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Your Monday Wake-Up Call: Kevin Spacey Apologizes. Plus, Google, Facebook & Twitter Face a Reckoning (Or Not)

By Published on .

Welcome to Ad Age's Wake-Up Call, our daily roundup of advertising, marketing, media and digital-related news. What people are talking about today: Actor Anthony Rapp ("Star Trek: Discovery") says "House of Cards" star Kevin Spacey made a sexual advance on him decades ago, when Rapp was 14 years old, BuzzFeed reports. On Twitter, Spacey said he didn't remember the episode, but if it did happen, he owes Rapp "the sincerest apology." In the same message, Spacey then came out as gay.

Spacey's response was promptly and widely slammed.

Spacey has been the star of political drama "House of Cards" for five seasons; shooting for the sixth season reportedly was due to begin this month. Where do Netflix and "House of Cards" go from here?

#MeToo
Ad Age's Lindsay Stein looks at how the #MeToo movement is affecting the advertising world, and how it's not sparking as much change as you might expect. She writes: "The fact remains that men continue to hold the vast majority of CEO and other top-level positions at ad agencies. The boys' club still exists."
Also: New Republic publisher Hamilton Fish is taking a leave of absence as the publication probes complaints about him by female employees, The New York Times reports.
Also: In September, someone close to disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein offered actress Rose McGowan $1 million in hush money, The New York Times reports.

Election meddling
Facebook, Google and Twitter will testify at three separate congressional hearings this week, and they're expected to face tough questions about what roles their platforms played in Russia's meddling in the 2016 presidential election. The debate has focused on Russian-bought advertising on the platform. But what if that's because Facebook wants everyone to focus on ads? What if it purposely steered the discussion to ads, in hopes of containing the fallout and avoiding bigger, harder questions about its algorithms? That's what a report in Politico suggests:

"Ads are the 'easier problem' to solve, a source close to the Senate probes told POLITICO. Spotlighting paid ads benefits Facebook because it limits the discussion to a relatively small slice of the possible malicious activity that Russia is believed to have engaged in on social media platforms, said a second source, a former Senate staffer who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the ongoing investigation."

Politico's story says lawmakers are preparing to dig into questions beyond advertising. The first hearing, a Senate Judiciary subcommitee hearing, is Tuesday.
Also: ICYM, Facebook is doing away with "dark posts" in response to the election interference, and that has big implications for all advertisers, as Ad Age's Garett Sloane reports.
Also: Social media disinformation is not just a U.S. problem; a New York Times story says it has had worse consequences abroad, in places like Myanmar, South Sudan and India.

Everything you've always wanted to know about domain spoofing (but were afraid to ask)
Perhaps you don't fully understand domain spoofing and what the stakes are. Check out Ad Age reporter George Slefo's well-explained look at the problem and how it affected Business Insider, which flagged 10 to 30 million fake impressions during a 15-minute test. "Essentially, millions of ads purporting to be for Business Insider were sold by bad actors passing as the publication," Slefo writes. An industry-wide effort to crack down on the problem, called ads.txt, is about to roll out.

Just briefly:

Out: Roger J. Stone Jr., a longtime ally of President Trump, got booted off Twitter after insulting CNN anchors with a slew of expletives, The New York Times reports. It's unclear whether it's temporary or permanent.

Sharapova: Maria Sharapova is back on the courts after her 15-month doping brand. She's not just endorsing brands like Porsche and Nike, she's also working on brands of her own, like a candy company and as-yet-to-be-named partnership to design health and wellness facilities. Read more about her next steps in Ad Age editor Brian Braiker's profile.

Leaks: In September, a teenager visited Apple's headquarters, where her dad was an engineer. He showed her the iPhone X, and she took a video and put it on YouTube. For failing to keep the product secret, the teenager says, her dad was fired. Read the story in Recode.

Party line: The Wall Street Journal looks at how Communist Party members are making their presence felt as employees at multinationals in China, including the Walt Disney Co. and L'Oréal. ("In June, L'Oréal China placed signs featuring hammer-and-sickle emblems at its Shanghai staff cafeteria," the Journal says.)

High times: Constellation Brands, which markets wine and spirits brands including Corona, has taken a 9.9% stake in a Canadian marijuana company, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Creativity of the day: Burger King is offering Zombie Whoppers in France. It sounds gross, but the idea is that if you have a receipt from buying a Whopper in the past, you can take it to Burger King on Halloween and "and bring it back from the dead (ie. get another one, but this time in zombie-themed packaging)." Watch the video here, and read more by Ad Age's Alexandra Jardine.

Pen Pineapple Apple Pen: Do you recall Japanese performer Pikotaro and his moment of internet fame back in 2016? Of course you do: He's the guy who wore yellow leopard print and sang a totally absurd song called "Pen Pineapple Apple Pen." The Washington Post says he will meet President Trump during his trip to Japan.

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