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Meta Exceeds Estimates for Revenue in Fourth Quarter Earnings Report, Surpasses Wall Street Prediction

The social media giant ended the year with $US 32.1 billion in revenue, surpassing Wall Street predictions of $US 31.6 billion.

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Despite a tough start to 2022, Facebook parent company Meta exceeded estimates for revenue in its fourth-quarter earnings report, surpassing Wall Street Prediction.

The social media giant ended the year with $US 32.1 billion in revenue, surpassing Wall Street predictions of $US 31.6 billion.

Meta’s shares soared by 23 percent which saw the company’s founder Mark Zuckerberg amass a whopping $10 billion in 24 hours, with the tech giant announcing a $40 billion stock buyback.

Meanwhile, revenue in the fourth quarter fell 4% from a year earlier, marking a third straight quarter of declining sales. It’s cost and expenses ballooned 22% year-over-year to $25.8 billion.

Its profit more than halved to US $4.4 billion in the third quarter (Q3) from $9.2 billion a year earlier, while it announced significant changes to bolster efficiency in a tougher economic environment.

The social media giant in the third quarter faced stagnating user numbers and cuts in advertising budgets, also its revenue slipped to U.S. $27.7 billion from U.S. $29 billion a year earlier.

Its shares plummeted by over 60% last year, as Zuckerberg struggled to sell Wall Street on his plan to pivot the company towards the yet-to-be-developed world of the metaverse.

This frustrated investors who expressed concerns that the company was focused on a bleak futuristic endeavor, the met averse, while its ads business struggled.

Following the turnaround in the company’s recent revenue, Meta attributed the adjustment to slower anticipated growth in payroll expenses and cost of revenue. The company also said it was lowering the capital expenditure estimates for the year 2023 to be in the range of $30 billion to $33 billion, down from $34 billion to $37 billion.

It, therefore, expects its total expenses in 2023 to be in the range of $89 billion to $95 billion, lower than its prior outlook of $94 billion to $100 billion for the year.

Few analysts disclosed that the company had made all the right moves by posting better-than-expected earnings with impressive advertising revenue results, slashing expenses, and then announcing a massive share buyback plan.

Meta’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg who had earlier stated that the company was going into 2023 with a focus on prioritization and efficiency,  revealed that the company’s management theme for 2023, is the “year of efficiency”.

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Norwegian Watchdog Slams Meta for Cumbersome Opt-Out Process in AI Training Plans

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Meta Platforms Inc., the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, is facing a new legal challenge in Norway over its plans to utilize user images and posts to train artificial intelligence (AI) models.

The Norwegian Consumer Council has lodged a complaint, criticizing Meta’s cumbersome and deceptive opt-out process, which it argues breaches stringent EU data protection regulations.

The Council’s statement on Thursday highlighted that Meta’s method for allowing users to opt out of data collection for AI training is overly complicated and intentionally confusing.

“The process to opt-out breaches strict EU data protection rules and has been made deliberately cumbersome by using deceptive design patterns and vague wording,” the Council said.

This isn’t Meta’s first run-in with European regulators regarding data privacy. The tech giant has previously faced multiple complaints for allegedly failing to obtain proper consent from users before collecting their data to target advertisements.

Also, the European Union’s top court has warned Meta about safeguarding public information on users’ sexual orientation from being used for personalized advertising.

“We are urging the Data Protection Authority to assess the legality of Meta’s practices and to ensure that the company is operating in compliance with the law,” stated Inger Lise Blyverket, head of the Norwegian Consumer Council.

The complaint was prepared by the European Center for Digital Rights and will be submitted to the Norwegian Data Protection Authority, as well as other European data protection authorities.

Due to Meta’s EU base in Dublin, the Irish Data Protection Commission will serve as the lead authority in this matter.

The outcome of this complaint could have significant implications for how Meta, and other tech companies, handle user data within the EU.

Meta’s use of user data for training AI has raised significant privacy concerns. Critics argue that without clear and straightforward consent mechanisms, users are often unaware of how their data is being used.

This latest complaint underscores the ongoing tension between big tech companies and European regulators striving to enforce robust privacy standards.

The Norwegian Consumer Council’s action reflects a growing impatience with tech giants’ data practices, emphasizing the need for transparency and user control.

As AI technologies continue to advance, ensuring ethical and lawful data usage remains a critical challenge for both companies and regulators.

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Meta’s Revenue Woes Shake Tech Industry Confidence

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The tech industry faced a wave of uncertainty as Meta Platforms Inc., formerly known as Facebook, delivered a disappointing earnings report that sent shockwaves through the market and dented investor confidence.

Meta’s forecast of weaker-than-expected sales for the current quarter, coupled with plans for higher capital expenditures, rattled investors who were eagerly anticipating robust results.

Shares of Meta plummeted by as much as 19% in after-hours trading to trigger a cascade effect across the tech sector.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 Index experienced a decline of up to 1%, reflecting broader concerns about the health of the industry.

Analysts and investors alike expressed dismay at Meta’s inability to meet revenue expectations, citing uncertainties surrounding the company’s adoption and monetization of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies.

Jack Ablin, Chief Investment Officer at Cresset Wealth Advisors, highlighted the disappointment on the revenue front, overshadowing any optimism about AI adoption.

Questions lingered regarding the efficacy of AI investments and their potential benefits to users, leading to increased skepticism among stakeholders.

The repercussions of Meta’s earnings miss extended beyond its own stock, impacting other tech giants slated to report earnings in the coming days.

Alphabet Inc., Amazon.com Inc., and social media companies like Snap Inc. and Pinterest Inc. all witnessed notable declines, signaling a broader sentiment shift within the industry.

The fallout from Meta’s revenue woes reverberated across the tech landscape, affecting chipmakers, server manufacturers, and software firms. Nvidia Corp., Micron Technology Inc., and International Business Machines Corp. were among the companies affected, as investor concerns over AI investment and revenue growth cast a shadow over the sector’s outlook.

As the tech industry grapples with Meta’s disappointing results, stakeholders are left to ponder the implications for future investments and strategic decisions.

The episode serves as a stark reminder of the inherent volatility and uncertainty within the tech sector, underscoring the importance of diligent risk management and strategic foresight in navigating turbulent markets.

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TikTok Vows Legal Battle Amid Threat of US Ban

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As the specter of a US ban looms large over TikTok, the popular social media platform has declared its intention to wage a legal battle against potential legislation that could force its Chinese-owned parent company, ByteDance Ltd., to divest its ownership stake in the app.

In what amounts to a fight for its very existence in one of its most crucial markets, TikTok is gearing up for a high-stakes showdown in the courts.

The alarm bells were sounded within TikTok’s ranks as Michael Beckerman, the company’s head of public policy for the Americas, issued a rallying cry to its US staff.

In a memo obtained by Bloomberg News, Beckerman characterized the proposed legislation as an “unprecedented deal” brokered between Republican Speaker and President Biden, signaling TikTok’s readiness to challenge it legally once signed into law.

“This is an unprecedented deal worked out between the Republican Speaker and President Biden,” Beckerman stated in the memo. “At the stage that the bill is signed, we will move to the courts for a legal challenge.”

The urgency of TikTok’s response stems from recent developments in the US Congress, where lawmakers have fast-tracked legislation mandating ByteDance’s divestment from TikTok.

The bill, intricately linked to a vital aid package for Ukraine and Israel, has garnered significant bipartisan support and is expected to swiftly pass through the Senate before landing on President Biden’s desk.

Beckerman minced no words in his critique of the proposed legislation, labeling it a “clear violation” of TikTok users’ First Amendment rights and warning of “devastating consequences” for the millions of small businesses that rely on the platform for their livelihoods.

TikTok’s defiant stance reflects the gravity of the situation facing the tech giant, which has spent years grappling with concerns from US officials regarding potential national security risks associated with its Chinese ownership.

Despite extensive lobbying efforts led by TikTok CEO Shou Chew to allay these fears, the company now finds itself at a critical juncture, where legal action appears to be its last line of defense.

ByteDance, TikTok’s Beijing-based parent company, has also signaled its intent to challenge any US ban in court, signaling a united front in the face of mounting pressure.

However, navigating the legal landscape will not be without its challenges, as ByteDance must contend with both US legislative measures and potential obstacles posed by the Chinese government, which has reiterated its opposition to a forced sale of TikTok.

As TikTok prepares to embark on what promises to be a protracted legal battle, the outcome remains uncertain.

For the millions of users and businesses that call TikTok home, the stakes have never been higher, as the platform fights to preserve its presence in the fiercely competitive landscape of social media.

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