Protesters carrying an inflatable angry emoji greeted Facebook shareholders as they gathered for the company’s annual meeting on Thursday, the latest sign of its struggle to shake off privacy scandals and rein in fake news and hate speech.
The social media giant again faced demands for reform at Thursday’s meeting, including shareholder proposals that called for revamping the company’s voting structure and ousting Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg as chairman.
The measures had little chance of succeeding, as a dual-class share structure gives Zuckerberg and other insiders control of about 58% of the votes. Many investors have shrugged off the scandals swirling around the company, as it has beaten Wall Street’s estimates for revenue growth and continues to add users globally.
Zuckerberg declined to answer a shareholder question on why he would not agree to create an independent board chair, instead restating his view that regulators should set the rules for companies around privacy and content.
But even though the votes are largely symbolic, they are still seen as a useful barometer of investor sentiment about how well the social media icon is coping with unprecedented challenges to its hands-off approach to content.
Last year, about 83% of shares held by outside investors voted for a proposal that would have the company move to a structure of one vote per share and do away with the supermajority shares.
A coalition of activist groups have urged big investors to reject Zuckerberg’s nomination to the board this year, saying Facebook has failed to protect users, especially racial and religious minorities.
Outside the hotel, a small group of protesters filmed themselves hoisting the 8-foot (2.5-meter) red emoji balloon, saying the company failed to protect its users, particularly minorities, from hate speech and other abuses.
“Zuckerberg has said that he wants to protect people from white supremacy but there’s still a ton of white supremacists organising on Facebook,” said Leila Deen, program director for SumOfUs, the group in the coalition responsible for the balloon.
Nearby, an opposing protester in a red hat stamped with “Make America Great Again,” a slogan of US President Donald Trump, used a loudspeaker to accuse Facebook of censoring conservatives.
The coalition, led by consumer group Majority Action and civil rights advocate Color of Change, said they had gathered 125,000 signatures on a petition targeting BlackRock, one of Facebook’s biggest outside investors.
BlackRock’s funds backed all of Facebook’s director nominees last year, but also voted for two shareholder proposals that would have reorganized Facebook’s governance structure.
It declined to comment on the petition, with a spokesman saying it did not preview votes or comment on specific companies.
Other shareholders in the meeting said the company created a “hostile work environment” for people with conservative views and pressed for a diversity report reflecting its public policy positions.
Facebook has been under scrutiny from regulators and shareholders since last year, when reporting revealed that the data of some 87 million users had been shared with now-defunct political data firm Cambridge Analytica.
The company has also come under fire over Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential election, which used social media to spread disinformation, and its frequently shifting policies around which content is permitted on its platform.
US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi criticised the company on Wednesday, saying she was no longer willing to give Facebook the benefit of the doubt on Russia after it refused to remove a heavily edited video that attempted to make her look incoherent.
“I thought it was unwittingly, but clearly they wittingly were accomplices and enablers of false information to go across Facebook,” she said.
The comments raise the spectre of harsher action in Congress against Facebook. Pelosi has previously warned that Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which shields tech companies from legal liability for content created by their users, was a “gift” that had been abused and could be reconsidered.
Investors do not seem worried.
The company’s stock jumped 10 percent after its last earnings report, even as it announced it was setting aside up to $5 billion for what could be the largest civil penalty ever paid to the Federal Trade Commission, which has been investigating Facebook over alleged privacy violations.
One of Facebook’s largest fund investors, William Danoff of the $123 billion Fidelity Contrafund, did not mention any of Facebook’s privacy issues in his most in his most recent quarterly commentary to investors.
He wrote only that, as his portfolio’s second-largest holding, Facebook “appeals to us based on growth in its various apps and revenue from advertisers that want to reach the firm’s enormous base of daily active users.”
Danoff has been a long-time backer of Facebook and previously indicated he was satisfied with the company’s reform efforts to date.
Among other top Facebook investors, last year Vanguard Group Inc withheld support from Zuckerberg and Sandberg, and backed a measure to reform Facebook’s voting structure.
© Thomson Reuters 2019
Twitter rolls out the ability for creators to host Super Follows-only Spaces – TechCrunch
Twitter has announced that it’s rolling out Super Follows-only Spaces. Creators who offer Super Follows subscriptions can now host Spaces exclusively for their subscribers. The social media giant says this new option will give creators a way to “offer an extra layer of conversation to their biggest supporters.”
Subscribers globally on iOS and Android will be able to join and request to speak in Super Follows-only Spaces, whereas subscribers on Twitter’s web platform can join and listen, but won’t have the option to request to speak. Creators can start a Super Follows-only Space by selecting the “Only Super Followers can join” button when starting a new Space. Users who aren’t Super Following a creator will still see the Space, but won’t be able to access it unless they subscribe.
It’s worth noting that the new Super Follow-only option for Spaces isn’t the only way for creators to hold exclusive Spaces. For example, Twitter launched its Ticketed Spaces feature last year to allow creators to set a price for users to listen in on a Space. Creators can set their ticket price anywhere between $1 and $999 and can also limit how many tickets are sold.
Super Follows, which was first revealed in February 2021, allows users to subscribe to accounts they like for a monthly subscription fee in exchange for exclusive content. Super Follows is currently in testing with select creators in the United States on iOS. Eligible accounts can set the price for Super Follow subscriptions, with the option of charging $2.99, $4.99 or $9.99 per month.
The launch of Super Follows-only Spaces adds another layer of exclusivity to Super Follows subscriptions. Twitter says it plans to launch more Super Follows features to allow creators to grow their audiences and get closer to their most engaged followers.
Twitter says its research shows that hosting consistent Spaces leads to more follower growth and also gives creators more ways to engage with their followers. The company found that consistently hosting Spaces, around two times per week, leads to a 17% follower growth over a quarter. In addition, the company says creators who host consistent Spaces for a month see a 6-7% growth in followers, and creators who do so for two months see a 10% growth in followers.
TikTok launches its first creator crediting tool to help video creators cite their inspiration – TechCrunch
After years of stolen memes and uncredited dance trends, TikTok today is introducing a new feature that it says will be the first iteration of its creator crediting tools that allow creators to directly tag and credit others using a new button during the publishing process. This button lets creators credit all sorts of inspiration for their content, including dances, jokes, viral sounds, and more — and will help TikTok viewers discover the original creators behind the latest trend by tapping on the credit from the video’s caption.
Larger creators lifting ideas from smaller ones is an issue that’s not limited to TikTok. But as one of the largest social apps on the market, particularly among a younger Gen Z to Millennial demographic, how it approaches the issue of creator recognition matters.
To that end, TikTok says it’s now rolling out a new feature that will allow users to add a credit as part of the publishing process on the app.
To access the feature, users will tap on a new “video” icon on the posting page after creating or editing their own video. Once on the video page, users will be able to select a video they have liked, favorited, posted, or that had used the same sound.
After this video is selected, the video tag will be added as a mention in the caption.
Those whose videos were tagged by another creator will then be alerted to this via an alert in their TikTok app Inbox.
The feature’s launch follows years of controversy over creator credits and attribution on TikTok.
In particular, TikTok had struggled with some of its top stars sourcing new choreography to perform in their dance videos from creators on other, smaller platforms — like the rival short-form video app Dubsmash, later acquired by Reddit. Many of these unknown creators had helped kick off TikTok’s biggest dance trends in years past, like the Renegade, Backpack Kid, or Shiggy. And many were creators of color, who saw their dances go viral after more famous TikTokers would perform their moves without tagging them as the inspiration. This issue came to a head when The New York Times in 2020 reported on the original creator of the Renegade, then a 14-year-old Atlanta teen, Jalaiah Harmon, who hadn’t received credit for her work after TikTok’s largest creator, Charli D’Amelio, performed her dance for her millions of fans, helping her to further grow her already outsized celebrity status.
The following year, a similar controversy made headlines after TikTok star Addison Rae went on “The Tonight Show” where she taught host Jimmy Fallon a number of popular TikTok dances. Meanwhile, the dances’ original creators, many of whom are Black, remained uncredited in the segment. Later, a number of Black creators went on strike as part of a viral campaign to call attention to the issue of creator credits by refusing to choreograph a dance to Megan Thee Stallion’s latest single.
D’Amelio and some other creators have since begun to handwrite dance credits in their video descriptions, often using the shorthand “dc” for dance credit followed by a tag pointing to the username of the creator. A famous Hollywood choreographer, JaQuel Knight, who made history as the first to copyright his work, has also begun helping other dancers on TikTok get credit for their work too, Vice reported in December.
But dances aren’t the only things being stolen on TikTok. Creators have fielded accusations of stealing everything from cheerleading routines to comedy bits to challenge ideas to music or sounds and much more.
A TikTok spokesperson acknowledged the problem with credits on the platform, noting that the culture of credit was “critical” for the community and for TikTok’s future. “Equitable creator amplification is important for creators, especially the BIPOC creator community,” they added.
In an announcement, Director of the Creator Community at TikTok, Kudzi Chikumbu introduced the feature and highlighted other efforts the company has made to help better highlight original creator work on its platform.
Chikumbu pointed to TikTok’s Originators series, launched last October, which showcases trend originators through the app’s Discover List feature. TikTok also recently debuted a TikTok Originators monthly social series highlighting Originators on the platform. In addition, the TikTok Creator Portal includes a “Crediting Creators” section that highlights the importance of attributing trend originators for their work. Here, the company lays out best practices for crediting originators and explains how to find the originators if you aren’t sure who had started a trend.
The use of the new crediting tag could help make it easier for creators to cite their inspiration. However, it still relies on user adoption to work. If a creator wants to lift ideas without credit, they could simply not use the feature.
“It’s important to see a culture of credit take shape across the digital landscape and to support underrepresented creators in being properly credited and celebrated for their work,” said Chikumbu. “We’re eager to see how these new creator crediting tools inspire more creativity and encourage trend attribution across the global TikTok community.”
TikTok’s new ad product gives creators a chance to partner with marketers on branded content – TechCrunch
TikTok announced today that it’s launching a new ad product called “Branded Mission” that will allow creators to connect with brands and possibly receive rewards for videos. With the new ad product, advertisers can crowdsource content from creators and turn top-performing videos into ads. Advertisers can launch branded campaigns and encourage creators to take part in them. Brands can develop a brief and release it to the creator community encouraging them to participate in Branded Missions.
Creators can then decide what Branded Missions they want to participate in. All creators who are at least 18 years old and have at least 1,000 followers are eligible to participate in a Branded Mission. TikTok says eligible creators whose videos are selected by brands will “benefit from a cash payment and boosted traffic.” On each Branded Mission page, creators will be able to view how much money they have the potential to earn if their video is selected.
Branded Mission is now in beta testing and available to brands in more than a dozen markets. TikTok says the new ad product will be available in additional markets later this year.
The company says this new form of two-way engagement between brands and creators allows the TikTok community to have a creative hand in the ads that are part of a brand campaign. TikTok notes that it’s always looking for creative ways to support creators and help brands reach users on its platforms with relevant content.
“Creators are at the center of creativity, culture and entertainment on TikTok,” the company said in a blog post. “With Branded Mission, we’re excited to bring even more creators into the branded content ecosystem and explore ways to reward emerging and established creators.”
TikTok and brands already leverage creators for ads on the platform, but the new Branded Mission ad product will give creators, especially newer ones, a new way to partner with brands and grow their audiences.
Today’s announcement comes as TikTok recently introduced a new way to lure advertisers to its platform by giving them the ability to showcase their brands’ content next to the best videos on TikTok. TikTok launched TikTok Pulse, which is a new contextual advertising solution that ensures brands’ ads are placed next to the top 4% of all videos on TikTok. Notably, the solution is also the first ad product that involves a revenue share with creators. Creators and publishers with at least 100,000 followers on TikTok will be eligible for the revenue share program during the initial stage of the TikTok Pulse program.
TikTok has also been looking for ways to help brands better reach users on its platform. Last month, the company launched a new Creative Agency Partnerships (CAP) University program that is designed to help creative agencies become “TikTok experts.” The five-week program teaches enrollees what they need to know about getting started on TikTok and how to use the platform to up their marketing game.
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