Facebook says government demands for user data are at a record high

Facebook’s latest transparency report is out. The social media giant said the number of government demands for user data increased by 16% to 128,617 demands during the first half of this year compared to the second half of last year. That’s the highest number of government demands it has received in any reporting period since it published its first transparency report in 2013. The U.S. government led the way with the most number of requests — 50,741 demands for user data resulting in some account or user data given to authorities in 88% of cases. Facebook said two-thirds of all the U.S. government’s requests came with a gag order, preventing the company from telling the user about the request for …

PR pitch to Ola reveals the inner workings of UK ride-hailing politics

A UK PR firm pitching to run an account for Ola has proposed running a campaign to politicize ride-hailing as a tactic to shift regulations in its favor. The approach suggests that, despite the appearance of ride-hailing platforms taking a more conciliatory position with regulators that are now wise to earlier startup tactics in this space, there remains a calculus involving realpolitik, propaganda and high-level lobbying between companies that want to enter or expand in markets, and those who hold the golden tickets to do so. In 2017 Estonia-based ride-hailing startup Taxify tried to launch in London ahead of regulatory approval, for example, but city authorities clamped down straight away. It was only able to return to the UK capital …

Hillary Clinton warns of path to ‘fascism’ after MPs stand down

Former US secretary of state concerned that female MPs cited online threats Online threats which intimidate people into standing down as MPs are the path to authoritarianism [and] fascism, Hillary Clinton has said. Speaking to an audience in London, Clinton said she took very seriously the fact that Julia Gillard, Clinton expressed deep concerns about the misuse of technology and its impact on politics. The former US secretary of state and defeated presidential candidate told an audience at Facebooks position that it will not regulate political speech, she said, which means that it will take money for and run advertisements that are blatantly false. Citing a Joe Biden but which Facebook has refused to take down, she said: Its a …

Twitters political ads ban is a distraction from the real problem with platforms

Sometimes it feels as if Internet platforms are turning everything upside down, from politics to publishing, culture to commerce, and of course swapping truth for lies. This week’s bizarro reversal was the vista of Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, a tech CEO famed for being entirely behind the moral curve of understanding what his product is platforming (i.e. nazis), providing an impromptu ‘tweet storm’ in political speech ethics. Actually he was schooling Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg — another techbro renowned for his special disconnect with the real world, despite running a massive free propaganda empire with vast power to influence other people’s lives — in taking a stand for the good of democracy and society. So not exactly a full reverse then. In …

Zuckerberg defends politician ads that will be 0.5% of 2020 revenue

As Jack Dorsey announced his company Twitter would drop all political ads, Facebook CEO Zuckerberg doubled-down on his policy of refusing to fact-check politicians’ ads. “Atimes social there often an to back free e be served the term bresisting urge defending expression.” Still, Zuckerberg failed to delineate between freedom of expression and freedom of paid amplification of that expression — which inherently favors the rich. We these from will less 0.5% our We just shared our community update and quarterly results. Here’s what I said on our earnings call. — Before we… Posted by Mark Zuckerberg on Wednesday, October 30, 2019 Facebook’s CEO also tried to bat down the theory that Facebook is allowing misinformation in political ads to cater to …

Facebook staff demand Zuckerberg limit lies in politcal ads

Submit campaign ads to fact checking, limit microtargeting, cap spending, observe silence periods, or at least warn users. These are the solutions Facebook employees put forward in an open letter pleading with CEO Mark Zuckerberg and company leadership to address misinformation in political ads. The letter, obtained by the New York Times’ Mike Isaac, insists that “Free speech and paid speech are not the same thing . . . Our current policies on fact checking people in political office, or those running for office, are a threat to what FB stands for.” The letter was posted to Facebook’s internal collaboration forum a few weeks ago. The Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, testified before the House Financial Services Committee on Wednesday October …

Zuckerberg on Chinese censorship: Is that the internet we want?

China is exporting its social values, political ads are an important part of free expression and the definition of dangerous speech must be kept in check, Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg argued today in a speech at Georgetown University. He criticized how American companies that do business with China were becoming influenced by the country’s values. “While our services like WhatsApp are used by protestors and activists everywhere due to strong encryption and privacy practices, on TikTok, the Chinese app growing quickly around the world, mentions of these same protests are censored, even here in the U.S.!” Zuckerberg said. “Is that the Internet that we want?” Because Facebook couldn’t come to an agreement with Chinese censors and thereby doesn’t operate in …

Cracking the code on podcast advertising for customer acquisition

Krystina Rubino & Lindsay Piper Shaw Podcast advertising is used very successfully as a direct-response channel with CAC on par with other consideration-stage activities. It is not just for awareness. Ads read by hosts outperform canned “programmatic” ads. Even though the term ‘podcast’ was coined in 2004, advertising in the medium has exploded in the last ~5 years. The IAB has been tracking podcast ad revenue since 2015, when the entire medium generated #105.7 million in ad sales. It recently released its third study of podcast ad revenue, which estimated the US market at $479 million in 2018, with growth accelerating to a projected  $1 billion+ by 2021. Create the team (and time!) needed to execute a campaign, whether in-house …

The Tech Oligarchs Are Going to Destroy Democracy Unless We Stop Them

When there is a general change in conditions, it is as if the entire creation had changed, and the whole world altered. Ibn Khaldun, 14th-century Arab historian the worlds five most wealthiest companiescontinue to rapidly consolidate economic, cultural, and, inevitably, political power on a scale not seen for over a century. This tiny sliver of humanity, with their relatively small cadre of engineers, data scientists, and marketers, represent a challenge to democracy, competitive capitalism, and the future of the middle class. Given their virtual monopoly status, a laissez faire approach will likely result in more consolidation; only government action of some kind can stop them now. Current concerns are large enough now that both the Trump administration and many Democrats …

Higher Ground Labs is betting tech can help sway the 2020 elections for Democrats

When Shomik Dutta and Betsy Hoover first met in 2007, he was coordinating fundraising and get-out-the-vote efforts for Barack Obama’s first presidential campaign and she was a deputy field director for the campaign. Over the next two election cycles the two would become part of an organizing and fundraising team that transformed the business of politics through its use of technology — supposedly laying the groundwork for years of Democratic dominance in organizing, fundraising, polling and grassroots advocacy. Then came Donald J. Trump and the 2016 election. For both Dutta and Hoover, the 2016 outcome was a wake-up call against complacency. What had worked for the Democratic party in 2008 and 2012 wasn’t going to be effective in future election …

Senators Want Facebook to Put a Price on Your Data. Is That Possible?

In these days of anti-tech ire, it’s a popular cocktail hour topic: How much is Facebook making off my data? Last year, I spent a month trying to find out, hawking my personal data on blockchain-based marketplaces. I came away with $0.003. On Monday, when Senator Mark Warner (D-Virginia) announced a proposal to force tech companies to tell users the value of their data, he was slightly more generous, ballparking the average at $5 a month. In truth, it’s probably only Facebook or Google (and their advertisers) who could hazard a good guess. “The cards are really stacked against us,” says David Carroll, a professor of media design at the New School known for his extensive quest to reclaim his …

Africa Roundup: Jumias post-IPO earnings, Gokadas $5.3M raise, Facebooks fake-news purge, Joe Montanas fintech investment

Jumia held its first post-IPO earnings call and weathered a short-sell assault in May, with Wall Street showing confidence in the Pan-African e-commerce company. On the numbers, key takeaways were that Jumia’s Gross Merchandise Value (GMV) — the total amount of goods sold over the period — grew by 58% to €240 million. Marketplace revenue grew 102% to €16 million, and gross profits as a percentage of GMV grew by 6.5% in Q1 2019. Overall, Jumia’s operating losses for the period widened to €45.4 million from €34.3, and negative EBITDA increased to €39.5 million from €30.2. So the startup’s still losing money — see the big losses reported in the IPO filing — but is improving its ability to earn. …

Co-founder of Facebook now wants it broken up

Really?Image: MANDEL NGAN / AFP / getty Who needs deepfakes when you can just run a video at reduced speed? An edited clip of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, altered to make it look like she’s slurring her words, is making the rounds online following a Wednesday discussion at a Center for American Progress event.   The news comes by way of the Washington Post, which notes that the only digital trickery required to fool millions of Americans into thinking the Democratic congresswoman was drunk in public was to run the video at 75 percent speed and tweak the pitch.  That’s it. No fancy AI or special video editing skills were needed. If you just let out a heavy sigh, you’re …

When it comes to elections, Facebook moves slow, may still break things

This week, Facebook invited a small group of journalists — which didn’t include TechCrunch — to look at the “war room” it has set up in Dublin, Ireland, to help monitor its products for election-related content that violates its policies. (“Time and space constraints” limited the numbers, a spokesperson told us when he asked why we weren’t invited.) Facebook announced it would be setting up this Dublin hub — which will bring together data scientists, researchers, legal and community team members, and others in the organization to tackle issues like fake news, hate speech and voter suppression — back in January. The company has said it has What is not at all clear is how quickly Facebook acted to removed …