|Bid||0.00 x 3000|
|Ask||0.00 x 1800|
|Day's range||31.16 - 32.81|
|52-week range||20.00 - 45.86|
|Beta (5Y monthly)||0.79|
|PE ratio (TTM)||20.07|
|Earnings date||23 Jul 2020|
|Forward dividend & yield||N/A (N/A)|
|1y target est||30.36|
Democrats and Republicans have voiced increasing antipathy over Section 230 -- and it could mean costly political trouble for Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.
Facebook won't overcome the yawning advertiser revolt in response to hate content overnight, suggests a Goldman Sachs strategist that specializes in tech investing.
(Bloomberg) -- ByteDance Ltd.’s TikTok will pull its viral video app from Hong Kong’s mobile stores in coming days, becoming the first internet service to withdraw after Beijing enacted sweeping powers to crack down on national security threats.That announcement came after internet giants from Facebook Inc. to Google and Twitter Inc. voiced opposition to national security legislation that grants the Hong Kong government sweeping powers to police the online and public spheres. TikTok, which has insisted it operates independently of Beijing despite its Chinese ownership, may be able to argue the withdrawal is a move to escape requests to censor content or share user data.But its retreat could also benefit the Communist Party by removing a forum pro-democracy protesters have used to post videos calling for an independent Hong Kong. The Chinese-owned company didn’t explain its decision but said its Hong Kong exit could occur within days.“In light of recent events, we’ve decided to stop operations of the TikTok app in Hong Kong,” a spokesperson for the service said.ByteDance, the world’s most valuable startup, operates some of the world’s most popular social media platforms. TikTok in just a few years became the destination of choice for mainly younger Americans and lip-syncing, dancing Indians. Its Chinese-only twin Douyin and other services such as Toutiao have grown into major venues for more than 1.5 billion people in its home country and beyond.But that virality is provoking scrutiny around the globe about both its control of valuable personal data -- particularly of youths -- and censorship policies deemed pro-Beijing. On Monday, U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo told Fox News “we’re certainly looking” at a ban on Chinese social media apps including TikTok. It’s also the largest and most prominent of 59 Chinese services India has banned, reflecting growing tensions between the neighboring countries after a deadly border skirmish in the Himalayas.Sensor Tower data showed that as of September 2019, TikTok had about 1.8 million downloads in Hong Kong, a city of 7.4 million people. It’s unclear if ByteDance plans a substitute for TikTok -- Douyin, its closest cousin, is available only in China.On Tuesday, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam sidestepped a question about how her administration will respond to decisions by Google, Facebook and Twitter to suspend processing user data requests, over concerns about suppression of free speech. Pompeo blasted the Communist Party’s “Orwellian censorship” in a statement.While TikTok’s withdrawal may be viewed as support for the pro-free speech camp, the Chinese-owned service -- which likes to portray itself as mainly a fun venue for self-made music videos -- has come under fire repeatedly for censorship.TikTok has faced persistent allegations its decisions on content align with Beijing’s priorities. It has targeted videos related to pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, the mistreatment of Muslims in China’s Xinjiang region,and standoffs at the India-China border. Last year, a ByteDance spokesman told Bloomberg TikTok didn’t remove videos from the Hong Kong protests for political reasons, saying they may have instead been taken down for violating guidelines around violent, graphic, shocking or sensational content.TikTok in June took a major step toward burnishing the service by hiring Kevin Mayer, the architect of Walt Disney Co.’s direct-to-consumer video strategy. Mayer, who runs TikTok globally, may help smooth relations with U.S. lawmakers and interest groups while attracting talent and new content to speed its international expansion.(Updates with details on TikTok’s business from the second paragraph)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Google, Facebook Inc., Microsoft Corp. and Twitter Inc. won’t process user data requests from the Hong Kong government amid concerns that a new security law could criminalize protests.Last Wednesday, when the law took effect, Google paused production on any new information requests from Hong Kong authorities, said a spokesperson for the Alphabet Inc. unit. “We’ll continue to review the details of the new law,” the spokesperson added.It’s unclear what types of actions will violate the new law, but police arrested a man last week for brandishing a Hong Kong independence flag. Protesters have rallied against the law, and the government has threatened fines and imprisonment for service providers that fail to remove messages. In response, the U.S. has revoked some trade benefits with Hong Kong related to sensitive technology. American officials have expressed fears that the new law signals Beijing’s intention to take full control of Hong Kong, which has operated with more autonomy and freedom than cities on the mainland.Microsoft is pausing responses to such data requests as it examines the new law, a company spokesperson said in a statement. The company said it “typically received only a relatively small number of requests from Hong Kong authorities, but we are pausing our responses to these requests as we conduct our review.”In 2019, the Hong Kong government requested data from Google users 105 times, according to the company’s reported figures.Facebook typically works with law enforcement to follow local laws where the company operates, but said it has paused sharing user data with Hong Kong authorities while it conducts a “human-rights” assessment. The pause applies to all Facebook properties, including its core social network, Instagram and WhatsApp.“Freedom of expression is a fundamental human right and support the right of people to express themselves without fear for their safety or other repercussions,” a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement. “We have a global process for government requests and in reviewing each individual request, we consider Facebook’s policies, local laws and international human-rights standards.”Twitter operates in much the same way and paused data requests immediately following the law’s implementation last week, a Twitter spokesperson said, adding that the company has “grave concerns regarding both the developing process and the full intention of this law.”Facebook and Twitter don’t operate in China but do in Hong Kong, where they have offices. Google has a significant presence in Hong Kong, which includes sales staff that works with Chinese companies running digital advertising outside of China.(Updates with Microsoft’s statement in the fourth 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) -- Sina Corp., a Chinese social media company, has received a take-private proposal for $41 a share from an entity led by its chairman.The company said in a statement Monday that New Wave MMXV Ltd., the anglicized name of Sina, submitted a preliminary non-binding proposal letter dated Monday for a “going private” transaction. New Wave is controlled by Charles Chao, chairman and chief executive officer of Sina, according to the statement.At $41, the U.S.-listed company would be valued at about $2.7 billion, an 11.8% premium on its last closing price on Thursday.Sina operates Weibo, a Chinese equivalent of Twitter. The firm was among the first wave of Chinese internet companies to seek listings internationally at the beginning of the century. It went public on the Nasdaq in 2000, with its shares rising 174% since then. The S&P 500 Index rose 116% during the same period.With the encouragement of China’s government and to be closer to their customers, some U.S.-listed Chinese companies have reversed course and sought homecomings via Hong Kong listings in the past year. That includes Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., JD.com Inc. and NetEase Inc.Chao controls 13.5% of Sina’s ordinary shares, according to a filing. Sina said in its statement that New Wave and its beneficiaries control 58% of the voting power in the company. The acquisition, to be financed by a combination of debt and equity, will be evaluated by a special committee set up by Sina’s board, according to the statementAn investor group backed by private equity firms Warburg Pincus and General Atlantic offered in June to take private 58.com Inc., a Chinese online bulletin board akin to Craigslist, in a deal valuing the company at about $8.7 billion.Sina shares jumped as much as 10.8% on Monday after the announcement disclosing the offer. They closed at $40.54 in New York.(Updates with closing share price in 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) -- Apple Inc. said it is “assessing” a new Hong Kong security law that has sparked concern about criminalizing protests.The Cupertino, California-based technology giant also said it has not received requests for Hong Kong user data since the law kicked in last week, and noted that it doesn’t get requests directly from the government there.“Apple has always required that all content requests from local law enforcement authorities be submitted through the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty in place between the United States and Hong Kong,” the company said. Under that process, “the U.S. Department of Justice reviews Hong Kong authorities’ requests for legal conformance.”On Monday, other tech companies, including Google, Twitter Inc. and Facebook Inc. said they would pause processing user data requests from the Hong Kong government as they review the new law.On its website, Apple said that in the first half of 2019, it received 358 requests for user device information, 155 requests related to fraudulent transactions, and two requests for account data from Hong Kong.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.
Facebook, which also owns WhatsApp and Instagram, said in a statement it was pausing reviews for all of its services "pending further assessment of the National Security Law." Google, a unit of Alphabet Inc <GOOGL.O>, and Twitter said they suspended their reviews of data requests from Hong Kong authorities immediately after the law went into effect last week.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Plenty of people will tell you that the unrest spreading through the U.S. is rooted in inequality – in the dissatisfaction of the 99%. But what if it’s not that simple? What if there’s also an important battle going on within the 1%? For the sake of the nation’s survival, it’s worth considering.No doubt, people are angry. According to a recent Pew survey, 87% of Americans say they’re dissatisfied with the way things are going in the country. Partisan animosity has been building for decades and is now at a fever pitch, with incendiary rhetoric a constant feature of Twitter and other social media. Recent nationwide protests over police brutality and racism have been some of the largest and most widespread in the country’s history. The rise of Donald Trump, a leader more polarizing, intolerant and incompetent than any in living memory, is itself a sign of deteriorating national stability.Historian Peter Turchin, who believes episodes of unrest happen every half century or so, has a theory to explain what’s troubling the country. According to Turchin, the basic problem is too much competition among elites. With more inherited wealth and more people getting advanced degrees, he reasons, there are more claimants to a relatively fixed number of positions in the upper echelons of politics, business and other social hierarchies. With so many destined to lose out in the increasingly fierce competition, there is bound to be widespread anger and disappointment.By itself, this elite-centric theory seems insufficient. Many working-class people are also marching in the streets and voting for politicians with extremist views. But angry educated and rich people lend special weight to any revolution, since they are precisely the people who have the talent and resources to foment revolution and chaos. Ultimately they provide the funding and craft the messaging for organized extremism and violence.Turchin’s theory is all the more worrying because the number of elite spots has been shrinking in recent decades, as a result of technological and economic changes. Wealth and income have become increasingly concentrated at the top of the distribution:In 1990 there were only 99 billionaires in the U.S.; now there are more than 600. Even accounting for inflation, that’s an enormous increase in the upper echelons of wealth. As inequality rises at the top, the standards for what counts as success rise accordingly. Having $10 million in the bank just doesn’t command the respect it used to, when Mark Zuckerberg’s fortune is 8000 times as large.And structural changes in the economy are making it ever harder to reach the top tier. Across a broad range of industries, a few top companies are taking larger market shares. This might be because these companies are hoarding talent and intellectual property, because the internet has extended the reach of corporate behemoths, because network effects have become more common, or for various other reasons. Whatever the cause, winner-take-all markets seem to be proliferating. That means a few ambitious entrepreneurs will become Zuckerbergs while the rest are left gnashing their teeth.It isn’t just the business world where top-level success is becoming less attainable. Consider academia. Many ambitious young educated people dream not of wealth but of the intellectual respect that comes with a tenured professorship. But the end of the mid-20th-century expansion of the U.S. university system, along with more recent declines in state funding for colleges, mean that tenure-track positions are a shrinking part of university faculty:This has happened even as the number of PhDs awarded has risen by more than 50% since 1990. So more smart young people are seeing their dreams of a research career sour into a reality of permanent precarity as adjuncts and lecturers.This same pattern repeats in the legal profession and in politics, where the size of Congress hasn’t kept up with population growth. Smart, ambitious young people are told to compete ever harder for the plum spots, even as their efforts have a smaller chance of paying off.The danger it that eventually all the frustrated aspirants decide that the system itself is the problem, and seek to overthrow it. Over-competition is especially dangerous when combined with another factor: slowing growth. A long period of prosperity -- such as that from 1985 to 2008 – can create high expectations that leave a bitter taste in young people’s mouths when dashed by a slowdown.How can the U.S. reverse the trend toward elite over-competition? Increasing the number of elite positions is very difficult. Instead, adjust expectations. Taxing inheritances heavily would reduce the number of young people who feel entitled to great wealth. Reducing the number of PhDs would mean fewer disappointed scholars who fail to achieve tenure track. And wealth taxes on the greatest fortunes can lower expectations to more reasonable levels, making people with $10 million feel rich again.Turchin believes that low inequality helps explain why the unrest of the 1960s and 1970s was ultimately mild and didn’t threaten the integrity of the nation. It’s too late for the U.S. to avoid the current period of turmoil, but by leveling the playing field and changing expectations, it can get an early start on minimizing the next one.This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Noah Smith is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist. He was an assistant professor of finance at Stony Brook University, and he blogs at Noahpinion.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) -- Major brands are getting caught up in the MeToo movement against sexual harassment and assault that’s sweeping through video-game streaming, the fast-growing but insular world of watching amateurs and professionals play live online.In the past month, dozens of women -- often, former girlfriends or fellow streamers -- have accused more than 150 people of everything from rape to groping underage girls to cheating.Nvidia Corp., which makes powerful chips used in gaming PCs and runs a gaming service, is among the big companies contending with the problem. The company was working on a sponsorship project this year with Samuel Earney, a streamer on Amazon.com Inc.’s Twitch platform. Then the allegations hit.On June 22, a former girlfriend accused Earney, known on Twitch as IAmSp00n, of sexual and emotional abuse. She said he lorded his sponsorship deal with an unnamed PC-part manufacturing company over her as part of that mistreatment.The ex-girlfriend’s statement helped to explain the apology Earney had issued the previous day. “My actions haven’t been proper or appropriate,” he said, adding that he would ask his sponsors and partners to remove him “from programs and services so that they aren’t held responsible.” Soon after, Twitch closed his account; the site wouldn’t provide reasons for the ban.“We have ceased all engagement with Samuel Earney (IAmSp00n),” Nvidia said in a statement. “We condemn such behavior and commend those who come forward to support the safety of our gaming community.”Twitch BansNvidia isn’t alone. Twitch, by far the largest streaming site, recently banned a handful of streamers and said it will report some cases to the authorities. Facebook Gaming banned one streamer as well, and is investigating some personalities from rival service Mixer who are supposed to join the platform. Alphabet Inc.’s YouTube said it’s investigating allegations as well; many streamers banned elsewhere still have a presence there. All streaming sites’ terms of service prohibit harassment of other users, and many of the accusers are also streamers.While the streaming industry has been accused of sexism and harassment of women for years, in the past many accusers faced a backlash, said Isabelle Briar, who streamed under the name of LadyNasse before retiring recently.“You may speak up about something, and you might want to work with a brand, but you get turned down, and you don’t know why,” Briar said. “This can damage your hireability.”But this time around -- possibly because of the broader MeToo movement in entertainment and business -- “reaction was wildly different,” she said. Accusers have received a wave of support in comments on Twitter and elsewhere. And some brands are breaking ties with the accused, withdrawing the advertising and sponsorship fees that make up the lion’s share of the most popular streamers’ earnings.Many industry insiders say this is just the tip of the iceberg, in large part due to streaming culture, particularly among gamers.“Every streamer feels the need to push some sort of boundary in order to differentiate themselves,” said Lewis Ward, an analyst at IDC. “You are trying to fix something that’s embedded into gaming culture.”Apologies, DenialsSome of the accused streamers have posted lengthy apologies. Others deny any wrongdoing. Facebook said on June 22 it suspended streamer Michael “Thinnd” McMahon while it investigates abuse allegations from an ex-partner. McMahon categorically denied the allegations. He now advertises his YouTube channel on Twitter, instead.Headsets maker 1More, a past sponsor, said McMahon’s contract expired more than a year ago. “To our knowledge we have not sponsored any other streamers accused of harassment, nor would we if the information was brought to our attention,” 1More said in a statement. “We hold our partners to a high standard, and will continue to do so for any future sponsorships.”After being accused of sexual misconduct, Omeed Dariani, chief executive officer of the streamer-management firm Online Performers Group, vacated his position. “I believe women, I recognize that I am not innocent and have contributed,” he said in a tweet. Today, OPG’s website lists no clients, amid reports that many streamers have left the company. OPG and Dariani didn’t respond to requests for comment.On June 29, OPG said it hired a consulting firm to investigate claims against Dariani. In the past, the firm had helped streamers strike deals with the likes of Yum! Brands Inc.’s Taco Bell, according to San Diego Business Journal. Taco Bell didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.As a result of all this, major brands are expected to step up their vetting.“Sponsoring streamers has been sort of the Wild West over the past few years,” said Doug Clinton, managing partner at Loup Ventures, a research-driven venture-capital firm. “The industry has grown so quickly, I think brands have been forced to adapt to the opportunity and probably take some chances that they may not be as comfortable with in the future.”Still, small and thirsty brands may not be so picky -- simply because having a streamer gulp down your drink, wear your glasses or point out your gaming gear during a session is marketing gold.“When trying to target gamers, there aren’t many better ways than through streaming,” said Matthew Kanterman, an analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence.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) -- For years, Facebook Inc. brushed off complaints from civil rights groups that it didn’t do enough to combat racism, discrimination and voter suppression flourishing on its site. Now, pressure from a boycott by major advertisers is forcing the social media giant to address their concerns.Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg has agreed to meet on Tuesday with leaders of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the Anti-Defamation League and Color of Change to discuss their requests. Facebook is increasingly playing defense against a growing group of civil rights organizations, employees and companies demanding that the technology giant do more to fight injustice on its platform.“Right now is a moment of real reckoning for the company,” said Vanita Gupta, chief executive officer of The Leadership Conference on Civil & Human Rights. “There’s a lot of pressure.”The advocates led the campaign to persuade advertisers including Starbucks Corp. and PepsiCo Inc. to halt spending on the platform, focusing attention on Facebook’s policies as public outrage swells over racial inequities in America following the shocking video of the death of George Floyd in police custody.Civil rights groups have long been asking Facebook to make policy and staffing changes to address their grievances. Concerns have included how the platform has promoted discriminatory advertising, allowed foreign adversaries to try to suppress the Black vote, and let white supremacy groups organize rallies.Leaders of the groups said their efforts to get the social media platform to change have often been only given lip-service, and, at times, even attacked.Facebook declined to comment, but pointed to an announcement Friday that it will attach to posts about voting a link to an information portal that explains how and when users can vote and how to register. The company has set a goal of helping to register 4 million new voters before the presidential election.Increasing ScrutinyFacebook is also under increasing scrutiny in Washington. Zuckerberg has agreed to testify before a House antitrust panel along with CEOs of other large technology platforms and the company faces antitrust investigations by two federal agencies and nearly all 50 states.Gupta and other advocates said Facebook has improved its response to concerns about Census misinformation and has curtailed discriminatory ads, but has fallen short in fighting voter suppression, election misinformation and moderating political speech.“They are making many of the changes at our urging, but are missing the core piece,” Gupta said, pointing to Zuckerberg’s insistence on leaving misleading political speech unchecked because he deems the content newsworthy.Gupta was on a call with Zuckerberg last month, along with Rashad Robinson, president of Color of Change, and Sherrilyn Ifill, president of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, to discuss Facebook’s plans to prepare for the upcoming elections. Donald Trump had recently threatened on social media to withhold funding from Michigan over the state’s mail-in balloting plans. When Gupta questioned Facebook’s policy on political speech, Zuckerberg told her Trump’s posts represented hard “edge cases,” she recalls. Gupta said she disagreed and told him “at every turn you should be making the decision to weigh in favor of fair elections and protecting voting rights.”Civil rights advocates had been contacting Facebook as early as 2017 about issues such as hate speech and election interference, but intensified their outreach following reports that Russian operatives had exploited Facebook and other platforms to suppress Black voting, stir social unrest and help Trump win the 2016 election.Madihha Ahussain, a special counsel for Washington-based group Muslim Advocates, said that while her group initially thought they were making progress with Facebook over anti-Muslim posts, they began to realize the company wasn’t taking systematic action. They were “just listening to us and nothing is changing on the platform itself,” Ahussain said. “We were just getting the runaround.”For Robinson, the turning point came in November 2018, when he got a call from a New York Times reporter asking him to comment on startling revelations: Facebook had hired Definers Public Affairs, a former Republican-linked firm, to compile opposition research about billionaire investor George Soros’s funding of groups that were critical of Facebook -- including Color of Change -- and circulate it to reporters. Soros had attacked Facebook earlier that year as a menace to society.“It became very clear that we had to reset the terms of the relationship,” with Facebook, said Robinson. “We knew that we must have been on to something if they were trying to spend their money to discredit us.”The advocates sent an open letter to Zuckerberg and Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg calling for the creation of a C-suite position to advocate for users’ needs and work with civil rights groups. They also sought more transparency about a civil rights audit the company had initiated.Facebook fired Definers and Sandberg later apologized in a meeting with the advocates. Facebook tapped Laura Murphy, a veteran at the American Civil Liberties Union, to do the audit and agreed to release the results.Election War RoomMeanwhile, the groups were growing increasingly concerned that Facebook wasn’t prepared to spot and eliminate voter-suppression campaigns or misinformation on its platform ahead of the 2018 midterms.About two months before the election, groups including the National Urban League and the NAACP traveled to Facebook’s headquarters in Silicon Valley to see its election “war room” and discuss its election-integrity plan with company officials, including Sandberg, said LaShawn Warren, executive vice president of government affairs at the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, which also attended.To Warren, the Facebook team seemed more focused on eliminating inaccurate information about poll locations and opening and closing times than it was in detecting more sophisticated ways bad actors could try to dissuade voters. Her group pressed Facebook to hire more people with voter-suppression expertise.On Dec. 18 2018, Facebook released an update from Murphy detailing what Facebook had done. Facebook had also hired voting experts to help with its election-integrity work.It wasn’t enough for the groups. That same day, more than 30 organizations representing civil rights advocates, big tech critics and liberal causes wrote a letter expressing “profound disappointment regarding Facebook’s role in generating bigotry and hatred toward vulnerable communities” and called for Zuckerberg and Sandberg to step down from the board.They didn’t step down, but Sandberg and other Facebook officials continued to talk with civil rights groups about their complaints. Sandberg met with advocates and members of the Congressional Black Caucus in Washington in May 2019.Facebook won praise from the groups for its plan to ban content that misrepresents the 2020 U.S. Census, but tensions flared again in October of last year around Zuckerberg’s speech at Georgetown University, in which he defended the company’s policy to not fact-checking political ads. He extolled the platform’s fight to uphold free speech, citing protests against the Vietnam War and Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail.”Zuckerberg had previewed his remarks during a phone call with at least one civil rights leader who expressed concern that his emphasis on free speech could come at the expense of civil rights, according to a person familiar with the matter. The leader told Zuckerberg that Facebook’s top executives had no civil rights experience. The co-founder responded that he had a lot of former President Barack Obama people on staff, the person said. The leader also cautioned him against invoking Martin Luther King Jr. to make his point, the person said.Zuckerberg’s speech won praise from conservatives, but criticism from civil rights advocates including King’s daughter, Bernice King, who argued that Facebook was avoiding reforming its content-moderation practices.Just before the speech, Politico reported that since July 2019, Zuckerberg had been meeting with prominent conservative thinkers, including commentator Ben Shapiro, Brent Bozell and Fox News host Tucker Carlson.Facebook was increasingly facing criticism for catering to conservatives in its polices and rhetoric. It was only after news broke about Zuckerberg’s meetings with right-leaning pundits that he invited the civil rights advocates to a dinner at his Palo Alto, California, home in November 2019.“I did feel that Zuckerberg listened to us,” said Ifill of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, who was at the dinner. “Listening is not quite the same, you know, as being willing to actually make change.”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) -- Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged Britons to act responsibly as pubs prepare to re-open and the government lifts quarantine rules on travel for 60 countries.Restaurants, hotels, cinemas and hairdressers will also be allowed to welcome customers for the first time in more than three months on Saturday. Non-essential retailers have been allowed to open since June.In a further easing of the lockdown brought in to contain the coronavirus, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps published a list of countries and territories that will be exempt from rules requiring arrivals to quarantine for 14 days. Those coming from the U.S., where infection rates remain high, will still need to quarantine.“As we take this next step, our biggest step yet, on the road to recovery, I urge the British people to do so safely,” Johnson said at a televised press conference on Friday evening. “The success of these businesses, the livelihoods of those who rely on them, and ultimately the economic health of the whole country is dependent on every single one of us acting responsibly.”The prime minister warned “we are not out of the woods yet,” saying ministers “will not hesitate in putting on the brakes and re-imposing restrictions” if the virus starts spreading again.Johnson also promised to publish a timetable next week to help get industries including theaters, events, nail bars and indoor gyms back up and running, as well as guidelines so that cricket matches can resume next weekend.Johnson is trying to jump-start the U.K. economy after the pandemic killed more than 43,000 people, pushing the country into what may be the worst recession in three centuries. Earlier this week, the premier accelerated 5 billion pounds ($6.2 billion) of spending, pledging to “build, build, build” in an effort to revive economic activity. Next week, Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak is due to unveil more measures.Sunak is focusing on preserving as many jobs as possible. His statement next week is likely to steer clear of big tax cuts and focus instead on a few targeted measures to help employment. Then, in the fall, he’ll outline a wider package of fiscal stimulus.Taxes on WealthyLabour Shadow Chancellor Anneliese Dodds said Sunak must create and protect jobs as well as ensure the wealthy bear the brunt of any future tax rises. She also called on the chancellor to extend the government’s furlough program -- due to end Oct. 31 -- in areas where local lockdowns are needed and in sectors of the economy that are struggling to restart.As many as 42% of firms plan to cut jobs in the next six months, with another 31% saying redundancies are possible, according to survey released by Make U.K., a lobbying group for manufacturers.Shapps unveiled a list of countries and territories that the government considers safe enough to waive a requirement for arrivals in England to self-isolate.From July 10, people arriving in England from 74 countries and territories including Germany, France, Greece, Spain and Italy will no longer have to observe a two-week quarantine. Russia, Portugal and the U.S. are not on the list.The provisions won’t extend to people returning to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, which will set their own rules.The government is still wary of a resurgence in coronavirus cases, and has pledged to deploy a “whack-a-mole” strategy to quash any localized outbreaks by having more targeted lockdowns. The central English city of Leicester was placed under such provisions earlier this week.‘Will Not Hesitate’When the pubs re-open, the government is keen to avert scenes like those on beaches last week, when warm weather lured Britons in their thousands to the coast and social-distancing broke down. On Thursday, the Health Department published guidance for the hospitality industry to help with the government’s test and trace program.Pubs, hotels and restaurants were told to collect the names and phone numbers of clients and retain them for 21 days so that they can be contacted if anyone at the venue is later identified as suffering from the virus.Johnson said he will be going to a pub for a beer this weekend.“I can tell you that I will certainly buy and drink a pint,” he said. “This is a big turning point for us, we’ve got to get it right. Let’s work together and enjoy summer safely.”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) -- European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde’s signature crisis-fighting tool is becoming the focus of disagreement among policy makers in what could amount to her first major test of discipline.Governing Council members face a potential rift over how much their emergency bond-purchase program should stay weighted toward weaker countries such as Italy, according to multiple conversations with central-bank officials.While the debate remains hypothetical for now, it could crystallize as the economy emerges from the coronavirus pandemic. The danger is that such friction undermines a program unveiled at the height of the crisis to reassure investors of the ECB’s resolve in defending the integrity of the euro.The officials asked not to be named because of the confidentiality of internal discussions. An ECB spokesman declined to comment.The internal mood is reflected in differing public comments by the central-bank heads of the euro zone’s two biggest economies: Germany’s Jens Weidmann and France’s Francois Villeroy de Galhau. Other Governing Council members hold similar views to them on either side of the debate, according to the officials.The prospect of disagreements might evoke memories of the discord that punctuated the eight-year reign of Lagarde’s predecessor, Mario Draghi. The bond-buying tool he developed during the euro-area debt crisis and his later pursuit of quantitative easing both met bitter German opposition.At the core of the current argument is the much-touted flexibility of the pandemic emergency purchase program. Lagarde proclaimed it to have “no limits” after she corralled colleagues into agreeing to the measure during a late-night emergency session in mid-March.It allowed the ECB to skew purchases toward Italy, one of the worst-hit countries, as bond yields there started to surge, averting the kind of debt crisis that almost splintered the bloc in 2012.But it also meant deviating from a rule intended to keep the ECB in line with a European Union law that bans it from financing government spending. The so-called capital key links bond programs to the relative size of each economy -- more German than Italian debt is bought regardless of economic conditions -- and was a fundamental reason the EU’s top court ruled an earlier program legal in 2018.Moreover, while the ECB repeatedly says the emergency program is temporary, it also pledges to keep going “until it judges that the coronavirus crisis phase is over” -- a vague term that could be open to wide interpretation.Weidmann, president of the Bundesbank, wants to limit the plan’s scope amid concern that too much leeway could backfire, while his opposite number at the Bank of France has championed maximum flexibility to channel support to those needing it most.“Clinging to the capital keys to determine each country’s purchase amounts would be an uncalled-for constraint that would undermine the very effectiveness of our intervention efforts,” Villeroy said on May 25. “Certain national central banks must be able to purchase significantly more, and others significantly less.”Villeroy is practicing what he’s preaching. The first breakdown of purchases by country in early June showed France undershot its quota by more than 10 billion euros ($11.2 billion).Weidmann supported the program because of the sheer scale of the economic shock. But he also insists that it must either be temporary or, if it morphs into yet another long-lasting stimulus tool, adhere to rules such as the capital key.In a speech last month, he argued that governments mustn’t rely on the ECB to keep financing costs low forever.“‘Flexible’ doesn’t mean ‘unrestricted’,” he said. “It’s important to me that monetary policy doesn’t set wrong incentives for public finances. In this context, the capital key offers the ECB a sensible guideline for pandemic emergency purchase program holdings at the end of net purchases.”After so much over-buying of Italian bonds, rebalancing the 1.35 trillion-euro program by the end of net purchases, currently scheduled for June next year, would be tough. It risks driving Italian yields higher, worsening the sustainability of that nation’s debt.The account of the latest policy meeting, when the program was almost doubled in size and extended, showed that a decision to reinvest the proceeds of maturing debt until at least the end of 2022 was made in part to allow more time to bring total holdings back in line.ECB Governing Council member Klaas Knot stressed the temporary nature of the tool during a Bloomberg webinar on Friday, and warned that crisis measures risk losing traction if kept in place for too long.He said the capital key should be the ECB’s “compass” in allocating purchases. While acknowledging that small discrepancies will probably be inevitable by the end of the program, he argued that deviations in the high single-digits would probably be too much.Tough interpretations of the rules by some policy makers pre-dates this crisis and often caused friction under Draghi, but the issue was thrown into sharp relief in early May when Germany’s constitutional court said an earlier bond-purchase program might be illegal. The standoff was only resolved on Thursday, when German lawmakers decided the ECB’s efforts were proportionate to the economic challenges.While the court’s surprise decision wasn’t about the capital key, the judges did note how critical the guideline is for preventing monetary financing. One of Germany’s political parties subsequently pledged to launch a legal challenge against the newer program.The ECB’s Governing Council will next meet in two weeks, giving officials another chance to hash out their differences over what should happen when the economic crisis finally eases.(Updates with comments from ECB’s Knot starting in 19th 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) -- Mark Zuckerberg, already battling unprecedented discontent among workers at Facebook Inc., is also under siege from employees and beneficiaries of his own charity, the multibillion-dollar Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.A group of scientists funded by CZI wrote an open letter to the billionaire last month expressing concern over Facebook’s propagation of misinformation. The letter was just the beginning, organizers say, and the charity’s employees continued the discussion on ways they might push their boss to fix his social network’s hate speech problem.“There’s a long history of misinformation at Facebook that has had a negative impact on democracy and society, not only in the U.S., but around the world,” said Martin Kampmann, a CZI-funded scientist who helped organize the letter to Zuckerberg, which now has 277 signees, including several of the charity’s employees.Jason Shepherd, another scientist funded by CZI who signed the letter, said the group has been laying low the past few weeks to try and decide what their next steps should be. Other organizations that are speaking out have contacted them to start a dialogue, and the scientists say they’re open to working with experts about how to tackle the problem of misinformation.“Now that there’s more and more pressure, one option is for us to have actionable items,” Shepherd said.Other Zuckerberg critics include some doctors at the Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, who reached out to the scientists in support of their critical letter. There has been a years-long effort to remove “Zuckerberg” from the hospital’s name after it was added in 2015 following a $75 million donation from the billionaire and his wife. San Francisco Supervisor Matt Haney revived that fight this week as pressure mounted on Zuckerberg and Facebook, with critics across industries accusing the service of failing to police its platform and keep it clear of offensive and hateful content.“I’m well aware that he made a donation,” Haney tweeted on June 28. “There are options to still remove it, and nurses who have been working on a strategy that wouldn’t lose us millions.” In another tweet, Haney said there is interest from nurses in organizing a ballot measure to drop the name.Community members and staff have expressed concern “on and off” since the name change, said hospital spokesperson Brent Andrew. “The hospital has no plans to change our name and does not have the legal authority to do so even if we were to desire it,” he added.Zuckerberg, 36, who has long been a punching bag for politicians, tech-industry critics and billionaire-haters, was seemingly reviving his reputation back in May, positioning himself as the technology world’s level-headed public figure and philanthropist in the fight against Covid-19. His philanthropy’s focus on public health made it a natural issue for him to assert leadership. He hosted multiple Q&As with experts on his Facebook page, and was quick to pivot the company toward fighting coronavirus misinformation. Then, with one controversial post by U.S. President Donald Trump, everything quickly reversed course.“When the looting starts, the shooting starts,” Trump posted on May 29, a reference to protests following the killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, by a Minneapolis police officer. Zuckerberg decided that the post didn’t violate Facebook’s policies, deviating from Twitter Inc.’s decision to flag the post for “glorifying violence.”Facebook’s inaction has released a torrent of pent-up frustration. Hundreds of advertisers have said they’re boycotting the platform for a month or longer. Last week, the tanking of Facebook’s shares cut Zuckerberg’s fortune by $7 billion in a single day. Other Silicon Valley billionaires have chimed in to assail the CEO’s stance, and now even Zuckerberg’s philanthropy is under attack.“Although the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative is a philanthropic organization that’s entirely separate from Facebook with its own mission and team, we understand that for some there is frustration in feeling like CZI’s work is being impacted by an organization for which they don’t work,” a spokesperson for the charity said in a statement.For Kampmann, that May 29 post by Trump was the tipping point, but it underscored the broader conundrum.“This is bigger than Trump,” he said.Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, who runs CZI, responded to the letter with one of their own. The couple thanked the scientists for sharing their views and said they too were “deeply shaken and disgusted by President Trump’s divisive and incendiary rhetoric.”For many, that’s not enough. During a town hall in June, a CZI employee suggested Zuckerberg resign if he wouldn’t moderate Trump’s comments, according to a tape obtained by Recode.“I mean, no,” Zuckerberg responded.Rather than stepping down, “It’d be much better if he stepped up and was on the right side of history and made Facebook change,” said Debora Marks, one of the CZI-funded scientists who signed the open letter. Marks, Shepherd and Kampmann are part of CZI’s Neurodegeneration Challenge Network, which studies disorders like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and ALS.Facebook FurorWithin Facebook itself, there were also the hundreds of employees who staged a virtual walkout and the hundreds of advertisers currently boycotting the company. The civil rights groups behind the boycott – the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the Anti-Defamation League and Color of Change – have railed against Zuckerberg as the movement has grown. Zuckerberg, along with Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, will meet with leaders from the groups on July 7.“This is where you have a runaway train,” the NAACP CEO Derrick Johnson said June 29 on Bloomberg Television. “And that runaway train is causing harm to the public and it’s causing harm to our democracy.”Zuckerberg has faced intense criticism in the past. His role atop the world’s largest online community has made him a repeated target. Still, the pushback has taken on a more intense vigor than in years prior. Facebook has always had an open culture, and it’s common for employees to vocally disagree with leadership internally, but not publicly. Employees at the company have tweeted that they were “utterly ashamed,” and that Facebook was “on the wrong side of history” with regards to Zuckerberg’s decision to leave Trump’s posts up. Days later, Zuckerberg was challenged by employees at a companywide all-hands meeting, just one day after the virtual walkout.Advertising BoycottThe advertising boycott has also been aggressive. While many analysts don’t believe that Facebook’s business is in a long-term bind, never before have so many brands pulled back from the social network. Facebook has been forced to scramble a response, repeatedly reaching out to advertisers to explain what steps the company is taking to address hate speech, and prompting Zuckerberg to broadcast an employee Q&A session live – a rare occurrence in which he also announced changes to Facebook’s policies. One of those changes, a new label Facebook will apply to posts that violate its rules but come from newsworthy sources, was a strategy Zuckerberg himself had dismissed just a few weeks earlier.“We’re already starting to see Facebook react to this,” said Mark Shmulik, an analyst at Bernstein Securities. Zuckerberg told employees that he was confident Facebook advertisers would be back “soon enough,” according to The Information.Facebook’s top 100 advertisers accounted for roughly $4.2 billion in sales revenue last year, digital consultant Pathmatics estimates, or just 6% of all the company’s revenue.Facebook’s stock has recovered from its 8% fall just days ago, restoring Zuckerberg’s $7 billion loss. He’s still the fourth-richest person on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, with an $89 billion fortune.That money is being put to good work, said Shepherd, one of CZI’s scientist grantees. It’s part of what complicates Zuckerberg’s position.“Without Facebook you don’t have CZI,” he said, an admission that while he doesn’t always agree with Facebook’s business, good does come of it. But then, he said, he’s left with another question: “Where is the breaking point?”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) -- If you’re weary of America’s politics of grievance, fed up with its constant churning of resentment and bitterness, then the Fourth of July might be just the festive reprieve you need. Provided you don’t pay too close attention to the holiday’s bill of particulars. Over the course of more than two centuries, America has buried most of the Declaration of Independence beneath a dense canopy of aspiration.The part we celebrate — the rhetorical crown rising to the sky — is the Declaration’s preamble. And not even the entire preamble. It’s really just the second paragraph, in which Thomas Jefferson & Co. assert which truths they hold to be self-evident. To be more precise, it’s not even a whole paragraph — just a bit at the top about human equality, divine endowments and the American trifecta of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.That exceedingly brief patch of writing has earned centuries of praise. It inspires. It uplifts. It defines. In Jefferson’s day it set a revolutionary standard of human dignity — albeit an incongruous one given the cruelty-tiered classes of the new nation.The Declaration’s aspirational high lasts for a sentence or so. After that, the deluge. The remainder, and by far the longest section, is a sour litany of complaint, a bitter protest against the “long train of abuses and usurpations” inflicted by a king prone to “repeated injuries” against his long-suffering (and loudly caterwauling) American subjects.Whether protesting police brutality and centuries of racial injustice, or whining and venting via Twitter from the Oval Office, contemporary Americans have nothing on the seething colonists. They raged against a foe who “plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.” The Declaration rails against mercenaries dispatched by the king “to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages.”There was plenty of barbarism about. The Declaration’s main author, whose able mind was free to roam while his slaves took care of business, grew so spiteful of Britain that he soon abandoned his very English taste for Madeira and Port, proving a true patriot could survive on fine Bordeaux.It never ceases to amaze that such fortune-favored hands were so tightly clenched. Those who signed risked death, and soon inflicted it. Yet despite their deep anger, and the high stakes, their grievances faded quickly. It wasn’t long before fireworks and parades supplanted abuses and usurpations as the stuff of the 4th. At the Declaration’s jubilee, in 1826, there was an outpouring of self-congratulation but very little in the way of outrage. In our own time, the royal target of the founders’ rage has been reduced to comic relief. Now all that remains is the heart of the matter: a concise moral vision, and a spur to reimagining the human condition. The vision laid the basis for a more equitable nation. The spur is a reminder that the leveling of human value that the founders declared self-evident is not evident at all — at least not in the ways and means of the modern nation.The vision and the spur is also what distinguishes protests against injustice from rancid complaints from the White House. The former seek to realize the self-evident truth. The latter are solipsism. Only one grievance is anchored in the higher calling that, for many Americans, is all we remember of the Declaration: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Francis Wilkinson writes editorials on politics and U.S. domestic policy for Bloomberg Opinion. He was executive editor of the Week. He was previously a writer for Rolling Stone, a communications consultant and a political media strategist.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- The internet, once a freewheeling global network, is becoming balkanized into national spheres of influence. This could be bad for both cross-cultural communication and U.S. tech companies.China has long protected its local internet, censoring speech behind what has become known as the Great Firewall. The government blocks U.S.-based services such as Google, Facebook and Twitter, and closely monitors the local Chinese versions. Other authoritarian and quasi-authoritarian countries -- Iran, Turkey, Pakistan, Vietnam, Ethiopia – do the same. And Russia recently passed a so-called sovereign internet law that makes it much easier for the government to monitor and control online content.Now democracies may be joining in. India just banned 59 of China’s largest internet apps, including social video sharing service TikTok, reflecting rising tensions between the two giant Asian countries. It has also shut off internet to regions experiencing government crackdowns or unrest, such as Jammu and Kashmir in 2019. In Europe, major rules such as the General Data Protection Regulation are forcing internet companies to operate differently in different regions. Though this doesn’t officially ban or censor U.S.-based sites like Facebook, it does present an obstacle that could end up inhibiting the flow of information.This was probably inevitable. Different cultures perceive concepts such as privacy differently. And as U.S. global hegemony gives way to a more multipolar world, countries are going to assert their sovereignty by refusing to play by U.S. rules. Further unrest, like the protests that rocked the world in 2019 or tensions between countries such as China and India, are likely to accelerate the trend towards digital division.This could be tough on U.S. tech companies. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube don’t owe their profitability to superior technology, other than some techniques for managing large amounts of user data. They make money because they have a lot of eyeballs to which they can deliver advertisements.And they have those eyeballs because of network effects. It’s easy to make a Twitter clone -- Gab tried it a while ago, and a new entrant called Parler is trying it now. But it’s incredibly hard to get people to switch, because the first people who make the jump will find themselves mostly alone, with everyone they know and want to read still back on Twitter. Similarly, people use Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and other social media services because everyone else does.Captive advertising targets translate into enormous profits. Facebook, Inc., which dominates the social media landscape, has a profit margin that typically ranges between 20% and 40%. Its market cap as of early July was about $647 billion, or 2.6% of the entire S&P 500.Regional balkanization, though, slices through network effects. If services like Facebook are banned in some countries and heavily restricted in others, users will have less company. Most people’s contacts and friends will tend to be in the same country, but not all. And outright bans will cut some services off entirely from huge markets like China, while restrictions like GDPR will force them to invest in expensive localization.This is an unfortunate side effect of nationalism and unrest. But it’s also reason to worry about a technology industry whose profitability stems mostly from network effects, not know-how. Actual innovations, like Intel Corporation’s semiconductor manufacturing processes, Amazon.com, Inc.’s cloud computing systems, or Google LLC’s machine learning algorithms give these companies some clout: if a country decides it doesn’t want to buy Intel’s chips, it will suffer a real economic penalty. But if a country decides to create its own Facebook clone, it will lose little, while Facebook’s American owners and workers will lose a lot.A free and open global internet may one day reemerge. In the meantime, U.S. companies and policy makers should think about how to invest in products whose value isn’t so subject to the whims of foreign authorities.This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Noah Smith is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist. He was an assistant professor of finance at Stony Brook University, and he blogs at Noahpinion.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) -- Here’s a list of companies that are planning to halt spending on social media. Some have joined a boycott of Facebook Inc. after critics accused the social network of inadequately policing hateful and misleading content on its platform:Harley Davidson Inc. -- The motorcycle maker said in an email it was pausing Facebook ads in July “to stand in support of efforts to stop the spread of hateful content.”Pernod Ricard SA -- The French distiller of Jameson whiskey and Absolut Vodka, which spends more than 1.5 billion euros ($1.69 billion) on advertising annually, is boycotting Facebook and some other U.S. sites through July 31 and working with partners on an app to help victims of online abuse.Daimler AG -- The Mercedes-Benz maker is pausing its paid advertising on Facebook platforms in July, while adding that it expects to the relationship to resume because it’s confident the social-media company will take “necessary steps.”Molson Coors Beverage Co. -- The brewer is choosing to pause advertising on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter while it reviews its own standards and ways to protect the brands and guard against hate speech, Chief Marketing Officer Michelle St. Jacques said in an internal email.Constellation Brands -- The maker of Corona beer and Kim Crawford wines is pausing Facebook ads for the month of July.Dunkin’ Brands Group -- The donut chain is temporarily pausing its paid media on Facebook and Instagram, a spokesperson says, adding that it’s in discussions with Facebook about efforts to stop hate speech and thwart “the spread of “racist rhetoric and false information.”Lego A/S -- Stopping all advertising on social media for at least 30 days to review its standards and will “invest in other channels” during that time.The Body Shop -- The beauty chain says it’s halting paid activity on all Facebook channels and asking the social-media company to enhance and enforce its content-moderation policies.Starbucks Corp. -- Pausing advertising on all social media platforms. Will post on social media without paid promotion.Microsoft Corp. -- Paused global advertising spending on Facebook and Instagram because of concerns about ads appearing next to inappropriate content, according to a person familiar with the matter.Unilever Plc -- Halting advertising on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter in the U.S. through Dec. 31.Volkswagen AG -- The ad stop on Facebook affects the direct ad accounts of the German manufacturer’s brands, including Porsche, Audi and Lamborghini. VW, its ad agencies and the Anti Defamation League will enter talks with Facebook over how to deal with hate speech, discrimination and false information, according to an emailed statement.Mars -- Starting in July, a pause on paid advertising globally across social-media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat.Target Corp. -- Pausing ads on Facebook in July.Coca-Cola Co. -- Pausing advertising on all social media platforms.Clorox Co. -- Will stop advertising spending with Facebook through December.Conagra Brands Inc. -- Will stop advertising in U.S. on Facebook and Instagram through the rest of the year.Ford Motor Co. -- Halting U.S. social media for 30 days, won’t purchase social media ads for Bronco unveiling.Honda Motor Co. -- “For the month of July, Honda will withhold its advertising on Facebook and Instagram, choosing to stand with people united against hate and racism.” Acura, a Honda brand, said in a tweet that it was “choosing to stand with people united against hate and racism.”Hershey Co. -- Will halt spending on Facebook in July and cut its spend on the platform by a third for the remainder of the year, according to Business Insider.Diageo Plc -- Pausing paid advertising globally on major social media platforms beginning in July.PepsiCo Inc. -- Pulling ads on Facebook from July through August.Verizon Communications Inc. -- “We’re pausing our advertising until Facebook can create an acceptable solution that makes us comfortable and is consistent with we’ve done with YouTube and other partners,” said John Nitti, chief media officer for Verizon.SAP SE -- “We will suspend all paid advertisements across Facebook and Instagram until the company signals a significant, action-driven commitment to combatting the spread of hate speech and racism on its platforms.”Levi Strauss & Co. -- Pausing all paid Facebook and Instagram advertising globally and across all brands through July.Diamond Foundry Inc. -- Pulling all of advertising from Facebook, including Instagram, for the month of July.Patagonia Inc. -- Will pull all ads on Facebook and Instagram, effective immediately, through at least the end of July, pending meaningful action from Facebook.Viber Media Inc. -- The messaging service, owned by Japanese conglomerate Rakuten, plans to cut ties with the social network entirely, according to the Guardian.VF Corp. -- The North Face will pause ads on Facebook for the month of July. Vans, another VF brand, will also pull ad dollars from Facebook and Instagram next month, and said it will use the money to support Black communities through empowerment and education programs.REI -- “For 82 years, we have put people over profits. We’re pulling all Facebook/Instagram advertising for the month of July.”Upwork Inc. -- No Facebook advertising in July.Eileen Fisher Inc. -- Pulling ads from Facebook through July.Adidas AG -- Will stop ads on Facebook and Instagram internationally through July, according to Adweek.Puma SE -- Will stop all advertisements on Facebook and Instagram throughout July.Madewell Inc. -- Will pause ads on Facebook and Instagram through July.Pfizer Inc. -- Removing all advertising from Facebook and Instagram in July, calls on Facebook to heed the concerns of the StopHateForProfit boycott campaign “and take action.”Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. -- To pause Facebook advertising beginning July 1, according to an email.Chobani -- The Greek-yogurt company paused all paid social-media advertising.Peet’s Coffee -- Paused advertising on Facebook.Sony Interactive Entertainment Inc. -- ”In support of the StopHateForProfit campaign, we have globally suspended our Facebook and Instagram activity, including advertising and non-paid content, until the end of July.”(Updates with Sony Interactive Entertainment)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) -- Twitter on Thursday teased a long sought-after edit button, but with a caveat -- the potential rolling out of the feature that could allow users to edit tweets after publication depends on the widespread adoption of face masks in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Wading into the debate in the U.S. over the wearing of face masks in public, the social media platform said users can have the edit button “when everyone wears a mask”.Despite repeated requests, users are unlikely to ever get an edit button. Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey said earlier this year that the company would “probably never” introduce the feature as it may cause users to inadvertently spread misinformation.Twitter users reacted mostly with amusement at the tease though others called for the social media company to stay of politics and questioned if masks were effective.On Thursday, Texas Governor Greg Abbott ordered residents in the state to wear face masks in public, reversing his months-long opposition to such a mandate.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.
Twitter (TWTR) closed the most recent trading day at $30.87, moving +0.19% from the previous trading session.
(Bloomberg) -- Texas Governor Greg Abbott ordered residents to wear face coverings in public amid a spike in Covid-19 cases across the second-most populous U.S. state.In a reversal of his months-long opposition to such a mandate, Abbott on Thursday said the order applies to all counties with 20 or more virus cases. He also barred people from gathering outdoors in groups larger than 10. Texas reported its second-worst day of the pandemic with almost 8,000 new cases and a surge in hospital admissions.The Republican governor has been under growing pressure from Democratic mayors and county leaders to crack down or at least grant them authority to mandate masks and other restrictions. As he moved to aggressively reopen the state’s economy in recent weeks, Abbott overruled local efforts to enforce stay-home orders and similar restrictions.“The move to mandate face masks comes far too little, far too late for Governor Abbott,” Abhi Rahman, communications director for the Texas Democratic Party, said in an email. “It took Texas Democrats demanding that he issue this common-sense policy and record breaking cases and hospitalizations to get Governor Abbott to finally act. This is unacceptable. Governor Abbott continues to lead from behind rather than implementing preventive measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus.”“We have the ability to keep businesses open and move our economy forward so that Texans can continue to earn a paycheck, but it requires each of us to do our part to protect one another—and that means wearing a face covering in public spaces,” Abbott said in a statement.Abbott has been scaling back his reopening as virus cases exploded and the sickest patients began to overwhelm intensive-care wards in Houston and elsewhere. It’s unclear how the order will impact the state Republican Party’s planned July 16-18 convention in Houston.Scofflaws may face fines of $250, under the governor’s order.Enforceable Order“We have a limited window in which to regain control,” Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said during a media briefing moments before Abbott issued his order. A mask order would help “defuel this virus.”Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, who oversees the third-largest U.S. county, was one of the most outspoken local officials demanding Abbott act as the outbreak escalated.“I welcome the ability to make face coverings enforceable in Harris County,” Hidalgo said in an email. “The virus is not responding to incrementalism, and we are quickly running out of time. I continue to advocate for an enforceable stay home order in Harris County, so that we can bring the curve down and give ourselves a shot at reopening successfully.”(Updates with Democratic Party official’s comment in fourth paragraph, county judge in final 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) -- When European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde appeared at an online summit last week to speak about the coronavirus pandemic, a creationist book on her bookshelf by a jailed Islamic sex cult leader caused a stir in Turkey.“The Atlas of Creation,” displayed prominently over Lagarde’s right shoulder, uses pictures of fossils and modern-day animals to argue against evolution, saying all life was created by God in a “perfect” form.It’s by Harun Yahya, more widely known as Adnan Oktar, a Turkish Islamic televangelist and cult leader who was jailed two years ago on charges including sexual abuse of minors, running a criminal network and espionage.The sighting of his book at the home of the euro zone’s top central banker, with previous jobs as head of the International Monetary Fund and French finance minister, baffled many.So why was it there, let alone displayed during an online broadcast?It’s probably because Oktar mass-mailed thousands of free copies to politicians, journalists and schools around the world -- and because not all world leaders are yet wise to the implications of online seminars that offer a window into their homes.Lagarde moved to Frankfurt at the end of last year to take up her post, and has spent much of her time dealing with the coronavirus crisis. She has never read the book, according to a person familiar with the matter. An ECB spokesman declined to comment.After Oktar tried to place his book in educational establishments in some European countries, France’s education ministry ordered its removal from schools, saying it met “none of the quality requirements laid down for classroom teaching.”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.
In this episode of Influencers, Ithaca Holdings Chairman & SB Projects Founder, Scooter Braun, joins 'Influencers' to discuss the pandemic's impact on the music industry and the mentality that continues to drive his successful business career.
Scooter Braun, Ithaca Holdings Chairman & SB Projects Founder, joins 'Influencers with Andy Serwer' to discuss political division in Washington.
(Bloomberg) -- A top Democratic lawmaker wants to empower the U.S. Federal Trade Commission to take action against Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Facebook Inc., among other technology platforms, if they fail to remove content that violates their terms of service and community standards.Democratic Representative Jan Schakowsky of Illinois, who chairs a subcommittee on consumer protection, told Bloomberg in an interview that she plans to introduce a bill in the coming days that would clarify that if technology companies fail to fulfill the “assurances” made to users in terms and conditions, community standards, advertising rules and content moderation policies, they could face enforcement from the FTC.The initiative falls into a flurry of measures that aim to limit a much-cherished liability shield for user content under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. Many of the initiatives are coming from Republicans, including President Donald Trump, as a way to address their claims that social media sites silence conservative voices.“Irrespective of what Trump is saying, we’re going to move ahead in a bipartisan way to do what we need to do to protect consumers,” Schakowsky said.The FTC already polices businesses under its authority to enforce against “unfair or deceptive acts or practices.” Schakowsky’s bill would clarify that Section 230 can’t be used as a defense in those cases.The idea behind the bill would be to treat Facebook’s failure to block a post advocating, say, white supremacy or Google’s inability to stop an ad for medical masks, both of which are banned, the same way the FTC treats broken promises by companies to deliver cures or cybersecurity protection. The agency can seek injunctions, consent decrees and fines for repeat offenders.Facebook and Google have extensive bans on certain kinds of content, including Covid-19 scams, medical misinformation, posts inciting violence, terrorist content, harassment, hate speech, illegal drug sales and violent and graphic content.Facebook and Instagram have also taken action to ban white-nationalist content on their social-media platforms as well, while Google bans counterfeit goods and dangerous products and says that it protects advertisers “from invalid activity and advertising fraud.”A Google representative declined to comment. Facebook representatives could not be reached for comment after business hours on Wednesday.Schakowsky’s concern, which some of her GOP colleagues share, is that technology companies will try to duck any FTC enforcement of their content-moderation policies by invoking Section 230. The provision exempts them from liability for third-party posts, but has been interpreted by courts to free companies from much scrutiny over what content they leave up or take down.“Bottom line, we want to clarify that there is no doubt that 230 is not going to be the escape hatch,” Schakowsky said.By example, Schakowsky pointed to an effort by Airbnb Inc. to escape local regulation of short-term rental listing by invoking the provision, though a federal court rebuffed the effort.An FTC spokesperson didn’t comment on the bill, but said the agency “is committed to robust enforcement of consumer protection and competition laws, including with respect to social media platforms, and consistent with our jurisdictional authority and constitutional limitations.”While the companies have stepped up enforcement in recent years, Schakowsky said that the bill is necessary because of the spread of election misinformation targeting Black voters, scams involving stimulus checks and other content that proliferates despite being banned.Schakowsky’s effort follows a bill from five Republican senators led by tech critic Josh Hawley of Missouri that would expose the platforms to customer lawsuits if they engage in “intentionally selective enforcement” of their terms and standards.And a sweeping proposal by Trump’s Justice Department would clarify that Section 230 doesn’t stop federal civil enforcement. Trump’s May executive order also aimed to expose companies to FTC enforcement, as well as to user lawsuits if the platforms “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.”Schakowsky agreed with criticism of the White House order, which came after Twitter Inc. slapped a fact-check on one of Trump’s tweets, as an assault on the platform’s constitutional right. Her bill would focus more narrowly on FTC enforcement, rather than exposing companies to potentially thousands of user lawsuits.Promises, PromisesWhile many tech critics have urged companies to more strongly enforce their terms of service, ad policies, community standards and other documents, some have suggested that the companies might scale those back to avoid making promises they can’t deliver and that could draw FTC scrutiny.Others suggest that the company statements don’t represent promises at all and are merely rules that users must follow.“Proving deception from community standards language is probably pretty difficult because it’s couched in best efforts rather than a promise,” said Neil Chilson, a former FTC official who defends Section 230.Schakowsky said that FTC officials have told her they welcome her attempt to clarify the agency’s authority in an area that remains little-tested. “We need to empower them,” she said.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Predictions are notoriously slippery, especially where U.S. elections are concerned. But there’s at least a strong possibility that after four years of a beautiful partnership Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu could soon be facing life without Donald Trump.While many of the U.S.’s other allies might find that a cause for relief, for Bibi the reaction is likely to be more complicated. Trump has lavished priceless gifts on Bibi -- the Golan Heights, a U.S. embassy relocation to Jerusalem and a permission to wage covert war against Iran. Trump tore up the Iran nuclear deal at Netanyahu’s urging and adopted Netanyahu’s design for a Palestinian mini-state in the West Bank. He even named the plan after himself.In the last three Israeli electoral campaigns, Trump worked hard to keep Bibi in office. Now it is Trump who is running for re-election. The president fully expects Bibi to reciprocate.But loyalty and gratitude are not among Bibi’s virtues. Recent polls show Trump losing by a large margin. The often more reliable Vegas odds make him a three-to-two underdog. Israeli diplomats in Washington report talking with increasingly demoralized Republicans and excited Democrats.Yes, the odds were against Trump in 2016, too. But this time they are based less on his personality than on his failed performance in office. Trump has botched the corona crisis. His economic boom has melted down into the highest unemployment rates since the Great Depression and a dramatic drop in GDP. He has responded to mass protests with bellicose law-and-order threats that have alienated even normally apolitical senior military officers. There is a hysterical tone his recent political ads; he no longer looks like a winner.A Biden victory would end the Bibi-Trump honeymoon, but it would not necessarily be a disaster for Netanyahu. Biden is a lifetime Zionist with a long senatorial record of support for Israel. During the nasty spat between Bibi and Obama over the Iran nuclear pact, the vice president managed to avoid a breach with Netanyahu, whom he has called a “great, great friend.” In that tense period, Bibi placed an emotional condolence call to Biden after the death of his son, Beau. Together they recalled their many moments during a “20-year friendship.”Biden is not only a friend, he is a centrist in a party whose progressive wing is not supportive of Israel. As president, he would not threaten military aid, as Democrat Bernie Sanders recently has. It is unlikely that he would reverse Trump’s recognition of Israel’s Golan annexation or return the U.S. embassy to Tel Aviv. There would be disagreement over how to deal with Iran and with the Palestinian issue, but it probably wouldn’t be disagreeable.No matter how weak Trump looks going into November, Bibi will not publicly break up with him before the election. Trump would see it as a betrayal and certainly seek to take revenge. Even in defeat, he would still have large number of supporters and Twitter follows. Most of them like Bibi. The last thing he wants is to be labelled a traitor or an ingrate by his offended ex-partner. If there is to be a separation, Netanyahu wants to keep it amicable.This will require some finesse. In the past, Trump has made televised campaign ads for Netanyahu, hosted him at high-profile Oval office meetings on the eve of elections and timed announcements of U.S. support to coincide with Bibi’s political needs.Bibi will not happily reciprocate. He will likely invoke the principle of strict neutrality in foreign elections, a principle every Israeli prime minister since Golda Meir has violated. He will use the Covid-19 crisis as an excuse for not paying a visit to the White House, and for discouraging a presidential trip to Jerusalem. In his communications with Republican evangelical Zionist leaders and American Jews, Bibi will decline to echo Trump’s charge, when it comes to Israel, Biden is the second coming of Obama.If Biden wins, Bibi will have three main goals: 1) to win substantial new economic support from Washington during what looks to be a serious Israeli recession; 2) the adoption by the new administration of his view that Iran is the implacable enemy of both Israel and the US; and 3) preservation of the Trump Peace Plan.He could get the first; there is still a lot of bipartisan support for Israel in Congress. He likely won’t get the second; appeasing Iran is a pillar of even moderate Democratic foreign policy. As for the third, it will require some rebranding. Trump’s Deal of the Century would likely be renamed a “realistic two-state solution” or something close. This is not far-fetched. Even the Palestinian leadership, which on Monday announced its willingness to reopen talks with Israel after six years, seems to be coming to that conclusion. Add a few new wrinkles and a new administration could call it “The Biden Plan.” It might even work.Netanyahu still wants Trump to win. That is like having himself in the White House. Breaking up is hard to do. But, in the words of a song Trump has often played at his rallies, “You can’t always get what you want.” But, if you play your cards right, you can get what you need.This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Zev Chafets is a journalist and author of 14 books. He was a senior aide to Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and the founding managing editor of the Jerusalem Report Magazine.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.