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The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Facebook, Twitter, Weibo and Alphabet

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For Immediate Release

Chicago, IL – April 8, 2019 – Zacks.com announces the list of stocks featured in the Analyst Blog. Every day the Zacks Equity Research analysts discuss the latest news and events impacting stocks and the financial markets. Stocks recently featured in the blog include: Facebook (FB - Free Report) , Twitter (TWTR - Free Report) , Weibo (WB - Free Report) and Alphabet’s (GOOGL - Free Report) .

Here are highlights from Friday’s Analyst Blog:

How Social Media Giants Are Fighting the Fake News Menace

In recent times, the issue of fake content has taken epic proportions. Major social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Weibo and Alphabet’s Google have frequently come under fire for failing to combat the spread of fake news on their platforms.

Social media giants are playing an expansive role in connecting the world, thanks to the improvement in Internet speed and connectivity as well as solid penetration of mobile devices. Per a survey by Pew Research Center last year, 20% of American adults learn about current affairs through social media and only 16% through newspapers.

However, according to the Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2018, the usage of social media and aggregators for news is declining, primarily due to trust and privacy issues, and fake news concerns. The report, which surveyed more than 74,000 people in 37 markets, stated that only 23% of respondents trust the news they find on social media.

Fake News Proliferates Faster

Fake news is spread via bots and fake profiles that use cookies to track people's website visits. Based on that data, fake profilers and bots allure users to view fake content. Notably, this not only fans the flames of misinformation but also creates cybersecurity threats.

Fake news has been responsible for numerous sensitive situations, including terror propaganda and tampering with people’s sentiments about culture, religion and politics.

Per a BuzzFeed report, the top 50 fake news on Facebook was shared, liked and commented on for about 22 million times in 2018.

A study by Campaign for Accountability revealed that Google’s ad serving platforms generate large revenues by placing advertisements on websites responsible for fake news.

Another research by Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that a fake story spreads between 1,000 and 100,000 Twitter users six times quicker than it takes authentic news to reach 1,500 people.

Further, fake accounts reportedly comprise almost 40% of the total Chinese social media platforms, including Weibo.

How Social Media Companies are Responding

In 2018, Google realized the loopholes in its fake news detection system and launched Google News Initiative, a platform to strengthen quality journalism. The company also launched “Subscribe with Google” service to encourage subscriptions to media publishers.

Google was able to remove 2.3 billion “bad ads” that violated its ad policies. Reportedly, this Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) stock has removed ads from 1.5 million apps and about 28 million pages promoting fake stories. It also plans to spend $300 million to combat the epidemic.

Facebook, another Zacks Rank #3 stock, announced a $300 million investment into three-year partnerships with local newspapers. This will not only encourage the display of quality content but will also boost the dwindling demand for local newspapers.

Facebook is now planning to launch a dedicated news tab, in collaboration with publishers. High-quality news from trusted publishers is likely to lower the proliferation of fake news and boost its brand image among users.

Reportedly, in January 2019, the company removed 783 pages, groups and accounts from the Facebook and Instagram platforms, which were propagating agenda-based news from Iran.

The Iranian propaganda had also led Twitter to suspend 2,617 accounts before the U.S. Midterm elections last November, along with 418 and 764 suspicious accounts originating from Russia and Venezuela, respectively. Twitter has a Zacks Rank #3 at present.

Facebook and Twitter have been actively collaborating and working with lawmakers of the United States and other countries to deal with the issue.

China’s “Piyao” Fights Fake News

China has been fighting its own war against fake news by launching “Piyao” last year, which is a platform that identifies fake news across the Internet.

Apart from other social media sites, Piyao has an account on Weibo, helping the latter improve its content quality. Weibo also has its own official account where fake news from across the platform can be reported by users. Notably, it has a feature to tag misinformation since 2012, four years before Facebook took a similar initiative.

Currently, Weibo carries a Zacks Rank #3. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

Zacks' Top 10 Stocks for 2019

In addition to the stocks discussed above, wouldn't you like to know about our 10 finest buy-and-holds for the year?

From more than 4,000 companies covered by the Zacks Rank, these 10 were picked by a process that consistently beats the market. Even during 2018 while the market dropped -5.2%, our Top 10s were up well into double-digits. And during bullish 2012 – 2017, they soared far above the market's +126.3%, reaching +181.9%.

This year, the portfolio features a player that thrives on volatility, an AI comer, and a dynamic tech company that helps doctors deliver better patient outcomes at lower costs.

See Stocks Today >>

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Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Inherent in any investment is the potential for loss. This material is being provided for informational purposes only and nothing herein constitutes investment, legal, accounting or tax advice, or a recommendation to buy, sell or hold a security. No recommendation or advice is being given as to whether any investment is suitable for a particular investor. It should not be assumed that any investments in securities, companies, sectors or markets identified and described were or will be profitable. All information is current as of the date of herein and is subject to change without notice. Any views or opinions expressed may not reflect those of the firm as a whole. Zacks Investment Research does not engage in investment banking, market making or asset management activities of any securities. These returns are from hypothetical portfolios consisting of stocks with Zacks Rank = 1 that were rebalanced monthly with zero transaction costs. These are not the returns of actual portfolios of stocks. The S&P 500 is an unmanaged index. Visit http://www.zacks.com/performance for information about the performance numbers displayed in this press release.




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