|Day's Range||180.47 - 180.47|
Salesforce co-CEO Marc Benioff is weighing in on Facebook’s security and privacy controversies. Yahoo Finance correspondent Julia La Roche caught up with Benioff at Dreamforce in San Francisco earlier this week.
Facebook Inc has agreed to turn over additional documents after the California state attorney general's office went to court earlier this month to compel the social media firm to comply with requests for information in its privacy investigation. Under a joint stipulation filed in San Francisco Superior Court, the company agreed by Nov. 26 to respond some of the document requests. For California's document requests that remain in dispute, a judge will hold a Feb. 19 hearing.
(Bloomberg) -- Former U.S. President Barack Obama warned that technology is creating a more splintered world, fueling the disparities among wealthy and poorer nations, and people within countries.“The rise of extreme inequality both within nations and between nations that is being turbocharged by globalization and technology” is one of the biggest risks for young people, Obama said Thursday at Salesforce.com Inc.’s annual Dreamforce conference in San Francisco. “New technologies have allowed us reach. We have a global market. I can project my voice and you can take your technology to new markets. It has also amplified inequalities.”Though his successor Donald Trump has taken presidential use of Twitter to new heights, Obama has long been associated with the tech industry. His 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns were known for their use of the internet and social media to galvanize supporters. Some of Obama’s staffers came from Silicon Valley companies, including Alphabet Inc.’s Google, and there’s a diaspora of former Obama administration officials who have worked in the tech industry since leaving the White House, including David Plouffe, formerly with Uber Technologies Inc. and Amazon.com Inc.’s top spokesman Jay Carney.Still, the 44th president talked about how the internet has helped divide American politics and society.“People remark on the polarization of our politics and rightfully so,” Obama said. “People rightfully see challenges like climate change and mass refugees and feel like things are spinning out of control. Behind that, what I see is a sense of anxiety, rootlessness and uncertainty in so many people. Some of that is fed by technology and there’s an anger formed by those technologies.”Social-media services including Facebook Inc. and Google‘s YouTube have been accused of fueling polarization with algorithms that show people news and other content that match their preconceived thinking and viewpoints.“If you watch Fox News, you live in a different reality than if you read the New York Times. If you follow one rabbit hole on YouTube or the internet, then suddenly things look completely different,” Obama said during his conversation with Salesforce co-Chief Executive Officer Marc Benioff. “We are siloing ourselves off in ways that are dangerous. I believed, and I still believe the internet can be a powerful tool for us to finally see each other and unify us, but right now it’s disappointing.”Since leaving the White House in January 2017, Obama has become a fixture on the paid-speaker circuit. Thursday’s appearance at Dreamforce is at least Obama’s second appearance at a tech event in San Francisco in the last two months. He also spoke at a Splunk Inc. conference in September.To contact the reporter on this story: Nico Grant in San Francisco at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Jillian Ward at email@example.com, Andrew Pollack, Alistair BarrFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
Last week, (FB) (FB) said it plans to release a product called Facebook Pay, which will let Facebook users send money to one another directly, much like (PYPL)’s (PYPL) Venmo app. Google (GOOGL) is planning to offer checking accounts sometime in 2020.
Facebook Inc. is considering changes to its policy on political advertising, after coming under pressure after other social media companies said they would ban targeted ads, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday, citing people familiar with the matter. Facebook has talked with big Republican and Democratic political ad buyers about changes, including increasing the minimum number of people who are targeted in politic ads to a few thousand from 100, the people said. The thinking is that such a move would limit the spread of misinformation, which is often done by targeting narrow audiences. "As we've said, we are looking at different ways we might refine our approach to political ads," a Facebook spokesman told the paper late Wednesday and again on Thursday. Facebook shares were slightly higher, but have gained 51% in 2019, while the S&P 500 has gained 24%.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Google says it will limit the targeting of political ads to make it harder to sneak misinformation to impressionable voters. That puts the company ahead of the pack when it comes to making the political business of big internet platforms look less threatening. But the efficiency of political micro-targeting is questionable, and Google is responding to a moral panic rather than any real danger to democracy.Since the 2016 U.S. presidential election, the public has become aware of techniques that allow advertisers to aim their messages at narrow groups of people, sliced not just by place of residence, age and sex, but also by consumer and political preferences, browsing histories, voting records and other kinds of personal data. This culminated in the Cambridge Analytica scandal in 2018, when news reports showed that the U.K.-based micro-targeting firm had improperly harvested lots of private user data from Facebook. The platforms were on the spot to do something. Twitter has banned political ads entirely, but then it didn’t sell many, anyway, serving instead as a free platform for political messages. In an op-ed in the Washington Post following Twitter’s announcement, Ellen Weintraub, chairwoman of the U.S. Federal Election Commission, called for an end to political micro-targeting instead of an ad ban. “It is easy to single out susceptible groups and direct political misinformation to them with little accountability, because the public at large never sees the ad,” she argued.That was a controversial proposal. Writing in the same newspaper, Chris Wilson, who had been responsible for digital strategy in Senator Ted Cruz’s 2016 presidential campaign (which was the first in that election to hire Cambridge Analytica), countered that micro-targeting has helped increase voter turnout and drive down advertising costs for campaigns. His suggestion was to make the targeting more transparent.Google, however, found it more expedient to go along with Weintraub’s proposal than to fight an uphill battle using Wilson’s arguments. In a blog post on Wednesday, the company said it would no longer let advertisers target messages “based on public voter records and general political affiliations (left-leaning, right-leaning, and independent).” Only basic targeting by age, gender and postal code would be allowed.This, is course, is no more than Russian trolls would have required in 2016 — as Wilson pointed out in his Washington Post op-ed. Their propaganda campaign was largely geographically targeted. There’s still no proof that micro-targeting is more effective than other forms of advertising. Academic work on the subject has tended to be rather theoretical, while experimental evidence is scarce. In a paper published this year, German researcher Lennart Krotzek concluded after an experiment matching ads to personality profiles that “candidate messages are more effective in improving a voter’s feeling toward a candidate when the messages are congruent with the voter’s personality profile, but they do not result in a higher propensity to vote for the advertised candidate.”Internet platforms have done little to further the study of political targeting.Google offers a transparency report on political ads placed on its various properties — search pages, YouTube, the sites of media partners. It says that the biggest U.S. advertiser in the last 12 months is the Trump Make America Great Again Committee, which has spent $8.5 million. The report discloses that the pro-Trump group has targeted its most recent ads at all people older than 18 throughout the U.S., but offers no clues as to whether any more precise targeting was used. That’s the case with the rest of the advertisers, too.Facebook’s transparency report is just as opaque when it comes to the precise targeting of ads by voters’ interests and political leanings. It’s easier for Google than for Facebook to abandon precise targeting, because one of its key strengths is being able to link ads to search words. That’s a form of rather precise targeting not affected by Google’s policy change. Slicing and dicing the audience is at the heart of Facebook’s offering to advertisers, so it’s understandably hesitant to disable the feature, thought it, too, has been mulling some targeting curbs.But Facebook doesn’t have to make the sacrifice. It would make more sense to reveal exactly how each political ad is targeted — and to cooperate with researchers interested in evaluating the ads’ efficiency. Facebook has the means to deliver messages from such researchers to the target audiences, which would help them recruit subjects for experiments. Google should have done the same instead of introducing drastic curbs that probably won’t do much to raise the level of political discourse, anyway. Policymakers need data, not hype, to make informed decisions on how to regulate modern advertising.To contact the author of this story: Leonid Bershidsky at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Jonathan Landman at email@example.comThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Leonid Bershidsky is Bloomberg Opinion's Europe columnist. He was the founding editor of the Russian business daily Vedomosti and founded the opinion website Slon.ru.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
Solar-powered balloons doubling as cell towers could soon address the digital divide in rural Peru. Loon, the Alphabet subsidiary that uses stratospheric balloons to provide mobile internet to remote regions, announced today (Nov. 20) that it has signed a commercial deal to provide service to parts of the Amazon rainforest in Peru. It won’t be the first time Loon’s balloons make their ascent above Peru.
Facebook, in recent weeks feeling the backlash over its policies on political ads, is considering making changes to those policies, according to a report. Facebook shares at last check were up 0.21% on Thursday to $197.92. The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday that Facebook is weighing expanding the targeting guidelines for political ads, to several thousand people from 100, in an effort to contain the spread of misinformation.
The Facebook CEO and one of the company's conservative board members had a previously undisclosed dinner with the president
PayPal was one of the first to bow out of Facebook’s Libra Association in October, with other major partners including Visa Inc. (NYSE: V), Mastercard Inc. (NYSE: MA), Stripe, and eBay Inc. (NASDAQ: EBAY). The Libra Association announced twenty eight Founding Members, including companies like Andreessen Horowitz, Thrive Capital, Uber Technologies Inc (NYSE: UBER), LYFT Inc (NASDAQ: LYFT), and others when the project was revealed in June.
Tech stocks are leading the market by a wide margin in 2019, but Q3 2019 profit declines and high valuations are causes for concern.
It took grown-ups a while to catch on to the teen video craze TikTok. The Chinese startup ByteDance Technology did not seek approval from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States when it bought the social media company Music.ly for $1bn in 2017 and turned it into the looping video app TikTok. TikTok’s addictive short videos are popular all over the world.
Online platforms including Facebook and Alphabet Inc's Google face growing pressure to stop carrying political ads that contain false or misleading claims ahead of the U.S. presidential election. Facebook exempts politicians from its third-party fact-checking program, allowing them to run ads with false claims.
It says the two most dominant internet corporations should be compelled to abandon what it calls their surveillance-based business model, saying it is “predicated on human rights abuse.”
(Bloomberg) -- Facebook Inc. and Google were drawn into an escalating battle of wills Wednesday over the use of political advertising on social media.Trump campaign officials pressured Facebook to maintain its permissive political advertising rules, while Alphabet Inc.’s Google announced an overhaul of how campaigns may target their messages across the world’s largest search engine.The ability of candidates to show different messages to people based on their physical location, age, or other characteristic, referred to as micro-targeting, has become an increasing focus of the broader debate about political advertising online. Last month, Twitter Inc. said it will ban political ads on its platform altogether, and is restricting targeting for other ads related to some politically charged issues, like climate change.Google on Wednesday said it will ban candidates from targeting election ads based on people’s political affiliation, though the messages can be tailored based on gender, age and geography. The company also is eliminating a feature called Customer Match for political advertisers. The tool lets marketers upload their own lists of email addresses or phone numbers, and target ads specifically at those people.Facebook, the largest platform for online political advertising, has been under pressure to follow suit. Several prominent Democrats have attacked the company for refusing to fact-check political ads. Facebook has rebuffed those calls, saying it doesn’t want to police political speech. In October, hundreds of Facebook employees sent a letter to the company’s executives calling for new limits on ad targeting for political campaigns. The letter became public after it was obtained by the New York Times.Carolyn Everson, a Facebook vice president, said Monday at a Recode conference that the social-media company wasn’t considering changes to its targeted advertising options for political ads. Later that day, however, she told Axios, the news website, that Facebook hadn’t ruled out any specific changes, raising the prospect the company may change course and limit targeting in some way.The Trump campaign reacted directly to Everson’s comments. It sees Facebook as an essential tool for speaking directly to voters, instead of relying on critical media outlets that the president says treat him unfairly.Gary Coby, the Trump campaign’s digital director, argued on Twitter Wednesday that stopping campaigns from pairing in-house data with Facebook’s advertising tools would suppress voter engagement. “This would unevenly hurt the little guy, smaller voices, & issues the public is not aware of OR news is NOT covering,” Coby tweeted, saying it was very “dangerous” and a “huge blow to speech.”Tim Cameron, chief executive officer at FlexPoint Media, a Republican media strategy firm, said the Trump campaign is likely concerned that new restrictions could result in Facebook deciding to begin fact-checking political ads. “I think the Trump campaign is looking down the road beyond this decision and are actually more afraid of subsequent decisions that Facebook may make,” he said.Facebook hasn’t announced any changes to its policies. “For over a year, we’ve provided unprecedented transparency into all U.S. federal and state campaigns -- and we prohibit voter suppression in all ads,” a company spokesman said. “As we’ve said, we are looking at different ways we might refine our approach to political ads.”During the 2016 election, the Trump campaign ran 5.9 million different versions of ads, constantly testing them against different groups to increase engagement, according to internal Facebook documents reviewed by Bloomberg in 2018. It spent $44 million on Facebook in the six months before the 2016 election. So far in 2019, the Trump campaign has spent more than $15 million in ads, and is the largest political spender on the platform, according to Facebook’s political ad library.Before Google announced its changes, the company touted its ability to target voters based on political affiliations, like “right-leaning,” as a major selling point. “They were all heartily selling us this for years as the coolest thing since sliced bread,” said Will Ritter, the founder of Poolhouse, a political advertising firm.Google’s new restrictions mean campaigns may have to spend more after losing the ability to hit key voters, Ritter added. For instance, a candidate could identify frequent Republican voters in Democratic-heavy areas of the country, and reach them with ads on search and YouTube. Now they can’t.“It’s just going to increase costs because there’s going to be so much waste,” Ritter said.Irene Knapp, a former Google employee who now works for Tech Inquiry, a political advocacy group focused on ethical issues related to technology, said the ability to target makes online advertising particularly susceptible to abuse. Campaigns can test messages on certain audiences, find which ones resonate, then use tools provided by Facebook or Google to target those people with new ads while also reaching people with similar characteristics. Misleading messaging can be directed at specific audiences without drawing widespread attention.“You can be seeing one message that seems fine, and your next-door neighbor can be seeing some misinformation that is cleverly targeted to produce a very different response or action,” Knapp said.Knapp said Google’s Customer Match tool could be used to target racial groups, or engage in other behavior that violates the policies of the platforms. The equivalent tool on Facebook, “Custom Audiences,” still exists.(Updates with details on Google rules in the fourth paragraph.)\--With assistance from Alistair Barr.To contact the reporters on this story: Eric Newcomer in San Francisco at firstname.lastname@example.org;Kurt Wagner in San Francisco at email@example.com;Mark Bergen in San Francisco at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Jillian Ward at email@example.com, Andrew PollackFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- PayPal Holdings Inc. will acquire Honey Science Corp. for about $4 billion, its largest-ever acquisition, adding a startup that amasses valuable data on consumer buying habits and doles out coupons for online bargains.About 17 million people use Honey apps or web browser extensions to find discounts at online shopping sites. The startup was profitable in 2018, PayPal said in a statement. Shares of the payments giant were little changed in extended trading.Honey is valued at almost twice what PayPal paid for its next-largest deal, iZettle, the Swedish provider of small-business services it purchased in 2018, and marks the first major acquisition this year. Chief Executive Officer Dan Schulman has signaled that PayPal, with more than $10 billion in cash, is on the hunt for more deals after a string of takeovers last year that included Hyperwallet and Simility.“You can expect us to be acquisitive going forward,” Schulman said on a conference call with analysts this summer. PayPal looks at hundreds of potential deals every quarter and sees them as a way to expand globally and accelerate development of new products, he said. Schulman described acquisitions as “a part of who we are on an ongoing basis.”Honey, which was founded in 2012, will keep its base in Los Angeles, and the founders will continue to run the business. The company’s services include a browser extension that automatically applies coupons at e-commerce sites. In a statement, PayPal said that Honey’s capabilities will give its customers a better shopping experience, and help merchants drive sales, partly with more timely and personalized offers.Mark Palmer, an analyst at BTIG, said the acquisition would help PayPal make “significant advances” toward becoming more relevant to users. It could also give customers and merchants a reason to choose PayPal “in the face of increasing competition from tech companies, such as Facebook Pay.”As a shopping-focused browser extension, Honey has access to large amounts of customer data. Lisa Ellis, an analyst at MoffettNathanson, said that PayPal typically uses that information for purposes like fraud prevention. She added that if there were to be a privacy issue over data at the combined company that limited its use, some abilities, like targeted offers, could be curtailed.(Updates with Honey details starting in the fifth paragraph.)To contact the reporter on this story: Julie Verhage in New York at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Mark Milian at email@example.com, ;Tom Giles at firstname.lastname@example.org, Anne VanderMeyFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
Facebook Inc. on Wednesday announced new safety tools for advertisers that give them more control over the content where the ads appear. The social-networking giant said it is working with digital-brand companies Integral Ad Science, OpenSlate, and Zefr on the tools, which are expected to be rolled out next year. Facebook's announcement comes amid a swirl of controversy over its decision to run ads from politicians, regardless of their content. Facebook shares are up 50% this year; the S&P 500 index is up 23.6% this year.
As Catherine Collinson’s octogenarian father and stepmother downsized from a 4,000-square-foot home to a 1,400-square-foot, single-story home in a retirement community, their message to the rest of the family was clear: No more stuff, unless it’s functional or of great sentimental value. “In the end, they were able to keep their most sentimental items for themselves or within the family — but the process of downsizing was an ordeal,” Collinson said. When her dad visited a few weeks ago, Collinson, her brother and her sister-in-law opted for a more personal gesture: bringing him to an Antarctic dinosaurs exhibit at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County.
Facebook Inc. CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s criticisms of the Chinese government and its policies are not sitting well with company employees who hail from China. The Information reports there is increasing tension at the Menlo Park-based social media giant as members of its leadership speak out against the government in Beijing while the company hires more and more workers directly from mainland China. Chinese employees are becoming more vocal about what they see as anti-China bias at Facebook, especially after several events in the last few months that workers perceive as hostile to China, according to Business Insider.
Venture capital firms are typically the main contributors of funding for startups. The app company, which specializes in integrating social networking and video into smartphone games, confirmed Wednesday that it raised $3.85 million from Supercell, Tencent, Riot Games, Miniclip and Colopl Next — all key players in the mobile gaming space. The effort brings Bunch's total funding to more than $8.5 million.
Futures fell on China tensions over Hong Kong. Pinduoduo plunged on weak results. Target spiked higher again after strong earnings.