Recently, presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren put forward the idea to reverse certain tech mergers to promote healthy competition in the market, particularly including Facebook and Instagram. In an op-ed shared today by Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes, that topic is revisited (via The New York Times).
According to Hughes, the Federal Trade Commission’s “biggest mistake” was letting Facebook acquire Instagram and WhatsApp. As the co-founder pointed out, many people left Facebook following the Cambridge Analytica scandal, but they didn’t leave the Facebook ecosystem altogether because of Instagram and WhatsApp, with some people unaware that Facebook-owned these social networks.
First, Facebook should be separated into multiple companies. The F.T.C., in conjunction with the Justice Department, should enforce antitrust laws by undoing the Instagram and WhatsApp acquisitions and banning future acquisitions for several years.
How would a breakup work? Facebook would have a brief period to spin off the Instagram and WhatsApp businesses, and the three would become distinct companies, most likely publicly traded. Facebook shareholders would initially hold stock in the new companies, although Mark and other executives would probably be required to divest their management shares.
In the years since its acquisition, the founders of both Instagram and WhatsApp have left each company, reportedly due to clashing with Mark Zuckerberg and his management of their apps. Hughes described an informal slogan that became well-known in the Facebook offices in the wake of its launch of the “Stories” format on Instagram and Facebook: “Don’t be too proud to copy.”
The vibrant marketplace that once drove Facebook and other social media companies to compete to come up with better products has virtually disappeared. This means there’s less chance of start-ups developing healthier, less exploitative social media platforms. It also means less accountability on issues like privacy.
Mark may never have a boss, but he needs to have some check on his power. The American government needs to do two things: break up Facebook’s monopoly and regulate the company to make it more accountable to the American people.
Although the Cambridge Analytica scandal has passed, in 2019 Facebook continued to appear in headlines regarding data breaches and user privacy issues. In April alone, it was reported that Facebook’s executive team used the data of its users as leverage over partner companies; two days later it emerged that Facebook harvested the email contacts of 1.5 million users without their knowledge or consent and used the data to build a web of their social connections.
That same day, Facebook confirmed that millions of Instagram passwords were stored on its servers in plain text with no encryption. Similar stories have been shared frequently since news broke about-about the Cambridge Analytica scandal just over one year ago.
Amid all of the news, Facebook today announced the launch of a new feature for Stories called “Birthday Stories.” Using this ability, friends and family members can add digital birthday cards, photos, or video messages to your Birthday Story, which will be visible at the top of the Facebook iOS app like other Stories.
The feature will be available in the birthday notification that pops up when a friend is celebrating their big day. From there, you’ll be able to take a photo or video, share a music sticker on the Story, and more. Once multiple people have added to the Birthday Story, the person in question will be able to browse it like any traditional Facebook or Instagram Story.
The company said that its goal with the new update was expanding on existing birthday features on Facebook, while also continuing to push interaction with Stories. It’s been over two years since Facebook Stories began rolling out to users, and nearly three years since Instagram first copied the Stories format from Snapchat.
Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.
Netflix Just Lost More Than $16Billion In Market Value
Netflix reported earnings on Wednesday night, and the results were disastrous. The company saw its first major loss in US subscribers last quarter, and a mere 2.7 million paid customers added globally, nearly half of what was forecast. Stocks dropped by more than 10 percent just after the report came out. It’s a terrifying slowdown for a service that’s based on subscriber growth and raises new questions about how long the company can justify its content spending spree.
On a call after the release, Netflix executives emphasized international markets where subscriber growth is still healthy. Nearly all the company’s new subscribers were from international markets this quarter, and according to CEO Reed Hastings, there’s still plenty of room to grow there.
“There are about 700 million households that pay for TV outside of China — the equivalent of the US hundred million — and that’s one established market,” Hastings said on an investors call Wednesday night. “Do we have enough content in each of those countries? The internet is capable of some very large customer bases.”
Netflix executives also spent a significant portion of their call talking about India, where the company expects significant growth. It’s a largely unsaturated market and one that Netflix has tried to develop content for over some time. Netflix is about to launch five new originals for India, some of which may be marketed to audiences in the US and Europe, too.
“We’ve been seeing nice, steady increases and engagement with our Indian viewers that we think we can keep building on,” Sarandos said. “Growth in that country is a marathon. We’re in it for the long haul.”
That international focus is paying off, according to Sarandos. Three particular shows — How to Sell Drugs Online (Germany), The Rain (Denmark), and Quicksand (Sweden) — have all found big audiences outside of their native region. Each show has amassed between 12 and 15 million global viewers, Sarandos said, adding that although “they’ve been deeply relevant in the home country, and travel the region very, very well,” their finding audiences everywhere.
“We’re seeing some real locally, regionally and globally relevant content coming from all over the world,” he added.
At the same time, the company is facing a steeper path than ever in the United States. Netflix lost subscribers this quarter for the first time in years, a combination of the price hike and a content lull. As the US market becomes oversaturated with streaming services — with WarnerMedia, Disney, and Apple all launching streaming services — the only way to ensure growth is going outside the United States. Netflix currently has 60 million paying domestic subscribers, and Hastings believes they can get to 90 million, but the risk of market saturation is real and raises difficult questions for the company’s content strategy.
“Netflix’s subscriber spiral reveals a dangerous decapitating of their growth strategy,” financial analyst Eric Schiffer told The Verge. “Investors can expect to see a near-insane level of development spending overseas.”
But the company is facing a number of problems that could affect their overall growth in the years to come. Netflix is losing a number of heavily watched licensed series, like Friends and The Office, to competitors WarnerMedia and NBC Universal respectively. A lack of enticing originals, which plagued the company’s most recent quarter and helped contribute to a loss of 130,000 subscribers, will continue to grow unless Netflix can ramp up production. It’s part of the company’s plan — permanent studio sets have been purchased for Netflix to produce films and TV shows faster.
Executives know they are going to have to start replacing people’s favorite TV shows, which they don’t own and are departing for competitor services, with new shows and films. That immediate loss of licensed content is going to be felt in the United States more so than other countries because of agreements with rights holders, and that’s a market they know they’ll have to step up their game in to keep subscribers happy.
“We’re getting our members much more attuned to the expectation that we’re going to create their next favorite show,” Sarandos said. “Not that we’re going to be the place where you can get anything and to every time.”
Netflix is still putting lots of money behind US shows and movies, signing hundred-million-dollar deals with high-profile showrunners like Shonda Rhimes and Ryan Murphy. Adam Sandler’s Murder Mystery was viewed by more than 73 million household accounts worldwide — more than Netflix’s entire US base.
Although Hastings and Sarandos wouldn’t say how much of their budget is being allocated for US spending, the company is making big bets on Hollywood projects. Bright, which starred Will Smith, cost close to $100 million to make. Martin Scorsese’s upcoming film, The Irishman, reportedly cost Netflix around $140 million. The company was also in talks to buy a movie theater in Los Angeles. Netflix isn’t giving up on the US, but it’s essentially combining everything around the world for people. Executives are willing to spend an exuberant amount of money on securing tentpole features, top series, and creators in the United States as a way to stay ahead of the major competition that has back catalogs of fan-favorite movies and TV shows Netflix doesn’t.
All that adds up to an increased focus on international content, even for US users. That’s why subscribers in America are starting to see shows from Denmark or Spain promoted on their front page. People will start to see more Japanese anime and Indian originals, too. The investment Netflix puts into each country will be more difficult to assuage as everything gets looped together. But Netflix is reportedly spending more than $15 billion this year on content alone. The company wants to fight to keep your attention; it’s just clear from their earnings that fight is getting tougher than ever.
Viral App, #FaceApp Now Owns Access To Over 150 Million People’s Faces And Names : Forbes
The viral app, FaceApp has been giving people the power to change their facial expressions, looks, and age but at the same time, people have been giving FaceApp the power to use their pictures and names for any purpose it wishes, for as long as it desires.
According to Forbes, ‘over 100,000 million people have downloaded the app from Google Play and FaceApp is now the top-ranked app on the iOS App Store in 121 countries, according to App Annie. While according to FaceApp’s terms of service people still own their own “user content” (read: face), the company owns a never-ending and irrevocable royalty-free license to do anything they want with it.
When you post or otherwise share User Content on or through our Services, you understand that your User Content and any associated information (such as your [username], location or profile photo) will be visible to the public.
That may not be dangerous and your likeness may stay on Amazon servers in America, as Forbes has determined, but they still own a license to do whatever they want with it. That doesn’t mean the app’s Russian parent company, Wireless Labs, will offer your face to the FSB, but it does have consequences, as PhoneArena’s Peter Kostadinov says:
You might end up on a billboard somewhere in Moscow, but your face will most likely end up training some AI facial-recognition algorithm.
Instagram Hides Number Of ‘likes’ On Post To Prevent Low Self Esteem
Social media platform, Instagram is hiding ‘likes’ count in various countries such as Australia and Japan to “remove pressure” on users.
The trial which begins today, Thursdays, 18th July, will see ‘Instagrammers’ just seeing a user name and “others” liking the post rather than seeing a username and a particular number of people liking the post.
However, users can view the number of likes on their own post.
This step has been taken because there have been concerns that social media platforms can contribute to low self-esteem and feelings of inadequacy in the youth.
In May, Instagram launched a similar trial in Canada and the new test is rolling out in Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Italy, Japan and Brazil, the company told the media.
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