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BREAKING NEWS: Facebook Uncovers Political Influence Campaign

Facebook Uncovers Political Influence Campaign Ahead of Midterms.

San Francisco (AFP) – Facebook said Tuesday it shut down more than 30 fake pages and accounts involved in what appeared to be a "coordinated" effort to stoke hot-button social issues ahead of November midterm US elections, but cannot identify the source despite hints Russia was involved.

It said the "bad actor" accounts on the world's biggest social network and its photo-sharing site Instagram could not be tied to Russian actors, who US officials say used the platform to spread disinformation ahead of the 2016 presidential election in the United States.

But the tech giant did say "some of the activity is consistent" with that of the Saint Petersburg-based Internet Research Agency (IRA) — the Russian troll farm that managed many false Facebook accounts used to influence the 2016 vote.

"We have found evidence of connections between these accounts and previously identified IRA accounts, but we don't believe the evidence is strong enough at this time to make public attribution to the IRA," Facebook chief security officer Alex Stamos said during a conference call with reporters.

"We can't say for sure if this is the IRA with improved capabilities or a different organization."

The investigation is at an early stage, revealed now because one of the pages being covertly operated was orchestrating a real-world counter-protest to a "Unite the Right" event in Washington, DC, on August 10.

Facebook is sharing information about the pages and accounts with intelligence officials, and planned to notify members of the social network who expressed interest in attending the counter-protest.

Facebook said it is shutting down 32 pages and accounts "engaged in coordinated inauthentic behavior" even though it may never be known for certain what group or country was behind them.

"Attribution is not necessary for us to find and stop this behavior," Stamos said.

– Russian Trolls Eyed –

Facebook has briefed US law enforcement agencies, Congress and other tech companies about its findings.

"Today's disclosure is further evidence that the Kremlin continues to exploit platforms like Facebook to sow division and spread disinformation, and I am glad that Facebook is taking some steps to pinpoint and address this activity," US Senator Mark Warner, the Senate intelligence committee's ranking Democrat, said in a statement.

"I also expect Facebook, along with other platform companies, will continue to identify Russian troll activity and to work with Congress on updating our laws to better protect our democracy in the future."

The company said those behind the campaign had been "more careful to cover their tracks, adding: "We've found evidence of some connections between these accounts and IRA accounts we disabled last year (…) but there are differences too."

Some of the most-followed pages that were shut down included "Resisters" and "Aztlan Warriors."

The "Resisters" page enlisted support from real followers for an August protest in Washington against the far-right "Unite the Right" group.

Stamos confirmed that pages also played into immigration issues with references to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.

Inauthentic pages dating back more than a year organized an array of real world events, all but two of which have taken place, according to Facebook.

The news comes just days after Facebook suffered the worst single-day evaporation of market value for any company, after missing revenue forecasts for the second quarter and offering soft growth projections.

Mark Zuckerberg's firm says the slowdown will come in part due to its new approach to privacy and security — one which helped experts uncover these so-called "bad actors."

"We face determined, well-funded adversaries who will never give up and are constantly changing tactics. It's an arms race and we need to constantly improve too," Facebook said.

"It's why we're investing heavily in more people and better technology to prevent bad actors misusing Facebook — as well as working much more closely with law enforcement and other tech companies to better understand the threats we face."
 

From article:
https://www.yahoo.com/news/facebook-uncovers-political-influence-campaign-ahead-midterms-173305780.html

By Author:
  Glenn CHAPMAN, AFP • July 31, 2018

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First Suit Filed re: Facebook’s Stock Plunge

First Suit Over Facebook's Stock Plunge Is Filed in Manhattan Federal Court

The first shareholder suit was filed Friday against Facebook in the Southern District of New York over the erasure of $100 billion in value just one day after the social media giant's stock plunged. The 24-page complaint was filed by Pierce Bainbridge Beck Price & Hecht in New York, on behalf of a proposed class defined as people who bought stock in the social media company from Oct. 1, 2017, through July 26, 2018. Facebook Inc. as well as its founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, Chief Financial Officer David Wehner and Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg are named defendants.

The plaintiffs' lawyers allege that throughout the months leading up to Thursday, Facebook and its top executives "made materially false and misleading statements regarding Facebook’s business and operations," including its adaptation to the European Union's new GDPR data protection requirements, its platform use and revenue growth. The "decline in Facebook’s Platform use and the increase in costs as a result of complying with the GDPR had a materially adverse effect on Facebook’s financial health, including its revenue and projected growth," the complaint states, with the impact of making statements from the company "materially false and misleading."

On Thursday, after Facebook issued a statement the day before about its second-quarter 2018 results, the company's stock price plummeted from $217.50 per share, its closing price on Wednesday, to $174.97 as markets opened Thursday. By the end of the trading week, the price was $174.89. The plunge wiped out more than $100 billion in stock value. Zuckerberg's and Wehner's statements about the GDPR transition—admitting that the service lost 1 million users in Europe—"had a devastating impact on Facebook's stock price," according to the complaint.

"This is a new age," said name partner John Pierce. "We didn't start working on this until yesterday afternoon after I saw news of the stock drop on Fox News during a break in trial prep. No firm can replicate our speed and lethality." David Hecht, a partner at Pierce Bainbridge, said teams on both coasts worked through the night to develop the complaint. It was filed at roughly 4 p.m. Friday, he said. Hecht said the effort involved 3 a.m. handoffs from East Coast-based attorneys to their West Coast colleagues. "It has really been an incredible ride." In addition to "bragging rights," being first to the courthouse offered some tactical benefit, Hecht said.

"There is an advantage in filing first," Hecht said, particularly in engaging with institutional investors that may be substituted as lead plaintiff in the case. The case is captioned Helms v. Facebook. It was not assigned to a judge by late Friday afternoon. A spokeswoman for Facebook said the company was declining to comment.

 

From article:    ALM Media   July 27, 2018
https://finance.yahoo.com/news/first-suit-over-facebook-apos-110014833.html

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Stocks In For Rough Thursday

Tech Reckoning: Tech stocks had never been higher.
Then Facebook reported earnings.
Thursday's going to be ugly.

Facebook's (FB) stock tumbled as much as 24% in after-hours trading Wednesday, after its chief financial officer warned that its sales growth would slow.

Concerned that the problems facing Facebook aren't unique, investors sold off the whole tech sector Wednesday evening. Twitter fell 6%. Amazon and Google were down 2%. Microsoft and Apple fell 1%.

Tech stocks have been on fire in 2018, lifting the broader market along with them. The Nasdaq hit another record high Wednesday, and it's up 15% this year.

Related: Facebook 'puts privacy first' and stock plunges 20%

The best-performing stocks in the S&P 500 read like a list of apps on your phone: Netflix (NFLX)is up 86% this year. Twitter (TWTR) is up 76%. TripAdvisor, AMD, Amazon, Adobe and Salesforce are all in the Top 20.

Just two days ago, the tech sector looked like it may never come down again. Google's earnings were great, even after it got hit with a $5 billion antitrust fine from the European Commission. Last week, Microsoft said its cloud business is going gangbusters.

These are healthy companies, and investors are looking for growth in a market that has been rattled by a looming trade war. Automakers got rocked Wednesday after revealing that steel and aluminum tariffs were crushing their bottom lines. WhirlpoolHarley-Davidson and many other manufacturers reported they had a rough quarter.

Compared to those manufacturers, Facebook is extremely healthy, too. Its sales soared 42% between April and June.

But Facebook's revenue badly missed Wall Street's expectations, and its warning about slower sales growth in the future freaked out investors.

Ross Sandler, an internet analyst at Barclays, called Facebook's deceleration "fairly dramatic."

 

Some of the issues are Facebook-specific, including changing the way it promotes content on its network. But Facebook said its customers are demanding better privacy protections after the fallout from the Cambridge Analytica scandal. The company said it plans to put "privacy first," which could hurt traffic.

The privacy issue could be a problem for Google (GOOGL), Apple (AAPL), LinkedIn-owner Microsoft (MSFT) and especially Twitter.

Article by CNN Money   David Goldman   @DavidGoldmanCNN   July 25, 2018: 7:28 PM ET:
https://money.cnn.com/2018/07/25/technology/business/tech-stocks/index.html​

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Facebook Lost 1 Million Users

Facebook Lost One Million Monthly Active Users To GDPR.
GDPR had real consequences for Facebook, if only slightly.

The European Union's General Data Protection Regulation had a tangible impact on Facebook's user base — if only just. While discussing its second quarter earnings, the social network revealed that it lost about 1 million monthly active users in Europe due to the implementation of GDPR. That's a drop in the bucket next to Facebook's 376 million European users and 2.2 billion total users, but such a decline is extremely rare for a company that has almost always seen growth, even if it has been slowing over time.

This definitely isn't guaranteed to set a trend, and it might even be a modest dip given the lingering effects of the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Facebook could easily be nervous about its significance, though — it suggests that Europeans are considerably more sensitive to internet privacy issues, and that the company might have to walk a fine line if it wants to keep growing its audience in the region.
 

Article from: Jon Fingas@jonfingas 07.25.18 in Internet

 

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90-Minute Facebook Call: 150B Wiped Out

What happened on Facebook's nightmare conference call that
wiped out nearly $150B in market value in 90 minutes?

  • Facebook's stock dropped by a whopping 24% after it announced its second-quarter financial results on Wednesday.
     
  • The plunge came after Facebook executives said the company expected a significant slowdown in its revenue growth in the years ahead.
     
  • Here's what happened during the disastrous conference call with analysts that saw Facebook's value fall by as much as $148 billion.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg saw shares of his company's stock plunge on Wednesday after it reported earnings and discussed them with analysts.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced a new feel-good statistic on a conference call with financial analysts on Wednesday: Some 2.5 billion people — a third of the world's population — now use at least one of Facebook's products each month.

But that staggering statistic wasn't enough to distract investors from the bad news the company had to share: It expects significantly decreased revenue growth rates and operating margins in the years ahead.

The proof was in Facebook's stock, which during the call was down as much 24% from its price at the close of regular trading. In fact, the call with Zuckerberg and his colleagues only made things worse for Facebook's share price.

An hour before the call started, Facebook announced disappointing second-quarter financial results. The company missed Wall Street's expectations on both revenue and its number of daily and monthly active users.

Its stock fell more than 8% on that news. But it stayed relatively steady after that, at least until the call started and David Wehner, Facebook's chief financial officer, began discussing the company's financial outlook. Wehner warned that Facebook expected its revenue growth to slow from the 42% pace it posted in the second quarter and its operating margins to fall from 44% in the period.

"Looking beyond 2018, we anticipate that total expense growth will exceed revenue growth in 2019," he said. "Over the next several years, we would anticipate that our operating margins will trend towards the mid-30s on a percentage basis."

Facebook's stock really fell off during the company's earnings call

During the call, Facebook's stock dropped precipitously. Within minutes it was down 15%, then 18%, then 24%.

At the stock's lowest point, more than $148 billion of the company's value — significantly more than the entire market cap of IBM ($134 billion) — had been wiped out.

Facebook's shares later rebounded, but at the time of this writing they remained deep in the red, down by a little more than 20%.


Facebook's stock plummeted in after-hours trading on Wednesday.

Three key factors are driving Facebook's expected revenue growth decline, Wehner said.

First, Facebook is battling currency headwinds. Its overseas revenue got a boost in dollar terms as the dollar appreciated against other currencies last year. But the dollar's decline this year will reduce the dollar value of Facebook's foreign revenue.

Second, the company is placing more emphasis on Stories, the packages of posts and photos users can share with their friends that generally disappear after 24 hours. The company doesn't make as much money from Stories as it does from its News Feed and other features on its site.

And then there's an increased focus on privacy and security, something that Zuckerberg previously warned could harm the company's profitability. New options Facebook is offering users to opt out of certain data collection — inspired in part by a new privacy law in Europe — could lead to less advertising revenue.

Facebook's expected decline 'is beyond anything we've seen'

As analysts pounded Facebook executives on the call about the company's expected deterioration in its financial results, its stock continued to sink.

Toward the end of the call, a Jefferies analyst seemed astonished at the scale of the growth slowdown, saying it "seems the magnitude is beyond anything we've seen."Wehner warned analysts not to expect the company's financial results to get better anytime soon.

The company is likely to post subpar operating margins for "several years," he said — "more than two, less than many."

It's a staggering drop-off for Facebook and flies in the face of Wall Street's expectations. Earlier Wednesday, its stock hit a new all-time high of more than $218 a share. A few short hours later, that already seems like a distant memory.

Article by Rob Price, Business Insider:
https://www.businessinsider.com/facebook-stock-drops-20-plus-nightmare-earnings-call-2018-7?amp%253Butm_medium=referral

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Facebook’s Grim Forecast:

Facebook's Grim Forecast: Privacy Push Will Erode Profits For Years.

(Reuters) – Facebook Inc's shares lost as much as a quarter of their value on Wednesday after executives said that profit margins would plummet for several years due to the costs of improving privacy safeguards and slowing usage in the biggest advertising markets.

The second-quarter results were the first sign that a new European privacy law and a succession of privacy scandals involving Cambridge Analytica and other app developers have bit into Facebook's business. The company further warned that the toll would not be offset by revenue growth from emerging markets and Facebook's Instagram app, which has been more immune from privacy concerns.

Facebook's fortunes shifted in under two hours as the company first reported revenue and user growth that missed expectations and then issued warnings about future growth and expenses. (Graphic: https://tmsnrt.rs/2JV9APu)

Operating profit margin, which fell to 44 percent in the second quarter from 47 percent a year ago, will sink to the "mid-30s" for more than two years, Chief Financial Officer David Wehner said in investor guidance.

The plummeting stock price wiped out as much as $150 billion in market capitalization and erased the stock's gains since April when Facebook announced a surprisingly strong 63 percent rise in profit and an increase in users.

If the share drop holds on Thursday, it would be Facebook's largest single-day decline, topping a 12 percent decrease in July 2012.

Nasdaq futures dropped 0.85 percent late on Wednesday, suggesting the technology-heavy Nasdaq Composite index would fall when trading opens on Thursday morning. Facebook's results prompted selling in other Nasdaq listings, including media and advertising rivals Amazon.com Inc, Netflix Inc and Alphabet Inc.
 

'ENTERING A NEW PERIOD'

Facebook had cautioned investors to expect a big jump in second-quarter costs because of efforts to address concerns about poor handling of users' privacy and to better monitor what users post. Total expenses in the second quarter surged to $7.4 billion, up 50 percent compared with a year ago.

Facebook forecast similar increases for the second half of the year, also citing spending on video content and marketing.

Its gloomy forecast for revenue growth surprised investors, though, and prompted many questions from financial analysts on a conference call with company executives on Wednesday.

Sales in the second quarter grew 42 percent, its slowest pace in nearly three years, to $13.2 billion compared with $9.3 billion a year ago.

Wehner said quarterly revenue growth would be closer to 30 percent the rest of the year.

He cited currency fluctuations and a shift in usage to features where Facebook shows less advertising or charges less due to lower demand.

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the European Union also will cause a revenue drop. The new privacy law forced several changes to Facebook's privacy terms and sign-up process, leading a minority of users to opt for non-personalized ads, which tend to generate less revenue.

"They’re talking about currency headwinds, but more we think it’s due to slower user growth given GDPR and more focus on privacy," Morningstar analyst Ali Mogharabi said.

Facebook's daily active users in Europe declined by 3 million amid the new regulation. Worldwide daily user growth for Facebook's namesake service slid for its sixth straight quarter, bringing it to nearly 1.5 billion users in the second quarter.

The company said for the first time that more than 2.5 billion users interact with at least one of its apps each month, but analysts have said many of them are spending more time with Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram. Commercialization of those apps is nascent.

Revenue from emerging markets has not picked up the slack either. Sales from United States, Canada and Europe fell $75 million in the second quarter compared with a year ago, while revenue from other markets rose $51 million.

Gene Munster, a venture capitalist at Loup Ventures, said in an email that Facebook is "entering a new period" where declining user growth will translate to slower revenue growth.

He added that Facebook has "a track record of resetting revenue growth and expense expectations only to turn around and exceed those expectations the following quarter."

Facebook reported $5.1 billion in profit, or $1.74 per share, compared with the average estimates of $5.1 billion and $1.72 per share among research gathered by Thomson Reuters.

The threat of additional privacy regulatory setbacks remains a concern, according to analysts.

Facebook suffered a blow in China on Wednesday when regulators there withdrew their approval of a company innovation hub to support local startups, the New York Times reported on Wednesday, citing a person familiar with the matter.

Misinformation on WhatsApp contributing to mob killings in India have added to the pressure on Facebook to re-evaluate how its services maintain security and decorum.

Nearly all social media services have received greater scrutiny since U.S. intelligence agencies in January 2017 revealed that organizations tied to the Russian government had seeded content on the platform to shake up the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

 

(Reporting by Munsif Vengattil in Bengaluru and Paresh Dave and Noel Randewich in San Francisco; Editing by Peter Henderson and Lisa Shumaker)

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Facebook: More API Restrictions and Shutdowns

It feels as if we are witnessing a very slow, painful, debilitating demise.

Seems every day there is more news that Facebook is spinning out-of-control without a parachute. The downward spiral Facebook is on has turned into more of a slide that is picking up speed and momentum as it goes.

Following the Cambridge Analytica data misuse scandal and the more recent discovery of a Facebook app that had been leaking data on 120 million users, Facebook is today announcing a number of API changes aimed at better protecting user information. The changes will impact multiple developer-facing APIs, including those used to create social experiences on the site, as well as those for media partners, and more.

Some of the APIs are being shuttered for low adoption, while others will require app reviews going forward, Facebook said.

The company said the following API restrictions were now being put into place:

  • Graph API Explorer App: Facebook will deprecate its test app today. Developers will need to use their own apps' access tokens to test their queries on the Graph API Explorer going forward.
  • Profile Expression Kit: This let developers build apps that allowed people to decorate their profile photos or create profile videos. This one seems to be lumped in the group of shutdowns not because of misuse potential, but because it had low adoption. It will shut down October 1st.
  • Media Solutions APIs: On August 1, Facebook is shutting down Topic Search, Topic Insights and Topic Feed and Public Figure APIs due to low usage. It already deprecated the Trending API and Signal tool for journalists, the Trending Topics product, and the Hashtag Voting for interactive TV experiences. Going forward, Facebook says public content discovery APIs will be limited to page content and public posts on certain verified profiles.
  • Pages API: Developers can search using the Pages API again, but will need feature permissions to Page Public Content Access, which can only be obtained through the app review process.
  • Marketing API: Developers will have to go through an app review before they can use this API.
  • Leads Ads Retrieval: Facebook is introducing new app review permissions for this, too.
  • Live Video APIs: Will also have new app review permissions.

The changes were detailed in a post published the Facebook Newsroom, which hinted they would not be the last.

Credits and for more on this article. Originally appeared in TechCrunch: https://tcrn.ch/2IKza9A

STAY TUNED!

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Justice Dept FBI SEC amp FTC Looking at Facebook

The US Department of Justice's investigation into Facebook's Cambridge Analytica scandal is now looking at Facebook itself, not just the defunct data firm that gained access to its user data, according to a report from The Washington Post.

Additionally, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Trade Commission have joined the Justice Department and the FBI in the inquiry, according to the report. Among other things, the investigation is scrutinizing Facebook's public statements related to the scandal, The Post reported.

For more: https://finance.yahoo.com/news/justice-department-fbi-probe-cambridge-224901810.html

STAY TUNED!

TP

What Next? Over 800000 Facebook Users BE AFRAID

… they accidentally unblocked previously blocked people!

This is a significant error from Facebook. Victims of harassment or of abusive ex-partners will sometimes use the block feature to prevent aggressors from contacting them or viewing their online activities. This bug could have given these bad actors an avenue back into their victims' online lives that shouldn't have been open to them.

The news is yet another misstep from Facebook as it attempts to recover from a string of bruising scandals. The company has come under intense criticism over its role in the spread of Russian propaganda and misinformation. And more recently it was revealed that political research firm Cambridge Analytica misappropriated the personal data of tens of millions of users.

For further details: https://finance.yahoo.com/news/facebook-warns-800-000-users-180255208.html

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Facebook News Item 06.29,16

Facebook News Item 06.29.16
(News Feed Policy)

I actually thought this video was very insightful because I'm like a lot of people probably are, i.e. we know almost nothing about how Facebook develops its content policiy and administers the News Feed side of its business.

We know Facebook is 'big' and therefore we credit some degree of competence to them whether we always agree with the content we see on the platform or not (which is probably the way it should be). But we also know that lately they've come under fire for unfair bias (which I think is pretty clearly an accurate observation).

So….the video in this article does give a more human face to 'the company'. As far as Zuckerberg goes, you'll never convince me he's not NWO-extreme. For example, did you see the article about the wall he built around his huge estate in Hawaii…while complaining about the border wall Trump wants to build? Google it…you'll find it.

Anyway…enjoy the video. The lady talking seems like an OK person.

TP