Roundup: Meta’s Threads app, ABC cultural advisors, Taylor Swift


Evan Gershkovich, Australian Location Managers Guild, Warnie

Business of Media

Meta’s ‘Twitter killer’ app is coming

Mark Zuckerberg has long wanted to dislodge Twitter and provide the central place for public conversation online. Yet Twitter has remained stubbornly irreplaceable, reports The New York Times’ Mike Isaac.

That hasn’t stopped Zuckerberg.

On Monday, his company, Meta, which owns Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, teased a new app aimed squarely at Twitter’s territory.

The app, which is called Threads and is connected to Instagram, appeared in Apple’s App Store for users to sign up to download on Thursday, when it will be released. The app appears to function much like Twitter, emphasizing public conversations, with users able to follow people they already do on Instagram. Some techies have referred to the coming app as a “Twitter killer.”

Zuckerberg is striking while Twitter undergoes fresh turmoil. Since Elon Musk bought the social platform last year, he has changed the service by tinkering with Twitter’s algorithm that decides which posts are most visible, thrown out content moderation rules that ban certain kinds of tweets and overhauled a verification process that confirms the identities of users.

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Threads v Twitter – is this the main bout between Musk and Zuckerberg?

Elon Musk recently challenged Mark Zuckerberg to a physical cage fight – but the real battle between the two billionaires will begin on Thursday when Zuckerberg launches Threads, his company’s Twitter competitor, reports The Guardian’s Jim Waterson.

Zuckerberg’s Meta believes there is a gap in the market for a Twitter-style social network for short posts that is technically stable and isn’t subject to the whims of Musk, who despite being one of the world’s richest men spends a considerable amount of time engaged in disputes on social media.

Threads was unveiled to Meta staff last week, with the chief product officer, Chris Cox, saying the company had been working on the new product since January, according to an internal briefing reported by the Verge.

Cox said the company had already approached prominent figures such as Oprah Winfrey to see if they will jump ship to the new site: “We’ve been hearing from creators and public figures who are interested in having a platform that is sanely run, that they believe that they can trust and rely upon for distribution.”

The comment appeared to get under Musk’s skin, with the Twitter owner breaking away from preparations for his fight to comment about Threads: “Thank goodness they’re so sanely run.”

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Russia discusses prisoner swaps with U.S. – including for WSJ reporter Evan Gershkovich

Russia is in contact with the U.S. regarding prisoner swaps, a Kremlin spokesman said in a briefing, after consular visits to Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich detained in Russia and a Russian held in the U.S, reports The Wall Street Journal’s Georgi Kantchev and Louise Radnofsky.

Dmitry Peskov on Tuesday was asked to comment on the possibility of a prisoner exchange in light of the recent visits to Gershkovich and Vladimir Dunaev, according to reports of the briefing on Russian state media.

“There are certain contacts in this regard, but we do not want to make them public in any way,” Peskov said, without naming any detainee. “They must continue in complete silence.”

Gershkovich, a 31-year-old American citizen who was accredited by Russia’s Foreign Ministry to work as a journalist, was detained by agents from Russia’s Federal Security Service, or FSB, while on a reporting trip in the Russian city of Yekaterinburg on March 29. He is being held on an allegation of espionage that he, the Journal and the U.S. government vehemently deny.

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News Brands

ABC announces it will hire new ‘cultural guidance advisers’ just weeks after sacking 120 staff

The ABC will hire “cultural guidance advisers” in newly created roles to ensure “culturally informed decisions” are made when producing content and also focus on tackling racism and discrimination, reports The Australian’s Sophie Elsworth.

The ABC on Tuesday published its “Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging Plan 2023-26”, which included an announcement on hiring cultural advisers; it comes weeks after the public broadcaster axed 120 jobs.

In the plan, ABC managing director David Anderson said the ABC was focused on “better reflecting social and cultural diversity in our workplace” and was implementing ways to do this over the next three years.

The 30-page plan said the ABC would ensure its content was “more accessible to more Australians” and this included hiring the advisers. “The ABC will recruit cultural guidance advisers in content divisions to guide cultural enquiries from content makers,” it said.

“Cultural guidance advisers will be the first point of contact for enquiries about diversity in content, centralising this process and ensuring that advice is consistent. They will connect content makers with appropriate resources to make culturally informed decisions.”

The plan outlined a timeframe to implement the new adviser roles – there will be three new positions – by June next year.

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No Taylor Swift tickets? No problem, these livestreamers have got you covered

Taylor Swift fans know all too well the struggles of trying to secure concert tickets. Now they face a new search: where to find unofficial livestreams of the star’s shows on social media, and stay ahead of the platforms that shut them down, reports The Wall Street Journal’s Meghan Bobrowsky.

There have been superfans as long as there have been pop stars, willing to go to great lengths to score tickets in unofficial ways, sneak into live performances or find bootleg recordings. But Swift’s fans have something Beatles fans didn’t: the possibility of subversively watching live shows in real time via crisp and clear unsanctioned streaming.

Erin Slusher is among the millions who participated in the great war to land tickets to the “Eras Tour” when they first went on sale. The 23-year-old nurse ultimately wasn’t successful after unprecedented demand and a Ticketmaster glitch overwhelmed the system during presale, leading to the general sale being canceled.

So when the 33-year-old singer came to Atlanta, Slusher put on a dress and tried to get tickets at the door. After she and her friend struck out, they headed to a local Chili’s restaurant to gorge on fries and watch an unofficial livestream of the show they found on TikTok.

“It just feels like you’re more a part of that whole experience,” she said.

Such unsanctioned livestreams, broadcast by breathless fans lucky or rich enough to get into the concert, are increasingly popping up when artists and music festivals have limited tickets or are too expensive to attend. They can attract thousands of viewers, with audiences that exceed in-person attendance. One TikTok livestream of Swift’s concert in Nashville, Tenn., in May appeared to have more than 80,000 people watching at one point. About 70,000 fans attended that concert, according to the Nashville Convention and Visitors Corp.

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Australian Location Managers Guild launches

An Australian Location Managers Guild has been created following the recent increase of the government’s Location Offset to 30%, reports TV Tonight.

Elizabeth Sarsfield, Mark Evans and Jacob Livermore are company directors of the guild, supported by federal and state screen agencies, in addition to producers and other screen guilds.

ALMG president Sarsfield said: “Our department plays a special role when it comes to production attraction, and the value that a location brings to the look of a screen project, as well as the successful management of crews working with communities and public spaces, should not be underestimated.”

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Was Warnie really a flop?

According to media articles the Warnie miniseries was anything from a “flop” to a ratings “loser”, suffering a “ratings decline” or a “ratings dive”, reports TV Tonight.

It’s fair to say the critical reviews were not kind to the two-part series. Social media commentary was even worse, aside from some who appreciated the nostalgia factor and kind words for Alex Williams.

But viewers did tune in to check it out for themselves, particularly on night one.

While there were 515,000 metro viewers in linear broadcast, that rose to 840,000 in Total TV, which includes Regional and BVOD.

It still trailed Dancing with the Stars at 979,000 but was second in entertainment for its premiere – hardly a ratings flop.

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