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Facebook clamps down on its internal message boards

Facebook had been known for an open culture that encouraged debate and transparency, but it has become more insular as it has confronted leaks about issues such as toxic speech and misinformation and grappled with employee unrest......»»

Category: topSource: bizjournalsOct 13th, 2021

Facebook told staff it would seal off some internal message boards to prevent leaking. The change was immediately leaked.

Facebook is making some discussion groups private, per the NYT. It comes a week after Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen testified before Congress. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Tobias Hase/picture alliance via Getty Images Facebook is restricting access to some staff message boards to prevent leaks. Facebook said some boards that relate to platform safety would be made private, The New York Times reported. Last week, Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen testified before Congress. Facebook told employees on Tuesday it would restrict access to some internal message boards to prevent leaks, The New York Times first reported on Wednesday.The company told staff it would restrict access to some employee message boards that relate to platform safety and protecting elections, both of which come under the umbrella of "Integrity," per The Times.Some groups would be made private instead of public in the coming months, Facebook said, according to the report. Facebook also said it would go through some Integrity-related discussion groups and start removing people that don't work directly on safety and security, The Times reported.The move comes a week after former Facebook employee Frances Haugen testified before Congress. Haugen left the company in May 2021, and later leaked internal documents to The Wall Street Journal. Haugen has also filed at least eight whistleblower complaints with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).An engineering director wrote in the announcement, viewed by The Times, that, "as everyone is likely aware, we've seen an increase in the number of Integrity-related leaks in recent months.""These leaks aren't representative of the nuances and complexities involved in our work and are often taken out of context, leading to our work being mischaracterized externally," the director added, per The Times.Facebook appeared to confirm the change in a statement to The Times, and said the move had been in the works for months. In a statement to The Wall Street Journal, Facebook confirmed the authenticity of the announcement viewed by The Times.A Facebook spokesperson told Insider in a statement: "Leaks decrease the effectiveness, efficiency, and morale of the teams working every day to address the challenges that come with operating a platform for billions of people."They can also put employees working on sensitive subjects at risk externally and lead to complex topics being misrepresented and misunderstood," they said.The Times viewed internal comments from staff reacting to the announcement. While some were supportive of the change, others said it reduced transparency and collaboration at the company."Siloing off the people who are dedicated to integrity will harm both active efforts to collaborate and reduce the cultural expectation that integrity is everyone's responsibility," one employee comment viewed by The Times read.Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a statement following Haugen's testimony that the company's work had been "taken out of context and used to construct a false narrative."Haugen is also due to meet with Facebook's independent Oversight Board.Another whistleblower named Sophie Zhang, a former data scientist at Facebook who went public with her criticism of the company in April 2021, said this week she would be willing to testify before Congress.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytOct 14th, 2021

Facebook coached employees on how to talk to their friends and family following the whistleblower hearing, a report says

Facebook execs gave staff a list of talking points, including telling friends and family the company doesn't put profits over people, per the NYT. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg (left) and former Facebook employee Frances Haugen. Matt McClain-Pool/Getty Images/Andrew Harnik/AP Facebook told staff how they should speak to their families about criticism of the company, The NYT reports. A memo reportedly gave staff talking points, including denying that Facebook puts profit over people. It follows former Facebook employee Frances Haugen testifying before Congress last week. Facebook coached employees on how to talk to their loved ones about the company in the wake of a bombshell congressional hearing, The New York Times reports.Former Facebook employee Frances Haugen testified before Congress last week, telling Senators the company placed profit before people and ignored the harm done by its algorithms. The Times reported on the internal reaction to the testimony and viewed a memo distributed by executives telling staff how they should respond when "asked questions about recent events by friends and family."The memo contained a list of talking points, including a denial that the company put profit above safety on its platform, The Times reported. Another talking point was how the company had called for regulation from the government, per the report.Staff are divided on whether Haugen gave a fair account of the company, per messages on internal message boards viewed by The Times. In one, workers said Haugen was "saying things that many people here have been saying for years," while others said she lacked knowledge about some of the topics she spoke about, per The Times report.The Times also viewed a memo in which Facebook's internal communications department instructed employees not to criticize Haugen to reporters."Disparaging her personally is not right, it's not allowed, and it's not who we are as a company," Andrea Saul, a director of policy communications, wrote in the memo, per the report.Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg made a public statement on October 5 following Haugen's testimony, saying she had presented a "false narrative" about the company.Facebook spokesman Andy Stone told The Times, "Since so much of what has been reported about Facebook is wrong, we think it's important to provide our employees the facts." Facebook did not immediately provide additional comment when asked by Insider.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytOct 11th, 2021

Is Facebook’s Stock A Buy?

Whitney Tilson’s email to investors discussing if Facebook, Inc. (NASDAQ:FB)’s stock a buy; Mark Zuckerberg’s response; a friend defends Facebook; his quick take. Q3 2021 hedge fund letters, conferences and more Is Facebook’s Stock A Buy? 1) Before continuing my discussion of Facebook (FB), in which I continue to be highly critical of some of […] Whitney Tilson’s email to investors discussing if Facebook, Inc. (NASDAQ:FB)’s stock a buy; Mark Zuckerberg’s response; a friend defends Facebook; his quick take. if (typeof jQuery == 'undefined') { document.write(''); } .first{clear:both;margin-left:0}.one-third{width:31.034482758621%;float:left;margin-left:3.448275862069%}.two-thirds{width:65.51724137931%;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element input{border:0;border-radius:0;padding:8px}form.ebook-styles .af-element{width:220px;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer{width:115px;float:left;margin-left: 6px;}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer input.submit{width:115px;padding:10px 6px 8px;text-transform:uppercase;border-radius:0;border:0;font-size:15px}form.ebook-styles .af-body.af-standards input.submit{width:115px}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy{width:100%;font-size:12px;margin:10px auto 0}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy p{font-size:11px;margin-bottom:0}form.ebook-styles .af-body input.text{height:40px;padding:2px 10px !important} form.ebook-styles .error, form.ebook-styles #error { color:#d00; } form.ebook-styles .formfields h1, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-logo, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-footer { display: none; } form.ebook-styles .formfields { font-size: 12px; } form.ebook-styles .formfields p { margin: 4px 0; } Get The Full Henry Singleton Series in PDF Get the entire 4-part series on Henry Singleton in PDF. Save it to your desktop, read it on your tablet, or email to your colleagues (function($) {window.fnames = new Array(); window.ftypes = new Array();fnames[0]='EMAIL';ftypes[0]='email';}(jQuery));var $mcj = jQuery.noConflict(true); Q3 2021 hedge fund letters, conferences and more Is Facebook's Stock A Buy? 1) Before continuing my discussion of Facebook (FB), in which I continue to be highly critical of some of the company's business practices, I want to repeat what I wrote in my September 24 e-mail: I am not recommending selling the stock, which – even after yesterday's 2.1% rally – remains down 13.4% since hitting an all-time high a month ago. Here's how I explained this apparent contradiction: I'm able to hold two seemingly contradictory thoughts in my head at the same time: a company may be behaving badly, yet its stock might be undervalued. In fact, this is often the case, especially if you're a value-oriented investor like me. We look for beaten down, out-of-favor stocks – which sometimes is the result of some taint. But as legendary investor Bill Miller once noted: "If it's in the headlines, it's in the stock price." And if the problems prove to be fixable, the stock can soar... Here at Empire Financial Research, our most important job is to give our subscribers money-making stock ideas. Thus, we haven't hesitated to recommend controversial companies... Who knows? Facebook's stock might even be a buy here. It's been a core holding since we launched our two flagship newsletters, Empire Investment Report (the stock is up 87% versus 50% for the S&P 500 Index since April 17, 2019) and Empire Stock Investor (up 67% versus the S&P's 39% gain since December 4, 2019). My colleagues Enrique Abeyta and Berna Barshay and I are always looking for opportunities to add to our favorite positions on weakness, so we're taking a close look at Facebook right now. Subscribers should keep an eye out for our conclusion in the coming days and weeks... P.S. You can get the first year of Empire Stock Investor for only $49 – find out more right here. Mark Zuckerberg's Response 2) I also want to give the other side a hearing, both out of a sense of fairness and also because I might be wrong (spoiler alert: I haven't changed my mind, but I'm more enlightened). Let's start with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who broke his silence with a long post late last night. Excerpt: At the most basic level, I think most of us just don't recognize the false picture of the company that is being painted. Many of the claims don't make any sense. If we wanted to ignore research, why would we create an industry-leading research program to understand these important issues in the first place? If we didn't care about fighting harmful content, then why would we employ so many more people dedicated to this than any other company in our space – even ones larger than us? If we wanted to hide our results, why would we have established an industry-leading standard for transparency and reporting on what we're doing? And if social media were as responsible for polarizing society as some people claim, then why are we seeing polarization increase in the U.S. while it stays flat or declines in many countries with just as heavy use of social media around the world? At the heart of these accusations is this idea that we prioritize profit over safety and well-being. That's just not true. I have to tip my hat to Zuckerberg – his post is very well written. He and his public relations people no doubt worked very hard on it. A Friend Defends Facebook 3) An old friend who's a veteran of the tech industry and knows Facebook extremely well echoed Zuckerberg's arguments in an e-mail exchange we had yesterday. He wrote: Your post on Facebook today is absurd and has no basis in fact. Haugen had no direct reports, never met a senior executive at Facebook, started with extreme bias, and then only found/extracted information that confirmed it. She never worked in the areas she is "so knowledgeable about" – like teens – so has no idea what Facebook is trying to do. The group she worked for was NOT disbanded – it was rolled into a larger, more effective longer term group, etc., etc. You would not take advice from me on mountain climbing just because I stood next to a mountain or because I published your e-mails on hiking. It's ridiculous. And shameful that Congress is wasting our money on this person. Her opinion – which she is entitled to – is as good/qualified as yours or mine. She is certainly not someone the company (or any company) should hire. I personally expect people to have facts before they make arguments. PS – I know you won't agree with one word I said here. Ha ha. But it's fact. I replied: I'm not clear: do you disagree with me that there's a problem that needs to be addressed (either by Facebook or, failing that, government action), or merely with my proposed solution? PS – I think I'm going to e-mail Sheryl with a second hiring recommendation: you as PR flak! He replied: Ha ha. Yes, there is a huge problem but I disagree Facebook is blind to it. Easy to back-seat drive here. On regulation, they are asking for it, and on Haugen, she is a person with no authority to speak on this subject. My reply: You could say that all the way up to Mark and Sheryl. I hope those above Haugen who watched what was going on yet only griped to each other and on internal message boards rather than having the courage to do what Haugen did are feeling shame right now. He replied: She has no idea what Facebook is doing or what the algorithm does or the tough choices the company has to make. It's easy to just talk – and that's all she is doing. She knows nothing. It's a lot harder to actually run a business and deal with the real issues and trade-offs. She's a complete idiot. And I know a lot of people like her and I don't doubt that they really care, but Facebook does a lot of good and has to balance the good and the bad. Until you run something, you don't know the real issues. They should have allowed her to be cross-examined. If she stood up to that, I would rest my case. She would not last a minute without showing she is basically as knowledgeable as a tabloid – at best. It's like the janitor telling Zuckerberg how to run Facebook. That is her level of knowledge as to what's actually going on. This extends to idiots on Facebook's board as well by the way. She's an idiot looking for five minutes of fame. Industry veterans are cringing. What company do you know that allows these online employee forums? They encourage everything to be challenged so they can improve. It's amazing. She violated the trust that is needed for that. And in so doing has damaged every company, including Facebook, that genuinely is trying to do better. I can tell you that Facebook is going to stop the open discourse. And the few other companies that allow it will also. She has done enormous harm and said nothing we all didn't already know. It's all downside. I replied: Thanks for sharing your perspective! I welcome well-articulated viewpoints that are contrary to my own. Makes me think. I'm not persuaded – but definitely enlightened. This e-mail is getting long, so I'm going to pick up this discussion tomorrow, sharing extensive feedback from my readers and my own thoughts – in particular, responding to the highly misleading arguments that Zuckerberg and my friend make above. Best regards, Whitney P.S. I welcome your feedback at WTDfeedback@empirefinancialresearch.com. P.P.S. My colleague Enrique Abeyta is looking to hire a junior analyst to help him launch his upcoming newsletter, Empire Elite Crypto, later this fall. If you geek out on cryptos and enjoy writing, we'd like to hear from you. Send us your résumé and a one-page write-up of your favorite crypto investment idea right here. Updated on Oct 6, 2021, 4:11 pm (function() { var sc = document.createElement("script"); sc.type = "text/javascript"; sc.async = true;sc.src = "//mixi.media/data/js/95481.js"; sc.charset = "utf-8";var s = document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(sc, s); }()); window._F20 = window._F20 || []; _F20.push({container: 'F20WidgetContainer', placement: '', count: 3}); _F20.push({finish: true});.....»»

Category: blogSource: valuewalkOct 6th, 2021

Accessing “Whole” – People Is the Path to Sustained Innovation and Growth

Putting the human back in human resources turns work from a transactional exchange into a transformational connection. Creating authentic connections opens the door to advancing productivity and building a culture of innovation to sustain growth in and out of crisis. Q3 2021 hedge fund letters, conferences and more In the dogged pursuit of emergent technology, […] Putting the human back in human resources turns work from a transactional exchange into a transformational connection. Creating authentic connections opens the door to advancing productivity and building a culture of innovation to sustain growth in and out of crisis. if (typeof jQuery == 'undefined') { document.write(''); } .first{clear:both;margin-left:0}.one-third{width:31.034482758621%;float:left;margin-left:3.448275862069%}.two-thirds{width:65.51724137931%;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element input{border:0;border-radius:0;padding:8px}form.ebook-styles .af-element{width:220px;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer{width:115px;float:left;margin-left: 6px;}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer input.submit{width:115px;padding:10px 6px 8px;text-transform:uppercase;border-radius:0;border:0;font-size:15px}form.ebook-styles .af-body.af-standards input.submit{width:115px}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy{width:100%;font-size:12px;margin:10px auto 0}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy p{font-size:11px;margin-bottom:0}form.ebook-styles .af-body input.text{height:40px;padding:2px 10px !important} form.ebook-styles .error, form.ebook-styles #error { color:#d00; } form.ebook-styles .formfields h1, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-logo, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-footer { display: none; } form.ebook-styles .formfields { font-size: 12px; } form.ebook-styles .formfields p { margin: 4px 0; } Get The Full Walter Schloss Series in PDF Get the entire 10-part series on Walter Schloss in PDF. Save it to your desktop, read it on your tablet, or email to your colleagues. (function($) {window.fnames = new Array(); window.ftypes = new Array();fnames[0]='EMAIL';ftypes[0]='email';}(jQuery));var $mcj = jQuery.noConflict(true); Q3 2021 hedge fund letters, conferences and more In the dogged pursuit of emergent technology, we can often overlook the most critical factor in organizational success: People. In the quest for talent, businesses become focused on human resources for knowledge, skills, and ability. We seek out the relevant experiences but see people as simply the storage bins for talent. However, people aren’t solely made up of experience relevant to their jobs. People are made up of whole life experience that impacts every corner of their being including their work. If they are having a negative experience at home, at work or otherwise, guess what? It is going to manifest in their work performance. It will have an impact on business. Business tends to covet all resources a human can offer but with less of the human vulnerabilities. There Is No Work/Life Balance For years society has chased after “work/life balance,” but the reality is there is no separation between work and life. I prefer to speak in terms of work/life integration precisely because work is part of life and life is part of work. More than connected, they are integrated. The human experience cannot be successfully segmented. Mental, Physical, Social, Financial, it all matters. It all impacts life therefore it all impacts work. We saw this play out with the overnight shift to remote and hybrid work. People’s personal lives were on display as work and home fused into a single location. Now, as a CEO my control over what goes on in the personal lives of my employees is almost non-existent. Sure, I can care; I can be empathetic to their experiences, but without overstepping my bounds I simply don’t have a direct role in their personal lives. The greatest influence business executives can make stems from how they lead their companies. As a CEO, I am charged with providing stability in periods of upheaval whether they derive from internal or external sources. Let’s look back to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Seemingly overnight, at least 220 million people worldwide lost full-time job alone (Source: COVID-19 and the world of work, International Labor Organization, 2021). The receding tide of widespread financial insecurity deflated our collective spirit. A SHRM poll found nearly six in ten Americans felt increased symptoms of depression. As leaders, we must understand how life impacts work performance and ultimately organizational productivity. Recognizing how these twists, trials and traumas manifest in the workplace can help us formulate a response and, if necessary, adjust our strategies. And because it impacts the balance sheet, it should definitely matter to the CEO, the CFO, the COO. Many executives I speak with claim they have little, to no interest in the lives of their employees. They assume leadership plus strategy plus talent somehow equals performance. But when we bury our heads in the sand, we shouldn’t be shocked when these issues land on our doorstep and performance suffers. As COVID-19 has made us painfully aware, business leaders need a broader radar to detect crisis whether they stem from internal or external sources. To be truly effective, leaders’ must be cognizant of what their workers are experiencing—that’s simply doing your job. For years we’ve been telling people to bring their whole selves to work, only to balk when parents need to take leave to care for an ill child. It’s time to walk the walk. As a CEO, executive, leader or people manager your sphere of influence extends further than you know. Finding Humanity In A Global Pandemic We all had a front row seat to see how intertwined home and work life truly is. Leaders had no choice but to be keenly aware of what workers experience and how it impacts their work. As we look to reset our workplaces, we must take into account workers entire lives. Their lives aren’t going always be on screens for all to see. It will take an intentional effort to stay plugged into what they are going through. Their humanity, and their whole self, is too often neglected as their coveted talent is methodically mined. When times are good, we can skate by with these tendencies. But when people and organizations face strife, neglect of people’s whole selves can quickly devolve into workplace troubles. As a CEO I’m not omniscient or omnipresent. As much as I might want to, I alone cannot sustain a connection with hundreds of employees. Managers reach more people in an organization on a daily basis. That is precisely why I emphasis the moniker, “People Managers.” They are critical to transmitting organizational culture, mission, values, and objectives. The C-Suite plays a large role in determining our organization values and establishing our culture. When you want to engage the bulk of your workers business executives can do so through People Managers, but you need good ones. I say it all the time. People don’t quit companies, they quit their managers. It is not uncommon to hear: “great company, but I couldn’t stand working for Bob.” So, the great work you’re doing in the C-Suite won’t register, if you have poor People Managers not executing that vision on the front line. In a 2019 SHRM report on toxic workplace culture, we discovered that 58 percent of employees who quit their jobs due to workplace culture blamed their People Managers. Their ability to clearly communicate the culture, build positive workplaces by listening, and implement accountability by setting expectations is vital to your success. People Managers are the ones best positioned to cultivate the awareness of the workforce. They are better suited to keep a pulse on how workers are doing on an individual level and check for signs of distress and disfunction that could hinder their work performance. But organizations must prioritize and invest in developing great People Managers. Investment in People Managers is multiplied in the workforce. However, the greatest tool in their toolbox is empathy. Empathy is vital because it opens up a space for employees to be their entire selves. When that happens, we can better gauge and respond to issues that would otherwise be invisible. Empathy builds the trust and credibility required to better understand people and engage them in the work. Truly listening to workers yields insight on how to best manage workers and adapt work to produce at a higher level. Empowering the right people is critical for growth and innovation. Technology Is A Tool; Innovation Is The Process; Innovators Are The Source Going back to people. It’s really people who drive business. Innovators are the ones that discover the breakthroughs that evolve business. Your best ideas come from creative minds with unique viewpoints. Survival in the pandemic meant birthing new ideas to meet challenges daily. Maintain an understanding of who and where your best ideas come from. Invest in those sources regularly. Those people who felt empowered to take risks in order to accomplish something new are your change agents. They imbue your organization with the agility and flexibility to meet tomorrow’s challenges. They are the one’s more likely to ask for forgiveness over permission. It’s the innovators who are inspired by future opportunity, not blinded by past success. Breakthroughs are fueled by people being curious enough to ask the questions that make others feel uncomfortable. Facing the uncomfortable requires being open to new concepts and trusting that there is a new solution around the corner. Innovators trust there is a way forward even when they can’t yet see it. Fostering new ideas requires a willingness to test a concept and be wrong, so we can learn something new and build it into the next iteration to test again. Innovators value the process of creation and thinking beyond convention. To commit to ideation, we must be willing to set time and money aside away from operations to “play,” to tinker. Again, it requires being ok with risk and possible failure. Embrace failure. Autopsy your failures to find out what went wrong. Those lessons shed light on the way forward. Conversely, the fear of failure can paralyze action and limit success. Past success can also blind you to future opportunity. That is part of the vulnerability of the status quo where hyper focus on day-to-day operations and crises can have a chilling effect on innovation. Fat And Happy When I worked for Blockbuster, we found that our revenues grew in relation to the number of stores we opened. We made our mission to be everywhere. For us that meant putting a brick and mortar storefront in every corner of the global. And nobody was going to beat us at that game. Meanwhile, Netflix took that premise, stepped back and reimagined what “being everywhere” could mean. As movies became digital, Netflix saw the next delivery mechanism for movies. First, it was mailing DVDs on request, then morphed into streaming subscriptions. Subsequently, Blockbuster became obsolete almost overnight. Focusing on their past definition of success robbed them of the time and energy needed to envision future potential. Are you investing in your innovators? Are you regularly reimaging your execution? Are you evaluating emerging technologies to understand their potential to transform your operations? Do you have a start-up mentality embedded in your business? There are no shortages of organizations that talk innovation. They point to R&D as their evidence. But innovation doesn’t just take place in R&D. From service to manufacturing to finance and marketing, innovation can be cultivated in every aspect of an organization. But it requires a willingness to identify, recruit, develop and advance creative talent. But oftentimes, those creative people defy convention. They can and often do have vastly different outlooks on life. And that’s what we want. People who challenge convention. They often bring attitudes, behaviors and even an appearance that is outside of our expectations and workplace norms. We rely on them not to fit in, but to stretch the workplace culture. Their idiosyncrasies are part of the whole package. As I said earlier, organizations tend to want that creative talent sans the messiness of humanity. If we are truly intentional about embedding innovation within our Culture, we have to embrace “whole people.” This means employing empathy. This means being accepting of some of the eccentricity that innovators bring. If you want an Elon Musk you’ve got to be willing to embrace his quirkiness. I would argue it could be worth it. You want people who have the ability to focus on an objective without being locked in on a particular route. People who are willing to uncover better ways to getting the work done. People who look at our collection of assets and MacGyver them into something new. The emergence of e-books should have been fatal to Amazon Books who had built a revolutionary system for inventory and distribution of physical books. They saw value in that efficient operation and reapplied their product fulfillment strategy to selling just about anything. That doesn’t happen unless you have a culture infused with a flexible mindset that can adapt to shifting paradigms. It doesn’t happen without the visionaries who have license to reinvent the wheel. Article By Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., President and CEO of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and author of Reset: A Leader’s Guide to Work in an Age of Upheaval About the Author: Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., SHRM-SCP, is President and Chief Executive Officer of SHRM, the Society for Human Resource Management. With over 300,000 members in 165 countries, SHRM is the largest HR professional association in the world, impacting the lives of 115 million workers every day. As a global leader on the future of employment, culture and leadership, Mr. Taylor is a sought-after voice on all matters affecting work, workers and the workplace. He is frequently asked to testify before Congress on critical workforce issues and authors the weekly USA Today column, "Ask HR." Mr. Taylor's career spans over 20 years as a lawyer, human resources executive and CEO in both the not-for-profit and for-profit space. He has held senior and chief executive roles at IAC/Interactive Corp, Viacom's Paramount Pictures, Blockbuster Entertainment Group, the McGuireWoods law firm, and Compass Group USA. Most recently, Mr. Taylor was President and Chief Executive Officer of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund. He was appointed chairman of the President's Advisory Board on Historically Black Colleges and Universities and served as a member of the White House American Workforce Policy Advisory Board during the Trump Administration. He is a Trustee of the University of Miami, Governor of the American Red Cross, and member of the corporate boards of Guild Education, iCIMS, and XPO Logistics (NYSE: XPO).. He is licensed to practice law in Florida, Illinois and Washington, D.C. All author proceeds will benefit the SHRM Foundation, which is committed to empowering HR as a social force for change. To learn more, please visit reset.shrm.org. Updated on Oct 14, 2021, 11:25 am (function() { var sc = document.createElement("script"); sc.type = "text/javascript"; sc.async = true;sc.src = "//mixi.media/data/js/95481.js"; sc.charset = "utf-8";var s = document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(sc, s); }()); window._F20 = window._F20 || []; _F20.push({container: 'F20WidgetContainer', placement: '', count: 3}); _F20.push({finish: true});.....»»

Category: blogSource: valuewalkOct 14th, 2021

Facebook Plan To Prevent Future Leaks Was Leaked

Since Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) has been under fire after internal revelations by whistleblower Frances Haugen, the company is now taking measures to reduce leaks. However, in a paradoxical twist, Facebook’s measures have been leaked. Q3 2021 hedge fund letters, conferences and more “Leaky Leaks” As reported by The New York Times, the internet giant told […] Since Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) has been under fire after internal revelations by whistleblower Frances Haugen, the company is now taking measures to reduce leaks. However, in a paradoxical twist, Facebook’s measures have been leaked. if (typeof jQuery == 'undefined') { document.write(''); } .first{clear:both;margin-left:0}.one-third{width:31.034482758621%;float:left;margin-left:3.448275862069%}.two-thirds{width:65.51724137931%;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element input{border:0;border-radius:0;padding:8px}form.ebook-styles .af-element{width:220px;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer{width:115px;float:left;margin-left: 6px;}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer input.submit{width:115px;padding:10px 6px 8px;text-transform:uppercase;border-radius:0;border:0;font-size:15px}form.ebook-styles .af-body.af-standards input.submit{width:115px}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy{width:100%;font-size:12px;margin:10px auto 0}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy p{font-size:11px;margin-bottom:0}form.ebook-styles .af-body input.text{height:40px;padding:2px 10px !important} form.ebook-styles .error, form.ebook-styles #error { color:#d00; } form.ebook-styles .formfields h1, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-logo, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-footer { display: none; } form.ebook-styles .formfields { font-size: 12px; } form.ebook-styles .formfields p { margin: 4px 0; } Get The Full Henry Singleton Series in PDF Get the entire 4-part series on Henry Singleton in PDF. Save it to your desktop, read it on your tablet, or email to your colleagues (function($) {window.fnames = new Array(); window.ftypes = new Array();fnames[0]='EMAIL';ftypes[0]='email';}(jQuery));var $mcj = jQuery.noConflict(true); Q3 2021 hedge fund letters, conferences and more “Leaky Leaks” As reported by The New York Times, the internet giant told its staff on Tuesday that it was making some of its internal online discussion groups private. “Many Facebook employees join online discussion groups on Workplace, an internal message board that workers use to communicate and collaborate with one another,” the media outlet says. The company is limiting access of non-related workers to groups that contain conversations about safety and other sensitive matters, comprising an area known as “integrity.” The move looks to reduce the number of people engaging in chats on topics that do not pertain to their area of expertise. An engineering director said, “As everyone is likely aware, we’ve seen an increase in the number of Integrity-related leaks in recent months.” “These leaks aren’t representative of the nuances and complexities involved in our work and are often taken out of context, leading to our work being mischaracterized externally.” Facebook is famous for its open working environment but is turning more suspicious after having to deal with disclosures relating to toxic speech and misinformation on its platform. The NYT reports that the communications department warned on an internal forum used for companywide announcements: “OUR ONE REQUEST: PLEASE DON’T LEAK.” “Avoiding Misunderstandings” Facebook anti-leak moves stem from the blazing controversy aroused by Frances Haugen, an ex-employee-turned-whistleblower who filtered thousands of pages of company documents to authorities, lawmakers, and media. She also vented sensitive information during an interview on “60 Minutes,” saying that the company is aware of how damaging the Facebook and Instagram platforms are, regarding misinformation and the mental health of female teens. She also filed a whistle-blower complaint with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and testified to a Senate subcommittee this month, as reported by The NYT. Facebook spokesman Andy Stone said in a statement: “Leaks make it harder for our teams to work together, can put employees working on sensitive subjects at risk externally and lead to complex topics being misrepresented and misunderstood.” Facebook is part of the Entrepreneur Index, which tracks 60 of the largest publicly traded companies managed by their founders or their founders’ families. Updated on Oct 14, 2021, 10:16 am (function() { var sc = document.createElement("script"); sc.type = "text/javascript"; sc.async = true;sc.src = "//mixi.media/data/js/95481.js"; sc.charset = "utf-8";var s = document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(sc, s); }()); window._F20 = window._F20 || []; _F20.push({container: 'F20WidgetContainer', placement: '', count: 3}); _F20.push({finish: true});.....»»

Category: blogSource: valuewalkOct 14th, 2021

Rowan Street 3Q21 Commentary: Sells Alibaba And Tencent

Rowan Street commentary for the third quarter ended September 2021. Q3 2021 hedge fund letters, conferences and more Dear Partners and Friends, Rowan Street Performance Update Rowan Street was down -13% in Q3, causing our fund to decline -9.2% (net) year-to-date as of September 30. This decline is normal and is to be expected, especially […] Rowan Street commentary for the third quarter ended September 2021. if (typeof jQuery == 'undefined') { document.write(''); } .first{clear:both;margin-left:0}.one-third{width:31.034482758621%;float:left;margin-left:3.448275862069%}.two-thirds{width:65.51724137931%;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element input{border:0;border-radius:0;padding:8px}form.ebook-styles .af-element{width:220px;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer{width:115px;float:left;margin-left: 6px;}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer input.submit{width:115px;padding:10px 6px 8px;text-transform:uppercase;border-radius:0;border:0;font-size:15px}form.ebook-styles .af-body.af-standards input.submit{width:115px}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy{width:100%;font-size:12px;margin:10px auto 0}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy p{font-size:11px;margin-bottom:0}form.ebook-styles .af-body input.text{height:40px;padding:2px 10px !important} form.ebook-styles .error, form.ebook-styles #error { color:#d00; } form.ebook-styles .formfields h1, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-logo, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-footer { display: none; } form.ebook-styles .formfields { font-size: 12px; } form.ebook-styles .formfields p { margin: 4px 0; } Get The Full Series in PDF Get the entire 10-part series on Charlie Munger in PDF. Save it to your desktop, read it on your tablet, or email to your colleagues. (function($) {window.fnames = new Array(); window.ftypes = new Array();fnames[0]='EMAIL';ftypes[0]='email';}(jQuery));var $mcj = jQuery.noConflict(true); Q3 2021 hedge fund letters, conferences and more Dear Partners and Friends, Rowan Street Performance Update Rowan Street was down -13% in Q3, causing our fund to decline -9.2% (net) year-to-date as of September 30. This decline is normal and is to be expected, especially after a solid performance year we had in 2020, where our fund outperformed the market by 30% net of fees. We would like to remind all our partners, especially the ones who have recently joined our partnership, that the sole focus of the fund is to compound our partners’ capital at double-digit rates of return over a long-term holding period. Since December 2017 (start of our fully invested period), the fund has delivered 68.8% return (net of fees) or 15% per annum. Although 3 ¾ years is still a relatively short period of time to judge whether we are successful in achieving our long-term double digit return goal (anything longer than 5 years would be a more desirable barometer), thus far we have been on target. Looking at a longer time period of 6 ½ years since we founded Rowan Street, which includes the initial period of 2 ¾ years when we held 75% of our portfolio in cash while we carefully developed and tested our investment strategy and internal processes and invested only our personal capital as well as friends and family, we have delivered 93.4% cumulative net return or 11% per annum. When we report our 7, 8, 9 & 10 year performance numbers, the benchmark of our success will always be — are we compounding our investors’ capital at double-digit returns over the long run? If the answer is yes, then we are doing our job and that is the only thing that truly matters. In contrast to the majority of Wall Street funds out there, our focus will NEVER be on beating or keeping up with the market in any given quarter or a year, or on minimizing short-term volatility in the fund. We believe volatility is not the real risk. Volatility is part of the course of investing. In fact, there is NO wealth creation without volatility! It is simply the “price of admission” that the market demands us to pay, yet there is so much effort on Wall Street that is dedicated towards minimizing volatility. These efforts are catered towards nurturing clients’ emotional well-being while creating an illusion of safety, but almost always come at a huge cost of reducing clients’ long-term returns. We are very fortunate to have limited partners in the fund that allow us to focus on the long-term compounding of their family’s capital instead of being distracted from our main goal in order to nurture their emotional well-being. This is a huge advantage for us! At Rowan Street, the #1 fundamental principle of everything we do is we have a mindset of a business owner — this is how we approach all our investments. When you start looking at the world through the lens of a business owner, you start paying less and less attention to the stock tickers that bounce up and down every day and realize that most of the time these daily stock price gyrations have very little to do with the long term intrinsic value of the business. Over the long run, however, stock prices accurately reflect the fundamentals of businesses. For example, when you purchase a house or a commercial property or buy into a small business, you do not get a quote on it every single moment or every single day. You are in it for the long run, and you make your investment decision based on the earnings that your property or business can generate over the next 5-10 years in relation to the capital that you have to put up up-front. This is exactly how we structure the portfolio of our fund and how we judge the performance of our businesses, in which we are minority owners. Spotify Let’s look at one of our investments, Spotify Technology SA (NYSE:SPOT), as an example. We encourage you to review our investment thesis on Spotify that we published in our Q2 2020 Letter and in H1 2021 Letter. The company went public in April of 2018 and since the stock has delivered the following calendar year returns: 2018: -24% (since IPO date) 2019: +32% 2020: +110% 2021: -26% (as of this writing) As you can see, performance of an individual stock can be very lumpy from year to year. Spotify was the biggest contributor to our funds’ performance in 2020 and it's the second biggest detractor thus far in 2021. Do these short-term stock price gyrations matter to us? Absolutely not! Focusing on this and judging our investment based on how it performs in any given year would be akin to attempting to win a football game while keeping our eyes on the scoreboard. This is why at Rowan Street, our eyes will always be focused on the “playing field”. If we continue to do that, the score will take care of itself over time! What does it look like on the “playing field” for Spotify? As you can see from the tables below, Spotify’s intrinsic value has increased quite a bit since its IPO date. Revenues have increased by 75% (or ~20% p.a.), gross profits have increased 64% (~18% p.a.). We believe that management has done a terrific job thus far in reinvesting these gross profits into building the world’s leading audio platform and constantly innovating ( and out-innovating its competitors) to deliver for both artists and fans. The result of their investments could be seen in the growth of Monthly Active Users (MAU) as well as their Premium Subscribers. The former has grown at 2.3x and the latter at 2.1x over the past 3 years, and we estimate that it’s feasible for Spotify to grow to ~1 billion users over the next 5 years. If the management continues executing the way they have been in the past, we have a pretty good chance of attaining our double-digit return from owning Spotify’s stock over the next 5 years. Exit From Our Chinese Positions As you know, we have owned stock in Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (NYSE:BABA) and Tencent Holdings ADR (OTCMKTS:TCEHY) since 2018. We know both companies very well and have spent countless hours studying their operations over the past 3 years. We have published our detailed write-up on Alibaba in our Q3 letter last year. At one point, in the first half of 2020, we were sitting on substantial gains in both positions (2x on Tencent), and our China exposure had grown to around 25% at the time. We started actively trimming these in Q1 and completely exited both positions in Q2 (please see our rationale below). All-in-all, we ended up netting a small gain in dollar terms. However, both Alibaba and Tencent detracted ~5% from our performance in 2021. We believe the number one mistake that we as investors can make is to be unwilling to admit that we are wrong. Sometimes being willing to change our mind in the face of new evidence, selling when necessary, is one of the most important skills that we as investors can have. So what new evidence changed our mind? As you know, capital allocation and reinvestment of capital is one of the most important foundational pillars that we spend a lot of time on and watch very closely. Recent Chinese government crackdown and CCP’s ”common prosperity“ policies, which you are all well aware of as they have been widely covered this year, have a direct impact on the future capital allocation policies of both Alibaba and Tencent. When management of the companies that we are owners of do NOT have full control of the capital allocation, that goes against all our foundational principles as investors and stewards of your capital. At that point, we place a lot less importance on the size of revenues and cash flows that the company generates and how attractive their valuations may be (it's very apparent to just about everyone how statistically cheap the stock of Alibaba and Tencent currently are). The only logical decision here, once one of our foundational principles is violated, is to sell and to reinvest the proceeds into our high conviction ideas that fit our investment criteria and that have a high probability of compounding our fund’s capital at double-digits (p.a.) in the next 5-10 years, which is exactly what we have done over the past several months. General Thoughts on China Fred Liu, a fellow fund manager, recently gave a very good overview of China's latest crack-down and provided a basic framework through which to analyze the latest developments: “The difference in Chinese policies vs. many western governments, is that China prioritizes the labor and tech components of the equation more so than capital… While labor is made up of the domestic population itself and technology is used to amplify this output, capital is face-less (or at least belonging most to those who have benefited from the country’s rise and accumulated the capital in the process, and thus have a “national duty” to help & repay their fellow citizens / country who helped them achieve success).” “Capital is meant as a tool to enhance & accelerate society’s goals, not as an end-goal itself. Versus many Western markets, where it seems that the betterment of shareholders (and putting more money into their pockets) is often then the end goal itself. If the well-being of capital must be sacrificed to ensure a better long-term direction of society then in the Chinese government’s eyes, it's a worthy trade-off.” “In this case, the Capital wasn’t being productive anyways, so there’s no loss if the government impairs it (and sends a message to discourage future investment in these fields). Capital (and investors) will be rewarded when capital is needed to fuel to achieve the broader goals of societal and economic advancement in a harmonious and equitable manner. But when capital investment in certain sectors is at odds with these goals, don’t be surprised when it's impaired.” Fred makes some very good points and we would completely agree with this view. However, the entire ideology of a command economy with its 5-year plans is at odds with our own ideology in the Western world where free markets (or Adam Smith’s invisible hand) determines whether Capital is productive or not and how it should be allocated. In his very famous book The Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith wrote: “But the annual revenue of every society is always precisely equal to the exchangeable value of the whole annual produce of its industry, or rather is precisely the same thing with that exchangeable value. As every individual, therefore, endeavors as much as he can both to employ his capital in the support of domestic industry, and so to direct that industry that its produce may be of the greatest value, every individual necessarily labours to render the annual revenue of the society as great as he can. He generally, indeed, neither intends to promote the public interest, nor knows how much he is promoting it. By preferring the support of domestic to that of foreign industry, he intends only his own security; and by directing that industry in such a manner as its produce may be of the greatest value, he intends only his own gain, and he is in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention. Nor is it always the worse for the society that it was not part of it. By pursuing his own interest he frequently promotes that of the society more effectively than when he really intends to promote it. I have never known much good done by those who were affected to trade for the public good. It is an affectation, indeed, not very common among merchants, and very few words need be employed in dissuading them from it.” Using the invisible hand metaphor, Smith was trying to present how an individual exchanging money in his own self-interest unintentionally impacts the economy as a whole. In other words, there is something that binds self-interest, along with public interest, so that individuals who pursue their own interests will inevitably benefit society as a whole. This very ideology is the foundation of our capitalistic system that has worked so incredibly well for America over the past 245 years. Fishing In Our Own Pond The real question to ask ourselves as investors: Is this our game to play? We would not invest in an individual company whose set of values, principles and ideologies is at odds with our own. The company‘s future prospects may prove to be very bright (as Alibaba’s and Tencent’s are very likely to be), but it would be extremely difficult-to-impossible for us to maintain a strong conviction in companies (and sleep well at night) that operate on a soil of a system, which at the very core, is contradictory to our own values. Simply put, we came to the conclusion that this is NOT our game to play! Continuing to invest in Chinese companies that are “outside of our circle of competence” makes little sense for Rowan Street considering we have an amazing “pond to fish” here in the United States. Some of the best innovators, entrepreneurs and some of the best companies in the world are still being founded and built here. When it comes to breaking down the top 100 companies of the world, according to this interesting chart below by Visual Capitalist, the United States still commands the largest slice of the pie. And even though China has the second largest and rapidly growing slice of the pie, at the risk of sounding redundant, we have concluded that we have ZERO edge in that part of the world no matter how attractive their future may appear with their high GDP growth, huge size of the population, rise of the middle class and incredible pace of innovation (arguably even higher than in the USA). We believe that domestically we have much better odds of winning, and that’s where we will focus on from now on. We want to thank you for your partnership. Joe and I have our entire net worths invested alongside you — we strongly believe in eating our own cooking. We look forward to reporting to you again at the end of 2021. Best regards, Alex and Joe Updated on Oct 13, 2021, 4:58 pm (function() { var sc = document.createElement("script"); sc.type = "text/javascript"; sc.async = true;sc.src = "//mixi.media/data/js/95481.js"; sc.charset = "utf-8";var s = document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(sc, s); }()); window._F20 = window._F20 || []; _F20.push({container: 'F20WidgetContainer', placement: '', count: 3}); _F20.push({finish: true});.....»»

Category: blogSource: valuewalkOct 14th, 2021

Could This Be A Blow-Off Top For Tyranny?

Could This Be A Blow-Off Top For Tyranny? Submitted by Mark Jeftovic of Bombthrower.com Could This be a Blow-Off Top for Tyranny? King John’s military failure at the Battle of Bouvines triggered the barons’ revolt, but the roots of their discontent lay much deeper. King John ruled England in a ruthless manner at a time when the instruments of government and the practices of the courts were becoming consolidated. Eventually the barons could no longer abide the unpredictable ruling style of their kings. Their discontent came to a head during John’s reign. — Magna Carta, Muse and Mentor   There was a lot of defeatism evident in the comments on my recent series of posts, Why the West can’t ban Bitcoin, How we know Bitcoin is a force for good and No-Coiners don’t get that it’s not up to the government.  The overall timbre being that governments are all-powerful and that they will simply ban or outlaw emergent phenomenon that doesn’t suit their purposes. For awhile this was also my concern. When I wrote Domestic Terror is a Government Without Constraints it was motivated from a place of angst and hopelessness. However as we’ve all been watching events unfold, my mindset around this has been shifting. I have been coming across instance after instance of historical accounts on how seemingly unassailable and despotic regimes were swept away in mere moments of time, when it was least expected, when they seemed to be at the height of their power and poised to consolidate it even more. It is in these inflection points where nobody is aware of their existence, a grain of sand shifts somewhere and suddenly a geopolitical Minsky Moment ensues. Then it’s all over: The fall of the 300-year old Romanov dynasty and 800 year line of Tsars in a weekend over 1917 a few months after an obscure prince named Felix Yusopov murdered a peasant scoundrel named Rasputin The collapse of the Soviet Eastern Bloc in 1989 after gateway between Austria and Hungary was opened one weekend during a Pan-European picnic. It led to the collapse of the USSR after a failed hardliner coup in 1991. In 1945, the government of Haiti was overthrown in an uprising three days after the French writer and revolutionary Andre Breton gave a speech on Surrealism in Port-Au-Prince. Back in the days of William Buckler’s The Privateer newsletter, there was another, lesser known but just good newsletter by Mark Rostenko called The Sovereign Strategist (I have to admit modelling The Crypto Capitalist on both). Rostenko once wrote: “Nothing is bigger than the market. Nothing.” Rostenko quit in disgust and moved to the wilderness, I had brief communications with him over the years including this interview on my old blog. But my last couple emails to him have gone unanswered. What Rostenko may have lost faith in, for the moment, was that “the market” is really another word for The People. Every individual should be free to conduct their daily affairs in a way that serves their rational self-interest. I can hear the collectivists shrieking at that statement. To them I would simply dismiss their claims on everyone else’s autonomy by saying that when particular self-interested behaviours begin to adversely impact on the commons of everybody, then in an undistorted,  free market we would see it in rising costs or other market signals that would change the incentive structure and with it, everybody’s behaviours would adjust. Example: in a truly catastrophic global pandemic with a Black Plague, Ebola or Spanish Flu level of lethality, nobody would have be compelled to wear a mask, stay off the streets or queue up for a vaccine. In my piece that government can’t ban crypto, the naysayers converged around two objections: FDR’s gold ban of 1932 and Communist Centralist China now. FDR’s Gold Ban of 1933 This is one of those episodes in history where people simply don’t look beyond the headline. All they know that is in 1933 a series of executive orders were passed to remove the ability to hold gold privately or specify it as a payment method in contracts and they assume that was it: in a puff of edict, all privately held gold simply disappeared from the public’s hands (“checkmate, Bitcoin cultist”). Everybody is expecting one of these for a specialized area of mathematics called Bitcoin. But that isn’t what happened. In Kenneth R. Ferguson’s “Confiscation: Gold as Contraband 1933-1975” we get a more nuanced look at what the effect and implications of the gold ban were, including the haunting parallels to today’s Lockdown Society and it’s war on small business and the middle class. Our lack of insight into this era… “gives short change to the legitimate concerns of the people who were most opposed to President Roosevelt’s gold policies—farmers, blue collar workers, small business proprietors—and who believed democracy had been circumvented. Just a few years earlier, in the late 1920s, the mere thought of gold confiscation would have been inconceivable to everyone, including those who later supported it.” The gold ban came after FDR and the Democrats ran a campaign premised on a balanced budget and reduced government spending (yes, really). By the time he came into office the Great Depression was in full swing, the S&P had come off 80% from its 1929 high, unemployment was at 25%. England was forced to abandon its gold standard in 1931 and 25 other countries followed suit within the year. The newly elected president came into office facing a wave of  bank runs and took over the entire financial sector on his second day in office, “emergency executive control over all banking and currency transactions.” FDR blamed gold hoarding for the nation’s banking crisis, however: He failed to explain hoarding as a way of protecting a life savings in the face of frequent and increasing bank insolvency coupled with no depositor insurance, or to identify speculative activity abroad as foreigners exchanging their dollar assets for gold in anticipation of dollar devaluation. Most people would understand these choices as rational, but Roosevelt labeled them “unwarranted” and “speculative” in an emotional appeal to wrongdoing. The emphasis is added, because it highlights our main assertion: at some point rational self-interest creates an environment that incentivizes certain behaviours in spite of those that the government is attempting to induce. In fact, the harder the government may try to impose behaviours that are against the rabble’s own interests, the more vigorously they may adapt the discouraged behaviour  (also see: Bitcoin). FDR’s administration escalated the war on savers by ratcheting up the restrictions against gold: “The gold policies of President Roosevelt over a ten-month period provided a classic example of a political slippery slope. On April 5, the President declared “hoarding” to be illegal, and on August 28 the crime was elevated to “holding.” On December 28, 1933, the Secretary of the Treasury finalized the mandate by “requiring the delivery of gold coin, gold bullion, and gold certificates to the Treasurer of the United States” (that is, from the theoretically-temporary hands of the banks into the more permanent possession of the government itself.) This is the definition of confiscation; it merely took ten months to be so stated.” Ferguson’s book does a masterful job detailing the machinations of this chapter in US and economic history, in details far exceeding my available bandwidth here. So what actually did happen? Compliance turned out to be low: it was estimated that $287 million USD of gold was in the public hands at the time of the ban. This excludes gold already exported out of the country by those who saw it coming (Canada was a favourite destination and waypoint) and the wealthy who were speculating against a USD currency devaluation using gold held offshore. Of that remaining stash in US public hands, compliance was estimated to be less than 50% by some tallies. The total face value of all gold coinage surrendered between 1933 and 1965 was less than $12 million USD, or approximately 4% of outstanding gold coinage. China’s Bitcoin Ban From my latest Crypto Capitalist letter, I cover the general situation in China: China’s crypto ban is actually less about crypto and more about state control over everything. There are rumours that China will soon break up Alipay, the overarching pattern is that China perceives Big Tech and decentralized tech as threats to the CCP hegemony, and they are moving to crush all opposition. Only by moving to outlaw entire industries, especially the ones poised to inherit the future, China may be repeating the same error that made over 500 years ago, when they ceded passage over the open seas to Europe, who went on to shape the trajectory of the world while China atrophied into centuries of internal strife and conflict: “More than five centuries ago, three ancient civilizations made three crucial decisions that largely preordained their subsequent collapse. As always, during periods of stress, these choices were not perceived as either critical or damaging. Indeed on the contrary, they were viewed positively as constructive responses to the contemporary problems that helped to strengthen their respective societies. In a matter of several decades between 1433 and 1485, China, Russia and the Ottomans independently decided that interactions with foreigners, trade, innovation, civil and property rights, education, and freedom to exchange views were contrary to the interests of the state and social cohesion” — Victor Shvets, The Great Rupture Is China making the same mistake now? We can already see that an outright ban on Bitcoin and crypto-currencies in China has had no effect on them globally. Zero. Think about that. Also note that reminiscent of how gold was exported from the US ahead of the gold ban in 1932 (not because anybody saw the ban coming per se, but because a devaluation of the USD was seen as likely), the largest Chinese crypto exchanges have been exiting China since 2017. Binance is still operating full-tilt having moved their HQ from Hong Kong to Bahamas, which is quite literally a page from The Sovereign Individual playbook – moving from a jurisdiction hostile to your interests to one accommodating to them.  Binance has its own exchange token (BNB) which at a $64B market cap makes it the 5th largest crypto currency in the world, and a Layer 1 blockchain (Binance Smartchain) that currently has a little under $20B TVL in DeFi, which definitely puts it somewhere on the Network State / Crypto-clave spectrum. Something similar happened with Chinese miners, who are moving to the West or other Asian jurisdictions. Interestingly, most of the crypto entities that arose there and then fled, came up in Hong Kong, which has had a taste of free market capitalism until the big rug pull in that respect in recent years. In mainland China itself, they’ve always been living under totalitarianism and the population is inculcated to it. But even there, how long can the Chinese people, catching glimpses through the Great Firewall of far  more marginally freer people, especially those in Hong Kong, abide by tyranny? How long can that centralized, top-down repression truly continue for? Life in liberal democracies is traditionally supposed to be anything goes except that which is expressly illegal. But we’ve had two years of rule by edict and that which is not explicitly permitted is forbidden. How long can this continue for? On a local level, some restaurants in Toronto are deciding not to enforce vax mandates. The longer the mandates continue, I expect more restaurants to begin eschewing them, because their economic self-interest is served by doing so. Even fully vaxxed people are curbing their outings because dinner and a movie feels more like internment into a gulag than a family night out. Venues that help people regain that sense of normalcy and comfort will attract the business, not the ones who force you to show “your papers please” on the way in. In Australia, the peasants are revolting, and even if the civil aviation authority is trying to ban drones from capturing the footage of these occurrences, they are still occurring and footage is getting out nonetheless. Varying US states ruling against vaccine and mask mandates, people are setting up job boards for those who aren’t vaxxed (or those who are but don’t want to work for companies that require it). The transportation system is grinding to a halt as air traffic controllers, air crew and pilots are calling in sick, resulting in mass flight cancelations, who knows where it will spread next. Why? The MSM is trying hard not to find out, but guys like Ron Paul suspect vaccine mandates. Right now we’re in civil disobedience, nullification and secessionist territory, but when I think about escalation: as the financial crisis that seemed imminent before COVID seems to be edging back into the frame (inflation, energy costs, supply chain constraints, cascading debt collapses: Evergrande and now the entire Chinese bond market) governments who seized on the COVID opportunity to introduce emergency measures may see a need for doubling down. After chasing the goalposts for almost two years now, I’m not sure the rabble is going to take it much longer. And if it doesn’t, what would that mean? #WorldWarWe In a recent podcast I was listening to (I think it was Sahill Bloom on Bankless, but it’s possible I’m misremembering and I’m sorry if so), he said something almost off-handedly: He said, in effect, “the next world war will be unlike anything we’ve ever seen” – and I expected him to talk about non-conventional warfare, such as bio-weapons, information warfare, and economics (“war by other means”), but instead he said “World War III will be everybody against their own governments” When you think about it, one realizes that today’s technology, with decentralization, cryptography, 3-D printing and drones could actually make this a possibility. In David Hambling’s Swarm Troopers: How Small Drones Can Conquer the World, he outlines how governments, whose military used to have technologies 20 years ahead of the general populace, have become so bureaucratized and sclerotic that they now move at a fraction of the pace of the highly competitive private sector: “If a commercial product goes through a generation every two years and the military cycle takes six years per generation, then in twelve years the military product goes from being four times as powerful as the competition to a quarter as powerful.” An example of this dynamic we can already see having played out is the Internet, which came out of the military industrial complex and in its day, was light-years ahead of anything the general public had (Compuserve, GEnie). But the “genie” did indeed get out of the bottle, and once the private sector got onto it and ran with it, it changed the fundamental architecture of power. The groundwork was laid for the evolution of societies in ways that would challenge, and will inevitably overwhelm the nation states that let it out. Say hello to the Network State and crypto claves. So now that we’re here in The Jackpot, do we honestly believe that the slowest, most bureaucratic, rigid an inflexible entities (governments) are actually going to win the race for primacy in a rapidly decentralizing world? When the gargantuan imbalances they created over the last century finally experience their all-encompassing, self-induced Global Minsky Moment? It was under FDR’s gold ban that dissenting Supreme Court Justice McReynolds ruminated that it meant the demise of the US Constitution: It is impossible to fully estimate the result of what has been done. The Constitution as many of us have understood it, the instrument that has meant so much to us, is gone. The guarantees heretofore supposed to protect against arbitrary action have been swept away. The powers of Congress have been so enlarged that now no man can tell their limitations. Guarantees heretofore supposed to prevent arbitrary action are in the discard… Shame and humiliation are upon us now. Moral and financial chaos may confidently be expected. While in those days the ban on gold was ineffective and compliance less than half, it did succeed in stripping the US citizenry of constitutional protections which has only escalated into the present day. We have all been treating what happened under COVID as something unprecedented. But if you think of Lockdown Society and The New Normal not as the implementation of a quasi-one-world government , ushering in a global police state, but instead as the crescendo, of a roughly century long process of creeping tyranny…. one of those infamous blow-off tops that are unrecognizable to us now because we are immersed in it, still experiencing it. Despite the overwhelming arsenals of governments, the militarization of civilian police forces, and near ubiquitous surveillance capabilities, there’s never been a time in history when the people have the means to rebel, both within the system and without. Especially here in North America, where to avoid retyping all this, allow me to simply excerpt a passage from the most recent edition of The Crypto Capitalist letter…. “The Future of Life Institute made docudrama short-film called “Slaughterbots”, it’s 7 minutes long and nothing short of chilling, but we’d be fools to think that if technology has this capability already, it won’t be used. By somebody: Mexican cartels are already using drones to smuggle drugs, not to mention weaponized drones in combat with each other and on at least one occasion used them to attack the police. It’s still under-appreciated how significant a change this is. On par with the gunpowder revolution and aerial warfare, autonomous weapons and drones are yet another technology in the process of changing the rules of the game. This brings us to the important part: we can already see that these technologies won’t just change the nature of conflict between governments. Drones are also accessible to non-state actors, perhaps even more-so. They will alter the relationship of power across society as a whole. When also you factor in their close cousin, 3-D printed weapons, we really begin to understand what a fundamental shift in the landscape decentralization and digital technology really implies. One of the defining characteristics that makes America, and certain other countries so different from, say, China, or even Australia, is the level to which the citizenry is armed. Especially in North America. The US and Mexico are two of the only three countries in world where gun ownership is a Constitutional right (the third is Guatemala) while even here in Canada, where it isn’t, we have one of the higher per-capita levels of gun ownership (somewhere around 34 guns per 100 people). Imagine a future in which all these gun owners have the capability and incentives to print up their own weapons on 3- D printers. Then deploying them via drones, possibly swarms of them, for whatever purpose. There is no technological barrier from them doing so, and doing so right now. What scenarios or conditions would have to exist to galvanize that kind of behaviour en masse? How close are we to those conditions now? Are we moving toward those conditions or away from them? Most importantly, do you think whoever is in government could stop it? If you consider this, then we can get a sense of why governments and policymakers are so eager to assert their authority now and to appear to be unassailable and omnipotent. I think it’s fear.” To be clear: I am not advocating an armed rebellion against incumbent governments. I’m observing how decentralization and cryptography have changed the architecture of power and asking what kind of incentives would have to be in place to make what I describe inevitable. The Bitcoin and the cryptocurrency movements were the second half of the one-two punch that set all this in motion. The Internet freed the flow of information, and in a world where “whosoever controls the monetary system, controls society (Zarlenga)”, cryptos have taken the punch-bowl of monetary control away from the State in a truly Promethean manner, and open-sourced it. Who controls money now? Everybody. There is a point beyond which the citizenry will stop viewing each other as enemies (left vs right) and start viewing their own governments as the enemy (overlords vs rabble). If that happens, then the incentives and conditions will be in place for #WorldWarWe. Coda: As per the comment from Matt below, I am deeply saddened to learn that Mark Rostenko passed away July 26, 2020. We never met, but I considered him an internet friend and I respected him a lot. Tyler Durden Wed, 10/13/2021 - 16:20.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeOct 13th, 2021

Which War Is Beijing Preparing For?

Which War Is Beijing Preparing For? Op-Ed by James Gorrie via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours), Soldiers march to position during an anti-invasion drill on the beach during the annual Han Kuang military drill in Tainan, Taiwan, on Sept. 14, 2021. (Ann Wang/Reuters) It’s no secret that Beijing is preparing for war. One of the main reasons is China’s cratering economy. The recent collapse of the Evergrande real estate development firm is only the latest in a series of dire symptoms that are fueling rising domestic discontent. The $8 trillion debt crisis in the shadow economy—more than half of its GDP—is also looming large in China’s ability to keep its financial system afloat. An aging, less productive population, higher production costs, and fleeing foreign investment all result in falling GDP. China’s Power Has Peaked The reality is that China’s economic power is already declining. Sure, the statistics can be adjusted, but it doesn’t change reality. What’s more, this across-the-board economic decline is driving the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to impose even more extreme, oppressive measures against its people and businesses. The CCP’s response only worsens economic performance and civil unrest. Concurrently, Beijing has been adjusting its internal arrangements for several years. For example, its National Defense Transportation Law went into effect on Jan. 1, 2017. The law restructured its legal framework, putting all commercial shipping under direct authority of the CCP. Externally, China’s deepening isolation from the world is clearly evident and underscores its ongoing decoupling from the global economy and the international norms of trade and diplomacy. This trend may well make a Taiwan invasion likely sooner than later, if only to divert attention from China’s domestic problems. Taiwanese domestically-built Indigenous Defense Fighters (IDF) take part in the live-fire, anti-landing Han Kuang military exercise in Taichung, Taiwan, on July 16, 2020. (Ann Wang/Reuters) Military and naval experts conclude that Beijing plans to use commercial transport ships to help transport up to 2 million soldiers in a Taiwan invasion. Recent news reports seem to confirm such a conclusion. China’s official press, the Global Times, all but acknowledges the inevitable, if not imminent, invasion of Taiwan. “China is prepared for the worst-case scenario—the US and its allies, including Japan, launch(ing) an all-out military intervention to interrupt China’s national reunification.” Clearly, war or the threat of war is on the horizon, and all the nations in the Asia-Pacific region know it. In response to China’s increasing aggressive posture, including the commercial shipping arrangement, Taiwan and other nations are adding more long-range anti-ship missiles. Japan, which for decades has maintained a pacifist foreign policy, has also made a massive shift in its thinking, linking Taiwan’s security to its own. The impact of a Chinese invasion of Taiwan wouldn’t be limited to just Taiwan. Should it occur, like Japan, it will be perceived by the United States and other nations as a strategic threat to their own national security. This is partially due to the fact that Taiwan provides more than 50 percent of the world’s semiconductors necessary for advanced data processing, automobiles, artificial intelligence, and other high technology. But an invasion would also threaten democratic nations in the region, as well as trade and international legal norms. More Trigger Points But Taiwan is not the only trigger point. China is also threatening the uninhabited Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, which Japan considers its territory. They’re also claimed by China and Taiwan, and could become a flashpoint for war. The Biden administration has recently assured Japan’s new prime minister, Fumio Kishida, that the United States would defend the Senkaku Islands if China should attack. And as noted in an earlier article, the CCP has already put Australia on notice. Should Canberra acquire nuclear-powered submarines from the United States under the recent AUKUS military alliance, China would add Australia as a legitimate target for nuclear attack. A type 094 Jin-class nuclear submarine Long March 15 of the Chinese Navy participates in a naval parade in the sea near Qingdao, in eastern China’s Shandong Province on April 23, 2019. (Mark Schiefelnein/AFP via Getty Images) South Korea has expressed clear opposition to Beijing’s ambitions in Taiwan. In a joint statement with the United States, and for the first time, both nations committed to defend international rules and norms in the South China Sea and Taiwan Strait. The unusual directness of the message is an acknowledgement of the imminent threat China poses to Taiwan and the Asia-Pacific region. Further afield, China’s recent military skirmish with India in the Himalayan heights of the Galwan Valley has alerted New Delhi to the reality that China is seeking unambiguous hegemony over its neighbors, of which India is one. This has driven India to strategically align itself with the U.S.-led AUKUS alliance. Its recent participation in the Malabar joint naval exercises off the U.S. territory of Guam from Aug. 26 to 29 of this year sent a clear message to Beijing. The lynchpin to all of these arrangements is, of course, the United States. It still maintains a significant naval advantage over China. But what is less certain is the political will of the Biden administration to follow through on its military commitments. With the United States’ retreat from Afghanistan, the Biden administration is perceived as weak and more concerned with domestic economic and social issues than projecting American power to protect the international order. Around the world, confidence in American leadership is at an ebb. Beijing is certainly aware of these facts, and it may be influencing its strategy with respect to Taiwan and the region as a whole. Chinese leadership may have concluded that the Biden administration’s weakness poses a unique opportunity to test American resolve in the region. Such perceptions would help explain the new and greater threats to the United States that are coming out of Beijing. But Xi Jinping’s personal leadership and ownership of the CCP, coupled with China’s mounting domestic failures, are most certainly also contributing factors. China would prefer to avoid war—at least until it can match U.S. military might in the region. But one area that it does lead the United States is in hypersonic anti-ship missile technology. Rather than clashing with its neighbors, could the CCP be planning a strike on American naval forces to drive the United States from the region? If so, how would the United States react? How would the region react? Anything less than a full response by the United States to a Chinese attack would mean that the U.S.-led Asia-Pacific security alliance would immediately cease to exist. It would then likely be up to each nation to make their separate peace with Beijing—if that were even an option. That would suit the CCP just fine. Tyler Durden Tue, 10/12/2021 - 22:25.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeOct 13th, 2021

COVID-19: The Weaponization Of Fear & The Loss Of Freedom

COVID-19: The Weaponization Of Fear & The Loss Of Freedom Authored by John Mac Ghlionn via The Epoch Times, Many U.S. citizens wonder if life will ever return to normal. Are masks here to stay? On TV, news channels are busy spreading fear. Meanwhile, some of the most widely read publications in the United States are warning about the next phase of the pandemic. To live in the United States is to live in a permanent state of fear. This, as many readers know, is by design. A more fearful nation is a more passive one—easier to manipulate and easier to control. In the United States, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, it’s far “too soon” to tell if Christmas gatherings will be allowed. Considering Christmas is more than two months away, one is forgiven for raising their eyebrows and asking: “What are you talking about, Dr. Fauci?” What is the point of vaccines and booster shots if we cannot be with our loved ones? Haven’t we sacrificed enough over the past 18 to 20 months? Today, across the country, fear dominates the narrative. As someone currently completing a doctorate in psychology, I am intimately familiar with the mechanics of emotional salience. As a key attentional mechanism that contributes to our survival, fear is currently being weaponized for nefarious purposes. When it comes to the mechanics of government-induced fear, the economist Robert Higgs is perhaps the most knowledgeable man in America. After reading a fantastic article by City Journal’s John Tierney, I picked up a copy of  “Crisis and Leviathan: Critical Episodes in the Growth of American Government,” a book written by Robert Higgs, an economic historian who has been warning about the dangers of government creep for more than 30 years. In “Crisis and Leviathan,” published back in 1987, Higgs discussed a phenomenon known as the “ratchet effect.” Just like a tradesman uses a ratchet to allow effective, one-directional motion, governments often use emergencies to “ratchet” up their responses. By introducing more programs and more oversight boards, such “ratcheting” comes with significant costs—including freedoms we once took for granted. The loss of freedom brings a loss of privacy, and with these losses comes a loss of what it means to be human. Clearly inspired by Higgs, the U.S. government, aided by mainstream media outlets, has weaponized fear to full effect. Aided by behavioral experts and masters of spin, a number of highly influential people have exploited this deeply wired reaction to further erode human agency. Now, to be clear, fear is a highly complex emotion. Context is everything. If you find yourself being chased by a bear, fear is natural. To feel joy in that situation would likely result in your swift and all too painful demise. However, in modern society, our predisposition toward fear is largely maladaptive. Your chances of being chased by a bear are minimal. In fact, your chances of dying from unnatural causes have never been lower. The world has never been safer. With COVID-19, though, we are constantly fed the life or death narrative. The message from the government and MSM is clear: “If you enjoy living, then listen to those in power. If instead you enjoy dying, then, by all means, do your own thing.” Don Lemon, CNN’s anchor and part-time preacher, has spoken about leaving the unvaccinated behind. Again, to be clear, I am not advocating against vaccines, but every adult should be free to make their own decisions. They shouldn’t be coerced or fed false, fear-filled narratives. Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci testify before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, on Capitol Hill in Washington on July 20, 2021. (J. Scott Applewhite/Pool/Getty Images) A Culture of Fear We are bombarded with news stories 24 hours a day, 7 days a week—many of these are of the tragic variety. Not surprisingly, as we are hardwired to sense danger, the human mind provides fertile ground for the planting of fears. However, fears, like plants, can also be uprooted. Sadly, our ability to uproot is being compromised by those in positions of genuine power. Because of this, to paraphrase James F. Byrnes, the now deceased politician and judge, too many people now find themselves obsessed by the idea of security. By failing to acknowledge opportunity (also known as freedom), “they seem to be more afraid of life than death.” Fear works best when an element of truth gets exaggerated to epic proportions. With COVID-19, we know the virus exists; we also know that far too many people around the world, including at least 709,000 Americans, have died. But—and this is of vital importance—if you happen to be reasonably young and reasonably healthy, your chances of dying from the virus are minimal. One of the major reasons COVID-19 has had such a devastating impact in the United States has a lot to do with one, simple fact: 40 percent of the country’s adults are obese. Instead of fear mongering, Dr. Fauci should be advising people to get fitter. This is one of the surest ways to avoid succumbing to the illness. Why does this get excluded from the conversation, either intentionally or otherwise? Because it’s much better to keep control of the masses—including the younger, healthier citizens—if tens of millions live in a perpetual state of fear. An individual has a far greater chance of being killed in a traffic accident or from the flu than they have of dying from COVID-19. Obviously, no one wants to get the flu or experience a traffic accident. Nevertheless, we don’t live our lives in constant fear of both. That’s because our salience biases, also known as perceptual salience, predispose us to focus on novel threats. What’s more novel than a novel coronavirus? Fear is a prison largely of our own making. Let’s free ourselves. I will finish with a quote from Frank Herbert, author of “Dune”: “I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.” Tyler Durden Mon, 10/11/2021 - 17:00.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytOct 11th, 2021

Frances Haugen: The Facebook Whistleblower

    Now that’s a rock star. You remember rock stars, don’t you? Probably not if you’re a millennial or younger. Rock stars were musicians who channeled the truth, who stood up to corporations and bad behavior around the world. They were explicit, not complicit. And they and their messages were so powerful that money… Read More The post Frances Haugen: The Facebook Whistleblower appeared first on The Big Picture.     Now that’s a rock star. You remember rock stars, don’t you? Probably not if you’re a millennial or younger. Rock stars were musicians who channeled the truth, who stood up to corporations and bad behavior around the world. They were explicit, not complicit. And they and their messages were so powerful that money rained down upon them. But it hasn’t been that way for a very long time. First we had MTV. Which soon made looks more important than the music. Good luck getting signed if you weren’t beautiful. They had whole teams of people to help write your songs, to groom you, because there was big money at stake, and the executives wanted it. That big money was based on technology, i.e. the CD, which sold for two times viny and cassettes, yet to “help the format” artists halved their royalties, with promises they would be raised once the CD got traction, and this never happened. It was a game, the major labels, MTV, radio and print media were in cahoots. They built beautiful stars, who became more and more vapid. And then came the internet. The paradigm was blown apart. But within the last decade a new order has been established, akin to the old one, but this time on steroids. Now the major labels sign very few acts, and don’t release any music from said acts until they’re sure they’re going to be hits. Furthermore, they have untold power at the streaming services, because they provide the lion’s share of their product, not only new music, but catalog, which represents in excess of 50% of streaming by everybody’s calculation. So every major label priority gets priority at the streaming service. It’s put on banners, it’s put on playlists, it’s given a chance. Good luck with your indie record. And as was proven in the movie business over the last forty-odd years, if you don’t have a library/catalog you can’t pay the bills, you end up selling or going out of business, because it’s the already paid-for assets that generate reliable income at essentially no cost while you do your best to make new hits. And now it’s even easier, it used to be impossible to get all your catalog in the retail store, you’d be lucky to get a greatest hits package, but today every one of the label’s owned songs appears on streaming services, and a lot of the past is better than what we’ve got today, but no one on the inside will say so. And don’t expect a whistleblower in the music business, where loyalty is everything. So “The Wall Street Journal” did a series on Facebook based on documents received from a whistleblower. But not only were the lengthy, detailed articles behind a paywall, they were in print, and most people don’t read, at least not beyond the headlines and captions on news or social media sites. It was big news amongst the intelligentsia, but that leaves out most Americans. But today the whistleblower went on “60 Minutes”: Facebook Whistleblower Frances Haugen: The 60 Minutes Interview. It’s less than fifteen minutes, you can afford the time, and it’s fascinating. First and foremost Ms. Haugen. She’s a 37 year old woman. She’s the antithesis of Elizabeth Holmes. She’s the antithesis of today’s social media influencers, the Paris Hilton/Kim Kardashian paradigm, where it’s only the exterior that counts and money trumps everything. Haugen went to the not even 25 year old Olin College, an engineering specialty school, and ultimately got an MBA at Harvard. Should you listen to the uneducated nitwit in your neighborhood or Ms. Haugen? It’s no contest. “Ms. Haugen was initially asked to build tools to study the potentially malicious targeting of information at specific communities.” That’s from the one hour old “Wall Street Journal” article on Frances Haugen, now that she’s revealed herself, they’re detailing her history. You can read about it here: “The Facebook Whistleblower, Frances Haugen, Says She Wants to Fix the Company, Not Harm It – The former Facebook employee says her goal is to help prompt change at the social-media giant” But that’s behind a paywall. It took twenty five years, but that’s where the internet is going, I point you to this article centered around Patreon in “Bloomberg Businessweek”: “Patreon Battles for Creators by Investing in Original Content – Ahead of a potential IPO, the $4 billion startup is transforming itself as competition from tech giants intensifies” It used to just be Patreon. Then came Substack. Now all the usual suspect platforms want to be gateways for content provided by citizens that sits behind paywalls so the creators can get paid. So what we’ll end up with is a bunch of niche creative providers, forget whether they get paid or not, who will reach tiny slivers of the public as the big outlets get bigger, then again will the big outlets gain dominance? This is still up in the air. Sure, the “New York Times” has just under 10 million subscribers, but we live in a country of 330 million, and those subscribers aren’t all Americans. Ditto music, the big acts might be bigger than the indies, but in the aggregate, the indies are quite large. Never mind that there’s only so much money to go around. Everybody wants to get paid, they’re sick of giving it away for free, they’re going behind paywalls. And if you don’t pay, soon you’ll be in the dark. But not on Facebook or Instagram, because there you’re paying with your attention, the time you’re logged-on, during which they can serve you advertising. That’s right, Facebook changed the algorithm a couple of years back such that content that delivered a reaction was favored. Because you’d interact with said content and you’d stay on longer, it was a win for Facebook, but a loss for society. Haugen says that Facebook turned on safety systems before the 2020 election, but once the contest was over, they turned them off, end result being the 1/6 insurrection. That’s what everybody was saying on Workplace, the Facebook intranet where everything was available to everybody. So Haugen wanted to move to Puerto Rico. Facebook said she couldn’t work there. So Haugen decided to quit. But during the month she transferred her projects to new people, she downloaded as much information as she could from Workplace. She was stunned what she could see and she was stunned that no one saw her looking, especially in areas outside her purview. Bottom line, Facebook commissioned internal studies that detailed over and over again the negative effects of the service. Instagram’s negative influence on teenage girls. The trade of drugs and human beings in plain sight. How people who posted frequently or were famous were whitelisted and could say anything with impunity. And then she contacted the SEC and provided this information to “The Wall Street Journal.” Now what happens? Well, even Haugen says that breaking up Facebook wouldn’t work. She says there must be governmental regulations because the company prioritizes profits over safety. But it’s worse than that. Facebook is not a manufacturer of physical goods. Half of the world is on Facebook, and the bottom line is the service is now out of the control of the company. As bad as it is in America, it’s a free-for-all in most countries. And, once again, it’s Europe cracking down on the service, saying it’s interfering with government, not the U.S. “a betrayal of democracy.” That’s what Haugen says about Facebook turning off its restrictions after the election. And democracy does hang in the balance. It’s been three and a half years since the Cambridge Analytica story broke, but now the anti-Facebook movement is gaining momentum. But don’t expect Workplace to be available to all Facebook employees in the future, they’re gonna close that loophole posthaste, never mind already shutting down internal operations that deliver information the brass doesn’t want to hear. If you don’t hear it, it doesn’t exist, right? Wrong! But you knew that. But you also thought the power resided in the public. Like yesterday’s inane anti-abortion/women’s rights marches. I sympathize with the sentiment, but not the method. We marched all the way through Trump’s term, did it make a difference? Of course not. It’s the twenty first century, not the twentieth. Battles are fought online. That’s where you make your statements and organize, a person behind a computer is much more powerful than a person at an evanescent rally. But really, we need the big players, the government, the investors to get involved or no change happens. I wish it were otherwise, but it’s not. That’s what voting rights are all about. At least you get a say in theory, but if the rules make it too hard for many to vote, and a partisan legislature is in charge of the results, irrelevant of the public’s will, look out. This is what is happening right now. And what is everybody doing? Looking to make a buck for themselves. Everybody’s deep in their hole, trying to elbow out others to get ahead. They’ve got contempt for others, there is no common good. That’s what “Squid Game,” the most popular show in the world, is all about. It’s not a revelation, it’s reality. People will do anything to survive, to keep the world running how they want it to. Meanwhile, people are addicted to social media. At least there are alternatives to Amazon, but no boycott of the operation has ever worked. But California has instituted warehouse workplace rules targeting Amazon. Good luck working in another state. Where odds are you’re going to get hurt, with repetitive stress injuries if nothing else. Oh, Amazon provides aspirin and band-aids, but the truth is you’re just a cog in the system, disposable, while the company and Wall Street make ever more money. That’s another message of “Squid Game.” So one individual has already had a huge impact. What are the odds other major tech companies will be reaching out to hire her? NADA! She’s white hot, untouchable, let’s hope she gets a big whistleblower settlement, but even if she does, that takes years. Meanwhile, our nation, our world, is being run by a college dropout with tunnel vision. And his number two is leaning into him, not the public at large, screw the public, it’s all about money, isn’t that the essence of Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos? But there’s a lot more truth in “Squid Game” than any of today’s music. And the goal of “musicians” today is to sell out to the corporation, or become a corporation, to sell crap to brain dead listeners. That’s to be lauded? No, Frances Haugen is to be lauded. She will be remembered, the Spotify Top 50 will not. Because Haugen did something important, took a stand, risking her career, her future. Who else is doing this? And if this were the pre-internet era, this “60 Minutes” story would be known by essentially every citizen, if they didn’t see it, they’d hear about it, but “60 Minutes” no longer has that kind of reach, nothing on network TV does anymore. Then again, Facebook hate knows no political boundaries, it can appeal to both right and left. But not really. Did you see that YouTube shut out anti-vaxxers? Trump wants back on Twitter. Trump had more reach than anybody in the world, now it’s been scaled back, but he’s already convinced his troops that Democrats are socialists who will ruin society and they must fight to protect their way of life, however bogus it might be. That’s what 1/6 was about. And the word was spread on Facebook. And despite all the doublespeak of Nick Clegg and the rest of the Facebook press team, we know it’s true. In reality, Mark Zuckerberg needs to lose his job. He can keep his money, but he can’t have his hands on the steering wheel of Facebook anymore. But that would require the board to have balls, which it doesn’t possess. Unlike Uber, where Travis Kalanick was exiled for bad behavior, Facebook throws off a ton of money, and since profits are everything, there is no change unless the government insists. But you can’t get agreement on anything in D.C. And not only is there no longer any trust in Congress, there’s no trust in the Supreme Court. And Ted Cruz is single-handedly holding up the appointment of 59 ambassadors, how does that help us exactly? But welcome to the modern world. Where what happens online supersedes everything else. And it happens so fast that elected officials cannot keep up with it. And the internet itself is fluid, so you end up playing a game of Whac-A-Mole. Meanwhile, China is clamping down. But Evergrande has revealed the country’s economic underpinnings are shaky. But Xi is trying to minimize the bad influences of the internet, he’s trying to tamp down celebrity culture, he’s trying to return China to the past, and ultimately that will never work. What did the Rascals say? “People everywhere just want to be free”? But things have to get really bad before they react. They’re really bad at Facebook. This is the first shoe dropping. What’s next? ~~~ Visit the archive: — Listen to the podcast: — @Lefsetz — Subscribe to the LefsetzLetter The post Frances Haugen: The Facebook Whistleblower appeared first on The Big Picture......»»

Category: blogSource: TheBigPictureOct 11th, 2021

JPMorgan Prime Advises Institutions To Keep Shorting Even As The Bank Hikes Its S&P Price Target

JPMorgan Prime Advises Institutions To Keep Shorting Even As The Bank Hikes Its S&P Price Target One wouldn't know it from reading the "house view" research distributed for broad retail and media consumption, and to a large extent for political motives, but behind the cheerful and bullish facade spun by JPMorgan's equity strategists, the bank is quietly telling a subset of its top clients that they should keep shorting the market. This should come as a surprise - after all just a few weeks ago, with many Wall Street firms scaling back their stock market outlooks for the rest of the year, JPMorgan was adamantly bullish and in a recent note, the bank's chief US equity strategist Dubravko Lakos-Bujas said the bank is confident that strong growth lies ahead despite concerns that the recent downshift in economic and business cycle momentum will weigh on stocks. He also raised his year-end S&P 500 price target to 4,700 from 4,600, representing a 6% gain from current levels, and predicted that the index would hit 5,000 at some time in 2022. So in light of this euphoric optimism, we found it strange that JPM's "positioning intelligence" team, a group which operates under the umbrella of the bank's Prime Brokerage team which in turn directly interfaces with institutional investor clients and provides them with ideas and insights from "top-ranked analysts, to high-touch sales and trading services, to world-class algorithmic and electronic trading capabilities" is far less enthused about the market's near-term perspective. In fact, in its latest note, the team of JPM wonder traders whose views rarely if ever make it to the broader public is advising clients on "5 Reasons Why Shorts Can Continue to Work in the Medium Term." Seems a bit strange to pitch shorts when your chief strategist sees stocks surging over 300 points in under three months? Or perhaps, JPM is playing both sides of the trade: getting its retail clients and less privileged institutions to keep buying, helping a handful of select top accounts to short into a rising tide. Then again, JPMorgan would never do something that duplicitous, would it? Rhetorical questions aside, here is the thesis presented by the JPM prime folks; needless to say this would never make its way into a bullish "house view" research report: During the recent drawdown, one element that’s helped HF performance is that shorts have generally worked. When compared to what we saw early this year, this is a welcome development and potentially a sign that HFs relative returns could appear better if the markets were to continue to correct. However, with the recent declines, the US High Short Interest stocks (JPTASHTE basket) are back to the mid-May lows in absolute terms and are back to relative lows on a YTD basis…  So a key question as we approach year-end could be will these rip higher once again? In general, we think shorts are not set up for a sharp reversal higher (i.e. they can continue to work), unless we see a very strong “risk on” market come back into vogue. Digging deeper into this argument, and before getting into the main reasons for why JPM Prime thinks shorts can continue to perform better relative to the market going forward, it’s worth taking a quick step back to look at what’s happened this year on the short side. First, when we look at short “alpha” (i.e. the performance of shorts relative to the market), it suggests that shorts rallied much faster than the market and faster than longs at the start of this year, particularly among Equity L/S funds (left chart). Everyone remembers the reason: the hedge fund inspired squeeze of "meme stonks" by millions of retail investors, who made hedge fund like Senvest which was long Gamestop well ahead of the short squeeze frenzy and which leaked its GME squeeze thesis to the reddit message boards, the best performing hedge fund of the year. And yet WallStreetBets still thinks it is somehow "socking" it to the billionaire hedge funds, little do they know that they were merely pawns in a far bigger game which made one of said hedge funds, the one that precipitated the squeeze, fabulously wealthy as we explained in "The Curious Case Of The Hedge Fund That Made $700 Million On GameStop." But we digress. Again in late May to early June, we saw another period of fairly strong outperformance (i.e. negative alpha). Both of these periods were tied to greater activity among the retail community, especially among so-called “meme” stocks, with the timing coinciding with Joe Biden's stimmies hitting bank accounts. However, and this did surprise us, JPM notes that since the peaks in Feb/Mar of this year, shorts have been underperforming the broader market and are actually underperforming on a YTD basis. Second, looking at short activity (i.e. short additions vs. covering), we had seen sharp covering in 4Q20 as markets rallied into year-end and this persisted into Jan of this year, but the trend since then has been mostly one of shorts being added back. That said, the short additions on a cumulative basis still lag the long additions by a wide margin on a YTD, 2-year, or 4-year basis. Third, High Short Interest stocks (e.g. the “tip of the spear”) clearly rallied very sharply — both in absolute and relative terms — in both Jan and late May. However, with the recent declines, these stocks are back to the mid-May lows in absolute terms and are back to relative lows on a YTD basis…so a key question according to JPM prime - again, these are the guys that institutions listen to, not the generic tripe distributed by "chief equity strategists" which is just fodder for CNBC talking heads, as we approach year-end is will these rip higher once again? Below we get into some of the multiple reasons why JPM Prime thinks it’s less likely that we experience another Jan or late May “squeeze” - for what it's worth we disagree completely and are confident that accumulating some of the most shorted names will soon pay off in droves, more on that in a subsequent post - however, one key factor (pun intended) that JPM wanted to emphasize up front is that it seems far less likely that “risky” factors will drive shorts higher going forward. Thus, this suggests that the worst for High SI stocks (and the short book more generally) is likely behind us, given the regime backdrop could remain more favorable going forward. Put simply, a rally in “risky” factors drove a lot of the outperformance of High SI stocks from the Covid lows to this past Feb.  Importantly, the magnitude and duration of the factor moves is already in line with what we saw coming out of the low in the early 2000s and the 2009 low. Thus, JPM's crack in house traders believe that "there’s a much lower likelihood that we get a repeat of what we saw from last March to mid-Feb of this year." And again, we believe JPM is dead wrong... again. With that in mind, here is what JPMorgan really thinks: 5 reasons why shorts can continue to work in the medium term: ETFs still make up relatively high % of the short book; thus, there’s room for a continued shift back to single-names Short Leverage is still low; it’s at a 1-year low for the All Strategies composite and only the 24th %-tile since 2017 Lack of evidence that HFs are strongly pressing shorts in High SI stocks; there has been some increase recently, which may lead to some near term risk of a bounce higher due to covering, but this is quite different from the build-up into mid-May Distribution of shorts suggests fewer extreme names; there are still many fewer stocks that have SI/float at elevated levels (e.g. 0 stocks in the Russell 3000 with SI/float > 50% vs. 10 of these at the start of the year), Factors have mattered a lot, but they shouldn’t nearly as much going forward; from a regime perspective, “risky” factors – i.e. high trading activity, high vol, high earnings variability, high leverage – tend to outperform over the 12-18 months from a market low. Given the move we saw from the COVID lows was similar in both magnitude and duration to what we saw post other major market lows, it suggests that the risk of a persistent outperformance on the short side is less likely to occur We drill down into these starting at the top: 1. ETFs as % of Short Book in N. America – Still Elevated Among Equity L/S funds, the % of shorts in ETFs is down from the highs earlier this year (17-18% recently vs. high of 19% at end of Jan 2021). That said, the recent level is still elevated on a longer lookback and well above the ~14% it was pre-COVID and early 2021. Among non-ELS funds, ETF shorts have been trending lower to 10-11% of the book, from a high of 12% in 1Q21. However, the level is still higher than it was in early Jan 2021 or early 2020. 2. Short Leverage – Still Low Among All Strategies, short leverage (i.e. short exposure as a % of equity) remains near ~1yr lows and is only at the 24th %-tile since 2017. Among ELS funds, it has been trending higher lately, but is still well below pre-COVID levels — it’s at the 52nd %-tile. One thing to note is that short leverage changes due to multiple factors including the relative performance of shorts, how it relates to HF performance (i.e. equity changes), and also includes derivative exposures. Thus, some of the decline among All Strategies is likely due to a) shorts performing better, b) performance holding up reasonably well lately, and c) some derivative exposures declining after quadruple witching in Sep. This is why it appears to be at odds with the recent flows that show a continuation of shorts being actively added. 3. High SI Stock Flows vs. Performance – Not pressing High SI Shorts High SI stocks saw material outperformance at the start of 2021 amidst retail squeeze behavior and very large covering. In Mar to mid-May, we saw HFs re-engage and add shorts among these stocks as they underperformed, but ultimately this was reversed again as the names squeezed in 2H May into early June. More recently, JPM has seen relatively less shorting of the High SI stocks despite their relative performance dropping back to mid-May lows. On a related point, JPM notes that since the flows are for the stocks that already have High SI, i.e. these stocks were likely shorted prior to getting into the basket, it’s not too unusual to see a lack of further short adds, but the recent flows also suggest that there’s not a strong pressing into these names. 4. Distribution of shorts suggests fewer extreme names In Jan 2021, the large covering of High Short Interest names caused a material reduction in the # of stocks in the Russell 3000 that had very high SI. In particular, the number of stocks with >50% SI/float went from 10 to 1, and was down from 19 at the end of 2019. However, the “belly” of the distribution has been rising as the number of stocks with 3-10% SI/float has been rising in the past few quarters. Given there are still relatively fewer stocks with 15%+ SI/float, the risk of a short squeeze having much broader market impacts seems relatively low. This is exemplified by the fact that in recent months, retail still seems to occasionally cause squeezes in one-off names, but a) they  often come back down and b) there haven’t been broader impacts as the High SI stocks have generally underperformed the market. 4. Distribution of shorts suggests fewer extreme names According to JPM, in Jan 2021, the large covering of High Short Interest names caused a material reduction in the # of stocks in the Russell 3000 that had very high SI. In particular, the number of stocks with >50% SI/float went from 10 to 1, and was down from 19 at the end of 2019. However, the “belly” of the distribution has been rising as the number of stocks with 3-10% SI/float has been rising in the past few quarters. As such the bank believes Given there are still relatively fewer stocks with 15%+ SI/float, the risk of a short squeeze having much broader market impacts seems relatively low. This is exemplified by the fact that in recent months, retail still seems to occasionally cause squeezes in one-off names, but a) they often come back down and b) there haven’t been broader impacts as the High SI stocks have generally underperformed the market. Again, we disagree with JPM here, and remain confident it's just a matter of time before hedge funds - not retail - orchestrate the next squeeze wave. 5. Factor Matters (or to put it more clearly, Factors HAVE Mattered a lot, but they shouldn’t nearly as much going forward) The performance of High SI stocks broadly correlates with the broader short book JPM Prime sees (although it generally hasn’t performed as well). However, understanding what caused the massive outperformance from the March 2020 lows to mid-Feb 2021 can help understand what’s likely going forward. So what’s the main takeaway? From a factor standpoint, the High SI stocks’ relative returns tend to be very positively correlated to a number of “risky” factors – i.e. stocks with high trading activity, high vol, high earnings variability, high leverage – and negatively correlated to stocks with lower risk – i.e. large caps, highly profitable stocks. Put simply, HFs are often shorting lower quality, highly volatile (and liquid), smaller cap stocks. When JPM takes the average return across these factors, it sees a very strong relationship to the relative returns of the High SI stocks. Looking at the chart since the start of 2020 (right chart below), the average factor driver line has been extremely correlated to the High SI stocks relative returns, except for Jan 2021 and then late May 2021, arguably as large HF covering drove these stocks to diverge from the factor drivers for a period of time. So what is JPM's the view going forward, and why does it differ so much from the "house view"? As the Prime folks explain, the magnitude and duration of the factor moves, which have tended to drive the High SI stocks to outperform post a market low, are already in line with what we saw coming out of the low in the early 2000s and the 2009 low. Thus, the bank believes that there’s a much lower likelihood that we get a repeat of what we saw from last March to mid-Feb of this year. For those curious about more details, the charts below on the left show the relative returns of the High SI stocks since 2014 against the various factors that seem to influence them. The right charts show these various factors vs. the SPX since 2000. Finally, JPM takes a brief look at some other questions on this topic. First, how does retail’s role figure into this? Here the House of Morgan is confident that there is less potential for retail to drive broader risk propagation due to 1) more awareness among HFs of what retail is trading, 2) less concentrated shorts (see prior reasons 3 & 4 in particular), 3) retail trading shifting more towards ETFs lately. Second, how does this look in other regions? Short performance has generally been less extreme in other regions, compared to what we saw in the US in 2H20 to early 2021. While there was some outperformance of top shorts in Europe in 4Q20 to Jan 2021, the volatility of the relative returns has generally been much lower. Additionally, in Japan and China there has not been as strong a move in the last year towards shorts outperforming. Finally, where does JPM see shorts relatively low or high vs. history? On a global basis, it’s mostly Defensive sectors that appear to have relatively low short exposure vs. history (e.g. FBT, Utilities, Food Retail, Telcos, Household & Pers. Products). On the flip side, a number of Cyclicals and Financials generally have higher short exposure vs. history. And while we thank JPM's elite trading forces for this stern defense of institutional shorting, we wonder just how all of this jives with the bank's overarching bullishness which has maintained JPM's equity strategists such as Lakos-Bujas and Kolanovic at or near the top of the highest S&P price targets. As for who will be right in their "medium-term" outlook on the market, whether it is the bullish JPMorgan urging smaller retail investors and less important institutions to buy or the bearish JPMorgan telling its high margin prime brokerage clients to press their shorts here, we eagerly look forward to getting the answer over the next few weeks. Tyler Durden Sun, 10/10/2021 - 07:35.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytOct 10th, 2021

Tesla probably won"t have to pay the full $137 million to an ex-worker who won a racial harassment case, but it"s still a big blow to the company

One attorney said Tesla's response to the racial harassment verdict - publishing a blog post outlining flaws in the decision - was "very unusual." Workers at Tesla's Fremont factory. David Butow/Corbis News via Getty Images Tesla was ordered to pay $137 million to a former worker in a racial harassment lawsuit on Tuesday. Two employment attorneys told Insider the figure will likely be cut if Tesla appeals. Tesla's response to the verdict was to publish a blog that seemed to undermine the jury's decision. Tesla was ordered by a jury in San Francisco on Tuesday to pay $137 million to Owen Diaz, a man who worked as an elevator operator in its Fremont factory in 2015. Diaz said that while working as an agency staffer, he was racially harassed.The jury decided on $130 million in punitive damages, plus $6.9 million for emotional distress - but two employment lawyers said Tesla probably won't have to pay Diaz the full amount."Despite the shock value associated with this large jury verdict, it is unlikely that this amount will withstand judicial scrutiny, and Tesla will likely not have to pay the full amount awarded by the jury," Jessica Roe, an attorney at Roe Law Group, told Insider.She said many laws set maximum damages caps for specific claims. "Tesla will likely argue that the $130 million awarded in punitive damages far exceeds the damage caps in play here," Roe said.Helene Hechtkopf, partner at Hoguet Newman Regal & Kenney, also told Insider the final payout to Diaz is likely to be cut down. Arizona State University law professor Michael Selmi told Bloomberg the sum could be cut by as much as 50%."Based on the size of the award, the jury was likely attempting to send a message to Tesla that what happened here was not OK," Roe said.Tesla's response to Tuesday's verdict indicates it is ready to fight. The company's VP of people, Valerie Capers Workman, published a blog post in which she appeared to try and undermine the jury's verdict using details from the case.One example of a detail presented by Workman was that Diaz had recommended to his son and daughter that they came to work with him at Tesla.Tesla's reaction was "very unusual," Hechtkopf told Insider.She said: "The jury is the ultimate 'finder of fact' in a case like this - and the jury found that the facts support a finding of liability. So Tesla's internal view of the facts is just not relevant at this point."Many large companies would have just published a generic statement of their intent to appeal, she added. Roe did not view Tesla's response as particularly extraordinary, however, and said it signaled that the company will likely appeal.In an email to Insider, Diaz's attorney J. Bernard Alexander III said: "Tesla's response was to thumb its nose at the verdict, despite a unanimous jury finding against them and a substantial punitive damage award."He added: "Tesla's tone-deaf response to the jury verdict is precisely the tone that resulted in the punitive damage award."Tesla did not respond when contacted by Insider for comment and has not yet issued a statement on whether it will appeal.Color of Change, a nonprofit civil rights advocacy group, said the blog post was an example of Tesla failing Black employees.Jade Magnus Ogunnaike, the group's senior campaigns director, told Insider: "Tesla's attempt to discredit and undermine Owen Diaz's experiences of racism and discrimination is typical behavior from a billion-dollar company that has continuously failed to support its Black employees and contracted workers.""Tesla's leadership has refused to take responsibility for the company's anti-Black and hostile work environment," Ogunnaike said.There are countless Black employees who have experiences similar to Diaz, according to Ogunnaike. She added that their "voices go unheard because corporations like Tesla use a two-tiered system and hire contracted workers who do not receive the same benefits or protections as full-time staff."Diaz is not the only Black worker to have brought a racial harassment lawsuit against Tesla. In August, the company was ordered to pay $1 million to a Black former employee, who alleged he was called racial slurs in 2015.Even if Tesla successfully gets Diaz's payout cut, the verdict has been damaging for the company. It was cited by investors on its annual shareholder call on Thursday as a reason why its employment practices need greater transparency."After this week's headlines and many other employee allegations of racial discrimination, we, as investors, need a look under the hood," Dr. Kristin Hull, CEO at activist shareholder Nia Impact Capital, said on the call.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytOct 10th, 2021

One Ring To Rule Us All: A Global Digital Fiat Currency

One Ring To Rule Us All: A Global Digital Fiat Currency Via SchiffGold.com, We’ve written extensively about the “war on cash.” In a nutshell, governments would love to do away with cash in order to better track and control their citizens. There have been numerous moves closer to a cashless society in recent years, from capping ATM withdrawals to doing away with large-denomination bills. Last year, China launched a digital yuan pilot program and the US has floated moving toward a digital dollar. We got a first-hand look at what happens when governments restrict access to cash when India plunged into a cash crisis after the country’s government enacted a policy of demonetization in November 2016. It’s bad enough that various countries are exploring ways to move toward cashlessness, but there’s an even worse scenario - a global digital currency. Economist Thorsten Polleit compares it to the “master ring” in J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic Lord of the Rings. The following article was originally published by the Mises Wire. 1. Human history can be viewed from many angles. One of them is to see it as a struggle for power and domination, as a struggle for freedom and against oppression, as a struggle of good against evil. That is how Karl Marx (1818–83) saw it, and Ludwig von Mises (1881–1973) judged similarly. Mises wrote: The history of the West, from the age of the Greek Polis down to the present-day resistance to socialism, is essentially the history of the fight for liberty against the encroachments of the officeholders. But unlike Marx, Mises recognized that human history does not follow predetermined laws of societal development but ultimately depends on ideas that drive human action. From Mises’s point of view, human history can be understood as a battle of good ideas against bad ideas. Ideas are good if the actions they recommend bring results that are beneficial for everyone and lead the actors to their desired goals; At the same time, good ideas are ethically justifiable, they apply to everyone, anytime and anywhere, and ensure that people who act upon them can survive. On the other hand, bad ideas lead to actions that do not benefit everyone, that do not cause all actors to achieve their goals and/or are unethical. Good ideas are, for example, people accepting “mine and yours”; or entering into exchange relationships with one another voluntarily. Bad ideas are coercion, deception, embezzlement, theft. Evil ideas are very bad ideas, ideas through which whoever puts them into practice is consciously harming others. Evil ideas are, for example, physical attacks, murder, tyranny. 2. With Lord of the Rings, J. J. R. Tolkien (1892–1973) wrote a literary monument about the epic battle between good and evil. His fantasy novel, published in 1954, was a worldwide success, not least because of the movie trilogy, released from 2001 to 2003. What is Lord of the Rings about? In the First Age, the deeply evil Sauron—the demon, the hideous horror, the necromancer—had rings of power made by the elven forges. Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky, Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone, Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die, One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie. One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all, and in the darkness bind them. In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie. But Sauron secretly forges an additional ring into which he pours all his darkness and cruelty, and this one ring, the master ring, rules all the other rings. When Sauron puts the master ring on his finger, he can read and control the minds of everyone wearing one of the other rings. The elves see through the dark plan and hide their three rings. The seven rings of the dwarves also fail to subjugate their bearers. But the nine rings of men proved to be effective: Sauron enslaved nine human kings, who were to serve him. Then, however, in the Third Age, in the battle before Mount Doom, Isildur, the eldest son of King Elendils, severed Sauron’s ring finger with a sword blow. Sauron is defeated and loses his physical form, but he survives. Now Isildur has the ring of power, and it takes possession of him. He does not destroy the master ring when he has the opportunity, and it costs him his life. When Isildur is killed, the ring sinks to the bottom of a river and remains there for twenty-five hundred years. Then the ring is found by Smeagol, who is captivated by its power. The ring remains with its finder for nearly five hundred years, hidden from the world. Over time, Sauron’s power grows again, and he wants the Ring of Power back. Then the ring is found, and for sixty years, it remains in the hands of the hobbit Bilbo Baggins, a friendly, well-meaning being who does not allow himself to be seduced by the power of the One Ring. Years later, the wizard Gandalf the Gray learns that Sauron’s rise has begun, and that the Ring of Power is held by Bilbo Baggins. Gandalf knows that there is only one way to defeat the ring and its evil: it must be destroyed where it was created, in Mordor. Bilbo Baggins’s nephew, Frodo Baggins, agrees to take the task upon himself. He and his companions—a total of four hobbits, two humans, a dwarf, and an elf—embark on the dangerous journey. They endure hardship, adversity, and battles against the dark forces, and in the end, they succeed at what seemed impossible: the destruction of the ring of power in the fires of Mount Doom. Good triumphs over evil. 3. The ring in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings is not just a piece of forged gold. It embodies Sauron’s evil, corrupting everyone who lays hands or eyes on it, poisons their soul, and makes them willing helpers of evil. No one can wield the cruel power of the One Ring and use it for good; no human, no dwarf, no elf. Can an equivalent for Tolkien’s literary portrait of the evil ring be found in the here and now? Yes, I believe so, and in the following, I would like to offer you what I hope is a startling, but in any case, entertaining, interpretation. Tolkien’s Rings of Power embody evil ideas. The nineteen rings represent the idea that the ring bearers should have power over others and rule over them. And the One Ring, to which all other rings are subject, embodies an even darker idea, namely that the bearer of this master ring has power over all other ring bearers and those ruled by them; that he is the sole and absolute ruler of all. The nineteen rings symbolize the idea of establishing and maintaining a state (as we know it today), namely a state understood as a territorial, coercive monopoly with the ultimate power of decision-making over all conflicts. However, the One Ring of power stands for the particularly evil idea of creating a state of states, a world government, a world state; and the creation of a single world fiat currency controlled by the states would pave the way toward this outcome. 4. To explain this, let us begin with the state as we know it today. The state is the idea of the rule of one over the other. This is how the German economist, sociologist, and doctor Franz Oppenheimer (1864–1946) sees it: The state … is a social institution, forced by a victorious group of men on a defeated group, with the sole purpose of regulating the dominion of the victorious group over the vanquished and securing itself against revolt from within and attacks from abroad…. This dominion had no other purpose than the economic exploitation of the vanquished by the victors. Joseph Stalin (1878–1953) defined the state quite similarly: The state is a machine in the hands of the ruling class to suppress the resistance of its class opponents. The modern state in the Western world no longer uses coercion and violence as obviously as many of its predecessors. But it, too, is, of course, built on coercion and violence, asserts itself through them, and most importantly, it divides society into a class of the rulers and a class of the ruled. How does the state manage to create and maintain such a two-class society of rulers and ruled? In Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, nine men, all of them kings, wished to wield power, and so they became bearers of the rings, and because of that, they were inescapably bound to Sauron’s One Ring of power. This is quite similar to the idea of the state. To seize, maintain, and expand power, the state seduces its followers to do what is necessary, to resort to all sorts of techniques: propaganda, carrot and stick, fear, and even terror. The state lets the people know that it is good, indispensable, inevitable. Without it, the state whispers, a civilized coexistence of people would not be possible. Most people succumb to this kind of propaganda, and the state gets carte blanche to effectively infiltrate all economic and societal matters—kindergarten, school, university, transport, media, health, pensions, law, security, money and credit, the environment—and thereby gains power. The state rewards its followers with jobs, rewarding business contracts, and transfer payments. Those who resist will end up in prison or lose their livelihood or even their lives. The state spreads fear and terror to make people compliant—as people who are afraid are easy to control, especially if they have been led to believe that the state will protect them against any evil. Lately, the topics of climate change and coronavirus have been used for fear-mongering, primarily by the state, which is skillfully using them to increase its omnipotence: it destroys the economy and jobs, makes many people financially dependent on it, clamps down on civil and entrepreneurial freedoms. However, it is of the utmost importance for the state to win the battle of ideas and be the authority to say what are good ideas and what are bad ideas. Because it is ideas that determine people’s actions. The task of winning over the general public for the state traditionally falls to the so-called intellectuals—the people whose opinions are widely heard, such as teachers, doctors, university professors, researchers, actors, comedians, musicians, writers, journalists, and others. The state provides a critical number of them with income, influence, prestige, and status in a variety of ways—which most of them would not have been able to achieve without the state. In gratitude for this, the intellectuals spread the message that the state is good, indispensable, inevitable. Among the intellectuals, there tend to be quite a few who willingly submit to the rings of power, helping—consciously or unconsciously—to bring their fellow men and women under the spell of the rings or simply to walk over, subjugate, dominate them. Anyone who thinks that the state (as we know it today) is acceptable, a justifiable solution, as long as it does not exceed certain power limits, is seriously mistaken. Just as the One Ring of power tries to find its way back to its lord and master, an initially limited state inevitably strives towards its logical endpoint: absolute power. The state (as we know it today) is pushing for expansion both internally and externally. This is a well-known fact derived from the logic of human action. George Orwell put it succinctly: “The object of power is power.”  Or, as Hans-Hermann Hoppe nails it, “[E]very minimal government has the inherent tendency to become a maximal government.” Inwardly, the state is expanding through all sorts of interventions in economic and social life, through regulations, ordinances, laws, and taxes. Outwardly, the economically and militarily strongest state will seek to expand its sphere of influence. In the most primitive form, this happens through aggressive campaigns of conquest and war, in a more sophisticated form, by pursuing political ideological supremacy. In recent decades the latter has taken the form of democratic socialism. To put it casually, democratic socialism means allowing and doing what the majority wants. Under democratic socialism, private property is formally upheld, but it is declared that no one is the rightful owner of 100 percent of the income from their property. People no longer strive for freedom from being ruled but rather to participate in the rule. The result is not people pushing back the state, but rather coming to terms and cooperating with it. The practical consequence of democratic socialism is interventionism: the state intervenes in the economy and society on a case-by-case basis to gradually make socialist ideals a reality. All societies of the Western world have embraced democratic socialism, some with more authority than others, and all of them use interventionism. Seen in this light, all Western states are now acting in concert. What they also have in common is their disdain for competition, because competition sets undesirable limits to the state’s expansive nature. Therefore, larger states often form a cartel. Smaller, less powerful states are compelled to join—and if they refuse, they will suffer political and economic disadvantages. But the cartel of states is only an intermediate step. The logical endpoint that democratic socialism is striving for is the creation of a central authority, something like a world government, a world state. 5. In Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, the One Ring, the ring of power, embodies this very dark idea: to rule them all, to create a world state. To get closer to this goal, democracy (as we understand it today) is proving to be an ideal trailblazer, and that’s most likely the reason why it is praised to the skies by socialists. Sooner or later, a democracy will mutate into an oligarchy, as the German-Italian sociologist Robert Michels pointed out in 1911. According to Michels, parties emerge in democracies. These parties are organizations that need strict leadership, which is handed to the most power-hungry, ruthless people. They will represent the party elite. The party elite can break away from the will of the party members and pursue their own goals and agendas. For example, they can form coalitions or cartels with elites of other parties. As a result, there will be an oligarchization of democracy, in which the elected party elites or the cartel of the party elites will be the kings of the castle. It is not the voters who will call the tune but oligarchic elites that will rule over the voters. The oligarchization of democracy will not only afflict individual states but will also affect the international relations of democracies. Oligarchical elites from different countries will join together and strengthen each other, primarily by creating supranational institutions. Democratic socialism evolves into “political globalism”: the idea that people should not be allowed to shape their own destiny in a system of free markets but that it should be assigned and directed by a global central authority. The One Ring of power drives those who have already been seduced by the common rings to long for absolute power, to elevate themselves above the rest of humanity. Who comes to mind? Well, various politicians, high-level bureaucrats, court intellectuals, representatives of big banking, big business, Big Pharma and Big Tech and, of course, big media—together they are often called the “Davos elite” or the “establishment.” Whether it is about combating financial and economic crises, climate change, or viral diseases—the one ring of power ensures that supranational, state-orchestrated solutions are propagated; that centralization is placed above decentralization; that the state, not the free market, is empowered. Calls for the “new world order,” the “Great Transformation,” the “Great Reset” are the results of this poisonous mindset inspired by the one ring of power. National borders are called into question, property is relativized or declared dispensable, and even a merging of people’s physical, digital, and biological identities—transhumanism—is declared the goal of the self-empowered globalist establishment. But how can political globalism be promoted at a time when there are (still) social democratic nation-states that insist on their independence? And where people are separated by different languages, values, and religions? How do the political globalists get closer to their badly desired end of world domination, their world state? 6. Sauron is the undisputed tyrant and dictator in his realm of darkness. He operates something like a command economy, forcing his subjects to clear forests, build military equipment, and breed Orcs. There are neither markets nor money in Sauron’s sinister kingdom. Sauron takes whatever he wants; he has overcome exchange and money, so to speak. Today’s state is not quite that powerful, and it finds itself in economies characterized by property, division of labor, and monetary exchange. The state wants to control money—because this is one of the most effective ways to gain ultimate power. To this end, the modern state has already acquired the monopoly of money production; and it has replaced gold with its own fiat money. Over time, fiat money destroys the free market system and thus the free society. Ludwig von Mises saw this as early 1912. He wrote: It would be a mistake to assume that the modern organization of exchange is bound to continue to exist. It carries within itself the germ of its own destruction; the development of the fiduciary medium must necessarily lead to its breakdown. (6) Indeed, fiat money not only causes inflation, economic crises, and an unsocial redistribution of income and wealth. Above all, it is a growth elixir for the state, making it ever larger and more powerful at the expense of the freedom of its citizens and entrepreneurs. Against this backdrop, it should be quite understandable why the political globalists see creating a single world currency as an important step toward seizing absolute power. In Europe, what the political globalists want “on a large scale” has already been achieved “on a small scale”: merging many national currencies into one. In 1999, eleven European nation-states gave up their currencies and merged them into a single currency, the euro, which is produced by a supranational authority, the European Central Bank. The creation of the euro provides the blueprint by which the world’s major currencies can be converted into a single world currency. This is what the 1999 Canadian Nobel laureate in economics, Robert Mundell, recommends: Fixing the exchange rates between the US dollar, the euro, the Chinese renminbi, the Japanese yen, and the British pound against each other and also fixing them against a new unit of account, the INTOR. And hocus pocus: here is the world fiat currency, controlled by a cartel of central banks or a world central bank. 7. Admittedly, creating a single world fiat currency seems to have little chance of being realized at first glance. But maybe at second glance. First of all, there is a good economic reason for having a single world currency: if all people do business with the same money, the productive power of money is optimized. From an economic standpoint, the optimal number of monies in the world is one. What is more, nation-states have the monopoly of money within their respective territory, and since they all adhere to democratic socialism, they also have an interest in ensuring that there is no currency competition—not even between different state fiat currencies. This makes them susceptible to the idea of reducing the pluralism of currencies. Furthermore, one should not misinterpret the so-called rivalry between the big states such as the US and China and between China and Europe, which is being discussed in the mainstream media on a regular basis. No doubt that there is a rivalry between the national rulers: they do not want to give up the power they have gained in their respective countries; they want to become even more powerful. But the rivalry between the oligarchic democracies of the West has already weakened significantly, and there are great incentives for the oligarchic party elites to work together across borders. In fact, it is the oligarchization of democracy in the Western world that allowed for the rapprochement with a socialist-communist regime: the state increasingly taking control of the economic and societal system. This development could be called “the Chinacization of the West.” The way the Western world has dealt with the coronavirus—the suspension, perhaps the termination of constitutional rights and freedoms—undoubtedly shows where the journey is headed: to the authoritarian state that is beyond the control of the people—as is the case in Communist China. The proper slogan for this might be “One System, Many Countries.” Is it too farfetched to assume that the Western world will make common cause with Communist China not only on health issues but also on the world currency issue? The democratic socialists in the West and the Chinese Communist Party have a great deal of common ground and common interest, I would think. It is certainly no coincidence that China has pushed hard for the Chinese renminbi to be included in the International Monetary Fund’s special drawing rights, and that the IMF already agreed in November 2015. 8. The issue of digital central bank money, something the world’s major central banks are working on, could be a catalyst in the creation of a single world currency. The issue of digital central bank money not only heralds the end of cash—the anonymous payment option for citizens and entrepreneurs. Once people start using digital central bank money, it will be easy for the central bank and the state to spy on people’s transactions. The state will not only know who pays what, when, where, and what for. It will also be in a position to determine who gets access to the deposits: who gets them and who doesn’t. China is blazing the trail with its “social credit system”: behavior conforming to the Communist regime is rewarded, behavior that does not is punished. Against this backdrop, digital central bank money would be particularly effective at stifling unwanted political opposition. Digital central bank money will not only replace cash, but it will also increasingly compete with money from commercial banks. Why should you keep your money with banks that are exposed to the risk of default when you can keep it safe with the central bank that never goes bankrupt? Once commercial bank deposits can be exchanged one to one for digital central bank money—and this is to be expected—the credit and monetary system is de facto fully nationalized. Because under these conditions, the central bank transfers its unlimited solvency to the commercial banking sector. This completely deprives the financial markets of their function of determining the cost of capital—and the state-planned economy becomes a reality. In fact, this is the type of command and control economy that emerged in National Socialist Germany in the 1930s. The state formally retained ownership of the means of production. But with commands, prohibitions, laws, taxes, and control, the state determines who is allowed to produce what, when, and under what conditions, and who is allowed to consume what, when, and how much. In such a command and control economy, it is quite conceivable that the form of money production will change—away from money creation through lending toward the issue of helicopter money. The central bank determines who gets how much new money and when. The amount of money in people’s bank accounts no longer reflects their economic success. From now on, it is the result of arbitrary political decisions by the central banks, i.e., the rulers. The prospect of being supplied with new money by the state and its central bank—that is, receiving an unconditional basic income—will presumably drive hosts of people into the arms of the state and bring any resistance to its machinations to a shrieking halt. 9. Will the people, the general public, really subscribe to all of this? Well, government-sponsored economists, in particular, will do their very best to inform us about the benefits of having a globally coordinated monetary policy; that stabilizing the exchange rates between national currencies is beneficial; that if a supranational controlled currency—with the name INTOR or GLOBAL—is created, we will achieve the best of all worlds. And as the issuance of digital central bank money has shut down the last remnants of a free capital market, the merging of different national currencies into one will be relatively easy. The single world currency creature that the political globalists want to create will be a fiat money, certainly not a commodity money. Such a single world fiat currency will not only suffer from all the economic and ethical defects which weigh on national fiat currencies. It will also exacerbate and exponentiate the damages a national fiat currency causes. The door to a high inflation policy would be pushed wide open—as nobody could escape the inflationary single world fiat currency. The states are the main beneficiaries: they can get money from the world central bank at any time, provided they adhere to the rules set out by the world central bank and the special interest groups that govern it. This creates the incentive for national states to relinquish sovereignty rights and to submit to supranational rules—for example, in taxation and financial market regulation. It is therefore the incentive resulting from a single world currency that paves the way toward a world government and a world state. In this context, please note what happened in the euro area: the starting point was not the creation of the EU superstate, which was to be followed by the introduction of the euro. It was exactly the opposite: the euro was introduced to overcome national sovereignty and ultimately establish the United Nations of Europe. One has good reason to fear that the idea of issuing a world fiat currency—which the master ring relentlessly pushes for—would bring totalitarianism—that would most likely dwarf the regimes established by Joseph Stalin, Adolf Hitler, Mao Zedong, Pol Pot, and other criminals. 10. In Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, evil is eventually defeated. The story has a happy ending. Will it be that easy in our world? The ideas of having a state (as we know it today), of tolerating it, of cooperating with it, of giving the state total control over our money, of accepting fiat money, are deeply rooted in people’s minds as good ideas. Where are the forces supposed to come from that will enlighten people about the evil that the state (as we know it today) brings to humanity? Particularly when in kindergartens, schools, and universities—which are all in the hands of the state—the teachings of collectivism-socialism-Marxism are systematically drummed into people’s (especially impressionable children’s) heads, when the teachings of freedom, free market and free society, and capitalism are hardly or not at all imparted to the younger generation? Who will explain to people the uncomfortable truth that even a minimal state will become a maximal state? That states’ monopolies over money will lead to a single world currency and thus world tyranny? It does not take much to become bleak when it comes to the future of the free economic and social order. However, it would be rather shortsighted to get pessimistic. Those who believe in Jesus Christ can trust that God will not fail them. If we cannot think of a solution to the problems at hand, the believers can trust God. Because “[e]ven in the darkest night, there is a bright light shining somewhere.” Or: please remember the Enlightenment movement in the eighteenth century. At that time, the Prussian philosopher Immanuel Kant explained the “unheard of” to the people, namely that there is such a thing as “autonomy of reason.” It means that you and I have the indisputable right to lead our lives independently; that we should handle it according to self-imposed rules, rules that we determine ourselves based on good reason. People back then understood Kant’s message. Why should such an intellectual revolution—triggered by the writings and words of a free thinker—not be able to repeat itself in the future? Or: the fact that people have not yet learned from bad experience does not mean that they won’t eventually learn from it. When it comes to thinking about changes for the better, it is important to note that it is not the mass of people that matters, but the individual. Applied to the conditions in today’s world, among those thinkers who can defeat evil and help the good make a breakthrough are Ludwig von Mises, Murray Rothbard, and Hans-Hermann Hoppe—and all those following their teachings and fearlessly disseminating them—as scholars or as fans. They are—in terms of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings—the companions. They give us the intellectual firepower and the courage to fight and defeat evil. I don’t know if Ludwig von Mises knew Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. But he was certainly well aware of the struggle between good and evil that continues throughout human history. In fact, the knowledge of this struggle shaped Mises’s maxim of life, which he took from the verse of the Roman poet Virgil (70 to 19 BC): “Tu ne cede malis, sed contra audentior ito,” which means “Do not give in to evil but proceed ever more boldly against it.” I want to close my interpretation with a quote from Samwise Gamgee, the loyal friend and companion of Frodo Baggins. In a really hopeless situation, Sam says to Frodo: “There is something good in this world, Mr. Frodo. And it’s worth fighting for.” So if we want to fight for the good in this world, we know what we have to do: we have to fight for property and freedom and against the darkness that the state (as we know it today) wishes to bring upon us, especially with its fiat money. In fact, we must fight steadfastly for a society of property and freedom! Tyler Durden Sat, 10/09/2021 - 22:00.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytOct 9th, 2021

Twitch Hack Exposes How Top Streamers Earn Millions Of Dollars On Platform

Twitch Hack Exposes How Top Streamers Earn Millions Of Dollars On Platform The hacker, or hackers, who stole and published reams of invaluable source code, internal security tools and creator payouts from Twitch - the Amazon-owned streaming service that's popular with gamers and has come to dominate the world of "eSports" (to be sure, there are plenty of Twitch streamers who aren't focused on video games, but we digress) - allegedly managed to "own" Jeff Bezos by - claiming in a 4chan post that "Jeff Bezos paid $970MM for this, we're giving it away for free #dobettertwitch" - they also exposed how much money some of the platform's most popular streamers are raking in. The leaked data showed popular streamers raking in payouts from Twitch ranking in six-figure territory, with the top earners pulling in millions of dollars. According to one leaked document listing Twitch's top earners shows gross earnings since 2019 reached $9.6MM for the platform’s top account, "CriticalRole." This account, which is run by a set of voice actors, according to its Twitch page, generated an average of $370,000 a year, according to the document. The list points to 13 accounts that have made more than $108,000 a year and at least 80 that have collected more than $1MM since 2019. Several Twitch streamers confirmed via social-media posts that the leaked payout figures were consistent with what they earned on the platform. The data showed some users reaching payouts in the six figures. This isn't exactly a surprise: data on the highest-earning eSports stars collected by Statista shows that players are raking in more than $100MM in aggregate earnings. While that's still peanuts compared to professional athletes in the major American sports leagues, earnings have soared over the last decade. You will find more infographics at Statista On Twitch, streamers can generate income via advertising, sponsorships and tips from viewers. But Twitch cuts bespoke deals with its most popular streamers, part of a strategy to lock them (and their audience) into the platform. Scott Hellyer, a streamer who has been part of Twitch’s partner program for six years, said in a direct message on Twitter that information about his payouts was exposed in the breach. "I really hope that no major personal info (Full names, emails, address, phone number, banking info) gets out in the rumored next part of the leak," said Mr. Hellyer, who has about 72,000 followers on his channel, "tehMorag." "I’ll take the heat if people are surprised about how much I make in the coming days, and try to have an open dialog about it." Amazon bought Twitch back in 2014 for nearly $1 billion in cash. The platform boasts 2.5MM viewers tuned in at any given time, with more than 7MM creators using the platform. But now that the source code has been published, cybersecurity experts are warning Twitch users to exercise extreme caution to protect their accounts and any sensitive personal data, since hackers can now comb through the source code in search of vulnerabilities that can be exploited. While the hacker who pulled off the original Twitch hack apparently took measures to avoid releasing any sensitive data that could harm others, others might not be so accommodating. Tyler Durden Thu, 10/07/2021 - 19:10.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytOct 7th, 2021

How Facebook Forced a Reckoning by Shutting Down the Team That Put People Ahead of Profits

Facebook's civic-integrity team, where whistle-blower Frances Haugen worked, pledged to put people ahead of profits. Facebook shut it down, but some former members are still honoring their promise. Facebook’s civic-integrity team was always different from all the other teams that the social media company employed to combat misinformation and hate speech. For starters, every team member subscribed to an informal oath, vowing to “serve the people’s interest first, not Facebook’s.” The “civic oath,” according to five former employees, charged team members to understand Facebook’s impact on the world, keep people safe and defuse angry polarization. Samidh Chakrabarti, the team’s leader, regularly referred to this oath—which has not been previously reported—as a set of guiding principles behind the team’s work, according to the sources. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] Chakrabarti’s team was effective in fixing some of the problems endemic to the platform, former employees and Facebook itself have said. But, just a month after the 2020 U.S. election, Facebook dissolved the civic-integrity team, and Chakrabarti took a leave of absence. Facebook said employees were assigned to other teams to help share the group’s experience across the company. But for many of the Facebook employees who had worked on the team, including a veteran product manager from Iowa named Frances Haugen, the message was clear: Facebook no longer wanted to concentrate power in a team whose priority was to put people ahead of profits. Illustration by TIME (Source photo: Getty Images) Five weeks later, supporters of Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol—after some of them organized on Facebook and used the platform to spread the lie that the election had been stolen. The civic-integrity team’s dissolution made it harder for the platform to respond effectively to Jan. 6, one former team member, who left Facebook this year, told TIME. “A lot of people left the company. The teams that did remain had significantly less power to implement change, and that loss of focus was a pretty big deal,” said the person. “Facebook did take its eye off the ball in dissolving the team, in terms of being able to actually respond to what happened on Jan. 6.” The former employee, along with several others TIME interviewed, spoke on the condition of anonymity, for fear that being named would ruin their career. Paul Morris—Bloomberg/Getty ImagesSamidh Chakrabarti, head of Facebook’s civic-integrity team, stands beside Katie Harbath, a Facebook director of public policy, in Facebook’s headquarters in Menlo Park, California, on Oct. 17, 2018.   Enter Frances Haugen Haugen revealed her identity on Oct. 3 as the whistle-blower behind the most significant leak of internal research in the company’s 17-year history. In a bombshell testimony to the Senate Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Data Security two days later, Haugen said the civic-integrity team’s dissolution was the final event in a long series that convinced her of the need to blow the whistle. “I think the moment which I realized we needed to get help from the outside—that the only way these problems would be solved is by solving them together, not solving them alone—was when civic-integrity was dissolved following the 2020 election,” she said. “It really felt like a betrayal of the promises Facebook had made to people who had sacrificed a great deal to keep the election safe, by basically dissolving our community.” Read more: The Facebook Whistleblower Revealed Herself on 60 Minutes. Here’s What You Need to Know In a statement provided to TIME, Facebook’s vice president for integrity Guy Rosen denied the civic-integrity team had been disbanded. “We did not disband Civic Integrity,” Rosen said. “We integrated it into a larger Central Integrity team so that the incredible work pioneered for elections could be applied even further, for example, across health-related issues. Their work continues to this day.” (Facebook did not make Rosen available for an interview for this story.) Impacts of Civic Technology Conference 2016The defining values of the civic-integrity team, as described in a 2016 presentation given by Samidh Chakrabarti and Winter Mason. Civic-integrity team members were expected to adhere to this list of values, which was referred to internally as the “civic oath”. Haugen left the company in May. Before she departed, she trawled Facebook’s internal employee forum for documents posted by integrity researchers about their work. Much of the research was not related to her job, but was accessible to all Facebook employees. What she found surprised her. Some of the documents detailed an internal study that found that Instagram, its photo-sharing app, made 32% of teen girls feel worse about their bodies. Others showed how a change to Facebook’s algorithm in 2018, touted as a way to increase “meaningful social interactions” on the platform, actually incentivized divisive posts and misinformation. They also revealed that Facebook spends almost all of its budget for keeping the platform safe only on English-language content. In September, the Wall Street Journal published a damning series of articles based on some of the documents that Haugen had leaked to the paper. Haugen also gave copies of the documents to Congress and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The documents, Haugen testified Oct. 5, “prove that Facebook has repeatedly misled the public about what its own research reveals about the safety of children, the efficacy of its artificial intelligence systems, and its role in spreading divisive and extreme messages.” She told Senators that the failings revealed by the documents were all linked by one deep, underlying truth about how the company operates. “This is not simply a matter of certain social media users being angry or unstable, or about one side being radicalized against the other; it is about Facebook choosing to grow at all costs, becoming an almost trillion-dollar company by buying its profits with our safety,” she said. Facebook’s focus on increasing user engagement, which ultimately drives ad revenue and staves off competition, she argued, may keep users coming back to the site day after day—but also systematically boosts content that is polarizing, misinformative and angry, and which can send users down dark rabbit holes of political extremism or, in the case of teen girls, body dysmorphia and eating disorders. “The company’s leadership knows how to make Facebook and Instagram safer, but won’t make the necessary changes because they have put their astronomical profits before people,” Haugen said. (In 2020, the company reported $29 billion in net income—up 58% from a year earlier. This year, it briefly surpassed $1 trillion in total market value, though Haugen’s leaks have since knocked the company down to around $940 billion.) Asked if executives adhered to the same set of values as the civic-integrity team, including putting the public’s interests before Facebook’s, a company spokesperson told TIME it was “safe to say everyone at Facebook is committed to understanding our impact, keeping people safe and reducing polarization.” In the same week that an unrelated systems outage took Facebook’s services offline for hours and revealed just how much the world relies on the company’s suite of products—including WhatsApp and Instagram—the revelations sparked a new round of national soul-searching. It led some to question how one company can have such a profound impact on both democracy and the mental health of hundreds of millions of people. Haugen’s documents are the basis for at least eight new SEC investigations into the company for potentially misleading its investors. And they have prompted senior lawmakers from both parties to call for stringent new regulations. Read more: Here’s How to Fix Facebook, According to Former Employees and Leading Critics Haugen urged Congress to pass laws that would make Facebook and other social media platforms legally liable for decisions about how they choose to rank content in users’ feeds, and force companies to make their internal data available to independent researchers. She also urged lawmakers to find ways to loosen CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s iron grip on Facebook; he controls more than half of voting shares on its board, meaning he can veto any proposals for change from within. “I came forward at great personal risk because I believe we still have time to act,” Haugen told lawmakers. “But we must act now.” Potentially even more worryingly for Facebook, other experts it hired to keep the platform safe, now alienated by the company’s actions, are growing increasingly critical of their former employer. They experienced first hand Facebook’s unwillingness to change, and they know where the bodies are buried. Now, on the outside, some of them are still honoring their pledge to put the public’s interests ahead of Facebook’s. Inside Facebook’s civic-integrity team Chakrabarti, the head of the civic-integrity team, was hired by Facebook in 2015 from Google, where he had worked on improving how the search engine communicated information about lawmakers and elections to its users. A polymath described by one person who worked under him as a “Renaissance man,” Chakrabarti holds master’s degrees from MIT, Oxford and Cambridge, in artificial intelligence engineering, modern history and public policy, respectively, according to his LinkedIn profile. Although he was not in charge of Facebook’s company-wide “integrity” efforts (led by Rosen), Chakrabarti, who did not respond to requests to comment for this article, was widely seen by employees as the spiritual leader of the push to make sure the platform had a positive influence on democracy and user safety, according to multiple former employees. “He was a very inspirational figure to us, and he really embodied those values [enshrined in the civic oath] and took them quite seriously,” a former member of the team told TIME. “The team prioritized societal good over Facebook good. It was a team that really cared about the ways to address societal problems first and foremost. It was not a team that was dedicated to contributing to Facebook’s bottom line.” Chakrabarti began work on the team by questioning how Facebook could encourage people to be more engaged with their elected representatives on the platform, several of his former team members said. An early move was to suggest tweaks to Facebook’s “more pages you may like” feature that the team hoped might make users feel more like they could have an impact on politics. After the chaos of the 2016 election, which prompted Zuckerberg himself to admit that Facebook didn’t do enough to stop misinformation, the team evolved. It moved into Facebook’s wider “integrity” product group, which employs thousands of researchers and engineers to focus on fixing Facebook’s problems of misinformation, hate speech, foreign interference and harassment. It changed its name from “civic engagement” to “civic integrity,” and began tackling the platform’s most difficult problems head-on. Shortly before the midterm elections in 2018, Chakrabarti gave a talk at a conference in which he said he had “never been told to sacrifice people’s safety in order to chase a profit.” His team was hard at work making sure the midterm elections did not suffer the same failures as in 2016, in an effort that was generally seen as a success, both inside the company and externally. “To see the way that the company has mobilized to make this happen has made me feel very good about what we’re doing here,” Chakrabarti told reporters at the time. But behind closed doors, integrity employees on Chakrabarti’s team and others were increasingly getting into disagreements with Facebook leadership, former employees said. It was the beginning of the process that would eventually motivate Haugen to blow the whistle. Drew Angerer—Getty ImagesFormer Facebook employee Frances Haugen testifies during a Senate hearing entitled ‘Protecting Kids Online: Testimony from a Facebook Whistleblower’ in Washington, D.C., Oct. 5, 2021. In 2019, the year Haugen joined the company, researchers on the civic-integrity team proposed ending the use of an approved list of thousands of political accounts that were exempt from Facebook’s fact-checking program, according to tech news site The Information. Their research had found that the exemptions worsened the site’s misinformation problem because users were more likely to believe false information if it were shared by a politician. But Facebook executives rejected the proposal. The pattern repeated time and time again, as proposals to tweak the platform to down-rank misinformation or abuse were rejected or watered down by executives concerned with engagement or worried that changes might disproportionately impact one political party more than another, according to multiple reports in the press and several former employees. One cynical joke among members of the civic-integrity team was that they spent 10% of their time coding and the other 90% arguing that the code they wrote should be allowed to run, one former employee told TIME. “You write code that does exactly what it’s supposed to do, and then you had to argue with execs who didn’t want to think about integrity, had no training in it and were mad that you were hurting their product, so they shut you down,” the person said. Sometimes the civic-integrity team would also come into conflict with Facebook’s policy teams, which share the dual role of setting the rules of the platform while also lobbying politicians on Facebook’s behalf. “I found many times that there were tensions [in meetings] because the civic-integrity team was like, ‘We’re operating off this oath; this is our mission and our goal,’” says Katie Harbath, a long-serving public-policy director at the company’s Washington, D.C., office who quit in March 2021. “And then you get into decisionmaking meetings, and all of a sudden things are going another way, because the rest of the company and leadership are not basing their decisions off those principles.” Harbath admitted not always seeing eye to eye with Chakrabarti on matters of company policy, but praised his character. “Samidh is a man of integrity, to use the word,” she told TIME. “I personally saw times when he was like, ‘How can I run an integrity team if I’m not upholding integrity as a person?’” Do you work at Facebook or another social media platform? TIME would love to hear from you. You can reach out to billy.perrigo@time.com Years before the 2020 election, research by integrity teams had shown Facebook’s group recommendations feature was radicalizing users by driving them toward polarizing political groups, according to the Journal. The company declined integrity teams’ requests to turn off the feature, BuzzFeed News reported. Then, just weeks before the vote, Facebook executives changed their minds and agreed to freeze political group recommendations. The company also tweaked its News Feed to make it less likely that users would see content that algorithms flagged as potential misinformation, part of temporary emergency “break glass” measures designed by integrity teams in the run-up to the vote. “Facebook changed those safety defaults in the run-up to the election because they knew they were dangerous,” Haugen testified to Senators on Tuesday. But they didn’t keep those safety measures in place long, she added. “Because they wanted that growth back, they wanted the acceleration on the platform back after the election, they returned to their original defaults. And the fact that they had to break the glass on Jan. 6, and turn them back on, I think that’s deeply problematic.” In a statement, Facebook spokesperson Tom Reynolds rejected the idea that the company’s actions contributed to the events of Jan. 6. “In phasing in and then adjusting additional measures before, during and after the election, we took into account specific on-platforms signals and information from our ongoing, regular engagement with law enforcement,” he said. “When those signals changed, so did the measures. It is wrong to claim that these steps were the reason for Jan. 6—the measures we did need remained in place through February, and some like not recommending new, civic or political groups remain in place to this day. These were all part of a much longer and larger strategy to protect the election on our platform—and we are proud of that work.” Read more: 4 Big Takeaways From the Facebook Whistleblower Congressional Hearing Soon after the civic-integrity team was dissolved in December 2020, Chakrabarti took a leave of absence from Facebook. In August, he announced he was leaving for good. Other employees who had spent years working on platform-safety issues had begun leaving, too. In her testimony, Haugen said that several of her colleagues from civic integrity left Facebook in the same six-week period as her, after losing faith in the company’s pledge to spread their influence around the company. “Six months after the reorganization, we had clearly lost faith that those changes were coming,” she said. After Haugen’s Senate testimony, Facebook’s director of policy communications Lena Pietsch suggested that Haugen’s criticisms were invalid because she “worked at the company for less than two years, had no direct reports, never attended a decision-point meeting with C-level executives—and testified more than six times to not working on the subject matter in question.” On Twitter, Chakrabarti said he was not supportive of company leaks but spoke out in support of the points Haugen raised at the hearing. “I was there for over 6 years, had numerous direct reports, and led many decision meetings with C-level execs, and I find the perspectives shared on the need for algorithmic regulation, research transparency, and independent oversight to be entirely valid for debate,” he wrote. “The public deserves better.” Can Facebook’s latest moves protect the company? Two months after disbanding the civic-integrity team, Facebook announced a sharp directional shift: it would begin testing ways to reduce the amount of political content in users’ News Feeds altogether. In August, the company said early testing of such a change among a small percentage of U.S. users was successful, and that it would expand the tests to several other countries. Facebook declined to provide TIME with further information about how its proposed down-ranking system for political content would work. Many former employees who worked on integrity issues at the company are skeptical of the idea. “You’re saying that you’re going to define for people what political content is, and what it isn’t,” James Barnes, a former product manager on the civic-integrity team, said in an interview. “I cannot even begin to imagine all of the downstream consequences that nobody understands from doing that.” Another former civic-integrity team member said that the amount of work required to design algorithms that could detect any political content in all the languages and countries in the world—and keeping those algorithms updated to accurately map the shifting tides of political debate—would be a task that even Facebook does not have the resources to achieve fairly and equitably. Attempting to do so would almost certainly result in some content deemed political being demoted while other posts thrived, the former employee cautioned. It could also incentivize certain groups to try to game those algorithms by talking about politics in nonpolitical language, creating an arms race for engagement that would privilege the actors with enough resources to work out how to win, the same person added. Graeme Jennings—Bloomberg/Getty ImagesMark Zuckerberg, chief executive officer and founder of Facebook, speaks via video conference during a House Judiciary Subcommittee hearing in Washington, D.C., on, July 29, 2020. When Zuckerberg was hauled to testify in front of lawmakers after the Cambridge Analytica data scandal in 2018, Senators were roundly mocked on social media for asking basic questions such as how Facebook makes money if its services are free to users. (“Senator, we run ads” was Zuckerberg’s reply.) In 2021, that dynamic has changed. “The questions asked are a lot more informed,” says Sophie Zhang, a former Facebook employee who was fired in 2020 after she criticized Facebook for turning a blind eye to platform manipulation by political actors around the world. “The sentiment is increasingly bipartisan” in Congress, Zhang adds. In the past, Facebook hearings have been used by lawmakers to grandstand on polarizing subjects like whether social media platforms are censoring conservatives, but this week they were united in their condemnation of the company. “Facebook has to stop covering up what it knows, and must change its practices, but there has to be government accountability because Facebook can no longer be trusted,” Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, chair of the Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, told TIME ahead of the hearing. His Republican counterpart Marsha Blackburn agreed, saying during the hearing that regulation was coming “sooner rather than later” and that lawmakers were “close to bipartisan agreement.” As Facebook reels from the revelations of the past few days, it already appears to be reassessing product decisions. It has begun conducting reputational reviews of new products to assess whether the company could be criticized or its features could negatively affect children, the Journal reported Wednesday. It last week paused its Instagram Kids product amid the furor. Whatever the future direction of Facebook, it is clear that discontent has been brewing internally. Haugen’s document leak and testimony have already sparked calls for stricter regulation and improved the quality of public debate about social media’s influence. In a post addressing Facebook staff on Wednesday, Zuckerberg put the onus on lawmakers to update Internet regulations, particularly relating to “elections, harmful content, privacy and competition.” But the real drivers of change may be current and former employees, who have a better understanding of the inner workings of the company than anyone—and the most potential to damage the business. —With reporting by Eloise Barry/London and Chad de Guzman/Hong Kong.....»»

Category: topSource: timeOct 7th, 2021

Why Whitney Isn’t Persuaded By Facebook’s Defense

Whitney Tilson’s email to investors discusing why he is not persuaded by Facebook, Inc. (NASDAQ:FB)’s defense; responses to his letter to Sheryl Sandberg; other reader feedback and his comments. Q3 2021 hedge fund letters, conferences and more Why I’m Not Persuaded By Facebook’s Defense 1) In yesterday’s e-mail, I shared Facebook’s (FB) defense to the […] Whitney Tilson’s email to investors discusing why he is not persuaded by Facebook, Inc. (NASDAQ:FB)’s defense; responses to his letter to Sheryl Sandberg; other reader feedback and his comments. if (typeof jQuery == 'undefined') { document.write(''); } .first{clear:both;margin-left:0}.one-third{width:31.034482758621%;float:left;margin-left:3.448275862069%}.two-thirds{width:65.51724137931%;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element input{border:0;border-radius:0;padding:8px}form.ebook-styles .af-element{width:220px;float:left}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer{width:115px;float:left;margin-left: 6px;}form.ebook-styles .af-element.buttonContainer input.submit{width:115px;padding:10px 6px 8px;text-transform:uppercase;border-radius:0;border:0;font-size:15px}form.ebook-styles .af-body.af-standards input.submit{width:115px}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy{width:100%;font-size:12px;margin:10px auto 0}form.ebook-styles .af-element.privacyPolicy p{font-size:11px;margin-bottom:0}form.ebook-styles .af-body input.text{height:40px;padding:2px 10px !important} form.ebook-styles .error, form.ebook-styles #error { color:#d00; } form.ebook-styles .formfields h1, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-logo, form.ebook-styles .formfields #mg-footer { display: none; } form.ebook-styles .formfields { font-size: 12px; } form.ebook-styles .formfields p { margin: 4px 0; } Get The Full Series in PDF Get the entire 10-part series on Charlie Munger in PDF. Save it to your desktop, read it on your tablet, or email to your colleagues. (function($) {window.fnames = new Array(); window.ftypes = new Array();fnames[0]='EMAIL';ftypes[0]='email';}(jQuery));var $mcj = jQuery.noConflict(true); Q3 2021 hedge fund letters, conferences and more Why I'm Not Persuaded By Facebook's Defense 1) In yesterday's e-mail, I shared Facebook's (FB) defense to the latest charges of bad behavior by whistleblower and former employee Frances Haugen, as articulated by founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, as well as a friend who knows the company well. My take: I'm not buying what they're selling... Zuckerberg's post is laughably bad. In the face of Haugen's compelling testimony and her release of thousands of pages of damning internal company documents – which has led to overwhelming, bipartisan criticism – Zuckerberg's 16-paragraph, 1,316-word post doesn't once acknowledge any problem, much less any contrition, much less any indication that he and his company might need to do even a few things differently. His tone deafness is matched only by his arrogance. My friend, on the other hand, at least acknowledges that "there is a huge problem," but says, "I disagree Facebook is blind to it." (Quick correction: I misquoted him yesterday here: "This extends to idiots on Facebook's board as well by the way." Here's what he wrote: "I have no opinion on FB's board – I was referring to board members at other companies who try to tell the CEO how to run a company when they have no idea what is really happening. That is why a board's role is to hire and fire the CEO, not to run the company.") In most of his response, however, he criticizes Haugen, saying that she: ... had no direct reports, never met a senior executive at Facebook, started with extreme bias, and then only found/extracted information that confirmed it. She never worked in the areas she is "so knowledgeable about" – like teens – so has no idea what Facebook is trying to do... ... she is basically as knowledgeable as a tabloid – at best. It's like the janitor telling Zuckerberg how to run Facebook... She's an idiot looking for five minutes of fame. Industry veterans are cringing. I couldn't disagree more. First, Haugen was hardly the "janitor." She's a Harvard Business School graduate with more than 10 years of experience in the social media sector, nearly two years of which was at Facebook (from 2019 to 2021 – see her LinkedIn profile) – plenty of time to see what was going on. As for the argument that she wasn't a C-suite executive and therefore wasn't in the loop for high-level decisions, I'd argue the opposite... She was perfectly positioned to be a whistleblower both because of the group she was in – the Civic Integrity unit, which was responsible for preventing the spread of election misinformation and addressing other bad behavior – as well as her level: as a Product Manager, she was senior enough to see what was really happening, but not so high up that she wouldn't know the details. Moreover, Haugen's testimony, to both 60 Minutes and Congress, was compelling. I've been watching 60 Minutes since I was a kid in the 1970s, and she was one of the most impressive people I've ever seen on the show. And my opinion is widely shared: Senators on both sides of the aisle praised her, as did Mike Isaac of the New York Times, who wrote: We're moving into hour three of Ms. Haugen's testimony and she hasn't shown any signs of flagging. Confident, poised, and accurate, for my money she is one of the most impressive critics of Facebook I've seen appear on Capitol Hill. Lastly, Haugen's testimony is corroborated by: a) thousands of pages of internal company documents she copied... b) the long, sordid history of Zuckerberg and Facebook, dating back to the very founding of this company (for more on this, read this shocking article: How Facebook Was Founded) – also, note that my friend wrote that Haugen "said nothing we all didn't already know"... and c) many other former company insiders. For example, here's an op-ed in yesterday's New York Times by Roddy Lindsay, a former Facebook data scientist: I Designed Algorithms at Facebook. Here's How to Regulate Them. Excerpt: Washington was entranced Tuesday by the revelations from Frances Haugen, the Facebook product manager-turned-whistle-blower. But time and again, the public has seen high-profile congressional hearings into the company followed by inaction. For those of us who work at the intersection of technology and policy, there's little cause for optimism that Washington will turn this latest outrage into legislative action. Even more damning are the comments of Alex Stamos, the director of the Stanford Internet Observatory and a former head of security at Facebook: Brazen Is the Order of the Day at Facebook. Excerpt: I think the overall theme of the leaked documents and the Wall Street Journal series is that since 2016 Facebook has built teams of hundreds of data scientists, social scientists and investigators to study the negative effects of the company's products. Unfortunately, it looks like the motivational structure around how products are built, measured and adjusted has not changed to account for the evidence that some Facebook products can have a negative impact on users' well-being, leading to a restive group of employees who are willing to leak or quit when the problems they work on aren't appropriately addressed. I agree with Stamos' recommendation: I think Zuckerberg is going to need to step down as CEO if these problems are going to be solved. Having a company led by the founder has a lot of benefits, but one of the big problems is that it makes it close to impossible to significantly change the corporate culture. It's not just Zuckerberg; the top ranks of Facebook are full of people who have been there for a dozen years. They were part of making key decisions and supporting key cultural touchstones that might have been appropriate when Facebook was a scrappy upstart but that must be abandoned as a global juggernaut. It is really hard for individuals to recognize when it is time to change their minds, and I think it would be better if the people setting the goals for the company were changed for this new era of the company, starting with Zuckerberg. With new leadership, you could see the company adopting safety countermetrics on the same level as engagement and satisfaction metrics, and building a product management culture where product teams are not only celebrated for their success in the marketplace but held accountable for the downstream effects of their decisions. Zuckerberg is, of course, never going to step down voluntarily, and given that he controls 58% of the voting shares, how could he ever be removed? Here's how: the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission ("SEC") – which, thanks to Haugen, is now investigating Facebook for misleading investors – could force him out. I don't think it's likely – but it's not impossible. I think there's a 25% chance that Zuckerberg is no longer CEO within two years... Responses To My Letter To Sheryl Sandberg 2) I received huge amounts of feedback in response to my open letter to Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg. Below is some of it, with my responses in some cases... "Instead of lambasting Sheryl and Mark (unfairly in my eyes), you should have sent your letter to Congress. Congress (and then the courts) has full responsibility for regulating our communication systems. All best (& I love reading your newsletter – I really do & enjoy pics also)." – Paul B. My reply: Thanks for your feedback, Paul. In fact, I sent my letter to a dozen members I know in the House and Senate, one of whom replied: "Wow, wow, wow. Thanks for sharing. I hope it is read." Another replied: "A powerfully written letter. I agree with every word of it, although I doubt that Facebook will find the wisdom to follow your advice. I am going to sign up for your newsletter "I agree with your assessment of Facebook (and your letter to Sheryl Sandberg), but your recommendation for them to rehire Haugen will never happen. She is considered a traitor by Facebook and they will never rehire a traitor. Based on Zuckerberg's reply, I'm skeptical that they are willing to address and fix the issues until the government force them to do so." – Sid My reply: I agree. "I'm so glad you compared them to the Sacklers. I hope this wakes them up." – Alex B. [But another reader disagreed...] "Good email but would recommend not equating people with Sacklers in the future unless they are literally killing people by knowingly promoting something dangerous (like Oxycontin). To me, the Sacklers fall into a group of historical miscreants that can only be used narrowly for an analogy – otherwise, it's overkill and can dilute from your point. Sandberg may read your email and dismiss it, saying to herself, 'We are not the Sacklers.' You could also substitute Hitler for the Sacklers and you can see my point. I'd only use Hitler as an analogy for a leader who is mass killing people, like Pol Pot. My two cents. Always enjoy your daily email!" – Bruce Z. My reply: Hi Bruce, to be clear, I didn't say they currently are equivalent to the Sacklers, but rather they "are on a trajectory to have legacies that rival the Sacklers." To understand why I say this, read the following articles: Facebook Admits It Was Used to Incite Violence in Myanmar Sri Lanka: Facebook apologizes for role in 2018 anti-Muslim riots Hate Speech on Facebook Is Pushing Ethiopia Dangerously Close to a Genocide NGO: Facebook approved ads inciting violence in N Ireland Bangladesh: Fake news on Facebook fuels communal violence When Social Media Fuels Gang Violence Civil rights leaders condemn Zuckerberg, Facebook for fueling racial hatred and violence Domestic violence and Facebook: harassment takes new forms in the social media age "I really do not understand what the fuss is about. If I hear or see something on radio or TV that I find to be dangerous or offensive I turn the channel. Nobody is forced to use Facebook or Instagram, or Snapchat or any of the other social media platforms. Just delete the apps. If you don't want your children to use them, then delete them from their phones. Take some personal or parental responsibility. I truly do not want someone else deciding what I can listen to or watch. Let me decide." – T. H. My reply: Hi T.H., in a perfect, rational world, I'd agree with you. But in the real, messy world, I can't. "I have found it very hard to get anyone who works at Facebook to engage openly about anything at the company, even in a social/casual off the record context. I can't think of another company whose employees are so unwilling to speak off the record. It makes me wonder if they really know deep down how bad what they are doing is." – B.B. "Thank you Whitney for sharing a BIG story of our time. I agree with some of the defensive remarks – the issue of 'bad actors,' misinformation, and hate speech on social media is not unique to FB, but FB is certainly guilty of providing a platform that has allowed all of the above to be promoted on its platform. "It took the World Jewish Congress five years of complaining to FB to finally get them via Sheryl Sandberg to put in more strict algorithms regarding Holocaust denial and misinformation on FB – five years of effort! Now, FB users are directed to factual information when they make up falsehoods about it. But this only pertains to the U.S. and U.K., so the fight continues with FB to get them to implement this in Arabic and other languages and countries. This is incredibly frustrating and hurtful. "Why are the Mullahs in Iran permitted to use Twitter (TWTR) to spread Islamist and hate speech, for example? So as much as I dislike government interference into business practices, I do see a necessity given the extent of damage being done. "Thanks for all you do to share carefully researched information that provide opportunities to empower our lives." – Andrea L. "I spent 15 years in the Valley, much of it in the same orbits as the leadership at Facebook (I'm being vague purposefully). I actually can't say for sure they are well-intentioned." – Matty G. "Thanks Whitney on behalf of the multitudes who have truly mixed feelings about Facebook. We're thrilled about the connections we relish with wonderful people, but deplore the damage it has done to our society and body politic." – Andrew S. "I'm on board with [your] evaluation and solution 100%. Let's hope they both have the courage to right the ship. The country that I love and have fought for is losing its grip. Let's show some respect. Thank you very much." – Ken J., former Ranger "Zuck and the rest knew what they were doing. They were complicit in all of it in order to rake in ad revenue. Wall Street Capitalism only measures 'good' in terms of money. I think you are right: they will do a PR apology tour and that's all." – Grant P. "Isn't Zuck a bit too narcissistic to care? The company was born in betrayal. Ironic that such a complete asocial person is in charge of the way we socialize in this country. I think he'll do anything he can get away with and is too arrogant to think there will be consequences." – Leigh S. "Hello Whitney... I am one of those folks who believes when someone does something good, it should be recognized. You and I are very different in our perspectives about most subjects. I read your letter to Facebook just a few minutes ago. "Your letter to the COO was simply and completely what they needed to hear. Although I still have a FB account, I have not actively used FB in over three years. It seemed the vitriol just got worse and worse, regardless of the subject matter, but especially politically. I decided I would not be a part of that, as it can consume you, if you allow it to take up your time. You have to realize that every person has a viewpoint, and it is not likely you will be successful in changing someone's mind, although it does happen on an infrequent basis. "I commend you for reaching out to them, as I am sure others will do. I have a concern that the size of this organization will make government intervention likely. I am not a fan of big government, big brother, as it were, but this situation, if they do not turn it around on their own, government may be the only answer. All the best." – Larry F. "You said everything I was thinking, but ever so much better. I will hope the letter is taken to heart and sweeping changes made so FB can continue to be the great business that it COULD be but has failed so badly to be." – Stacey G "I think you nailed it, my friend! Well, reasoned and direct, to the point, your letter will hopefully bring the FB team and Ms. Haugen together again to make a better, stronger company that serves our social interactions in an honest and forthright manner." – Chuck M. "After reading Zuckerberg's lengthy response I am more convinced that he and the FB team know exactly what they are doing and the harm they are causing. A CEO that wants to be regulated rather than taking the necessary steps to clean up their business strategies is only creating cover for themselves. Unfortunately FB is not only damaging to young girls but to our society as a whole. Through their technology and algorithms they easily manipulate the masses of uniformed customers to be persuaded in any direction they chose. Unfortunately this is like leading blind sheep to slaughter. Yes FB needs to be regulated but not in a way Zuckerberg would approve of. He knows Congress isn't capable of passing any type of regulation to make FB clean up its act and this gives him plenty of cover to continue their unethical business practices." – David L. Other Reader Feedback 3) Lastly, here is one reader's response to Zuckerberg's post: Here are some questions that came to mind when I read Zuckerberg's message: He wrote: Many of the claims don't make any sense. My reply: Which ones don't make any sense? And which ones do make sense? He wrote: If we wanted to ignore research, why would we create an industry-leading research program to understand these important issues in the first place? My reply: Because you need to do the research to maximize 'engagement.' This is clearly consistent with profit maximization. He wrote: If we didn't care about fighting harmful content, then why would we employ so many more people dedicated to this than any other company in our space – even ones larger than us? My reply: Is this demonstrably true? What companies in your space are larger? He wrote: If we wanted to hide our results, why would we have established an industry-leading standard for transparency and reporting on what we're doing? My reply: What is this "industry-leading standard for transparency and reporting?" Where can I learn more about these standards? If FB transparency standard is so high, then where are the reports of your research? He wrote: And if social media were as responsible for polarizing society as some people claim, then why are we seeing polarization increase in the U.S. while it stays flat or declines in many countries with just as heavy use of social media around the world? My reply: Which countries are not becoming more polarized? Excluding authoritarian regimes, are there any? Just saying things doesn't make them true – though if we've learned anything in recent years, it's that saying things over and over again can convince large numbers of people that they are true. Prime examples – claiming rampant election irregularities when none exist; vaccines are the government's plots to control the population; pizza-gate. – Randy J. Thank you, as always, to my readers for sharing their insightful and provocative thoughts! Best regards, Whitney P.S. I welcome your feedback at WTDfeedback@empirefinancialresearch.com. P.P.S. My colleague Enrique Abeyta is looking to hire a junior analyst to help him launch his upcoming newsletter, Empire Elite Crypto, later this fall. If you geek out on cryptos and enjoy writing, we'd like to hear from you. Send us your résumé and a one-page write-up of your favorite crypto investment idea right here. Updated on Oct 7, 2021, 2:11 pm (function() { var sc = document.createElement("script"); sc.type = "text/javascript"; sc.async = true;sc.src = "//mixi.media/data/js/95481.js"; sc.charset = "utf-8";var s = document.getElementsByTagName("script")[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(sc, s); }()); window._F20 = window._F20 || []; _F20.push({container: 'F20WidgetContainer', placement: '', count: 3}); _F20.push({finish: true});.....»»

Category: blogSource: valuewalkOct 7th, 2021

58 thoughtful gifts to give your friends under $100

Buying gifts for friends is a thoughtful way to show them how much you care. Here are 58 gift ideas for your friend, all for less than $100. When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more. Getty Images Whether it's your friend's birthday or you simply want to say thank you, they deserve the best. We rounded up 58 gifts, each under $100, that your special friend will treasure. Still looking for gift ideas? Check out all Insider Reviews gift guides here. Table of Contents: Masthead StickyFriends are the ones you rely upon, confide in, and plague with everything from menu choices to whether or not you should move across the country for a new job. So when those gifting occasions roll around, it can be difficult to find something adequately thoughtful to give to that important person - especially within the relatively affordable under-$100 range.To make things easier for you, we put together a list of unique, thoughtful gifts that your friend would love to receive - all for less than $100.Below are 58 gifts under $100 that your friend will actually want: A set of friendship lights Urban Outfitters Brookstone Friendship Lamp Set, available at Urban Outfitters, $89.95If your close friend lives far away, let them know you're always thinking of them with this friendship light. Your friend will know you haven't forgotten them by tapping your light to instantly activate their twin light. A luxurious lavender scent perfume Nordstrom Yves Saint Laurent Libre Fragrance, available at Nordstrom, from $25.50A designer perfume like this Saint Laurent fragrance is a fitting gift for a friend who enjoys luxurious items. The floral fragrance's bold lavender scent appeals to the confident friend who's daring and always lives true to herself. A gold bracelet with her favorite football team Baublebar NFL x Baublebar Gold Pisa Bracelet, available at Baublebar, $30Even if you don't share in friend's enthusiasm for sports, this sports team bracelet shows you get them. Match the bracelet with their favorite team to help her be prepared for the next game day outfit. A relaxing weighted blanket Amazon Luna Weight Blanket, available at Amazon, $76.99For the friend who's constantly working or just needs a chance to unwind, a weighted blanket can make all the difference. We love this one because it's wallet-friendly but still made from quality materials like Oeko-Tex-certified cotton and natural glass beads.  A scent tied to a favorite place Amazon Homesick candle, available at Uncommon Goods, $34For your old college roommate or your friend who's taken a job across the country, this candle is a sweet reminder of home. A planner to help them stay organized Rifle Paper Co. 2022 17-Month Large Planner, available at Rifle Paper Co., $36Your Type A friend will thank you for this planner and its neat, detailed layout. The 17-month design means they can finish out this year and be set for the new year. Plus, two pages of colorful stickers can help liven up the notes, weekly, and monthly planning pages. A neoprene makeup bag from a cool startup they'll love Dagne Dover Hunter Toiletry Bag, available at Dagne Dover, from $40Dagne Dover is one of our all-time favorite handbag companies, and most of that has to do with quality, style, and unmatched attention to detail. The Hunter bag comes in six colors of water-resistant neoprene. It has helpful features like elastic lip gloss loops, slip pockets and a removable zipper pouch for compacts and shadows, and a smooth lining that's easily cleaned. Zipper tabs can be unsnapped to adjust the shape, too.  A playful earbud pouch for that one forgetful friend Baggu Puffy Earbuds Case, available at Baggu, $14If you have a friend who tends to lose their AirPods or earbuds all too often, this unique case attaches straight onto their keyring. Plus, it's quilted, padded, and machine washable. The pouch fastens with velcro and comes in fun colors and patterns like leopard print and stripe. A phone case and wallet all-in-one Nomad Rugged Folio, available at Nomad, $69.95You might have a friend who doesn't like carrying around bulky wallets and would rather keep it simple and sleek. This leather folio case sports three card slots and one cash slot, and also has a new internal shock absorption bumper that protects against 10-foot drops. Best of all, it's made of Horween leather, which ages and appears more rugged as time passes.  A Fitbit for the activity tracker newcomer Fitbit Fitbit Inspire 2, available at Walmart, $87.99If they're contemplating joining the Fitbit bandwagon, they'll appreciate this uncomplicated activity tracker that monitors their exercise, sleep, and heart rate. It's slimmer than its counterparts, but still lasts for 10 days, has 20+ different exercise modes, and receives basic smartphone notifications. A high-tech towel that's better for their hair AQUIS Aquis Lisse Luxe Long Hair Towel, available at Anthropologie, $30Aquis' cult-favorite hair towels have inspired a slew of rave reviews online, including one from our own team of reviewers.The towels are made from a proprietary fabric called Aquitex that's composed of ultra-fine fibers (finer than silk) that work to reduce the amount of friction the hair experiences while in its weakest state. It also prevents hygral fatigue — the stretching and swelling of wet hair that makes it vulnerable to frizz and damage — by cutting the hair's drying time by 50%. Their favorite specialty food straight from the source Goldbelly/Instagram Order their favorite specialty foods using Goldbelly, from $28Goldbelly makes it possible to satisfy their most specific and nostalgic cravings no matter where they live in the US — a cheesecake from Junior's, deep dish pizza from Lou Malnati, and more. Browse the iconic gifts section for inspiration.  A book of witty, quirky postcards Amazon/Business Insider 'Friendship Maintenance: 30 Postcards to Say How Much You Freaking Care,' available at Amazon, $8.34"Friendship Maintenance" adds a more personal touch to the frequent check-ins you're probably already having with one another. The witty postcards weave in themes of friendship in a hilariously relatable way. A tie-dye kit Amazon/Business Insider Just My Style Tie Dye Kit, available at Amazon, $7.03Tie-dye has made a resurgence: It's a socially distant (or virtual) activity that friends can enjoy together. They'll appreciate this affordable tie-dye kit that will provide them with enough dye for up to 12 projects. A gift card to a popular wine subscription club Winc Gift Card, available at Winc, from $60Winc is a personalized wine club — and we think the best one you can belong to overall. Members take a wine palate profile quiz and then choose from the personalized wine suggestions. Each bottle has extensive tasting notes and serving recommendations online, and makes it easy to discover similar bottles. Gift her a Winc gift card, and she can take a wine palate profile quiz and get started with her own customized suggestions.  A custom note with a surprise inside Greetabl/Business Insider Greetabl Gift Box, available at Greetabl, from $14Greetabl is one of the Insider Reviews team's favorite modes of checking in on those we love. The customizable box includes a fun print, a spot for a personal message, and the selection of a small gift like Sugarfina treats or quirky pins.  An upgrade to the classic travel pillow Amazon/Business Insider Trtl Pillow Super Soft Neck Support Travel Pillow, available at Amazon, $29.99One of the best gifts for frequent travelers is a genuinely supportive neck pillow. The super-soft fleece of the Trtl holds the neck and head in an ergonomic position during flight, and it's lightweight — weighing only about a half a pound — so it won't weigh them down too much. Read our full review of the pillow here. There's also a newer, slightly more expensive version that we like too.  A hilarious collection of Tinder exchanges that, altogether, become one modern horror story Amazon/Business Insider "Tinder Nightmares," available on Amazon, $14.95"Tinder Nightmares" is a modern horror story of Tinder exchanges organized by theme, with chapters such as Bad English, Broetry, Strange Requests, Sneak Attacks, and more. The Instagram account of the same name has nearly 2 million followers. But beware — like Tinder, this book is not for the faint of heart.  A set of the best socks they'll ever wear Bombas Women's Ankle Sock, 4-Pair Box, available at Bombas, $47.50Men's Original Ankle Sock, 4-Pair Box, available at Bombas, from $47.50Bombas' ankle socks have extra blister tabs to prevent chafing, a honeycomb arch-support system to cradle the foot's arch, and a seamless toe that gets rid of the annoying bump that runs across the toes of most socks.  A three-month subscription to the book club that put "Gone with the Wind" on the map Book of the Month Three Month Subscription, available at Book of the Month, $49.99This subscription gift was handcrafted for bookworms. Book of the Month has been around since 1926, and it's credited with the discovery of titles like "Gone with the Wind" and "Catcher in the Rye." A team of experts and celebrity guest judges curate must-read books — usually new releases, hot topics, and debut authors — and send them to the subscriber's doorstep.If they're more into audiobooks or e-reading, check out a gift subscription to Scribd (full review here). A makeup and skincare subscription Birchbox Three Month Subscription, available at Birchbox, $30-$45Birchbox is a skincare and makeup subscription that sends tons of samples of new and cult-favorite products so subscribers can find products they love without committing to buying full-sized anything in the meantime. It's also a monthly excuse for them to treat themselves. An insulated stainless steel water bottle that keeps drinks cold for up to 24 hours and hot for up to 6 hours Amazon Double Wall Vacuum Insulated Stainless Steel Travel Mug (12 oz), available at Amazon, from $24.44This double-wall, vacuum insulated stainless steel mug is especially perfect for commuters who would rather drink hot coffee than room-temperature for the 45 minutes on the subway — or any other time. We're big fans, and it does a pretty incredible job of keeping cold drinks cold for up to 24 hours and hot for up to six hours.  A gimmicky-seeming nail polish holder they'll actually wind up using Amazon/Business Insider Tweexy Wearable Nail Polish Holder, available on Amazon, $9.99Finding a convenient spot to place an open bottle of sticky, vibrant, and fast-drying liquid while you paint your nails is not easy. This $10 nail polish holder looks gimmicky, but it's actually pretty useful.  A funny adult coloring book Amazon Wine Life: A Snarky Adult Coloring Book, available at Amazon, $6.99Adult coloring has had a resurgence in recent years as a great de-stressor (even Kate Middleton is a fan). It turns out, though, that adult coloring is even more fun with adult beverages. Here's one that combines both.  A brass and wood display box that's a bit cooler than the average picture frame Artifact Uprising Brass & Wood Display Box, available at Artifact Uprising, $55Artifact Uprising's brass and hardwood Display Box is a bit more aesthetically pleasing than the traditional picture frame. They can showcase their favorite picture by sliding it into the front of the box, and the box itself can hold up to 50 five-inch by five-inch Square Prints inside.If you're just looking for prints, you can find those starting at $9 here. A silk pillowcase for smoother hair and less breakage Amazon Celestial Silk 100% Silk Pillowcase, available at Amazon, $40.99This Celestial Silk pillowcase is one of the internet's hidden gems. It's nearly $40 on Amazon, but it gives you more silk per square inch than options twice the price at Sephora. It's made out of 100% Mulberry silk — one of the highest quality silks you can buy — and comes in more than 25 colors and three sizes: standard, queen, and king. It's the one I personally own, and it makes a big difference for frizzy hair.  A poetry book that has become a phenomenon Urban Outfitters/Business Insider Milk and Honey, available at Target, from $7.38Rupi Kaur's "Milk and Honey" is a New York Times bestseller and a small cultural phenomenon. It's a collection of poetry and prose dealing with love, loss, femininity, and survival. If they already have this, you may want to look into Cleo Wade's "Where to Begin" here. A yoga mat towel with skid-less technology made by a trusted company Amazon Manduka Yogitoes Yoga Mat Towel, available at Amazon, from $45.39Manduka consistently makes some of the best yoga gear on the market, and their cult-favorite Yogitoes mat towels aren't an exception — they'd probably be the main response if you asked around yoga studios for a mat towel recommendation. They have patented skid-less technology that uses 100% silicone nubs, and it makes a big difference. Each Yogitoes towel is also made from at least eight recycled plastic water bottles, and the dyes used to make it are free of azo, lead, or heavy metal. A vitamin C serum developed by MIT scientists that keeps selling out Maelove Glow Maker, available at Maelove, $27.95Maelove is a skincare company founded by a team of MIT grads (skincare obsessives, brain and cancer researchers, and chemical engineers) to make affordable, high-quality skincare accessible. The entire under-$30 line is supposedly great, but this $28 vitamin C serum (which people have likened to the multi-award-winning $166 C E Ferulic Serum) is the real showstopper — and it keeps selling out. I've tried it, and it does a great job of reducing hyperpigmentation, hydrating, and adding a "glow" to the skin.Read our full Maelove review here.  A monogrammed leather passport case Leatherology Standard Passport Cover, available at Leatherology, from $50For the world traveler, adventure companion, or person who has a lot of places left to see before they're satisfied, this leather passport cover is one of the best mixes of quality for price you're bound to find. You can also personalize your gift further with a monogram (starting as an extra $10). Every time they use it, they'll think of you.  A design service that can help them figure out their decor or new apartment layout Modsy Premium Package, available at Modsy, $159Whether they're moving, always talking about redecorating, or would love a gallery wall but don't want to expend the necessary brain power, they'll appreciate a Modsy gift. The service makes an exact 3D, digital replica of their room and fills it with actual pieces of furniture from well-known brands that they can buy on the spot. A super soft $75 cashmere sweater from a sustainable startup Naadam The Essential Cashmere Sweater, available at Naadam, $75This $75 cashmere sweater is one of the best I've worn, and it took me by surprise for $75. You can get it in either crew-neck or v-neck styles, unisex sizing, and 20 colors. In person, the cashmere is one of the softest I've felt.Plus, Naadam is a sustainable startup. They avoid toxic chemicals, invest in sustainable grazing practices, fund better vaccination programs for healthier goats, and use 100% clean energy to power production facilities. By cutting out middlemen, they pay nomadic herders about 50% more and charge about 50% less to customers without changing quality. A new book by the co-creator of "Broad City" Amazon/Business Insider I Might Regret This: Essays, Drawings, Vulnerabilities, and Other Stuff, available at Amazon, $10.64This book by Abbi Jacobson, co-creator of "Broad City", deals with love, loss, work, comedy, and identity.  A soft, durable pair of slippers they'll want to live in Nordstrom UGG Ansley Water Resistant Slipper, available at Nordstrom, from $99.95They're not a new name, but UGG slippers have stuck around for a very good reason: they're incredibly soft, durable, and made really well. The sole is sturdy enough to withstand walks to the mailbox, and the water-resistant material can take a little gross winter slush on the way there.If you're looking for a cheaper alternative, check out Minnetonka — we're big fans of their mix of price and quality, too. An award-winning at-home facial Sephora Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial, available at Sephora, $80This now-legendary AHA and BHA at-home "facial" gently resurfaces the skin to remove built-up dead skin cells and reveal brighter, more even skin underneath. It's also won multiple notable beauty awards, including a Best of Beauty from Allure and Reader's Choice from InStyle in 2017. For more skincare products, check out the best luxury skincare on Amazon and best gifts from Sephora here. Popular leggings they can wear anywhere Outdoor Voices Outdoor Voices Core 3/4 Leggings, available at Outdoor Voices, $88It seems like everyone and their best friend is talking about Outdoor Voices leggings, and these are the company's most sweat-friendly option.  A card game to play with other friends to rehash favorite stories and learn some new ones Amazon/Business Insider The Voting Game Adult Card Game, available at Target, $19.99The Voting Game is basically a card game that gives you a funny prompt and invites you to anonymously answer "Who's the most likely to..." out of your friends. It's a great way to rehash your favorite memories and learn new stories. A vase and smartphone stand handmade from glazed stoneware Uncommon Goods Bedside Smartphone Vase, available at Uncommon Goods, $32These smartphone stands are handmade out of glazed stoneware, and they double as vases so their owner can have the benefit of convenience without totally giving into the sterility of tons of tech devices. A mug with a "coffee reading" tarot-inspired theme Society6/Business Insider Coffee Reading, available at Society6, $13.59Perfect for the avid coffee drinker or casual fan of the occult, this ceramic mug made by the independent artists of Society6 is a fun — and useful — gift. They've also got pretty much every mug pattern you could want. A cocktail recipe book that pairs music with good drinks Amazon/Business Insider Booze & Vinyl: A Spirited Guide to Great Music and Mixed Drinks, available at Amazon, $21.99Have a friend that loves music and a nice cocktail? This pairs both for a perfect combination every time. The guide includes music from 70 albums, ranging from the '50s to the '00s, with an accompanying A-side and B-side cocktail for each — all organized by mood.  A tiny waffle maker Amazon/Business Insider Dash Mini Waffle Maker, available at Target, $12.99This mini waffle maker may seem more gimmick than substance, but it didn't garner 1,800+ reviews just for being pretty cute. It's compact for small kitchens and people who only want to make three waffles rather than buffet quantities, and it's really easy to clean. A screw-on top that turns a wine bottle into a glass Amazon/Business Insider Guzzle Buddy Wine Bottle Glass, available on Amazon, $15.06If they're more of a "one bottle per person" vino drinker, why not cut out the middleman with this twist-on bottle-to-glass helper?  The personal diary of icon Frida Kahlo Amazon "The Diary of Friday Kahlo: An Intimate Self-Portrait", available at Amazon, $21.94In the last 10 years of her life, Friday Kahlo kept a journal full of thoughts, poems, illustrations, and dreams. This is it, and it's a particularly perfect gift for an artistic or feminist friend.  Machine-washable sneakers they'll wear all the time Allbirds Wool Runners, available at Allbirds, $98Soft, lightweight, breathable shoes that wick away moisture and can be tossed in a machine washer when they get dirty — what's not to love?  A guard to keep away hot, messy splatter Amazon/Business Insider Frywall 10 Splatter Guard, available at Sur La Table, $13.99A splatter guard gives you the benefit of an uncovered pan, minus the countertop cleaning and dodging of hot, popping oil. An elegant, unobtrusive diffuser that smells great Snowe Diffuser, available at Snowe, $40Snowe's Diffuser has the advantage of looking more like home decor than a diffuser, but it also fills the room with a wonderful smell. Plus, the bottles of scent tend to last for months. Pick it up for a friend in five scent options that range from Speak Easy (leather, bitters, burnt cedar) to Pillow Talk (sandalwood, ginger, lavender).  A beautiful candle that smells amazing Otherland Manor House Weekend Candle, available at Otherland, $36Otherland is a candle company started by Ralph Lauren's former art buyer, Abigail Cook Stone. If you want to give your friend a candle that burns for 55 hours, looks beautiful, and comes from an up-and-coming startup that they've probably seen (or coveted) before, this is a great option.Read our full Otherland review here. A Tile with a replaceable battery to help them find missing keys and wallets Amazon Tile Pro with Replaceable Battery, 2 Pack, available at Target, $59.99Few gifts are going to be as useful as a Tile Pro with a replaceable battery. It'll help them find missing items like keys and wallets. An app on their phone can trigger the Tile to ring out so they can locate where they accidentally left their belongings.  A rechargeable battery Amazon Anker PowerCore 10000, available at Amazon, $31.99Anker's PowerCore is a powerful, compact external battery that can provide nearly three and a half iPhone 8 charges or two and a half Galaxy S8 charges.  Luxurious bodycare products Necessarie Nécessaire The Body Wash, available at Sephora, $25Nécessaire is a new line of bodycare products that use vitamins and plant-based oils. It was founded by Randi Christiansen, a former Estée Lauder vice president, and Nick Axelrod, a co-founder of Into the Gloss, the editorial site that preceded Glossier. Read our full Nécessaire review here. A cute plant in a ceramic pot delivered to their door The Sill Shop plants and accessories at The Sill, from $5A plant from The Sill will come in a small ceramic pot with a drainage hole and its own saucer. It comes potted in the company's potting mix and will be delivered to their doorstep.  A renewing honey mask that warms up while it's on their face Sephora Honey Potion Renewing Antioxidant Hydration Mask, available at Sephora, from $38This intensely hydrating mask from beauty brand Farmacy is infused with antioxidants to leave the skin looking glowy and plump. It also physically warms up while on the face, so the self care feels a bit more tangible.  A subscription to K-beauty sheet masks Facetory/Instagram/Business Insider Facetory Gift Subscription Plan, available at Facetory, from $19.90Facetory is an affordable monthly subscription to various K-beauty sheet masks. You can opt to pay for one, three, six, nine, or 12 months at a time.  A cult-favorite sleeping lip mask Sephora Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask, available at Sephora, $22Laneige's hyper-popular overnight lip mask smooths and moisturizes with vitamin C and antioxidants. Currently, it has over 13,000 reviews and a rating of 4.4-stars on Sephora.  A pretty leather wrap for taking chargers and cables on the go Mark & Graham Leather Charger Roll Up, available at Mark & Graham, from $22.99Mark & Graham's Leather Charger Roll Up is made from soft, supple leather and has three separate pockets to stash cables and chargers on the go. Get it monogrammed for free. A box of gourmet artisan milk and dark chocolate Amazon Chuao Chocolatier Share the Love 36-Piece Gift Set, available at Amazon, $39.95A box stuffed full of chocolate needs no introduction, but this one is a pretty good deal. The box comes with 36 mini bars of gourmet artisan milk and dark chocolate, all made in small batches and free of artificial flavors. The 14 flavors range from sweet to savory, and each bar is only 60 calories.  A ClassPass gift card Class Pass Gift Card, available at ClassPass, choose your amountStart heading to more (virtual or socially distant) boutique fitness classes with your friend by making them easier and cheaper to attend. ClassPass lets you drop in to different specialized studios for $15 or less per class. A class or experience for you to take together Airbnb Experiences Check out local Airbnb ExperiencesCheck out local GrouponsOnce it's safe to do so, book an experience like a pasta-making class, brewery tour, or local tour that the two of you can enjoy together. Plus, you can buy this gift as last-minute as you like. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderOct 6th, 2021

"It"s Just Not True" - Zuckerberg Responds To Claims Facebook Puts "Profits Over People"

"It's Just Not True" - Zuckerberg Responds To Claims Facebook Puts 'Profits Over People' Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen, who revealed herself as 'the Facebook whistleblower' in an interview with '60 Minutes' that ran Sunday night before appearing before Sen. Dick Blumenthal's powerful Commerce subcommittee, has managed to catalyze the biggest scandal in Facebook's brief history - even bigger than the whole data privacy/Cambridge Analytica that led to a series of Congressional hearings back in 2018. The information Haugen leaked to WSJ clearly show Facebook was fully aware of the drawbacks and risks related to its various platforms. So, as clips of her performance play on repeat across America's cable news channels, Facebook CEO/Founder Mark Zuckerberg is speaking up to respond. In a note sent to Facebook employees before being posted publicly, Zuckerberg insisted that Haugen's main criticism - that Facebook routinely puts profits ahead of socially-responsible behavior - is a "false narrative" and "just not true." "It’s difficult to see coverage that misrepresents our work and our motives. At the most basic level, I think most of us just don’t recognize the false picture of the company that is being painted," Zuck said in the note. "At the heart of these accusations is this idea that we prioritize profit over safety and well-being. That's just not true." In the statement, Zuck said he was particularly bothered by the implication that Facebook disregards the safety of children, particularly teen girls. "When it comes to young people’s health or well-being, every negative experience matters,” the CEO wrote. “We have worked for years on industry-leading efforts to help people in these moments and I’m proud of the work we’ve done.” Zuck concluded by thanking Facebook employees for their hard work and expressing his gratitude during this difficult time. Hopefully - for Zuck's sake - employees won't be motivated to leak more embarrassing internal research to the press. During yesterday's testimony, Sen. Blumenthal accused Facebook of being "morally bankrupt", and demanded that Zuckerberg return to the Hill once again to testify in person, something Zuckerberg is loathed to do (which is probably why the company already sent its 'head of safety'' Antigone Davis to rebut the allegations and answer questions from lawmakers during a hearing last week). Ironically, Facebook suffered one of its longest and biggest outages yet yesterday, with its services cut off to the world for a large chunk of the day. As for Zuck's statement, Edward Snowden tweeted early Wednesday that Zuck's 1,300-word post was "on brand, really" as the CEO once again tried to frame his company as the real victim here. Zuckerberg responds to a global outage and national scandal by claiming @Facebook is the real victim here, and modestly proposing Congress consider: A) legally restricting teen use of internet services B) identify verification mandates C) limiting teen privacy On-brand, really. pic.twitter.com/0hMRf5HpKf — Edward Snowden (@Snowden) October 6, 2021 Readers can find Zuck's complete note below: * * * I wanted to share a note I wrote to everyone at our company. Hey everyone: it's been quite a week, and I wanted to share some thoughts with all of you. First, the SEV that took down all our services yesterday was the worst outage we've had in years. We've spent the past 24 hours debriefing how we can strengthen our systems against this kind of failure. This was also a reminder of how much our work matters to people. The deeper concern with an outage like this isn't how many people switch to competitive services or how much money we lose, but what it means for the people who rely on our services to communicate with loved ones, run their businesses, or support their communities. Second, now that today's testimony is over, I wanted to reflect on the public debate we're in. I'm sure many of you have found the recent coverage hard to read because it just doesn't reflect the company we know. We care deeply about issues like safety, well-being and mental health. It's difficult to see coverage that misrepresents our work and our motives. At the most basic level, I think most of us just don't recognize the false picture of the company that is being painted. Many of the claims don't make any sense. If we wanted to ignore research, why would we create an industry-leading research program to understand these important issues in the first place? If we didn't care about fighting harmful content, then why would we employ so many more people dedicated to this than any other company in our space -- even ones larger than us? If we wanted to hide our results, why would we have established an industry-leading standard for transparency and reporting on what we're doing? And if social media were as responsible for polarizing society as some people claim, then why are we seeing polarization increase in the US while it stays flat or declines in many countries with just as heavy use of social media around the world? At the heart of these accusations is this idea that we prioritize profit over safety and well-being. That's just not true. For example, one move that has been called into question is when we introduced the Meaningful Social Interactions change to News Feed. This change showed fewer viral videos and more content from friends and family -- which we did knowing it would mean people spent less time on Facebook, but that research suggested it was the right thing for people's well-being. Is that something a company focused on profits over people would do? The argument that we deliberately push content that makes people angry for profit is deeply illogical. We make money from ads, and advertisers consistently tell us they don't want their ads next to harmful or angry content. And I don't know any tech company that sets out to build products that make people angry or depressed. The moral, business and product incentives all point in the opposite direction. But of everything published, I'm particularly focused on the questions raised about our work with kids. I've spent a lot of time reflecting on the kinds of experiences I want my kids and others to have online, and it's very important to me that everything we build is safe and good for kids. The reality is that young people use technology. Think about how many school-age kids have phones. Rather than ignoring this, technology companies should build experiences that meet their needs while also keeping them safe. We're deeply committed to doing industry-leading work in this area. A good example of this work is Messenger Kids, which is widely recognized as better and safer than alternatives. We've also worked on bringing this kind of age-appropriate experience with parental controls for Instagram too. But given all the questions about whether this would actually be better for kids, we've paused that project to take more time to engage with experts and make sure anything we do would be helpful. Like many of you, I found it difficult to read the mischaracterization of the research into how Instagram affects young people. As we wrote in our Newsroom post explaining this: "The research actually demonstrated that many teens we heard from feel that using Instagram helps them when they are struggling with the kinds of hard moments and issues teenagers have always faced. In fact, in 11 of 12 areas on the slide referenced by the Journal -- including serious areas like loneliness, anxiety, sadness and eating issues -- more teenage girls who said they struggled with that issue also said Instagram made those difficult times better rather than worse." But when it comes to young people's health or well-being, every negative experience matters. It is incredibly sad to think of a young person in a moment of distress who, instead of being comforted, has their experience made worse. We have worked for years on industry-leading efforts to help people in these moments and I'm proud of the work we've done. We constantly use our research to improve this work further. Similar to balancing other social issues, I don't believe private companies should make all of the decisions on their own. That's why we have advocated for updated internet regulations for several years now. I have testified in Congress multiple times and asked them to update these regulations. I've written op-eds outlining the areas of regulation we think are most important related to elections, harmful content, privacy, and competition. We're committed to doing the best work we can, but at some level the right body to assess tradeoffs between social equities is our democratically elected Congress. For example, what is the right age for teens to be able to use internet services? How should internet services verify people's ages? And how should companies balance teens' privacy while giving parents visibility into their activity? If we're going to have an informed conversation about the effects of social media on young people, it's important to start with a full picture. We're committed to doing more research ourselves and making more research publicly available. That said, I'm worried about the incentives that are being set here. We have an industry-leading research program so that we can identify important issues and work on them. It's disheartening to see that work taken out of context and used to construct a false narrative that we don't care. If we attack organizations making an effort to study their impact on the world, we're effectively sending the message that it's safer not to look at all, in case you find something that could be held against you. That's the conclusion other companies seem to have reached, and I think that leads to a place that would be far worse for society. Even though it might be easier for us to follow that path, we're going to keep doing research because it's the right thing to do. I know it's frustrating to see the good work we do get mischaracterized, especially for those of you who are making important contributions across safety, integrity, research and product. But I believe that over the long term if we keep trying to do what's right and delivering experiences that improve people's lives, it will be better for our community and our business. I've asked leaders across the company to do deep dives on our work across many areas over the next few days so you can see everything that we're doing to get there. When I reflect on our work, I think about the real impact we have on the world -- the people who can now stay in touch with their loved ones, create opportunities to support themselves, and find community. This is why billions of people love our products. I'm proud of everything we do to keep building the best social products in the world and grateful to all of you for the work you do here every day. * * * Source: Facebook Tyler Durden Wed, 10/06/2021 - 08:27.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeOct 6th, 2021

Mark Zuckerberg says whistleblower"s claims that Facebook places profit over people "don"t make any sense." Read his full response to the whistleblower"s testimony.

"I think most of us just don't recognize the false picture of the company that is being painted," Zuckerberg told Facebook staff in his statement. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in Washington D.C. on Oct. 23, 2019. Andrew Harnik/AP Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen testified before Congress on Tuesday. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg responded to the hearing with a 1,300-word statement. Zuckerberg said multiple claims made during the hearing "don't make any sense." See more stories on Insider's business page. Facebook CEO Zuckerberg has criticized testimony from former Facebook employee Frances Haugen, who told a US Senate committee on Tuesday that the company consistently placed profit over people, allowing its algorithms to perpetuate harm in pursuit of growth."At the most basic level, I think most of us just don't recognize the false picture of the company that is being painted," Zuckerberg said as part of a 1,300-word Facebook post, which he said he'd circulated to employees. He said that "many of the claims" at the hearing didn't "make any sense."A recurring theme in Tuesday's hearing was whether Facebook was harmful to children. Haugen presented evidence of an internal research paper from Instagram in which 32% of teen girls said that when they were feeling bad about their bodies, Instagram made them feel worse. Zuckerberg repeated a previous statement from the company that the paper had been taken out of context, and had found Instagram also had a positive effect on teens' mental health. He also seemed to suggest that if people criticized similar research, companies would stop doing it."It's disheartening to see that work taken out of context and used to construct a false narrative that we don't care. If we attack organizations making an effort to study their impact on the world, we're effectively sending the message that it's safer not to look at all, in case you find something that could be held against you," Zuckerberg said.He said it was unrealistic to expect social media companies to ignore child users."The reality is that young people use technology. Think about how many school-age kids have phones. Rather than ignoring this, technology companies should build experiences that meet their needs while also keeping them safe. We're deeply committed to doing industry-leading work in this area," he said. Former Facebook employee and whistleblower Frances Haugen arrives to testify before a Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation hearing on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2021, in Washington. Drew Angerer/Pool via AP Zuckerberg also rejected the claim that Facebook optimized its algorithms for content that provokes strong emotion because that type of content gets the most engagement."The argument that we deliberately push content that makes people angry for profit is deeply illogical. We make money from ads, and advertisers consistently tell us they don't want their ads next to harmful or angry content. And I don't know any tech company that sets out to build products that make people angry or depressed," Zuckerberg said.He also asked a string of rhetorical questions."If we wanted to ignore research, why would we create an industry-leading research program to understand these important issues in the first place? If we didn't care about fighting harmful content, then why would we employ so many more people dedicated to this than any other company in our space - even ones larger than us?," Zuckerberg said.He did not clarify which company or companies he was referring to that were larger than Facebook.During her testimony, Haugen told the Senators that Zuckerberg had full control over what goes on at Facebook because he holds more than half of all voting shares for the company. "In the end the buck stops with Mark, there is no one currently holding Mark accountable but himself."Read Zuckerberg's full statement here:Hey everyone: it's been quite a week, and I wanted to share some thoughts with all of you.First, the SEV that took down all our services yesterday was the worst outage we've had in years. We've spent the past 24 hours debriefing how we can strengthen our systems against this kind of failure. This was also a reminder of how much our work matters to people. The deeper concern with an outage like this isn't how many people switch to competitive services or how much money we lose, but what it means for the people who rely on our services to communicate with loved ones, run their businesses, or support their communities.Second, now that today's testimony is over, I wanted to reflect on the public debate we're in. I'm sure many of you have found the recent coverage hard to read because it just doesn't reflect the company we know. We care deeply about issues like safety, well-being and mental health. It's difficult to see coverage that misrepresents our work and our motives. At the most basic level, I think most of us just don't recognize the false picture of the company that is being painted.Many of the claims don't make any sense. If we wanted to ignore research, why would we create an industry-leading research program to understand these important issues in the first place? If we didn't care about fighting harmful content, then why would we employ so many more people dedicated to this than any other company in our space - even ones larger than us? If we wanted to hide our results, why would we have established an industry-leading standard for transparency and reporting on what we're doing? And if social media were as responsible for polarizing society as some people claim, then why are we seeing polarization increase in the US while it stays flat or declines in many countries with just as heavy use of social media around the world?At the heart of these accusations is this idea that we prioritize profit over safety and well-being. That's just not true. For example, one move that has been called into question is when we introduced the Meaningful Social Interactions change to News Feed. This change showed fewer viral videos and more content from friends and family -- which we did knowing it would mean people spent less time on Facebook, but that research suggested it was the right thing for people's well-being. Is that something a company focused on profits over people would do?The argument that we deliberately push content that makes people angry for profit is deeply illogical. We make money from ads, and advertisers consistently tell us they don't want their ads next to harmful or angry content. And I don't know any tech company that sets out to build products that make people angry or depressed. The moral, business and product incentives all point in the opposite direction.But of everything published, I'm particularly focused on the questions raised about our work with kids. I've spent a lot of time reflecting on the kinds of experiences I want my kids and others to have online, and it's very important to me that everything we build is safe and good for kids.The reality is that young people use technology. Think about how many school-age kids have phones. Rather than ignoring this, technology companies should build experiences that meet their needs while also keeping them safe. We're deeply committed to doing industry-leading work in this area. A good example of this work is Messenger Kids, which is widely recognized as better and safer than alternatives.We've also worked on bringing this kind of age-appropriate experience with parental controls for Instagram too. But given all the questions about whether this would actually be better for kids, we've paused that project to take more time to engage with experts and make sure anything we do would be helpful.Like many of you, I found it difficult to read the mischaracterization of the research into how Instagram affects young people. As we wrote in our Newsroom post explaining this: "The research actually demonstrated that many teens we heard from feel that using Instagram helps them when they are struggling with the kinds of hard moments and issues teenagers have always faced. In fact, in 11 of 12 areas on the slide referenced by the Journal - including serious areas like loneliness, anxiety, sadness and eating issues - more teenage girls who said they struggled with that issue also said Instagram made those difficult times better rather than worse."But when it comes to young people's health or well-being, every negative experience matters. It is incredibly sad to think of a young person in a moment of distress who, instead of being comforted, has their experience made worse. We have worked for years on industry-leading efforts to help people in these moments and I'm proud of the work we've done. We constantly use our research to improve this work further.Similar to balancing other social issues, I don't believe private companies should make all of the decisions on their own. That's why we have advocated for updated internet regulations for several years now. I have testified in Congress multiple times and asked them to update these regulations. I've written op-eds outlining the areas of regulation we think are most important related to elections, harmful content, privacy, and competition.We're committed to doing the best work we can, but at some level the right body to assess tradeoffs between social equities is our democratically elected Congress. For example, what is the right age for teens to be able to use internet services? How should internet services verify people's ages? And how should companies balance teens' privacy while giving parents visibility into their activity?If we're going to have an informed conversation about the effects of social media on young people, it's important to start with a full picture. We're committed to doing more research ourselves and making more research publicly available.That said, I'm worried about the incentives that are being set here. We have an industry-leading research program so that we can identify important issues and work on them. It's disheartening to see that work taken out of context and used to construct a false narrative that we don't care. If we attack organizations making an effort to study their impact on the world, we're effectively sending the message that it's safer not to look at all, in case you find something that could be held against you. That's the conclusion other companies seem to have reached, and I think that leads to a place that would be far worse for society. Even though it might be easier for us to follow that path, we're going to keep doing research because it's the right thing to do.I know it's frustrating to see the good work we do get mischaracterized, especially for those of you who are making important contributions across safety, integrity, research and product. But I believe that over the long term if we keep trying to do what's right and delivering experiences that improve people's lives, it will be better for our community and our business. I've asked leaders across the company to do deep dives on our work across many areas over the next few days so you can see everything that we're doing to get there.When I reflect on our work, I think about the real impact we have on the world - the people who can now stay in touch with their loved ones, create opportunities to support themselves, and find community. This is why billions of people love our products. I'm proud of everything we do to keep building the best social products in the world and grateful to all of you for the work you do here every day.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderOct 6th, 2021

Messenger Apps Signal and Telegram Benefit After Facebook Outage

According to Signal, “millions” flocked to its app after a Facebook outage. Messenger apps like Signal and Telegram received a surge in interest after a Facebook Inc. outage left Whatsapp users in the lurch. At least 2.7 billion social network users around the world were plunged into digital darkness on Monday as Faceboo’s suite of apps and services, including Whatsapp and Instagram, went down. For six hours, from around 11:40am EDT, millions of communication channels were unusable. The company attributed the outage to a “faulty configuration change” and promised there was “no evidence that user data was compromised as a result.” Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO, whose net worth dropped by $6bn as a result of the outage, apologized for the disruption as the apps came back online. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] According to Signal, an end-to-end encrypted messaging app favored by activists and organizers concerned about data privacy, “millions” flocked to its app after the outage. “Signups are way up on Signal (welcome everyone!),” the company tweeted on Monday. Signal declined to disclose more specific user numbers. Other alternative message apps, such as Telegram and Discord, enjoyed a surge of signups. Telegram currently ranks fifth on the U.S. Apple App Store’s top free apps chart. The sheer scale of Monday’s Facebook outage highlighted the company’s monopoly over social media worldwide. Whatsapp has more than 2 billion users across 180 countries, and is the market leader in all but 25 countries globally. It is also heavily relied on by many people in countries such as Kenya, Nigeria, India and Argentina to communicate. Read more: From Instagram’s Toll on Teens to Unmoderated ‘Elite’ Users, Here’s a Break Down of the Wall Street Journal’s Facebook Revelations Signal uses end-to-end encryption, similar to Whatsapp and iMessage. In fact, Whatsapp integrated Signal’s protocol into its encryption software in 2016. What sets Signal apart is the extra level of security it provides: messages’ metadata are encrypted, blocking out hackers and law enforcement agencies alike. Moreover, Signal is owned and operated by a non-profit foundation, rather than a multinational corporation. Whatsapp, on the other hand, stores user data to share with Facebook, even if messages themselves are protected. NSA whistleblower and privacy activist Edward Snowden tweeted his support for Signal on Monday. “Facebook-owned Whatsapp being down is a reminder that you and your friends should probably be using a more private, non-profit alternative like @Signalapp anyway (or another open-source app of your choice),” he wrote in a tweet. This is not the first time users have ditched Facebook-run platforms for Signal and other platforms in recent months due to data protection and privacy concerns. In January, a privacy update on Whatsapp asked users to consent to businesses sharing their data with Facebook for marketing purposes. A spokesperson for Signal claimed that move prompted a “super, super exodus” of users from the platform to Signal. Whatsapp ended up delaying the proposed update, from Feb. 8 to May 15, due to “confusion” and “misinformation” over “our principles and the facts.” Read more: Here’s How to Fix Facebook, According to Former Employees and Leading Critics In an interview with TIME last year, Whatsapp co-founder Brian Acton, who had defected to Signal, said, “Any time there is some form of unrest or a contentious election, there seems to be an opportunity for us to build our audience.” Drew Angerer—Getty ImagesFormer Facebook employee Frances Haugen testifies during a Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation hearing entitled ‘Protecting Kids Online: Testimony from a Facebook Whistleblower’ on Capitol Hill Oct. 5, 2021 in Washington, DC. The outage was the latest in a series of headaches for the social media company. A series of reporting by the Wall Street Journal known as the Facebook Files, based on internal documents leaked by a Facebook whistleblower, Frances Haugen, exposed the company’s awareness of harms caused by its products and decisions. Haugen went public on CBS’s 60 Minutes program on Oct. 3 and testified before a Senate subcommittee on Tuesday. She told the committee the social network puts “astronomical profits before people’ and its products “harm children, stoke division and weaken our democracy.”.....»»

Category: topSource: timeOct 5th, 2021