misinformation, WhatsApp has announced a new feature that will indicate when a message has been forwarded to someone from another user. Whether it’s a text, image, video or audio message, users will be notified with a label letting them know if the message came from a friend, relative, or if it was forwarded from someone else. A WhatsApp spokesperson confirmed to Poynter that “this extra context will help make one-on-one and group chats easier to follow.” WhatsApp is known for rarely changing its user interface, so the product change signifies an important step the company is taking to address its fake news problem.

More on how WhatsApp is combating fake news: WhatsApp on its misinformation problem: ‘Fact-checking is going to be essential’

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Joanna Giannell is a Senior Customer Content Specialist with PR Newswire. She is also an animal lover and music enthusiast. Tune into her insights as a social curator at @PRNpets.

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