|Day's Range||113.49 - 113.58|
Guns are being bought and sold online through a loophole in Facebook Marketplace. Secondhand gun sellers often post misleading listings for gun accessories at a marked-up price, in order to get around Facebook's rules. CNET senior producer Dan Patterson joins CBSN with details.
Facebook Inc said on Thursday it had shut 216 social media pages, groups and accounts in Myanmar, some tied to the army, to stymie efforts to "manipulate or corrupt public debate". The company closed 89 Facebook accounts, 107 pages, 15 groups and five Instagram accounts, some of which had hundreds of thousands of followers, it said in a blogpost. The social media giant has previously removed hundreds of accounts, including that of Myanmar’s army chief, after criticism it had failed to act on hate speech amid violence against Rohingya Muslims in the country.
COB and CEO of Facebook Inc (30-Year Financial, Insider Trades) Mark Zuckerberg (insider trades) sold 125,600 shares of FB on 08/19/2019 at an average price of $186.36 a share. Continue reading...
(Bloomberg) -- Twitter Inc. removed hundreds of accounts linked to the Chinese government this week meant to undermine the legitimacy of Hong Kong protests. It also said it would no longer allow state media to purchase ads on its platform.What Twitter didn’t mention in its series of blog posts this week was the increasing number of Chinese officials, diplomats, media, and government agencies using the social media service to push Beijing’s political agenda abroad. Twitter employees actually help some of these people get their messages across, a practice that hasn’t been previously reported. The company provides certain officials with support, like verifying their accounts and training them on how to amplify messages, including with the use of hashtags.This is despite a ban on Twitter in China, which means most people on the mainland can’t use the service or see opposing views from abroad. Still, in the last few days, an account belonging to the Chinese ambassador to Panama took to Twitter to share videos painting Hong Kong protesters as vigilantes. He also responded to Panamanian users’ tweets about the demonstrations, which began in opposition to a bill allowing extraditions to China.China’s ambassador to the U.S. tweeted that “radical protesters” were eroding the rule of law embraced by the silentmajority of Hong Kongers. The Chinese Mission to the United Nations’ Twitter account asked protesters to “stop the violence, for a better Hong Kong,” while social media accounts of Chinese embassies in Manila, India and the Maldives shared articles from China’s state media blaming Westerners for disrupting the city. “Separatists in Hong Kong kept in close contact with foreign elements,” one story says above a photo of U.S. Vice President Mike Pence.“We know China is adept at controlling domestic information, but now they are trying to use Western platforms like Twitter to control the narrative on the international stage,” said Jacob Wallis, a senior analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s International Cyber Policy Centre.It’s unclear if any of these diplomats were set up on the service by Twitter, but the state-backed attempt to discredit Hong Kong protesters continues to reach millions of global Twitter users. In many cases, the Chinese officials are promoting views similar to those in 936 accounts Twitter banned on Monday.The practice of supporting Chinese officials who use Twitter to spread the Communist Party agenda highlights how difficult it is for the social media company to balance its commitment to root out disinformation and allow the expression of varying opinions. It also raises concerns around why Twitter is helping Beijing make its case to a global audience when the service is banned in China, where dissenting voices are prohibited and officials sometimes detain users accessing the platform through virtual private networks.Twitter’s recent effort to curtail China’s government-directed misinformation campaigns, which provoked outrage from state media, seems at odds with continuing to welcome pro-Beijing accounts that attack Hong Kong protesters, said Wallis.“There’s a clear tension for Twitter here having seen that Beijing is willing to use the platform in deceptive and manipulative ways, whilst desiring to use the platform for state diplomacy,” Wallis said.The tweets are part of a broader campaign by China to reshape the narrative over Hong Kong, particularly in Western nations more sympathetic to the democratic aspirations of protesters. China this week also sent a 43-page letter to senior editors at foreign news outlets, including the Wall Street Journal, Reuters and Bloomberg.Twitter says it works with public officials and politicians around the world, not just in China, and that everyone deserves a voice in the public discourse, as long as they follow its rules and policies. The company has used the same argument to defend hosting tweets by U.S. President Donald Trump, which some users have questioned. Twitter has said it aims to “advance global, public conversation” and that public figures “play a critical role in that conversation because of their out-sized impact on our society,“ in a blog post last year.On Monday, Twitter said in a blog post that it would block more than 900 accounts because they appeared to be part of a “coordinated state-backed operation” to “sow political discord in Hong Kong.” Some of the accounts accessed Twitter from unblocked IP addresses within mainland China, it said, suggesting the state condoned their activities. Twitter also said it would stop accepting advertising from state-controlled media: “Any affected accounts will be free to continue to use Twitter to engage in public conversation, just not our advertising products.”Twitter’s embrace of Chinese officials on the platform also highlights how some American tech companies try to make inroads in the enormous market, despite government restrictions on their services. Facebook Inc. founder Mark Zuckerberg, for example, has repeatedly expressed a desire to enter China. Twitter oversees the China business from offices in Hong Kong and Singapore.Like Google, Facebook and other sites blocked in China, Twitter sells advertising to Chinese companies like Huawei Technologies Co. and Xiaomi Corp. that are trying to reach overseas users. Before Twitter’s policy change this week, it had also sold ad space to Chinese state media companies that used them to push the narrative that Hong Kong protests were orchestrated by foreign forces and angry mobs unrepresentative of the city’s majority.Facebook said it has trained Chinese state media entities to use its services, but declined to comment on whether it also works with government officials. “We provide a standard set of guidance and best practice training to groups around the world including governments, political parties, media outlets, and non-profits so they can manage their Facebook Pages,” the company said in a statement, noting that their guidance is publicly available online.YouTube, part of Alphabet Inc., doesn’t have a specific policy that bars state-funded media, but the company’s ad policies require government-funded channels to be labeled as such. This week, state media including the Global Times published videos about the Hong Kong demonstrations, including an interview with a police officer who said he was “critically injured by violent protesters.” The company didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment on the matter.Both Twitter and Facebook have established programs to make sure public figures around the world sign up for their sites and understand how to use them effectively. The idea is that people who have a following — athletes, actors or singers — will create interest for their other users in the website. For years, the work has extended to politics, with the social networks signing up and training political figures. For example, Facebook has embedded staff with or trained Trump; Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, known for encouraging extrajudicial killings; and Germany’s anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany party (AfD) in how to most effectively use the platform, Bloomberg News has reported.Twitter and Facebook have implemented terms of service that ban certain practices, including bot accounts that appear to be real people and promote misinformation. But government officials and state media still have wide latitude to say what they want.“If Trump is going to use Twitter to deliver his message to the Chinese government, then it makes perfect sense China should be using this medium to send signals back,” said Samm Sacks, cybersecurity policy and China digital economy fellow at think tank New America. “But then we get into this coordinated state misinformation domain and it raises problematic questions around what is propaganda and what is misinformation.”(Updates with Facebook’s comment five paragraphs from the bottom.)\--With assistance from Mark Bergen, Kurt Wagner and Daniel Ten Kate.To contact the reporters on this story: Shelly Banjo in Hong Kong at firstname.lastname@example.org;Sarah Frier in San Francisco at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Peter Elstrom at firstname.lastname@example.org, Edwin ChanFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
Facebook’s 2019 has not been the best for good press. And now news is coming to light that it’s being used to sell guns. To Market Facebook expressly bans the sale of guns between individuals through Marketplace, the company’s answer to eBay or Craigslist, or anywhere else on the service, though licensed sellers are allowed to conduct their business. As reported by The Wall Street Journal, gun sellers will instead offer gun cases at extreme mark-ups, such as offering a case for $950 that has a retail value of $30. This mark-up has become code for gun enthusiasts, who will contact the sellers via private messages to hash out the particulars of the deal. Facebook has said that is uses “both humans and machine learning” to screen for guns and remove offending content, but it’s clear this is a difficult problem to control. Person To Person This workaround violates Facebook’s protocols, while standing in a legally gray area. Federal law doesn’t require background checks for the private sale of firearms, though many states do. Firearms sales across state borders are, in theory, supposed to be funneled through licensed gun dealers who conduct background checks, though this often doesn’t happen. People hoping to avoid background checks have long used the web to obtain guns, but it’s an entirely different matter when the leading social network is being used in such a matter. NRNAY Facebook had already been having a rough summer in the public eye, as shareholders are increasingly calling for CEO Mark Zuckerberg to be reigned in, and an antitrust investigation from the Federal Trade Commission looms. So this wasn’t the greatest time for the company to get caught in one of the most pressing debates of our time, as Democratic lawmakers are calling for tighter background checks and the banning of automatic weapons. This doesn’t seem too likely at the moment, as President Donald Trump has again abandoned promises to pass gun reform following pressure from the National Rifle Association. As progress on gun control continues to stall, many employees are pressuring their companies to do what they can, such as Walmart employees leaning on the company to take stronger action. Walmart, however, has continued to sell guns. -Michael Tedder Photo by Brian Woolston
The DOJ's antitrust chief said he was working with several state attorneys general to investigate alleged anti-competitive behavior of big tech companies.
Intel's (INTC) first AI-chip to facilitate companies having higher workloads with accelerated inference. Notably, Facebook is already utilizing the chip.
(Bloomberg) -- Equity hedge funds are enjoying their strongest performance since 2009 -- with the S&P 500 index up 16% this year -- but Goldman Sachs Group Inc. warns that crowding is a risk.Funds have benefited from both a rising stock market and successful stock selection, strategists including Ben Snider and David Kostin wrote in a note Aug. 20. They’ve also concentrated their holdings into a reduced number of industries, such as health care, and into single names, particularly Amazon.com. Inc. When rallies peak, too much professional money can try to get out of the same stocks simultaneously and exaggerate declines.“Funds continue to lift portfolio weights in their top positions, which are increasingly also the top positions of other funds,” the strategists wrote. “These dynamics, along with higher leverage, lower portfolio turnover, and declining market liquidity, have boosted the performance of momentum stocks while also increasing the risk funds face from crowding.”They added that this will “make funds particularly vulnerable to a potential market unwind, particularly if accompanied by the decline in liquidity that typically coincides with falling risk appetite.”Investment banks from Goldman to Morgan Stanley increasingly study the relative positioning of funds that compete with each other to beat benchmarks. The crowding issue is in focus this month, as August has seen a spike in stock and bond markets volatility. Hedge funds rushed for safety last quarter as Treasuries rallied and concerns about economic slowdown flared, regulatory filings compiled as of last week showed.Goldman found the most popular long positions had lagged the S&P 500. The favorite short positions trailed by even more. Overall, the average equity fund return in 2019 has been 9%.Alongside the success comes some concern as well, after examining the holdings of 835 hedge funds with $2.1 trillion of gross equity positions at the start of the third quarter.Goldman found a rotation continued from technology into health care, which is now the sector with the largest overweight versus the Russell 3000 Index, which like the S&P 500, is also up 16% this year. Overweights in health care and industrials are at a 10-year high, the report said. Funds trimmed positions in semiconductors and “other stocks exposed to U.S.-China trade conflict,” according to the strategists.Also, late June and July saw a sharp rise in exposures as the Federal Reserve began to cut rates and U.S.-China trade relations appeared to thaw, the strategists said. But leverage has been trimmed again in August. While the S&P 500 rose in June and July, it’s down 1.8% so far this month. Amazon.com appeared most frequently among the 10 largest holdings of funds, followed by Facebook Inc. New names on the list of the top 50 such stocks include Allergan Plc and Micron Technology Inc.(Adds S&P 500 performance in recent months in penultimate paragraph.)To contact the reporter on this story: Joanna Ossinger in Singapore at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Christopher Anstey at firstname.lastname@example.org, ;Samuel Potter at email@example.com, Todd White, John ViljoenFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
Facebook's (FB) launch of Off-Facebook Activity tool is expected to strengthen privacy control initiatives, which will boost user engagement.
(Bloomberg) -- Want the lowdown on European markets? In your inbox before the open, every day. Sign up here.China confirmed it has detained a U.K. consulate worker from Hong Kong, underscoring security fears of people traveling between the Asian financial hub and the mainland as Beijing struggles to contain weeks of unrest.China’s foreign ministry said Wednesday that the consulate worker, Simon Cheng, 28, was being held under administrative detention in the adjacent city of Shenzhen on allegations of violating local laws. While the U.K. has expressed concern over Cheng’s detention and offered him consular support, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang described the case as a domestic matter and warned London against meddling in its former colony.The case adds a new layer of diplomatic tension to Hong Kong’s political crisis, which has seen China sparring with the U.S. and the U.K. over their defense of the pro-democracy protests rocking the city for more than two months. Activists seized on Cheng’s detention as an example of the kind of opaque justice people were afraid of when hundreds of thousands of people began protesting now-suspended legislation that would’ve allowed extraditions to mainland China.Exacerbating Fears“The timing of this is very unfortunate because in some ways it plays up, fairly or not, a lot of the fears people have about the mainland justice system,” said Kevin Yam, a political commentator and member of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy Progressive Lawyers Group. “Beyond that, I think it’s hard to comment at this stage, because we don’t know what the details are.”Cheng was revealed to be missing Tuesday after failing to return from an Aug. 8 meeting in Shenzhen and hasn’t contacted his family since. The case was quickly subsumed into the broader protest movement, which in recent weeks has seized on specific incidents -- from injured demonstrators to aggressive police tactics -- to frame new rallies.On Wednesday evening, a small group of protesters staged a “Save Simon Cheng” rally outside the U.K. Consulate General in central Hong Kong. His case fuels concerns about the safety of diplomatic staff in China after Michael Kovrig, a Hong Kong-based security analyst on leave from Canada’s foreign service, was detained in December and later accused of espionage.Stern WarningCheng is being held under China’s Public Security Administration Punishment Law, a broad statute that lets police jail individuals without trial for up to 15 days for a wide range of relatively minor violations, including disrupting public order. The process doesn’t trigger an agreement requiring mainland authorities to notify when Hong Kong residents are detained, the city’s police force said.His family posted a statement on Facebook after China’s announcement, criticizing authorities for failing to provide information about his circumstances or where he was being held. The Chinese government “said only that he broke a public security law, but this law covers over 100 crimes,” the family said in the statement. “Saying this is equivalent to not saying anything. We don’t understand why they told the media, and did not tell family members anything.”The U.K.’s foreign office said Tuesday it was “extremely concerned” and was seeking information from authorities in Hong Kong and the southern Chinese province of Guangdong. U.K. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab spoke with Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam on Aug. 9 to discuss “concerns about the situation in the city and the protests there,” the foreign office said in a statement at the time that made no mention of Cheng.TensionsThe U.K. returned Hong Kong to Chinese rule in 1997 on the promise that Beijing would maintain the city’s independent courts, democratic institutions and capitalist financial system. Tensions between the two sides have simmered in recent weeks, after Beijing accused London of meddling by defending the rights of anti-government protesters.China has stepped up border controls near Hong Kong as authorities seek to prevent the financial hub’s unrest from spreading. Travelers into China are being asked to unlock their smartphones so Chinese agents can examine their chats and social media, Bloomberg News reported last week, citing a person familiar the procedure.“I’m not going to Shenzhen anymore,” said Desmond Chan, a 22-year-old student at Hong Kong Baptist University who attended the rally outside the British consulate. “They can check our phones, invade our privacy and then detain us. We have no say. It’s horrifying.”‘Horrifying’While Cheng is employed by the U.K. consulate and works for Scottish Development International, which encourages firms to do business with Scotland, he appeared to lack the legal protections of a full-fledged diplomat. He holds a British national overseas passport, which China recognizes as a travel document but not as proof of citizenship.Chinese officials invoked a similar loophole in 2016 when the U.K. government questioned the disappearance of Lee Bo, a seller of books critical of the Communist Party who later turned up in the possession of mainland police. Lee, who also held a British national overseas passport, became the poster child for people worried about the erosion of Hong Kong’s autonomy.Geng, the foreign ministry spokesman, told reporters that Cheng’s case was “entirely China’s internal affair,” before adding a fresh warning to the U.K.“Recently, the British side has made a lot of erroneous remarks on Hong Kong,” Geng said. “China has made clear our position and made stern representation to the U.K side. We urge the British side to stop inciting more trouble and waving fingers and making accusations.”\--With assistance from Dandan Li, Peter Martin, Karen Leigh and Natalie Lung.To contact Bloomberg News staff for this story: Iain Marlow in Hong Kong at firstname.lastname@example.org;Lucille Liu in Beijing at email@example.com;Sheryl Tian Tong Lee in Hong Kong at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Brendan Scott at email@example.com, Stuart BiggsFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
I'll admit it: I've gotten Snap (NYSE:SNAP) wrong. I've spent much of this year arguing that Snap (or, as some still refer to it, Snapchat) shares have moved too far and that the SNAP stock price was too high. So far, that cautiousness has proven foolish.Source: ArthurStock / Shutterstock.com Indeed, SNAP stock has nearly tripled so far this year. Among nearly 700 stocks with a market capitalization over $10 billion, only Roku (NASDAQ:ROKU) and Sea Limited (NYSE:SE) have done better.That performance, however, includes a bit of a pullback of late. Despite a blowout Q2 report last month, the SNAP stock price has fallen roughly 10% from post-earnings highs. There may be some profit-taking after the big gains. And with even analysts turning bullish, it could be that, at least in the near term, SNAP is running low on potential buyers.InvestorPlace - Stock Market News, Stock Advice & Trading TipsAnd there are still valuation concerns. SNAP remains unprofitable. It's one of many high-flyers that could get dinged in another market swoon. There's still a lot of work for Snap to do to support even the current valuation. * 10 Undervalued Stocks With Breakout Potential All that said, first-half earnings show that there's a real path for Snapchat stock to keep its elevated levels. Also, it could potentially move higher. At this point, an investor's opinion on SNAP comes down to whether he or she believes it can move down that path. Incremental Margins and the SNAP Stock PriceOne of the concerns with SNAP stock is that its margins might not be quite as good as those of social media rivals like Twitter (NYSE:TWTR) or Facebook (NASDAQ:FB). Incremental usage on, say, Facebook costs the provider almost nothing. For Snapchat, a messaging app, the costs are higher, if still modest.Indeed, Snap's gross margins were negative as recently as 2016. But first-half results show real progress in moving toward profitability when looking at the company's incremental margins. Incremental margins are the profitability shown on each additional dollar in revenue. For Snap in 2019, they've been very strong.In fact, in the first quarter, they were over 100%. Revenue increased $89.8 million year-over-year; adjusted EBITDA increased by $94.4 million. That type of improvement probably is unsustainable, but even second quarter results were strong. Incremental margins (again, on an EBITDA basis) in Q2 were 72%. How Much Revenue Does Snap Inc Need?Over the past four quarters, Snap Inc has posted an adjusted EBITDA loss of $391 million. Assuming 70% incremental margins, it would need another roughly $560 million in revenue to break even on an EBITDA basis.That's still a lot of growth: revenue over the past year has been roughly $1.4 billion. That figure, then, probably needs to increase about 40% for Snap Inc simply to get back to zero. Of course, Snap posted revenue growth of 39% in Q1 and 48% in Q2, meaning the company should get to positive adjusted EBITDA by Q2 or Q3 of 2020.That said, near zero EBITDA doesn't support what remains a $22 billion market capitalization. To get to that point, Snap probably needs to get to at least $750 million in EBITDA, using Twitter's approximately 30-times multiple. That requires at least another $1 billion in revenue.Looked at another way, Snap's revenue needs to at least double just to get the company to the point where it can support a stock price of $16 on an EV/EBITDA basis. And so, anyone buying Snapchat stock here needs to believe that the top line can roughly triple in the next few years. That seems like a big ask. How Snapchat ImprovesThat said, it's certainly doable. 200% revenue growth in five years would require a roughly 25% annual growth rate. Snap has grown revenue 43% year-over-year for the past six quarters. And it has tools to keep that growth intact.Notably, Snap has tremendous room for improvement in monetizing its users. An analyst noted in April that its monetization was one-third that of Twitter and one-fifth that of Facebook.One way to do that is by getting more advertisers. Chief Business Officer Jeremi Gorman made exactly that point on the Q2 conference call:We believe the single biggest driver for our revenue in the short to medium term will be increasing the number of active advertisers using Snapchat. We have significant headroom in our business, given high levels of user engagement and ample supply of available impressions.In other words, Snapchat has plenty of inventory to sell to advertisers. The issue, at least per management, isn't necessarily user growth, which had flatlined before an impressive Q2 jump. Rather, Snap has to find those advertisers.And it's making progress doing so. ARPU (average revenue per user) has steadily increased at least 37% in each of the last four quarters. Yet Snap still has minimal monetization, particularly overseas. The company generates barely $1 in quarterly revenue per user outside of North America. That's almost 60% of its user base. The Case for SNAPIf Snap Inc can triple revenue in the next five years, Snapchat stock likely rises over that stretch. To get there, it needs to get more advertisers. To beat that mark, it needs user growth as well.And so, the case for SNAP stock comes down to largely those two aspects. Can the company better compete with Facebook, Twitter and Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOG, NASDAQ:GOOGL) for online advertising dollars? And can it drive user growth, particularly where it's struggled outside of the age 13 to 34 demographic?In December, investors largely thought the answer to both of those questions was "no." Now, they're more confident. But there's still more upside ahead if Snap Inc can deliver on both fronts.As of this writing, Vince Martin has no positions in any securities mentioned. More From InvestorPlace * 2 Toxic Pot Stocks You Should Avoid * 10 Cheap Dividend Stocks to Load Up On * The 10 Biggest Losers from Q2 Earnings * 5 Dependable Dividend Stocks to Buy The post How Snap Stock Can Get Where It Needs to Go appeared first on InvestorPlace.
Facebook’s new digital currency, Libra, is under early scrutiny from the EU’s antitrust regulators, according to two people familiar with the matter. The European Commission has sent out questionnaires to groups involved with the Libra project as part of a preliminary information-gathering operation, amid concerns the currency could unfairly disadvantage rivals, the people confirmed. Facebook and the commission both declined to comment on the investigation.
EU antitrust regulators want to know whether Facebook's proposed Libra cryptocurrency and its use of consumer data pose possible anti-competitive constraints, people familiar with the matter said on Wednesday. The European Commission sent out a questionnaire earlier this month to various parties involved in Libra, giving respondents two to three weeks to provide feedback, the people said. The EU competition enforcer's main focus is on the use of consumer data, the people said.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- In France, they call it taking mustard after dinner. In Germany, they talk about a child having already fallen in the well. In England, they speak of closing the stable door after the horse has bolted.They all are good ways of describing how regulators have tended to deal with the world’s biggest tech firms. But when it comes to Facebook Inc.'s digital coin, Europe's antitrust watchdog seems to be intent on breaking with this previous inaction.Bloomberg News reported on Tuesday that the European Commission is scrutinizing the two-month-old Libra project and the group backing it amid concern the currency will be detrimental to competition. This is a good sign the regulator will do something about it.That’s welcome because antitrust authorities have, over the years, repeatedly failed to prevent the sort of practices which have cemented the dominance of Silicon Valley firms in their target markets. Regulators then struggle to rebalance the market after the fact.Some past decisions look misguided in hindsight. The most obvious are Google’s $3.2 billion acquisition of DoubleClick in 2008, which cemented the search giant’s control over digital ads, and Facebook’s purchases of Instagram and WhatsApp – deals that made it the preeminent social network.Facebook’s plan should give regulators plenty of reasons for concern. The organization administering the digital currency, the Libra Association, comprises 28 members so far, but the extent of Facebook’s leading role warrants closer examination.QuicktakeWhy Everybody (Almost) Hates Facebook’s Digital CoinThe motivation for many of the members seems at this stage to be a fear of missing out. After all, Facebook’s 2.4 billion monthly active users give it unparalleled scale. But that could also be construed as the Menlo Park, California-based firm abusing a dominant position: Members of the association might feel they can’t risk being left out, so have little choice but to take part.The group includes most of the world’s biggest payments companies: Mastercard Inc., Visa Inc., Paypal Holdings Inc., Stripe Inc. and Vodafone Group Plc, whose M-Pesa mobile money transfer service is dominant in parts of Africa.That means it could be seen as a horizontal agreement, according to Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Aitor Ortiz. Those kind of arrangements may be acceptable in certain cases if they benefit the end user, but are normally anti-competitive if they consolidate the influence of a discrete group at the expense of consumers or rivals.Facebook has said that it won’t push ahead with Libra until it has secured all the necessary regulatory approvals. The European Commission’s message seems to be: Don’t push your luck. If the group fails to pay heed, it risks fines and punishments further down the line. That will make it harder to sign up new partners who are unwilling to expose themselves to such regulatory hazards.One has to wonder whether the growing regulatory scrutiny the currency is attracting will make the project worth the effort for Facebook. For sure, the social networking giant needs to find a way to diversify its revenue away from advertising. But I’m unconvinced that Libra does that.If anything, it will become another pillar of the advertising business by supplying valuable data on purchasing intent: every time you make a purchase using Facebook’s digital wallet, you give the company a better understanding of what you’re buying and why.All this highlights the contradiction at the heart of Libra: if it is truly independent, what’s in it for Facebook? Regulators are right to press for an answer.To contact the author of this story: Alex Webb at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Edward Evans at email@example.comThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Alex Webb is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering Europe's technology, media and communications industries. He previously covered Apple and other technology companies for Bloomberg News in San Francisco.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Ho Ching, who is married to Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, took to Facebook to defend her husband’s pay, which looks higher than those of many government leaders.Singapore’s wage system stands out as it doesn’t have any other perks in kind during office, and no pensions or other benefits after the term ends, Ho said in a post published Wednesday. She was responding to an article by local blog site Seedly that compared Lee’s pay to that of U.S. President Donald Trump, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam and others.“In most, if not all, other countries, they would have many other perks during term of office, like butlers and hairdressers, free flights on national airlines, even family holidays, etc; and quite a number like the USA would include perks after end of term of office,” she wrote.Lee’s annual pay is S$2.2 million ($1.6 million) including bonuses, according to the government’s website. His pay was such fodder for speculation that the government dedicated a webpage on the subject in September 2018, which said Lee doesn’t get a performance bonus.The city-state has previously said that million-dollar ministerial earnings prevented corruption and helped attract and retain talent. It cut the salaries after voter unhappiness over a widening income gap weakened support for the ruling party in the 2011 elections and said last year that its ministers won’t be getting a raise anytime soon.Ho, who is also Chief Executive of state investment firm Temasek Holdings Ltd. -- which has come under the public spotlight on its own executive compensation -- said those in public and social services need to have skills and commitment, on top of other qualities.Having “these qualities of excellence, we must not take advantage of them to underpay, or require them to wear hairsuits for a show of sainthood,” she wrote.To contact the reporter on this story: Chanyaporn Chanjaroen in Singapore at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Marcus Wright at email@example.com, Joyce KohFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
Twitter and Facebook's suspension of accounts they said were spreading misinformation about the anti-government protests in Hong Kong is the latest move in their global crackdown on state-backed disinformation campaigns.On Monday, Twitter said 936 banned accounts originating from China were "deliberately and specifically attempting to sow political discord in Hong Kong" as part of a "coordinated state-backed operation", and violated the company's "platform manipulation policies" that forbid spam, coordinated activity and fake accounts.Facebook released a statement the same day banning a small number of accounts, pages and groups involved in "coordinated inauthentic behaviour" that it said were linked to "individuals associated with the Chinese government" based on an internal investigation.Following US allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, social media giants such as Facebook and Twitter have been under pressure to stop the proliferation of fake news and misinformation on their platforms.Facebook has cited "coordinated inauthentic behaviour" to shut down accounts and pages from countries including Russia, Iran, Pakistan, India and the Philippines. Photo: AP alt=Facebook has cited "coordinated inauthentic behaviour" to shut down accounts and pages from countries including Russia, Iran, Pakistan, India and the Philippines. Photo: APStarting last year, Facebook and Twitter have stepped up their purges of fake and suspicious accounts they claim are part of coordinated efforts by state-backed actors.Facebook's claim of "coordinated inauthentic behaviour" for its latest ban on Chinese accounts has been used several times before to justify shutting down thousands of suspect accounts and pages from countries including Russia, Iran, Pakistan, India and the Philippines.The term is used by the company to describe misinformation campaigns designed to deepen political divisions, according to the company's head of cybersecurity policy, Nathaniel Gleicher.Some of the banned Facebook accounts have been linked to state media, the military and political parties.For instance, more than 600 Facebook pages and accounts linked to India's opposition Congress party that criticised the ruling BJP were pulled shortly before the country's elections in April.In March, nearly 2,000 accounts linked to Russia were banned for posting spam related to political issues affecting Ukraine such as the Russian annexation of Crimea."This is part of a much larger conversation on disinformation in general ... which got started in 2016 with the [Donald] Trump election," said Lokman Tsui, assistant professor at the School of Journalism and Communication at Chinese University of Hong Kong."There was a lot of controversy over to what extent Russia was behind the disinformation campaign to influence the US elections. In this case, China is singled out but they are not just picking on China out of the blue," he said."The Chinese government really started all of this in the first place, when they started blocking all foreign websites and media for spreading lies and rumours inside China. So let's not forget the other side of the picture," Tsui added.Yik Chan Chin, a media and communications professor from Xian Jiaotong-Liverpool University in Suzhou, agreed that the bans did not intentionally target China, but said Twitter and Facebook did not provide enough evidence from their internal investigations to prove the accounts were linked to Beijing."I'm not entirely sure this is state-backed behaviour. They need to give us more evidence because this is a very serious allegation," Chin said. "They say that the accounts are from within China, but still, even [if they are] within China it doesn't mean they are state-backed."She added that patriotic Chinese internet users, such as those on the Diba forum, frequently posted anti-protest content on Western social media platforms of their own free will.Hong Kong has seen months of anti-government protests triggered by a now-shelved extradition bill that would have allowed criminal suspects to be sent to mainland China.A Chinese internet governance official, who declined to be named because of the issue's sensitivity, accused Twitter of using disinformation as a pretext to clamp down on pro-China views posted on the network by individuals."This is a group of patriotic youth gathered online to tell the world the truth, because Western media has been reporting on events in Hong Kong in a distorted way all throughout, ignoring the violence committed by the protesters," he said.The official cited a 2016 Oxford University study that found "no evidence of pro-Chinese state automation on Twitter" while automation was "associated with anti-Chinese-state perspectives".Similarly to Facebook, Twitter has suspended thousands of profiles from Russia, Iran and the US for what it calls "coordinated platform manipulation". Many of the accounts were targeted in the run-up to the US midterm elections in November.In May and June 2018 alone, it suspended more than 70 million bots and spam accounts as part of a mass purge of misinformation, but did not specify which countries the accounts were linked to.But Chin disputed Twitter's claim that its latest crackdown on Chinese accounts was due to their "undermining the legitimacy of the Hong Kong protest movement"."I'm not sure whether they should take this political position. That's making a political argument. How can you say, as a media company or technology company, whether the protests are legitimate or not?" Chin said. "But I think their statement that the accounts have been suspended for violating their platform manipulation policies is quite justified."In the latest move, Twitter also announced that it would no longer accept advertising from state-controlled media outlets, following a 2017 ban on adverts from Russia Today and Sputnik in response to allegations of Russian election interference."Fighting bias or the information war is very difficult for Chinese media, because it does not have a very high reputation or credibility," Chin said. "Even if they want to present the other side of the story, most people in the West would distrust them because they claim that it is state-controlled media ... regardless of whether the report is accurate or not."This article originally appeared in the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the most authoritative voice reporting on China and Asia for more than a century. For more SCMP stories, please explore the SCMP app or visit the SCMP's Facebook and Twitter pages. Copyright © 2019 South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved. Copyright (c) 2019. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.
Much unlike calendar 2018, calendar 2019 has been a really good year for shares of global social media giant Facebook (NASDAQ:FB). Year-to-date, FB stock is up more than 40%. For what it's worth, FB stock fell 25% in 2018.Source: rvlsoft / Shutterstock.com Most signs indicate that calendar 2018 was the anomaly, and that FB stock will sustain this year's strength into the foreseeable future. Specifically, there are three big reasons Facebook stock looks good here and now.First, the fundamentals suggest that Facebook stock has upside to levels far above $200 before 2019 is out, implying big upside potential over the next three months. Second, the optics suggest that investors will have a big appetite for FB stock over the next 12 months, and that big appetite should push Facebook shares higher for the foreseeable future. Third, the technicals look really good here, and suggest that Facebook stock is due for a big end-of-year rally.InvestorPlace - Stock Market News, Stock Advice & Trading TipsNet net, FB stock looks compelling here and now. Here's a deeper look. Fundamentals Suggest Upside to Above $200The primary and most important reason to buy FB stock here and now is that the fundamentals are strong and improving, and pave the path for the stock to soar -- and stay -- above $200 before the year is out. * 10 Stocks Under $5 to Buy for Fall Along with a roster that includes Instagram, WhatsApp, and Messenger, Facebook owns the world's most popular digital properties. More than 2.7 billion people around the world use at least one of those apps on a monthly basis. So long as Facebook keeps those 2.7 billion users in its ecosystem, ad dollars from around the globe will continue to flow into the Facebook ecosystem. Indeed, Facebook has steadily increased its share of the digital ad market from 9% in 2014, to nearly 20% last year, through better-than-peer advertising solutions and wider reach.This share expansion will persist, mostly because Facebook has a ton of untapped real estate; Messenger and WhatsApp largely don't have ads, while Facebook has plenty of room to incorporate ads into Stories across all of its platforms. Thus, by 2025 when the digital ad market will probably measure around $650 billion, Facebook will likely own around 25% of that market -- translating into over $160 billion in revenue in 2025 (~16% CAGR from 2018).At the same time, margins are finally starting to stabilize after getting chopped down in 2018 by big data security investments. Those big investments will phase out, and operating margins will start to crawl higher next year.Net net, by 2025, I see Facebook as a $160 billion-plus revenue company with 40% operating margins. Those are big numbers. They should generate around $19 in 2025 EPS. Based on a growth stock average 20x forward multiple, that implies a 2024 price target for FB stock of $380. Discounted back by 10% per year, that equates to a 2019 price target north of $230, 18% upside from current prices. Optics Support Strong Investor DemandThe second big reason to buy FB stock here and now is that the optics will improve into the end of the year, supporting healthy investor appetite for shares of Facebook for the foreseeable future.Ever since the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke, Facebook has been plagued with consistently negative headlines ranging from data security issues, to big-tech break-up talk, to adverse legislation. Investors have grown somewhat numb to these headlines, because none of them have have had a sustainable impact on the operating fundamentals. That's why -- despite those headlines sticking around in 2019 -- FB stock is is up more than 40% year-to-date.As we head into the last few months of 2019, these negative headlines will stick around. But, there will also be a surge of positive headlines which should boost investor sentiment.Most of those positive headlines will come from the e-commerce space. Specifically, Facebook is in the early stages of plunging into this world, and this will be the first holiday shopping season for many of Facebook's e-commerce initiatives, like Instagram Shopping. I suspect a lot of younger consumers will spend big this holiday season through Instagram. That tailwind will show up in the numbers, and will get investors bullish about Facebook's long-term potential in the shopping and services world. * 10 Undervalued Stocks With Breakout Potential As investors grow increasingly bullish regarding Facebook's long-term e-commerce growth prospects, they will gobble up FB stock, and shares will climb above $200. Technicals Imply Big End-of-Year RallyThe third big reason to buy FB stock here and now is that the technicals look good, and imply that Facebook stock is setting up for a big end-of-year rally. Click to EnlargeAfter a rough 2018, Facebook stock put in a bottom on Christmas Eve 2018. Ever since, it's been up, up, and away for FB stock. During this up, up and away phase, Facebook stock has formed a strong, multi-quarter support line that has tested and held two times before. Each time it did so, the stock's relative strength index was tumbling towards oversold territory. Further, after each successful test-and-hold of this support line, FB stock reversed course and rallied over the subsequent several months.Facebook stock just tested and held that support line for a third time. As such, history suggests that FB stock is in the first inning of another impressive rebound rally towards levels above $200 by the end of the year. Bottom Line on Facebook StockFacebook stock is up big year-to-date. The fundamentals, optics, and technicals all imply that the year-to-date strength in FB stock, will persist into the end of the year. As such, buying FB stock here and now as it is bouncing back from a mini sell-off seems like the smart move.As of this writing, Luke Lango was long FB. More From InvestorPlace * 2 Toxic Pot Stocks You Should Avoid * 10 Cheap Dividend Stocks to Load Up On * The 10 Biggest Losers from Q2 Earnings * 5 Dependable Dividend Stocks to Buy The post 3 Big Reasons to Buy Facebook Stock Here While It's Still Below $200 appeared first on InvestorPlace.