|Day's range||620.00 - 620.00|
(Bloomberg) -- Google has taken aggressive action to scrub coronavirus conspiracies from its news service and YouTube, at a time when social media companies have come under intense scrutiny for their potential to spread dangerous disinformation about the global pandemic. It has begun labeling misleading videos aimed at U.S. audiences, and has joined with other major internet companies to coordinate a response against what the World Health Organization has described as an “infodemic.”But Google is also placing advertisements on websites that publish the theories, helping their owners generate revenue and continue their operations. In at least one instance, Google has run ads featuring a conspiracist it has already banned.One ad for Veeam, an independent Microsoft 365 backup service, appeared atop one website featuring an article that includes false claims that Microsoft Corp. founder Bill Gates’s charitable efforts on pandemics and vaccines are a part of a world domination plot. A Microsoft Teams ad ran with a French language article that alleged Gates tried to bribe Nigerian lawmakers to vote for a Covid-19 vaccine. An ad for the telecommunications provider O2 showed up on another article linking the virus to 5G networks, a common conspiracy theory. The ads were placed through Google’s automated system for matching marketers with websites. The Global Disinformation Index, a research group, recently reviewed 49 sites running baseless claims about the virus, including the stories about Gates and 5G networks. Alphabet Inc.'s Google placed ads on 84% of them, generating the majority of the $135,000 in revenue the sites earned each month, according to the Global Disinformation Index’s estimate.Google has faced criticism for funding hyper-partisan publishers such as Breitbart News in the past. The company has avoided making blanket policies about which publishers can run its ads. Instead, it removes ads only from the specific pages carrying content that violates its content policies. It also allows advertisers to blacklist specific sites. The company has been particularly reluctant to take action with political ramifications now that the Trump administration is taking concrete action to punish companies that it argues show bias against conservative viewpoints. Christa Muldoon, a Google spokesperson, said none of the web pages flagged by the Global Disinformation Index violated its policies. “We are deeply committed to elevating quality content across Google products and that includes protecting our users from medical misinformation. Any time we find publishers that violate our policies, we take immediate action,” she said.‘A Huge Issue’ Google's network ad system is a massive machine for automatically generating money for its owner. Websites apply for Google's program, and they add display banners and pop-ups advertisements to their pages. Google's system automatically fills these slots with digital marketing and takes about 30% of the revenue they generate. Although Google offers a level of control to its marquee advertisers, the self-service system sometimes places ads for brands on websites with which they’d prefer not to be associated.Google’s systems have recently placed ads for eBay Inc., Oracle Corp. and HBO on websites like activistpost.com, thegatewaypundit.com and thewashingtonstandard.com, all of which routinely publish conspiracy theories, according to the Global Disinformation Index.Another company that placed ads on the sites in the study was Criteo SA. When contacted by a reporter about an ad mentioned in the report, Luca Sesti, a spokesman for the company, said it was breaking off its commercial relationship with the website in question, thegatewaypundit.com. “In the event we find a partner is not adhering to our policies, we will terminate the relationship immediately,” he said. “We recognize that the dissemination of inaccurate information through ‘fake news’ is a very real problem on the internet.”Often the ads the researchers found made for uncomfortable pairings. The O2 ad ran alongside an article promoting false claims that 5G wireless technology causes people to experience symptoms of coronavirus because it "poisons their cells." “This is a huge issue that Google needs to tackle now,” said Craig Fagan, program director at the Global Disinformation Index. “It is creating a financial incentive for these websites to continue promoting the conspiracy theories. You go to these sites and there are ads galore, pop ups everywhere. The ads are there to get clicks, monetizing each reader.”A Banned Provocateur ReturnsIn one case, Google accepted ad revenue from a company promoting a conspiracy theorist it tried to remove from its own platforms. In early May, YouTube removed the account of David Icke, a British provocateur who often ranted about "Rothschild Zionists" controlling global institutions and has questioned the efficacy of vaccines. In a recent interview about Covid-19, he said that 5G makes people sick and sends out signals that can control their emotions. Icke had posted on YouTube for more than 14 years.Guillaume Chaslot, a former Google engineer and founder of the research group AlgoTransparency, estimated that Icke’s YouTube channel gained 200,000 subscribers during March and April, when he largely touted unproven theories about the virus. Chaslot's research tracks how often YouTube's recommendation system sends viewers to particular videos and channels. In a 10-year span, YouTube promoted Icke's videos about a billion times.YouTube removed Icke’s account for violating its rules about coronavirus disinformation. Since then, Icke has appeared on other YouTube channels and in YouTube ads for Gaia Inc., a streaming network that promotes yoga and alternative healing. "We have to break out of this perceptual prison," Icke said in a voice-over during an ad that ran weeks after his ban. Gaia's network runs several shows featuring Icke. On a recent earnings call, Gaia executives said YouTube had become a "pretty significant" way to get new subscribers.Gaia didn’t respond to requests for comment. Imran Ahmed, chief executive officer of the Center for Countering Digital Hate, a U.K. nonprofit, argues that social media platforms should remove Icke entirely. “In a pandemic, lies cost lives," said Ahmed. "Misinformed people put us all at risk through their reckless actions.” His group estimated that Icke earned about $177,000 a year from YouTube ads before the ban.Jaymie Icke, a spokesman for Icke's video service Ickonic, said the earnings estimate was inaccurate because YouTube has restricted ads on controversial videos for several years. "Revenue is nothing and has been for a while," said Icke, who is David Icke’s son. "They removed all ads from the channel two months prior to the full deletion anyway. So that figure has simply been made up."Icke and others blocked from the site are allowed to appear on other accounts and in ads as long as those videos don't break rules, according to Muldoon, the Google spokesperson. While web giants like Google have tried to handle conspiracy theories on their user-generated services, they have also tried to reform their ad systems to handle the growing problem. In October 2018, Google and Facebook Inc. signed a European Union code of conduct on disinformation that contained a commitment to “improve the scrutiny of advertisement placements to reduce revenues of the purveyors of disinformation.”According to Fagan, however, the issue remains a blind spot for the companies. Some of the conspiracy websites attract a large number of visitors, promoting their content across social media platforms.The 49 websites promoting Covid-19 conspiracies that were reviewed by the Global Disinformation Index were just a small sample and offer a snapshot of a much larger program, Fagan said. Last year, the Global Disinformation Index published a study of about 20,000 websites promoting disinformation and conspiracy theories. It estimated that they were generating $235 million every year in advertising revenue, approximately $86.7 million of which was paid out by Google.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.
It goes without saying that two of the very best companies in the world are Amazon.com (NASDAQ: AMZN) and Alphabet (NASDAQ: GOOG) (NASDAQ: GOOGL), the parent company of Google. In fact, Google and Amazon ranked Nos. Amazon and Alphabet tend to compete more and more with each other as time marches on, but each company still has a dominant market share of their respective core businesses: e-commerce for Amazon; digital advertising for Google.
President Donald Trump’s increasingly heated feud with Twitter may be good for social media impressions, but may not be legally enforceable, according to experts.
With coronavirus keeping most people housebound, driverless cars have indeed proved to be an asset. However, it will still take considerable time to bring AVs into the mainstream.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- The story of Covid-19 has been pretty bleak, from the scale of the novel coronavirus’s death toll to the pain of draconian lockdowns imposed by, in many cases, unprepared and under-resourced governments.But several weeks after the tentative lifting of tough stay-at-home restrictions in several major European countries, there are reasons to be optimistic about the risk of a second wave of cases — with a dose of appropriate caution.In France, the government is forging ahead with the reopening of bars, restaurants, museums, parks and cross-country travel after the first phase of “deconfinement” went much better than expected. The daily increase in cases here averaged around 0.5% last week, according to Bloomberg data, and the virus’s basic reproduction rate is below 1, according to the French government and other estimates based on hospitalizations.Elsewhere, Italy, Germany and Spain have also avoided serious flare-ups in cases and deaths as restrictions are eased. It’s similar in Austria and Denmark, which lifted lockdowns back in April. Weekly confirmed cases show the continuation of a declining trend. That’s despite people going out and about once again, albeit with face masks and hand gel, and a stay on big-crowd events for now.Retail and recreational footfall in these countries, which was near zero during the lockdown, has recovered to around 50% below the pre-crisis baseline, according to Google data. In parks and public spaces, it’s back to normal. Consumers are even booking flights again. Visions of a radically new society emerging from the rubble of Covid-19 may have to be rethought.There’s no consensus yet on why things are going relatively well. Some experts say the virus itself may have changed, possibly weakened by the summer heat or mutating into a more benign form. Society has changed, too. More social distancing, more handwashing and more testing and contact tracing are proving their worth.Whatever the reason, doctors are increasingly voicing relief and optimism. “Of course, we shouldn’t lower our guard,” French medical professor Frederic Adnet said last week. “But right now, it’s as if the epidemic was behind me.” On Friday, Christian Drosten, a virologist at the Charite University Hospital in Berlin, told Der Spiegel he was confident the outbreak could be kept under control without another lockdown: “There is theoretically a possibility that we can forego a second wave.”None of this means that the virus has disappeared. Areas such as Latin America are still being hit hard. The World Health Organization says the strength of the virus in the developing world indicates we are globally still in the first wave, rather than past it.Nor does it make sense for all countries to lift restrictions to the same extent. Scientists in the U.K., where daily case growth has been higher than in neighboring countries, have expressed concern about curbs being eased too fast. It’s pretty unlikely we are anywhere near herd immunity, and if the virus is a seasonal one, a return in the winter months can’t be ruled out.Still, countries in Europe are proving they can return to some semblance of normal life while containing the virus’s spread, and this is a very positive development. We’re far better prepared to contain “super-spreader” events than at the beginning of the epidemic, when the virus thrived below the surface. Earlier this month, more than 100 infections were traced to a service in a German church, which closed its doors as a result.And economic activity is recovering, as captured by the quite rational rally in financial markets. Bank of America analysts expect key indicators to point to an expanding euro-zone economy by September at the latest.If infections from the novel coronavirus or another one like it do spike again, we will have had more time to keep researching existing drugs for possible treatments, as well as working on the more distant goal of a vaccine. The extra resources being poured into testing, medical research and hospitals should help us avoid the worst of both worlds — high excess deaths and blanket, economy-killing lockdown measures — even if cases climb.The scenario of this virus simply disappearing, perhaps in the way the 2003 SARS disease did, remains a dream. Pandemics usually end when there aren’t enough people left to infect, or when human intervention — through vaccines, or brute-force measures such as isolation or quarantine — scores a decisive victory. We’re not there yet. But the feeling of getting closer is palpable, and worth relishing.This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Lionel Laurent is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering Brussels. He previously worked at Reuters and Forbes.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.
Instagram is going to share some revenue with users. The move could generate billions in revenue for the Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) subsidiary and put it in greater competition with Alphabet's (NASDAQ: GOOG) (NASDAQ: GOOGL) YouTube for both talent and ad sales. For reference, YouTube generated $15 billion in gross revenue last year.
Disney is relying on a vaccine for the coronavirus to get back to full-fledged operations because so many of its businesses rely on large crowds. Alphabet will benefit when advertisers hurt by the outbreak ramp up spending again. The coronavirus outbreak is causing disruptions in some of Disney's most lucrative operations.
The Silicon Valley giant postponed the launch, saying "now is not the time to celebrate."
"We are excited to tell you more about Android 11, but now is not the time to celebrate," Google said in a message posted on its Android developers website. In a tweet, it said that it will announce more details on the new version of Android "soon," without specifying any dates. Protests have spread across the United States over the killing of George Floyd, a Minneapolis black man who died after being pinned by the neck under a white police officer's knee.
Alphabet (GOOGL) closed the most recent trading day at $1,433.52, moving +1.08% from the previous trading session.
(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump unleashed an executive order targeting social media companies like Twitter Inc. that have drawn his wrath -- an effort subject to immediate doubts about its constitutionality and whether it would actually deliver its intended punch.Yet the order on Thursday succeeded on another level for Trump. It shifted attention from his struggles responding to the coronavirus pandemic and a cratering U.S. economy. It also delivered a stark warning to the internet giants he’s tussled with since taking office, while sending an encouraging message to his political base, less than six months before the election. The move showed Trump using the power of his office to squeeze an industry over a political grievance, in this case his complaint that Twitter fact-checked his tweets about mail-in ballots. The order -- which could expose Twitter, Facebook Inc. and other technology giants to a flurry of lawsuits -- sparked broad condemnation from liberals and even some conservatives who accused the president of launching an unconstitutional assault on free speech.The clash escalated Friday when Twitter flagged another Trump tweet that the company said violated its rules about glorifying violence. Twitter obscured the offending message, about violence in Minnesota after the death of man in police custody, but said it may be in the public interest for the post to remain accessible.Trump, who uses Twitter to bypass the mainstream media and communicate directly with the public, is stoking the fight just as his re-election is increasingly at risk over his handling of the pandemic, which has killed more than 100,000 people and forced tens of millions out of work.Fordham University law professor Olivier Sylvain called the order little more than bluster to please Trump’s base, which is receptive to his claims that the social-media platforms censor right-wing viewpoints. Sylvain and other scholars said the measure is toothless, disjointed, and unlikely to survive a court challenge.“These are editorial decisions that are in the heartland of what we think is protected speech,” Sylvain said. “Even threatening it from the White House, that should be deeply troubling to anybody.”The order, which follows a multi-year effort by Trump to rein in internet platforms over his claims of anti-conservative bias, seeks to narrow liability protections that social media companies enjoy for posts by third parties.It specifically names Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Alphabet Inc.’s YouTube for their power to shape public perceptions. It raises the specter that the government is trying to punish decisions about content by the platforms that it disagrees with, which is banned by the free-speech protections in U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment.Singles Out SchiffIt also revives Trump’s anti-Obama rhetoric, and singles out a specific critic in the Democratic Party: “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.”Twitter shares fell 2% in New York trading, while Facebook shares were little changed.Liability protections for internet platforms are spelled out under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996, which allows the companies to display content that’s controversial, offensive and libelous without fear of lawsuits. The law also protects companies from legal repercussions if they take down posts “in good faith” -- a term it leaves undefined -- because lawmakers wanted to limit objectionable content, including pornography.The Little Law That Made the Internet a Free for All: QuickTakeThe executive order takes aim at this second protection by pushing the Federal Communications Commission to issue rules defining bad faith. That could open the door for lawsuits if the decisions to take down content were inconsistent with companies’ terms of service, didn’t provide enough notice, or failed to meet other criteria laid out by the FCC.The order also pushes the FCC to examine whether companies should still enjoy a legal shield when they leave users’ controversial content on display.On Friday morning, Trump suggested that he wanted to go even further than the order, tweeting simply, “REVOKE 230!”That would require action by Congress, which has viewed the provision with increasing skepticism in recent years. While Republicans have complained about alleged bias, liberals have objected to what they see as a proliferation of harmful content, including election-meddling and race and gender hate speech. Both sides have also complained about drug trading, terrorist content and the online sex trade, which prompted changes to the law in 2018.Elimination TargetAlthough Congress is focused on responding to the coronavirus pandemic at the moment, lawmakers’ concerns have a “good chance” of leading to the elimination of the law in coming years, said Jeff Kosseff, a law professor at the U.S. Naval Academy who has authored a history of Section 230.“If you had asked me a few years ago, ‘Will Section 230 be repealed?’ I would have said, ‘No, this thing is sacrosanct,’” Kosseff said. But now, he added, “there is such anger at the platforms, and rightly or wrongly, Section 230 is what people are taking their anger out on.”The internet without Section 230 might not look quite the way conservative critics might envision it, as platforms could choose to respond to the threat of more litigation by taking down even more content.Trump, who routinely courts and promotes conservative provocateurs online, has repeatedly suggested that the social media platforms silence right-wing ideas and has suggested that the federal government should intervene to protect free speech.‘Big Day’ “In a country that has long cherished the freedom of expression, we cannot allow a limited number of online platforms to hand-pick the speech that Americans may access and convey on the Internet,” the order stated.“This will be a Big Day for social media and FAIRNESS!” Trump said in a tweet Thursday morning that has garnered more than 270,000 likes.Trade groups representing technology platforms, civil liberties organizations and legal scholars slammed initial reports of the executive order, saying that it was unlikely to survive a court challenge and that punishing ideas that the administration dislikes is incompatible with the order’s claims of protecting free speech.The order “would be a blatant and unconstitutional threat to punish social media companies that displease the president,” said Kate Ruane, senior legislative counsel of the American Civil Liberties Union, which is a frequent Trump critic. She said it was ironic that the president, a prolific tweeter with 80.6 million followers on the platform, would attempt to weaken the company’s protections against the kind of controversial content he often spreads.“The president is trampling the First Amendment by threatening the fundamental free-speech rights of social-media platforms,” said Steve DelBianco, president of NetChoice, a conservative-allied trade association that counts Twitter and Facebook as members.Denunciations by DemocratsThe order sparked a chorus of criticisms from Democrats, including former Vice President Joe Biden, Trump’s presumptive Democratic challenger, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, who helped write Section 230 when he served in the House in the 1990s.“Donald Trump’s misinformation campaigns have left death and destruction in their wake,” Wyden said in a statement. “He’s clearly targeting Section 230 because it protects private businesses’ right not to have to play host to his lies.”Twitter and other social-media companies have apologized for occasional mistakes around taking down harmful or misleading content, but deny that they deliberately silence any political viewpoints. The platforms say they’re focused on users who are threatening or spread harmful misinformation on issues such as voting or the coronavirus.Yet some conservatives celebrated the executive order, saying the power of the internet giants must be reined in. “Given the political and cultural influence that these multinational corporations wield, it is of utmost importance to defend free speech values,” said Jon Schweppe, director of policy and government affairs of the Trump-allied American Principles Project, although he expressed some reservations about the order’s “deference to federal agencies.”Directive to FCCThe order directs the Commerce Department to ask the FCC for the rulemaking within 60 days. If the agency decides to take up the issue, it could still be months before it issues a final regulation. The FCC could also decline to act because it isn’t controlled by the Commerce Department. And any rules could spark lawsuits from the companies, which they would likely win, according to Gautam Hans, a law professor at Vanderbilt University.Andrew Jay Schwartzman, senior counselor at the Benton Institute for Broadband & Society, said the FCC has no authority to enforce Section 230 and called the directive “preposterous, but at the same time, horrifying.”The FCC, which is independent from the White House and is overseen by Congress, regulates airwaves uses and telephone providers, and doesn’t oversee internet companies. The order attempts to give the agency a role by having the Commerce Department request action.“This is about working the ref” and intimidating Twitter, said Gigi Sohn, who served as counselor to former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, a Democrat.FCC Chairman Ajit Pai -- a Republican and Trump appointee -- has criticized Twitter for what he called a politically motivated approach to content.“This debate is an important one,” Pai said in a statement on Thursday, adding that his agency “will carefully review any petition for rulemaking filed by the Department of Commerce.”FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly, a Republican, slammed the platforms in a tweet and said that he wasn’t troubled by the White House’s seeking a “review of the statute’s application.” But he added that the First Amendment “governs much here.”Democratic Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel said in a statement that an executive order that would turn the agency into “the president’s speech police is not the answer” to frustrations with social media. “It’s time for those in Washington to speak up for the First Amendment,” she said.The order also calls on the Federal Trade Commission, which has a consumer protection mandate, to take a closer look at whether companies misrepresent how they moderate content. And it convenes a working group of state attorneys general to look into similar practices, working with the Justice Department.The FTC said in a statement that it’s committed to laws “consistent with our jurisdictional authority and constitutional limitations.”The order would also initiate a review of all ad spending on the platforms by executive branch agencies with reports to the government’s budget office and have the Justice Department determine if the platforms are “problematic vehicles for government speech.” The department should also propose legislation to change the law, under the order.(Updates with potential for Congress to reform or repeal Section 230 from 14th 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.
For the longest time, Alphabet (NASDAQ: GOOG) (NASDAQ: GOOGL) subsidiary Google has been known to depend heavily upon a workforce of temporary employees and contractors. Google employs so many temps and contractors, in fact, that its non-employee workforce actually outnumbers Google's actual employees. Rather than convert more temps into full-time employees (which would be a good thing for the workers), The New York Times reports today that Google has rescinded job offers to "several thousand" temporary and contract workers at locations around the world, workers that the company had previously planned to hire.
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.
The Zacks Analyst Blog Highlights: Twitter, Facebook and Alphabet
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.
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.
(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.
You can't go wrong with either one of these high-quality tech stocks, but one stands head and shoulders above the other in the long run.