244.50 0.00 (0.00%)
After hours: 5:28PM EDT
|Bid||244.30 x 800|
|Ask||244.80 x 2900|
|Day's range||239.24 - 246.51|
|52-week range||137.10 - 247.65|
|Beta (5Y monthly)||1.20|
|PE ratio (TTM)||33.55|
|Earnings date||29 Jul 2020|
|Forward dividend & yield||N/A (N/A)|
|1y target est||247.07|
Stocks abruptly turned negative Thursday as fears over the economic outlook following an increase in coronavirus cases resurged. The Dow and S&P 500 wiped out their week to date gains.
The global COVID-19 health pandemic has raised the stakes for businesses when it comes to using digital channels to connect with customers, and today WhatsApp unveiled its latest tools to help businesses use its platform to do just that. The Facebook-owned messaging behemoth is expanding the reach and use of QR codes to let customers easily connect with businesses on the platform, providing them also with a series of stickers (pictured below) to kick off "we're open for business" campaigns; and it's made it possible for businesses to start sharing WhatsApp-based catalogs -- dynamic lists of items that can in turn be ordered by users -- as links outside of the WhatsApp platform itself. The new launches come as WhatsApp's business efforts pass some significant milestones.
(Bloomberg) -- The TikTok-tivists are at it again.Thousands of users of the popular video app flocked to the Apple App Store in the last few days to flood U.S. President Donald Trump’s 2020 campaign app with negative reviews. On Wednesday alone 700 negative reviews were left on the Official Trump 2020 app and 26 positive ones, according to tracking firm Sensor Tower.TikTok fans are retaliating for Trump’s threats of banning the app, which is owned by China’s Bytedance Ltd. and is hugely popular in the U.S., especially among teens. The thought of taking away a key social and entertainment hub in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic has led to outrage.“For Gen Z and Millennials, TikTok is our clubhouse and Trump threatened it,” said Yori Blacc, a 19-year-old TikTok user in California who joined in the app protest. “If you’re going to mess with us, we will mess with you.”Blacc said the movement gained steam Wednesday when a popular TikTok user, DeJuan Booker, called on his 750,000 followers to seek revenge. He posted a step-by-step primer on how to degrade the app’s rating, notching 5.6 million views. “Gen Z don’t go down without a fight,” said Booker, who goes by @unusualbeing on TikTok. “Let’s go to war.”The efforts to push the app low enough so that Apple will remove it from the app store may be misguided. Apple doesn’t delete apps based on their popularity. The App Store may review those that violate its guidelines or are outdated, but not if their ratings sink. A similar tactic was tried in April to protest Google Classroom by kids frustrated with quarantine home-schooling.But young people are looking for ways to make their voices heard, even if some of them can’t yet vote. Last month, many young people organized through TikTok to sign up to attend Trump’s first post-shutdown campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, but then didn’t show up. The Trump campaign denied the online organizing effort contributed to lower-than-expected attendance.The Trump campaign and Apple didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. TikTok was experiencing connectivity issues on Thursday, according to Downdector, which measures web traffic.Trump’s re-election smartphone app is a big part of the president’s unrivaled digital operation and was meant to circumvent tech companies like Facebook Inc. and Twitter Inc. and give the campaign a direct line to supporters. The app has helped the campaign engage Trump’s die-hard supporters, especially in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, by feeding them his latest tweets and promoting virtual events. Supporters can donate to the president’s campaign or earn rewards for recruiting friends like VIP seats to rallies or photos with the president.The Official Trump 2020 app has been downloaded more than 500,000 times on Google’s Android store as of June 15. Apple doesn’t publish information on downloads.Reviews with titles such as “Terrible App” or “Do Not Download!” have been flooding the App Store since late June. Official Trump 2020 now has more than 103,000 one-star reviews for an overall rating of 1.2.But the uptick of activity has also caused the app to rise in rankings. Users have to download the app to review it, vaulting it to second place on the Apple store from No. 486 on Tuesday, according to Sensor Tower.“Do I think that this is going to fundamentally change the election? No,” said Tim Lim, a veteran Democratic digital strategist. “But it goes to show that they are just as susceptible to these mass actions as anyone else. Trump is starting to see what it feels like to have a massive online army committed to defeating him.”Trump earlier this week said his administration is considering banning TikTok as one way to retaliate against China over its handling of the coronavirus. Trump’s comments came after Secretary of State Michael Pompeo told Americans not to download the app unless they want to see their private information fall into “the hands of the Chinese Communist Party.” Bytedance is also facing a U.S. national security review for its acquisition of startup Musical.ly. It has denied allegations that it poses a threat to U.S. national security.Trump didn’t offer specifics about a potential decision and Pompeo seemed to walk back the idea of a ban in a later statement, saying that the U.S. efforts to protect American consumers’ data don’t relate to any one particular company.Many TikTok users say they care less about potential Chinese snooping and more about Trump taking away their digital hangout. In the U.S., TikTok has been downloaded more than 165 million times, according to Sensor Tower.“I don’t believe Trump is trying to take TikTok away because of national security, but more to retaliate against activism on the app and all the videos about him that drag him through the mud,” said Darius Jackson, an 18-year-old TikTok user in Champagne, Illinois, who asked his followers Wednesday to give Trump’s app a one-star rating.“This is the first year I’ll be able to vote and I think activism on TikTok is going to make a big difference,” Jackson said.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Facebook Inc. has removed dozens of pages linked to Brazil President Jair Bolsonaro and his sons for violating the platform’s rules regarding fake accounts.The measure announced on Wednesday is part of global efforts to purge inauthentic accounts that the tech company said were working together to mislead users about who they were and what they were doing. In Brazil, Facebook said it identified a network of accounts linked to employees of the Bolsonaros that worked to “create fictitious personas posing as reporters, post content, and manage pages masquerading as news outlets.”In total, the tech giant said it was deleting 73 Facebook and Instagram accounts, 14 pages and one group.“When we take these actions, it’s based on the behavior we see in the platform, not the actors behind it or what they say,” Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s head of cybersecurity policy, said on a call with journalists.The bans involved employees of Bolsonaro and members of his party, but didn’t result in enforcement against the politicians themselves, because there was no direct evidence they were involved in the operation. “We remove everything involved in the operation, whether it is real or fake,” said Gleicher, “but we don’t necessarily make leaps of inference beyond what we can prove.”The president and his social media savvy sons Eduardo and Flavio have long used social media networks to push their political views and rally their base of supporters. Brazil’s Supreme Court is investigating allegations made by political rivals and the local press that the Bolsonaros have spread conspiracy theories, slander and lies -- accusations they deny.Read More: In Hunt for ‘Office of Hate,’ Brazil’s Supreme Court Closes InOpposition parties asked Supreme Court Justice Alexandre de Moraes, who’s leading the fake news probe, to also investigate the case unveiled by Facebook, Folha de S.Paulo newspaper reported.Free SpeechFlavio, a senator, called the banning of accounts an assault on free speech. “It’s impossible to assess what kind of profile was banned or whether the platform has crossed the limit of censorship,” he said in a statement.Eduardo tweeted that “being censured on social networks is turning into a sign that the content is good and makes the left uncomfortable.” The presidential office didn’t responded to a request for comment.The bans come as Brazilian authorities are taking aggressive steps to stem the spread of disinformation. Last week, Brazil’s Senate passed draft legislation that would impose strict messaging rules and data-storage requirements on social media companies.In May, the Supreme Court ordered federal police to raid dozens of properties and seize computers, smartphones and bank records of influential Bolsonaro allies. The judge leading the investigation said he saw evidence of the existence of a “criminal association” dedicated to mass dissemination of fake news.(Adds request for top court to investigate the case in seventh paragraph.)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- About a year ago, Zerius Zontay discovered that his family’s work was no longer appearing on YouTube Kids. He and his wife, Symphony, regularly post short clips on the giant video-sharing site, featuring their three sons, who play with toys, sing songs and joke around. Zontay wanted to get their clips back on YouTube’s app for kids, a destination where the video site tries to direct viewers who are under the age of 13. For months, Zontay lobbied YouTube, repeatedly sending emails to community managers, to no avail. Then, in June, as protests against police misconduct spurred a national conversation on race, his frustration simmered over. “I’m seeing YouTube promoting Black Lives Matter, but with the Kids app, they’re showing that certain kids don’t matter,” said Zontay, a former music teacher. “You scroll for a long, long, long, long time before you get to a Black face.”In recent years, YouTube has come under intense pressure for how it handles kids content, both for letting too many underage people use YouTube’s main site and for allowing harmful programming in the Kids app. In 2017, YouTube published a “Field Guide for Creating Family Content,” and began restricting more types of programming from appearing in the app. Last year, the Zontays’ channel disappeared from YouTube Kids at a time when the video site was removing thousands of channels in bulk to try and cleanse the app of inappropriate content.When reached for comment, a YouTube spokesperson sent a statement in response. “We are committed to supporting and amplifying Black creators on YouTube Kids and have launched programming initiatives designed to highlight equality, racial justice, and activism for kids of different ages, but we recognize there’s more to be done,” it read. YouTube, part of Alphabet Inc.’s Google, pitches itself as an equalizer in the media world, allowing anyone to upload videos and amass an audience. But some of YouTube’s video producers say the company hasn’t done enough to support diversity. In June, four Black YouTube creators sued the company for racial discrimination, arguing that the service automatically removed their videos. YouTube has said it doesn’t discriminate and that the suit is without merit. On June 11, YouTube announced a new $100 million fund for Black creators. The opacity surrounding YouTube’s recommendations, rules and content-moderation process is a frequent source of frustration among its users. YouTube staff members don’t select the videos or the content creators that get promoted, instead letting its software surface programming based on viewing habits. The Zontays were never notified directly that their programming had been removed from the Kids app. Instead, they learned about it when a fan reached out and asked why their videos were missing. While they waited for an answer from YouTube, the Zontays saw a post on Facebook from a YouTube creator with the inverse problem: Their video was inadvertently appearing on the Kids app even though they had uploaded footage not intended for minors. “It makes no sense,” said Symphony Zontay. Melanie, the owner of CrayCrayFamilyTV, a Black family-friendly vlogging channel, said she has experienced similarly puzzling problems. (She asked that Bloomberg News not use her last name for privacy reasons.) Videos of her two daughters, Naiah and Eli, have been removed from YouTube Kids without explanation while the family’s clips of doll videos have remained on the app. She suspects YouTube’s algorithm may be at work, surfacing similar videos from families with a different racial profile. “It’s more digestible to see very lily-white families doing things,” she said. “It’s just unfortunate.” A company spokeswoman told Bloomberg News that some channels have been removed because a number of their videos—showing the binge consumption of junk food or “pranks where kids were in distress”—were “not enriching or appropriate” for children. The company said that many of those channels have since “adjusted” their content and, as a result, would be reinstated on the Kids app. YouTube didn’t specify which channels had run afoul of the rules.Zerius Zontay said his family has not produced any inappropriate videos and pointed to several examples of clips currently available on the Kids app that feature pranks and skits involving junk food. “We do not have this type of content, but others do and they are on the app!” he wrote in an email. YouTube Kids draws a fraction of YouTube’s main audience, but the app is where parents, educators and YouTube steer children. Last fall, after settling with U.S. regulators for violating children’s-privacy laws, YouTube began promoting the app with videos that creators or the company deemed “Made for Kids.” For millions of children, YouTube has replaced television as the central medium for passing the time and learning how the world works. There are Black creators on YouTube Kids, and the site’s top-earning channel, Ryan’s World, features an Asian-American family.Even after being kicked off of the Kids app, the Zontay family’s programming continued to thrive on YouTube’s main site. Their primary channels, ZZ Kids TV and Goo Goo Colors, have more than 6.5 million subscribers—just shy of Nickelodeon’s numbers on YouTube. In 2019, the two channels brought in over 97 million views on the Kids app before being removed, according to Zerius Zontay.“In parts of the country where they aren’t seeing Black faces, how else are they going to learn about diversity if not through YouTube?” said Melissa Hunter, head of Family Video Network, a multichannel network that represents the Zontays.On June 28, the Zontays posted a 52-minute video about the issue. In it, Zerius, Symphony and their three sons are wearing shirts that read, “Black Entertainment Matters.” A few days later, they found that their channels had been reinstated on YouTube Kids with no explanation. For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Google’s campus security system subjected Black and Latinx workers to bias and prompted complaints to management, according to people familiar with the situation, leading the company to scrap a key part of the approach.The internet giant encouraged employees to check colleagues’ ID badges on campus, and asked security staff to do the same. This went beyond the typical corporate office system where workers swipe badges to enter. The policy was designed to prevent unauthorized visitors and keep Google’s open work areas safe.But some staffers told management that Black and Latinx workers had their badges checked more often than other employees, according to the people, who experienced this themselves or saw friends and colleagues go through it.As a result, these employees felt policed on campus in a similar way that they are under suspicion elsewhere in life, said the people, who weren’t authorized to speak publicly about the issue. It’s an example of the unconscious, or overlooked, biases that make working in Silicon Valley harder for minorities, the people added.Some workers complained about the security system to Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai, and, in the midst of recent nationwide protests against racism and police brutality, he committed to change. In a June 17 blog post, the CEO pledged donations and more diverse leadership, and said the practice of asking Googlers to check each other’s ID badges would end. The change seems small, but it illuminates how Black and brown employees struggle to fit in at Google, and elsewhere in Silicon Valley. A Google spokeswoman declined to comment.Read more: For Black CEOs in Tech, Humiliation Is a Part of Doing Business“We’re working to create a stronger sense of inclusion and belonging for Googlers in general and our Black+ community in particular,” Pichai wrote in the blog, which was also sent as a memo to staff. “We have realized this process is susceptible to bias.”Alphabet Inc.’s Google has tried to increase the diversity of its workforce. The company was among the first to release an annual diversity report, and it has pledged to hire more minorities, women and LGBTQ employees for years. However, progress has been slow, especially when it comes to hiring and retaining Black people. Just 3.7% of Google’s U.S. workforce is Black and 5.9% is Latinx, according to its most recent diversity report. Other tech giants have also struggled with this.Read more: Facebook, Google Diversity Pledges Follow Scant Progress on Race The recent wave of anti-racism protests and a broader embrace of the Black Lives Matter movement spurred underrepresented workers at Google to push for more and faster change. A Black Leadership Advisory Group met multiple times with Pichai after the police killing of George Floyd. The badge-checking system was one of the top issues highlighted by the group. So the CEO’s decision to scrap the policy was a big deal for Black and Latinx workers, according to the people familiar with the situation.Pichai said Google had been researching changes to its campus security policy over the past year, but the protests likely prompted faster action. The company had been increasing workplace security since April 2018, when three employees were shot at the Silicon Valley headquarters of its YouTube video unit.The insistence on checking employee IDs was meant to discourage “tailgaters” -- people who followed others into Google buildings without swiping badges to enter. But in practice, Black and Latinx employees were stopped and told “Let me see your badge,” even after they proved they had the right to enter the office by swiping in, one of the people said.The resulting impression Black employees got is that they don’t belong, that their education, credentials and gainful employment aren’t enough to avoid suspicion based on the color of their skin, the people said. One staffer described the policy as death by a thousand cuts, which may have contributed to some Black and Latinx employees leaving the company. Retaining diverse workers is a challenge other companies face, too.Another Google worker noted that Google’s previous policy empowered employees outside of security staff to weigh in on who belonged on campus and who didn’t. Pichai conceded in his memo that the policy may have added to a loss of “psychological safety” among Black workers and other underrepresented employees.Even with the CEO’s recent changes, some Black employees don’t expect the company to become a haven for Black advancement any time soon. One worker pointed out that the company has committed to hiring and promoting “underrepresented” executives, not specifically Black people.Another Black employee said they were heartened to see that Pichai’s pledge included a specific target this time -- increase leadership from underrepresented groups by 30% by 2025. There are some big open roles at Google right now, so workers will be watching to see if real change happens, this person said.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Facebook Inc. co-founder Eduardo Saverin’s B Capital Group plans to deploy its second $820 million venture capital fund toward capital-efficient startups, avoiding cash-burning firms during a time of global turmoil.“For us, it’s always been about unit economics, path to profitability,” Kabir Narang, general partner and co-head of Asia for B Capital, said an interview with Bloomberg TV’s Haslinda Amin and Yvonne Man. “For businesses that are cash guzzling, those will face challenges and headwinds. It’s a wakeup call for the ecosystem.”Founded by Saverin and former Bain & Co. executive Raj Ganguly, B Capital bets on startups such as delivery firm Ninja Van that support growth sectors like e-commerce rather than e-commerce itself. The firm was so named because it aimed to fill the so-called Series B funding gap. In 2015, seed and early-stage financing known as Series A made up 90% of all startup investments in Southeast Asia.Since then, about $36 billion has poured into VC- and private equity-backed startups in the region, propelling a tripling in its internet economy to $100 billion, Narang said. He expects the market to triple again to $300 billion in the next three to four years. But the executive cautioned investors against short-term market uncertainty, particularly as the U.S. and other countries clash with a rapidly growing China. India banned 59 Chinese apps after a border dispute led to violent clashes.“Just in the last two, three months, there was oil price shock, a health pandemic and geopolitical tension,” he said. “It is going to be choppy in the short term. The key for investors is to focus on big businesses that are going to survive and thrive in the next five, 10, 15 years.”With its second fund, B Capital will focus on Series B to D funding rounds for leading startups in enterprise software, fintech, transportation, logistics and health-care, he added. B Capital’s typical investment size is $10 million to $60 million.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
Although the social media giant posted strong numbers, it now has to contend with an advertiser boycott.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Time will be the next frontier in India’s digital battlefield; dollars will follow the hours consumers spend online.India has left a void in their day by banning 59 Chinese apps after a border dispute with its northern neighbor led to violent clashes. The video-sharing platform TikTok, which became a craze in towns and villages as a medium of expression, is gone. So are its smaller cousins, like Bigo Live and Likee.What can fill the gap? Thanks to the world’s cheapest data charges of 9 cents per gigabyte, Indian smartphone users are guzzling content for six hours plus. For local startups like Glance, which offers games, news and video on the mobile lock-screen, the ban on Chinese competition is a chance to add to its tally of 100 million daily active users. The country’s youth bulge also makes it a perfect occasion for homegrown education technology unicorns like Byju to scale up.But the ultimate prize may go to super-apps that meld content and commerce in the 16 Indian languages besides English that boast anywhere between 5 million to half a billion speakers. To not have to download multiple apps to do different things will save phone memory, an important consideration for those who access the internet on low-end devices. Tencent Holdings Ltd.’s WeChat, which offers everything from messaging to gaming and financial services, provides a successful template. Chinese users are also online for six hours a day, mostly to browse content, particularly social media. Although only 4% of their time is spent on e-commerce, it’s enough to drive $1.5 trillion in annual online sales. The smaller Indian market, with online sales of $40 billion, will want to copy the playbook. The most obvious super-app candidate is billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s Jio Platforms Ltd., a four-year-old startup with an equity value of $65 billion, including more than $15 billion recently raised from investors including Facebook Inc., KKR & Co. and Silver Lake Partners. Before Jio eventually seeks a listing on Nasdaq or the New York Stock Exchange, Ambani would probably want it ready as a carriage-content-and-commerce powerhouse for half-a-billion people.Jio’s 4G telecom service already has roughly 400 million subscribers, though they currently don’t even pay $2 a month. The trick to a $100 billion-plus initial public offering would lie in using the partnership with Facebook to introduce features such as the WeChat mini-program via the popular WhatsApp messaging service. It lets users book hotels, order taxis, explore augmented reality to try on a new L’Oreal beauty product, or test-drive a Tesla — without leaving WeChat. When it comes to building product awareness and interest, these embedded mini-apps in China are now a fourth as effective as regular online stores run by JD.com Inc. and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., according to McKinsey & Co. They will offer brands in India a chance to sell more — and more profitably — even in remote towns. The consulting firm found that younger consumers in smaller Chinese cities give more weight to advice from social-media influencers and referrals by friends than their counterparts in larger metropolitan areas. This will probably hold true for India as well. As for the actual commerce, JioMart, Ambani’s new e-commerce platform, would take orders and — if the regulator permits it — accept payments via WhatsApp. Staples could be delivered by traditional neighborhood stores, with Jio helping connect them to buyers. For discretionary products, Ambani may use his Reliance Retail Ltd., already the country’s largest bricks-and-mortar retailer. It won’t be too hard to grease the wheels of super-app commerce with credit. Local lenders will be desperate for a new source of balance-sheet expansion after absorbing inevitable losses from the pandemic and lockdown. Still, the road to satisfied digital customers will be long and bumpy because of India’s creaky infrastructure. Keeping users hooked with novel content will therefore be crucial. Facebook is building a new version of Quest virtual reality headsets; the Silicon Valley firm is also acquiring studios that make VR games. Jio, which wants its set-top box to support online gaming, could find opportunities for collaboration.However, the main entertainment fare will still be cricket and Bollywood. Last year, Ambani promised Jio First Day First Show — movies streamed to broadband customers on the day of their theater release. With Covid-19 shutting down cinemas, producers in India need digital alternatives; audiences need their fix. Although Ambani appears to be ahead, his won’t be India’s only super-app. Amazon.com Inc. has pledged to invest $5.5 billion in the country, while Walmart Inc. has plowed in $16 billion to acquire local e-commerce leader Flipkart Online Services Pvt. Potentially, they — or Alphabet Inc.’s Google — could seek telecom and digital media partners.Western tech firms were broadly shut out of China’s digital revolution. In India, they’ll join the fray, hoping for insights that will come in handy in other emerging markets. But India will still prefer local control over the super-apps. Six hours a day of 1.3 billion people — and all the data that flows from it — is a coveted resource, something politicians won’t want slipping out of their sphere of influence. This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Andy Mukherjee is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering industrial companies and financial services. He previously was a columnist for Reuters Breakingviews. He has also worked for the Straits Times, ET NOW and Bloomberg News.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
Facebook (FB) closed the most recent trading day at $243.58, moving +1.13% from the previous trading session.
Facebook released today its latest report detailing disinformation campaigns operating on its massive social network, and this one came with a few surprises. In the new report, Facebook disclosed that it had removed a network of accounts linked to close Trump ally and former campaign advisor Roger Stone for "inauthentic" activity and coordinated fake accounts around the time of the 2016 presidential election. Facebook has since removed Stone's own accounts from both Facebook and Instagram.
The social media platform said Stone and his associates, including a prominent supporter of the right-wing Proud Boys group in Stone's home state of Florida, had used fake accounts and followers to promote Stone's books and posts. Facebook moved against Stone on the same day it took down accounts tied to employees of the family of Brazilian leader Jair Bolsonaro and two other networks connected to domestic political operations in Ecuador and Ukraine. Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook's head of cybersecurity policy, said the removals were meant to show that artificially inflating engagement for political impact would be stopped, no matter how well connected the practitioners.
The company said that despite efforts to disguise who was behind the activity, it had found links to the staff of two Brazilian lawmakers, as well as the president and his sons, Congressman Eduardo Bolsonaro and Senator Flavio Bolsonaro. Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook's head of cybersecurity policy, said the accounts were removed for using fake personas and other types of "coordinated inauthentic behaviour" which violated the company's rules. Facebook said it has also suspended three other networks on Wednesday, including one it attributed to Roger Stone, a longtime friend and adviser of U.S. President Donald Trump.
Yahoo Finance catches up quickly with Slack co-founder Stewart Butterfield in the wake of the company announcing its sixth-ever acquisition.
Does Facebook have a culture problem? NAACP CEO Derrick Johnson weighs in.
The results of a multiyear investigation into Facebook's policies and their consequences for the civil liberties of its more than 2.5 billion users are out. The audit, conducted by former ACLU director Laura W. Murphy and lawyers from law firm Relman Colfax set out by collecting concerns from a broad swath of civil rights organizations concerned about Facebook's growing power and its potentially harmful reverberations through marginalized communities in particular and democratic society more broadly. The auditors also used concerns from some lawmakers, who have become increasingly critical of Facebook since the 2016 U.S. election, to steer their investigation.
(Bloomberg) -- Digital advertising platforms run by Google, Amazon.com Inc. and other tech companies will funnel at least $25 million to websites spreading misinformation about Covid-19 this year, according to a study released Wednesday.Google’s platforms will provide $19 million, or $3 out of every $4 that the misinformation sites get in ad revenue. OpenX, a smaller digital ad distributor, handles about 10% of the money, while Amazon’s technology delivers roughly $1.7 million, or 7%, of the digital marketing spending these sites will receive, according to a research group called the Global Disinformation Index.GDI made the estimates in a study that analyzed ads running between January and June on 480 English language websites identified as publishers of virus misinformation. Some of the ads were for brands including cosmetics giant L’Oreal SA, furniture website Wayfair Inc. and imaging technology company Canon Inc. The data exclude social-media and online-video services, so the true total is likely much higher.“This report is flawed in that it neither defines what should be considered disinformation nor are its revenue calculations transparent or realistic,” a Google spokesperson said.The company doesn’t check whether websites are publishing truthful or accurate information before running ads. However, the internet giant reviewed 10 articles highlighted by the study where Google ads ran. It demonetized five of the web pages, meaning it removed the ability to make money from ads. “Google has strict publisher policies designed to prevent harmful, dangerous and fraudulent content from monetizing. We also continue to take an aggressive approach to COVID-19 content that makes harmful medical claims contradicting the guidance of global health authorities,” the spokesperson added. Amazon did not respond to requests for comment. Governments and health officials are still learning more about the virus, and this has allowed misinformation to flourish online. Silicon Valley giants have pledged to crack down, and Alphabet Inc.’s Google has removed ads from sites that violate its policies. However, GDI thinks these platforms need to do more to limit the spread of misinformation.“The difference between what the companies say publicly about their dedication to not monetizing hate speech and harmful content, especially around the pandemic, is not matching up with what our data is telling us that’s actually happening,” said Danny Rogers, co-founder of the Global Disinformation Index.In an ad delivered on May 19 by Amazon, a L’Oreal product was promoted on Americanthinker.com next to an article titled “Is Big Pharma Suppressing Hydroxychloroquine?” Earlier this month, Google served up a Bloomberg News ad on the website Bigleaguepolitics.com, according to the GDI report.The Global Disinformation Index is a U.K.-based research group that provides disinformation risk ratings on media sites all over the world. GDI said it presented Google, Amazon and OpenX with the latest findings from its report and none of the tech companies provided a formal response. The group updates its research weekly and often tells tech companies when their platforms place ads on misinformation sites.The research group releases this information, in part, as a way to alert advertisers when their marketing spots show up on this kind of website. These brands can help by pulling ads from tech platforms when they see issues like this, Rogers said.(Updates with no comment from Amazon in sixth paragraph)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
Yahoo Finance speaks with NAACP CEO Derrick Johnson about Facebook's misinformation problems.
Palantir is set to go public. But what is the company, and how does it use huge amounts of data to predict crime? We explain.
Helping to lead stocks higher, social media giant Twitter (NYSE: TWTR) was up 6%, while homebuilder Lennar (NYSE: LEN) picked up 5%. Twitter shares have rebounded sharply during July, rising nearly 20% in just over a week's time. Rival Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) has gotten the most attention, as dozens of high-profile companies have pulled advertising from its platforms because of Facebook's failure to address concerns about hate-speech posts.
(Bloomberg) -- Nvidia Corp.’s market valuation topped Intel Corp.’s for the first time, powered by soaring demand for graphics chips in data centers and other fast-growing technology fields.Nvidia gained 2.4% on Wednesday, giving it a market value of more than $248 billion. Shares of the graphics chipmaker are up 72% so far this year as investors bet the coronavirus pandemic has accelerated a shift to cloud-based digital services that use its technology. Intel shares have fallen 2% in 2020.Nvidia was co-founded in 1993 by Jensen Huang, who’s still running the company. At the time, it was one of about two dozen graphics chip companies. It’s now the only independent maker of these components, after all of its rivals have been bought, folded or become part of larger companies.Nvidia was more successful than its peers at developing chips that turn computer code into the realistic images computer gamers love. Under Huang, the company has pushed that technology into new markets, such as data center servers and artificial intelligence processing.In just five years, Nvidia’s data center business has grown from $300 million in annual revenue to almost $3 billion. The chipmaker has won orders to equip the giant computing factories owned by companies such as Facebook Inc. and Google by successfully arguing that graphics chips can handle AI workloads better than more standard processors.Nvidia is the only company to have made sizable inroads into a server chip market that Intel has mostly dominated. While Intel’s data center business still generates more than $20 billion in annual sales, Nvidia is growing much quicker.Investors have rewarded this fast expansion with a rich valuation. Since debuting on the Nasdaq in 1999, the stock has averaged an annual return of 33%. In the past five years, it has soared more than eightfold and trades at 75 times earnings, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Intel shares trade at 12 times earnings.Nvidia is now the third-largest chipmaker by market capitalization, behind Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. and Samsung Electronics Co.Intel is responding to Nvidia’s success by introducing similar graphics chips. The two companies are also targeting the market for processors that help run self-driving vehicles.Intel has weathered similar challenges before. In 2016, Qualcomm Inc.’s market value topped Intel’s as investors bet that smartphones would eclipse traditional computing in popularity. That happened, but Intel benefited indirectly through its server chips powering the cloud services relied on by handsets.Intel also lost the title of the world’s largest chipmaker by revenue to Samsung Electronics Co. in 2017. It regained the title a year later, thanks to its resilient server chip business.(Updates shares in second paragraph.)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Facebook Inc. still doesn’t get it.A widely anticipated meeting on Tuesday between the social media giant and the civil rights groups behind the recent Facebook ad boycott — including the Anti-Defamation League, NAACP and Color of Change — did not go well. The New York Times reported CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg met for about an hour on a video-conference call, but offered little in terms of concessions related to their policies for managing content on their social networks.A negative response came swiftly. “It was abundantly clear in our meeting today that Mark Zuckerberg and the Facebook team is not yet ready to address the vitriolic hate on their platform,” the groups said in a statement. “Instead of actually responding to the demands of dozens of the platform’s largest advertisers that have joined the StopHateForProfit ad boycott during the month of July, Facebook wants us to accept the same old rhetoric, repackaged as a fresh response.”The representatives said Facebook offered to address just one of the groups’ 10 demands — the company was willing to create a position focused on promoting civil rights — but it didn’t promise to do so at the asked-for C-suite level. Otherwise, the company did not give an inch for the other nine demands, according to the groups.Frankly, Facebook’s inaction is not a surprise. The company has gone to this “hunkering down” playbook many times in the past. The old aphorism that says incentives often drive behavior seems to hold true for this tech giant. And on a pure dollars-and-cents level, the company is incentivized to do as little as possible.We all know the worst types of content — such as hate speech, misinformation and false conspiracies, along with the outrage surrounding them — tend to be more viral and generate more page-views for social media firms. The upside for Facebook in elevating such engaging content is obvious, but the downside to society as a whole is vast — from mental-health issues to giving rise to scientifically discredited ideas such as the anti-vaxer movement. The brains of millions go down these poisonous rabbit holes. Given Facebook’s recent stock performance, Zuckerberg may feel even less pressure now. After a brief decline late last month, amid the frantic coverage of advertiser pledges to pull ads from Facebook’s platforms, the shares are now back near all-time highs again. At the end of it all, the boycott was mainly about headline risk, not significant sales risk for Facebook. Last week, I argued Facebook should act on the back of a sea-change in perception and beliefs after the recent wave of protests over racial injustice, adding the true risk for the company was the prospect of future political blow-back, not a near-term revenue hit. That view still stands.The strange thing is, meeting the civil rights groups’ demands isn’t such a big lift for a company with Facebook’s resources. Most of them are simply common sense. Following the meeting Tuesday, the civil rights groups reiterated them. Here’s a brief selection:Provide audit of and refund to advertisers whose ads were shown next to content that was later removed for violations of terms of service. Isn’t that just good customer service? Wouldn’t that assuage Facebook’s advertisers worried about brand safety placement, giving them confidence Facebook will take content moderation more seriously?Stop recommending or otherwise amplifying groups or content from groups associated with hate, misinformation or conspiracies to users. Not a big ask.Enable individuals facing severe hate and harassment to connect with a live Facebook employee. That’s just a question of being willing to spend some money for something worthwhile.Unfortunately, it looks like Facebook will keep disappointing its critics. Last week, Zuckerberg told his employees that advertisers will eventually return and they will not change their policies under duress, according to The Information. “I tend to think that if someone goes out there and threatens you to do something, that actually kind of puts you in a box where in some ways it's even harder to do what they want because now it looks like you're capitulating,” the executive reportedly said.For now, he may feel a sense of vindication. But instead of focusing on how it looks and establishing bad precedent, perhaps Zuckerberg should instead reassess his thinking and come to terms to this reality: The moral fabric of our society is fraying amid the disinformation propagated on his platform.There may be a ray of light, however, small. Facebook said it will release its independent civil rights audit report on Wednesday after a two-year review of its policies and practices.There may be a ray of light, however, small. Facebook released an independent civil rights audit report on Wednesday after a two-year review of its policies and practices. While the auditors commended the company on some positive improvements, the report questioned Facebook’s “full-throated commitment” in upholding civil rights. They said the company needed to do much more in addressing hate speech against minority groups, prohibiting white nationalism advocacy and protecting against voter suppression. On Tuesday ahead of the report’s release, Sandberg explained in a blog post that the company has heeded some of the recommendations and will do more, but won’t make all the changes the auditors asked for.There is still room for real action. Let’s hope Facebook decides to do the right thing.(The penultimate paragraph of this piece was updated to include new details from the civil-rights audit.)This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Tae Kim is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering technology. He previously covered technology for Barron's, following an earlier career as an equity analyst.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- It’s official. TikTok has become a political football.The surging social media app, owned by Beijing-based ByteDance Ltd., is ensnared in the escalating tensions between China and its global rivals. Last week, India banned TikTok along with dozens of other Chinese apps, citing national security concerns. And on Monday during a Fox News interview, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo mentioned for the first time that the Trump administration is “certainly looking at” banning TikTok and other Chinese apps, warning of data-privacy issues. Trump echoed those statements on Tuesday.TikTok has said it keeps user data securely in the U.S. with backups in Singapore, and that it has never provided data to the Chinese government. In a further effort to calm stateside angst, TikTok hired former Walt Disney Co. executive Kevin Mayer this year as its chief executive officer.Still, there may be real national security implications stemming from a Chinese company owning a major American social network. ByteDance has been under review by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. for its 2017 purchase of lip-synching startup Musical.ly, which was popular in the U.S. And it's now said to be facing scrutiny from the Federal Trade Commission and the Justice Department over whether it has met its commitments to protect children's privacy in a previous settlement. But before the country takes the dramatic step of banning a Chinese competitor (particularly one whose users helped prank the U.S. president earlier this year), the White House should spell out its reasoning. Otherwise, the move looks like political bluster.Some have argued that TikTok should be banned in the U.S. because Facebook Inc.’s social media site is not allowed in China. But such tit-for-tat protectionism would be short-sighted policy. American companies should win in the marketplace through better innovation, not by government assistance. Over the long run, the domestic technology industry is far better served having vigorous competition—and TikTok is certainly that—which pushes U.S. companies to create better products. Plus, a TikTok ban risks Chinese retaliation against American companies inside its borders. The list of potential targets that generate a significant portion of their sales in China is long—including Apple Inc., Starbucks Corp. and Intel Corp.On a relative basis, TikTok isn’t an obvious target in terms of data collection. Its focus is sharing creative short-form videos, like dancing and lip-syncing. The app’s algorithm surfaces relevant content, using metrics like how many similar videos you watched. And compared to an app like Facebook, TikTok doesn’t require a large amount of data entry (at least not manually).There’s also the value of the app itself, which has become a global cultural institution. From my experience, TikTok tends to be less filled with hate and disinformation, and genuinely funnier than most other platforms. (Though its avoidance of controversial topics isn’t always beneficial.) The app is also surfacing new stars: For example, a relatively unknown chef in Philadelphia was able to attract millions of viewers to his cooking videos in a matter of days. And this McFarland family’s viral Dad dancing video landed the family ad deals with Taco Bell and Gillette.A ban might not make sense on a purely political level either. TikTok is regularly on top of the Apple App Store’s most downloaded rankings. According to Sensor Tower, it has been downloaded 165 million times in the U.S. EMarketer estimates there will be 45 million regular TikTok users in the country by year-end. Restricting access could enrage millions of voters (or future voters, anyway). To avoid that, the U.S. government needs to show the evidence it has for being concerned about TikTok. Otherwise, given what we know today, the flood of teen outrage that’s sure to follow any TikTok ban would be justified.This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Tae Kim is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering technology. He previously covered technology for Barron's, following an earlier career as an equity analyst.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg yesterday held a virtual roundtable meeting via Zoom with heads of organizations compiled to form the "Stop Hate for Profit" campaign.