|Day's range||363.75 - 363.75|
The latest project out of the company’s Experiments with Google collection, Sodar is a simple browser-based app that uses WebXR to offer a mobile augmented reality social distance. Visiting the site in Chrome on an Android handset will bring up the app. Using Sodar on supported mobile devices, create an augmented reality two meter radius ring around you.
Airbnb Plus, the company's vision for homes that are certified for quality standards and design acumen, has been all but abandoned two years after launching as support and product teams have been reassigned or laid off, Skift has learned. The company gave itself a goal of having 75,000 Airbnb Plus listings in the program's launch […]
The latest entry into the streaming wars had a less than auspicious beginning, but the numbers need context.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- President Donald Trump’s executive order targeting social-media companies raises tough questions about presidential power, presidential bullying and freedom of speech. To understand it, we need to start with what’s clear, and then explore what’s not.An executive order is not a law. It doesn’t bind the private sector. It doesn’t require Twitter or YouTube to do anything at all. Many executive orders are orders from the president to his subordinates, directing them to do things. That’s what this one is. With respect to the communications market (of which the social-media companies are an important part), the most important federal agency is the Federal Communications Commission, an independent agency not subject to the president’s policy control. The executive order signed by Trump on Thursday respects the FCC’s independence. It doesn’t direct the FCC to take action.Some passages of this executive order read like a fit of pique, or an attempt at punishment. Indeed, the order does not obscure the fact that it is, at least in part, a response to behavior by Twitter that Trump didn’t like: adding fact-check labels to two misleading presidential tweets about voting by mail. Consider this:Twitter now selectively decides to place a warning label on certain tweets in a manner that clearly reflects political bias. As has been reported, Twitter seems never to have placed such a label on another politician’s tweet. As recently as last week, Representative Adam Schiff was continuing to mislead his followers by peddling the long-disproved Russian Collusion Hoax, and Twitter did not flag those tweets.It’s appropriate for the president to call for reassessments of national policy. It’s not appropriate for the president to use the authority of his office to punish perceived political enemies.The order attempts to use the power of the purse to threaten social media companies. It directs all executive agencies to review their spending on advertising and marketing on such platforms — and then directs the Department of Justice “to assess whether any online platforms are problematic vehicles for government speech due to viewpoint discrimination, deception to consumers, or other bad practices.”In the abstract, there’s nothing wrong with that. In context, it looks like an effort to get the companies to act in a way that pleases the president.(2)The most important provisions of the order involve section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996. That all-important law states: “No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.”As a result, Twitter, Facebook,(1) YouTube, and others are regarded as platforms, not publishers. If their platform contains defamatory material posted by users, or material that inflicts emotional distress, the platforms themselves cannot be sued (as can, for example, newspapers or television networks when they run defamatory material). There are specified exceptions, as for copyright violations and sex trafficking.Section 230 goes on to insulate providers of such services from liability for “any action voluntarily taken in good faith to restrict access to or availability of material that the provider or user considers to be obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable, whether or not such material is constitutionally protected.”If, for example, Twitter restricts access to sexually explicit material, or to material by which one user harasses another, it cannot be held liable.This is where things get complicated. Trump’s order says that section 230 should not protect companies that “use their power over a vital means of communication to engage in deceptive or pretextual actions stifling free and open debate by censoring certain viewpoints.”If companies “stifle viewpoints with which they disagree,” the order says, they should not be free from liability. A provider should lose that protection if it is engaged in certain “editorial conduct.”To implement that conclusion, the order asks agencies to “take appropriate actions” — without saying what those actions might be — and directs the Secretary of Commerce to petition the FCC to make regulations to clarify the meaning of section 230, consistent with the order’s understanding of that meaning.Here’s the problem. Love it or hate it, section 230 does not allow the president, the FCC, or anyone else to eliminate the immunity that it grants because a social media company has engaged in “editorial conduct.”Section 230 says flatly that interactive computer services shall not be treated as publishers or speakers. Section 230 also grants companies immunity when they take good-faith steps to restrict access to obscene or violent material. The executive branch and the FCC have no power to say that if Twitter labels misleading tweets, or even discriminates on the basis of viewpoint, it loses its immunity from (say) defamation suits.The executive order directs the attorney general to develop a proposal for legislation to promote its policy objectives. That’s perfectly legitimate. Many people — Democrats, Republicans, and independents — have questioned the broad immunity conferred by section 230.To be sure, social media providers should not be treated in the same way as newspapers and magazines. Their unique role is to provide a forum for very large numbers of people. At the same time, it is hardly clear that they should be immunized from liability if (for example) they are put on notice that material on their platform is clearly defamatory, or has been found to be defamatory in state court.Section 230 was enacted over two decades ago, in what was a radically different communications environment. Rethinking it is a reasonable idea.It’s unfortunate that serious, substantive issues have been raised by an executive order whose clear motivation is to intimidate and punish those who are daring, even in mild ways, to hold the president accountable.(1) So far unsuccessfully, apparently. On Friday, Twitter partially obscured a Trump tweet about a Minnesota police incident with a rule-violation notice, saying the president's words amounted to "glorifying violence."(2) I’ve served as a paid consultant to Facebook on three occasions, totaling about one day of work, between 2012 and the present. None of the work involved issues related to the topic of this column.This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Cass R. Sunstein is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist. He is the author of “The Cost-Benefit Revolution” and a co-author of “Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth and Happiness.”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.
Alphabet's (GOOGL) Google is in talks to acquire a minority stake in Vodafone Idea in a bid to expand footprint in the telecom market of India.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- One constant in Facebook's corporate culture is the ruthless aggression when it comes to growth and competition. To take just one example: More than a decade ago, a young, upstart Facebook smashed a wage-fixing cartel that than had been imposed by older, more established tech companies and it tried to hire the best tech talent. With Facebook now among the most dominant employers in the San Francisco Bay Area labor market, the company is using its lessons from the past few months of work from home to hire remotely all across the country in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. In doing so, it's telling both its own employees and tech employers across the country that competition is coming. What remains to be seen is what effect this will have on wages both in and beyond the San Francisco area, where terms are ultimately set when it comes to the compensation of tech employees.The headlines in Facebook's announcement about working from home were twofold: First, that during the next five to 10 years, as many as half of Facebook's employees could be remote; and second, that the pay of remote workers will be tied to where they work. In other words, if you're moving from Palo Alto, California, to Boise, Idaho, expect a pay cut.Although controlling employee compensation costs is surely part of the thinking, current and would-be Facebook employees should recall that today's high compensation for Silicon Valley software engineers is partly because of Facebook's rule-breaking moves in the past. Until Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg left Google for Facebook, large technology companies such including Google, Apple, Intel and Intuit had what constituted a hiring cartel to prevent employee poaching, part of an effort to retain scare talent and hold down wages. Facebook, perhaps as an early indication of the disruptive nature of the next generation of technology companies, decided it would prioritize its own growth and talent acquisition. That undermined the cartel and led to rapid growth in both employee pay and home prices in the San Francisco Bay Area during the past decade.Facebook's decision on remote work is an extension of that mindset, one that doesn't abide by any niceties when it comes to attracting and retaining elite technology workers. Although the Facebook decision might be seen as little different from similar work-from-home announcements made by other Silicon Valley companies like Twitter and Square, it serves as a watershed moment in the same spirit as Amazon's public search for a second headquarters. Both decisions reflect the high cost and limited availability of technology talent on the West Coast, and that the need to hire outside the region persists, with different companies experimenting with different models on how best to do that.What's unclear is how this will shake out for workers. Although current and prospective Facebook employees are understandably concerned about the company saying that compensation will be tied to location, as long as technology talent remains much sought after, compensation should stay high. Housing costs outside of the West Coast may still be a fraction of what they are in San Francisco or Palo Alto, but technology talent is scarce and mobile throughout the country. It's unlikely that an employee that Facebook would pay $300,000 in San Francisco will be available for $100,000 in Salt Lake City, and if they are, that gap is unlikely to last for long as the word gets out and as other San Francisco Bay Area-based technology companies mimic Facebook's approach.Facebook's latest decision may well have a comparable impact to its decision not to join the hiring cartel, lifting pay everywhere outside the San Francisco area. Many tech employers in Tulsa, Oklahoma, or Kansas City know their best employees could always get recruited by West Coast tech companies if those workers were willing to relocate. But there are frictions involved in relocating, and maybe companies have been willing to bet that those workers aren't willing to move because of family and community ties. But if all of a sudden it's well-known that companies such as Facebook and Google are willing to hire anywhere without demanding relocation, then other companies will be forced to raise pay or risk losing talent -- the same quandary once faced by cartel members such as Intel and Intuit.Ultimately, the question is does being based in the San Francisco Bay Area function as a moat for technology employees, guarding their lofty pay, but one that is ready to be breached ? Or is high pay a function of high productivity, demand and industry growth? If it's the latter, tech workers shouldn't worry about Facebook's work-from-home decision. But it might well be the former.This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Conor Sen is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist. He is a portfolio manager for New River Investments in Atlanta and has been a contributor to the Atlantic and Business Insider.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.
Shares of data analytics firm Datadog (NASDAQ: DDOG) have surged nearly 150% since their IPO last autumn. As a leader in cloud-based software for managing big data and cloud operations, Datadog has a bright future, although much of that future has been priced into its shares at this point. According to tech researcher Gartner, spending on IT operations management is expected to reach $37 billion by 2023.
In the wake of Twitter's decision to fact-check his tweets for the first time, President Trump has responded with a series of broadsides against the company. Here’s some notable mentions of the company over the years.
If you're an investor or you hope to become one, you need to know about fractional shares. Fractional shares are partial shares of a company's stock: Instead of owning one or more full shares of the stock, you own a fraction of one. In the past, investors generally would end up with fractional shares only after a stock split since brokers only allowed the purchase of full shares.
(Bloomberg) -- When Justin Sun met Warren Buffett for dinner in January, he wasn’t seeking advice on stocks. The crypto mogul had spent a record $4.6 million at a charity auction for the opportunity to lecture the world’s most famous investor on the benefits of Bitcoin.It was exactly the sort of behavior that Sun’s known for -- abrasive, ostentatious and, ultimately, impossible to ignore. Like the $200 billion crypto industry itself, he is young and hungry for the respect of traditional financiers like Buffett, who deems Bitcoin basically worthless.Still shy of his 30th birthday, Sun founded one of the largest blockchain platforms, Tron, in 2017 and turned it into a virtual Las Vegas with gambling apps. He’s rubbed shoulders with Apple Inc. and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. founders, hired celebrity endorsers like the late Kobe Bryant and drawn accusations of plagiarism, which he has denied, more than once. What he says and does can move crypto prices, and his aggressive acquisitions have earned him both admiration and notoriety in the blockchain community on his way to consolidating power.“I’m a true believer of blockchain. It’s once in a lifetime,” he said in a rare in-depth interview from a luxury office suite overlooking Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour. “It’s only people who don’t understand it who question me.”Making his personal fortune by embracing Bitcoin as early as 2012, and now by his own account worth somewhere in the hundreds of millions of dollars, Sun is part of a second wave of crypto entrepreneurs who envision putting more than just digital money and payments on a decentralized platform. Last week, Sun and his team touted an upcoming major update to Tron, which will include more privacy features and enterprise applications.Newer blockchains like Tron let developers build so-called decentralized apps, or dapps, on their platforms. Ethereum is the foremost among them, with its co-founder Vitalik Buterin offering a simple analogy: if Bitcoin is a pocket calculator, platforms with dapps are akin to smartphones. But unlike Android or iPhone apps, dapps are decentralized in the sense that they aren’t run on one server or by any single entity.Sun’s Tron has 342 active dapps and more than 230,000 users, both roughly half Ethereum’s totals, according to data tracker Dapp Review. It’s been accused by researchers like Digital Asset Research of copying Ethereum’s code without attribution, and by Buterin himself of stealing words from other projects’ whitepapers. Tron and Sun have denied both accusations.The bulk of business done on Tron today revolves around the largely unregulated field of crypto gambling, with a January Dapp Review report describing it as “Las Vegas on the blockchain.” In the first quarter, casino dapps comprised 92% of Tron’s $411 million total transaction volume, according to the Binance-owned researcher. Sun said the Dapp Review estimate was inaccurate and over-stated the gambling activity on the Tron blockchain. In fact, such transactions are only a fraction of the total, he said.Sun “identified niche customer bases, namely gamers and gamblers, that have great reasons to use blockchain, drive a lot of transactions, and are crypto savvy,” said Matthew Graham, chief executive officer of Sino Global Capital, a Beijing-based blockchain consultancy.Since its inception, Tron has been augmented with the acquisitions of live-streaming service DLive, briefly the exclusive online home of YouTube star PewDiePie, and file-sharing service BitTorrent Inc. Through a partnership with Samsung Electronics Co., Tron dapps can be downloaded via one of the world’s most widely distributed mobile app stores.Sun has proven himself an able marketer, raising $800,000 in under five minutes through a public token sale for his lending platform, called Just. He also commands an audience of two million Twitter followers.But he’s also been challenged on basic information. While Sun said he often covers the $5 million quarterly operational costs for Tron, Ryan Dennis, a spokesman for the nonprofit Tron Foundation that coordinates the blockchain platform’s operations, denied that figure -- saying they won’t be able to get accurate cost numbers “due to the coronavirus pandemic changing everything on a day-to-day basis.”As a sociology student in the U.S., Sun founded an online magazine about current affairs -- though it closed after he was accused of plagiarism by another author. Sun has denied the accusation, saying he merely imitated the author’s style.He then made the switch to tech.After an unsuccessful attempt to set up China operations for American crypto company Ripple in 2014, Sun went back to the drawing board with $5 million of venture-capital money from backers like IDG Capital and ChinaEquity Group. He tried almost every hot idea in China’s internet space, finally finding success in Peiwo, which let users connect with random strangers via voice messages. That app would later be slammed by China’s top state news agency for spreading vulgar and pornographic content.On social media, he billed himself as Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma’s first millennial protégé, since he was picked up in 2015 by the billionaire’s MBA program. When fellow tech entrepreneurs ran into cash crunches, he was often quick to say he would lend them money. He said he had a 100 million-yuan ($14 million) charity budget for 2019, part of which was distributed in cash giveaway campaigns via his Weibo account.Sun’s dinner with Buffett is still the banner image on his Twitter profile. The meeting had been scheduled for last July, but three days before the planned date Sun rescheduled, citing a bout of kidney stones. Later that week, he took a selfie and then live-streamed himself with San Francisco’s Bay Bridge in the background to rebut a news report that he was under Chinese border control. He then apologized on Weibo to the Chinese regulators and public for his “excessive self-promotion.” He was banned from the microblogging site at the end of 2019. (Sun now has a team, including a photographer, to manage his Twitter and Instagram accounts.)Read more: Buffett Lunch Mystery Deepens as His Date Apologizes to SocietyWhen Sun finally sat down with Buffett, his entreaties crashed against a wall of skepticism.“It’s not just Buffett, the Chinese government also has the same attitude,” Sun said.Sun shut down his Beijing offices last year, after China launched a renewed crackdown on a crypto industry it views with suspicion. He said he hasn’t returned to mainland China since the end of 2018, though he’s not prohibited from doing so.During the Covid-19 pandemic, the jet-setting entrepreneur has been stuck in Hong Kong. But he has continued to stumble into controversy. In February, Sun bought the social network Steemit, billed as “owned and operated by its users,” along with 30% voting control over its platform. Fearing that gave Sun too much power, part of the Steemit community temporarily froze his stake and then split the blockchain into a whole new branch.“His playbook might be the optimal strategy during the early barbaric growth period of the crypto industry,” said Wayne Zhao, analyst and managing partner of researcher TokenInsight. “You are nothing without people’s attention, no matter if it’s good or bad.”(Updates with Sun’s comment in the eighth 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) -- Stocks were supposed to be mired in a bear market after they plunged in March as the coronavirus pandemic shuttered business and sent U.S. unemployment to its highest rate since the Great Depression.Even a 62% recovery by the S&P 500 Index by the middle of May failed to comfort experts like billionaire money managers Stan Druckenmiller and David Tepper , who characterized stocks as the worst investments of their careers. They weren't alone; amid an estimated 47% collapse in gross domestic product, fewer than a quarter of respondents to an Evercore ISI survey said they expected the next 10% move in the market to be higher.So far, though, stocks have held their own as economic indicators sagged, regaining 37% of their value from the low point in mid-March. “The stock market looks increasingly divorced from economic reality,” a New York Times article on the phenomenon proclaimed.Or maybe not — not if you think of it as the Microsoft market. No company has defied the pessimism more than Microsoft Corp., and for a lot of sensible reasons. The Seattle-based maker of global business and consumer software led all publicly traded companies most of the year with a $1.4 trillion market valuation, exceeded only by Saudi Arabian Oil Co. which isn't yet freely traded.Unlike the largest fossil fuel company, which lost 13% since its December $1.9 trillion initial public offering, Microsoft is within 5% of its Feb. 11 record high and appreciated $947 billion since 2015, more than any of the 10 largest companies, including Apple Inc., Alphabet Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. The gap between Microsoft and Aramco narrowed to $229 billion from $840 billion, a trend likely to continue amid weak global growth in the months ahead.That's because Microsoft, unlike Aramco, is a mainstay of the global economy, developing and supplying 75% of the operating systems used by computers and servers worldwide, according to the market-analysis company IDC.Microsoft's vast infrastructure and productivity applications enable companies, governments and individuals to navigate increasing social and workforce disruption caused by the pandemic and other disasters stoked by global warming and climate change.As one of the anchors of the Nasdaq 100 Index (more than 80% are technology firms) Microsoft signifies the growing dependence of the economy on these companies, which this year outperformed the Dow Jones Industrial Average by the most since 2000 (Nasdaq 100 gained 8% as the DJIA lost 10%), according to data compiled by Bloomberg.“Microsoft could emerge stronger than most of its rivals once the Covid-19 crisis subsides, in our view, as enterprises spend more to upgrade their infrastructure and applications, translating into above-consensus, double-digit sales growth from fiscal 2022-2021,” said Anurag Rana, a senior analyst with Bloomberg Intelligence in a May 15 report. “Its deep portfolio of cloud products, client relationships and security spending are differentiators.”Such confidence is prompted by the past five quarters, when Microsoft earnings for the first time exceeded forecasts by at least 10% after beating the average of analyst estimates in all but one of the 23 quarters since 2015, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Unlike its five more glamorous peers — Facebook Inc., Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google (Alphabet) — Microsoft has an uninterrupted growth rate with the least volatility, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.To be sure, the Faang companies and similar technology marvels retained much of their value during the Coronavirus pandemic. Netflix has gained 28% since the end of 2019; Amazon is up 30%, Apple 9%, Facebook 10%. Tesla Inc., the maker of electric, battery-powered vehicles, rallied 93% since the end of 2019 and is worth just $59 billion less than No. 1 Toyota Motor Corp.Tesla anticipated the remotely engaged economy by selling its vehicles online and improving the customer experience with periodic, automatic software upgrades. The traditional auto companies haven't fared well. Bayerische Motoren Werke AG, is down 24% since the end of 2019 and General Motors Co., the largest U.S. auto maker, declined 28% and is worth only 26% of Tesla's current market capitalization of $149 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.That's why the Dow, once the benchmark of corporate America, is a shadow of its former self as industrial companies represent just 9% of the average, down from 16% in 2000, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.“Microsoft already had a great relationship with Fortune 2000 tech departments because of its dominance in Windows and Office software products,” said Bloomberg's Rana in a recent interview. “As these legacy companies look to invest more digitally transforming their business post Covid-19, Microsoft should get its fair share of work” — lifting the stock market as it helps transform the economy.This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Matthew Winkler, Editor-in-Chief Emeritus of Bloomberg News, writes about markets.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) -- Twitter Inc. flagged one of Donald Trump’s posts for violating its rules against glorifying violence, escalating a clash with the U.S. president after he signed an executive order that seeks to limit liability protections for social-media companies.Early Friday, the social media company obscured the president’s comments about protests in Minneapolis with a warning that the tweet “violated the Twitter Rules about glorifying violence. However, Twitter has determined that it may be in the public’s interest for the Tweet to remain accessible.”Trump’s executive order came after Twitter began selective fact checks of his posts on the platform. Under current law, companies like Twitter and Facebook Inc. are protected for users’ posts. Trump told reporters that his order “calls for new regulations under section 230 of the Communications Decency Act to make it that social media companies that engage in censoring or any political conduct will not be able to keep their liability shield.”Twitter earlier this week labeled two of his posts about mail-in voting “potentially misleading” and provided links to news coverage of his comments. The president responded with outrage, accusing the social media company of censorship and election interference and threatening to possibly shut down the service.“I’m signing an executive order to protect and uphold the free speech rights of the American people,” Trump said. “Currently, social media giants like Twitter receive an unprecedented liability shield based on the theory that they’re a neutral platform, which they’re not.”Trump said he expected the order or the regulations it produces to be challenged in court. If it were legal for him to shut down Twitter, Trump said, “I would do it.”In the clash Friday over protests in Minnesota after the death of a man in police custody, Trump’s comments, concluding with the words “when the looting starts, the shooting starts,” incited a strong response from other Twitter users. Those replies have since been hidden or removed by the company. The options to reply and like the tweet have also been disabled, while the retweet and quote-tweet functions have been left active.Twitter rose less than 1% in late trading Thursday after the signing was announced. That followed a 4.4% decline in the regular session, the most in four weeks.Order TextThe order said the protections against lawsuits should only apply when companies act in “good faith” to take down or limit the visibility of content.Any removal or restriction made in a manner that is “deceptive, pretextual, or inconsistent with a provider’s terms of service” would not qualify as being in good faith, nor would a move without “adequate notice, reasoned explanation, or a meaningful opportunity to be heard.”Gary Shapiro, president of the Consumer Technology Association trade group, called the order “unconstitutional and ill-considered.”“America’s internet companies lead the world and it is incredible that our own political leaders would seek to censor them for political purposes,” Shapiro said in a statement.In a tweeted statement, Twitter called the executive order “a reactionary and politicized approach to a landmark law,” adding, “attempts to unilaterally erode it threaten the future of online speech and Internet freedoms.”A Facebook spokesperson said exposing companies to liability would penalize those that allow controversial speech and “encourage platforms to censor anything that might offend anyone.”YouTube Chief Executive Officer Susan Wojcicki, in an interview with David Rubenstein on Bloomberg Television while the order was being prepared, said, “we have worked extraordinarily hard to make sure that all of our policies and systems are built in a fair and neutral and consistent way.”The Department of Commerce, in consultation with the attorney general, would be responsible for petitioning the Federal Communications Commission within 60 days to craft the new regulation.“This debate is an important one,” FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said in a statement. “The Federal Communications Commission will carefully review any petition for rulemaking filed by the Department of Commerce.”Industry and civil liberties groups who denounced the order as an illegal end-run around free-speech protections and said it gave the FCC powers it does not actually have.Twitter has been an essential tool for Trump as both a politician and as president, dating back to his false allegations that President Barack Obama was born in Kenya. Trump has observed himself that the social media platform allows him to dodge the press and speak directly to his 80 million followers. It has also afforded him the unfettered opportunity to assail political opponents and to promulgate conspiracy theories and other misinformation.Attorney General William Barr, who joined Trump for his remarks, said the order would not repeal Section 230, which provides social-media companies their liability protection.“But it’s been stretched and I don’t know of anyone in Capitol Hill who doesn’t agree that it’s been stretched beyond its original intention,” he said. “I think this will help get back to the right balance.”Trump and Barr also said they were reviewing possibilities to seek legislation further curbing Section 230 protections. Barr said the government may also bring litigation.“One of the things we may do, Bill, is just remove or totally change 230,” Trump said. “What I think we can say is we’re going to regulate it.”Roth CriticismEarlier Thursday, Trump called out a single Twitter employee, head of site integrity Yoel Roth, in a tweet complaining that the platform’s decision to fact-check his tweets on voting by mail could “taint” the U.S. election.White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany criticized Roth for political tweets, including one that said “actual Nazis” inhabit Trump’s White House.“Twitter’s head of site integrity has tweeted that there are quote, ‘actual Nazis,’ in the White House and no fact-check label was ever applied to this actually outrageous and false claim made against the White House and its employees,” she said.White House officials complained that Twitter did not originally append fact checks to China Foreign Ministry Spokesman Lijan Zhao, who without evidence wrote that “it might be” the U.S. military that brought the coronavirus to China. Twitter has since added the fact-check link to his tweets.Democrats have largely applauded the effort to fact-check the president. But they questioned why Twitter didn’t similarly add links to recent tweets by the president that baselessly accused MSNBC host Joe Scarborough of murdering a former staffer who died while at work in one of his congressional offices nearly two decades ago.“Yes we like Twitter to put up their fact check of the president, but it seems to be very selective,“ House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday.The executive order is the latest in a years-long campaign by the president and his allies against social media companies. The companies say they have more aggressively sought to combat disinformation and foreign interference campaigns after the federal government found that Russia and other state operatives used U.S. social media to influence the 2016 election.Bias AllegationsRepublicans have alleged that Twitter and Facebook are politically biased in the way they display posts and block certain material deemed offensive, and objected to Twitter’s decision to ban certain political advertising. Last May, the administration set up a website asking Americans to submit instances of alleged political bias on social media.“We always knew that Silicon Valley would pull out all the stops to obstruct and interfere with President Trump getting his message through to voters,” Trump 2020 campaign manager Brad Parscale said in a statement. “Partnering with the biased fake news media ‘fact checkers’ is only a smoke screen Twitter is using to try to lend their obvious political tactics some false credibility.”The president has complained about Twitter’s efforts to combat manipulative and abusive content by deleting fake profiles -- leading to a decline of hundreds of thousands of users in his follower count.The websites have denied their actions are politically motivated, and Twitter Chief Executive Officer Jack Dorsey said then he also lost around 200,000 followers in the purge. In 2018 congressional testimony, Dorsey said there were technical explanations for cases of alleged bias raised by Republican lawmakers.Still, the debate has exposed a rift among Silicon Valley tech giants, with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg criticizing Twitter’s decision in an interview with Fox News.“I just believe strongly that Facebook shouldn’t be the arbiter of truth of everything that people say online,” he said. “Private companies probably shouldn’t be, especially these platform companies, shouldn’t be in the position of doing that.“Dorsey fired back in a tweet posted Wednesday night, saying the fact-check was designed to make sure people didn’t misunderstand the president’s tweet and believe they didn’t need to register to vote in order to receive an absentee ballot.(Updates with latest Twitter-Trump clash 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.
(Bloomberg) -- YouTube boss Susan Wojcicki responded to U.S. President Donald Trump’s executive order on Thursday, saying the online video giant supports a wide variety of opinions and runs its service in a neutral way.The order calls for new regulations to limit liability protections enjoyed by social-media companies if they “engage in censoring or any political conduct.” It came after a tussle between Trump and Twitter Inc., which flagged posts from the president with a fact-checking label for the first time earlier this week.Wojcicki was being interviewed by Carlyle Group Inc. co-Founder David Rubenstein on Bloomberg Television while the White House was readying the final order. Drafts of the edict had already circulated. The chief executive officer said she hadn’t seen the order, but said YouTube wants to understand the president’s concerns and address them.“We have worked extraordinarily hard to make sure that all of our policies and systems are built in a fair and neutral and consistent way,” Wojcicki said. “YouTube and the social platforms have really enabled a broad set of new voices to come and join the conversation. And we’ve been really proud that across the spectrum we see a lot of new voices and a lot of new opinions.”YouTube, owned by Alphabet Inc.’s Google, has been swept up in a raging debate over the power of internet gatekeepers. Trump has accused Google of bias against conservatives, while Democratic lawmakers have chastised YouTube for not removing conspiracy theories about the Covid-19 pandemic swiftly enough.On Wednesday, YouTube said it made a mistake when it deleted videos posted by California pulmonologist Roger Seheult about hydroxychloroquine, a controversial drug that Trump has promoted as a possible coronavirus therapy. The clips are now back on the service.“We’ve enabled a large amount of debate and discussion associated with Covid-19,” Wojcicki said on Thursday. “But we’ve also had some really clear policies.”“If someone is recommending any kind of treatment that would be harmful like bleach or something that we know would lead to a bad outcome, that would be a violation of our policy,” she added. “Anything that would cause people to take medically unsubstantiated treatments, so someone theorizing about some treatment, that would be a violation of our policy.”Wojcicki also dismissed the idea that Google might spin off YouTube into a standalone company. “I don’t think that’s very likely,” the CEO said. “We work pretty closely with Google and there’s a lot of benefits that we get as being part of Google. So they sell our advertising, we run on their infrastructure.”YouTube has seen a surge in usage during the pandemic lockdown, but it is also exposed to a drop advertising caused by the slumping economy.“It’s a very tough time economically. And we’re certainly seeing challenges across the board,” Wojcicki said. “But we’re working hard to make sure that our creators can continue to generate revenue.”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.
While President Trump's executive order Thursday on "preventing online censorship" is widely viewed as targeted toward social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, all of which which were cited in the order, it could also pose an unintended threat to online travel and user review sites that are difficult to sue because of […]
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Donald Trump was at the steering wheel as we drove through the rain together on a New Jersey highway in 2005. He had recently considered taking the stage to play a politician in the Broadway comedy “La Cage aux Folles,” but he had other things on his mind as he glanced over at me.“I have one asset that I think nobody else has. And that’s that if somebody writes about me badly, I sort of own my own newspaper in a way. Like I went after you on the ‘Today’ show,” he told me. “I do have the ability to fight back in the media. I can say that, ‘You, Tim, is not smart. Is a terrible guy.’”“A total whack job,” I suggested, since he’d used that one before.“I can say that. Nobody else can,” Trump continued. “In other words, I’m the only guy who can fight back on an almost even plane. I mean, I’m not saying it’s an even plane because you may have an advantage. But I have an advantage, too. Because I’m on television every day.”He finished off his primer with a flourish: “People don’t want to read about a negative Trump. I really believe that.” Remember, this was 15 years ago and Twitter hadn’t yet been invented. Neither had Instagram or Snapchat. Facebook was still a baby. But Trump already instinctively understood one of his advantages as a ubiquitous and media-soaked mogul: He had direct access to readers and viewers and could circumvent traditional news sources to get his message out or to go into battle.Trump’s gut sensibility about how to play the media had been honed through decades of courting and jousting that, even after a series of failures, had left him as an object of interest. That led to his public rebirth on “The Apprentice” and made him ready to rock and roll once social media blossomed. Every social platform offered him the opportunity to run his own printing press and speak directly to fans and critics, but Twitter, a venue of choice for newsies, always held a special allure. And Trump, who adores basking in media attention while also being so singularly insecure that any form of criticism unspools him, has a love-hate relationship with Twitter.So it came to pass that Twitter, which has long tolerated Trump’s retweeting of racists and anti-Semites while painting his targets as everything from “skanks” to murderers, decided on Tuesday to slap fact-checking notices on a pair of bogus Trump tweets claiming that mail-in ballots lead to voting fraud. Trump, who has the November election front of mind and is reeling from an onslaught of criticism for repeatedly bungling his response to the coronavirus pandemic, would have none of that. He claimed that revenge via a federal crackdown on Twitter and other social media companies was coming.Early Thursday evening, Trump issued an executive order that seeks to strip Twitter and other social media platforms of liability protections they enjoy from lawsuits involving the content users post on their sites — including false or defamatory content. In other words, the kind of stuff Trump posts a lot on Twitter. While such a move might be self-defeating, it’s also not clear how serious Trump is about it. The order is littered with personal jibes at Trump’s enemies and the White House said it might still be revised.Trump is also reportedly planning to ask the Federal Communications Commission to make it easier for social media users to sue platforms for removing posts and other content. He also reportedly plans to ask Attorney General William Barr to convene state attorneys general to investigate social media companies for deceptive practices.“There’s nothing I’d rather do than get rid of my whole Twitter account,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office on Thursday. “But I’m able to get to, I guess, 186 million people when you add up all the different accounts…. That’s more than the media companies have, frankly, by a lot.”Trump actually has about 130 million followers on his primary personal social accounts (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram) and he certainly doesn’t have more followers than all of the media companies combined, but you get the point.We’ll have to wait and see if this turns out to be Trump rattling his saber. He has a long history of threatening to sue critics and competitors and then not following through. (I was an exception.) If he decides to try to enforce the executive order, he, the FCC and his White House lawyers will face daunting legal hurdles. Trump can’t force the FCC to change existing regulations that give social media companies latitude to restrict objectionable content. And even if the FCC acts as he wishes, it may not complete its work prior to the November election, because the social media companies will unleash their own attorneys to challenge any change.The First Amendment’s broad protection for editorial discretion from government dictates applies to social media platforms. In a 2017 federal appeals court fight over net neutrality rules, none other than future Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh argued that the government cannot tell companies such as Twitter and Facebook what content to post or favor.The mere whiff of a federal crackdown could have a chilling effect on the social platforms, it’s true, but that will happen only if the companies allow it. Some internecine squabbles have already popped up, with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg telling Fox News that Twitter made a mistake, because no social media platform should be the “arbiter of truth.” It’s quite possible that Zuckerberg is more worried about Facebook being regulated as a news provider rather than as a technology company, or about the added hard work that would come with adequately policing his own website. But that’s a discussion for another day.None of this is really about free speech or proper regulation of social media, however. It’s about the president’s abuse of his power and his fixation on the politics informing the coming election. Also, his feelings are hurt. He’s acting out. Twitter is one of Trump’s favorite toys, and although he’s momentarily bashing it in frustration, he probably won’t go so far as to break it.Trump won’t undermine Twitter because he’s addicted to it. He revels in mainlining his thoughts into the American conversation and absorbing all the responses back into his own bloodstream. Twitter is Trump’s drug of choice, and addicts don’t break their habits so easily.(This column was updated to include new details from the White House's executive order.)This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Timothy L. O'Brien is a senior columnist for Bloomberg Opinion.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.
On Thursday, he signed an executive order intended to stave off future fact-checking efforts across the social media sector, as a whole. The full text of Executive Order 13925 is not yet available in the Federal Register, but a draft of the document was said to limit the scope of Section 230 in the Communications Decency Act. Curtailing this important paragraph could make online media services like Twitter, Facebook (NASDAQ: FB), and Instagram legally liable for content created by users of each service.
(Bloomberg) -- Texas sports leagues can have some fans attend games even as new coronavirus cases in the state climbed at amost twice the weekly average. Overall U.S. infections increased 1.2%.New York gave store owners the power to keep out customers for not wearing a mask. Securities regulators are scrutinizing public companies that got U.S. stimulus aid.The U.S. Veterans Administration is using less of a drug touted by President Donald Trump for Covid-19. Roche’s immune suppressor Actemra will be paired with Gilead’s antiviral remdesivir in a late-stage trial.Key Developments:Virus Tracker: Cases top 5.7 million; deaths over 358,000Why New York suffered when other cities were sparedIndia’s deaths exceed China’s as global hot spots shiftVaccine makers may need to infect subjects to get resultsLatin America now accounts for 40% of daily virus deathsHow can I get it? The evidence on transmission: QuickTakeSubscribe to a daily update on the virus from Bloomberg’s Prognosis team here. Click VRUS on the terminal for news and data on the coronavirus. For a look back at this week’s top stories from QuickTake, click here.San Francisco to Reopen Retail, Sports (5:10 p.m. NY)San Francisco, one of the first U.S. cities to close, is taking steps to reopen businesses, while stay-home orders remain in effect. Starting June 15, restrictions will be loosened on outdoor dining, indoor retail and certain outdoor activities like summer camps, Mayor London Breed said. Professional sports can resume, but without spectators.The city will open child care and outdoor museums June 1. In the next phase, scheduled for July 13, hair salons will open and indoor dining and real estate open houses will be permitted.Breed said a stay-at-home order remains in place indefinitely, and encouraged office workers to continue to telecommute. “This plan is being implemented, but we are still asking people to stay at home if at all possible,” she said.Texas Cases Jump; Fans Return to Stadiums (4:25 p.m. NY)Texas Governor Greg Abbott will let professional sports leagues play games in stadiums and outdoor arenas with fans, limited to 25% of capacity. Indoor sports events remain closed to spectators. New cases rose faster than the weekly average.Leagues must submit a health and safety plan for screening and regular testing of employees, players and contractors, according to a statement on the state’s website. Six feet (1.8 meters) of distance should be maintained in settings including locker rooms, break rooms, workout or practice facilities, and showers.Texas cases climbed 3.2%, almost twice the seven-day average, to 59,766, according to state health department data. New-case detections outpaced the 2.9% increase in testing and, in terms of raw numbers, the case count increased at the steepest daily rate since the pandemic began.Fatalities rose 2.5% to 1,601. Abbott has been dispatching so-called surge response teams to Amarillo and other hot spots to deal with outbreaks centered in facilities such as meatpacking plants.U.S. Cases Rise 1.2% (4 p.m. NY)Coronavirus cases in the U.S. increased 1.2% as compared to the same time Wednesday, to 1.71 million, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg News. That’s in line with Wednesday’s rate and the average of 1.3% over the past seven days. Deaths rose 1.4% to 101,129.New York had more than 366,000 cases and 23,600 fatalities as of May 27, according to Governor Andrew Cuomo. Hospitalizations are declining, and daily fatalities were below 100 for a fourth day, after peaking at more than 700 in April.Florida reported 53,285 cases, up 1.2% from a day earlier, below the average increase of 1.5% in the previous seven days, according to the state’s health department. Deaths reached 2,364, an increase of 1.9%.California cases rose 2.7% to 101,697 while deaths rose 2.3% to 3,973, according to the state’s website.Boston Marathon Canceled (3 p.m. NY)The Boston Marathon was canceled by the Boston Athletic Association, which in a tweet said a virtual event will be staged in September. All participants who signed up for the April 20 race will be offered a refund and can participate in a virtual event Sept. 7–14. Participants in the virtual race will run the marathon distance 26.2 miles and upload data to a fitness app.Mayor Marty Walsh, in a tweet, said the organizers “with our input and support” determined a one-day race isn’t feasible. “This kind of event would not be responsible or realistic on September 14 or any time this year,” he said.Chicago Lets Workers Return (2:55 p.m. NY)More than 130,000 Chicago workers will be permitted to return to work on Wednesday as the city begins to reopen its economy, Mayor Lori Lightfoot said Thursday. Industries permitted to open June 3, with specific safety guidelines in place, include office-based jobs, real-estate services, personal services such as salons and barber hops, and child-care centers.Italian Soccer to Restart June 20 (2:41 p.m. NY)Italy’s top soccer league will restart on June 20 after the national lockdown closed arenas, Sports Minister Vincenzo Spadafora said, according to newspaper La Repubblica. The decision was announced after Spadafora met with Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and soccer officials, Repubblica said on its website.Premier League to Resumes in Mid-June (1:50 p.m. NY)The English Premier League set a provisional restart date of June 17, although Chief Executive Richard Masters said safety requirements must be met before soccer matches resume. The league has 92 outstanding matches for the season.The league will restart with Aston Villa facing Sheffield United at home with Manchester City playing against Arsenal. Matches will take place without fans. The BBC will broadcast games for free for the first time once matches resume, the network said separately.Egypt has Most Cases in One Day (1:30 p.m. NY)Egypt reported 1,127 new cases, the most for one day in the Arab world’s most populous nation, and 29 new deaths, the Health Ministry said.France Paves Way to Reopen (12:55 p.m. NY)France will lift domestic travel restrictions and let most bars, restaurants and museums reopen starting Tuesday following weeks of stringent controls to contain the epidemic. Officials said confinement measures were more effective than expected in combating the disease’s spread. “Freedom will finally become the rule again, and prohibition the exception,” Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said Thursday, following a cabinet meeting.In areas including Paris and the surrounding region, lifting curbs will be slower. Bars and restaurants will be able to open only outdoor spaces, and sports centers will not open until the next phase starting June 22.SEC Opens Inquiry on Stimulus (12:30 p.m. NY)The Securities and Exchange Commission has started an inquiry into companies that received U.S. stimulus funds, scrutinizing whether representations made in loan applications were consistent with disclosures in securities filings, according to three people familiar with the matter.The SEC’s enforcement division has sent letters to some companies that got funding from the Small Business Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program, asking for information about how the funds were being used and for copies of loan applications, these people said.One person said investigators may be focusing on companies whose dire condition qualified them for paycheck loans but whose financial disclosures prior to the outbreak didn’t reflect such vulnerability.VA Trims Use of Trump-Touted Drug (12:20 p.m. NY)The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is reducing its use of hydroxychloroquine to treat Covid-19 patients, Secretary Robert Wilkie told a House Appropriations Committee panel on Thursday. The VA’s use of the drug peaked at the same time it did in the rest of the nation after President Donald Trump touted its use in March despite a lack of clinical evidence that it works.“We started ratcheting it down when we went more to remdesivir and we went to the convalescent plasma,” Wilkie said. “Last week we only used it three times.”Some analyses have found hydroxychloroquine associated with more deaths in Covid-19 patients given the drug’s heart risks compared with patients who didn’t use the treatment. Wilkie said he relied on the intent of a so-called Right to Try law pushed by Trump and passed by Congress in 2018 meant to increase access to experimental drugs.“This Congress was very clear in saying that if people of sound mind ask to be given experimental treatments because that may be the last thing that separates them from life and death then we do that,” he said. “The other option is to do nothing.”Italy’s Death Lowest in 4 Days (12:15 p.m. NY)Italy reported 593 new cases on Thursday, a slight rise from from 584 a day earlier. New deaths were 70, the fewest in four days, down from 117 on Wednesday. The country’s death toll is 33,142.The government will weigh regional data at the end of the week before further relaxing containment measures with free movement within the country from June 3.Cuomo Expands Mask Order (12:03 p.m. NY)New York Governor Andrew Cuomo will sign an executive order that lets owners of private businesses deny entry to anyone who doesn’t wear a mask or face covering. “We’re giving the store owner the right to say, ‘If you’re not wearing a mask, you can’t come it,” Cuomo said at a Brooklyn news conference.Later in his briefing, Cuomo defended the new order, saying individuals “don’t have a right to expose the store owner to the virus” or the right “to expose other patrons in the store to the virus.”New cases rose 0.5%, up from the 0.4% one-week average.Florida Cases Rise Below Average (11:50 a.m.)Florida reported 53,285 Covid-19 cases on Thursday, up 1.2% from a day earlier, compared with an average increase of 1.5% in the previous seven days. Deaths among Florida residents reached 2,364, an increase of 1.9%.Moscow Revises Death Count Higher (11:10 a.m. NY)Moscow’s health department said deaths linked to Covid-19 in April more than doubled after the count was broadened to include direct as well as related cases. While 636 deaths are blamed on the pandemic, an additional 756 people died of other causes while testing positive, according to a statement. Using the new methodology, the Russian capital’s virus death rate rose to 2.8% from 1.4%, it said.The city said it’s following the World Health Organization’s recommendations from mid-April to record fatalities “where the disease caused, or is assumed to have caused, or contributed to death.” Moscow had 1,753 more deaths in April than the three-year average, an increase of 17%, the department said.Trump Acknowledges ‘Very Sad Milestone’ (9:37 a.m. NY)President Donald Trump on Thursday publicly acknowledged the death toll of the U.S. outbreak had reached 100,000.Port Authority to Seek Fed Aid (9:35 a.m. NY)The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey will seek a short-term loan from a Federal Reserve relief program aimed at buying bonds from local and state governments under stress from the pandemic. The agency faces a $3 billion loss over two years tied to a 97% drop in airport traffic, a 95% decline in PATH train ridership and a 40% cut in bridge and tunnel traffic, according to a statement issued after the board approved making the request.White House Scraps Eco Forecast (9:30 a.m. NY)The White House won’t issue a formal economic forecast that would show Covid-19’s impact, according to two people familiar with the matter. One said the administration lacks the data to meet the deadline for the forecast, and the other said the unprecedented nature of the pandemic makes a forecast impossible.The outlook is usually in the “mid-session review,” issued in July or August, as a follow up to the budget released in February.Poland Surprises With Third Rate Cut (9:07 a.m. NY)Poland unexpectedly lowered borrowing costs for the third time in three months to stem the economic damage from the pandemic. The National Bank of Poland reduced its benchmark interest rate to a record low of 0.1% from 0.5% on Thursday, following cuts of one percentage point in March and April. All 24 economists surveyed by Bloomberg predicted no change.Iceland’s Airport Testing Plan Hits Snag (9:03 a.m. NY)Iceland’s plans to test every passenger arriving at its international airport for Covid-19 has hit a snag, after it emerged that the island doesn’t have enough testing facilities. Opening up the country to foreign travelers is a crucial step to lift the economy, which is forecast to contract 9% this year.U.S. Jobless Rolls Shrink for First Time in Pandemic (9:01 a.m. NY)U.S. states’ jobless rolls shrank for the first time during the pandemic in a sign people are starting to return to work, even as millions more Americans filed for unemployment benefits.Continuing claims, which tally Americans’ ongoing benefits in state programs, fell to 21.1 million for the week ended May 16, Labor Department figures showed Thursday. Initial jobless claims for regular state programs totaled 2.12 million in the week ended May 23, to bring the 2 1/2-month total above 40 million.Separate data showed that U.S. orders for durable goods sank sharply for a second month in April as the pandemic wreaked havoc on the manufacturing industry.Johnson to Set Out Results of U.K. Virus Response Review (8:51 a.m. NY)“The Prime Minister will be able to set out later what we have concluded as a result of that review and to talk in some more detail about the recovery plan and what the next steps are likely to be,” Boris Johnson’s official spokesman, James Slack, said on a call with reporters Thursday.Johnson will speak at a 5 p.m. press conference with Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty and Chief Scientific Adviser Patrick Vallance. The prime minister’s office also dismissed a police finding that Dominic Cummings, Johnson’s top aide, may have broken lockdown rules, insisting the matter is now closed.Separately, the U.K.’s coronavirus tracing program was hit by technical problems on the day of its launch, with some health-care workers unable to log on to the system. The so-called Test and Trace service is a key part of Johnson’s plan to help the British economy return to normality.AstraZeneca Joins With Oxford Biomedica to Produce Shot (8:33 a.m. NY)AstraZeneca Plc joined forces with Oxford Biomedica Plc to help produce one of the world’s fastest-moving potential vaccines against Covid-19. Oxford Biomedica will produce multiple batches of the vaccine this year and give AstraZeneca access to its Oxbox manufacturing center, according to a statement Thursday. AstraZeneca has been working with the University of Oxford on the inoculation.Third of Russians Believe Threat Is Overblown: Poll (8:26 a.m. NY)Nearly a third of Russians believe that the threat from the coronavirus crisis has been massively overblown, according to an opinion poll published on Thursday. The survey of 7,600 people from across Russia was conducted on May 21-26 by the Higher School of Economics in Moscow.Harrods Set to Reopen (7 a.m. NY)Luxury British retailer Harrods is set to reopen its flagship London store in June, with “significant” social distancing measures in place, and unveiled plans to open an outlet shop to sell stock left over from the season.The company plans to use footfall monitoring technology to limit capacity at its main Knightsbridge store and ensure social distancing can be maintained. Specific doors will be designated for entering and exiting the store, which was closed in March as the coronavirus outbreak started to spread in Britain.The new concept store, based in West London’s Westfield mall, has been designed to allow more space for customers, the company said. “In the new world in which we find ourselves, the economy needs businesses willing to look at its business model and current operations and think differently to enable growth, while protecting its customers and employees,” Managing Director Michael Ward said. “Harrods Outlet allows us to enable better social distancing across a larger footprint.”WHO Warns Against Austerity (6:37 a.m. NY)The World Health Organization warned against austerity in health spending as Europe’s economies reel from the effects of lockdowns to rein in the coronavirus. “We must learn from the mistakes of the past,” when public spending on health fell in the wake of the euro crisis, Hans Kluge, WHO regional director for Europe, said in a briefing.Cuts in public spending on health shift costs to households who may already be facing financial insecurity, the WHO’s European office warned. Kluge called for solidarity among European governments. “If there’s something we have learned so far it’s that one country, even if it’s doing a great job, is not standing alone. We are safe only when everyone is safe.”‘Safer’ for BOE to Err With Too Much Easing (6:22 a.m. NY)It’s safer for the Bank of England to ease too much rather than too little as it responds to the coronavirus pandemic, according to policy maker Michael Saunders. The U.K. is at risk of a relatively slow recovery from the crisis, which could prove especially damaging, Saunders said on a webinar Thursday. Failing to add more stimulus now could see the economy slip into a “lowflation trap.”“The costs of policy error are, to an extent, asymmetric at present,” he said. “It is safer to err on the side of easing somewhat too much, and then if necessary tighten as capacity pressures eventually build, rather than ease too little and find the economy gets stuck in a low-inflation rut.” The pound slid after the comments and money markets moved to price in a 10 basis-point interest-rate cut for May 2021. That would take the key rate to zero.Synthetic Bio Pioneer Ginkgo Raises $70 Million (6 a.m. NY)Ginkgo Bioworks Inc. has raised $70 million in an effort to build out DNA-based Covid-19 testing on a massive scale. The firm is best known for its efforts to design, modify and manufacture organisms to make industrial processes cheaper and more efficient — for example, it’s working to help program bacteria for treatments as living medicines. Now, Gingko is looking to repurpose the DNA-sequencing and automation infrastructure it developed to read and modify living cells to help address the nation’s shortfall of diagnostic testing.The U.S. has vastly scaled up its testing and is now processing somewhere between 300,000 and 450,000 each day, according to The COVID Tracking Project, a volunteer initiative to compile virus data. But those numbers still fall far short of the tens of millions that some experts have suggested are needed daily to reopen the economy safely and return to a new normal.DNA sequencing, Gingko is betting, might allow those efforts to scale up far more rapidly and cheaply to help achieve that end. The company is worth about $4.2 billion, based on a September effort that raised $290 million. The latest round includes investors such as DNA-sequencing giant Illumina Inc.Google Launches ‘Scam Spotter’ (6 a.m. NY)Alphabet Inc.’s Google has created “Scam Spotter” in partnership with Cybercrime Support Network, an organization that supports victims of online crimes. The website is intended to simplify and organize expert advice about coronavirus-related scams. Scammers have taken advantage of “fear and uncertainty,” around the virus, leading to approximately $40 million in fraud losses, Google 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.
Two years ago, Google open-sourced Plus Codes, a digital addressing system to help billions of people navigate to places that don’t have clear addresses. The company said today it is making it easier for anyone with an Android device to share its rendition of an address -- a six-digit alphanumeric code. Google Maps users on Android can now tap the blue dot that represents their current location to view and share their unique six-digit coordinate with friends.
Google has called on the European Union to use current EU laws to govern the use of artificial intelligence rather than draft new ones and cautioned against a one size fits all regulatory framework because of AI's diverse applications. The U.S. online search engine's comments on Thursday were in response to the European Commission's call for feedback on its proposals to address the challenges of AI before it decides on the next step. "There are already many regulations and legal codes that are technology neutral in nature, and thus broad enough to apply to AI, but it is worth evaluating if there are gaps in the context of specific concrete problems," Google said in a 45-page submission.
(Bloomberg) -- YouTube’s battle against Covid-19 misinformation is causing collateral damage as the world’s largest online video service struggles to pick up on nuances of an increasingly complex and political topic.Since January, California pulmonologist Roger Seheult has posted regular medical lectures about the novel coronavirus on his YouTube channel, MedCram. His audience jumped to more than 700,000 subscribers. But as the virus spread in the spring, YouTube deleted five of the MedCram clips, including two about the controversial drug hydroxychloroquine and one about Remdesivir, an experimental Covid-19 treatment developed by Gilead Sciences Inc.Seheult appealed the decisions. Viewer complaints flooded in; one fan started a petition demanding YouTube stop “censoring” the footage. For Seheult, YouTube’s new rules were applied without explanation. “It’s like you’re in a hockey game,” he said. “And you keep getting called for penalties, but you don’t know what the penalties are.”According to YouTube, the referee made a mistake.“With the massive volume of videos on our site, sometimes we make the wrong call,” a YouTube spokesman said on Wednesday after Bloomberg News reached out for comment. “When it’s brought to our attention that a video has been removed mistakenly, we act quickly to reinstate it.” The five MedCram videos are back on the site now.The incident is another flash point in the debate over the role of internet gatekeepers like YouTube and its parent, Alphabet Inc.’s Google. On Wednesday, U.S. President Donald Trump railed against social-media companies after Twitter Inc. fact-checked some of his tweets. He’s also preparing an executive order that could limit liability protections from the largest user-generated networks: Twitter, Facebook Inc. and YouTube.At the same time, Democratic lawmakers have chastised YouTube for not removing conspiracy theories about the pandemic swiftly enough. In a letter to House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, released on Thursday, YouTube Chief Executive Officer Susan Wojcicki wrote that the company’s automated systems detected a majority of “dangerous or misleading” videos about the virus. “The complex nature of misinformation online presents a number of challenges for platforms such as YouTube and I welcome your suggestions as to what we can do better,” she added.In addition to this political pressure, YouTube has been inundated with virus videos, while the pandemic has disrupted its contract workforce doing content moderation.“YouTube has a really tough job,” said Kyle Allred, MedCram’s co-founder and producer. “But the reality is: YouTube’s the second biggest search engine in the world. If our videos aren’t on YouTube, we don’t have the benefit of reaching as many people.”During the pandemic, YouTube has aggressively moderated virus videos after years of a more laissez-faire approach. The company has pulled thousands of clips for promoting misleading information or advice that conflicts with public health agencies. To filter footage, YouTube relies on viewers flagging videos, automated software and legions of human moderators.At the best of times, the system is sometimes heavy-handed or too lenient. In March, the company said it had to limit its use of human moderators, due to remote work limitations, and would lean more on machines to make decisions.YouTube’s challenge has grown even harder as medical videos pour onto the site and the debate about the pandemic response evolves from a mostly scientific discussion into a political fight.Trump has said he took hydroxychloroquine for about two weeks and the president has promoted it as a possible coronavirus therapy, despite an outcry from medical professionals about its unproven efficacy and potential side effects.At times, YouTube has filtered out sham science, such as videos promoting fake cures for Covid-19. More controversially, it has acted against doctors departing from public health advice. In April, YouTube removed videos by two doctors in Bakersfield, California, who used their YouTube channel to call for an end to social-distancing policies.Seheult, the pulmonologist, said his videos are nothing like that. Instead, MedCram clips dissect medical studies and early research, called preprints, related to the virus. Seheult narrates the findings and statistics -- low-key footage that, thanks to the pandemic, now draws a large audience.It seems Seheult was struck by YouTube’s algorithms scanning footage about Covid-19 cures. All five removed videos focused on potential treatments. YouTube says it relies on medical advisers and public agencies for guidance on how to handle videos about health issues. Yet the scientific consensus on some Covid-19 treatments is still taking shape. A study in The Lancet medical journal, released last week, linked hydroxychloroquine with increased risk of death and heart ailments.The YouTube spokesperson declined to cite the reason why the MedCram videos were initially removed, beyond noting that it was a mistake.The team behind MedCram is happy to have their work back on the world’s biggest video site. But they still feel frustrated with the minimal communication from YouTube. “We’re grateful to have our website MedCram.com where we don’t have to worry about censorship,” said Allred.(Updates with information on Trump executive order, YouTube CEO letter to Congress in eighth and ninth paragraphs.)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.
Try this trade on for size amidst the brewing battle between President Trump and social media companies.