Turbotodd

Ruminations on tech, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Archive for the ‘facebook’ Category

More News from Facebook

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Are you still getting a lot of your news from Facebook?

If so, you’ll be glad to hear Facebook is offering news outlets millions of dollars for the rights to put their content in a new news section that Facebook hopes to launch later this year.

According to a report from the WSJ, Facebook reps have told news execs they would be willing to pay as much as $3M a year to license headlines and previews of articles from news outlets.

Turbo to Facebook: I’ll do it for $1.5M!

Outlets FB pitched to: ABC News, Dow Jones, WAPO, and Bloomberg.

It’s unclear if this is a move intended to assuage all those publishers that have watched their digital revenues get sucked up into the FB vortex, or an honest-to-goodness attempt to compete with burgeoning aggregators like Apple News (and their paid version, Apple News +).

In any event, the WSJ seems to conclude that the publishers are (rightfully) skeptical — they’ve been burned by FB’s fake news models in the past (see Facebook for Instant Articles).

Written by turbotodd

August 9, 2019 at 4:15 pm

Posted in 2019, facebook, news

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The Fold Unfolds Again

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Psych!

Samsung’s Galaxy Fold is unfolding once again.

According to a report from The Verge, Samsung says it has made improvements to protect the Fold’s screen and will release it in September (after having first delayed its April launch).

That sounds like a lot to unfold in just a few short months.

What’s new?

The top protective layer of the Infinity Flex Display has been extended beyond the bezel, making it apparent that it is an integral part of the display structure and not meant to be removed.

Galaxy Fold features additional reinforcements to better protect the device from external particles while maintaining its signature foldable experience.

The top and bottom of the hinge area have been strengthened with newly added protection caps. Additional metal layers underneath the Infinity Flex Display have been included to reinforce the protection of the display. The space between the hinge and body of Galaxy Fold has been reduced.

We’ll see how the emerging Fold unfolds.

Meanwhile, Facebook earnings came out for Q2, reporting $16.9B, up 28 percent YOY, and average DAus up 8 percent YOY (to 1.59B). 

So if you thought everyone (including all your teens and tweens) were leaving Facebook, think again.

Some venture deals: Cashierless retail store solution provider Standard Cognition has raised a $35 Series B by EQT ventures, and Toyota has invested $600M in Didi Chuxing (China’s Uber equivalent).

Written by turbotodd

July 25, 2019 at 10:00 am

Don’t Send in the Telegram!

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On the subject of Puerto Rico and the Telegram chat hacks: Am I the only person out there wondering how this happened if Telegram is supposed to be so secure?

I’ve looked on Telegram’s Twitter feed and blog, and it’s a major no comment, bury your head in the sand.

Rumors have abounded today that PR Gov. Rickardo Rossello will be resigning, but I’ve received no telegrams to that effect just yet.

Did nobody everywhere learn anything from Iran Contra??!  If you don’t want it to become a scandal, don’t write it down. ANYWHERE!  The Nation magazine went long on this story a few years ago now.

On to the much bigger story of the day: The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has hit Facebook with a $5 billion fine and new privacy checks, reports a lot of outlets, including The Verge.

In the agreement filed today, the FTC alleges that Facebook violated the law by failing to protect data from third parties, serving ads through the use of phone numbers provided for security, and lying to users that its facial recognition software was turned off by default. In order to settle those charges, Facebook will pay $5 billion — the second-largest fine ever levied by the FTC — and agree to a series of new restrictions on its business.

Aside from the multibillion-dollar fine, Facebook will be required to conduct a privacy review of every new product or service that it develops, and these reviews must be submitted to the CEO and a third-party assessor every quarter. As it directly relates to Cambridge Analytica, Facebook will now be required to obtain purpose and use certifications from apps and third-party developers that want to use Facebook user data. However, there are no limits on what data access the company can authorize to those groups once the disclosure is made.

NOTE: I own a few Facebook shares, but I still have four words…fox (still)…guarding…henhouse.

On the streaming wars front: Netflix is launching a $2.80 per month mobile-only subscription plan in India, although it’s restricted to one mobile device at 480p def.

Will Netflix expand this option to the U.S. and other markets to gain more share? Stay tuned!

And on the funding front: Payroll and HR software maker Gusto raised a $200M Series D co-led by Fidelity and Generation Investment Management, and camping listing/booking platform Hipcamp raised a $25M Series B led byy Andreessen Horowitz, bringing its total take to $41.8M. 

Don’t forget to bring the marshmallows!

Written by turbotodd

July 24, 2019 at 3:01 pm

Facebook Introduces Crypto Play

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Facebook introduced its new plan around cryptocurrency earlier today, including Libra, a new cryptocurrency, and Calibra, a new Facebook subsidiary that will oversee Libra financial services.

It was a crypto shot hear ‘round the world.

More details from The New York Times:

The effort, announced with 27 partners as diverse as Mastercard and Uber, could face immediate skepticism from people who question the usefulness of cryptocurrencies and others who are wary of the power already accumulated by the social media company.

The cryptocurrency, called Libra, will also have to overcome concern that Facebook does not effectively protect the private information of its users — a fundamental task for a bank or anyone handling financial transactions.

But if the project, which Facebook hopes to begin next year with 100 partners, should come together, it would be the most far-reaching attempt by a mainstream company to jump into the world of cryptocurrencies, which is best known for speculative investments through digital tokens like Bitcoin and outside-the-law e-commerce, like buying drugs online.

If Facebook treats our money the way they’ve treated our personal information, buying drugs online will very well appear a viable option.

All kidding aside, the move is already sending shockwaves through nation states and federal banks around the globe.

According to a report in Bloomberg, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said Libra shouldn’t be seen as a replacement for traditional currencies, that “it is out of the question” that Libra “become a sovereign currency. It can’t and it must not happen.”

A German member of the European Parliament, Markus Ferber, said that “Multinational corporations such as Facebook must not be allowed to operate in a regulatory nirvana when introducing virtual currencies.”

So where should we land on this?  We’ve seen all manner of cryptocurrency plays come and go, Mt. Gox crash and burn, etc.  

I think we should all take a deep breath and remember we’re not talking about some upstart ICO. We’re talking about the world’s biggest social network with the largest number of users introducing a form of digital currency that could upend traditional banking and fiat currency as we know it.

Potentially.

But only if its user base, and the vendors who participate, trust in the new system and, ultimately, in the currency (and, hence, in blockchain).

And trust is not something Facebook has exactly had an overabundance of the past couple of years.

Facebook tries to offer reassurances. Back to the Times: “Your financial data will never be used to target ads on Facebook,” said Kevin Weil, vice president of product for Calibra. 

The currency itself is being built so that any software developer in the world can build a digital wallet or other services on top of it, similar to the way that Bitcoin can be sent between people.

The structure of the new Libra currency is based on the blockchain technology made famous by Bitcoin.

The blockchain concept makes it possible to hold and move digital currencies almost instantly, usually with low transaction fees. Because blockchains are shared databases, they can function without any central operator like the central banks that have historically governed currencies. This structure will allow Libra to be overseen by many companies.

Customers will be able to hold and spend their Libra with businesses that accept the currency, and there will be services that quickly convert Libra into traditional currencies and send the money to traditional bank accounts, according to project documents released on Tuesday.

And the most important graph:

Initially, the Calibra subsidiary will offer little more than a wallet to hold and spend Libra. When Libra is released next year, the plan is to make the wallet available to the billions of people who have accounts with Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp.

If Facebook can create a viable, useful form of currency on platforms with the scale of Messenger and WhatsApp — as Tencent has done with WeChat in China — well, it could literally break the bank.

All of them.

Written by turbotodd

June 18, 2019 at 10:39 am

Facebook Coin

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Happy Friday.

For you golf fans, this year’s U.S. Open is off to a walloping good start, and, even better, if you’re a Tiger Woods fan, he’s in the hunt (-1 in the first round).

Justin Rose seems to have put together quite the round, tying the record 65 (-6) that Tiger himself set at Pebble Beach back in 2000. We’ll see if the wind starts whipping and the greens start firming up in round 2. Or perhaps the marine layer will blow, and nobody will be able to see anything, including the golfers.

While the golfers do their thing, Facebook’s long-not-very-well-kept secret blockchain/cryptocurrency payment project, "Project Libra," is getting some big named backers, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal.

Visa, Mastercard, PayPal, and Uber have all backed the new cryptocurrency, and each will invest around $10 million in a consortium that will govern the digital coin, the "Libra."

According to the Journal, that money would be used to fund the creation of the coin, one which will be pegged to a basket of government-issued currencies to avoid the wild swings witnessed by other cryptocurrencies.

The Verge also reported on the development, and addressed how the new "stablecoin" might be used:

As well as allowing users to send money over Facebook’s messaging products like WhatsApp and Messenger, Facebook hopes that its partnerships with e-commerce firms will allow users to spend the currency online. The company is reportedly also looking into developing ATM-like physical terminals for people to convert their money into Libra.

The Block reports that Facebook has also posted additional blockchain jobs this week, just ahead of the release of a whitepaper next week formally announcing Project Libra.

Be interesting to see whether or not the value of a bitcoin changes one way or the other over the course of the next week.

Written by turbotodd

June 14, 2019 at 10:00 am

The Ghost Chatters

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The British sigint intelligence GCHQ is listening, and apparently they want to listen some more.

Potentially, to your encrypted chats.

So a group of 47 companies and institutions have come out firmly against a proposal by the G-men to eavesdrop on encrypted messages.

In an open letter that was published on Lawfare, The Verge writes, “the companies say that the plans would undermine security, threaten trust in encrypted messaging services, and ultimately endanger citizens’ right to privacy and free expression.”

The proposal from GCHQ was first published last November as part of a series of essays, and does not necessarily reflect a legislative agenda from the intelligence agency at this point. In the essay, two senior British intelligence officials argue that law enforcement should be added as a “ghost” participant in every encrypted messaging conversation.

So basically, intelligence firms would be CCed on your encrypted messages without any of the chatters knowing there was a “ghost” in the chat.

I foresee a full-on battle royale over privacy and encryption vs. national security and eavesdropping headed our way, on both sides of the Atlantic.

Be really interesting to see how this plays out for Facebook, which owns leading encrypted messaging firm WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger (both of which would be likely targets for the ghost chatters), just as Mark Zuckerberg attempts to pivot Facebook towards a more private messaging-oriented firm (I remain skeptical there’s a viable business model there, and certainly not one nearly as robust as the one that maximizes the exploitation of user data for advertisers).

Written by turbotodd

May 30, 2019 at 11:06 am

Coin of the Facebook Realm

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And you thought you had a bad week.

Actually, my week was pretty good, but there were some that weren’t so lucky.

Like Tumblr. 

Remember them?  No?

The all-things-blogging-and-sharing site that Yahoo paid a cool $1.1B for in 2013, and which was later subsumed into the Oath/Verizon Media Group.

And which is now for sell, and which brings with it some 400M blogs but which Yahoo wrote down by $230M in 2016 before the sell to Verizon.

Speaking of Verizon, Can you hear me now?  I’m leaving you, Verizon. I was going to go to Google Fi, but I had one of the worst customer service experiences *ever* with them the other day.

The whole point of Google Fi (and other MVNOs) is to limit my interaction with humans on the phone.

But due to a billing situation when trying to order my Google Fi sim card, I was forced to call Google’s customer support, which made any trek I’ve ever had to the State of Texas Department of Motor Vehicles outlet feel like an excursion to Six Flags.

Never again, Google.  Keep to the algos, you’re clearly worst in class with the call centers.

So, instead, I’m moving to Tracfone…Don’t call me unless it’s really, really necessary.

If you’re having trouble giving your money to someone, check this out: Facebook’s apparently moving in to the crypto payments world, big time.

According to a report from TheBlockCrypto, Facebook’s “Project Libra” puts Facebook’s stablecoin at the center of a brand new payments network.

Summary:

  1. Facebook is planning to launch a full payments network (rather than just remittances) and in discussions with payment networks Visa and Mastercard, payments processors such as giant First Data as well as large e-commerce merchants to support the launch.
  2. Facebook is seeking up to $1 billion in investments collectively from these firms in order to act as collateral to bolster and back a stablecoin that will be associated with the payments network.
  3. A stablecoin will exist as the currency of the payments system in order to eliminate credit card fees for . merchants as well as to avoid the volatility of other cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and ether.
  4. The company is considering tying the coin to Facebook’s core ads engine, rewarding users for viewing ads and then purchasing goods, similar to how loyalty points rewards work.

Why do I think this is potentially a very big deal?

Facebook conquered its first couple a billion people by linking identity and demography, putting faces (sorry) to names on the Interwebs.

Now they’re going to possibly enable all those people to start trading in transactions with one another using cryptocurrency, in (again, possible) partnership with major payment processors and networks (Visa, MC, First Data), and with large e-commerce merchants.

And, they’re going to tie all that with their advertising network, which could flip the switch on the Facebook value exchange, whereby users could be paid to watch ads, early loyalty awards with their purchases, etc.?

People, we’re already WAY behind China when it comes to using mobile apps for simple things like payments for, well, pretty much everything!

Someone has to take on this e-payment capability sometime, and the Apple Pays and Venmos of the world aren’t moving the needle.  You say you don’t trust Facebook? But might you trust them partnering with Visa, MC, and other vendors you already *do* trust?

The Facebook Coin, if it proves out, could be the biggest tech news of the year.

Now, show me the money.

Written by turbotodd

May 3, 2019 at 9:59 am

Posted in 2019, blockchain, facebook

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