Apple Will Launch a News Subscription Service to Combat 'Fake News'
Silicon Valley is ramping up efforts to enter the news business, from Amazon founder Jeff Bezos's purchase of The Washington Post to Apple's announcement Tuesday that it will launch a subscription news service. Apple CEO Tim Cook has addressed the fake news problem, but he has not explained how this new service would avoid the anti-conservative bias rife within Silicon Valley.
Apple recently purchased Texture, a magazine subscription service, and reportedly plans to integrate this service into its news app that already comes standard with iPhones and iPads. The new service will add a premium option to Apple News.
Sources familiar with the project told Bloomberg Tuesday that the company intends to roll out the paid option as early as this year. The service is projected to cost $9.99 per month, the same as Texture's subscription fee before Apple bought the company. A slice of the subscription fees will go directly to publishers, the sources said.
Apple once had an app called Newsstand that combined several magazines and newspapers, but the publications were only provided on an individual subscription basis. Apple News launched in 2015, following a similar pattern.
The new, simplified subscription service covering many publications could follow the $9.99 Apple Music model, generating much-needed revenue for the company based in Cupertino, Calif. Apple Music also grew from an acquisition, after the tech company bought Beats Music and the Beats audio device business in 2014 for $3 billion. Then, Beats Music had fewer than a million subscribers, but today the service has grown to 40 million paying users.
Sales from Apple Music grew 23 percent to $30 billion in the company's 2017 fiscal year, Bloomberg reported. Executives said they're shooting for a $50 billion services revenue by 2021. During a recent call, Apple said it had a total of 240 million paid subscriptions, with 58 percent growth year-over-year.
Texture currently carries a vast array of magazines, including: People, Esquire, TIME, Forbes, Reader's Digest, Sports Illustrated, National Geographic, Vanity Fair, Vogue, Rolling Stone, Cosmopolitan, The Atlantic, Architectural Digest, ESPN: The Magazine, Maxim, the Hollywood Reporter, The New Yorker, and more.
Few details are known about the budding subscription service, and whether or not Apple will be crafting content for it. Texture currently merely carries other magazines, without including unique content, and if this new service follows Apple Music, it is unlikely to alter that model.
There is no reason to suspect the new subscription service will include content providers like The New York Times, The Washington Post, or The Wall Street Journal, which run their own subscription models. If so, however, this would be a major selling point for the budding Apple News 2.0.
Apple CEO Tim Cook has condemned social media companies' failure to crack down on fake news. "I don't believe that the big issue are ads from foreign governments," he told NBC's Lester Holt. "I believe that's like 0.1 percent of the issue."
"The bigger issue is that some of these tools are used to divide people, to manipulate people, to get fake news to people in broad numbers, and so to influence their thinking. This, to me, is the number one-through-ten issue," Cook said.
While news companies should indeed verify their stories and prevent spreading lies or propaganda, the attacks on "fake news" often involve stigmatizing conservatives whose very content is considered more "divisive." For instance, last year Apple pledged to give $2 million to the far-Left Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), an organization that routinely brands mainstream social conservative organizations like the Family Research Council (FRC) and Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) as "hate groups" on par with the Ku Klux Klan.
SPLC's infamous list of "hate groups" inspired a terrorist to target FRC's offices in Washington, D.C., intending to massacre everyone in the building. The SPLC refused to remove FRC from its list or the corresponding "hate map," even though that map was specifically used to target the pro-family organization.
Apple CEO Tim Cook did not just pledge $2 million to the SPLC, however. He also encouraged employees to contribute to this organization, and set up a system in Apple's software enabling users to contribute to the group. SPLC leaders have admitted that its "hate list" is based on "opinion," and that their organization intends to "completely destroy these groups." While the list is an excellent resource for unmasking racist organizations — both white and black — it unfairly tars organizations opposed to the radical demands of the LGBT movement (a movement the SPLC pushes into schools across the country).
A survey earlier this year from the Lincoln Network found that conservative employees in Silicon Valley companies like Apple are terrified of revealing their own opinions in the workplace, lest they be fired. Former Google senior software engineer James Damore, who was fired for writing a politically incorrect memo, told PJ Media that conservatives at Google are "in the closet," and that Google Leftists are digging through a "private conservative mailing list" to get people fired.
In this climate, Apple should give some clear indication that its forthcoming news subscription service does not silence conservatives or brand their ideas as "hateful." Perhaps including National Review, The Weekly Standard, and other conservative newspapers in the service would go a long way to demonstrating a fairness conservatives have reason to suspect would not likely come from this Silicon Valley behemoth.
After all, Apple has sold 1 billion iPhones, and while many of those are obsolete, there are likely hundreds of millions of people using these smartphones today. Many millions of those customers are themselves conservative, and they might be enticed by Apple's new News service if it includes subscriptions to conservative magazines.