World News

Google and Facebook face fresh fines for dominating UK advertising space

TECH giants Google and Facebook are facing fines for dominating online advertising space, the competition watchdog has said.

The Competition and Markets Authority said UK expenditure on digital advertising was around £14 billion in 2019, with 80 per cent of it going to Facebook and Google.

Google makes up more than 90 per cent share of the £7.3 billion search advertising market in the UK, while Facebook has a share of over 50 per cent of the £5.5 billion display advertising market.

The CMA is concerned by the amount of power the pair have due to their large user base, making it impossible for rivals to compete on equal terms.

To reduce their power, it wants a new pro-competition regulation in place, backed by a code of conduct to ensure such platforms don't exploit customers or unfairly exclude rivals.

Looming over them should be threat of fines if necessary to make them comply.


"What we have found is concerning – if the market power of these firms goes unchecked, people and businesses will lose out," Andrea Coscelli, CMA chief executive, warned.

"People will carry on handing over more of their personal data than necessary, a lack of competition could mean higher prices for goods and services bought online and we could all miss out on the benefits of the next innovative digital platform."

The call comes after a year-long study found both companies had "unmatchable" access to user data, allowing them to target advertisements.

It also said they used default settings to nudge people into using their services and giving up their data.

The CMA warned the dominance was impacting newspapers and other publishers' revenues, leaving them reliant on Google and Facebook for almost 40 per cent of all visits to their sites.

It said a Google should open up its click and query data to rival search engines so they could improve algorithms and compete fairly.

There also needs to be restrictions the firm's ability to secure its place as the default search engine on mobile devices and browsers.

Meanwhile, Facebook should be made to increase its interoperability with other social networks, as well as offering users a choice over whether to receive personalised advertising.

Ronan Harris, vice president for Google UK and Ireland, said, the company supported “regulation that benefits people, businesses and society” and will continue to work with government.

"Digital advertising helps businesses find customers and supports the websites that people know and love,” he said.

"Advertisers today choose from a wide range of platforms that compete with each other to deliver the most effective and innovative ad formats and products.

A Facebook spokesman said it has introduced “industry leading tools” for people to control how their data is used to inform the ads they see.

"Providing a free service, funded by advertising that is relevant and useful, gives millions of people and businesses in the UK the opportunity to connect and share.

"We face significant competition from the likes of Google, Apple, Snap, Twitter and Amazon, as well as new entrants like TikTok, which keeps us on our toes.”

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World News

Facebook responds as ad boycott begins: Platform 'does not profit from hate'

200+ brands boycotting ads on Facebook

FOX Business’ Susan Li says the Clorox Company, along with other companies, are pausing advertisements on Facebook in an effort to target the social media platform for reported hate speech.

Facebook Vice President of Global Affairs Nick Clegg published an open letter Wednesday saying the social media platform "does not profit from hate."

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The letter comes as major companies including Coca-Cola, Ford, Microsoft and most recently, Lego, announced that they would pull ads from Facebook and its subsidiary Instagram to boycott hate speech on the platform starting Wednesday.

"I want to be unambiguous: Facebook does not profit from hate. Billions of people use Facebook and Instagram because they have good experiences — they don't want to see hateful content, our advertisers don't want to see it, and we don't want to see it. There is no incentive for us to do anything but remove it," Clegg wrote.

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Clegg said "everything that is good, bad and ugly in our societies will find expression on our platform," which has more than 3 billion active users.


Activist groups including the ADL, NAACP and more are urging major companies to pull ads from Facebook as part of their #StopHateForProfit campaign. The groups allege that Facebook turns a "blind eye to voter suppression" and gives white supremacists a place to spread hate speech.

But Clegg argued in the letter that Facebook removes hate speech faster than YouTube and Twitter.

"A recent European Commission report found that Facebook assessed 95.7 [percent] of hate speech reports in less than 24 hours, faster than YouTube and Twitter. Last month, we reported that we find nearly 90 [percent] of the hate speech we remove before someone reports it — up from 24 [percent] little over two years ago," Clegg wrote.


Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has come under fire for promoting the idea of free speech and for not taking action against posts from President Trump that Twitter decided to label.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before a House Financial Services Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

"We have a different policy than, I think, Twitter on this," Zuckerberg said in a May 27 interview with Fox News. "I just believe strongly that Facebook shouldn't be the arbiter of truth of everything that people say online. In general, private companies probably shouldn't be – especially these platform companies – shouldn't be in the position of doing that.”


Facebook has since updated its policies, saying in a June 26 blog post that the website will start labeling content it previously would not have flagged if they were deemed "newsworthy," including posts from politicians.


Clegg added in his letter that Facebook still errs "on the side of free expression because, ultimately, the best way to counter hurtful, divisive, offensive speech, is more speech. Exposing it to sunlight is better than hiding it in the shadows."

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Facebook bans violent ‘boogaloo’ extremist network

Facebook has banned a violent subset of the anti-government “boogaloo” movement after authorities linked its members to real-world attacks.

The social-media giant called the extremist network as a dangerous organization — the same category it applies to white supremacist groups and terrorists — after months of tracking its involvement in protests around the US.

“This violent network is banned from having a presence on our platform and we will remove content praising, supporting or representing it,” Facebook said in a Tuesday blog post. “It is actively promoting violence against civilians, law enforcement and government officials and institutions.”

Authorities have tied boogaloo activists to acts of violence stemming from recent protests over the police killing of George Floyd, which Facebook indicated was a factor in its decision. Followers of the movement have varying ideologies but are generally anticipating a second American civil war.

Facebook said it removed more than 300 Facebook and Instagram accounts, 28 pages and 106 groups on Tuesday in an effort to dismantle the violent boogaloo presence on its platforms. The company also took down more than 400 groups and more than 100 pages that “hosted similar content as the violent network we disrupted but were maintained by accounts outside of it,” according to the blog post.

Facebook’s move came after US Attorney General William Barr set up a government task force to combat boogaloo extremists. Among the members of the movement charged in recent weeks is Air Force sergeant Steven Carillo, who has been accused of killing a California sheriff’s deputy in May.

Facebook launched the crackdown amid an advertising boycott pushing the company to more aggressively tackle hate speech. A wide range of major companies including Verizon, Ford, Best Buy and Unilever have pledged to pause ads on Facebook for a month or more following calls from civil-rights groups.

In response, Facebook has said it is talking with marketers and civil-rights organizations about how to be “a force for good.” Its stock price has nonetheless dropped about 3.6 percent since the boycott campaign began.

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World News

Facebook bans accounts tied to anti-U.S. 'boogaloo' movement

Facebook facing long-term repercussions from ad boycott: Steelhouse CEO

Steelhouse CEO Mark Douglas discusses brands boycotting Facebook ads and the repercussions of pushing censorship.

 Facebook Inc stepped up the battle against the amorphous anti-government "boogaloo" movement on Tuesday, banning accounts of adherents who encouraged violence during recent anti-racism protests across the United States.

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The social media company for the first time designated a subset of boogaloo followers as a dangerous organization, marking them for the same sanctions Facebook applies to 250 white supremacist groups and organizations it categorizes as supporting terrorism around the world.

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FB FACEBOOK INC. 227.07 +6.43 +2.91%

The move came four days after Attorney General William Barr established a Justice Department task force to counter violent anti-government extremists including boogaloo as well as the left-wing antifa movement.

The boogaloo movement's name is inspired by the 1984 breakdancing film "Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo." Followers suggest that, just as the movie was a sequel, any coming conflict would be the sequel to the American Civil War.

"This violent network is banned from having a presence on our platform and we will remove content praising, supporting or representing it," Facebook said in a blog post. "It is actively promoting violence against civilians, law enforcement and government officials and institutions."


Facebook said it its policy was a blunt instrument that included removing praise for the banned network and shared pictures, so that many who thought posts were funny will also see their material taken down. The targeted network includes 106 Facebook groups and 220 accounts, and another 400 groups were also removed for hosting similar content.

Prosecutors have linked boogaloo followers to several violent incidents during the recent wave of protests across the United States following the May police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Two men inspired by the boogaloo movement were charged in California in the killing of a courthouse guard during a night of nearby protests.

In Las Vegas, three people who prosecutors say are members of the boogaloo movement were arrested and charged with planning to incite violence and destruction during protests.


Evidence of U.S. law enforcement's concern over boogaloo emerged in hacked documents published June 19 by the leaks site Distributed Denial of Secrets. Dozens of analysis documents concluded that the term is used by racially motivated and far-right actors encouraging violence against police.

The Southern Poverty Law Center advocacy group said the term boogaloo "is regularly deployed by white nationalists and neo-Nazis who want to see society descend into chaos so that they can come to power and build a new fascist state."


Instead of using widely known symbols, boogaloo imagery evolves rapidly, even shedding the word boogaloo in favor of homonyms like big igloo and big luau — and then adopting new symbols like igloos and Hawaiian shirts.

"Members of this network seek to recruit others within the broader boogaloo movement, sharing the same content online and adopting the same offline appearance as others in the movement to do so," Facebook said.


The company said it anticipated a complicated cycle of objections, evasions and evolutions as some of the banned account holders come back under new names.

Before Facebook's move, Reuters spoke with two administrators of a boogaloo Facebook page called Big Igloo Bois, created about a year ago, which has nearly 37,000 followers. Both are military veterans, one in his 40s from Pennsylvania and the second in his 30s from North Carolina.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, they rejected accusations that the boogaloo movement is extremist or violent.


"We're vehemently opposed to the idea of using violence to get your point across. We get kind of shoehorned into the idea of being violent extremists because we support the Second Amendment," one of the administrators said in reference to the U.S. Constitution's right to bear arms.

The Justice Department in a memo to law enforcement and prosecutors said extremists including boogaloo adherents had committed acts of violence.

"Some pretend to profess a message of freedom and progress, but they are in fact forces of anarchy, destruction, and coercion," Barr said.


The Big Igloo Bois Facebook account appeared to have been among those taken down on Tuesday. Last week, one of the group's administrators said: "Everyday I'm happy that we're still on Facebook."


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World News

Facebook updates how it prioritizes news on users' timelines

200+ brands boycotting ads on Facebook

FOX Business’ Susan Li says the Clorox Company, along with other companies, are pausing advertisements on Facebook in an effort to target the social media platform for reported hate speech.

Facebook is changing the way it prioritizes news stories in users' News Feeds, a company spokesperson confirmed to FOX Business Tuesday.

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The move comes as the tech giant faces scrutiny for not taking enough action against users who incite hate and violence on the platform and for not amplifying high-quality, original reporting.

"When we ask people what kind of news they want to see on Facebook, they continually tell us they want news stories that are credible and informative. Today, we’re updating the way news stories are ranked in News Feed to prioritize original reporting and stories with transparent authorship," Facebook Vice President of Global News Campbell Brown and Product Manager Jon Levin said in a Tuesday blog post.

The social media platform plans to address this goal in two ways: by promoting more original reporting and demoting reporting that lacks transparency, the company said.


Facebook will use artificial intelligence technology to identify and promote original reporting by identifying, which outlets are cited most often as the original source of a story. Additionally, the company aims to demote stories that come from outlets that do not include accessible information about the publisher’s editorial staff.


"We've found that publishers who do not include this information often lack credibility to readers and produce content with click-bait or ad farms; all content that people tell us they don’t want to see on Facebook," a spokesperson told FOX Business.

Facebook signup web page app on smartphone / iStock

While the new effort will likely not create a dramatic change in users' News Feeds because they will continue to see stories shared by their friends – although original reporting will be highlighted – it does signify a greater effort on Facebook's part to deliver higher-quality content to users who depend on the platform for news.

People on different sides of the political spectrum have criticized Facebook for its content moderation policies, which have changed in recent weeks.

Left-leaning users argue that the company promotes alt-right voices and hate speech, which has led dozens of large companies to pull advertisements from the platform and its subsidiary, Instagram, at the request of civil rights groups leading the #StopHate4Profit campaign.


Right-leaning users argue that the platform's algorithms stifle conservative voices. Non-profit investigative journalism organization Project Veritas recently revealed instances of Facebook employee bias in a series of recent reports and videos called "Expose Facebook."

On average, one-in-five U.S. adults often get their news from social media, according to a 2018 survey conducted by the nonprofit Pew Research Center. Sixty-seven percent of U.S. adults get at least some of their news from social media, a 2017 Pew Research report shows; 67 percent say that news comes from Facebook.


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Facebook Stock Under Pressure as Boycott Calls Gather Strength

Facebook, Inc. (FB) stock is set to open lower for the second trading day in a row on Monday after a wave of top-tier corporations pulled advertising from the social media giant, vowing to boycott through the November election if CEO Mark Zuckerberg doesn't take proactive measures to muzzle "hate speech." If fully implemented, the boycott could have a catastrophic effect on third and fourth quarter profits, sending the stock much lower.

Verizon Communications, Inc. (VZ), PepsiCo, Inc. (PEP), and The Cola-Cola Company (KO) lead a laundry list of blue-chip companies pledging to support the boycott. Facebook has announced it will "team up" with civil right groups and experts in an effort to forestall the boycott, but organizers are standing firm, awaiting more concrete action. It makes sense because Zuckerberg has assembled a poor track record on privacy and political initiatives in the wake of the 2016 election, in which foreign agents tried to sway U.S. opinion.

The company currently books $70 billion in annual advertising sales, with one-quarter coming from blue chips and the balance from small businesses. These less-known companies may also feel pressure to follow the boycott, but their participation is unlikely to make the evening news. In addition, small companies have been hurt badly by the coronavirus pandemic, making it that unlikely their ad spending will approach 2019 levels, even if Facebook makes peace with big corporations.

Wall Street has been quiet as a church mouse since boycott calls began, hoping that the company will resolve issues quickly. A wave of downgrades will be needed if that doesn't happen because analyst consensus of 30 "Buy" recommendations but no "Hold" or "Sell" calls doesn't match current events. That could be devastating to the current stock price, even though it has already sold off more than 35 points from last week's all-time high at $245.19.

Facebook Long-Term Chart (2012 – 2020)

The company came public to high expectations and widespread media coverage in May 2012, opening in the low $40s and trading up to $45 in the first hour of the regular session. That marked the highest high for the next 17 months, ahead of a decline that hit an all-time low at $17.55 in September. The subsequent bounce completed a round trip into the prior high in September 2013, setting off an immediate breakout that attracted intense momentum buying interest.

The stock lifted above $70 in March 2014 and eased into a rising channel, yielding a historic advance that finally stalled at $219 in July 2018. Facebook then tripped over its own feet, getting caught in a privacy scandal that triggered a 42-point sell gap and decline, breaking the rising channel. It dumped another 52 points before posting a two-year low in December 2018, while the uptick into 2019 stalled in July. Buyers returned in October, generating an uptrend that completed a breakout above the 2018 high in January 2020. The rally failed one month later, reinforcing new resistance at $224.

Facebook Short-Term Outlook

The vertical decline into March relinquished nearly 40% of the stock's value, bottoming out at $137.10. It bounced back to the February high in May and broke out once again, stalling above $240 around Memorial Day. June price action completed a triple top breakdown at that level after boycott news hit the headlines last week. The stock is now trading below the 50-day exponential moving average (EMA) for the first time since April 21, setting its sights on the 200-day EMA, which is perfectly aligned with the psychological $200 level.

Monday's opening bell will trigger the second failed breakout above the July 2018 high at $219, setting off additional sell signals that could drop Facebook stock into $200. Price action around that critical level should be instructive, with a mea culpa and action plan possibly inducing boycott organizers to back off. However, given skepticism after Zuckerberg's conciliatory weekend comments, much lower prices could easily follow.

The Bottom Line

A rapidly growing boycott movement puts Facebook in the hot seat just in time for the 2020 presidential election.

Disclosure: At the time of publication, the author held Verizon shares in a family account but held no positions in the other aforementioned securities.

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World News

Facebook exec Nick Clegg responds to ad boycott campaign

New York (CNN Business)Facebook is facing an advertising boycott unlike anything the company has experienced in recent history. A growing list of advertisers have signed onto the #StopHateForProfit campaign, protesting what they say are Facebook’s failures to stop the spread of hate.

The companies pulling ads from the site now include some of Facebook’s biggest advertisers, such as Verizon (VZ), Unilever (UL) and Starbucks (SBUX).
But on CNN’s “Reliable Sources” Sunday, Facebook (FB) Vice President for Public Affairs Nick Clegg pushed back on the premise of the boycott.

    Clegg skirted a question about how damaging the protest has been for Facebook, arguing instead that the social media giant does not benefit from the proliferation of hate speech on its platform.
    “We have absolutely no incentive to tolerate hate speech,” Clegg told CNN’s Brian Stelter. “We don’t like it, our users don’t like it, advertisers understandably don’t like it … We benefit from positive human connection — not hate.”

    Clegg stressed the efforts Facebook makes to combat hate speech on the platform. The company removes around 3 million items of hate speech content around the world each month, 90% of which are taken down even before being reported, he said.
    On Friday, CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced an expanded policy on hate speech, which includes banning ads that scapegoat minorities, immigrants, asylum seekers, racial or other groups, or claims that those groups are threats.
    Facebook will also apply warning labels to user posts that are newsworthy but violate the platform’s policies. The company has been criticized for its inaction on posts by President Donald Trump that other platforms, such as Twitter (TWTR), flagged as glorifying violence or spreading misinformation.
    But the moves may not have been enough to satisfy advertisers. After the expanded policy was announced Friday, Hershey’s (HSY) said it would join the boycott, saying, “we do not believe that Facebook is effectively managing violent and divisive speech on their platform.”
    And on Sunday, Facebook’s sixth-largest advertiser, Starbucks, also said it plans to pause all social media advertising. While it did not explicitly cite the #StopHateForProfit boycott, the coffee company said in a statement: “We believe more must be done to create welcoming and inclusive online communities, and we believe both business leaders and policy makers need to come together to affect real change.”
    Facebook boycott: View the list of companies pulling ads
    Clegg said he believes the company has made “meaningful change” but that Facebook will “redouble” its efforts to address hate speech on the platform in response to the protest.
    “Unfortunately, zero tolerance doesn’t mean zero occurrence,” Clegg said. “That’s why we constantly need to improve, implementing our policies, enforcing them so that we can seek out what, thankfully, is still a very small minority, but damaging minority, of content on the platform to make people feel safe and for people to continue to enjoy the positive useful experience that people come onto Facebook for in the first place.”

      Beyond specific instances of hate speech, Facebook has also faced criticism for the frequent presence of divisive speech on the site. Clegg said the company won’t be able to “get rid of everything that people react negatively to.”
      “We will continue what we think is the only sense of the way forward, to have clear rules, to bear down aggressively on hate speech in particular,” Clegg said. “We understand that it’s a very fraught intense time in the nation, and we will continue to demonstrate our sincerity dealing with this problem with the responsibility that we clearly do bear.”
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      World News

      Facebook removes Trump ads 'for violating our policy against organized hate'

      (CNN Business)Facebook will ban ads that scapegoat minorities, immigrants, racial or other groups as part of a wider crackdown on hate speech, according to CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

      The expanded policy will prohibit ads that claim these groups are a threat, Zuckerberg said on a livestream Friday. The new policy will also ban negative ads about immigrants or asylum seekers.
      “Specifically, we’re expanding our ads policy to prohibit claims that people from a specific race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, caste, sexual orientation, gender identity or immigration status are a threat to the physical safety, health or survival of others,” Zuckerberg wrote in a post. “We’re also expanding our policies to better protect immigrants, migrants, refugees and asylum seekers from ads suggesting these groups are inferior or expressing contempt, dismissal or disgust directed at them.”

        The announcement comes amid a widening backlash by advertisers against Facebook who have accused the company of facilitating the spread of hate speech on the platform. Facebook took its biggest hit yet on Friday as the household goods giant Unilever announced it is pulling its ads from Facebook and Instagram through at least the end of the year. Facebook’s stock fell about 7% following the news.
        Facebook and Twitter stocks dive as Unilever halts advertising
        Zuckerberg also announced that Facebook will begin applying warning labels to user posts that are newsworthy but violate the platform’s policies. Facebook was criticized for its inaction on posts by President Donald Trump that other platforms, such as Twitter, had flagged for glorifying violence or spreading misinformation.

        “We want to do more to prohibit the kind of divisive and inflammatory rhetoric that has been used to sow discord,” Zuckerberg said.
        He did not directly address Unilever’s announcement nor the #StopHateForProfit boycott campaign organized by civil rights groups.

          Rashad Robinson, president of the civil rights group Color of Change, called the remarks “11 minutes of wasted opportunity” and doubled down on calls for advertisers to boycott Facebook.
          “I hope companies advertising on Facebook were watching — if they want to put their money where their mouth is on racial justice, then it’s time to #StopHateForProfit,” he said.
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          Facebook Will Label Posts From Politicians That May Violate Policies

          Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that the platform will start to label posts from politicians and other public figures that may violate its policies, while removing posts that incite violence or suppress voting.

          “Even if a politician or government official says it, if we determine that content may lead to violence or deprive people of their right to vote, we will take that content down,” Zuckerberg wrote in a blog post.

          The new policies bring Facebook in closer alignment with Twitter, which drew the ire of President Donald Trump and a number of his supporters when it started to put fact checks and other warnings on some of his tweets.

          Zuckerberg has faced criticism from activist and civil rights for not taking greater steps to remove incendiary content. On Friday, Unilever joined other companies in announcing that they would not place ads on the platform, as well as on Instagram and Twitter. “Continuing to advertise on these platforms at this time would not add value to people and society,” the company said. Activist and other groups have been organizing a boycott of Facebook.

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          Zuckerberg wrote that they are prohibiting a wider category of “hateful content” in ads, with prohibitions on claims that people from “a specific race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, caste, sexual orientation, gender identity or immigration status are a threat to the physical safety, health or survival of others.”

          When it comes to regular posts, Facebook has been leaving up content from public figures that otherwise would violate their policies, “if the public interest value outweighs the risk of harm,” Zuckerberg wrote.

          “Often, seeing speech from politicians is in the public interest, and in the same way that news outlets will report what a politician says, we think people should generally be able to see it for themselves on our platforms,” he wrote.

          But he said that the labels will give users a chance to know when content is deemed objectionable.

          “We’ll allow people to share this content to condemn it, just like we do with other problematic content, because this is an important part of how we discuss what’s acceptable in our society — but we’ll add a prompt to tell people that the content they’re sharing may violate our policies,” Zuckerberg wrote.


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