Turbotodd

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

Archive for the ‘facebook’ Category

Are You A Libra?

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If you’ve been wondering what the price of Bitcoin was, today it’s hovering around $10,150.

If you’ve been wondering what’s going on with Facebook’s cryptocurrency, Libra, you need only look so far as Basel, Switzerland.

According to a report in the Financial Times, Libra representatives are meeting with officials from 26 central banks (including the US Fed and the Bank of England) there today to “answer some difficult questions” about Facebook’s plans for the cryptocurrency.

European Central Banker Benoît Coeuré is chairing the meeting, and has warned in advance that Libra has to clear a “very high” bar, with EU finance ministers having concerns that Libra (and other CCs) could destabilize finance and undercut the authority of government banks. 

Facebook, conversely, has presented Libra as a means of democratizing money, and potentially providing banking to many who don’t currently have access. And, creating a format that’s independent of any single country.  

Coeuré in CNBC: “As a new technology, stablecoins are largely untested, especially on the scale required to run a global payment system. They give rise to a number of serious risks related to public policy priorities. The bar for regulatory approval will be high.”

Written by turbotodd

September 16, 2019 at 10:08 am

Investitech

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It’s Friday the 13th. And the U.S. investigatory knives have come out for Big Tech in the U.S. House of Representatives.

As The New York Times reports, a House committee investigating Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google over possible antitrust violations today sent the four companies detailed requests for documents, emails and other communications.

According to the report, investigators are seeking information on the companies’ businesses, acquisitions and conduct in digital markets including internet search, advertising and e-commerce.

The Times report suggests the House documents indicate congressional staff have “done considerable homework on the companies under scrutiny,” with one request to Google naming 14 senior executives and asking for their communications on a series of company moves that included Google’s purchase of DoubleClick in 2008 and AdMob in 2011.

Similarly, with Facebook, the House is asking for extensive internal information about its acquisitions of Instagram in 2012 and WhatsApp in 2014. Both companies were, at the time of their acquisition, “potentially emerging competitors” until Facebook bought them.

The House inquiry joins several other investigations into big tech, including the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission.

Written by turbotodd

September 13, 2019 at 10:48 am

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

Tagged with , ,

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

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