Yes, I know I said there wouldn’t be the Last Week in Digital Media update this week but given the Facebook news (read on) I had to find a way to get an update out. I hope you find it useful.
- The New York Times published an article on Facebook that alleges an executive-led process of denial, cover-up, and really questionable tactics to deflect scrutiny away from Facebook and towards competitors. The full article is a must-read but the NYT also published 6 key takeaways.
- As a result of the NY Times piece, there are active calls for regulation of Facebook come January and whether Facebook is an appropriate environment for advertisers. Although, to date, advertiser response to Facebook’s issues is muted.
- Facebook responded to the NY Times article with a series of (mostly) denials except for admitting it did encourage executives to use Android given Apple’s stance against Facebook.
- In a follow-up piece, the NY Times did a deep-dive on “Definers Public Affairs” a company that allegedly pushed out pro-Facebook anti-competitor PR. This includes the Definer’s role in targeting US Senators that were scrutinizing Facebook (particularly related to the Cambridge Analytica hearings). Facebook has not denied engaging Definer’s and Facebook terminated their existing Definer’s contract in response to the NY Time story.
- There have been calls for executive changes at Facebook. Facebook’s board has come out in full support of Zuckerberg, Sandberg and other execs.
- Not surprisingly, there are reports morale at Facebook is at an all-time low and it is reported that Zuckerberg gave an hour-long global town hall to all employees defending all the allegations from the week.
Editorial: There are more questions than answers after all of the reports and leaks. There is definitely a need for transparency and Facebook needs to demonstrate it can (and deserves to) be trusted by users, government, and advertisers. Perhaps the most positive thing to come out the news cycle is Zuckerberg’s proposal of an independent Content Governance & Enforcement group. Although, this is a solution that is needed across all major tech. platforms not just Facebook and it feels like 2019 is set to be the year of industry regulation.
- Somewhat random, but just in time for the holiday season Snapchat is making available for sale personalized Bitmoji merchandise. Products cover everything from clothes to cushions and shower curtains. The move is possibly rooted in a need for Snapchat to get better insights into how eCommerce will work on the platform. The Bitmoji store will be US-only.
- Facebook is shutting down their connected TV advertising network (powered by Facebook Audience Network). Facebook will stop selling ads in OTT apps by Jan 2019. The exit is just 2 years after Facebook first entered the OTT space.
- in news out of Malaysia, Netflix is launching a mobile-only pricing tier, to be more price competitive in the region. It’s interesting because it shows advertising isn’t necessary to subsidize cheaper subscription pricing and also recognizes that mobile-only subscription offerings may have a place.
- According to Axios, Linked In expects their advertising business to in US$2B in 2018. This is interesting because it would represent around 50% of Microsoft’s advertising revenue.
- Facebook is making moves into the job seeker/employment market with a mentor match-making service adjacent to “Learn with Facebook“. The mentorship offering (officially launched 3 months ago) is tightly integrated with Facebook groups.
- Snapchat has been issued a subpoena by the US Securities and Exchange Commission for allegedly underestimating and underreporting competition risks as part of the Snap IPO. Snap is denying the claims.
- In other Snapchat news, Snap’s VP of Content (Nick Bell) has resigned. Bell will remain until the end of the year and oversaw Snap Originals. Bell was also the original product owner of the Snapchat Discover offering. Snap CEO has re-affirmed Snap’s commitment to originals and content despite Bell’s departure.
TRUST, SAFETY & PRIVACY
- Lost amongst all the Facebook drama, was an important GDPR ruling out of France. I encourage you to read the full tweet thread by NY Times reporter Robin Berjon. In short, an unknown French location data company “Vectaury” was found to be collecting data without consent (no fine, able to remediate) but it does call into question in-app consent and also the validity of IAB Consent framework. Notably “You cannot pass consent to another controller through a contractual relationship”. To quote Berjon “This means that if someone gains consent for you, and you have a contract saying it’s their responsibility to do so, you *still* have the obligation to verify that the consent is valid.” There’s a lot more to come on this ruling and make sure you get the appropriate legal advice.
- There’s an important documentary on PBS about the people that moderate content across Facebook and Google. It’s disturbing but highlights just how dark and non-safe the internet is, as well as the human cost of policing the dark side of the web.
Have a great week and a safe and Happy Thanksgiving!