|Bid||230.05 x 1800|
|Ask||230.25 x 1100|
|Day's Range||225.31 - 231.35|
|52 Week Range||137.10 - 240.90|
|Beta (5Y Monthly)||1.06|
|PE Ratio (TTM)||36.89|
|Earnings Date||Jul. 22, 2020 - Jul. 27, 2020|
|Forward Dividend & Yield||N/A (N/A)|
|1y Target Est||241.81|
Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) and its CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, are no strangers to controversy. The company has run into trouble for allowing its site to be co-opted by Russian hackers to influence the 2016 election, for its role in the Cambridge Analytica scandal, and for abetting the genocide against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar. As a sign of Facebook's massive of influence, Zuckerberg has been called to testify in front of Congress more than once on issues ranging from Russian infiltration of the platform to Facebook's influence on politics and the media to its Libra digital currency consortium.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Facebook’s leadership is yet again displaying a spectacular failure to take responsibility for the monster it created. As President Donald Trump and others brazenly use the social network to spread misinformation and foment violence at protests against police brutality, chief executive Mark Zuckerberg is clinging to the lame argument that he can’t constitutionally do anything -- even as other social media take action and his own top employees publicly object and quit in disgust.Amid the chaos, I find myself wondering: What is Sheryl Sandberg thinking? How does her famous “Lean In” philosophy apply to a situation like this?Facebook’s chief operating officer, Sandberg is supposed to be the adult in the room. She was brought in years ago to assure investors that Zuckerberg would have a competent second in command. She helped generate billions in advertising revenue and make the company’s 2012 initial public offering hugely successful. More recently, she helped manage scandals involving Russian election meddling and user data harvesting by the political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica.Sandberg is also the self-fashioned champion of executive-suite women. Her best-selling 2013 book, “Lean In,” spawned a “global community” offering advice in areas such as “tips for getting a raise” or “how to get control of your free time.” The general idea is that, although there might be systemic problems, women can individually overcome them with a ton of grit and hard work.So what’s the “Lean In” approach to this particular disaster? For insight, I turned to a video called “Dealing with Challenges as a Female Leader: Frame and Overcome Them,” featuring Joanna Barsh, director emeritus at McKinsey & Co. Here are my three main takeaways: Be self-aware in moments of upset or challenge. Think about what in you is triggered. Pause and step out to determine what kind of experience you want to have. Engage with what you choose to believe. Get in touch with what you truly want. Be adaptable. You might not get the outcome you want but you will get the experience you choose. Turn difficult situations into learning ones or even opportunities.Cool! So now let’s try to get into Sandberg’s head and imagine how she’s applying this wisdom.What’s triggering? Standing by while an unhinged U.S. president sows discord and stokes violent clashes doesn’t seem to do it. Maybe it’s those pesky critics with their pleas to act responsibly? What do you truly want? I’ll go with a higher stock price. To that end, what could be better than fomenting partisan rage and mopping up the political ad proceeds? How to turn this difficult situation into an opportunity? See one and two above.“Leaning in” seems premised on the idea that, if women can simply buy in to the sanctity of the profit motive, they will be amply rewarded in time. It leaves out important things like having genuine human reactions to bad ideas, overruling idiots and being moral. When Sandberg says we need more women leaders, I can’t help but ask: leading what, and to what end? In this case, real leadership would at the very least involve a public disavowal of Zuckerberg’s irresponsible stance.This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Cathy O’Neil is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist. She is a mathematician who has worked as a professor, hedge-fund analyst and data scientist. She founded ORCAA, an algorithmic auditing company, and is the author of “Weapons of Math Destruction.”For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Money is many things, but it’s not fake news. So why block WhatsApp from spreading it around?India is the laboratory of choice for Western tech firms to test out their mobile payment capabilities so they can be rolled out from Bangladesh to Nigeria. Facebook Inc. CEO Mark Zuckerberg entered the fray two years ago by enabling the popular messaging service WhatsApp to send and receive money in India. But the beta version, limited to 1 million users, keeps getting blocked from becoming a full-fledged service.Meanwhile, rivals such as Alphabet Inc.’s Google Pay, Walmart Inc.-owned PhonePe and Softbank Group Corp.-backed Paytm are dominating India’s mobile transfers landscape. The troika led with 75 million, 60 million and 30 million customers transacting last month, respectively, according to TechCrunch.While Facebook Inc. deserves scrutiny globally for providing a platform for hate speech, voter manipulation and dissemination of untruth, cashless transfers is one area where WhatsApp can be a force for good. That’s especially true in emerging economies like India. As the Covid-19 lockdown has underscored, hundreds of millions of rural migrant workers in urban centers lack both liquid savings and a state-provided safety net. Increasingly ubiquitous smartphones can bring vulnerable citizens the financial security that bank branches can’t supply. To restrain WhatsApp is a waste of the infrastructure India has built. Four years ago, the country set up a shared interface linking more than 150 participating banks. An account holder in any of them can send or receive money to anybody else on the network. The two parties don’t need to know anything more than each other’s mobile number or a virtual ID. From Google to Walmart, any app can tap the common protocol, which already supports transactions worth more than 10% of gross domestic product. Google is so impressed it wants the U.S. Federal Reserve to consider adopting the standard. WhatsApp needs a nod from the regulator, the National Payments Corporation of India, to throw open the switch. The first roadblock was the central bank’s requirement that payment data be stored only locally. That hurdle has been crossed, but the service remains restricted. In February, a little-known think tank filed a lawsuit, asking India’s Supreme Court to block payments on WhatsApp “since it’s known to have failed to secure sensitive data of its users.” In an affidavit this week, WhatsApp said that the petition by the “busybody” was not maintainable. Legal challenges in India can drag on endlessly.The popularity of the messaging app, which has more than 400 million Indian users, is its biggest strength and its worst enemy. Take pinBox, which wants to introduce digital micro-pensions to the masses across Asia and Africa. It’s waiting eagerly for WhatsApp payments. The combination of financial and digital illiteracy can be a showstopper; it’s much easier to promote a saving culture on a messaging app where people spend most of their waking hours, anyway. The familiarity with the medium cuts both ways. Recently, the service was used to accuse Muslims in India of deliberately transmitting Covid-19, triggering assaults on the minority community. But then, disinformation isn’t limited either to WhatsApp or India. TikTok, the most-downloaded app during the pandemic, had posts claiming that 5G technology helps spread the virus, fueling violence against telecommunications workers and equipment across the U.K. and Europe. In India, the user-video platform has raised hackles for enabling sharing of content that promotes acid attacks on women.While regulators should push Zuckerberg to keep making social media safer, for instance by restricting message forwarding, they need to be pragmatic when it comes to online payments. China is far ahead. But that market, in the pincer grasp of Alipay and WeChat Pay wallets, isn’t open to U.S. firms. Besides, the scope for replacing cash is bigger in India, where 14% of money supply is still currency in circulation, a figure that China has crunched to 4%. The size of the opportunity is why India is attracting attention.Facebook recently took a 10% stake in Mukesh Ambani’s Jio Platforms Ltd. for $5.7 billion. Jio’s 4G network is India’s biggest, with nearly 400 million customers. Ambani, Asia’s richest man, wants to connect a billion-plus buyers with neighborhood stores, combining physical and digital retail. Payments via WhatsApp will be a way to achieve that link, with brands giving discounts and financiers offering in-store credit based on Jio’s scoring model.Others will catch up. Amazon.com Inc. is planning to take a $2 billion stake in Bharti Airtel Ltd., Jio’s closest rival, Reuters has reported. According to the Financial Times, Google is exploring an investment in Vodafone Group Plc’s struggling India wireless business. (Vodafone Idea Ltd. said there’s no such proposal before its board.) The rising global interest in digitizing the billion-plus-people economy could be sustained, as it coincides with what may be a long-drawn tech cold war between China and the West. Although India has recognized privacy to be a fundamental right, giving grounds for legal challenges against tech firms, it has yet to enact a data protection law. That’s where the focus has to be, not on limiting competition. The central bank needs to strike a balance between safeguarding financial stability and encouraging innovation such as “account aggregators,” who compile and share financial data with the consent of users looking for loans or insurance. With most manufacturing and services in disarray, helping money go viral is India’s best chance to break out of the Covid gloom.This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Andy Mukherjee is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering industrial companies and financial services. He previously was a columnist for Reuters Breakingviews. He has also worked for the Straits Times, ET NOW and Bloomberg News.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.
Zuckerberg did not promise specific policy changes in a Facebook post, days after staff members walked off the job, some claiming he kept finding new excuses not to challenge Trump. "I know many of you think we should have labeled the President's posts in some way last week," Zuckerberg wrote, referring to his decision not to remove Trump's message containing the phrase "when the looting starts, the shooting starts." "We're going to review our policies allowing discussion and threats of state use of force to see if there are any amendments we should adopt," he wrote.
Venture capitalist Bradley Tusk is calling for the repeal of a key piece of legislation that helped create the internet as we know it.
The office will never be the same. What people can expect when they return to the office, or if the new office is home.
(Bloomberg) -- Facebook Inc. said it removed two networks of accounts linked to white supremacy groups, but hasn’t seen any attempted foreign interference on its platforms related to the recent Black Lives Matter protests across the U.S. targeting police brutality.Attorney General William Barr said Thursday that the U.S. government has seen evidence of “foreign actors playing all sides to exacerbate the violence.” But Facebook officials said Friday they haven’t detected foreign influence on the social network. “We have not yet seen or received evidence of foreign interference or coordinated inauthentic behavior targeting the protests,” said Nathaniel Gleicher, head of cybersecurity policy at Facebook.The social-media company, however, said it removed dozens of accounts linked to two white supremacy groups, Proud Boys and American Guard, which were “organizing around the protests.” The two groups had previously been banned from Facebook, but resurfaced.“These groups were planning to rally supporters and members to physically go on the ground to the protests, in some cases preparing to go with weapons,” said Brian Fishman, Facebook’s director for counter-terrorism and dangerous organizations.Facebook officials also said they removed the accounts of some individual users who were posing as Antifa members to “deceive the public.” Specifically, Facebook took down a “handful of largely dormant Pages and accounts” that were linked to a Twitter account posing as an Antifa member to incite violence. Antifa is a loosely organized leftist movement that is a frequent target of conservative critics, who have accused it of fomenting violence during the recent protests. Facebook found the pages after Twitter officials reached out to share more information about the account, said Gleicher.The executives’ comments came as Facebook released its monthly report on what it calls “coordinated inauthentic behavior” -- networks of accounts working together to artificially push a particular message or spam users. Facebook removed two such groups in May, including one with more than 400 Pages, and a total of 400 Facebook and Instagram accounts in Tunisia posing as local individuals and news organizations.A second network originating in Iraq that included 324 Pages and more than 100 Facebook and Instagram accounts was also removed.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Amazon.com Inc. is in preliminary talks to buy a stake in No. 2 Indian carrier Bharti Airtel Ltd. for at least $2 billion, Reuters reported, joining Facebook Inc. and other U.S. giants in betting on one of the world’s fastest-growing internet arenas.The U.S. online retailer is in early-stage discussions to buy about a 5% stake in the Indian wireless operator, Reuters said, citing anonymous sources. A deal will help Amazon access Bharti’s 300 million subscribers -- a user base akin to the entire U.S. population. On Friday, the Indian carrier said in a statement it wasn’t considering any proposal to sell a stake to Amazon, referring to reports as “speculative.”American technology and investment giants have been buying stakes in Indian companies to build their presence in Asia’s second-most populous nation. Facebook agreed to invest about $5.7 billion into a unit of Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries Ltd. in April, while Microsoft Corp. is reportedly considering a stake in the same company.Amazon already has deep roots in India, where Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos has visited and vowed to build one of his biggest e-commerce operations outside of the U.S. Bezos, now the world’s richest man, said during a trip in January that his company would invest another $1 billion on top of the billions it’s shelled out to bring small and medium-size businesses online. Amazon is now vying with Walmart Inc.’s Flipkart to tap an increasingly affluent population adopting smartphones at a rapid clip.Read more: Jeff Bezos’s India Visit Marked by Probe and ProtestsAn Amazon spokeswoman in India declined to comment. “We routinely work with all digital and OTT players and have deep engagement with them to bring their products, content and services for our wide customer base. Beyond that there is no other activity to report,” a Bharti spokesperson said.An influx of capital would be welcome to New Delhi-based Bharti Airtel, which has come under pressure to beef up its offerings ever since Ambani’s technology venture went on a deal spree to secure about $10 billion in investment from Facebook to KKR & Co. Airtel’s billionaire Chairman Sunil Mittal may be looking to leverage the diverse businesses in his empire just as Ambani goes into overdrive to transform his oil-and-petrochemicals company into an Indian e-commerce and digital payments titan with Jio Platforms.Read more: How Facebook’s Reliance Deal Upends a $1 Trillion Digital ArenaIn its 25 years of operations, Bharti Airtel has survived frequent policy changes in one of the world’s toughest telecommunications markets. It lost its position as India’s largest wireless carrier last year to Ambani’s Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd., which debuted in 2016 and shook up the industry with free calls and cheap data. The most recent blow to Bharti Airtel came in October, when the nation’s top court in a shock ruling ordered it to pay $3 billion in back fees.The technology ambitions of Ambani, Asia’s richest man, have turned the spotlight on his telecommunications rivals, including Vodafone Idea Ltd., the struggling Indian business of British operator Vodafone Group Plc. The Financial Times reported May 28 that Alphabet Inc.’s Google is considering acquiring a stake in that venture. Vodafone Idea said it isn’t currently considering any such proposal.Besides telecommunications, Mittal’s Bharti Enterprises has businesses spanning insurance, real estate, education and farm food.(Updates with Bharti Airtel’s comment from the second paragraph)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Reliance Industries Ltd. added to the roster of marquee backers piling into its digital upstart Jio Platforms Ltd. with a $1.2 billion investment by Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala Investment Co.The deal gives the Abu Dhabi sovereign fund a stake of 1.85% at an equity value of $65 billion for Jio Platforms, the Mumbai-based company said Friday in a statement. Reliance, backed by Asia’s richest man Mukesh Ambani, is also in advanced talks with Abu Dhabi Investment Authority and Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg News this week.The Mubadala agreement adds to the $10 billion that Jio Platforms has raised in recent weeks as it starts early preparations for an overseas stock listing. High-profile backers from Facebook Inc. to KKR & Co. are betting on Jio’s access to India’s 1.35 billion people as the country’s No. 1 wireless carrier and its potential to use online services to grow in industries including retail, entertainment and payments.Read more: Asia’s Richest Man Takes on the Comeback Kid After Wireless WarThe string of investments will go toward Ambani’s stated goal of slashing net debt to zero at Reliance Industries, an oil refining, petrochemicals, retail and telecommunications conglomerate that’s India’s largest company. The outside money has also helped set a valuation for Jio as it prepares for a listing. The Mubadala deal gives Jio an enterprise value of $68 billion, according to Reliance.Also, the string of deals have sent Reliance Industries shares soaring 80% since late March.Facebook invested $5.7 billion in Jio in April for a roughly 10% stake. The vast social media network is looking to build a commerce business for its WhatsApp messaging service and was eager to work with Jio to take advantage of the company’s JioMart e-commerce platform and its relationship with Indian merchants. Facebook has a massive presence in India, with more than 400 million WhatsApp users alone, and the two sides had worked together previously when Facebook built a version of its WhatsApp messaging product for a Jio phone in 2018.Read more: Zuckerberg Just Gave Asia’s Richest Man a Sorely Needed WinMubadala, which has offices outside Abu Dhabi in San Francisco, New York, Moscow and elsewhere, made a $15 billion commitment to the SoftBank Vision Fund and launched a number of tech funds in the U.S., Europe and its home base. The fund, which has $229 billion in assets, has also been divesting some of its technology and other assets to redeploy proceeds to new investments. Last year, it sold 34.9 million shares in Advanced Micro Devices Inc. In March, Mubadala helped lead a $2.25 billion investment in Waymo, Alphabet Inc.’s self-driving car unit.(Updates with Reliance Industries share gains in fifth paragraph)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
Jun.05 -- True Ventures Partner Om Malik deleted his Facebook account two years ago. Now he's also leaving Instagram and WhatsApp, as announced in a blog post. He discusses what led him to the decisions on "Bloomberg Technology."
(Bloomberg) -- Twitter Inc. and Facebook Inc. removed a Trump campaign video tribute to George Floyd due to copyright claims, the latest escalation in a confrontation between the social media platforms and one of their most influential users.The @TeamTrump account had tweeted a video collage of images and clips depicting peaceful protests, moments of mourning and law enforcement officers hugging civilians in the wake of the killing of George Floyd, an African-American man, while in police custody. Accompanied by a gentle piano soundtrack and President Donald Trump’s speech about “healing, not hatred,” it urged Americans to unite.The video, still available to view on the president’s YouTube channel, appears to have gathered most of its content from social media posts, and at least one copyright holder made a complaint to Twitter about the use of their photo, a company spokesperson told The Hill.Facebook also removed the Trump campaign team’s video from its website and Instagram after receiving a complaint from a copyright holder who was also an Instagram user, according to the company.“Organizations that use original art shared on Instagram are expected to have the right to do so,” a Facebook spokesman said.The U.S. president has an audience of 81.7 million followers on his personal Twitter account, which he uses to celebrate accomplishments of his administration and, often, lambaste opponents. In the wake of Floyd’s death and subsequent protests, he tweeted a warning that “when the looting starts, the shooting starts,” which Twitter deemed to have been in breach of its rules against glorifying violence and led the company to hide that message behind a warning label. Earlier, the social media giant had placed a fact-check notice on another Trump tweet, which also earned the president’s displeasure.Facebook took no action on the president’s post on the protests, drawing criticism from employees, former workers and advocates.Read more: Trump Ire Draws Eyeballs to Twitter, Where Attention Is an AssetIn retaliation for what Trump and his supporters have deemed political bias, the president issued an executive order targeting social media companies like Twitter. The move -- which could expose Twitter, Facebook and other technology giants to a flurry of lawsuits -- sparked broad condemnation from liberals and even some conservatives who accused the president of launching an unconstitutional assault on free speech.(Updates with further details on Facebook from first paragraph)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
Twitter surpassed rivals Facebook and Instagram in downloads earlier this week, according to Apptopia. Yahoo Finance’s Dan Howley joins Kristin Myers to discuss.
OTTAWA, ON , June 5, 2020 /CNW/ - Ministers and Government of Canada officials will hold a news conference to provide an update on coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Date June 5, 2020 Time 12:00 PM (EDT) ...
Facebook Inc <FB.O> is making it harder to find user groups associated with the term "Boogaloo," which refers to a potential U.S. civil war or the collapse of civilization, the company said on Thursday. Facebook will no longer recommend such groups to members of similar associations, a spokeswoman for the world's largest social media network said. Facebook said it made the changes early in the week.
(Bloomberg) -- Apple Inc. employees heading back to work at the company’s headquarters in Silicon Valley will face new realities in the Covid-19 era, such as optional testing for the virus, closed kitchens and a requirement to wear masks.Apple began bringing some workers in to the main Apple Park office in May, including some hardware and software engineers. When they arrive, they’ll have the option of taking a nasal-swab test to check for the virus, according to people familiar with the process. Temperature checks are required.As the building gradually reopens, some employees are working from the Apple campus only a few days a week. Apple is also limiting the number of people allowed in confined spaces at its offices. For example, as few as two are permitted in elevators at the same time, which normally would fit as many as 10 employees. The company has also closed many break-room kitchens and has posted signs asking employees to wear masks.The Apple campus in Cupertino, California, has several open floor work areas where staff members are used to working in close proximity, but the company will need to make changes to that layout in order to bring back the rest of its workforce. An Apple spokesman declined to comment.In a sign of a return to normalcy, some members of the company’s executive team have returned to the main campus instead of working from home. Deirdre O’Brien, Apple’s head of retail and human resources, for example, sent her most recent video update to staff from Apple Park.Many large U.S. corporations are rethinking how to get thousands of employees safely back to work before a vaccine is widely available. Testing is seen as one way to help control the spread of the disease, as is limiting the number of people in spaces and wearing masks.Some Silicon Valley rivals, including Facebook Inc., recently told staff they won’t be offering testing in the near future, though the company has extended remote work through the end of the year, except for those developing critical hardware, which will return sooner. Amazon.com Inc. is offering tests to workers at some warehouses, while employees at the company’s Seattle headquarters expect testing to be done when staff returns in early October.Facebook has also said it would “aggressively” hire remote workers and that as much as half of its staff could eventually be remote. But Apple has long prioritized in-person meetings and hands-on product development, and its central business is hardware, which is less conducive to off-site work.Still, the company has taken the pandemic seriously and acted quickly to protect its staff and the public, shuttering all of its retail stores at different points this year to help curb the spread of the virus. It has since reopened more than half of its stores globally.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) is following through with its vow of a few months ago, announcing it will begin labeling state-controlled media outlets that post on its platform. In a blog post, the social media giant, which has faced backlash from employees for refusing to remove inflammatory posts from President Trump regarding the murder of George Floyd in police custody and the ensuing protests, said labels will begin appearing as of Wednesday. Facebook isn't removing state-controlled news, but by labeling it, which Facebook says better equips users to understand who is behind the news.
Facebook will soon add labels to news outlets owned or otherwise controlled by a government, marking that information as, if not necessarily false or unreliable, at least worth considering the origin of. The company announced its plan to do this a few months ago as one part of its ongoing "election integrity efforts," along with such things as requiring a confirmed owner for pages and banning anti-voting ads. Under the new policy, which should roll out to all users over the next week, news organizations "that may be under the influence of a government" will have a subtle but clear label as such, as will their posts.
Yahoo Finance’s Dan Howley joins Kristin Myers to discuss Facebook's move to label content coming from foreign state-controlled media.
Protests over racial injustice and police brutality continue to spread across the country, leaving employees to question their bosses actions against Trump and the black lives matter movement. Yahoo Finance’s On The Move panel discusses.
Facebook Inc <FB.O> will start labeling Russian, Chinese and other state-controlled media organizations, and later this summer will block any ads from such outlets that target U.S. users, it said on Thursday. The world's biggest social network will apply the label to Russia's Sputnik, Iran's Press TV and China's Xinhua News, according to a partial list Facebook provided. Facebook will not label any U.S.-based news organizations for now, as it determined that even U.S. government-run outlets have editorial independence, Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook's head of cybersecurity policy, said in an interview.
Facebook's photo transfer tool is now available globally half a year on from an initial rollout in Europe, the company said today. The data portability feature enables users of the social network to directly port a copy of their photos to Google’s eponymous photo storage service via encrypted transfer, rather than needing to download and manually upload photos themselves -- thereby reducing the hassle involved with switching to a rival service. Facebook users can find the option to “Transfer a copy of your photos and videos” under the Your Facebook Information settings menu.
(Bloomberg) -- Rajeev Fernando, a medical doctor and first responder working in New York, told U.K. lawmakers that one of the biggest challenges he’d faced is public belief in conspiracy theories and bogus cures about Covid-19.“I’ve also heard too many patients say Covid-19 is just like the flu; this misinformation has kept many at home thinking this will disappear,” Fernando said. “By the time some people are hospitalized, they’re already in multi-organ failure and death is inevitable.”Executives from Facebook Inc., Twitter Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google were interviewed by British lawmakers on Thursday about how their companies handled the spread of medical misinformation during the Covid-19 pandemic.The parliamentary committee leading the investigation published a selection of evidence it had gathered in advance of the questioning from front-line medical professionals. It was strongly worded, centering around how the public has suffered as a direct result of misinformation via social media.Read more: Twitter Will Add Labels to Some Misleading Covid-19 TweetsThomas Knowles, a medical doctor in the U.K., said in his written evidence that he’d taken a call from a woman whose symptoms made him “strongly suspect that she was experiencing a heart attack,” he said.Knowles said the woman told him she wouldn’t allow emergency medics in her home to take her to hospital because her doctor had informed her that she had to shield herself because of her other health conditions, and that she’d read on Facebook that it meant she’d definitely die if she went to hospital and caught it.“I was forced to accept her right to decline treatment, and she received no specific care that I’m aware of,” he said.Read more: Google Helps Place Ads on Sites Amplifying Covid ConspiraciesFacebook ResponseMonika Bickert, Facebook’s head of product policy and counterterrorism, was also questioned about the company’s response to an aggressive post made by U.S. President Donald Trump concerning his response to the civil unrest that has swept across the country. Bickert said she wasn’t aware of an open letter published by the New York Times from dozens of former Facebook employees this week. The employees were angry the social network hadn’t followed Twitter’s example of removing the post made by Trump.“It’s a shocking indictment from a number of quite senior former employees,” lawmaker Kevin Brennan told Bickert in the hearing. “To me, it feels like there’s something rotten in the state of Facebook, but am I wrong?”“I haven’t seen the letter,” Bickert said, but added that Facebook’s decision not to remove the President’s message was because it “did not violate” the company’s “long-standing policies.”Deleted PostsGoogle, Twitter and Facebook have all said in the past that tackling the spread of misinformation on their platforms was a priority. Twitter, for instance, has hidden or deleted posts that contain what it determined potentially harmful information. Google includes links to the World Health Organization at the top of search results for information about the virus.Part of the research by the U.K. committee highlighted a statement from Duncan Maru, an epidemiologist and physician based in Nepal, who said his colleagues had treated patients suffering from consuming disinfectants “after reading online that this was a way to cure Covid-19. We can’t be fighting lies and saving lives at the same time.” Read more: 5G Virus Conspiracy Theory Drives Phone Mast Attacks in U.K.And Meenakshi Bewtra, an assistant professor of medicine and epidemiology at the University of Pennsylvania, concluded similarly: “It is extremely difficult to be fighting both the global pandemic and the infodemic on social media,” she said. “I have personally been contacted by people who have spent money they do not have on ‘remedies’ or engaged in various practices that have no efficacy whatsoever.”The written statements, published by the U.K.’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sports committee on Thursday, will inform the questions the lawmakers ask tech companies at the hearing. It follows a similar hearing in April that followed the spread of a widely discredited conspiracy theory that 5G wireless technology is contributing to the Covid-19 pandemic.(Updated with additional context throughout.)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
Facebook (FB) signs global licensing deal with India's largest music label to boost user engagement and expand its music library for Stories and other creative content on Facebook and Instagram.
(Bloomberg) -- The coronavirus came relatively late to Yemen, but even with advance notice it has still been ravaged by the disease.With the war-torn country divided between three competing authorities, its economy and health systems shattered, and malnutrition and disease already rife, the outbreak faced few obstacles. Yemen’s most strategically important city, Aden, now has the highest Covid-19 mortality rate among confirmed cases in the world at 17%, United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres said May 28. Even during the harrowing last five years of conflict, Yemenis flooded Facebook through the holy month of Ramadan with greetings and photographs of fasts being broken. This year, though, their posts were often messages of condolence.“It has turned from a Facebook to a Deathbook in Yemen,” Sami Ghaleb, political analyst and founder of al-Nida newspaper, said of the outpouring on social media. “The sorrows of Yemenis are a sea without shores.”While figures released by officials put fatalities at a few hundred since Yemen’s first virus case was reported mid-April, online comments as well as accounts from medics and those preparing graves suggest the actual number is far higher, and rising rapidly. In a worse-case scenario, the World Health Organization sees at least 65,000 deaths, and about half a million hospitalizations.An outbreak on that scale would add to the unraveling of a country located on a maritime passage through which nearly four million barrels of oil are shipped daily to Europe, the U.S. and Asia, and enhance the chaos that al-Qaeda and Islamic State have been exploiting to reestablish a presence.Besides, “if we do not combat the virus everywhere, there’s a high likelihood that it will continue to circle the planet,” said Jens Laerke, spokesman for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Richer nations must make an investment in humanity, he said.Read More: How Yemen’s Civil Strife Became a Brutal Proxy WarThat’s why on Tuesday, the UN co-hosted a virtual donor conference, looking for $2.4 billion to fund programs that assist 80% of Yemen’s 28 million people. “Yemen is now on the precipice, right on the cliff edge, below which lies a tragedy of historic proportions,” Mark Lowcock, OCHA’s Under-Secretary-General and Emergency Relief Coordinator said in an opening speech. After announcing that only $1.35 billion was pledged, he said fundraising efforts would continue and called on donors to honor their promises.The event’s other sponsor was, controversially, Saudi Arabia. Since 2015, the Saudi military has led an Arab coalition seeking to restore the government ousted by Iran-aligned Houthi rebels. The fighting has killed 100,000 people, with another 131,000 dying from hunger, disease and lack of medical care, a UN-commissioned report found last year.Asked by email about the kingdom’s participation given its role in the war, Laerke said Saudi Arabia has provided “large amounts of money with no strings attached” that helped beat back a looming famine in Yemen and control a cholera epidemic. He added that the UN has called on all parties, including the Saudis, to adhere to international humanitarian law that prohibits targeting health facilities, something that’s happened on scores of occasions during the war.Saudi Arabia, which is struggling with its own coronavirus outbreak and shares a long, hard-to-control border with Yemen, pledged $500 million to the effort. Only half Yemen’s hospitals and clinics are still functioning, and medics say they have turned Covid-19 patients away because of a lack of ventilators, oxygen and personal protection equipment. Testing is almost non-existent.In the southern port city of Aden, where some of the first virus clusters erupted, residents have had to clear streets following heavy rains and flash floods in mid-April that piled up mud and garbage. In places, sewage mixes with pools of stagnant water.The city has been under the control of United Arab Emirates-backed separatists since last year after they expelled the government of President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi, the leader Saudi Arabia wants to restore to power over all Yemen. The two are supposed to be allies in the fight against the northern Houthis but have turned on each other.As they battle in a nearby province, the coronavirus is spreading in Aden. Mosques remain open, while markets and shops are crowded despite orders to close, highlighting the difficulties in enforcing a lockdown when most people depend on a daily income, and electricity supply is limited to about four hours a day.“How can we observe social distancing and home isolation when we can’t keep food and vegetables fresh in the fridge?” Abeer Karim, a resident, said by phone. Ginger, lemons and oranges are scarce as people try home remedies to ward off infection, she said. Food prices are rising.Fearful of being stigmatized, relatives of virus victims are reluctant to share their stories, with most blaming “fever” or other diseases that have taken hold in the city, like dengue or chikungunya. But the evidence is mounting of a growing Covid-19 toll.Authorities in Aden are issuing far more death certificates each day than before the outbreak. The price of a grave cloth has gone up by almost 50%, costing more than 15,000 rials ($60), residents say. While in Sana’a the price of a grave has risen to 70,000 rials from 30,000.Sana’a, the capital, is run by the Houthis. They’ve announced just four cases and one death, and have been accused by the Hadi government and medics of covering up cases. Last week, they acknowledged the virus has spread to a multiple areas, including Sana’a, without providing figures. They’ve allowed mass gatherings and encouraged families and friends to attend funerals.The UN has never had so little money for aid operations in Yemen this late in the year.“If we do not get the money coming in, the programs that are keeping people alive, are very much essential to fighting back against Covid, will have to close,” the UN’s Laerke said. “And then the world will have to witness in a country what happens without a functioning health system battling Covid. And I do not think the world wants to see that.”(Corrects mortality rate in second paragraph.)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.