28.3 C
Tuesday, July 7, 2020
Its real worry remains regulation SOCIAL NETWORKS know a thing or two about virality. Still, Facebook was probably surprised by the speed at which a small protest, begun on June 17th by a collection of American civil-rights groups, has gained steam. By July 1st the #StopHateForProfit campaign, which accuses it of publishing material that incites violence, helped persuade more than 600 firms, including giants like Pfizer, Starbucks and Unilever, to pull ads from the platform. Why the exodus? Principle is presumably part of it. So is peer pressure, which is rising as the list of boycotters lengthens. Admittedly, it is a particularly convenient time to make a stand, as firms pare back ad dollars amid the coronavirus recession. Starbucks, for instance, has spent $11m on Facebook ads in America since March, when lockdowns began. During the same period in 2019 it spent $29m, according to Pathmatics, a data company. If ad dollars move elsewhere, possible beneficiaries include smaller rivals like Snapchat, Pinterest and TikTok, as well as YouTube, owned by Google. Some advertisers may even go back to quaint things like newspapers and TV, believes Andrew Lipsman of eMarketer, a research firm. Yet the damage to Facebook is likely to be small. After a brief boycott-induced dip its share price is back up near its all-time high. Its $70bn ad business is built on 8m advertisers, most of them tiny companies with marketing budgets in the hundreds or thousands of dollars and often reliant on Facebook as an essential digital storefront. The 100 largest advertisers on the site account for less than 20% of total revenue, compared with 71% for the 100 largest advertisers on American network television (see chart 1). And so far only a handful of Facebook’s top 50 ad-buyers have joined the boycott (see chart 2). Facebook has promised tweaks. Like Twitter, it will label posts that break its rules but are newsworthy enough to remain up. Other tech firms have tightened their moderation, too. On June 29th YouTube blocked various white-supremacist channels. Twitch, a video site, suspended President Donald Trump’s own channel for “hateful conduct”. Reddit deleted a forum, “The_Donald”, over hate speech. This points to a pressure greater than advertising: politics. American tech firms have walked a fine line between Republicans, who accuse them of being too censorious, and Democrats, who want closer moderation. Now, as Mr Trump’s poll numbers swoon, Silicon Valley seems to be edging towards the Democratic view of things. Time, perhaps, to make new friends. ■ This article appeared in the Business section of the print edition under the headline "With a little help from its friends" Reuse this contentThe Trust Project
Procter & Gamble said on Wednesday it will not make any announcements about its activities on advertising platforms in response to a question about whether it will join the growing ad boycott against Facebook. “Our approach has been not to make public declarations of where we stand with individual partners,” a P&G spokesman said. “We are not changing that approach, so you shouldn’t expect to hear more from us on Facebook, or any other advertising platform.” P&G was the No. 1 advertiser on Facebook in the US in June, according to Pathmatics data, and the industry has been watching for the consumer goods company’s response as the “Stop Hate for Profit” ad boycott campaign against Facebook gains momentum. Last week, P&G Chief Brand Officer Marc Pritchard said the Tide detergent and Gillette shaving products maker had started a comprehensive review of all media channels, networks, platforms and programs to ensure that its ads come nowhere near content that is hateful, denigrating or discriminatory. “Freedom of expression is a right, but civility is a responsibility, and we’re working with media providers and platforms to take appropriate systemic action,” Pritchard said at a Cannes Lions live event on June 24. “Where we determine our standards are not met, we will take action, up to and including stopping spending, just like we’ve done before,” he said without mentioning Facebook or any other social media platforms. US civil rights groups have gained the support of more than 400 advertisers to pressure the social media giant into taking concrete steps to block hate speech following the death of African American George Floyd in police custody and amid a national reckoning over racism. Some big advertisers to have joined the boycott include the North Face, Unilever, Coca-Cola and Verizon.
Mark Zuckerberg is stepping up his efforts to stop the bleeding from Facebook’s advertiser boycott. The social network’s 36-year-old founder and chief executive will meet with the civil rights figures spearheading the push to get advertisers to jump ship from Facebook, the company said. Zuckerberg’s planned meeting comes after company executives Carolyn Everson, Facebook’s Vice President of global business solutions; and Neil Potts, the site’s public policy director, held at least two meetings with advertisers Tuesday on the eve of the high-profile one-month boycott, according to Reuters. Everson and Potts offered no new details on how Facebook would fight hate speech, however, and left advertisers frustrated by repeatedly referring to recent press releases where they touted that Facebook catches 90 percent of all hate speech on its platform before it is ever reported. Zuckerberg agreed to a meeting after it was requested by the organizers of the “Stop Hate For Profit” boycott. “They asked about having Mark at the meeting, and we’ve since confirmed that Mark is able to join,” the company told CNN Business in a statement. “We’re waiting to hear back and look forward to the opportunity to continue the dialogue.” More than 400 brands pulled their ads from Facebook’s platform beginning Wednesday, including Starbucks, Microsoft and Unilever, in support of advocates’ demands for the company to more aggressively tackle hate speech and misinformation. On Tuesday, Facebook’s UK boss Steve Hatch defended the company’s efforts in combating hate speech, emphasizing that “there is no profit to be had in content that is hateful” and arguing that posts on the site simply reflect the views of the people who use the platform. Indeed, according to Hatch, the content on Facebook simply reflects the views of the people who use the platform. “There are 3 billion people around the world that use our platforms,” Hatch said. “Of course, there is a small minority of those that are hateful and that’s because as much as we do our very best — and there’s always more that we can do and we will do — but when there’s hate in the world, there will also be hate on Facebook.” Facebook this week agreed to a brand safety audit, and said it will make its “partner and content monetization policies” as well as “brand safety controls” available to the Media Rating Council. A representative for Facebook did not respond to The Post’s request for comment. Shares of Facebook finished up 4.6 percent Wednesday, at $237.55.
Tesla’s market value sped past Toyota’s on Wednesday, making Elon Musk’s electric car company the most valuable automaker on earth. Tesla’s stock, which has been surging all year, climbed 4 percent ahead of its upcoming second quarter delivery numbers and hit an all-time high of $1,135.33. The spike brings its market cap just shy of $210 billion, comfortably ahead of Toyota’s $203 billion. Tesla briefly surpassed Toyota last month, but the Japanese auto giant retook the lead until Wednesday. The market cap coronation is a stunning about-face for Tesla, whose stock was worth just $212 at this point last year after piling up losses quarter after quarter. Tesla has streamlined production of its cheapest vehicle — the Model 3 sedan — as well as opened a factory in Shanghai to get a foot in the ultra-lucrative Chinese market. But the road to $1,000 hasn’t been without setbacks. Musk has feuded with California officials about coronavirus lockdowns that have shuttered Tesla’s factory in Fremont, Calif. The rabid Twitter user also sent Tesla’s shares tumbling more than 10 percent last month when he tweeted that “Tesla stock price is too high.” The most recent spike, which saw the stock climb 8 percent on Tuesday as well, came after an internal Tesla email from CEO Musk leaked saying that “breaking even is looking super tight,” and calling on employees to “go all out to ensure victory!” With the street expecting a 97 cent loss per share on the quarter, CFRA Research’s Garrett Nelson told The Post that Musk’s email has investors’ mouths watering. “If they’re even close to breaking even that would be a big positive surprise, that’s why you’ve had a big jump ever since that email was leaked,” he said. Nelson added that a positive Tesla result would see it achieve four straight quarters of profitability for the first time, and finally become eligible to be on the S&P 500 index. “I think what you’re seeing is more short covering if they are able to succeed in that,” Nelson said. With a Tesla valuation over $200 billion in tow, Musk has taken the next step toward his potential $50 billion pay package. The billionaire executive — who turned 49 on Sunday — recently became eligible to cash in on a $775 million payday from when Tesla’s market cap hit $100 billion in January.
Federal authorities in New York on Wednesday seized a shipment of weaves and other beauty accessories suspected to be made out of human hair taken from people locked inside a Chinese internment camp. US Customs and Border Protection officials told The Associated Press that 13 tons of hair products worth an estimated $800,000 were in the shipment. “The production of these goods constitutes a very serious human rights violation, and the detention order is intended to send a clear and direct message to all entities seeking to do business with the United States that illicit and inhumane practices will not be tolerated in US supply chains,” said Brenda Smith, executive assistant commissioner of CBP’s Office of Trade. This is the second time this year that CBP has slapped one of its rare detention orders on shipments of hair weaves from China, based on suspicions that people making them face human rights abuses. The orders are used to hold shipping containers at the US ports of entry until the agency can investigate claims of wrongdoing. Rushan Abbas, a Uighur American activist whose sister, a medical doctor, went missing in China almost two years ago and is believed to be locked in a detention camp, said women who use hair weaves should think about who might be making them. “This is so heartbreaking for us,” she said. “I want people to think about the slavery people are experiencing today. My sister is sitting somewhere being forced to make what, hair pieces?” Wednesday’s shipment was made by Lop County Meixin Hair Product Co. In May, a similar detention was placed on Hetian Haolin Hair Accessories Co., although those weaves were synthetic, not human, the agency said. Hetian Haolin’s products were imported by Os Hair in Duluth, Georgia, and I & I Hair, headquartered in Dallas. I & I’s weaves are sold under the Innocence brand to salons and individuals around the US. Both of the exporters are in China’s far west Xinjiang region, where, over the past four years, the government has detained an estimated 1 million or more ethnic Turkic minorities. The ethnic minorities are held in internment camps and prisons where they are subjected to ideological discipline, forced to denounce their religion and language and physically abused. China has long suspected the Uighurs, who are mostly Muslim, of harboring separatist tendencies because of their distinct culture, language and religion. Reports by the AP and other news organizations have repeatedly found that people inside the internment camps and prisons, which activists call “black factories,” are making sportswear and other apparel for popular US brands. The AP tried to visit Hetian Haolin Hair Accessories more than a year ago during an investigation into forced labor inside the camps. But police called the cab driver taking AP journalists to the area, ordering the driver to turn back and warning that the cab’s coordinates were being tracked. From the road, it was clear the factory — topped with “Haolin Hair Accessories” in big red letters — was ringed with barbed wire fencing and surveillance cameras, and the entrance was blocked by helmeted police. Across the street, what appeared to be an educational facility was topped with political slogans declaring “the country has power” and urging people to obey the Communist Party. It was unclear whether the factory was part of a detention center, but former detainees in other parts of Xinjiang have described being shuttled to work in fenced, guarded compounds during the day and taken back to internment camps at night. The Chinese Ministry of Affairs has said there is no forced labor, nor detention of ethnic minorities. “We hope that certain people in the United States can take off their tinted glasses, correctly understand and objectively and rationally view normal economic and trade cooperation between Chinese and American enterprises,” the ministry said in a statement. While tariffs and embargoes over political issues are fairly common, it’s extremely rare for the US government to block imports produced by forced labor. The 1930 Tariff Act prohibited those imports, but the government has only enforced the law 54 times in the past 90 years. Most of those bans, 75 percent, blocked goods from China, and enforcement has ramped up since then-President Barack Obama strengthened the law in 2016. Rep. Chris Smith said that while the allegations of forced labor are appalling, “sadly they are not surprising.” “It is likely that many slave labor products continue to surreptitiously make it into our stores,” said Smith, a New Jersey Republican who has taken a lead on anti-human trafficking legislation. On June 17, President Trump signed the bipartisan Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act of 2020, condemning “gross human rights violations of specified ethnic Muslim minority groups in the Xinjiang region in China.” Earlier, calling for its passage, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi decried what she described as China’s mass incarceration, forced sterilization and journalist suppression. “Beijing’s barbarous actions targeting the Uyghur people are an outrage to the collective conscience of the world,” she said in a statement.
Spotify wants couples to stop fighting about what music to listen to. The music streamer on Wednesday debuted a new subscription plan aimed at couples who live together. Spotify Premium Duo will allow two people to share a plan while each having their own personal accounts. The $12.99 plan is slightly cheaper than it’s $14.99 family plan, which allows for six separate accounts on a single bill. Duo will tap into Spotify’s popular algorithmically designed playlists, creating a mix full of music that both parties enjoy, the company said. Couples who don’t cohabitate are out of luck, though. Premium Duo is only available for users who share an address. Spotify first tested Premium Duo in a small number of countries last year, including Colombia, Ireland and Poland. Shares of Spotify were down 0.6 percent Wednesday morning, at $256.59. The stock is up nearly 70 percent year to date.
Shares in Mexican airline Aeromexico plummeted on Wednesday — falling by as much as 65 percent early in the trading day — after the company said late on Tuesday it had begun restructuring under Chapter 11 proceedings. Mexico’s stock exchange briefly suspended trading in Aeromexico shares. Aeromexico is the third airline to file for bankruptcy protection in Latin America, where carriers have been more affected by the crisis than anywhere else in the world. Fellow Mexican carrier Interjet has also been struggling under the burden of coronavirus-imposed travel and tourism restrictions. The Mexican aviation industry has had its fair share of ups and downs. Mexicana airlines, formerly Mexico’s oldest carrier and one of its two largest airlines, was forced to ground flights due to a heavy debt load. It was declared bankrupt in 2014. US carrier Delta Air Lines holds a 49 percent stake in Aeromexico. By the early afternoon, Aeromexico stock was trading down 34 percent.
The coronavirus crisis has sparked a nationwide coin shortage that reportedly has retailers pleading with customers for exact change. The Federal Reserve revealed last month that the pandemic had “significantly disrupted” the supply chain and circulation patterns for America’s metal money. The US Mint has slowed production of coins because of measures meant to protect workers amid the crisis, while coin deposits from banks have also fallen in the past few months, the central bank said. With demand for coins rising as states began to reopen, the Fed on June 15 started limiting how many pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters it distributed to banks as part of its efforts to “mitigate the effects of low coin inventories.” Retailers have since started advising customers that coins are in short supply. Some Lowe’s hardware stores have posted signs urging shoppers to pay with exact change or use other forms of payment, as have convenience stores such as 7-Eleven, Pilot and Circle K, according to news reports and social media posts. “At this point we’re having to call daily to get coin,” Karen Gordon, a 7-Eleven franchisee in Elmira Heights, NY, told local NBC affiliate WETM. “The most we’ve been able to get is $122.” Supermarket chain Meijer has reportedly taken a different approach by banning cash payments in its self-checkout lanes until the shortage ends. The Michigan-based company is still accepting bills at its staffed cash registers, according to MLive.com. “While we understand this effort may be frustrating to some customers, it’s necessary to manage the impact of the coin shortage on our stores,” Meijer spokesman Frank Guglielmi told MLive.com. Fed chairman Jerome Powell recently told lawmakers that the shortage was likely temporary. Coin circulation was starting to improve as states eased lockdowns meant to control the deadly coronavirus, he said at a hearing last month. “Stores have been closed. The whole system of flow had come to a stop,” Powell told the House Financial Services Committee. “As the economy reopens, we’re seeing coins begin to move around again.”
United Airlines is adding nearly 25,000 domestic and international flights in August, tripling the number it flew in June, while standing ready to shift plans if recent spikes in COVID-19 cases hurt demand, executives said on Wednesday. The demand for air travel, which rose steadily in May and June from pandemic-linked lows in April, “has flattened out over the past week or so,” Ankit Gupta, United’s vice president of Domestic Network Planning, told journalists. United expects the ebbs and flows of air traffic to continue over the next month, but has based its August schedule on demand in the market. That takes into account travel restrictions, including a European Union ban on travel by Americans, said Patrick Quayle, who oversees United’s international network planning. Chicago-based United is adding 300 daily flights from its US hubs in August, including doubling the number of flights from the New York area compared to July, mainly to beach and outdoor destinations where people can maintain a social distance to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. The domestic flight schedule is still only 48 percent of what it was in August 2019. The airline is adding 47 international destinations, including Tahiti and Latin America, where it expects borders to reopen, and across the Atlantic, where Quayle highlighted demand from European passport holders and to business centers like London and Frankfurt. Still, much of the traffic is one-way and by people under the age of 35, likely students returning from study abroad programs, he said. United has faced criticism from lawmakers for selling its planes to capacity, rather than blocking middle seats like peers such as Delta Air Lines (DAL.N). Blocking middle seats is a “PR strategy, not a safety strategy,” Chief Communications Officer Josh Earnest said, adding that face masks, together with other safety measures the airline has implemented, continue to be the best way to prevent the spread of the virus. US airlines shares rose on Wednesday after promising early results on a COVID-19 vaccine by BioNTech and Pfizer.
Democrats drove a temporary extension of a popular subsidy program for small businesses through the GOP-controlled Senate late Tuesday, an unexpected development that came as spikes in coronavirus cases in many states are causing renewed shutdowns of bars and other businesses. The move by Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin came hours before a deadline for applying for the program, which was created in March and modified twice since. Cardin, the top Democrat on the Small Business Committee, asked for unanimous approval of the extension of the Paycheck Protection Program through Aug. 8. Minority lawmakers are hardly ever successful in such attempts, but the pressure swayed Republicans controlling the Senate, who have delayed consideration of a fifth coronavirus relief bill and are preparing to go home for a two-week recess. About $130 billion remains of $660 billion approved so far for the subsidy program, which provides direct subsidies to businesses harmed by the coronavirus pandemic, which slammed the economy as consumers and workers were forced to stay at home through much of spring. The subsidies come in the form of federal loans that can be forgiven if businesses follow rules such as utilizing 60 percent of the loan for payroll costs. The loans been a lifeline to more than 4 million businesses. Top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer of New York took a victory lap after the unexpectedly successful maneuver, saying renewed economic troubles are reviving interest in the program. “There are large numbers of businesses who are going to need to apply now. Had this program run out today, they would have been out of luck,” Schumer said. “Now with this renewal, short time, August 8, they at least get the chance to reapply.”
Apple is prodding its suppliers as it looks to avoid delaying the launch of its next crop of iPhones into next year, according to a report. The Cupertino, California-based tech giant is facing delays of at least four weeks and as many as two months on its hotly-anticipated lineup of 5G iPhones, according to Japanese news service Nikkei Asian Review. Apple had originally feared that it would not be able to put out its new iPhone — which is traditionally launched in September — until 2021, which would see it miss out on the lucrative holiday shopping season. Both Apple and its suppliers are working overtime, Nikkei reported, citing an anonymous source with knowledge of the iPhone production process. “What the progress looks like now is months of delay in terms of mass production,” the source said, adding that Apple is “doing everything it can” to reduce the delay in hopes of moving up its schedule. Indeed, with Apple employees returning to the company’s headquarters last month as the Bay Area’s coronavirus lockdown orders lifted, the team was able to put the finishing touches on the configuration of the new phones. Still, the outlook isn’t exactly rosy, with another source telling the publication that it will be a close call to get iPhones to customers in the fall. “Some final iPhone assembly could be delayed to early October, and it wouldn’t be surprising if there are further delays because there are still a lot of tests going on now and the final designs have not yet been locked down,” the source said. Apple reportedly plans to release four new iPhone models later this year, which will serve as the successors to the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro family of devices. The 5G handsets will allow the phones to access a network that promises faster internet and quicker response times than LTE.
Private companies added nearly 2.4 million jobs to their payrolls last month as the US economy continued its recovery from the coronavirus crisis, data released Wednesday show. Payroll firm ADP’s National Employment Report for June showed slower-than-expected job growth following a record surge in May as states eased virus-related lockdowns. Economists predicted an increase of 3 million private-sector jobs last month. June’s figure also fell from the nearly 3.1 million jobs that ADP now says were added in May. The company revised its numbers after estimating losses of more than 2.7 million jobs for the month before federal data showed employment growing by 2.5 million positions. The figures nevertheless showed a big rebound for the battered leisure and hospitality, trade and construction industries, which were responsible for 70 percent of the jobs added in June, according to ADP. Small businesses with fewer than 50 employees saw their payrolls grow by 937,000, or nearly 40 percent of the monthly increase. “As the economy slowly continues to recover, we are seeing a significant rebound in industries that once experienced the greatest job losses,” Ahu Yildirmaz, vice president and co-head of the ADP Research Institute, said in a statement. The US job market has bounced back from the record 14.7 percent unemployment seen in April as restrictions meant to control the deadly coronavirus shut consumers in their homes and forced businesses to lay off workers. But a resurgence in the virus has raised the prospect of another hit to economic activity as some states rolled back their reopening efforts. ADP’s latest data came ahead of Thursday’s closely watched June jobs report from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Experts expect it to show the economy adding back another 3 million jobs last month following April’s losses of more than 20 million. With Post Wires