|Bid||222.96 x 900|
|Ask||222.97 x 800|
|Day's range||218.46 - 223.68|
|52-week range||145.70 - 223.68|
|Beta (5Y monthly)||1.06|
|PE ratio (TTM)||35.56|
|Earnings date||28 Jan 2020|
|Forward dividend & yield||N/A (N/A)|
|1y target est||249.15|
Despite the regulatory scrutiny Facebook faces, the social media giant is expected to report a strong fourth quarter fueled by big ad spend and continued user growth.
(Bloomberg) -- In July, Facebook Inc. quietly hired Miranda Sissons, a 49-year old human rights activist whose previous work has included stints at the Australian diplomatic service and the International Center for Transitional Justice. The hiring, which was never formally announced, is part of a broader effort by the company to atone for more than once failing to stop online abuse on Facebook from spilling over into real-world violence. Human rights advocates in places like Sri Lanka, the Philippines, India and Brazil have long complained that the company has refused to acknowledge mounting evidence about the dangers of digital hate. As Facebook pursued world-changing growth, particularly in developing countries, it didn’t always have local staff there, or even employees who spoke the language. In Myanmar, a wave of online hate preceded a campaign of violence against the country’s Rohingya minority that led to thousands of deaths and the displacement of over 700,000 people. An independent report Facebook commissioned in 2018 found that it bore partial responsibility for fueling the conflict. Immediately after taking the job, Sissons took a five-day trip to the country. “I was deeply, deeply aware of the criticism of Facebook’s inaction in Myanmar, and deeply aware of the struggles humankind is facing with the impact of social media,” Sissons told Bloomberg News earlier this month in her first press interview in her new role. “This is one of the greatest challenges of our time.”Sissons work is part of a broader reckoning within the technology industry, which has been forced to reexamine its role in world conflicts. Several months before Facebook hired Sissons, Twitter Inc. brought on Cynthia Wong, a former researcher at Human Rights Watch, to be its human rights director. As with Facebook, Twitter never announced the hiring. In discussions with more than a dozen people familiar with Facebook’s work on human rights, a picture emerges of a company that has been moving rapidly but, according to its skeptics, not always effectively. One Facebook employee, who asked not to be identified discussing private information, said its shortcomings have not always been the result of having too few people dedicated to human rights, but at times having so many people involved that they’re working at cross-purposes. Human rights advocates outside the company acknowledge Facebook’s effort to hire experts, and say it has become far more responsive. But they worry that internal advocates like Sissons won’t be adequately empowered, and many are withholding praise until the company makes more concrete changes. “They are hiring people who have the right knowledge, experience and sensibility to tackle human rights problems,” said Matthew Smith, chief executive of Fortify Rights, a human rights group. “So far, though, that’s clearly not enough.” Sissons’ human rights education started early. Her father was a prominent Australian historian who served in the occupation force of Hiroshima after World War II, then worked as an interpreter in the Australian-led tribunals of Japanese officials accused of war crimes. “My early childhood was completely taken up with discussions of war crimes, war criminals, the Second World War, and notions of justice,” she said.After attending the University of Melbourne, Sissons spent time in East Timor, researched Middle Eastern issues and took several posts with the Australian diplomatic corps, including a frustrating stint answering phones at an Australian embassy in Egypt. “My Arabic wasn’t very good,” she confessed. “People would ring me up and shout at me about all kinds of things, and I would have to find a solution. ” Eventually, Sissons went on to work on her own high-profile tribunal as an independent observer of the trial of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, and she did stints at Human Rights Watch and the Australian diplomatic corps. In 2011 Sissons switched her focus to the relationship between human rights and technology. She had been working in the Middle East, where the Arab Spring was just getting underway, and many people believed social media could shift the balance of power between citizens and oppressive regimes. It was a time of unmatched optimism about the potential of social media in political organizing.The good feelings didn't last. As early as 2014 there were credible reports emerging of coordinated incitement on Facebook against the Rohingya in Myanmar. The online abuse foreshadowed a wave of violence that began in earnest in 2016.By the time Facebook began looking for a human rights director in 2018, the conventional wisdom on tech from a few years earlier had effectively reversed. The killings in Myanmar and elsewhere, coupled with Russian-led disinformation campaigns in Donald Trump’s presidential election, had darkened popular opinion. Companies that were accustomed to being revered were suddenly being accused of simultaneously squelching free expression and tolerating active manipulation of their platforms.The tech industry’s first halting steps to control the flow of abuse initially won few fans. In an online essay in late 2018 Cynthia Wong, then senior internet researcher for Human Rights Watch, said it was time for a “moral reckoning” in Silicon Valley. “If regulators, investors, and users want true accountability, they should press for a far more radical re-examination of tech sector business models, especially social media and advertising ecosystems,” she wrote. In some cases, the companies started hiring their critics. Twitter brought on Wong as its legal director of human rights in April 2019. The company declined to make her available for an interview, and said in a statement that it was “uniquely positioned to help activist and civic-minded people around the globe make their voices heard." Other attempts at reform were wholly unsuccessful. In early 2019 Ross LaJeunesse, then Google’s global head of international relations, saw Facebook’s posting for a human rights director, and used it to argue for the creation of a similar structure at his company. He failed, and left the company soon after. LaJeunesse, who is currently running for the U.S. Senate in Maine, now says tech companies can’t handle these issues on their own. “There has to be government oversight,” he said. Sissons, who reports to Facebook’s head of global policy management Monika Bickert, has over the last several months been quietly incorporating human rights protections into Facebook’s policies, and making sure that people with human rights training are in the meetings where executives sign off on new product features. She said the company had made progress before she arrived, including the reform of its 2018 decision to begin removing misinformation in situations where it could lead to physical harm.“There are now a lot of resources in place,” Sissons said. The challenge is to quickly identify local signs of trouble, then block or slow the spread of certain content, or take swift action against particular users. “We are testing continuously in crisis environments to try and predict what resources we’ll need,” she said, “and to ensure they’re in place.” When Sissons went to Myanmar with Facebook she made a stop in Phandeeyar, a tech hub and community center in downtown Yangon. Jes Kaliebe Petersen, its CEO, said he’s been meeting with Facebook employees for years—he helped the company develop local community standards almost five years ago. But the encounters have calcified into a depressingly predictable routine. “They send a bunch of people who have never been here before, and they talk to us,” said Petersen. “And we never hear from them again.” A spokesman for Facebook said it has held many introductory meetings at the request of local advocates, and argued the company has taken significant strides in the country. Besides hiring Sissons, it shut down hundreds of pages and accounts, including that of the head of Myanmar’s army, for spreading misinformation and hatred. It has hired a Myanmar head of public policy for the first time. And it assembled a team of 100 content moderators who speak Burmese. That group will be able to “support escalations” in other languages used in the country as well, Sissons said.The company also set up an independent review board for thorny content moderation issues, and in an unusual step, commissioned independent human rights assessments of what happened in Myanmar and other trouble spots. In November 2018, it published a 60-page report on Myanmar from the nonprofit group Business for Social Responsibility, in full. “They deserve praise for putting it out there,” said Dunstan Allison-Hope the lead author of the report. “You don’t see that.” But Facebook has never made the results of a similar assessment in Sri Lanka public, despite calls to do so. Sissons declined to say whether it had plans to publish those results. And there are currently no Facebook staff members working in Myanmar full-time—something that many advocates have called for. Representatives for Facebook say its staff based in Singapore and elsewhere are regularly in Myanmar, and that it has spent well over a year taking hundreds of meetings with people in the country. One person who said he'd never gotten an invitation to meet with Facebook is Nickey Diamond, a local advocate working for Fortify Rights. Diamond said he has been the target of harassing posts from the government for years, and still faces a menacing atmosphere online. “They’re sharing my picture with the word ‘traitor’ in Burmese,” he said. “Every human rights defender is in the same situation.” The broader problem Facebook is confronting—the vigilant monitoring of an ever-evolving social network used by 2.3 billion people—can seem almost impossibly daunting. The company now has content moderators examining posts in approximately 50 languages, Sissons said, a number that is unchanged from its count last April, and is fewer than half of the languages that Facebook actively supports. Facebook has said only technological improvements can combat problems at scale. It has automated tools that scan for hate speech, as well as image recognition technology monitoring for obscene content regardless of language. About 80% of the posts that Facebook acts on for violating its hate speech policies are now first identified by its automated filters, up from about 24% a year earlier.Soon, the challenges of monitoring the spread of abusive posts could become even more difficult. Facing pressure to increase user privacy, Facebook has prioritized private communications, meaning more content is encrypted so that even the company itself won’t know what it says. In those cases, Sissons said the company is working on tools that will look for patterns associated with problematic content, so it can either remove such messages or impede them from spreading so rapidly. Facebook is aware of the scope of its challenges, said Rebecca MacKinnon, the director of Ranking Digital Rights, an online advocacy group. “Facebook is making an effort to engage. Whether that will make a difference in the real world, we’ll see,” she said. “They’re dealing with some problems that no one knows how to solve.” When Sissons met with members of the Phandeeyar team last November in Myanmar, they came prepared with a handful of suggestions for actions Facebook should take before the national elections there, which are expected to take place later this year. While Phandeeyar staffers had been deeply engaged in the specifics for months, Sissons was still just getting her feet under her, and there wasn’t enough time in the hour-long meeting to get much resolution, said Phandeeyar CEO Petersen. “There’s always lots of goals for improvements. Hopefully Miranda has a sound plan for how to get there,” he said. “The thing is, we don’t really have that much time.” (Clarifies that Petersen was not in the meeting with Sissions in the penultimate paragraph of article published Tuesday. An earlier version of this story corrected the dates of Sissons' hiring and trip to Myanmar.)To contact the author of this story: Joshua Brustein in New York at email@example.comTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Anne VanderMey at firstname.lastname@example.org, Andrew PollackFor 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) -- In 1936, Albert Einstein submitted a paper, coauthored with his assistant Nathan Rosen, to the journal Physical Review. A month later, he received a critical report from an anonymous reviewer together with a polite request from the journal’s editor to address it. Outraged by what was apparently his one and only brush with peer review, Einstein wrote back: “We (Mr. Rosen and I) had sent you our manuscript for publication and had not authorized you to show it to specialists before it is printed. I see no reason to address the — in any case erroneous — comments of your anonymous expert.”Modern scientists can only marvel at Einstein’s contempt for peer review. Over the years, this process has become so central to scientific publishing that nowadays even the most distinguished researchers must regularly subject themselves to its trials and tribulations.We can, however, easily identify with Einstein’s disregard for the opinions of the so-called expert.(1) The same time-honored sentiment drives the popular Facebook group “Reviewer 2 Must Be Stopped,” which is devoted to the proposition that reviewers are too often ignorant, careless, petty or downright evil.Unfortunately, peer review has problems that run deeper than the quality of any particular reviewer. The process is inconsistent and subjective to the degree that — in the words of Richard Smith, a former editor of the British Medical Journal — it’s “something of a lottery.” Smith wrote that Robbie Fox, a one-time editor of the Lancet, went so far as to question “whether anybody would notice if he were to swap the piles marked ‘publish’ and ‘reject.’” There’s a mountain of evidence that these claims aren’t far from the truth.The situation is especially grim in artificial intelligence, where most impactful publications appear in conference proceedings. Every year, each of several large conferences in the field receives thousands of submissions in a single day, which are then reviewed simultaneously by a “program committee” consisting of thousands of volunteers. It’s obvious that enforcing consistency at this scale is all but impossible.Still, AI researchers were shocked by the results of an experiment conducted in 2014 by the organizers of the influential Conference on Neural Information Processing Systems. A portion of the submissions(2) were evaluated by two different committees, which made independent decisions to accept or reject. It turned out that 57% of the papers accepted by one committee were rejected by the other. That’s unnervingly close to what you'd expect from purely random selection.Even the most alarming cases — papers that are blatantly wrong or fraudulent — are rarely caught in the peer review net. One of the most egregious examples is that of Jan Hendrik Schoen, a German physicist who published a slew of supposedly groundbreaking — but actually fraudulent — papers in the early 2000s. He was exposed when colleagues who were trying to build on his work noticed duplicated figures in one of his papers, leading to discoveries of additional anomalies and ultimately a full-blown investigation. In the aftermath, dozens of Schoen’s meticulously peer-reviewed papers were retracted, including an eye-popping total of 16 published in two of the most prestigious journals, Science and Nature.The Schoen scandal mainly serves as a cautionary tale, but it also hints at why the scientific enterprise is so successful despite the shortcomings of peer review. Publication is just one part of a much larger process in which important papers are identified and then heavily scrutinized by the relevant scientific community. That’s doubly true in today’s scientific ecosystem, where online preprint repositories like arXiv make it possible for papers to achieve widespread fame or notoriety before they’re even submitted for publication.My concern, then, is not for the integrity of science, but for the welfare of scientists.The question of how many papers a scientist published, and where, plays a huge role in decisions about hiring, promotion, funding and — in disciplines like computer science — even admission into Ph.D. programs. A scientist’s career may depend on whether a few reviewers choose to accept or reject a single paper.To receive tenure at a leading economics department, for example, candidates are expected to have published two or three papers in the discipline's most prestigious journals, imaginatively called the "top 5." Three of these journals famously rejected “The Market for Lemons,” a seminal paper that upended economic thinking and won its author a Nobel Prize, with one reviewer complaining, “If this paper was correct, economics would be different.”It seems paradoxical that scientists — ostensible paragons of evidence-based reasoning — would give such weight to the outcomes of peer review, despite the growing evidence of the system’s limitations. One reason is laziness: nothing’s easier than skimming through a colleague’s list of publications and noting where they appeared. But another may well be that relatively few scientists recognize just how flawed peer review is. It’s up to universities and academic associations, therefore, to examine the evidence and initiate an honest discussion of this question: Assuming the way in which we evaluate papers stays fundamentally the same, how should we evaluate each other?Scientists should also work on solutions to the problems of peer review, as many are already doing. My own contribution to this effort is reported in a recent manuscript coauthored with two former colleagues at Carnegie Mellon University, Ritesh Noothigattu and Nihar Shah. I am especially fond of this footnote: “Even papers about peer review are subject to peer review, the irony of which has not escaped us.” That irony, however, was apparently lost on our esteemed peers, who have thrice rejected the paper. To paraphrase a great scientist, I see no reason to address the — in any case erroneous — comments of these anonymous experts.(1) Amusingly, in this case the reviewer was actually right.(2) In 2014, the conference received “only” 1,678 papers. By 2019, the number of submissions had skyrocketed to 6,743.To contact the author of this story: Ariel Procaccia at email@example.comTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Jonathan Landman at firstname.lastname@example.orgThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.Ariel Procaccia is Gordon McKay Professor of Computer Science at Harvard University. His areas of expertise include artificial intelligence, theoretical computer science and algorithmic game theory. 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) -- Want the lowdown on European markets? In your inbox before the open, every day. Sign up here.Airbnb Inc.’s listings in France, a major but troubled market for the U.S. home-sharing startup, generated more than $2 billion for hosts last year, a person familiar with the matter said.France is Airbnb’s largest market outside of the U.S., offering villas in Provence and the Riviera to apartments on the Champs-Elysees.Bookings using Airbnb’s platform hit $2 billion in 2018 and sales grew in 2019, the person said, asking not to be identified because the information hasn’t been publicly disclosed. Airbnb charges a range of fees -- up to 20% -- depending on the property. Rentals in France rose last year as more users headed to rural retreats, a spokesman for the company said, declining to comment further.Airbnb is facing a deadline to send rental data to the French tax authorities this week as part of a law that requires marketplaces to share user revenue and other information to the state. Tax collectors will compare Airbnb’s disclosures with that of its hosts to look for tax avoidance.It’s the latest measure in a contentious relationship with France, which has sought to squeeze more data and money out of Airbnb and other tech giants under President Emmanuel Macron’s government.A tax on so-called digital giants is targeting large tech companies, including Google, Apple Inc., Facebook Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. It was enforced last year, but suspended last week as Macron sought to fend off U.S. President Donald Trump’s threats to slap tariffs on French wine and cheese. Airbnb said it contributed between 5 million euros ($5.5 million) and 10 million euros to that tax plan before the freeze.Read more about U.S. retaliation to the digital giants tax.Another newly enacted law forces Airbnb to supply local governments with information about the type of housing being offered, the number of guests and its hosts names and addresses. Paris and Bordeaux have asked for data under the new regulations, which took effect in December, Airbnb said. The company also pays tourist tax, which cost them 58 million euros last year, double the amount from 2018.”We are seeing a net loss of nearly 30,000 homes with the tourist furnished rental platforms,” said spokeswoman for the Paris city council. “Airbnb threatens the soul and identity of a number of neighborhoods. We cannot remain inert in the face of this situation. Every major city in the world is facing this problem.”Still, the country’s popularity makes it an important part in Airbnb’s strategy as it gears up for a listing this year. Chief Executive Officer and co-founder Brian Chesky has promised to list the company, which has a private valuation above $30 billion, before the end of this year when some employee stock grants expire.Read more about the company’s plans to list here.More than a decade after it was founded, Airbnb has plenty of experience dealing with regulators concerned about what the home-sharing platform, which now has more than 7 million listings worldwide, will do to local housing stock. U.S. cities including San Francisco and New York have tried to force Airbnb to hand over more data so they can enforce short-term rental laws.Entr’Hotes, a group of about 20 Paris super hosts have met with lawmakers to discuss their views as the government was preparing laws, and have called for more transparency.“The Paris city wants to make hosts responsible for their failure to managing the housing market in the city. Airbnb must show them wrong, and only showing data will prove it,” said Christine, 63, who rents a room in her private home in Paris’s trendy 11th arrondissement.“One thing they must show on the platform is the difference between us -- the home owners who welcome from time-to-time visitors, the DNA of Airbnb -- and the professional rentals, hotels and houses,” said Brigitte, another host who rents her 500-square-foot apartment on the South Bank of the Seine River.\--With assistance from Olivia Carville.To contact the reporter on this story: Helene Fouquet in Paris at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Giles Turner at firstname.lastname@example.org, Amy ThomsonFor 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) -- Sign up for Next China, a weekly email on where the nation stands now and where it's going next.People across the globe are stockpiling facial masks to protect themselves from the new coronavirus, depleting online malls and store shelves from California to Beijing. Yet their efficacy against an outbreak that’s claimed more than 130 lives remains uncertain.On Amazon and Alibaba, many shops peddling anti-virus masks had run out of stock as of Wednesday. Across China, Hong Kong and Singapore, people lined up for hours at stores and pharmacies hoping to secure dwindling supplies. People from San Francisco to Orlando said they were unable to find surgical masks at their usual outlets.While the rush is global, Chinese people living abroad have been buying masks -- especially the popular N95 variant made by 3M Co. -- to send back to family members or resell them online, often via Tencent’s WeChat messaging app. Demand is only likely to increase -- even though doubts have surfaced among the medical community about their effectiveness in curbing the disease, which some doctors say can spread through physical contact. The coronavirus, which first emerged in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, has infected more than 6,000 -- more than the 5,327 cases officially reported in China during the SARS epidemic of 17 years ago.“I’ve been running around town for days to buy masks,” said Liu Yan, a 36-year-old, who works in the cryptocurrency industry in Tokyo and said she scooped up 2,000 masks to send back to people in China without asking for additional money. She added she may stop buying soon because patient numbers were on the rise in Japan and she didn’t want to deprive locals of supplies.While it’s still unclear how the 2019-nCoV virus is spreading, one confirmed channel is through direct contact with infected people -- most likely coming into contact with respiratory secretions or virus-containing droplets from an infected person’s cough. It’s also possible the virus could be shed in other ways, including through the fecal waste of acutely infected people.Good hand hygiene, including the regular use of an alcohol-based sanitizer, may be more effective than face masks at preventing transmission of the 2019-nCoV virus, said Peter Collignon, an infectious diseases physician and microbiologist at Australia’s Canberra Hospital.China’s government has responded to the worsening shortage by cracking down on vendors who sell fake masks or overcharge online. Over 80 shops on e-commerce platform Taobao, run by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., allegedly sold counterfeit 3M and N95 face masks, Chinese state-media reported Monday. The company said on its official Weibo account it removed shops found to engage in false advertising or price rigging. The e-commerce site said it sold 80 million face masks through Taobao within two days.In Hong Kong, some store chains have begun restricting sales. Watsons said on its official Facebook account it would receive a limited supply on Jan. 30, then limit purchases to 50 masks per person on a first come first serve basis. People in the city who have tried to send masks to mainland China said their deliveries got bounced back without being given a clear reason.3M said it’s increasing output and working with distributors to ensure sufficient inventory to meet demand and supply existing customers, according to a representative. Other factories are ramping up production. In Japan, plants that supply personal care company Unicharm Corp. have been working around the clock since Jan. 17 after orders increased ten-fold, according to spokesman Hitoshi Watanabe.Meanwhile, the global mask stockpiling is spurring market speculation. Shares in surgical equipment maker Medtecs International Corp. have more than quintupled since the start of the year.(Updates with share price surge in the final paragraph)\--With assistance from Ryan Edward Chua, Aaron Mc Nicholas, Sharon Chen, Jason Gale and Jeffrey Hernandez.To contact the reporter on this story: Lulu Yilun Chen in Hong Kong at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Peter Elstrom at firstname.lastname@example.org, Edwin ChanFor 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 is slated to visit Brussels in mid-February, meeting with European Union officials as the social media giant fends off antitrust and privacy scrutiny over how it handles user data.Zuckerberg’s trip to the EU capital follows a recent visit by Alphabet Inc.’s chief Sundar Pichai and comes as the EU is due to unveil its plans to regulate artificial intelligence several days later. The Facebook CEO is stopping by Brussels on his way to the Munich Security Conference.Zuckerberg will meet with “European decision-makers in Brussels to discuss a framework for new rules and regulation for the internet,” Facebook said in a statement.The Belgian capital has for years been at the forefront of regulating large U.S. tech companies, with strict competition enforcement and its flagship privacy rules, the General Data Protection Regulation, which entered into force in 2018.Facebook currently faces a slew of probes by national data protection regulators. At the same time, the European Commission, the bloc’s executive body, is looking into possible antitrust issues around how the company collects user data and has criticized the social media giant’s handling of the spread of disinformation on its platform.Illegal ContentThe commission is also gearing up to overhaul liability rules for platforms, with a proposal due to be unveiled by the end of the year. The rules could result in more legal responsibility for any hate speech or other illegal content users post to sites like Facebook, potentially leading to fines for companies that fail to remove the posts.Zuckerberg visited Brussels in 2018 when he spoke to EU lawmakers in a hearing in the European Parliament, where he apologized for the company’s privacy failures and that it didn’t take a broad enough view of its responsibility for fake news and foreign interference in elections.Facebook over the past year has called on regulators around the world to agree on standards governing online content -- and to prevent a patchwork of different measures that make it difficult for international companies to comply. In a blog post last March, Zuckerberg recommended overarching rules on hateful and violent content, election integrity, privacy and data portability.\--With assistance from Christopher Elser.To contact the reporter on this story: Natalia Drozdiak in Brussels at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Giles Turner at firstname.lastname@example.org, Peter ChapmanFor 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) -- Opposition leader Keiko Fujimori will be returned to jail while she’s investigated for money laundering, less than three months after she’d been freed by Peru’s top court on the grounds that her constitutional rights had been violated.In Tuesday’s ruling, the court said Fujimori should be arrested immediately and jailed preventively for 15 months, arguing it was a proportional measure to safeguard the probe. With Fujimori incarcerated into April 2021, prosecutors should have time to charge her and put her on trial, Judge Victor Zuniga said, according to video broadcast by state television.Prosecutors told the court they have new evidence that Fujimori took cash from companies including Brazilian builder Odebrecht SA for her 2011 presidential campaign and sought to disguise it as donations from individuals. They also said there’s a serious risk that Fujimori will seek to obstruct the investigation.The 44-year-old daughter of Peru’s disgraced autocrat Alberto Fujimori was jailed in 2018, only to have the Constitutional Court annul the sentence 13 months later. In his summing up, Zuniga said that decision isn’t binding.The ruling is a fresh blow to her party, Popular Force, which received a drubbing in congressional elections Sunday, losing a majority it won in 2016. President Martin Vizcarra dissolved Congress four months ago following clashes with the opposition over anti-graft reforms.Read More: ‘Fragmented’ Peru Congress Eases Path for Vizcarra’s ReformsMinutes before the judge concluded his verdict, Fujimori walked into the court room with her American husband Mark Vito Villanella and took a seat next to her lawyer.In a pre-recorded video posted on her Facebook page following the ruling, she said she’s a victim of “political vengeance promoted by many interests,” including the media and “a government who wants to concentrate power to avoid” scrutiny. Her husband will take her case to “foreign governments,” she said.Fujimori hasn’t been formally charged and denies any wrongdoing. She said last month she’ll take a break from political activity to face the investigation.Odebrecht is at the center of Peru’s biggest bribery probe after the company admitted to financing candidates and bribing officials across Latin America.(Updates to add Fujimori’s comment in seventh paragraph)To contact the reporter on this story: John Quigley in Lima at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Juan Pablo Spinetto at firstname.lastname@example.org, Robert JamesonFor 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) -- Representative Jan Schakowsky has asked her staff to examine changes to a liability shield that protects tech platforms such as Facebook Inc. from lawsuits because of her concerns about how fake information could be used in the 2020 presidential election.The Illinois Democrat, who chairs a House subcommittee on consumer protection and leads the chamber’s efforts to write privacy legislation, said Tuesday her staff is studying possible changes to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a law that protects big technology platforms from responsibility for user-generated contentCongress is increasingly scrutinizing the measure, which is highly prized by tech companies, amid growing complaints about online hate, misinformation, and posts linked to potentially illegal activity. She said she wants to move quickly given the upcoming election.“I feel a sense of urgency that we could have a complete fantasy of a message campaign in this election,” Schakowsky said at a tech policy conference in Washington.Democratic worries about fake election information increased in the wake of Russian disinformation efforts aimed at helping Donald Trump’s presidential campaign in 2016. Even with the backing of House leaders, Schakowsky’s bill would need to pass the Republican Senate and get Trump’s signature to become law. Both are unlikely, especially in an election year.Schakowsky said her review is preliminary and focused on political information, rather than a broader range of concerns lawmakers have raised including child exploitation or online drug sales. She said she isn’t focused on removing the measure entirely and hasn’t yet decided how she would propose changing the law.“We’re going do our best to lift that issue in as many ways as possible,” she said.Schakowsky also said that Representative Kathy Castor, a Democrat from Florida on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, plans to introduce a bill Thursday to increase the age of children protected by the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act.The 1998 law, known as COPPA, currently imposes requirements for websites or online services directed at children under 13. Privacy laws in Europe and California have extended those protections to children age 16 and under.Castor’s bill would create a protected class of “young consumers” ages 13-17, ban companies from sending targeted advertisements to children, and require opt-in consent for all individuals under 18, according to a press release.“We think it’s very important not just to warn and scold, but actually to put some protections right into the law,” Schakowsky said at the industry event. She said she wants to “put more of that burden on the companies who are providing the options.”To contact the reporters on this story: Ben Brody in Washington, D.C. at email@example.com;Rebecca Kern in Arlington at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Sara Forden at email@example.com, Zachary SherwoodFor 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 top engineering executive, Jay Parikh, is leaving after more than a decade.Parikh, who announced the move on his Facebook page Tuesday, oversees all engineering and infrastructure efforts, and manages thousands of employees around the world. He was instrumental in building the massive data centers that power Facebook’s social-media services. Other projects included bringing wireless internet connectivity to rural areas through solar-powered drones and undersea fiber cables, and the use of more renewable energy.He joined Facebook in late 2009 and reports to Chief Technology Officer Mike Schroepfer. Parikh will stick around for a few months and transition his duties, he wrote on Facebook. “I’m not going anywhere just yet,” he said, adding that he doesn’t have another job lined up. “I’m excited to spend time rediscovering what else is happening across our industry and to meet up with many new people.”Facebook will probably distribute Parikh’s responsibilities to multiple executives. David Mortenson, a vice president of engineering who has been at the company for almost nine years, will take over the infrastructure side of Parikh’s job, according to a company spokesman.To contact the reporter on this story: Kurt Wagner in San Francisco at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Jillian Ward at email@example.com, Alistair BarrFor 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) -- Leon Li is the rarest of Chinese crypto magnates -- one who’s won Beijing’s backing. The founder of Huobi Group is now set to play a pivotal role in China’s effort to build a homegrown crypto-industry.The former Oracle Corp. coder, who started one of the world’s largest Bitcoin exchanges six years ago, enjoys unusual access to China’s central bank and government officials thanks to methodical engagement and measured expansion. While rivals Binance and OKEx irked regulators by stoking Bitcoin mania, Li curried favor by discouraging speculation, co-founding the country’s first state-backed blockchain platform along the way. Huobi even set up a Communist Party committee in-house -- a first for any crypto firm.That’s why, keen to explore homegrown alternatives to Facebook Inc.’s Libra and a Western-led blockchain, Chinese central bank and government officials are turning to Li -- among others -- to help develop a local blueprint for crypto supremacy. The still-nascent blockchain arena offers the world’s second-largest economy a rare chance to become an early influencer. Washington’s concerted campaign to contain China has only strengthened Beijing’s resolve to wean itself off American technology.“Once in a lifetime,” said Li, a bookish-looking 36-year-old with thick black glasses. “It’s my hope that we’ll not just be a participant but a driver, even the leader of blockchain history.”Read more: Why China’s Rushing to Mint Its Own Digital Currency: QuickTakeLi co-founded Huobi in the fall of 2013 and later received backing from well-connected ZhenFund and Sequoia China. But the tale of how he and Huobi came to occupy its privileged position really begins in 2017, at the height of Beijing’s paranoia about the potential for unchecked Bitcoin speculation to foment social upheaval.Word trickled down to Li in the summer of that year that officials were preparing a major crackdown on the industry. His instinct was to rush back from medical leave and instruct his team to get Huobi’s almost 2 million registered users to withdraw their funds. But he also began delivering daily progress reports to local regulators and briefed officials whenever requested.Watching his counterparts collapse like dominoes, he realized that regulators meant life-or-death in his world. Li’s since made it his mission to get on Beijing’s good side, from hosting seminars and classes for officials to organizing conferences under the auspices of local government.In addition to consulting for the People’s Bank of China on Libra, Huobi more recently threw itself behind research into blockchain applications that serve the real economy -- a passion project of President Xi Jinping. It’s one of 14 founding members of China’s first state-backed blockchain platform -- an effort led by the country’s top economic planner that will power everything from storing digital contracts to tracing food and drug deliveries. Other members include state enterprises like China Telecom Corp. and China UnionPay Co.“Huobi could play an important role in the local crypto industry, because authorities would probably prefer to see trade go through an entity that they trust, rather than being pushed underground,” said Emily Parker, co-founder of Asia-focused blockchain data site and incubator LongHash. Good relations with Beijing “could be viewed as a sign of stability, as well as a local advantage over a company like Binance, which does not appear to enjoy the same level of trust.”Those years of cultivation paid off during a late-2019 clampdown. While Binance and its co-founder got tossed off Chinese microblogging site Weibo and other outfits got shut down, Huobi emerged unscathed. As the crackdown wound down in December, Li hosted a days-long conference on the fast-liberalizing southern island of Hainan that serves as his second base after Beijing, in a show of support for local government efforts to become a global hub for blockchain technology.At the event, Li pledged to lend his company’s cloud and blockchain expertise to nations participating in Xi’s signature Belt and Road Initiative, and called on his country to counter Libra. “From the perspective of safeguarding national financial sovereignty, autonomy and control are really important issues,” he told delegates. “Can we rely on ourselves to build something as good as Libra?”A spokeswoman for Binance said its larger user base is among its key advantages over Huobi. OKEx representatives declined to comment for this story.Read more: From Pigs to Party Fealty, China Harnesses Blockchain PowerIn the years since Binance and other competitors fled China, Huobi was one of the few major crypto businesses that stayed put and thrived. True, he moved Huobi’s main exchange business to Singapore. But the company’s blockchain consultancy and training arm, Huobi China, remains in-country and around 100 staffers work out of sleek offices built on reclaimed wasteland on Hainan.That unit -- which the company says is profitable -- has instructed more than 1,000 students from Party cadres to executives at state-owned and private companies. Huobi’s own senior executives, Li included, are based in Beijing, as are key teams from coding to business development. His exchange is estimated to have raked in roughly $680 million in revenue for 2019, according to Bloomberg calculations of data by Huobi on token buybacks.Success has come at a cost of personal freedom for Li, who was born into a working-class family in central China and graduated from Beijing’s prestigious Tsinghua University -- Xi’s alma mater. After China shut down exchange trading, the heads of Chinese crypto platforms were reported to have been banned from departing the country. Li said he’s never received any official notice prohibiting him from leaving China but he’s chosen not to, unsure of the risks that would entail.In the longer term, his company’s closeness with Beijing could also be a liability.“Huobi may be aiming for a global leadership role in the industry by molding to regulatory requirements,” said Matthew Graham, chief executive officer of Sino Global Capital, a Beijing-based blockchain consultancy. “Certainly one risk is that this could lead to a loss of trust with overseas customers.”To contact the reporters on this story: Zheping Huang in Hong Kong at firstname.lastname@example.org;Colum Murphy in Beijing at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Peter Elstrom at firstname.lastname@example.org, Edwin ChanFor 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.
The content appeals board, which will grow to about 40 members and will be able to overrule Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg, is one of the company's high-profile responses to criticism over how it handles problematic content on Facebook and Instagram. Facebook will name board members later in 2020, but it announced that Thomas Hughes, former executive director for freedom of expression rights group Article 19, will oversee the board’s administrative staff, whose first offices will be in the United States and United Kingdom. Brent Harris, Facebook’s head of governance and global affairs, said the company had narrowed choices for board members down to "a few dozen people" but no formal offers had been made.
(Bloomberg) -- Facebook Inc.’s proposed Oversight Board, a group of people from outside the company who will determine whether controversial user posts violate the social network’s rules, could take months to make these decisions -- indicating the panel won’t play a role in quickly stopping the viral spread of misinformation or abuse on the service.Instead, the board will take on cases that “guide Facebook’s future decisions and policies,” the company wrote Tuesday in a blog post. “We expect the board to come to a case decision, and for Facebook to have acted on that decision, in approximately 90 days.” The company also said it could expedite some decisions in “exceptional circumstances,” and that those would be completed within 30 days, but could be done faster.Facebook also announced the board’s first director: Thomas Hughes, the former executive director of Article 19, a human rights organization that focuses on free speech rights. Hughes won’t be a board member, meaning he won’t review individual cases, but will serve as the panel’s top executive, helping to lead a staff responsible for the operation. In December, Facebook set aside $130 million to help fund the board for its first six years.The general time frame for the board’s decision-making was one of the details included in proposed bylaws Facebook released Tuesday that will govern how the group operates. The company announced plans to create the board over a year ago to shift some of the responsibility of making difficult content decisions to people who aren’t Facebook employees. At the time, Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg said the independent panel would be important to ensure Facebook doesn’t have too much power over user speech globally. “It will provide assurance that these decisions are made in the best interests of our community and not for commercial reasons,” he said.The speed at which the board will review content decisions, though, means that Facebook employees and contractors will still be making decisions when it matters most: When posts are first shared. Facebook will continue to review posts the same way it does today, but has pledged to take decisions from the Oversight Board as final once they’re made. Given the speed at which information can travel on Facebook, that means the Oversight Board will be more of a corrective solution to prevent a future issue, rather than a response team to quickly solve a current one.One example used by someone close to the board was that of the doctored video of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that surfaced on Facebook in May, purporting to show the congresswoman slurring her speech. In that case, Facebook chose to leave the video up. In the future, the board might review the post and decide otherwise, but its decision wouldn’t do much to protect people affected by misinformation. Instead, it would set a precedent for how Facebook could act quicker in future, similar incidents.To contact the reporter on this story: Kurt Wagner in San Francisco at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Jillian Ward at firstname.lastname@example.org, Andrew Pollack, Molly SchuetzFor 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.