|Bid||185.71 x 800|
|Ask||185.96 x 1300|
|Day's Range||183.92 - 191.49|
|52 Week Range||123.02 - 208.66|
|Beta (3Y Monthly)||1.28|
|PE Ratio (TTM)||31.43|
|Forward Dividend & Yield||N/A (N/A)|
|1y Target Est||N/A|
The international reputation of large American tech firms can impact how the global community perceives the U.S., says a former top national security official under Barack Obama.
The WSJ, which first reported about the deal, said news publications Washington Post, BuzzFeed News, and Business Insider have also reached a similar deal with Facebook. The news organizations will be paid a licensing fee to supply headlines, the WSJ reported.
Facebook critics, from Donald Trump to Democratic presidential nominee candidate Elizabeth Warren, are rushing to the platform to promote their campaigns.
(Bloomberg) -- U.S. lawmakers from both parties slammed Apple Inc. and Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook on Friday for “censorship of apps” at the “behest of the Chinese government.”Senators Ted Cruz, Ron Wyden, Tom Cotton, Marco Rubio and Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Mike Gallagher and Tom Malinowski expressed concern about the removal of an app that let Hong Kong protesters track police movement in the city.“Apple’s decisions last week to accommodate the Chinese government by taking down HKmaps is deeply concerning,” they wrote in a letter to Cook, urging Apple to “reverse course, to demonstrate that Apple puts values above market access, and to stand with the brave men and women fighting for basic rights and dignity in Hong Kong.” Apple didn’t respond to a request for comment on Friday.Apple removed the HKmap.live app from the App Store in China and Hong Hong earlier this month, saying it violated local laws. The company also said it received “credible information” from Hong Kong authorities indicating the software was being used “maliciously” to attack police. The decision, and the reasoning, was questioned widely.Cook, in a recent memo to Apple employees, said that “national and international debates will outlive us all, and, while important, they do not govern the facts.” On Thursday, the CEO met with China’s State Administration for Market Regulation head Xiao Yaqing in Beijing to discuss consumer-rights protection, boosting investment and business development in the country, according to a statement from the Chinese regulator.The Cupertino, California-based company isn’t the only one referenced in Friday’s letter. The lawmakers mentioned recent headlines involving the National Basketball Association and Activision Blizzard Inc., a video game company that suspended a professional game player for supporting the Hong Kong protests.“Cases like these raise real concern about whether Apple and other large U.S. corporate entities will bow to growing Chinese demands rather than lose access to more than a billion Chinese consumers,” the lawmakers wrote.They also slammed Apple for removing other apps, including VPN apps that helped Chinese people get around the government’s online censorship. The letter said Apple has “censored” at least 2,200 apps in China, citing data from non-profit organization GreatFire. Apple says on its website that it removed 634 apps in the second half of last year globally due to legal violations.The letter implied that Apple made the removal decisions to maintain its huge business in China and appease the government. Greater China was Apple’s third-largest region by revenue last year, generating more than $50 billion in revenue.Apple is one of the rare tech companies that operates in China, with rivals like Google and Facebook Inc. hardly operational in the market. China’s importance to Apple means the company has to balance its own values with following local laws.In the past, the company has pulled the Skype and New York Times apps from its App Store in China. More recently, it removed a Taiwanese flag emoji for users in Hong Kong and Macau and was criticized for sending some browsing data to China’s Tencent Holdings Ltd. as part of a privacy feature.To contact the reporters on this story: Mark Gurman in San Francisco at firstname.lastname@example.org;Ben Brody in Washington, D.C. at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Tom Giles at firstname.lastname@example.org, Alistair Barr, Robin AjelloFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- The New Yorker and the Atlantic have never been known for their business coverage, so when both magazines published long articles about Amazon.com Inc. in their current issues it signaled that something is in the air. That something is antitrust.More precisely, what’s in the air is the question of what the government should do to rein in the tremendous power of the big four tech companies: Facebook Inc., Alphabet Inc.’s Google, Apple Inc. and Amazon.Once the province of think tanks and law reviews, this topic has become such a public concern that 48 of the 50 state attorneys general are conducting antitrust investigations, presidential hopefuls are calling for tech giants to be broken up, and general interest magazines like, well, the New Yorker and the Atlantic are asking whether the companies abuse their market power. In this particular case, the magazines are asking it about Amazon.The Atlantic article is by Franklin Foer, who has long raised concerns about Big Tech. Five years ago, for instance, he wrote a cover story for the New Republic titled “Amazon Must Be Stopped.” It focused on Amazon’s dominance over the book business.This time around, he is writing about the unbridled ambition of Amazon’s founder and chief executive officer Jeff Bezos. (The new article is “Jeff Bezos’s Master Plan.”) “Bezos’s ventures are by now so large and varied that it is difficult to truly comprehend the nature of his empire, much less the end point of his ambitions,” Foer writes. He then goes through a list. Bezos wants to conquer space with his company Blue Origin. Bezos’s ownership of the Washington Post makes him a significant media and political figure. Bezos’s brainchild, Amazon, “is the most awe-inspiring creation in the history of American business.” And so on.He also points out that while critics fear Amazon’s monopoly power, the company is loved by consumers. “A 2018 poll sponsored by Georgetown University and the Knight Foundation found that Amazon engendered greater confidence than virtually any other American institution,” he writes. I have no doubt that this is true; Amazon’s obsession with customer service instills tremendous loyalty among consumers. It’s no accident that over 100 million people now pay the company $119 a year to be Amazon Prime members. That loyalty is also one reason taking antitrust actions against Amazon would be much more difficult than going after Facebook or Google. I’ll get to some other reasons shortly.Charles Duhigg’s New Yorker article “Is Amazon Unstoppable?” is both smarter about Amazon and more pointed about its power. Duhigg captures its relentless culture, comparing it to a flywheel that never stops. He described Bezos’s efforts to ensure that Amazon never loses the feel of a scrappy startup. The phrase that came to mind as I was reading Duhigg’s article was Andy Grove’s famous dictum: “Only the paranoid survive.”Duhigg is also interested in what Amazon’s critics have to say. Amazon paid no federal taxes last year. Amazon's work culture can be difficult for women who have children. Amazon’s warehouse workers are sometimes fired after being injured on the job. Amazon doesn't effectively police the sale of counterfeit goods on its site. (In the article, Amazon’s representatives deny these allegations.)Then there’s the fact that Amazon both serves as a platform for companies wanting to sell things and sells things itself. In other words, it competes with the same companies it enables. According to Duhigg, Amazon has been known to track items that do well, and then make its own version of the same item — which it then sells at a discounted price. (Amazon denies this, too.) Margrethe Vestager, the European Union’s commissioner for competition, told Duhigg that the practice “deserves much more scrutiny.”The story’s killer anecdote, at least as it concerns antitrust, is about Birkenstock USA LP’s experience with Amazon. Although Birkenstock sold millions of dollars of shoes using the Amazon platform, it was constantly hearing customer complaints that the shoes were defective. Why? Because, according to Birkenstock, Amazon allowed counterfeits to be sold on the site. Not only would Amazon not take down the counterfeit goods, but it also wouldn’t even tell Birkenstock who was selling them.Amazon also had stocked a year’s worth of Birkenstock inventory, which terrified the company. “What if Amazon decides to start selling the shoes for 99 cents, or to give them away with Prime membership, or do a buy-one-get-one-free,” wondered Birkenstock’s chief executive officer, David Kahan. “We were powerless.”Kahan’s complaints went nowhere. So he pulled Birkenstocks off Amazon. What did Amazon do? It solicited Birkenstock retailers, offering to buy shoes directly from them. Today, if you search for Birkenstocks on Amazon you’ll be deluged with choices even though the company itself refuses to do business with Amazon. I found a pair of Arizona oiled leather sandals — listed on Birkenstock's website for $135 — marked down to $60 on Amazon. Is it the real thing, or is it a counterfeit?The hard question: What do you do about this kind of behavior? On one extreme is the Democratic presidential candidate Senator Elizabeth Warren, who believes the most appropriate solution is to break up Amazon. At the other end of the spectrum, there are still plenty of antitrust economists who believe that if a $135 sandal is being sold for $60, that’s good for consumers. They argue that the government should just stay out of the way.I’m a proponent of breaking up Facebook, mainly because I believe if you force it to disgorge two of its prized platforms, Instagram and WhatsApp, you’ll instantly create serious competitors. That could help raise the bar on privacy, data usage and other concerns. But I’m not sure that would work with Amazon.For instance, if Amazon had to separate its highly profitable cloud service, Amazon Web Services, from its retail business the power dynamic between Amazon and the companies that use its platform would remain.What’s more, it’s harder to make a classic antitrust case against Amazon than it is against Facebook and Google. According to the research firm EMarketer Inc., Amazon is expected to account for 37.7% of all online commerce in 2019. By contrast, Google controls 89% of the search market.Still, for too many retailers, Amazon has the power to control their destiny, for good or ill. As the antitrust activist Lina Khan wrote in her now-famous 2017 article in the Yale Law Journal: “History suggests that allowing a single actor to set the terms of the marketplace, largely unchecked, can pose serious hazards.” I take that assessment to mean that government intervention at Amazon is needed.To my mind, the simplest and most sensible solution is from the economist Hal Singer: Don’t allow platform companies to favor their own products over competitors’ products. Singer calls this a “nondiscrimination regime,” and models it after the Cable Television Consumer Protection and Competition Act, which prevents cable distributors from favoring their own content over content from competitors. In that scenario, a company that felt it was being discriminated against by Amazon could bring a complaint to federal regulators just as cable stations can do now. This regime has worked well for the TV industry. It could work for Amazon, too.Secondly, the government should hold Amazon accountable for counterfeits. Counterfeiting is against the law, and although Amazon told Duhigg that it spends “hundreds of millions of dollars” on anti-counterfeiting efforts it’s no secret that many deceptively labeled goods are still sold on the site. (See, for instance, this recent Wall Street Journal story.) Companies like Birkenstock have a right to expect that a platform selling its products will rigorously police counterfeits — and will identify counterfeiters so manufacturers of authentic goods can take legal action.These are solvable problems. They don’t require extreme measures. What they do require is a government with the will to transform Amazon’s platform from what it is now, a vehicle that squelches competition, to one that lets competition flower.(Corrects paragraph eight to accurately describe the year in which Amazon paid no federal taxes and to more accurately describe the experiences of women with children who work for the company. Also changes language in paragraph eight to more accurately describe how effectively Amazon combats the sale of counterfeit goods on its site. Also corrects paragraphs 12 and 13 to accurately reflect pricing disparities between sandals sold on Birkenstock's website and those sold on Amazon.)To contact the author of this story: Joe Nocera at email@example.comTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Timothy L. O'Brien at firstname.lastname@example.orgThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Joe Nocera is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering business. He has written business columns for Esquire, GQ and the New York Times, and is the former editorial director of Fortune. His latest project is the Bloomberg-Wondery podcast "The Shrink Next Door."For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
ECB Director Benoit Coeure said that the EU financial regulator doesn't plan to ban Libra. The European Commission doesn’t intend to ban stablecoins either.
German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz on Friday redoubled his criticism of Facebook's plans to launch its Libra cryptocurrency, and said creation of a new world currency should be prevented. Scholz, speaking with reporters at the IMF and World Bank fall meetings in Washington, cited growing concern about such "stablecoins" and the potential international risks they posed. The German official said he was "highly skeptical" about Facebook's plans, adding, "We will carefully monitor the situation with all the means at our disposal.
Snap announces new advertising product, Dynamic Ads to boost advertisement revenues from retail, e-commerce and other direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands.
Facebook's (FB) Watch to receive sports-related digital shows and content from recent partnership with Fox Sports amid the intensifying sports streaming battle.
(Bloomberg) -- A House hearing scheduled for Wednesday with Mark Zuckerberg as the sole witness will kick off the “next phase” in the battle between big tech companies and the U.S. government, according to Wedbush.“The drum-roll has started” for the Financial Services committee hearing, with Zuckerberg set to defend the Libra cryptocurrency effort, which still faces a “massive regulatory spotlight,” analyst Daniel Ives wrote in a note. The hearing is titled “An Examination of Facebook and Its Impact on the Financial Services and Housing Sectors.”“We fully expect politicians to use this forum as another major shot across the bow on broader antitrust concerns for FAANG names,” Ives said. He sees a regulatory and legal focus on Facebook’s WhatsApp and Instagram acquisitions, with “the convergence of Facebook’s messaging platforms likely a hot button issue.”Ives described Facebook’s Libra as a bid to “further penetrate its customer base with a financial currency that enables the company to become more entrenched in the purchasing cycle of its 2 billion-plus users.”Other tech companies are making similar efforts, he said, flagging Apple Inc.’s Apple Card with Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and an “enhanced” Apple Pay tool. On Tuesday, Goldman CEO David Solomon said the Apple credit card was the most successful card launch ever.Several payments companies left Facebook’s cryptocurrency project earlier this month. Analysts said the departures would likely delay the coin’s launch and shift Congress’s attention to other matters. That might give Zuckerberg some breathing room, they said.On Thursday, David Marcus, the Facebook executive leading Libra, said China’s progress toward a digital payments system with global reach could pose a threat to U.S. influence. Marcus had earlier this month said that payments companies exiting Libra was in a way “liberating.”Facebook’s shares declined as much as 1.4% on Friday.To contact the reporter on this story: Felice Maranz in New York at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Catherine Larkin at firstname.lastname@example.org, Debarati RoyFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
Amphenol's (APH) third-quarter 2019 results are likely to reflect lower demand across communications equipment and automotive end markets.
(Bloomberg) -- Thousands of protesters cut off roads and started fires around Lebanon as anger over plans to impose a levy on WhatsApp calls escalated into demands for the government to resign.Demonstrators carrying Lebanese flags thronged outside government headquarters in downtown Beirut on Friday, as some of the largest protests in years entered a second day.Chants of “the people want the fall of the regime” and “revolution” rang out and scuffles erupted with riot police as the crowds demanded the politicians currently debating a proposed austerity budget step down and hold early elections.The economic stakes have rarely been higher for Lebanon, a tiny country that straddles the geopolitical fault-lines of the Middle East, since the end of the 15-year civil war in 1990. One of the most indebted countries in the world, it is struggling to find fresh sources of funding as the foreign inflows on which it has traditionally relied have dried up.The protests have increased pressure on Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri, who heads a fractious coalition government that has struggled to overcome sectarian and political differences to push through much-needed reforms.Hariri, a Sunni Muslim, has been traditionally backed by Saudi Arabia, but the kingdom has withheld support in recent years as the Iranian-backed Hezbollah militia’s political influence over the government has grown.The crisis has catapulted Lebanon into a new and unpredictable phase. If Hariri and his allies resign, Lebanon could end up with a government dominated by Hezbollah, making it even harder to attract investment. Hezbollah’s ministers and parliamentarians have oppose higher taxes to spare their supporters further financial pressure as the U.S. seeks to choke off its funding through sanctions on its members and its patron, Iran.If the government survives, few observers expect it to overcome the divisions that have frustrated public demands for change.Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil, the son-in-law of the president and an opponent of Hariri, called for urgent measures to fight corruption and warned in a televised address that the collapse of the government would result in “chaos” and undermine the currency peg.Hariri, who canceled a cabinet session planned for Friday, is expected to deliver an address to the nation at 6 p.m. local time.Persistent instability in Lebanon has shaken investor confidence and made it harder to revive an economy already struggling to absorb more than 1.5 million Syrian refugees who have fled the crisis in neighboring Syria.The yield on Lebanon’s dollar bonds due in 2021 jumped more than two percentage points to 20.38% as of 10:44 a.m. in London, snapping six days of declines. The cost of insuring Lebanese debt against default climbed, with the nation’s five-year credit-default swaps rising 87 basis points to 1,262 -- the highest level on a closing basis since the start of the month.‘Revolution’Sporadic demonstrations have erupted for months in Lebanon as the economic crisis has led to shortages of dollars and threatened the pensions of retired soldiers.The government is under pressure to cut spending, raise taxes and fight corruption -- conditions required by international donors to unlock some $11 billion in pledges made at a Paris conference in early 2018. But the measures are proving deeply unpopular with the public, which widely blames institutional corruption, nepotism and profiteering by politicians for bankrupting the government.The latest unrest was sparked by plans to impose a fee of 20 U.S. cents on the first WhatsApp call that users make every day, causing outrage in a country where communications costs are among the least competitive in the region and people widely use internet voice applications to save money. WhatsApp, a free messaging and voice platform owned by Facebook Inc., has some 1.5 billion users worldwide.On Thursday, the government also discussed a proposal for a gradual increase to the value-added tax, currently at 11%, and new levies on gasoline. But Finance Minister Ali Hasan Khalil insisted there were no additional taxes planned for next year’s budget.As protests spread to the suburbs and provinces, Telecom Minister Mohamed Choucair called LBCI television on Thursday to say Hariri had ordered him to cancel the levy on Internet calls. But the reversal came too late to appease public opinion.Walls of burning tires and debris effectively severed the main thoroughfares at the northern and southern entrances of Beirut and crowds also headed toward the presidential palace in Baabda, footage aired on Lebanese television stations showed. In downtown Beirut, protesters threw bottles, petrol bombs, metal barriers and other projectiles at riot police and occasional scuffles broke out as they tried to break through the security cordon around the government headquarters.The International Monetary Fund projects Lebanon’s current-account deficit will reach almost 30% of gross domestic product by the end of this year. Amid the violence on Thursday, it issued a new report predicting that economic growth, stagnant at 0.3% in 2018, would continue to be weak amid political and economic uncertainty and a severe contraction in the real estate sector. Public debt is projected to increase to 155% of Gross Domestic Product by the end of 2019, it said.(Updates throughout, adds quotes from Basil.)\--With assistance from Alex Nicholson.To contact the reporters on this story: Lin Noueihed in Beirut at email@example.com;Dana Khraiche in Beirut at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Lin Noueihed at email@example.com, Mark WilliamsFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- “Twitter revolution,” “Facebook revolution” — these terms became widespread during the Arab Spring rebellions at the beginning of this decade. They’re outdated now: For today's protesters in Hong Kong and Barcelona, or for Extinction Rebellion activists in capitals around the world, the social networks and even messenger applications run by big U.S. corporations are becoming a secondary tool, and one not used for organizational purposes.After protesters in Egypt forced President Hosni Mubarak to resign in February 2011, one of the revolution’s public faces, Google executive Wael Ghonim, went on CNN to be interviewed by anchors Anderson Cooper and Wolf Blitzer. When Blitzer asked him what was going to happen next, the following exchange ensued:Ghonim: Ask Facebook.Blitzer: Ask what?Ghonim: Facebook.Cooper: Facebook.Blitzer: Facebook. You’re giving Facebook a lot of credit for this?Ghonim: Yes, for sure. I want to meet Mark Zuckerberg one day and thank him, actually. This revolution started online. This revolution started on Facebook.That was so 2011. If there’s any one app today’s protesters would want to credit, it’s Telegram. But not even this itinerant messenger, whose team was based in St. Petersburg, Berlin, London and Singapore before ending up in Dubai, plays the same kind of outsize role that Facebook and Twitter took on in previous protests, up to and including Hong Kong’s Umbrella Movement” of 2014. With its powerful group messaging functionality and “channel” feature which allows users to broadcast information, Telegram is the central media platform for the Hong Kong protesters of today, who are now pushing for greater democracy for the former British colony. It’s also the go-to tool for pro-independence Catalans who have taken to the streets to protest the long prison sentences for leaders of the Spanish region’s doomed 2017 secession bid. There, the secretive Democratic Tsunami group uses Telegram to communicate with its 150,000 followers. It also uses a Telegram bot to collect data for an app it created to map protest activities and street clashes. For its part, Extinction Rebellion has been moving from Facebook-owned WhatsApp to Telegram because it allows bigger group chats, and because it has a voting tool that allows independent-minded rebels to decide what they want to do. (This tool is also used in Hong Kong).Signal, the encrypted messenger, and Mattermost, an open-source alternative to the enterprise messenger Slack, also are popular among activists.Direct file transfers, encrypted messengers and specially created apps have become essential for spreading all kinds of material that might land its distributors in trouble — such as the fake boarding passes Democratic Tsunami sent out so protesters could get into the Barcelona airport on Oct. 14, causing more than 100 flights to be canceled.Of course, today’s activists still use social media platforms run by big U.S. corporations. But when they do it’s mainly for outward communication such as with the media, not with people actively involved in the protests. Since the Arab Spring, governments have mastered use of the big commercial social media networks themselves. Since the Hong Kong protests began, both Facebook and Twitter have complained about China’s attempts to use them for disinformation and counterpropaganda. Besides, many protesters believe their anonymity isn’t well protected on the social networks, Malek Dudakov of the Moscow-based think tank Center for the Study of New Communications wrote in a recent report about the use of the technology by the Hong Kong protest movement. Telegram, run by a nonprofit founded by Russian libertarian Pavel Durov, has a reputation for resisting government attempts at censorship and infiltration. Russia has attempted to block the messenger for refusing to hand over encryption keys to domestic intelligence, but Telegram has fought back and is still accessible in most of Russia. Mainland China has had more success in cutting off access to it. But even on Telegram, the risk of losing one’s anonymity is a potential problem. One protest group moderator in Hong Kong was arrested in June. Durov has accused China of trying to take his service down in Hong Kong with distributed denial of service attacks. Those efforts contrast with concerns that big U.S. companies are more likely to cooperate with the authorities.Earlier this month, Apple Inc. approved a smartphone map app that Hong Kong protesters have been using for distribution in its App Store after an initial ban. But then it swiftly took HKmap.live down again. Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook explained that the Hong Kong cybersecurity authority had told the company that the app was being used by criminals to “target individual officers for violence and to victimize individuals and property where no police are present.” This episode prompted the Democratic Tsunami in Catalonia to release its own app for Android only — and not through the Google Play Store, in which most Android users get their apps.Even though its services are blocked in mainland China, Google has also behaved in a way some protesters, and even some of its employees, find suspicious. Citing an internal rule against the monetization of current events, the Play Store banned a game called “The Revolution of Our Times” that allowed players to act out the role of Hong Kong protesters. The game’s developers had promised to give 80% of their proceeds to charity.Big Tech’s role, even if unwitting, in unrest has always looked like an aberration. Where the profit motive is involved, cooperating with governments makes more sense than facilitating those who fight them. Now, the dust is settling on the tech revolution, and real-world revolutions need non-commercial tech tools. So protesters either design their own or fall back on open-source apps or those developed by nonprofits. Facebook and Twitter are where propaganda battles rage and insults fly, not where action is coordinated — and that’s a natural consequence of their evolution as big businesses that attract way too much government attention.So, if you’re wondering what comes next for all the modern-day protest movements, don’t ask Facebook.To contact the author of this story: Leonid Bershidsky at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Melissa Pozsgay at email@example.comThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Leonid Bershidsky is Bloomberg Opinion's Europe columnist. He was the founding editor of the Russian business daily Vedomosti and founded the opinion website Slon.ru.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
The spread of cryptocurrencies such as Facebook's Libra could have serious repercussions for worldwide efforts to detect and stamp out money laundering and terror financing, a global watchdog on illicit finance said on Friday. "Stablecoins" - digital currencies typically backed by traditional money - could spark the mass adoption of cryptocurrencies and peer-to-peer transfers, cutting out the need for regulated middlemen and hindering efforts to halt criminal use, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) said.
(Bloomberg) -- Facebook Inc. Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg said the social network doesn’t fact-check political advertisements because it’s not the place of technology companies to become arbiters of truth.“I don’t think most people want to live in a world where you can only post things that tech companies judge to be 100% true,” Zuckerberg said on Thursday to an auditorium full of students at Georgetown University’s Gaston Hall in Washington. “People should be able to see for themselves what politicians are saying.”In recent weeks, Facebook has been criticized for its policy on political ads, with the presidential campaigns of Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren calling on the company to remove ads from U.S. President Donald Trump’s campaign that include claims with no evidence. Facebook has declined to do so, raising the larger question of whether such ads on social media should be regulated.Zuckerberg said on Thursday that he’s considered getting rid of political ads on his platforms altogether -- it’s a small part of the company’s business -- but banning them would favor incumbents.“In a democracy, I believe people should decide what’s credible, not tech companies,” Zuckerberg said.The company doesn’t fact-check posts from politicians, including ads, to avoid the appearance that it’s taking sides. Warren took advantage of Facebook’s policy earlier this month with a series of ads claiming Zuckerberg was endorsing Donald Trump for re-election -- which isn’t true. Warren, who is running for the Democratic nomination, ran the false assertion to highlight Facebook’s policy following an ad from Trump that accused fellow Democrat Joe Biden of bribing officials in Ukraine, without any proof.“Facebook has chosen to sell Americans’ personal data to politicians looking to target them with disproven lies and conspiracy theories, crowding out the voices of working Americans,” said Bill Russo, a spokesman for Biden.Zuckerberg also warned that if technology companies and platforms like Facebook don’t fight hard to uphold free speech, the internet could one day look like it does in China. The Chinese government, he said, is building a censored version of the internet, and exporting that version through some of its most popular online services.He called out Bytedance Inc. unit TikTok, a rival mobile social network, as one of those services, and said TikTok has censored content from the Hong Kong protests.“Until recently, the internet in almost every country outside China has been defined by American platforms with strong free expression values,” Zuckerberg said. “There’s no guarantee these values will win out.”Zuckerberg also used Thursday’s speech, billed as a conversation on free expression, to argue that the social network’s enormous size and scale offers people a new kind of power: the ability to share their thoughts with the masses. The CEO called this power “a fifth estate alongside the other power structures in our society.” He touted the importance of giving individuals a voice, which is where the most progress comes for social change.“In times of social turmoil, our impulse is often to pull back on free expression. We want the progress that comes from free expression, but not the tension,” Zuckerberg said. “We saw this when Martin Luther King Jr. wrote his famous letter from Birmingham Jail, where he was unconstitutionally jailed for protesting peacefully.”Bernice King, the daughter of Martin Luther King Jr., responded on Twitter, writing that the late civil rights leader was targeted by “disinformation campaigns launched by politicians” that “created an atmosphere for his assassination.”Internet services like Facebook can still protect free expression while addressing problems that have been raised by this new technology, Zuckerberg said. He acknowledged that when everyone has a voice, some people will use that to try to organize violence and influence elections. At Facebook’s scale, even if a very small percentage of people try to cause harm, that’s still a lot, Zuckerberg said. The company has chosen to focus on the authenticity of the speaker rather than judging the content itself, he said.While Facebook, as a private business, is not beholden to free-speech rules per the First Amendment, more than 2.7 billion people use its products around the world. The company’s algorithm--software that decides what people see in their feeds--and content policies have a tremendous impact on whose voices are heard.The company’s decisions have often been controversial, putting Facebook in a constant defensive posture with many government leaders, who either think Facebook is doing too much or not enough to police its properties.Since Russia’s election interference in 2016, Facebook has built up an apparatus of third-party fact checkers, responsible for marking a post as false, after which it might be ranked lower in the news feed, but never removed. The system, which often fails to address content until after it’s gone viral, doesn’t apply to political ads.Facebook’s rules on what stays up and gets taken down on its social network, as well as on Instagram, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp platforms, are applied by a global group of thousands of low-wage contractors, who manage more than 100 billion pieces of content across the digital properties daily. The results are often inconsistent, causing confusion. The company is building an independent oversight board that can be the last word on Facebook decisions that users disagree with.Besides the content policies, Facebook has been under fire for its news feed algorithm, which tends to highlight content that triggers an emotional response in users. That means shocking news, including false information, tends to spread quickly there. Facebook has been hesitant to remove misinformation because of concerns, especially on the conservative side, about showing political bias. Zuckerberg has been meeting conservative pundits to improve the relationship, though the company has said it hasn’t found any evidence of bias.(Updates with Biden spokesman comments in seventh paragraph.)To contact the reporters on this story: Kurt Wagner in San Francisco at firstname.lastname@example.org;Sarah Frier in San Francisco at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Jillian Ward at firstname.lastname@example.org, Alistair BarrFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
LONDON/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Facebook's plans to launch its Libra cryptocurrency faced a new hurdle on Thursday, when the Group of Seven wealthy nations said such "stablecoins" should not be allowed to launch until the profound international risks they pose are addressed. When launched on a wide scale, stablecoins - digital currencies usually backed by traditional money and other assets - could threaten the world's monetary system and financial stability, a G7 working group said in a report to finance ministers gathered in Washington for the IMF and World Bank fall meetings. The emerging technology, which is now mostly unregulated, like other cryptocurrencies, could also hinder cross-border efforts to fight money laundering and terror financing, and throw up problems for cyber security, taxation and privacy, the report said.
Microsoft stock has moved somewhat sideways over the last three months as it cools off after a stellar first half of 2019. This means that the tech giant's upcoming quarterly earnings results will likely be the next catalyst for MSFT shares...
Facebook Inc Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg on Thursday attacked the rapidly growing Chinese short-video app, saying it censored political protest, including in the United States. While delivering an address on free speech at Georgetown University in Washington, Zuckerberg said Facebook social media platforms like WhatsApp were used by protesters and activists everywhere because of its encryption and privacy protection. Facebook competes directly with TikTok, especially among younger audiences.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Mark Zuckerberg on Thursday gave a passionate defense of how Facebook Inc. and the rest of the internet are essential tools for the free expression that is essential in a healthy democracy. I agree with this in principle, as I imagine most Americans would.The dark side of Facebook and the mass-market internet is not necessarily the ideas behind them. It is how those principles can wittingly or unwittingly be subverted when principle meets reality. The question is whether the good that comes from anything — Facebook, the automobile, electricity — outweighs the inevitable negative effects and whether it’s possible to mitigate the latter while accentuating the former.While I’m glad that Zuckerberg is articulating his values and, by extension, those of the company that he controls with absolute authority, the principle of Facebook matters far less than what happens when lofty ideals collide with more than 2.4 billion people around the world using Facebook or its Messenger chat app. (That number grows to more than 2.7 billion when you throw in WhatsApp and Instagram.) On Thursday, Facebook’s CEO used a speech at Georgetown University to argue for an optimistic view of the internet. It was a good speech and worth watching. He said the spread of prevalent internet hangouts like Facebook is giving more people chances to be heard in ways that weren’t possible when, for example, a handful of rich people controlled printing presses or television airwaves.Over the long arc of history, Zuckerberg said, more speech from more kinds of people is healthy, within some reasonable limits like prohibiting the proverbial false cries of “fire” in a crowded theater.How could anyone disagree with that? As always, however, the devil is in the details. Where people don’t agree is what counts as shouting “fire” to cause a stampede of people. And, more important, can Facebook at its scale effectively stamp out the truly harmful speech — terrorist propaganda, incidents of violence or incitements to violence, dangerous hoaxes — when there might be thousands of people falsely yelling out “fire” every minute?Zuckerberg did not mention Myanmar in his speech, but to me it is the crucible of Facebook’s free-speech principles. In that country, people spread hoaxes, false claims and calls for violence toward the Rohingya Muslim minority. Some of the people spreading those hateful messages on Facebook were politicians, members of the military or other authority figures. There were groups in Myanmar that begged Facebook to stop what many people — and indeed, Facebook’s own rules — regarded as the kind of speech that should be impermissible.Facebook last year agreed with the United Nations, which said the company didn’t do enough to prevent Facebook from facilitating ethnically based violence. It wasn’t Facebook’s principles that helped cause a genocide in Myanmar. It was the reality of Facebook. A company that is home to 2.7 billion people didn’t pay enough attention to the downsides of free expression in Myanmar and couldn’t or wouldn’t do enough about it until it was too late.Facebook has said it was “too slow to act” in Myanmar, one of the company’s stock lines when it gets caught being a launchpad for violence, propaganda or other ills when its principles collide with the reality of the world and the limits of the company’s capacity to understand the harm it can cause. Facebook made things worse with computerized systems that rewarded the most outlandish ideas with greater distribution.Facebook again and again — with Russia-backed groups sowing contentious ideas around the U.S. election, in Myanmar, in Sri Lanka and other spots — has failed to recognize the harmful effects of its amplification of dangerous or divisive views until it was far too late, and then often tried to play down the damage it caused.This pattern would be funny if the consequences weren’t so dire. Even when Facebook recognizes the problem, it’s not clear it or any company of its size and scope has the attention and resources to assess all the cries of “fire” taking place all over the world.There will be natural disagreements about where Facebook should — or whether it should — weed out some kinds of information or speech on its internet hangouts. But when Facebook can’t identify or stamp out the worst abuses that come from handing a megaphone to 2.7 billion people, it’s reasonable to ask whether its principles mean very much. To contact the author of this story: Shira Ovide at email@example.comTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Daniel Niemi at firstname.lastname@example.orgThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Shira Ovide is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering technology. She previously was a reporter for the Wall Street Journal.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
Oct.18 -- Chris Hughes, co-founder at Facebook, and Thomas Perriello, executive director at Open Society-US, discuss efforts to break up and regulate Facebook and other big tech firms. They speak on "Bloomberg Daybreak: Americas."