231.45 -1.27 (-0.55%)
Pre-market: 9:08AM EDT
|Bid||231.20 x 2200|
|Ask||231.80 x 1100|
|Day's range||226.56 - 233.00|
|52-week range||137.10 - 240.90|
|Beta (5Y monthly)||1.06|
|PE ratio (TTM)||37.21|
|Earnings date||22 Jul 2020 - 27 Jul 2020|
|Forward dividend & yield||N/A (N/A)|
|1y target est||241.81|
Facebook said on Wednesday it has entered into a global deal with Saregama, one of India’s oldest and largest music labels, to license its music for video and other social experiences across its eponymous service and Instagram. The partnership, which comes weeks after Swedish music giant Spotify also signed a deal with Saregama, will allow users to choose from a wide variety of music to add to their social experiences such as videos, stories via music stickers and other creative content, Facebook said. Users will also be able to add songs to their Facebook profile.
(Bloomberg) -- The coronavirus pandemic is hitting Gulf Arab economies hard and emboldening the region’s dynastic rulers to push through unpopular fiscal measures that will impact their citizens. The question now is how long their resolve will last.Saudi Arabia, the biggest Arab economy, tripled its value-added tax and trimmed allowances for government workers. Oman cut salaries of new state employees.Even in the United Arab Emirates -- a financial and commercial hub with the Gulf’s most diversified economy -- there are calls for overhauling a so-called “rentier state” model, which depends on hydrocarbon wealth to support government jobs for citizens, generous benefits and a largely tax-free environment. A prominent Emirati lawyer recently called introducing corporate tax “unavoidable.”Yet for all the talk of accelerating overdue changes, there were also moves to protect state jobs and shield nationals employed in the private sector, casting doubt on whether the downturn will prompt deeper reforms that outlive the crisis.“The global economic recession has become a trigger for real reconsideration of the fundamentals of the economic models in the Gulf,” said Ayham Kamel, head of Middle East and North Africa at Eurasia Group. “In Saudi, Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman wants change, but it’s far from easy to kill off the rentier-state model.”Austerity will affect Saudis like Mohammed, who works for the state, like almost two-thirds of his compatriots. When his pay was cut by 1,000 riyals ($266) a month after a cost-of-living allowance was canceled, the 29-year-old doctor said the measures were necessary. But he also hopes they’ll be reversed later, like they were in past crises.“If it’s temporary, one or two years, I can adapt,” he said, asking to withhold his full name. “My concern is that more taxes will be permanent — and that will be an issue.”Thrift may be in place for longer this time given the fiscal outlook. And with less money to spend on citizens, governments could face increased public scrutiny of how their oil wealth is used.In an unusual move for Saudi Arabia’s state-friendly media, local newspaper Okaz recently published two columns questioning the policy changes.“Citizens worry that the pressure on their living standards will outlast the current crisis,” wrote columnist Khalid Al-Sulaiman. “Increasing VAT from 5% to 15% will have a big effect on society’s purchasing power and will reflect negatively on the economy in the long term.”Fiscal WoesAlmost all the countries in the region are expected to run budget shortfalls of 15%-25% of economic output, leading to a build-up of debt, dwindling reserves, and tough choices. Saudi Arabia’s economy is forecast to contract by 2.9% this year, the most since 1999, according to Bloomberg Economics, with risks of an even deeper downturn.Saudi officials had been trying to reduce dependence on oil and trim the wage bill long before the epidemic; both are goals of the “Vision 2030” plan championed by the crown prince. The kingdom’s de-facto ruler has pushed through big changes since late 2015, though some were rescinded or softened after public blowback. Simultaneously, he’s cracked down on dissent, stifling criticism. The crisis could be an opportunity to intensify the transformation, particularly when nationalism is running high.Others around the region are following suit.“We will have a lot of questions about what constitutes a Gulf rentier-state model,” UAE Minister of State Anwar Gargash said on a panel last month. “I think this is going to accelerate the necessity for us to find something a little bit more sustainable.”In Kuwait, ruler Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Sabah renewed a call for an economy less reliant on oil and urged rationalizing spending. His son, who sits on the planning & development council, lamented a lack of progress and said the impact of the pandemic might make such changes unavoidable.Saudi Arabia’s decisions are worth emulating, said Eid Alshihri, a 42-year-old business consultant and a member of the Kuwaiti Entrepreneurs Society. But reforms are caught up in a political struggle with Kuwaiti lawmakers, who are blocking them for fear of losing seats and instead point to the sovereign wealth fund as a possible source of money to help weather the crisis.Government steps to help businesses were too little, too late, and the result will be the opposite of diversification, Alshihri said. “Many will shut down and apply for government jobs.”While some in Saudi Arabia say they’re happy to assume part of the burden, others are frustrated. Complaints could increase as the impact of the crisis sinks in; the higher VAT starts in July.The government has already stirred controversy by continuing to spend elsewhere. Officials say the sovereign wealth fund is seizing an opportunity to take advantage of market turmoil, building stakes in companies including Carnival Corp., Boeing Co. and Facebook Inc.“Why are they investing abroad so much and so impulsively, while investment in the people and their minds is so weak?” said Talal, a 23-year-old accountant, whose company cut his monthly salary by 600 riyals when the pandemic struck. “Officials say that there’s growth and there’s revenue and blah, blah — where did that go?”(Updates with remark from lawyer in third paragraph, additional quotes from Saudis starting in 10th)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) -- Mark Zuckerberg has his hands full.Facebook Inc.’s employees have been staging walkouts (virtually, of course — it’s Silicon Valley and a pandemic is afoot). They’ve also posted to an internal chat board, complaining that Zuckerberg, the social media powerhouse’s founder, is allowing it to be used to foment violence, hatred and disinformation by letting President Donald Trump’s incendiary Facebook posts remain in place.A civil rights group met with Zuckerberg and his chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, on Monday to discuss their concerns about Trump using Facebook to divide the country amid protests sparked by the death of George Floyd, an African American, while in police custody in Minneapolis. One of those who joined the meeting, Color of Change President Rashad Robinson, was troubled by Zuckerberg’s decision to keep the Trump posts.“The problem with my ongoing conversations with Mark is that I feel like I spent a lot of time, and my colleagues spent a lot of time, explaining to him why these things are a problem, and I think he just very much lacks the ability to understand it,” Robinson told a Bloomberg News reporter.Robinson and two other civil rights leaders who participated in the Zuckerberg call also released a statement elaborating on that thought: “He did not demonstrate understanding of historic or modern-day voter suppression. … Mark is setting a very dangerous precedent for other voices who would say similar harmful things on Facebook.”Zuckerberg held a video conference on Tuesday with employees to discuss the Trump backlash and stood firm. He said letting the Trump posts remain was a “tough decision” but was the “right action.” Casey Newton, a reporter for The Verge, obtained an audio recording of a meeting Zuckerberg held last Friday with employees that offers a deeper look into his thinking about the Trump posts.“This is not how I think we want our leaders to show up during this time. This is a moment that calls for unity and calmness and empathy for people who are struggling,” Zuckerberg said. “There is a real question coming out of this, which is whether we want to evolve our policy around the discussion of state use of force. Over the coming days, as the National Guard is now deployed, probably the largest one that I would worry about would be excessive use of police or military force. I think there’s a good argument that there should be more bounds around the discussion around that.”Like many of his compatriots in Silicon Valley living in the time of Trump, a pandemic, economic chaos, income inequality and social upheaval, Zuckerberg has reached a tipping point. The visionaries who built fortunes around products and services that weaved the world more tightly and imperfectly together with just the flicks of digital switches have been content, by and large, to pretend their machines are friction-free, self-perpetuating and self-regulating. Facebook, perhaps more than any other digital invention, never had a chance of perpetuating that myth.As many as 2.2 billion of the planet’s 7.8 billion people use Facebook. It is a giant advertising and communications machine, a vast social trampoline and an enormous chessboard for political and business operatives. Nice things happen on it and bad things happen on it. Yes, Zuckerberg built it, but its influence and scope have certainly outgrown his ability to steer it effectively without being well advised and open-minded.In addition to concerns about the Trump posts, Facebook employees have complained that Zuckerberg operates in a bubble and needs greater diversity among his senior advisers. But as he moved to reassert his authority within the company in recent months, the 35-year-old mogul has packed his board of directors with more pliant members. An internal study Facebook’s senior executives commissioned in response to criticism about whether the platform had been weaponized by Russians and Trump’s team during the 2016 election — and Zuckerberg’s own concerns that the site was awash in “sensationalism and polarization” — was shelved. Among other things, the study found that Facebook exacerbated tribalism and division among its users. A senior Facebook executive dismissed efforts to address that problem as “paternalistic,” according to reporting from the Wall Street Journal. Facebook has said it doesn’t plan to vet political advertising for its veracity ahead of the 2020 election.Last week, as Twitter wrangled with Trump over tweets the company decided to label with a warning and then fact-check, Zuckerberg let it be known that he didn’t think any social media platform should be an “arbiter of truth.” This is consistent with statements he has made in the past about the need for Facebook to take a hands-off approach to content on its site and that the burden should be on users about what to believe.This isn’t consistent with how Zuckerberg has acted, however. For example, and to his credit, he spotted the danger of Covid-19 early and Facebook announced in January that it would remove disinformation about the coronavirus from the site. He later set up an information center about the pandemic on Facebook dedicated to conveying high-quality and accurate data to the site’s users. There are other examples of Facebook proactively removing information or interactions it deemed dangerous or abusive from the site as well. More recently, we have Zuckerberg’s musings about how Facebook might respond if there’s an “excessive use of police or military force” in the U.S.There is plenty of room for Zuckerberg to make a principled free-speech defense around Trump or anyone else who posts inflammatory material to Facebook. He went in that direction in one of his own Facebook posts on Friday. “Our position is that we should enable as much expression as possible unless it will cause imminent risk of specific harms or dangers spelled out in clear policies,” he wrote.This is reasonable and classic advocacy for free speech. And it bears the classic disclaimer: You can say anything you want in America, but you’re not allowed to yell “Fire!” in a crowded theater. People might get hurt — and in that instance, their safety outweighs your free speech.That same argument can be made about a political leader threatening violence when people of color, burdened with centuries of racism and discrimination seeded with contemporary despair, take to the street to protest peacefully. But the Trump-Zuckerberg debate also involves dynamics other than the battles taking place on city streets right now. Zuckerberg is a shrewd businessman, and policing his site effectively and proactively would be more burdensome and expensive were he to do it. Running Facebook like a news platform, which it is, rather than as just another technology platform, which Zuckerberg would like to continue pretending it is, would force him into regulatory regimes and responsibilities for which he probably has little appetite. And if his company doesn’t merely foster tribalism and polarization, but actually thrives because of those forces — as the internal Facebook study concluded — why would he rush to overhaul anything?Yet here Zuckerberg is. Reality has intervened and thrown roadblocks in front of Facebook’s spectacular success. He can continue trying to navigate around them with a schizophrenic approach to free speech deployed as a matter of convenience. Or he can help Facebook become a more mature and responsible enterprise by leading it differently.This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Timothy L. O'Brien is a senior columnist for Bloomberg Opinion.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Governments of all political stripes are spending massive sums to overcome the twin challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic — the virus itself, and the recession it’s leaving in its wake — and rightly so. Some $9 trillion in emergency public spending has been rolled out so far, while global borrowing via bonds and loans hit a record high of $2.6 trillion in April. Financial markets have taken this broadly in their stride.Eventually, though, the question of who will ultimately foot the bill will need to be answered — particularly outside of the U.S., which is relatively protected by the dollar’s global clout. Some assume a future economic rebound will be strong enough to comfortably repay debts over time while central banks keep rates low. But this is a hope, not a guarantee. The risk of lower growth and higher rates is real, necessitating all sorts of painful budget choices, as economist Willem Buiter wrote last month. Taxation is bound to be one of those choices. Everybody knows that raising taxes in a recession can produce an entirely unhelpful outcome by further hurting demand, as seen in countries that pursued austerity. But governments clearly reckon they can get away with taxes that target specific sectors, companies or people, especially those that are seen as having come out of this crisis relatively well-off. Hence the plans by several Latin American countries to raise taxes on high-income earners, and Indonesia’s move to raise value-added tax on digital platforms — because, in the words of its finance minister, “their sales have soared amid the Covid-19 outbreak.” It’s not just the developing world: The European Union is mulling a series of taxes, to be raised directly by its executive arm in Brussels, to help fund the pandemic recovery in the 27-nation bloc. They include a tax on high-carbon-emission imports, a tax on digital firms and a tax on 70,000 large multinational companies that access the EU’s single market and its 450 million consumers.These efforts should be taken seriously. Not all the European proposals will get approval, as the EU’s 27 member states are protective of their tax powers, but if done right they can have benefits. Efforts to introduce a digital tax aim to restore fairness to a corporate tax system that has seen the likes of Apple Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google get away with paying very little. “Don’t try to be too smart,” Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton told Facebook Inc.’s Mark Zuckerberg recently. “Pay taxes where you have to pay taxes.”A carbon border tax would combine the EU’s clout as a trading zone with its Green Deal ambitions. And while a levy on big EU firms might seem like a job killer, it would go towards funding a 750 billion-euro ($840 billion) recovery plan that pours cash back into the bloc. There’s a clear pro-growth side to these tax proposals, Axa SA Chief Economist Gilles Moec tells me.The risk, however, is that in shifting more of the burden of recovery funding onto foreign firms and trading partners — the top two being the U.S. and China — the EU could end up creating new geopolitical and trade headaches. President Donald Trump’s administration is starting investigations into digital taxes from the EU to India that could lead to retaliatory export tariffs. Targeted taxes don’t raise as much money as broad-brush hikes, and if other governments start rolling out tit-for-tat measures, their benefits will be smothered.But it’s worth trying, especially if we want to create a better world beyond the coronavirus crisis. It could be a good thing if tax systems become more progressive and if public spending spreads the wealth around. If the future is anything like the society that emerged from the rubble of post-war Europe, there will be a focus on investment, big projects, and rebuilding. There are fewer constraints on government finances right now, as Goodbody Stockbrockers Chief Economist Dermot O’Leary points out: Bond vigilantes have scattered, and austerity advocates are quiet.The smoke signals of higher taxes are going to get more visible as governments get settled into their new role as drivers of the world economy. But there’s no free lunch, either. Along with politically popular taxes, expect stealthier ones that aren’t, financial repression and other tactics to shake more money out of the private sector. And a Trump administration ready to hit back.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.
Facebook Inc has signed a global licensing deal with one of India's largest music labels, allowing users to choose from a large catalogue of Bollywood music for their Facebook and Instagram posts, the music company said on Wednesday. Shares of Saregama India Ltd shot up 20% on the deal. The music company, which did not disclose the financial details of the deal, said Facebook and Instagram users can now add music from Saregama's catalogue of more than 100,000 songs spanning 25 languages to their posts and "stories".
(Bloomberg) -- Facebook Inc. and PayPal Holdings Inc. are investing in Gojek, a big boost for the Indonesian startup’s digital payments business that propels the U.S. companies into a fast-growing Asian internet arena.It’s the second international investment Facebook has made in the past six weeks with a goal of getting more local businesses online, after the social media giant paid $5.7 billion for about 10% of India’s Reliance Jio. It plans to build a commerce and payments business around WhatsApp, on top of letting businesses use the messaging service to interact with customers.The deal announced Wednesday marks Facebook’s first investment in an Indonesian company and is a major boost for the country’s largest startup, a ride-hailing giant that’s morphed into a provider of services like payments and meal delivery. Gojek is now backed by some of the world’s largest internet companies from Alphabet Inc.’s Google to China’s Tencent Holdings Ltd., helping it compete against Singapore’s Grab Holdings Inc.“WhatsApp in particular can be instrumental in creating a more digital Indonesia by bringing more people into one of the fastest growing digital economies in the world,” WhatsApp Chief Operating Officer Matt Idema said in a blog post. The company didn’t specify how much it is investing and a spokesperson declined to share details.Indonesia is one of the world’s most promising internet markets, fueled by rapidly expanding smartphone adoption and economic growth. It’s the largest country in Southeast Asia, anchoring a regional internet economy estimated at more than $100 billion in 2019 and tripling by 2025. Facebook and PayPal join Google and other U.S. corporations in staking out a relatively undeveloped Asian digital payments arena outside of China.Read more: How Facebook’s Reliance Deal Upends a $1 Trillion Digital ArenaFacebook and PayPal joined Gojek’s current funding round, which closed at $1.2 billion around March at the height of the coronavirus pandemic.Gojek and Grab aim to become Southeast Asian consumers’ default, all-purpose app, similar to Tencent’s WeChat. Gojek has drawn hundreds of thousands of merchants to its platform, providing them with access to more than 170 million users across the region.The Indonesian startup, whose backers also include Singaporean state investor Temasek Holdings Pte, has said it will deploy fresh capital to keep expanding despite global economic turbulence. It recently acquired a mobile point-of-sale startup called Moka for about $130 million, people familiar with the deal have said.Gojek, which debuted an app for hailing motorbike taxis in Jakarta in 2015, now also offers a score of other on-demand services such as house cleaning and medicine delivery, and was last valued at $10 billion according to CB Insights.“We see our role as a convener of global tech expertise, facilitating collaboration that will ultimately lead to a better future for everyone in our region,” Gojek Co-Chief Executive Officer Andre Soelistyo said in a statement.(Updates with PayPal’s investment from the first 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.
Facebook Inc <FB.O> said Tuesday it has suspended accounts associated with white nationalist groups after some advocated bringing weapons to the current wave of anti-racist protests. Company officials also said they removed accounts falsely claiming allegiance to antifa in order to bring discredit to the anti-fascist movement. Antifa adherents have said they focus on defending people from attacks by authorities or vigilantes, but they have been vilified by President Donald Trump who, without citing evidence, said they were instigators of anti-police violence.
(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump’s executive order targeting social media companies was challenged in court by a non-profit group that claims the edict violates free-speech protections guaranteed by the First Amendment.The Center for Democracy and Technology sued in Washington federal court Tuesday, claiming the order is an unconstitutional retaliation against Twitter and that it seeks to discourage other companies and individuals from disagreeing with the government.Trump’s order, issued on Thursday, is intended to undermine the legal protections enjoyed by social media companies including Twitter and Facebook. He asked federal regulators to look at provisions, contained in Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act, that insulate the companies from liability for content posted by users.The order followed on the heels of Twitter’s decision to add fact-check labels to two of Trump’s tweets. Twitter also restricted a post by the president suggesting that protesters who engaged in looting would be met with violence. Legal observers have said Trump lacks the power to modify Section 230 by executive order.The Center for Democracy and Technology asked the judge to find the order violates the First Amendment and to issue an order blocking government officials from following it.The Justice Department declined to comment, according to spokeswoman Brianna Herlihy.The case is Center for Democracy and Technology v. Trump, 20-cv-01456, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).(Adds Justice Department no comment)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Facebook Inc. Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg told staff at a companywide meeting that he won’t change his mind about a decision to leave up posts shared by U.S. President Donald Trump last week that many workers felt violated the company’s policies against violent rhetoric.At an all-hands meeting via video chat on Tuesday, Zuckerberg took questions from employees, many of whom have publicly voiced dismay that the Trump post, which seemed to threaten that looters would be shot, was still visible on Facebook’s service. Zuckerberg told workers that he and other members of the company’s policy team couldn’t justify saying that the message clearly incited violence, which means it didn’t break Facebook’s rules, according to two people who attended the meeting.Zuckerberg added that Facebook is exploring whether the company should change the policy or come up with other ways to flag violating posts besides taking them down entirely, one person said. The meeting lasted 90 minutes, and employees asked Zuckerberg questions via a video split screen. Many of those who spoke were upset and frustrated with the company’s position.Facebook is responding to the most intense internal protest in its history, involving public resignations and increasing outrage over Zuckerberg’s decisions. While the CEO stood his ground on the posts from last week, the company tried to assuage concerns by announcing two initiatives. Facebook will create a hub for election resources -- similar to its offering for Covid-19 -- where users can seek out vetted information, the meeting attendees said. And Fidji Simo, the head of Facebook’s flagship app, was tasked with sponsoring more proactive initiatives to advance racial justice, according to the employees, who asked not to be identified discussing an internal meeting.On May 28, Trump posted a message on Facebook with the words “when the looting starts, the shooting starts” in response to protests over the death in police custody of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, in Minneapolis. It remains on the social network.The same post was also shared to rival social network Twitter Inc., which then added a warning and filter to the message. A number of Facebook employees, including some senior figures, have criticized the company’s approach, challenging Zuckerberg’s decision to leave the post up, and on Monday some workers participated in a virtual walkout in protest.“Mark had an open discussion with employees today, as he has regularly over the years,” a Facebook spokesperson said. “He’s grateful for their feedback.”One employee, software engineer Timothy Aveni, announced his resignation on Monday, citing Facebook’s failure to step in on content such as Trump’s.“Mark always told us that he would draw the line at speech that calls for violence. He showed us on Friday that this was a lie,” Aveni posted on Facebook. “Facebook, complicit in the propagation of weaponized hatred, is on the wrong side of history.”As criticism mounted on Monday, Zuckerberg and Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg held a videoconference with U.S. civil rights leaders to discuss issues around Facebook’s policies related to race, elections and other topics. Color of Change President Rashad Robinson said participants were left disappointed with Zuckerberg’s understanding of the issues.Last week, Twitter also angered Trump when the company added a fact-checking label to a post about mail-in ballots. Trump responded by unveiling an executive order targeting the law that protects social-media companies from liability for the content posted by its users.(Updates with new initiatives 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.
Facebook <FB.O> CEO Mark Zuckerberg told employees on Tuesday that he stood by his decision not to challenge inflammatory posts by U.S. President Donald Trump, refusing to give ground a day after staff members staged a rare public protest. Zuckerberg told employees on a video chat that Facebook had conducted a thorough review and was right to leave the posts unchallenged, a company spokeswoman said. One Facebook employee, who tweeted criticism on Monday, posted again on Twitter during the all-hands meeting to express disappointment.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- One of the more popular sentiments expressed on Twitter over the weekend was that the astronauts who left Earth on Saturday made a good choice. After months of suffering from a global pandemic that has caused mass unemployment, school shutdowns and over 100,000 deaths, Americans are now reeling from a wave of nationwide protests following the death of a black man at the hands of Minneapolis police. What should companies say and do amid events so fraught that many people would prefer not to be on the planet?“It’s always risky for brands to weigh in on deep social unrest,” says reputation-management guru Helio Fred Garcia, president of Logos Consulting Group. Companies have learned this the hard way before — such as when Starbucks Corp. hatched an ill-advised effort to encourage people to talk about racism with their baristas in 2015 and when PepsiCo. Inc. launched a widely excoriated commercial about social activism featuring Kendall Jenner in 2017. Companies were reminded of that risk again on Saturday after National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell received fierce backlash for expressing support for the protesters. His statement was viewed as insincere by many after the experience of Colin Kaepernick, a player who has not been signed by a team since 2017 after protesting racism and police brutality.So companies can start by taking a look in the mirror. Facebook Inc., for example, needs to do some hard thinking about its policies after choosing not to flag a Facebook version of a Twitter post by President Donald Trump threatening to shoot looters. That decision has staffers so upset that some staged a virtual walkout Monday. (Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg acknowledged in a post that his company must do more to “ensure our systems don't amplify bias.”) Companies should be prepared to answer questions — from employees, the news media and other stakeholders — about how they can do more to fight racism and promote diversity.Leaders should also communicate with employees who are on edge, seeking their feedback on how they can better promote diversity, address employee concerns, and fight unconscious bias and other forms of racism. But while every organization should be having these conversations internally, companies should proceed cautiously before publicly wading into the protests.Speaking out publicly comes with two risks. The first is that such efforts will be perceived as self-serving. Many television commercials referencing the coronavirus, for example, have been panned as thinly veiled efforts to use the pandemic to promote consumer spending. The second risk is that commercials or other statements of public support will only remind the public of a company’s record of inaction (the Pepsi commercial) or dubious actions (the NFL). Indeed, a 2016 study by Weber Shandwick and KRC Research found that public activism boosts a company's reputation when it is related in some way to what a company is already doing — but it backfires when it is perceived as discordant with a company's business. If a company has a well-established record of openly fighting racism, speaking out publicly now will be perceived as credible. And if a company — or its employees or stakeholders — has been drawn into the fray, the public will expect it to say something. Garcia notes that companies whose stores have been damaged in the protests will be expected to respond. Macy’s Inc.’s flagship store in New York’s Herald Square was looted Monday night, and the company would be wise to respond compassionately. Designer Marc Jacobs offered a laudable example for other retailers to follow after one of his own stores was damaged:View this post on Instagram A post shared by Marc Jacobs (@themarcjacobs) on May 31, 2020 at 9:38am PDTOf course, many other executives will be tempted to join the bandwagon to express support for fighting systemic racism. But they should start by taking action. Companies including Verizon Communications Inc., Intel Corp., Facebook, Peloton Cycle Inc. and Levi Strauss & Co. have all announced major monetary contributions to organizations that promote social justice. Such donations — along with changes to corporate practices — are the place to start.Once an organization has firmly established a record of supporting racial equality, it can authentically join the public conversation. But without such actions, attempts to generate positive publicity by tying corporations to the cause will be more likely to be perceived as shallow and self-serving, generating backlash that may leave more chief executives wanting to leave the planet. This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Kara Alaimo is an associate professor of public relations at Hofstra University and author of “Pitch, Tweet, or Engage on the Street: How to Practice Global Public Relations and Strategic Communication.” She previously served in the Obama administration. 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) -- The coronavirus came relatively late to Yemen, but even with advance notice it has still been ravaged by the disease.With the war-torn country divided between three competing authorities, its economy and health systems shattered, and malnutrition and disease already rife, the outbreak faced few obstacles. Yemen’s most strategically important city, Aden, now has the highest Covid-19 mortality rate among confirmed cases in the world at 70%, United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres said May 28. Even during the harrowing last five years of conflict, Yemenis flooded Facebook through the holy month of Ramadan with greetings and photographs of fasts being broken. This year, though, their posts were often messages of condolence.“It has turned from a Facebook to a Deathbook in Yemen,” Sami Ghaleb, political analyst and founder of al-Nida newspaper, said of the outpouring on social media. “The sorrows of Yemenis are a sea without shores.”While figures released by officials put fatalities at a few hundred since Yemen’s first virus case was reported mid-April, online comments as well as accounts from medics and those preparing graves suggest the actual number is far higher, and rising rapidly. In a worse-case scenario, the World Health Organization sees at least 65,000 deaths, and about half a million hospitalizations.An outbreak on that scale would add to the unraveling of a country located on a maritime passage through which nearly four million barrels of oil are shipped daily to Europe, the U.S. and Asia, and enhance the chaos that al-Qaeda and Islamic State have been exploiting to reestablish a presence.Besides, “if we do not combat the virus everywhere, there’s a high likelihood that it will continue to circle the planet,” said Jens Laerke, spokesman for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Richer nations must make an investment in humanity, he said.Read More: How Yemen’s Civil Strife Became a Brutal Proxy WarThat’s why on Tuesday, the UN co-hosted a virtual donor conference, looking for $2.4 billion to fund programs that assist 80% of Yemen’s 28 million people. “Yemen is now on the precipice, right on the cliff edge, below which lies a tragedy of historic proportions,” Mark Lowcock, OCHA’s Under-Secretary-General and Emergency Relief Coordinator said in an opening speech. After announcing that only $1.35 billion was pledged, he said fundraising efforts would continue and called on donors to honor their promises.The event’s other sponsor was, controversially, Saudi Arabia. Since 2015, the Saudi military has led an Arab coalition seeking to restore the government ousted by Iran-aligned Houthi rebels. The fighting has killed 100,000 people, with another 131,000 dying from hunger, disease and lack of medical care, a UN-commissioned report found last year.Asked by email about the kingdom’s participation given its role in the war, Laerke said Saudi Arabia has provided “large amounts of money with no strings attached” that helped beat back a looming famine in Yemen and control a cholera epidemic. He added that the UN has called on all parties, including the Saudis, to adhere to international humanitarian law that prohibits targeting health facilities, something that’s happened on scores of occasions during the war.Saudi Arabia, which is struggling with its own coronavirus outbreak and shares a long, hard-to-control border with Yemen, pledged $500 million to the effort. Only half Yemen’s hospitals and clinics are still functioning, and medics say they have turned Covid-19 patients away because of a lack of ventilators, oxygen and personal protection equipment. Testing is almost non-existent.In the southern port city of Aden, where some of the first virus clusters erupted, residents have had to clear streets following heavy rains and flash floods in mid-April that piled up mud and garbage. In places, sewage mixes with pools of stagnant water.The city has been under the control of United Arab Emirates-backed separatists since last year after they expelled the government of President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi, the leader Saudi Arabia wants to restore to power over all Yemen. The two are supposed to be allies in the fight against the northern Houthis but have turned on each other.As they battle in a nearby province, the coronavirus is spreading in Aden. Mosques remain open, while markets and shops are crowded despite orders to close, highlighting the difficulties in enforcing a lockdown when most people depend on a daily income, and electricity supply is limited to about four hours a day.“How can we observe social distancing and home isolation when we can’t keep food and vegetables fresh in the fridge?” Abeer Karim, a resident, said by phone. Ginger, lemons and oranges are scarce as people try home remedies to ward off infection, she said. Food prices are rising.Fearful of being stigmatized, relatives of virus victims are reluctant to share their stories, with most blaming “fever” or other diseases that have taken hold in the city, like dengue or chikungunya. But the evidence is mounting of a growing Covid-19 toll.Authorities in Aden are issuing far more death certificates each day than before the outbreak. The price of a grave cloth has gone up by almost 50%, costing more than 15,000 rials ($60), residents say. While in Sana’a the price of a grave has risen to 70,000 rials from 30,000.Sana’a, the capital, is run by the Houthis. They’ve announced just four cases and one death, and have been accused by the Hadi government and medics of covering up cases. Last week, they acknowledged the virus has spread to a multiple areas, including Sana’a, without providing figures. They’ve allowed mass gatherings and encouraged families and friends to attend funerals.The UN has never had so little money for aid operations in Yemen this late in the year.“If we do not get the money coming in, the programs that are keeping people alive, are very much essential to fighting back against Covid, will have to close,” the UN’s Laerke said. “And then the world will have to witness in a country what happens without a functioning health system battling Covid. And I do not think the world wants to see that.”(Adds details on amount raised in donor conference in 9th 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) -- Facebook Inc.’s Instagram was flooded with images of black squares on Tuesday, when users, influencers and celebrities took to the platform to express support for the protests raging across the country to oppose police brutality. The images -- accompanied with hashtags including blacktuesday, blackouttuesday and theshowmustbepaused -- originated with a music industry display of support for the protesters, with calls for a pause in operations and blacking out stations on Tuesday, according to the Guardian. As of just after noon on Tuesday in New York, the hashtag blackouttuesday had been included in more than 16 million Instagram posts.The image became so popular that celebrities reminded users to stick to the original blackout hashtags. That’s because the use of blacklivesmatter and blm hashtag -- used for communicating with protesters -- risked drowning out needed information.As black squares took over Instagram, the hashtags and image began spreading on Facebook and Twitter as well.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Facebook Inc. Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg hosted a nearly hour-long video call with U.S. civil rights leaders to discuss ongoing issues around his company’s policies as they relate to race, elections and other topics. But participants were left disappointed, according to Color of Change President Rashad Robinson, who concluded that Zuckerberg can’t fully grasp the change they seek.In an interview with Bloomberg News immediately after the call, Robinson said that “the problem with my ongoing conversations with Mark, is that I feel like I spent a lot of time, and my colleagues spent a lot of time, explaining to him why these things are a problem, and I think he just very much lacks the ability to understand it.”These comments come at a time when the U.S. is roiled by daily protests for racial justice triggered by the death of George Floyd, an African-American man, while in police custody in Minneapolis. Facebook has come in for criticism from within its own ranks, with an upswell of dismay among employees after the CEO adopted a hands-off approach to messages posted by President Donald Trump that seemed to threaten violence with the words “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.”Read more: Facebook Worker Unrest Rises With Walkout, Criticism of CEORobinson said he wanted Zuckerberg to take concrete action against the post; ideally to take it off the site, but at a minimum, to mark or flag it in some way, as Twitter did, and at least make an effort to adjudicate the internet.“The problem with Facebook is they have a policy problem,” Robinson said. “You can’t have a conversation with Donald Trump, and leave up his Tweet on Facebook platforms talking about shooting protesters.”Robinson said some Facebook employees have reached out, “saying Black Lives Matter, saying I’m going to give money, but having your policies actually hurt black people, people will know the difference.” Some of the company’s senior staff have taken to Twitter to make their discontent public and some employees -- working from home because of the pandemic -- held a virtual walkout, deciding not to log in to work on Monday in protest. Zuckerberg defended his position to leave Trump’s post up without commentary by saying on Friday, “We think people need to know if the government is planning to deploy force.”Facebook didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment on the call with civil rights leaders. In a statement sent to Axios, Facebook said it was “grateful that leaders in the civil rights community took the time to share candid, honest feedback.” The company added that “it is an important moment to listen, and we look forward to continuing these conversations.”Robinson also recently spoke up at a Facebook shareholder meeting and said he’s had dinner at Zuckerberg’s home and been on other calls with the CEO to talk about similar topics. Joining the Monday call was Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg. All of this effort from Facebook’s executive team suggests the company is serious at least about bringing civil rights leaders on its side, however Robinson expressed more frustration than hope.“He continues to do things and make decisions that hurt communities and put people in harm’s way and is not accountable for it,” said Robinson. (Updates with background on employee virtual walkout in sixth paragraph.)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
In terms of social engagement, Nike’s statement on George Floyd has turned out to be its most successful social justice campaign to date, according to Data Analytics firm Thinknum.
(Bloomberg) -- Western Union Co. is seeking to acquire MoneyGram International Inc. in a transaction that would bring together two of the largest U.S. providers of money-transfer services, according to a person familiar with the matter.Western Union has made a takeover offer for MoneyGram, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the matter isn’t public. No decision has been made and Western Union could opt to proceed without a deal, the person said.Representatives for Western Union and MoneyGram declined to comment.The business has been in decline as more people use online payments. Financial-technology upstarts have taken aim at the industry, offering strong new competition to established companies. Meanwhile, policy makers are intent on trimming the fees associated with moving money around the world.MoneyGram rose as high as 74% in late trading Monday. The stock closed up 6.2% to $2.59, giving the company a market value of about $164 million. It also has about $878 million of debt. Western Union rose 3.5% to $20.71 for a market value of about $8.5 billion.Dallas-based MoneyGram has struggled during the coronavirus pandemic, which has forced it to shutter operations around the globe as governments imposed shelter-in-place orders. While MoneyGram has boosted digital transactions, they made up just 18% of its money transfers in the first quarter, the company reported last month.Last year, Facebook Inc. joined with companies from around the world to form the Libra Association to offer a new way to send payments overseas. At the time, the association lamented that low-income consumers often pay too much for financial services.Governments and regulators around the world have long sought to cut the cost of remittances, which often cater to migrants who lack access to traditional bank accounts. On average, it costs $6.79 for every $100 in remittances sent overseas, according to data compiled by the World Bank.Ant Financial Services Group, the Chinese financial services conglomerate, agreed to acquire MoneyGram in 2017 but abandoned the deal after pushback from national security regulators in the U.S.(Updates with fintechs, regulators, industry scope starting in first 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) -- Facebook Inc. employees became increasingly bold in expressing their dismay at Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg’s decision not to take action on incendiary comments posted to the social network by U.S. President Donald Trump, tweeting out criticisms and staging a virtual walkout.After the president tweeted a message with the words “when the looting starts, the shooting starts” in response to protests over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Twitter Inc. for the first time obscured one of his posts, marking it with a warning that it breached service rules by glorifying violence. Facebook’s response to the same content, in a post from Zuckerberg on Friday, was to say, “We think people need to know if the government is planning to deploy force.”Several senior figures at Facebook declared their strong disagreement online over the weekend, and some employees -- working from home because of the pandemic -- held a virtual walkout, deciding not to log in to work on Monday in protest.“Mark is wrong, and I will endeavor in the loudest possible way to change his mind,” said Ryan Freitas, director of product design for Facebook’s News Feed. “I apologize if you were waiting for me to have some sort of external opinion. I focused on organizing 50+ likeminded folks into something that looks like internal change.”“Giving a platform to incite violence and spread disinformation is unacceptable, regardless who you are or if it’s newsworthy,” wrote Andrew Crow, head of design for Facebook’s Portal product line.Joining them with individual messages against the passive policy were Design Manager Jason Stirman, Director of Product Management Jason Toff, and Product Designer Sara Zhang, who tweeted that “Internally we are voicing our concerns, so far to no avail.” One entire engineering team walked out, using a logo that displayed a fist with a heart and the hashtag takeaction. Many tweets quote Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a South African human rights activist: “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”Daniel Lo Nigro, a senior front-end developer at Facebook, said he hopes something positive comes from the effort. “I’ve been at the company nearly seven years and I have never seen a protest or walkout anywhere near this large,” he said on Twitter.Read more: Facebook Appeases Trump as Twitter Spars With Him Over PostsIn a post late Sunday, Zuckerberg said Facebook is committing “an additional $10 million to groups working on racial justice.” Noting that the company “has more work to do to keep people safe and ensure our systems don’t amplify bias,” the CEO did not address the concern surrounding Trump’s posts on the platform. Trump made a phone call to Zuckerberg on Friday to discuss the situation, according to people familiar with the matter. Zuckerberg expressed disappointment in Trump’s tone and told him he was putting Facebook in a difficult position, the people said. Facebook had earlier reached out to the White House to see if Trump would change the post. The communication was earlier reported by Axios.It’s rare for Facebook employees to speak publicly about internal activity unless they have permission from the communications team. The Menlo Park, California-based company in the past has punished and discouraged leaking. Now, Facebook has changed that approach.“We recognize the pain many of our people are feeling right now, especially our Black community. We encourage employees to speak openly when they disagree with leadership,” a Facebook spokesperson said Monday in a statement. “As we face additional difficult decisions around content ahead, we’ll continue seeking their honest feedback.” Employees walking out won’t have to use up one of their vacation days for the time off, Facebook said, and on Tuesday Zuckerberg will address the situation in a companywide meeting.(Updates with Trump call to Zuckerberg in seventh paragraph.)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
Lost in the news of the George Floyd protests against police brutality and racism in the U.S., Facebook last week quietly noted it will now require Facebook profile pages with large followings in the U.S. to verify their identity. If the profile's owner chooses not to verify their identity or the ID provided does not match the linked Facebook account, the distribution of the profile's viral post will continue to be reduced so fewer people will see it, the company explains. In addition, if the profile that's posting is also a Facebook Page admin, they'll need to complete the Page Publishing Authorization and won't be able to post from their Page until the account is verified through Facebook's systems.
Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) is getting heat for its inaction to inflammatory posts by President Trump, including a virtual walk-out by some of its employees, the New York Times reports. Employees across the company are expressing outrage over Mark Zuckerberg's decision to leave up President's Trump incendiary comments regarding rioters. Twitter (NYSE: TWTR), in contrast, flagged the message with a warning.
The commitment from Facebook follows a week of protests around the country challenging police brutality -- spurred by the dissemination of a video on Facebook showing the death of George Floyd, an African American man who was killed by police officers in Minneapolis. Zuckerberg's pledge comes after several prominent Facebook employees expressed their frustration with their company's response on Twitter and only a few hours before a number of the company's workers staged a virtual walkout. "I work at Facebook and I am not proud of how we're showing up," Jason Toff, a director of product management at Facebook, wrote on Twitter.
Some Facebook employees are virtually walking out today to challenge the company's lack of response to President Donald Trump's posts pertaining to protests in light of the brutal killing of George Floyd. Employees participating in the protest requested time off and then added an out-of-office response to their emails notifying senders they are protesting, The New York Times reports. Facebook has since acknowledged the walkout and said it will not require employees to use their paid time off.
Don't let their large market caps fool you -- these well-known companies have plenty left in the tank.
Jun.02 -- Dan Ives, Wedbush analyst, discusses the difficulties tech compnaies like Amazon.com Inc. and Facebook are facing. He speaks on "Bloomberg Technology."
Jun.02 -- David Kirkpatrick, founder of Techonomy, discusses Facebook employees' anger at Mark Zuckerberg. The tech giant's chief executive officer decided to leave up posts shared by U.S. President Donald Trump last week that many workers felt violated the company’s policies against violent rhetoric. Kirkpatrick speaks on "Bloomberg Technology."
Jun.02 -- Oren Frank, chief executive officer at Talkspace , discusses the decision he took to end the partnership between the text therapy company and Facebook. He speaks on "Bloomberg Technology."