- Facebook to Pay Record $5 Billion U.S. Fine
Facebook Inc will pay a record-breaking $5 billion fine to resolve a government probe into its privacy practices and the social media giant will restructure its approach to privacy, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission said on Wednesday.
The FTC voted 3-2 along party lines to adopt the settlement, which requires court approval. Democrats opposed it, saying it did not go far enough or require a large enough fine.
“Despite repeated promises to its billions of users worldwide that they could control how personal information is shared Facebook undermined consumers’ choices,” FTC Chairman Joe Simons, a Republican, said in a statement.
Democratic FTC Commissioner Rohit Chopra said the penalty provided “blanket immunity” for Facebook executives “and no real restraints on Facebook’s business model” and does “not fix the core problems that led to these violations.”
Facebook agreed to pay an additional $100 million to settle allegations that it misled investors about the seriousness of the misuse of users’ data, the Securities and Exchange Commission said on Wednesday.
The FTC said that Facebook’s data policy was deceptive to “tens of millions” of people who used its facial recognition tool and also violated its rules against deceptive practices when it did not disclose phone numbers collected for a security feature would also be used for advertising.
Under the settlement, Facebook’s board will create an independent privacy committee that removes “unfettered control by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg over decisions affecting user privacy.”
Facebook also agreed to exercise greater oversight over third-party apps.
Chopra and Democratic FTC Commissioner Rebecca Slaughter said the $5 billion penalty may be less than Facebook’s gains from violating users’ privacy.
“Until we address Facebook’s core financial incentives for risking our personal privacy and national security, we will not be able to prevent these problems from happening again,” Chopra said.
The FTC Republican majority argued the settlement “significantly diminishes Mr. Zuckerberg’s power — something no government agency, anywhere in the world, has thus far accomplished.”
The Republican commissioners led by Simons said if the FTC had gone to court “it is highly unlikely that any judge would have imposed a civil penalty even remotely close to this one.”
They called the settlement — in light of what the FTC might have been able to win in a court fight — “a complete home run.”
The Republicans noted that Zuckerberg and other Facebook executives must sign quarterly certifications attesting to the company’s privacy practices.
The FTC said Zuckerberg or others filing a false certification could face civil and criminal penalties.
Facebook also is barred from asking for email passwords to other services when consumers sign up. It is barred from using telephone numbers obtained in a security feature, like two-factor authentication, for advertising and must get user consent to use data from facial recognition technology.
Facebook said the deal worked out with the FTC would give the company “a comprehensive new framework for protecting people’s privacy,” and that it expected to find additional problems as it initiates a review of its systems.
“Going forward, our approach to privacy controls will parallel our approach to financial controls, with a rigorous design process and individual certifications intended to ensure that our controls are working – and that we find and fix them when they are not,” Facebook General Counsel Colin Stretch said in a statement.
Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat from Connecticut, called the settlement “a fig leaf” that offers “no accountability for top executives.”
“By relying on a monetary fine to deter Facebook, the FTC has failed to heed history’s lessons. Facebook has already written this penalty down as a one-time-cost in return for the extraordinary profits reaped from a decade of data misuse,” said Blumenthal.
Interswitch is the Most Valuable African Startup
Interswitch, the leading payment processing company headquartered in Lagos, Nigeria, is Africa’s most valuable start-up at a US$ 1 billion valuation.
Founded in 2002, Interswitch uses switching infrastructure to connect different banks in Nigeria and powered banks’ ATM cards. Presently, the company has over 11,000 ATMs on its network.
In 2010, Helios Investment Partners bought two-thirds of the company and in the following year, Interswitch bought a 60 percent stake in Bankom in Uganda.
Interswitch owns Verve, Nigeria’s most used payment card, and accounted for 18 million of 25 million cards in circulation in Nigeria. The company also owns Quickteller and recently purchased VANSO, a mobile-focused technology provider to banks.
Like Interswitch, Stripe, the company that acquired Nigeria’s Paystack for over US$200 million, is the most valuable startup in the USA at over US$70 billion valuation.
Klarna, Nubank, Paytm and Grab leads in Europe, Latin America, India and Southeast Asia with valuations of US$10.65 billion, US$10 billion, US$16 billion and US$14 billion, respectively.
E-commerce Black Friday Sales Estimated to Surge by 40% to 10.2 Billion
The 2020 holiday shopping season will be unique, as the pandemic shifted consumer behavior from retail stores to online shopping. In response, many retailers moved their services online to not miss out on this year’s profits. Atlas VPN team decided to look into how e-commerce sales are set to perform in the upcoming long weekend.
Researchers predict that the US e-commerce revenue will exceed last year’s earnings by 49.5% on Thanksgiving day, totaling $6.18 billion in revenue. Black Friday is calculated to reach $10.2 billion in sales, exceeding last years numbers by 39.4%
Rachel Welch, COO of Atlas VPN, shares her tips on how to stay safe when shopping online during the holiday season:
“Watch out for too-good-to-be-true deals from unknown sellers, as cybercriminals will also expect to turn a profit during the holiday season, even though they are not selling anything, except maybe a bag full of disappointment.”
Finally, analysis shows that on the last day of the long and full of special offers Thanksgiving weekend, consumers will go all out to bring record sales for e-commerce businesses, adding up to $12.89 billion.
To look at these five days from a wider perspective, e-commerce companies can expect to earn around 39.72% more than they did last year.
Alibaba Merchants Sell $40B in First Half Hour of Singles Day 2020, More than 2019 Event Full Sales
Singles Day 2020 was a roaring success, cementing its position as the world’s biggest shopping holiday. Sales across Alibaba’s platforms during the event totaled $74.1 billion, up from $38 billion in 2019.
According to the research data analyzed and published by Stock Apps, within the first 30 minutes of the event, the gross merchandise volume (GMV) surpassed 2019’s full-event sales, reaching $40.87 billion.
Moreover, instead of live events, Alibaba had 400 company executives and 30 celebrities hosting livestreams. Based on a study by Coresight, the Chinese livestream market is set to rack in sales worth $125 billion in 2020, compared to $63 billion in 2019. The US livestream market is a small fraction of that, valued at $5 billion.
China’s Tech Heavyweights Lose $280 Billion in Market Cap
Alibaba Singles Day 2020 dwarfed other major shopping holidays as has been the trend in previous years.
According to Practical eCommerce, Amazon Prime Day 2020 sales totaled $10.4 billion up from $7.16 billion in 2019. Cyber Monday sales in the US amounted to $7.9 billion in 2020 according to Statista. Black Friday and Thanksgiving added $9.7 billion to the figure to make $17.6 billion for the weekend.
Similarly, in 2018, Singles Day sold $30.8 billion while Prime Day sold $4.19 billion and Thanksgiving weekend got $14.2 billion.
However, the 2020 Singles Day event came in the wake of Ant Group’s suspension of a $37 billion listing. The suspension resulted in a $76 billion drop in Alibaba’s market cap, as the tech giant owns a two-thirds stake in Ant Group. Moreover, China’s regulators released anti-trust draft rules prior to the event, aimed at controlling monopolistic behavior.
Following the release, Alibaba shares plunged by 9.8%, as JD.com shed off 9.2%. Tencent similarly saw a 7.39% drop and Xiaomi fell by 8.18%. For the five companies, there was a combined loss of $280 billion in market capitalization.
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