A federal judge has given Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook investors a trillion or so reasons to smile.
Judge James E. Boasberg on Monday tossed aside several antitrust cases brought by the FTC and state authorities, turning away the most concerted campaign yet to police the social network. The decision sent Facebook’s stock sharply higher, allowing the company to cross the $1 trillion threshold in market value for the first time. These rising shares were a boon for common shareholder and billionaire alike: The 4.1% in stock price during after-hours trading added $5.1 billion to Zuckerberg’s fortune.
Boasberg’s decision—and the stock movement—underscore the complexities about Facebook’s future. The social network has developed a wide swath of critics from both sides of the political spectrum and received a major black eye for its handling of user data.
Led by New York Attorney General Letitia James, some of the company’s opponents had hoped antitrust legal action might deliver what they’ve long craved: A blow to Facebook to reduce its ballooning scale and importance and deliver a measure of regulation. The antitrust case revolved around Facebook’s 2012 acquisition of Instagram and its WhatsApp purchase two years later.
But bringing Facebook to heel won’t be as easy as its detractors might’ve hoped. Boasberg dismissed the states’ case over timeliness, saying it too much time had elapased since those acquisitions. Meanwhile, Boasberg tossed out the FTC’s argument and argued in a 53-page opinion that regulators hadn’t produced enough facts to support their argument. The FTC could still tak
The other thing is: Despite a steady drum beat of negative news for much of the past four years, Facebook’s stock has been a winner. Its shares have doubled since March 2018, when the full ramifications of the Cambridge Analytic become public, igniting this new era in Facebook’s history. Over that period, the S&P 500 went up less than 60%—while Zuckerberg, his position at the company bolstered by the company’s increasing share prices, has watched his fortune go from less than $60 billion to nearly $100 billion.
An antitrust suit against Facebook by the FTC and several states had the wind taken out of its sails today by a federal judge, who ruled that the plaintiffs don’t provide enough evidence that the company exerts monopoly control over social media. The court was more receptive, however, to revisiting the acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp, and the case was left open for regulators to take another shot at it.
The court decision was in response to a Facebook motion to dismiss the suit. Judge James Boesberg of the D.C. circuit explained that the provided evidence of monopoly and antitrust violations was “too speculative and conclusory to go forward.” In a more ordinary industry, it might have sufficed, he admits, but “this case involves no ordinary or intuitive market.”
It was incumbent on the plaintiffs to back up their allegation of Facebook controlling 60 percent of the market with clear and voluminous data and a convincing delineation of what exactly that market comprises — and it failed to do so, wrote Boesberg. Therefore he dismissed the complaints in accordance with Facebook’s legal argument.
The company wrote in a statement that it is “pleased that today’s decisions recognize the defects in the government complaints.”
On the other hand, Boesberg is sensible that lack of evidence in the record does not mean that the evidence does not exist. So he his giving the FTC and states 30 days to amend their filing, after which the complaints will be reevaluated.
So, this isn’t good. Your iPhone settings enable you to tell Facebook you don’t want your location tracked. It’s clear and non-ambiguous. Why then, if you tell Facebook “never” to access your location, is the data harvesting giant doing exactly that?
Facebook generates almost all its revenue from digital advertising—targeting ads by harvesting as much data from you and about you as it can. “Facebook marketing is generally dominated by iOS,” one ad industry article laments, “it’s pretty safe to assume Facebook has lost at least half their data, arguably the most valuable half.”
All of which means that Facebook will be doing ever more with the data that remains. And there’s a hidden danger in all the iOS 14.5 publicity—a false sense of security for iPhone users, thinking that the Facebook data issue is suddenly over, that everything has now changed. That would be very wrong—it really hasn’t.
Apple has clamped down on Facebook tracking you across third-party websites and apps, not harvesting your data on those it owns. Just like Google with Chrome, Photos and Gmail, Facebook apps compare miserably to their peers when it comes to helping themselves to your information. This isn’t coincidence—it’s a philosophy at play.
Despite me telling my iPhone “never” to allow Facebook access to my location, despite me checking Facebook online to confirm it knows “location history for mobile devices” is set to “off.” Facebook continues to exploit a loophole, harvesting photo location tags and IP addresses, all of which it will, in its own words, “collect and process.”
I took a photo with my iPhone and then uploaded that to my Facebook account. I used Facebook’s app on my iPhone, the same app that has been told “never” to access my location, the same account that knows I have this switched off. But Facebook still collects the location tag from that photo, along with my IP address.
My iPhone adds GPS tags to photos—useful to sort and find images. I can use the share function in Apple Photos to strip location data as I send, and most messengers strip this data, but in Facebook’s app, when I upload a photo, the data is sent as well.
Facebook and Instagram do in fact strip the metadata, the so-called EXIF information, from photos that are saved to their platforms. You can see this, because if you save a photo from Instagram or your Facebook albums onto your phone, there will be no location information. That has been replaced with Facebook’s own codes.
And so, you might assume that Facebook has deleted this data. Wrong. If you go to your Facebook privacy settings and select “your Facebook information,” you can download a copy of the data it holds. If you select “photos and videos,” you will see the data that Facebook saved from the images you uploaded.
In the case of this specific photo, the one just uploaded from my iPhone, that data includes a very precise location and my “upload IP address.” Facebook doesn’t need any more than that. If I type those lat/long co-ordinates into Google Maps, I get an exact match to my location, and Google’s Street View shows me the front of my house. As you can imagine, this is not the kind of privacy I had in mind.
Then you see a link inviting you to “learn more about your location data.” That link takes you to your account, where it asks if you want to “Turn on Location History for your mobile devices,” because, remember, this is switched off. Which begs the question—how can you collect my location data, and then explain this by taking me to an account setting which confirms I’ve told you not to capture my location?
If this seems Pythonesque to you, don’t worry, you’re not alone.
You might not save many photos to Facebook these days, perhaps you use Instagram instead. Well, its data policy carries the very same warning, that the data harvested “can include information in or about the content you provide (like metadata), such as the location of a photo or the date a file was created.”
I asked Facebook about this capture of EXIF locations from Facebook and Instagram photos. The company confirmed that it “collects and processes” such data. I suggested to them that this data is used for advertising purposes, and that this is “regardless of the privacy settings selected by the user within the Facebook/Instagram app on their phones.” Facebook told me it was fine to proceed with those assumptions.
True, albeit photos uploaded from a mobile device are almost always taken on the mobile device. And combined with its vast data trove, this is all part of painting a more accurate picture of each of you, a profile to mine for ads.
So, what should you do? Don’t upload photos to Facebook or Instagram that have significant location data embedded, unless you want to share that data. You can use an app like iVerify, which will add a metadata stripping function to the share menu within photos, enabling you to save clean duplicates before you upload or share them.
EXIF data isn’t the only secret tracking taking place on your iPhone. If there’s one other setting you absolutely need to change, it’s the “load remote images” option within Apple Mail. This should be switched off, which will stop almost all the email tracking pixels you you are being sent from collecting your location data, your identifier and the date and time, every time you open a marketing email.
This is an absolutely scourge, and with Apple’s crackdown on website pixel tracking, these marketing email pixels are going to become even more important. You don’t lose anything by changing that setting. Apple will give you the option to load remote images on every email that has them. At least this way you get to choose who is checking where you are and storing that information to target you with ads later.
With iOS 14.5 and the rising groundswell of privacy advocacy, the next few years will either be a pivot point for Facebook as it’s forced to examine its business model, or more likely the same kind of almost unnoticeable bump in the road that Cambridge Analytica ultimately proved to be. Just take a look at its stock chart in the years since that existential crisis hit the headlines—it tells you everything you need to know.
“Protecting people’s privacy,” Facebook says, “is central to how we’ve designed our ad system.” No, really, that’s what it says. Four simple steps to enhance your privacy: Say no to tracking when asked by iOS 14.5; disable location sharing for Facebook on your phone; for Facebook itself, delete the app and use a browser instead—Safari or Firefox, not Chrome; and don’t upload EXIF data unless you’re happy it’s collected.
In the meantime, Apple, please address these EXIF issues and also default to remote email images being disabled in iOS 15. Those would be two huge steps forward.
Zak is a widely recognized expert on surveillance and cyber, as well as the security and privacy risks associated with big tech, social media, IoT and smartphone platforms. He is frequently cited in the international media and is a regular commentator on broadcast news, with appearances on BBC, Sky, NPR, NBC, Channel 4, TF1, ITV and Fox, as well as various cybersecurity and surveillance documentaries.
Zak has twenty years experience in real-world cybersecurity and surveillance, most recently as the Founder/CEO of Digital Barriers, which develops advanced surveillance technologies for frontline security and defence agencies as well as commercial organizations in the US, Europe and Asia. The company is at the forefront of AI-based surveillance and works closely with flagship government agencies around the world on the appropriate and proportionate use of such technologies.
Facebook announced Wednesday it would launch a section that will be devoted to debunking common myths about coronavirus, as it aims to combat criticism that its been too lax about misinformation on its platform.
Called “Facts About Covid-19,” the new section will appear under the Covid Information Center part of the site that features local and national updates about the pandemic as well as suggestions of pages to follow for more information.
In an example of what the section will look like that was posted to Twitter on Wednesday, tabs appeared to show information to dispute common myths repeated throughout the pandemic, like how hydroxychloroquine is not generally recommended as a preventative or treatment for the virus, along with consuming bleach or disinfectants.
The aim of the section is “to further limit the spread of misinformation,” the social media giant said in a tweet Wednesday.
The company also announced that both Facebook and Instagram will feature new alerts to remind users to wear face masks.
On Thursday, CEO Mark Zuckerberg will interview Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease official, including about the country’s efforts to slow the pandemic, how close a vaccine could be and what everyday people can do to pitch in—all to be livestreamed on Facebook, of course.
Zuckerberg has invited Facebook users to submit questions they would like to see Fauci answer.
Facebook has recently taken steps to curb misinformation on the platform in a change of course for Zuckerberg, who just months ago criticized Twitter for its decision to fact check President Donald Trump’s tweets. “Facebook shouldn’t be the arbiter of truth of everything that people say online,” Zuckerberg said to Fox News anchor Dana Perino in a May interview. However, by April, Facebook announced that users who engaged with posts flagged as containing misinformation about coronavirus would get a notification to direct them to the World Health Organization’s information about the virus.
Last month, Zuckerberg finally followed Twitter’s lead to flag political figures’ posts that violate Facebook policies but are considered newsworthy. Last week, Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg said the firm “has to get better at finding and removing hateful content,” after a campaign called Stop Hate For Profit called on companies to boycott advertising on the site until Facebook addresses the “hate and disinformation being spread” on the platform.
Facebook has a history of either copying or acquiring their competitors. This isn’t meant to be a slight; it’s smart. Facebook has the war chest, talent and billions of global visitors to its platforms. There’s no need for them to keep reinventing the wheel.
It didn’t come as a surprise when Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg copied Jack Dorsey, the dual CEO of Twitter and Square. Dorsey previously announced that he’d allow his employees to continue working from home “forever.” Dorsey said, “We want employees to be able to work where they feel most creative and productive.”
On the heels of Dorsey’s announcement, Facebook said this week that it would permit its employees to work remotely too. Zuckerberg isn’t known for being warm and cuddly. He’s viewed as a brilliant and tough business person. He clearly sees the trend and benefits of allowing employees to work from home and jumped on the bandwagon. The massive, forced remote-work experiment made by major corporations, during the pandemic, proved a great success. The workers didn’t have to be subjected to long, time-wasting commutes. They were able to take care of and teach their children, as their schools closed, and available to help sick or needy family members.
Companies recognize that their costs will appreciably drop if they’re no longer required to lease pricy real estate in big, overcrowded cities that have high tax rates. They also understand, from a public relations standpoint, that less people driving or taking busses to and from work cuts down on pollution and saves the environment. We’ve all seen by now the before Covid-19 and after photos of cities showing the improvement of the air quality.
Zuckerberg anticipates that a large percentage of his people will work remotely and said, “We’re going to be the most forward-leaning company on remote work at our scale.” While this sounds noble and magnanimous, there’s an underlying threat to workers.
At first blush, Facebook, Twitter, Square and other employees who’ve been offered the chance to work remotely will be delighted that they don’t have to commute, deal with annoying co-workers, endless in-person meetings and their bosses glaring at them.
Some will say that it’s not worthwhile to live in San Francisco, Silicon Valley or other cities where rentals and houses cost a fortune. The taxes and cost of living are also too high. Many will leave the cities and move to places that offer more affordable housing, along with a better quality and higher standard of living. This can be boom for many suburbs and warm, sunny low-tax states and a detriment to the cities that throngs of people escape from.
Here’s the Facebook catch: employees will have to tell their boss if they move to a different location. According to Zuckerberg, those who flee to lower-cost cities “may have their compensation adjusted based on their new locations.” He ominously added, “We’ll adjust salary to your location at that point. There’ll be severe ramifications for people who are not honest about this.”
It’s becoming clear that the “gift” of remote work may be a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Let’s face facts, Zuckerburg and Dorsey didn’t become multimillionaires because they’re nice. They are sharp, aggressive, genius wolves dressed in T-shirts, jeans and hoodies. They know that a person can work from home in San Francisco, North Dakota, Iowa, Utah, England or India. It’s been proven that the available technology, such as Zoom videos, Slack and other products, make it easy to work from anywhere in the world and seamlessly connect with co-workers and managers.
Zuckerberg can now scout for talent all over the country and world. This could be the worst trend for workers, as CEOs arbitrage the best, cheapest job seekers globally. Facebook will source job applicants who possess all of the right skills and experience and live in lower-cost places and pay them less money then they’d receive working in San Francisco. Dorsey was upfront about this stating, “We can get talent anywhere. There’s a lot of folks out there that do not want to move to San Francisco. They feel comfortable working in a much smaller office or just home.”
This will cause a ripple of serious repercussions. Salaries for workers in San Francisco and other large cities may fall due to the introduction of job seekers that weren’t previously considered. Compensation may also be suppressed due to the overhang of over 39 million Americans who are out of work.
It’s also telling that Facebook just launched a new group video chat product, Messenger Rooms.This looks like it’s specifically designed to compete against Zoom, Skype, Google Meet and Microsoft Teams. Conveniently, Facebook’s own employees can create a video chat room and invite up to 50 people to join a video call. It will make it easier for their remote workers and also steal market share from Zoom, which has become the Covid-19 breakout success story.
A large number of companies, including Morgan Stanley, JPMorgan, Capital One, Amazon, Microsoft, Zillow and others have all announced that they’ll extend their work-from-home programs. They most likely will follow Zuckerberg and Dorsey’s lead by seeking out talent that live in lower-cost places, so they can bring down their costs. In light of the economic hit companies have taken due to the effects of Covid-19, saving money has become a top priority.
On the flip side, there is some positive news. Job seekers will have more opportunities—albeit along with greater competition—as they can apply to jobs anywhere in the United States. If you see a job advertisement for a position outside of where you reside, feel free to submit your résumé. The odds are that most companies will adopt this remote-work strategy and consider candidates from various locations. This trend will free you from being relegated to only applying to jobs within commuting distance.
This power move by Zuckerberg could be the biggest game changer for the job market coming out of the Covid-19 pandemic.
I am a CEO, founder, and executive recruiter at one of the oldest and largest global search firms in my area of expertise, and have personally placed thousands of professionals with top-tier companies over the last 20-plus years. I am passionate about advocating for job seekers. In doing so, I have founded a start-up company, WeCruitr, where our mission is to make the job search more humane and enjoyable. As a proponent of career growth, I am excited to share my insider interviewing tips and career advancement secrets with you in an honest, straightforward, no-nonsense and entertaining manner. My career advice will cover everything you need to know, including helping you decide if you really should seek out a new opportunity, whether you are leaving for the wrong reasons, proven successful interviewing techniques, negotiating a salary and accepting an offer and a real-world understanding of how the hiring process actually works. My articles come from an experienced recruiter’s insider perspective.
In 2013, AHS Consulting founder Amna Shah started boosting her business’s presence on Facebook. She and her employees worked to build out a page with information about the Chattanooga, Tennessee-based company, and posted new content multiple times a week. To attract potential customers, staffers crafted ads and paid to boost exposure of posts.
Shah knew consumer-facing brands may be better suited for Facebook’s advertising and paid marketing, but assumed hers, too, could find an audience. Some existing customers interacted with the brand, and likes piled up. But Shah says no one new from Chattanooga or the nearby Atlanta region seemed to be finding her consulting firm through the platform–only some individuals from India and China.
“Over time, we started to think these were fake profiles,” she says. “We got no new business out of Facebook, ever.” Halfway through 2018, the company stopped putting effort into Facebook marketing. Shah is far from alone. In a November survey, Inc. asked CEOs and other high-ranking executivesfrom fast-growing companies what they think about Facebook from a business perspective. Thirty-two percent said they are now getting less for their marketing dollars with Facebook than they used to, while 27 percent said they mistrust Facebook’s use of their business data. In follow-up interviews, several of the survey takers said they have slowed their use of Facebook marketing and advertising. A few, meanwhile, have pulled the plug altogether.
Shannon Hulbert, the CEO of Opus Interactive, a cloud-services provider in Hillsboro, Oregon, had been spending hundreds of dollars a month on Facebook advertising, but said her company cut back dramatically in 2018. The following year Opus removed Facebook from its marketing budget entirely. The social network had stopped driving business, Hulbert says, as Opus had itself grown to cater to much larger businesses.
Moira Vetter, the founder and CEO of Modo Modo Agency in Atlanta, says a decade ago it felt like every business needed to be on Facebook and Twitter. Recently though, her creative agency–an Inc. 5000 honoree the past three years–has shifted its focus to producing content and promoting its workon Instagram and LinkedIn. “I feel that Facebook has run its course,” she says. “It’s not somewhere people in our industry are spending time. In fact, it’s become less and less of something I even think or talk about.”
Bubba Grimsley says he’d just cut off his Fairhope, Alabama-based company Liberty Rent’s Facebook presence in November, due to concerns about data privacy within his industry, which works with real-estate rentals and financing. “I don’t even know why we were doing it,” he says of the company’s Facebook efforts, which included paying to boost exposure of its content. “I don’t think I was finding any customers.”
For years Facebook has poured energy into targeting and educating small businesses, growing a team of publicists and outreach employees. As of 2018, more than 140 million businesses globally used Facebook, at least 90 million of which were small and midsize businesses, according to the company. Veronica Twombly, the head of communications for Facebook Small Business, says SMBs are a “top priority” for the platform.
“We are trying to elevate our free and paid solutions to make sure these small- and medium-size businesses know all of the tools at their disposal to help grow their customers,” Twombly tells Inc. The company offers digital training for businesses, and held more than 100 in-person training sessions in the United States in 2019.
Facebook in the past has acknowledged the growing cost of its advertising for business, even as user growth has slowed. Finance chief David Wehner said in an investor conference call that in the fourth quarter of 2017 alone, the average price per ad climbed 43 percent, while the number of ad impressions served increased just 4 percent. Still, Twombly says the company is continuing to see growth in monthly active advertisers.
Several of the executives who told Inc. they have stopped advertising on Facebook over the past year were from business-to-business companies, which often can find customers more reliably on LinkedIn or through other marketing channels. But others outside of the B2B realm have followed suit. One example is Jack Wight, the founder of an electronics reseller that advertised aggressively to individuals on Facebook in 2018 but pulled the plug on the effort the following year.
“We weren’t making any money on those people by the time we paid for the advertising,” says Wight, the chief executive of Buyback Boss, which is based in Tempe, Arizona. “The marketing cost was just higher than other channels.”
Wight estimates his company spent about $20,000 on Facebook ads over the course of a year, before giving up on Facebook about seven months ago. For 2020, his company is using a strategy of SEO and Adwords to find people who type in, for example, “sell my iPhone 10” on Google.
A Buyback Boss employee who had been handling the company’s Facebook presence and advertising now focuseson search marketing. Wight says he’s open to resuming ad spending on Facebook–but only after he’s scaled the other marketing channels he’s found more effective.
“We put some money into it, we risked some money to experiment,” he says, “and it just didn’t work.”
How many times have you faced difficulties while transferring from one person to another? Have you ever questioned why transactions are so slow? Why do I have to pay charges for the transaction?
Then this article will definitely help you to get rid of all your problems regarding transactions.
But before that let us find an answer to the question, where are we right now in the process of evolution? We are living in a world of revolutions, machines and digitization. We improved ourselves and updated technology as time passed but we still lack in offering basic financial services to everyone and satisfy them with the results.
Libra is a cryptocurrency built on blockchain technology, it is developed to improve millions of people by giving them a platform to be a part of digital currency. And to do this all you need is a mobile and data connection. It is fast, safe, and stable.
The Libra association is a group of companies that are founding members of Libra. There are 28 companies which busily take part in the association and the strategy is to reach a total of 100 members who will act as the validators of the Libra currency.
Every institution present in this organization will get their share of the vote to make and finalize decisions regarding Libra and no individual will get higher than 1% of the total vote share.
People have different takes when it comes to trust in cryptocurrencies, one can easily trust Libra as it is backed by a reserve with constant liquid assets by combining with several other groups of exchanges and other liquidity providers. These assets stabilize the value of Libra.
The software used for developing Libra is a new programming language called Move it is used to execute and develop decentralized finance, smart contracts, and transaction logic.
When Facebook first announced it was getting into the crypto business—with a basically unregulated currency called Libra—the reaction from Wall Street and government bankers was about as expected. Fast-foward a few months, and Libra is in trouble. The social media giant had lined up a long list of corporate backers for the initiative, including major players in the payments space. And in October 2019, several prominent backers began to back out. Here’s how Facebook’s crypto future got into serious trouble. » Subscribe to CNBC: https://cnb.cx/SubscribeCNBC » Subscribe to CNBC TV: https://cnb.cx/SubscribeCNBCtelevision » Subscribe to CNBC Classic: https://cnb.cx/SubscribeCNBCclassic About CNBC: From ‘Wall Street’ to ‘Main Street’ to award winning original documentaries and Reality TV series, CNBC has you covered. Experience special sneak peeks of your favorite shows, exclusive video and more. Connect with CNBC News Online Get the latest news: https://www.cnbc.com/ Follow CNBC on LinkedIn: https://cnb.cx/LinkedInCNBC Follow CNBC News on Facebook: https://cnb.cx/LikeCNBC Follow CNBC News on Twitter: https://cnb.cx/FollowCNBC Follow CNBC News on Instagram: https://cnb.cx/InstagramCNBC#CNBC Why Facebook’s Libra Cryptocurrency Is In Trouble
Facebook invented the ‘like’ button as a subtle way of sending a message, short of adding a comment, that you supported whatever it was your friend posted on the social network. It was like a virtual nodding of your head at whatever they shared, a “Yeah, I agree with that,” without saying a word.
Over time, the ‘like’ became a little more flexible, adding a few other emotive options. You can now add a range of options from a heart, laughing, angry, or even sad. It also happens to be how many people measure whether or not a post was worth the time it took to create, the metric being, how many ‘likes’ did it get?
Soon, however, the ‘like’ may be no more, at least not as a measure of popularity. That’s because Facebook is apparently testing what happens when they remove the ‘like count’ from posts.
The test was discovered by app researcher Jane Manchun Wong, who spends a lot of time digging under the hood of the apps you use everyday, to discover unreleased features that are being tested. And it isn’t just a hunch–Facebook has confirmed to Techcrunch that it plans to test removing the feature.
I reached out to Facebook, but did not immediately receive a response.
Facebook has already begun testing this on Instagram (which was also discovered first by Wong), and apparently the company views it as a success because it has continued to roll it out to additional countries. According to Verge, users in the test have responded positively overall.
The problem with ‘likes.’
Here’s why this is interesting. Facebook helped created a world where people obsess over how many likes their selfies and photos of their pets receive. For many, it’s become a signifier of self-value. It even has a name: The ‘like’ culture.
Now it appears the company clearly realizes that the adverse effects of that culture have real world consequences for people. Anxiety over how much attention a social media post receives is a real thing. Depression and bullying online are also real. The best case scenario–at least for the users–is that they simply stop using social media site. The worst-case-scenario is, well, far worse.
Why engagement matters.
Part of the problem for Facebook is that if people fear that their content might not get very many ‘likes,’ they could be less interested in sharing. If they don’t share, overall engagement goes down. And engagement is extremely important to Facebook. Engagement means that people are using the site, which means they’re able to view the target ads that make the company a lot of money.
My guess is that most people won’t love this change at first, but it’ll be better for all of us in the long run. If it helps people become less addicted to the instant gratification that comes with little red notification dots and ‘like counts,’ it’s a step in the right direction.
If it helps people become a little less obsessed with what other people think about the curated view into their lives that they share online, we’ll all be better off. In that regard, I’ll give Facebook credit for helping people’s mental health, even if it may also helps the company at the same time.
Facebook, which has been under fire for not doing enough to combat misinformation, said Thursday that it took down hundreds of fake accounts that had ties to the government of Saudi Arabia and that posed as news outlets and criticized rival countries.
The social media giant has previously announced takedowns of fake accounts associated with other countries, such as Russia. But the company typically stops short of directly linking fake accounts to a government.
“Although the people behind this activity attempted to conceal their identities, our review found links to individuals associated with the government of Saudi Arabia,” Facebook’s head of cybersecurity policy, Nathaniel Gleicher, said in a blog post.One of the fake accounts tied to Saudi Arabia posted about Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman kissing the head of a wounded soldier
The government of Saudi Arabia didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Overall, Facebook pulled down 217 Facebook accounts, 144 Facebook Pages, five Facebook Groups and 31 Instagram accounts it said were tied to Saudi Arabia. These accounts spent $108,000 on Facebook and Instagram ads while raking up more followers, Facebook said. About 1.4 million accounts followed at least one of these Facebook Pages.
The social network removed these accounts for “coordinated inauthentic behavior,” which means they misled others about who they were and the purpose behind the account.
Separately, Facebook also found another network of fake accounts tied to the United Arab Emirates and Egypt, but it didn’t specify government involvement in those cases. The social network removed 259 Facebook accounts, 102 Facebook Pages, five Facebook Groups, four Facebook Events and 17 Instagram accounts associated with those two countries.
“We are making progress rooting out this abuse, but as we’ve said before, it’s an ongoing challenge,” Gleicher said.
Now, a new survey has found there is “substantial” public interest in Facebook’s potential bitcoin rival, despite a lack of trust in the company, with people already more familiar with it than ethereum, litecoin and Ripple’s XRP.
Facebook founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg might have his work cut out to convince U.S. and global regulators of libra’s potential, but the general public might already be on board.
Bitcoin and Facebook’s libra were given an awareness boost by U.S. president Donald Trump last week when he tweeted his opposition to both technologies but he may have inadvertently introduced the idea of bitcoin and cryptocurrencies to a whole new audience.
New research, carried out by U.S. brokerage eToro, has found that while 58% of the U.S. adults have heard of bitcoin, the first and largest cryptocurrency, Facebook’s libra is already known by 16% of people—just a month after it was unveiled.
Ethereum, the second-largest cryptocurrency, has achieved only 12% recognition since it went live in July 2015 and it can be assumed that smaller cryptocurrencies litecoin and Ripple’s XRP are still less well known.
“We believe that crypto and the blockchain technology that underpins it will be essential to tomorrow’s economy,” said Guy Hirsch, U.S. managing director of eToro. “By introducing the concept to a new audience, libra could play a vital role in the evolution of decentralized and more democratized finance.”
The bitcoin price has been climbing so far this year, largely due to interest in cryptocurrencies from Facebook and the world’s biggest tech companies.
Meanwhile, the survey suggests that people may not be willing to trust Facebook to correctly manage payments, perhaps due to its on-going data-sharing scandal.
A little over half (54%) of respondents, out of some 600, expressed doubts over Facebook’s management of their personal data but only 17% indicated they would be willing to trust Facebook with their money the same way they trust their banks.
Like a proud parent, Jack Davis has covered the refrigerator in his Wilshire Boulevard office with artwork. But these aren’t crayon-drawn stick figures of Mom and Dad. They’re the stuff of nightmares—a demonic entity with shark teeth, a cannibal with thorns sprouting from his head, a tree that likes to disembowel its victims.
The gruesome creatures crawled out of the imagination of Davis’ Crypt TV, a digital studio that aspires to become the Marvel of monsters for mobile. Davis, 27, has raised $11 million from investors including Hollywood producer Jason Blum (Us, Ma), media mogul Shari Redstone’s Advancit Capital, Huffington Post cofounder Kenneth Lerer and NBCUniversal. The four-year-old Los Angeles studio, which creates horror videos for social networks, is on track to bring in about $20 million in revenue this year through production deals, running ads for films like Crawl and selling merchandise.
When he started, “no one was doing scary for mobile,” Davis says. That signaled a missed opportunity. “This is a huge genre. It has a solid fan base, and scary movies are very, very big.”
The Golden Age of streaming has birthed Netflix competitors that cater to nearly every genre, from U.K. shows on Britbox to anime on Crunchyroll and, yes, horror on Shudder and Screambox. At the same time, studios like Elisabeth Murdoch’s Vertical Networks have built audiences that are reached primarily through mobile-first social networks such as Snapchat and Instagram, which more than a billion people visit each month.
Davis and Crypt TV cofounder Eli Roth, the film director and producer who developed Netflix’s first horror series, Hemlock Grove, bet that an audience who loved films like Jordan Peele’s Oscar-nominated Get Out would snap up suspense and horror on the small screen, too.
It’s an intuition that’s paying off. Crypt TV said on Friday that it had reached a deal with Facebook to develop five series exclusively for Facebook Watch, its on-demand video service. The deal extends a partnership started in 2018, when Facebook green-lighted a 15-episode series based on Crypt’s short film The Birch.
Facebook has been paying as much as $25 million for these original shows, though the bulk of them cost $3 to $5 million, according to a person familiar with the matter. Forbes estimates the new Crypt TV deal is valued at less than $20 million. Neither party would disclose the terms of the partnership.
Facebook might seem an unlikely place to screen monster movies for Generation Z and younger Millennials, who make up nearly half of Crypt TV’s audience. One Pew Research Center survey last year found that the world’s largest social network is no longer the most popular hangout for teens, a big drop from earlier in the decade. Plus, Facebook Watch has struggled to gain traction. A year after Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg launched Watch to better compete with Google’s YouTube and Snapchat’s Discover, only half of Facebook users had ever heard of it, says The Diffusion Group, a media research consultancy.
Still, momentum is gathering for shows that capitalize on the network’s power to amass communities to talk about shared interests—say, Jada Pinkett Smith’s talk show, Red Table Talk, or Sorry for Your Loss, a drama on grief starring Elizabeth Olsen. Facebook says more than 140 million people each day spend at least a minute viewing Watch videos.
“It’s very hard to say that a platform … (of) two-plus billion people on it doesn’t have young people on it,” says Matthew Henick, Facebook’s head of content planning and strategy. “What Crypt does incredibly well is—because they’re able to tell their stories through many different modes or, in this case, products—they’re able to find those audiences and pull them in.”
Crypt TV taps into a community that likes to be scared. Horror has been reeling in fans on the big screen: The genre brought in a record $1 billion in box office sales in 2017, according to Comscore.
Some fans want to get their goose bumps for free. Thanks to The Birch, which was viewed 26 million times on Facebook, the studio now has 9.75 million followers, or more than triple its YouTube audience. On Davis’ fridge hang mementos from fans. One shared a photo of her tattoo—it’s of the Look-see, a creature with no eyes and flesh that’s been stitched together.
“Young people have so much emotion,” Davis says. A scary story “provides an amazing, permissive structure to take on deep emotional issues.”
A fortuitous encounter at a dinner party hosted by his parents in West Los Angeles led to the creation of Crypt TV. Then a student at Duke University, Davis found himself sitting next to Roth and began reciting dialogue from Roth’s portrayal of the bat-wielding Nazi killer Donny Donowitz in Inglourious Basterds.
The conversation turned to Davis’ career plans. The sociology and political science major said he hoped to launch his own company, capitalizing on the dramatic shift in media viewing habits he’d observed during his four years in college. Roth had a suggestion.
“I said, ‘You know that audience that’s going to see horror movies now’—because obviously now horror has exploded—‘They’re all on their phones,’” Roth recalls. “What is the next generation of characters? Who is creating the new Freddy Krueger? Is there a way to launch a Freddy? A Jason? A Michael Myers? A Chucky? Just on your phone?”
Roth introduced him to Blum, who became Crypt TV’s earliest investor and served as a mentor to the company’s 23-year-old founder.
An early success was #6SecondScare, an October 2014 online competition that encouraged users of Vine, Twitter’s six-second video service, to upload their scariest videos.
Roth lent his name to the contest and coaxed Hollywood celebrities including Quentin Tarantino and High School Musical’s Vanessa Hudgens to promote it and serve as judges. #6SecondScare attracted 20,000 submissions and ended up featured on ABC’s Good Morning America.
In the summer of 2015, Davis’ team launched Snapchat Murder Mystery, a show that gathered ten social media influencers to a mansion party, then killed off their characters in an Agatha Christie-styled whodunit. A year later came Crypt TV’s breakthrough moment with The Birch. The four-minute video follows a terrified schoolboy who summons an ancient being in the woods to dispense a particularly bloody form of retribution on the boy’s tormentor.
Davis faces his own monster lurking in the dark: Quibi. The mobile video subscription service comes with a Hollywood pedigree, a $1 billion cash horde and some of the best-known filmmakers in horror, Guillermo del Toro (The Shape of Water, Pan’s Labyrinth) and Sam Raimi (Evil Dead), as well as Blum, producing original content.
Quibi launches in April—though Crypt TV, in classic horror film fashion, has gotten a running start.