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China to Stop its Tech Giants From Becoming Too Powerful – Variety

Singles Day, a Black Friday-like shopping festival dreamed up by large retailers, is normally boom time for Chinas major online platforms. And indeed Alibaba, which this year started its 11.11 event back on Nov. 1, claims a record $56 billion (RMB372 billion) of business, and sales coming in at up to 583,000 orders per second.

But Chinas tech investors are doing anything but cheering. Thats because the mainland government Tuesday said that it is in the process of issuing regulations to rein in the power of tech giants such as Alibaba, Tencent, JD.Com and Meituan-Dianping.

The StateAdministration for Market Regulation released draft rules that, for the first time, clearly defines anti-competitive behavior. They appear to cover areas including pricing, payment methods, and use of data to target shoppers.

That appears to run directly contrary to the business models of Chinas consumer-facing tech giants, who have built huge and diverse empires spanning e-commerce, payment systems, delivery, and dematerialized services such as gaming and video entertainment. The ecosystems are often supported by so-called super apps that aim to keep users engaged and within the vast walled garden for as long as possible.

It has long been suggested that Chinese customers are used to being spied upon by their government and are therefore far less worried than Western consumers about data privacy issues. The convenience and range of services available through each of the major platforms has allowed everyday Chinese society to become more technologically advanced that many Western countries.

It has also allowed the Middle Kingdom tech companies to account for a far larger portion of the Chinese economy than their equivalents in North America and Europe. That may be the bigger worry for the Chinese government.

Even though they already largely cooperate with the central government on matters such as censorship, Chinas tech companies are now so large and multi-tentacled that they have the potential to represent another source of power and organization in Chinese society other than the Communist Party-led government.

The draft regulations, which are open for public comment until the end of November, were announced exactly a week after Chinas securities regulators effectively halted the IPO in Shanghai and Hong Kong of Alibaba-affiliate Ant Group, two days before share trading was to have begun. The company is a new age finance industry giant that would have had an initial market capitalization of $310 billion.

Tuesdays draft regulations may also limit variable interest entities (VIEs), special purpose companies which allow Chinese companies to raise finance and list shares abroad. If these are indeed to be unwound there could be huge upheaval for corporations and in financial markets.

While some commentators have seen the Ant Group debacle in personal terms, a second slap-down for Alibaba founder Jack Ma, the broader message may be that politics always trumps economics: No company is too big to be punished. And no power, organization or personality can be bigger than the Party.

Those reminders bring multiple potential complications and contradictions. The firms now being targeted are the same fast-evolving digital companies that are driving Chinas post-COVID recovery. Reacting to U.S. pressure, the government has set out further plans to become more self-sufficient in technology, a challenge that has willingly been taken up by private sector. Are they now to be stopped? And PRC authorities dream of denting the U.S. dollars role as a reserve currency, and to make the Chinese currency more a medium of international trade than its current low level. Hurting its innovators hinders that.

Alibaba executives shrugged off the Ant Group shambles in their financial results presentation on Thursday last week. They have yet to react publicly to the draft regulations. Alibabas fiercest competitor Tencent will have its chance to form a response when it announced its third quarter figures on Thursday.

Investors have already demonstrated their fears by pulling the shares of the biggest tech firms off their recently-achieved all-time highs. Both Alibaba and Tencent fell by more than 7% on Wednesday. At HK$248.40 on Wednesday, Alibaba shares are 13% lower than their close on Friday Oct. 30. Tencent is 7% down on the month at HK$551 per share.

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China to Stop its Tech Giants From Becoming Too Powerful - Variety

Tech Giants and Antitrust – Delta Business Journal

By chip pickering

Americas tech giants are not the problem and antitrust is not the solution. As we enter into a new age of competition and rivalry with China on strategic, on national security, on economic grounds, we have a lot of people in Washington who are wanting to now either break up or heavily regulate the internet companies just at the wrong time and in the wrong way. As you look at every measurement of consumer welfarelower prices, more innovation, greater investment across all parts of the economyAmerican tech companies are creating greater growth, lower prices, better servicesand thats a hallmark of a very competitive market and not a concentrated monopolistic market.

Ask yourself, is it not the American way to encourage innovation with our brightest minds? Do we want to stifle our ideas and productivity, which is what I would argue is the very thing that has put us on top. Fourteen of the worlds top twenty tech companies are American; we are in a new age of competition and rivalry with China. The U.S. tech industrys global market position is at risk and has huge ramifications for re-starting the American economy and our long-term prospects. Its clear the American technology and e-commerce sector drives U.S. growth. States are aggressively competing on a daily basis for good technology jobs. Our universities and colleges are investing in more and more technology and public-private partnerships. Lawsuits will definitely damage our fastest growing industry and threaten these American jobs.

With a global pandemic threatening the entire world, again ask yourself where would we have been over the last six months without technology to assist our businesses to continue to operate, to educate our children with distance learning, and to provide much needed health care by the use of telehealth? In a recent nationwide survey by the Connected Commerce Council, 93 percent of small businesses reported they were disrupted by COVID-19 and nearly 3 in 4 increased their use of digital tools with COVID-19. A majority of small businesses found digital tools more helpful during COVID-19 than before it. Most also plan to continue to use more digital tools after the pandemic.

By attacking U.S. companies like Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google, the Justice Department, members of Congress, and some state attorneys general have taken a step back in time and are forgetting the hard work that has been done on the issue of antitrust. Companies being too large or successful is not a violation of antitrust laws. Antitrust was established to focus on the consumer and there is a robust consumer welfare standard in our antitrust laws now. Plus, many of the technology companies that are currently being attacked provide free services to our families, services that we use every day in our lives. Comments have been made about political bias within our technology companies from both sides of the aisle. There are solutions to political bias, but mistakenly using antitrust is not the right way to encourage free speech.

Politicizing antitrust by attacking our technology companies and filing federal and state antitrust lawsuits are not the way to go for our countrys future. Lawsuits are a distraction from real issues that need to be addressed and a waste of taxpayers money. Solutions are out there; decision makers and our technology companies can find them together. Lawsuits will only cause delay, distraction and economic losses. Our technology jobs and our future are at stake. DBJ

Pickering represented Mississippis 3rd congressional district as a Republican in the United States House of Representatives. First elected in 1996, he chose not to run again in 2008. He is currently the CEO at Incompas.

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Tech Giants and Antitrust - Delta Business Journal

Alexa, Why Are These Tech Giants Funding the Apocalypse? – Highsnobiety

At the end of last month, we posed the question: Will Politicians Still Be As Apathetic When the Apocalypse Kicks In?At the time, that query was geared towards Amy Coney Barrett's appointment to the Supreme Court and her inexcusably lethargic response toaddressingthe climate crisis. Now, thanks to a new study courtesy of Bloomberg, we have a clearer answer to the question.

Rather thanacknowledging the climate threat (perthe UN) as "the defining issue of our time," Barrett'stake is that it's merely a "matter of public debate." Of course, it's not a stretch to imagine thatTrump's new McJustice probably knows that the climate crisis spells impending doom for us all, but rather chooses this head-in-the-sand angle, like many politicians do, because of one significant and obvious factor money.

We've written at length about who finances political campaigns (and why you should care) but Bloomberg's study shows how this funding ties into greenwashing, too. Better still, it puts it intoquick, digestible context, and in relation to brands you'll be more than familiar with Microsoft and Google.

For example, Microsoft, while actively and publicly stating that it will become carbon negative by 2030 and remove all the carbon emissions it has ever produced by 2050, has donatedto the campaigns of political candidates who actively obstruct climatepolicies. The report found that the tech giant gave $20k to Republican Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy, who apparently made 62 anti-environment votes in 2018 and 2019 alone.

Google, meanwhile, has reportedly donated more to those that hinder progressive climate legislation, as did its parent company, Alphabet. Using analysis via League of Conservation Voters (LCV, which tracks law-makers voting records on key climate bills), it showed that Alphabet contributed more to candidates whose pro-climate action was rated under 10 percent. Or, in other words, candidates who had voted in favor of climate-related causesat most 10 percent of the time over the course of their career.

(For what it's worth and it's worth a lot LCV found that the vast majority of Washington lawmakers score either below 10 percent or above 90. Republicans "almost exclusively [score] low and Democrats almost exclusively [score] high.McCarthy's LCV score is three percent.)

After looking into the financial campaign choices of 106 American companies from 2018 to October this year, Bloomberg asserts that For every dollar these corporations gave to one of the most climate-friendly members of Congress during this election cycle, they gave $1.84nearly twice as muchto an ardent obstructionist of proactive climate policy.

$68 million was donated in total by these companies; one-third of that went to political candidates with LCV scores under five percent, and almost half scored under 10.

Of course, this is purely scratching the surface of therelationship between government and the climate crisis, but when you look at how much money is actively involved, even from the brands who (for the most part) appear to have noobvious reason to push against it, it gives you a glimpse of just how deep this planet-fuckingrabbit hole goes. And unless this changes, the answer to the apocalypse apathy question is yes.

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Alexa, Why Are These Tech Giants Funding the Apocalypse? - Highsnobiety

After being dominated by mega-cap tech, the ‘average’ stock is making a comeback how to play it – CNBC

Traders work the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

NYSE

The broader U.S. market is seeing a larger number of shares do well after being dominated by a handful of mega-cap names for most of 2020, signaling a comeback for the so-called average stock.

The Invesco S&P 500 Equal Weight exchange-traded fund (RSP) has jumped more than 6% this week, while the SPDR S&P 500 ETF (SPY) is up just 1.8% over that time period. Those gains helped the RSP narrow its year-to-date performance gap against the SPY.

Those gains came as investors cheered positive coronavirus vaccine news that lifted expectations of a broad economic recovery, shifting money away from tech giants such as Amazon and Microsoft and into beaten-down names such as United Airlines and cruise operator Carnival. But for investors who want to ride this market shift, but in a less risky way, the RSP could be the way to go.

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After being dominated by mega-cap tech, the 'average' stock is making a comeback how to play it - CNBC

Google wants you to help train its AI by labeling images in Google Photos – The Verge

Google has updated its Google Photos app on Android with a new option that lets users tell the search giant about the contents of their pictures. By labeling these images, Google can improve its object recognition algorithms, which in turn make Photos more useful. Its a virtuous cycle of AI development best deployed by tech giants like Google which have lots of data and lots of users.

This isnt an unusual practice at all. Machine learning systems dont just learn by themselves, and the vast majority of these applications need to be taught using data labeled by humans. Its the same reason that CAPTCHAs ask you to identify cars and motorbikes in images. By identifying these objects youre training AI to do the same.

The feature appears in the most recent version of Google Photos. Just tap on the search button in the apps menu, scroll down, and youll see an option to Help improve Google Photos. As reported by 9to5Google, click on it and youll be presented with four tasks: to describe your printing preferences for photos; your preferred collages or animations; to identify which photos belong to which holiday events (eg Christmas or Halloween); and to identify the contents of photos (Name the most important things in this photo).

As Google explains on a help page about the feature: It may take time to see the impact your contributions have on your account, but your input will help improve existing features and build new ones; for example, improved suggestions on which photos to print or higher quality creations that you would like. You can delete your answers at any time. (To do so, tap the three-dot menu at the top right of the screen and hit Delete my answers.) At the time of writing, it seems the update is available only on Android, not iOS.

Although this looks to be a new addition to the Google Photos app, the underlying software is much older. The process is powered by Crowdsource by Google, a crowdsourcing platform that the company launched in 2016. It gamifies data-labeling, letting users earn points and badges by completing tasks like verifying landmarks, identifying the sentiment of text snippets (is a review positive or negative, for example), transcribing handwritten notes, and other similar jobs. To be clear, though: users dont get any real rewards for their work beyond virtual kudos from Google.

Its worth remembering all this when using Googles whizzy machine learning products: they wouldnt be half as good without humans helping teach them.

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Google wants you to help train its AI by labeling images in Google Photos - The Verge

Biden’s thaw: how the lives of tech giants will change after the US presidential election – Phone Mantra

Joe Biden

The industry has clashed with the Trump administration at almost every stage of Trumps presidency: over immigration, trade, net neutrality, and, more recently, social media content moderation. With the election of Biden, some indulgence is expected in the industry. I think everyone will love this boring presidency, which will be relatively calm.Not the anxiety and chaos that Trump and I experienced every day, investor Bradley Tusk recently told Protocol.Inconsistency is a problem.

But things shouldnt be expected to go back to the blissful days of Barack Obama when the president touted Silicon Valley as a dark spot for the US economy. Too much has changed since then. The election of President Donald Trump in 2016 and subsequent events irrevocably changed the public perception of the tech giants and demanded the attention it deserves from legislators and the public. These checks will not disappear under the Biden administration.

Throughout his campaign, Joe Biden did not rely on the tech industry like Obama, nor did he criticize it like Trump.Therefore, it is difficult to predict what will happen next.Especially in connection with the possible division in the US Congress: Democrats will control the House of Representatives, and the Senate may remain with the Republicans.

But it is already clear that Mr. Biden appears poised to repeal many of Trumps immigration orders, including restrictions on the entry of highly skilled professionals. Over the course of four years, the Trump administration has added new hurdles to the H-1B visa application and renewal process, resulting in huge delays that have created uncertainty for foreign technical workers, their families, and the companies that employ them. However, Joe Biden promised to increase the number of visas for permanent immigration at work and to lift restrictions on obtaining green cards for a number of countries.

Another area: net neutrality and broadband access to the Net.Mr. Biden said he fully supports the Obama-era rules that allowed the FCC to punish companies that try to block, restrict, or force consumers to pay for broadband traffic. Biden also outlined a plan to invest $ 20 billion in broadband infrastructure, but this will require congressional support.

Relief in relations with China is also expected.Joe Biden is going to strengthen cooperation between the United States and China to combat climate change, contain the COVID-19 pandemic, and so on. Experts believe that further aggravation of relations is unlikely, as it was under Donald Trump (for example, in the case of TikTok or Huawei).

Perhaps the biggest unknown for the tech industry that leads the Biden administration is his approach to antitrust issues.Will the new president follow the calls of his partys progressive wing for dividing up the big tech companies?This is one of the few policy areas around which there is a bipartisan consensus.There may not be much difference between the antitrust actions of the Trump or Biden administration, said former FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell, now a partner of Cooley.

If antitrust investigations and legal battles against large tech companies continue, the next 4 years may not be easy for the tech sector (albeit easier than the previous 4).

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Biden's thaw: how the lives of tech giants will change after the US presidential election - Phone Mantra

GOOGL: 3 Best Technology Stocks to Buy After the Election – StockNews.com

Last week, the stock market rallied as the 2020 election results rolled in. The Nasdaq Composite Index surged 8.6%. Donald Trump and Joe Biden were in close competition on electoral votes. Over the weekend, Joe Biden dethroned Donald Trump in the race for the next U.S. President. However, Bidens win doesnt guarantee him a blank check to implement his policies as it appears Republicans will remain in control of the Senate.

Before the election, State Street Global Advisors Chief Investment Strategist Michael Arone stated that the stock market would rally irrespective of the election results on the back of low-interest rates and fiscal and monetary policy. While he is right so far, three tech stocks Alphabet Inc. (GOOGL), Facebook (FB), and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (BABA) will benefit from a split Congress. These stocks soared 9%, 11.5%, and 5%, respectively, on the expectation of congressional gridlock.

How will a split Congress benefit tech stocks?

In October, GOOGL and FB came under fire when the Justice Department launched an antitrust lawsuit. The big four tech giants, including Apple (AAPL) and Amazon (AMZN), have digital monopolies in their respective fields. GOOGL controls the search and advertising space, and FB controls the social networking space.

The subcommittee report made several suggestions to address the anti-competitive practices of the four tech giants. Some of these suggestions were:

These suggestions, if implemented, could take a long time and significantly deleverage the tech giants power of data and efficiency. While US tech giants faced an antitrust threat, BABA was negatively impacted by the US-China trade war.

The three companies came under the scrutiny of Democrats and Republicans ahead of the election. But the divided control of the Senate could make it difficult to pass US antitrust laws that are targeted towards internet giants. According to a Bloomberg report, Synovus Trust Company Senior Portfolio Manager Dan Morgan, in an email, wrote, A Democrat-controlled Senate would be more likely to create overhaul and fine on Tech giants. Whereby, a Republican-controlled Senate (which seems to be most likely) would have a more laissez-faire stance.

Morgan also stated, A massive capital gains increase is not going to get through a Republican-controlled Senate. This will bring significant tax savings for tech investors who have generated huge profits on the tech stock rally over the last few years. Moreover, gridlock could ease global trade tensions, especially with China.

Internet stocks and Chinese stocks could rally significantly this week on the back of a favorable election outcome.

Alphabet Inc. (GOOGL)

GOOGL rules the online search and advertising space. Before the elections, both Democrats and Republicans argued that GOOGL has way too much control over the way people shop, search, and consume information. The Justice Department filed a monopoly-abuse suit against GOOGL last month to stop its anticompetitive and exclusionary practices.

The department noted that GOOGL favors its products by giving them higher ranking over third-party content. It also wades out the competition by acquiring potential competitors like Android. The department suggested banning product favoring and the acquisition of tech startups to create an even playing field. It also suggested breaking up GOOGL. If GOOGL was to be broken up, its Android OS and Search were more likely to be split.

GOOGL has built its search monopoly by collecting a large amount of data from users and feeding it into its algorithm to create more behavioral data. The Justice Department suggested interoperability, wherein GOOGL would be required to interconnect with other networks to ensure the same services are available across firms.

GOOGL collected this data by offering free products to consumers. It earns 84% of its revenue from advertising. Any of the above suggestions would reduce its advertising revenue and hurt consumers who are getting free or low-cost products.

These antitrust threats had little impact on the stock, with GOOGL gaining 8.6% last month. However, the election results reduced the antitrust threat, relieving investors and pushing the stock up 8.9% in the first week of November. The search engine giant should continue to grow in this age of digitization.

How does GOOGL stack up for the POWR Ratings?

A for Trade Grade

A for Buy & Hold Grade

A for Industry Rank

A for Peer Grade

A for overall POWR Rating

You cant ask for better. The stock is also ranked #2 stock in the 58-stock Internet industry.

Facebook (FB)

Like GOOGL, FB also uses its monopoly in social networking, messaging, and user data to dictate the terms of advertising. It favors its products and content over third-party content. Also, it acquired its potential competitors WhatsApp and Instagram. It even acquired many startups so no new company could come close to challenging its dominance.

The Justice Department suggested interoperability as well as data portability, wherein users can migrate their FB data to other platforms. Here again, FB collected this data over the years by offering free services. It is now monetizing this data through advertising and e-commerce.

FBs entire revenue comes from advertising. The above suggestions could hurt its revenue. Hence, its stock went through a rollercoaster ride in October, but the overall impact was positive. The stock surged 5.3% last month and 4.4% in the first week of November. With the ease in regulatory concerns, FB can focus on its e-commerce venture to boost future growth.

FB is rated Buy in our POWR Ratings system. It also has an A for Trade Grade, Peer Grade, and Industry Rank, and a B for Buy & Hold Grade. In the Internet industry, it is ranked #5.

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (BABA)

BABA dominates the Chinese e-commerce market. It also leads in the cloud computing space and is now expanding into internet content services. But all this dominance is in the Chinese market. For a giant like BABA, it needs to expand beyond China to sustain growth.

In September 2014, BABA launched the worlds largest IPO of $25 billion on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), with a stock price of $68. Since then, it has grown fourfold to $272 on the back of growth in e-commerce and other sectors. While BABAs earnings were unaffected by the US-China trade war, it was investors fear that prevented the stock from rallying above $200 on the NYSE in 2018-2019.

However, the pandemic-infused e-commerce wave drove BABAs stock up 41% year-to-date to $299. BABAs stock dipped 8% last week even though it reported robust earnings. The stock dipped as Chinese officials and regulators suspended the $37 billion IPO of fintech company Ant Group, after Jack Ma gave a speech critical of the Chinese banking industry at a summit.

Amidst this heat, the US election outcome came as pleasant news. A gridlock Senate would ease the U.S. tariffs on China and revive US investors confidence in the Chinese giant. BABA should continue to ride the digitization wave and report strong growth in the future.

Hence, BABA is rated a Strong Buy in the POWR Ratings. It holds straight As in Trade Grade, Buy & Hold Grade, Peer Grade, and Industry Rank. It is also ranked #1 in the 115-stocks China industry.

Note that BABA is one of 8 stocks in the Reitmeisters Total Return portfolio. Learn more here.

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GOOGL shares were trading at $1,806.26 per share on Monday morning, up $46.53 (+2.64%). Year-to-date, GOOGL has gained 34.86%, versus a 14.06% rise in the benchmark S&P 500 index during the same period.

Puja is a seasoned writer working with financial publishing companies like Motley Fool Canada and Market Realist. With over 13 years of experience in the field of fundamental research, she brings a blend of comprehensive, well-researched insights into her articles. More...

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GOOGL: 3 Best Technology Stocks to Buy After the Election - StockNews.com

Will Biden Crack Down on Facebook as Misinformation Spreads? – GovTech

(TNS) AsPresident Trumpand his supporters continue to spread false information about the results of the election, officials from the incoming Biden administration are ramping up criticism of tech companies, in particularFacebook.

In a move that may telegraph a more muscular approach to fighting online misinformation, one of Biden's senior aides unleashed a broadside against the social networking giant in a series of tweets.

"If you thought disinformation on Facebook was a problem during our election, just wait until you see how it is shredding the fabric of our democracy in the days after,"Bill Russo, a Biden deputy press secretary, wrote Monday on Twitter.

Russo lambasted theMenlo Parkcompany for allowing what he said were appeals for violence to remain on its core network for hours, even days, before being taken down. He also called the company out for carrying a live stream of a Trump campaign news conference that conservative-leaningFox Newscut away from because it advanced unsubstantiated claims about voter fraud during the election.

"We knew this would happen. We pleaded withFacebookfor over a year to be serious about these problems. They have not," Russo wrote. "Our democracy is on the line. We need answers."

Russo's fiery posts were not the first anti-Facebookrhetoric to come from the Biden camp.

"I've never been a big (Mark)Zuckerbergfan," nor ofFacebook, then-candidate Biden said late last year, referring to the company CEO during a December interview with the New York Times editorial board.

Facebookdefended its performance in combating misinformation.

"In the lead-up to this election, we announced new products and policies to reduce the spread of misinformation and the potential for confusion or civil unrest," spokesmanDaniel Robertssaid in a statement.

"We built the largest third-party fact-checking network of any platform and they remain actively focused on claims about the election, including conspiracy theories," Roberts added. "We changed our products to ensure fewer people see false information and are made aware of it when they do."

Facebookalso owns Instagram andWhatsApp, both of which have been vectors for political misinformation in elections around the world.

The president-elect's approach to regulating social media remains uncertain. He supports revoking Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which shields tech companies from liability from user posts. He has said that the law lets tech companies spread falsehoods without any consequences, but any change to it depends on an act ofCongress, where the balance of power remains unclear.

A Biden spokesman didn't respond to questions about the president-elect's tech policy priorities.

Earlier this year, Trump sought to weaken the same section through an executive order, but was motivated by what he said was tech company censorship.Republicanshave complained that social media companies are biased against conservatives.

Experts say that revoking Section 230 would have a much greater effect beyond social media companies.

"This is the foundational law that has enabled the development of the internet as we use it today," saidMichael Petricone, senior vice president of government affairs and regulation at theConsumer Technology Association, a tech trade group.

"The potential impact here is huge," Petricone said. "We often talk about Section 230 in the context of a few big companies," but any consumer review service like Yelp, digital marketplace, or other websites like Wikipedia or Reddit could face litigation for posts on their sites without the protection.

Supporters of Section 230 are calling for measured reforms. Zuckerberg himself has called for updates to ensure it is working as intended through collaboration between businesses and lawmakers.

"Section 230 is a foundational principle for protecting users' voices online. It allows platforms to host a wide array of public speech without worrying they'll be sued for every comment posted on their service and, critically, it allows them to respond to things like hate speech and misinformation," saidAlexandra Givens, CEO of theCenter for Democracy & Technology, an advocacy group partially backed by the tech industry.

She said any reforms should recognize "the important balance attained by Section 230," which specifically allows tech companies to moderate user posts without losing their protection from liability, and respect the First Amendment. The group sued to block Trump's order on Section 230.

Biden has said Zuckerberg and his company should face civil penalties for what he said was knowingly allowing misinformation and intentional disinformation to spread on their sites.

The New York Times "can't write something you know to be false and be exempt from being sued. But he can," Biden said in December.

Tech groups still see prospects for an improved relationship with theWhite Houseafter its occupant changes in January.

"Considering the fraught relationship the industry had withPresident Trumpover issues of content moderation, trade, immigration and net neutrality, this is a welcome shift for the tech community. Biden is a centrist and is more pragmatic than his predecessor," saidJennifer Stojkovic, executive director of SF.citi, an advocacy group forSan Franciscotech companies.

As watchful as tech companies might be over their relationship withWashington, they are equally if not more concerned with the perception of their efforts to manage fake news and polarization inside their ranks.

Since Trump's election in 2016, concern over misinformation has roiled management, hurt morale and even hindered recruiting at some bigBay Areatech companies. But workers expressed some satisfaction with how their companies handled the election through an informal poll run for The Chronicle by Blind, an app that lets workers talk about their companies anonymously and verifies they work at a particular company through their work email.

More than three-quarters of the 25Facebookemployees who responded to one survey question said their company had handled the election results as best as it could. About 70% of the 42 Google respondents said the same of their company.

Responding to a different survey question, the vast majority of nearly 60 tech employees felt that their company had handled the election better than other tech giants. On yet another question, most of the more than 50 tech workers who responded some fromFacebookand Google did not believe their companies had unfairly affected the results. Most said they would not consider changing jobs because of how the election results were handled on their sites.

More urgent crises, including an ongoing pandemic and a flailing economy, could impede the Biden administration from prioritizing tech policies.

"There's no shortage of crises of the moment that we need to address," including the worsening coronavirus pandemic, saidCori Zarek, a professor atGeorgetown Universityand formerU.S.deputy chief technology officer during the Obama administration.

"At the same time, we can't turn away from the increase in the reach of online speech and where it's headed," Zarek said.

Elected officials will still have huge influence through social media which they can use, as Trump has, to drown out media sources.

"The challenge is getting people elected who are going to reduce their own media power in the best interest of the country," saidJennifer Grygiel, a professor atSyracuse Universityand an expert in social media.

Grygiel said while Biden is likely to use sites like Twitter and Facebook without spreading falsehoods, the potential for governments to abuse social media will remain long after Trump.

"Just because another administration might be more respectful of the norms, it doesn't make the risk go away," Grygiel said.

(c)2020 the San Francisco Chronicle.Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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Will Biden Crack Down on Facebook as Misinformation Spreads? - GovTech

Why Microsoft is bringing an Azure cloud region to Taiwan – Tech Wire Asia

Digital map of Taiwan. Source: Shutterstock

Microsoft looks to be the latest tech giant planning a significant investment in Taiwan, with moves underway to establish Microsofts first cloud data center region there by 2024.

The US software giant will also invest in developing local digital talents for over 200,000 people over the four years, with an eye towards turning Taiwan into an Asian design hub and home for Microsofts expanded Azure hardware engineering team.

Once operational, the new cloud data center region will become one of 66 global cloud regions under its belt, Microsoft clarified in a statement, and will deliver Azure cloud services along with Microsoft 365, before adding Dynamics 365 and Power Platform services to the services offered later on.

Microsoft did say the Taiwan region would include Availability Zones, which are physically separate locations within an Azure region, each comprising of at least one data center equipped with its own independent power, cooling, and networking.

To ensure data and operational resiliency, a minimum of three separate zones are established in all enabled regions,a move that Microsoft has saidaims to safeguard applications and data from datacentre failures. ASoutheast Asia Azure Availability Zoneserved out of Singapore, was launched in December 2018.

Microsoft has longstanding ties with the Taiwanese technology fraternity, having previously launched an Internet of Things (IoT) research center in Taipei, Taiwans capital, to connect startups and study integrating cloud and data services with the IoT supply chain.

The Windows OS creator also works with local tech firms like Acer, Chunghwa Telecom, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, and Trend Micro to build customized applications for their clientele. To meet the regional industry regulatory requirements, Microsoft stated that its local region would support more than 90 compliance certifications imposed on the local technology sector.

The Azure cloud data center region expansion in APAC echoes other regional cloud data center growth by other American cloud giants, including Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud. Ironically, Google was the first American tech giant to build a data center in Taiwan, nearly eight years ago.

ZDNet shared that a Microsoft spokesperson would not reveal details about the size of its investment in new data center locations, or how many customers can be supported on its local cloud data center only that the company intends to build scalable and resilient infrastructure to support the needs of its customers in the market.

What we can share right now is that cloud is creating new business opportunities that will help support economic recovery. Building the datacenter region in Taiwan is timely as it will continue to accelerate the digital transformation journey of businesses and organizations, the Microsoft spokesperson told ZDNet, also revealing the facility will be part of Microsofts aim to be carbon negative by 2030, fully tapping renewable energy for its data centers by 2025.

The [Taiwan cloud] data center region will enable private and public sectors to further embrace innovation through our cloud products and services. More specifically, Microsoft Cloud in Taiwan will help customers to meet local data residency requirements within Taiwan, especially for highly regulated industries such as healthcare, financial services and public sector.

The Redmond, Washington-headquartered company did not outline how many new people would be hired to man its regional infrastructure engineering team that it plans to establish. But it does target to equip a minimum of 200,000 individuals in Taiwan with digital skillsets over the next four years, offering skills acquisition programs for youth, non-profits, startups, and enterprises, with planned initiatives including reskilling workshops for women.

Joe Devanesan| @thecrystalcrown

Joe's interest in tech began when, as a child, he first saw footage of the Apollo space missions. He still holds out hope to either see the first man on Mars, or Jetsons-style flying cars in his lifetime.

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Why Microsoft is bringing an Azure cloud region to Taiwan - Tech Wire Asia

Tech giants thrive on collaboration and need staff back in offices – Independent.ie

Is it a double standard to talk up remote working while wanting as many staff in your office as possible?

Thats a question that some of the biggest tech multinationals in Ireland might now face.

On one hand, Google (8,000 workers), Facebook (4,500 workers), Microsoft (2,500 workers) and others extol the benefits of working flexibly from home. On the other, none want to downsize their truly massive Irish office campuses.

How do they square these seemingly contradictory positions?

In two ways. First, tech multinationals have invested a hell of a lot of cash in those Irish offices. Google is now one of the biggest property investors in Dublin 4, having sunk 1.1bn into its multiple buildings there. Microsoft recently spent 134m on its own Sandyford campus.

And Facebook, while it doesnt own its new Ballsbridge headquarters, is also nevertheless spending a fortune on its long-term development.

In Cork, Apple recently opened a large new extension on its Holyhill campus. It employs over 6,000 workers in the southern city.

Its not just the physical space, either. The layouts and facilities in some of these office buildings is state-of-the-art. They generally set the pace for almost everyone else, inside and outside the tech sector.

So theres a powerful instinct against ditching an office-first work environment, no matter how eloquent they make remote working sound.

Even if they had not sunk so many millions (or billions) into their buildings, these goliaths have other reasons to want workers back under one roof.

For all the enlightened talk about productivity outside the office, the core Silicon Valley work culture is still based around collaboration through physical presence. And its not, as cynics sometimes suggest, to keep you locked up under their supervision. Tech companies have had a productivity edge for years because of the way they organise their offices, from project workflows to reporting systems between colleagues and managers. Its one of the reasons why young people rate them so highly as a first or second employer -- they learn far more about how to get stuff done, to an elite tech standard, than in many other workplaces. That culture, executives say, is far more difficult to nurture or grow when key staff are confined to their bedroom, kitchen or parents house, only interacting with colleagues at specified Zoom call times.

This is particularly the case with workers who came to work in Dublin from other countries. Part of the draw for them is to be physically located in the office of Google, Facebook, Microsoft or any one of the dozens of high-end tech offices here. If offices remain closed, and key staff are sitting with a laptop in a small apartment kitchen, theres a risk not only to tighter collaboration on work projects but also to retaining these (mostly continental European) staff in the first place.

And that brings up another major problem -- tax. If a French, Dutch or Spanish worker tries to go home and still work for the Dublin-based company, there are significant tax and regulatory implications. This is one reason why none of the big tech multinationals allows permanent relocation from outside the country as part of a remote working setup.

But the longer the offices here remain closed, the harder it is to keep all of these staff physically in the country.

Tech bosses, from Mark Zuckerberg down, have conceded that some staff will work flexibly forever. But the rest, it is hoped, will be back in their offices soon.

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Tech giants thrive on collaboration and need staff back in offices - Independent.ie

CEOs of 3 tech giants to testify at Oct. 28 Senate hearing – KNWA

by: MARCY GORDON - Associated Press

This combination of 2018-2020 photos shows, from left, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, Google CEO Sundar Pichai, and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. They are expected to testify in an Oct. 28, 2020 Senate hearing on tech companies control over hate speech and misinformation on their platforms. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, LM Otero, Jens Meyer)

WASHINGTON (AP) The CEOs of technology giants Facebook, Google and Twitter are expected to testify for an Oct. 28 Senate hearing on tech companies control over hate speech and misinformation on their platforms.

The Senate Commerce Committee voted last week to authorize subpoenas for Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Sundar Pichai of Google and Twitters Jack Dorsey to force them to testify if they didnt agree to do so voluntarily. Spokespeople for the companies said Monday that the CEOs will cooperate.

The hearing must be constructive and focused on what matters most to the American people: how we work together to protect elections, Twitter said in a tweet in its policy channel.

The hearing will come less than a week before Election Day. It marks a new bipartisan initiative against Big Tech companies, which have been under increasing scrutiny in Washington and from state attorneys general over issues of competition, consumer privacy and hate speech.

The executives testimony is needed to reveal the extent of influence that their companies have over American speech during a critical time in our democratic process, said Sen. Roger Wicker, a Mississippi Republican who heads the Commerce Committee.

Facebook, meanwhile, is expanding restrictions on political advertising, including new bans on messages claiming widespread voter fraud. The new prohibitions laid out in a blog post came days after President Donald Trump raised the prospect of mass fraud in the vote-by-mail process during a debate last week with Democratic rival Joe Biden.

With Trump leading the way, conservative Republicans have kept up a barrage of criticism of Silicon Valleys social media platforms, which they accuse without evidence of deliberately suppressing conservative views.

The Justice Department has asked Congress to roll back long-held legal protections for online platforms, putting down a legislative marker in Trumps drive against the social media giants. The proposed changes would strip some of the bedrock protections that have generally shielded the companies from legal responsibility for what people post on their platforms.

Trump signed an executive order earlier this year challenging the protections from lawsuits under a 1996 telecommunications law that has served as the foundation for unfettered speech on the internet.

Democrats, on the other hand, have focused their criticism of social media mainly on hate speech, misinformation and other content that can incite violence or keep people from voting. They have criticized Big Tech CEOs for failing to police content, homing in on the platforms role in hate crimes and the rise of white nationalism in the U.S.

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CEOs of 3 tech giants to testify at Oct. 28 Senate hearing - KNWA

China’s tech giants face ‘new business realities’ across the world – CNBC

A billboard advertising Chinese video app TikTok at Wangfujing street on August 20, 2020, in Beijing.

VCG | Visual China Group | Getty Images

GUANGZHOU, China China's technology giants like their U.S. counterparts have seen business thrive during the coronavirus pandemic. But the tech industry is at a crossroads, facing an uncertain economic and geopolitical environment.

China's gradualthough uneven economic recovery, Beijing's focus on domestic consumption, and the digital trends that have been accelerated by Covid-19 are all set to benefit the technology sector. But risks remain.

"On the user behavior side (in China), the pandemic gave an impetus to the penetration of several major digitization businesses, helping some of them grow significantly to reach the necessary scale and achieve economic efficiency in a short time," Charlie Chai, analyst at86 Research, toldCNBC.

"On the other hand, a countervailing force is a cut in investment on the business side, as major industry leaders including BAT (Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent) prioritize margins amid a potentially turbulent economic and geopolitical environment."

Just as in China, technology firms in the United States have seen benefits from the pandemic as people have been forced to stay at home. Services such as Zoom have boomed, while consumers have turned to Amazon for shopping and Netflix for entertainment.

Investors around the globe wonder what's next. The themes of globalization, digitization, economic outlook and the coronavirus will take center stage at CNBC's East Tech West event, in the Nansha district of Guangzhou, China.

China, where the coronavirus first emerged,shut down more than half the countryin early February in order to stem the outbreak. That led to a 6.8% decline in growth in the first quarter. As the spread of the disease stalled in March, businesses began to reopen, and the official gross domestic product grew 3.2% in the second quarter.

Locked down at home, people began to rely more on digital services ranging from e-commerce to video games. That trend has staying power.

"Because of the virus, China is more hungry for technology than ever before," Abishur Prakash, a geopolitical specialist at the Center for Innovating the Future (CIF), a Toronto-based consulting firm, told CNBC by email. "From health care to transportation to finance, projects are underway that will rewire China and put technology at the heart of everything."

That has helped China's big technology mainstays. Alibaba's shares are up 30% this year and its revenue grew 34% year on year in the June quarter.

"We were well-positioned to capture growth from the ongoing digital transformation, which has been accelerated by the pandemic, in both consumption and enterprise operations," Daniel Zhang, chairman and CEO of Alibaba, said in a statement at the time of the second-quarter results in August.

Tencent blew past second-quarter analyst estimates and posted strong results, thanks to gaming.

Companies attempting to digitize and bringing more of their businesses to the cloud are now "moving back to full speed" after taking a hit during the pandemic, Chai said. Meanwhile, remote work and collaboration tools are seeing "explosive growth" in China, as they have in the United States and Europe. The analyst cited Alibaba's DingTalk platform and the enterprise version of Tencent's WeChat messaging service as two beneficiaries.

TikTok is now part of a deal that was forced by the Trump administration. The deal will see a U.S.-based TikTok Global established, with Oracle and Walmart owning 20%. ByteDance will own the other 80%, the company says. Oracle contested that saying ByteDance would have no ownership of the new company. Those talks are still ongoing.

Those moves have often been pointed to as evidence of a so-called tech "decoupling" the concept of Chinese technology and American technology separating into two distinct ecosystems that operate distinct from one another.

The idea emerges at a time when Chinese technology companies are trying to push into international markets. But that is proving tough.

"What Covid has done is that it has accelerated everything especially in geopolitics of technology. The tech decoupling, which may have taken place slowly over the next decade, is now well underway," Prakash said.

People in face masks watch the flag-raising ceremony at Tiananmen Square to mark the 71st Anniversary of the Founding of the People's Republic of China on October 1, 2020 in Beijing.

Sheng Jiapeng | China News Service | Getty Images

For their own part, American technology firms have been in the crosshairs of politicians and regulators from the United States and Europe, and some are banned in China.

There is growing concern among U.S. lawmakers that technology firms are growing too powerful. In July, the CEOs of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google parent Alphabet testified remotely before the House Judiciary subcommittee on antitrust.

So what does all that mean for technology giants in both the East and the West? It's creating "new business realities," according to Prakash.

In China, it could define the kinds of products they sell. For example, if Huawei can't get access to chips it needs, can it continue making next-generation smartphones? Access to talent could also take a hit, Prakash said. And the possibility that Chinese technology firms can operate globally like their Western competitors is "fast becoming impossible," he added.

"They are being forced to play by a different set of rules, which include being forced to sell or be banned," Prakash said. "All of this means that as Chinese tech firms navigate geopolitics of technology, they will be pioneering a new way to operate. And, this may become the new business blueprint for firms across the world."

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China's tech giants face 'new business realities' across the world - CNBC

Facebook, Netflix and Other US Tech Giants Have Again Been Called Out For Shady Data Handling Procedures – Digital Information World

A new report claims that US tech giants like Facebook and Netflix have absolutely failed in managing the US-EU data transfers legally for years. While this might have been a major point of concern to look up to, still the US government has responded back to the claims saying that there is nothing to really worry about.

The campaign of legal data transfers between countries was started by an Austrian privacy expert Max Schrems as he began asking 33 tech companies from the US about how they carry out the process of sending customer data and what legal prospects do they take care of?

The responses came out to be very shocking with very few companies giving detailed explanations, some companies even accepted that they have no clue about everything that is happening and some, to our surprise as well, completely denied the law.

When companies like Airbnb, Netflix and Whatsapp were asked about the similar information they didnt respond back with anything and some other ones directed the researchers to consult their privacy policies for the answers.

Microsoft, according to Schrems, was the only one to answer all the questions but they also made a claim of transferring personal data to the US as per Standard Contractual Clauses. However, in reality, the company has provided data to the US government under FISA702.

Overall, Schrems was more disappointed to see how none of the companies were able to give a satisfying answer. The ones who even felt important to give the answers were not falling in line with the judgment of CJEU and looking at the response, there is one thing clear that companies havent revised any kind of plan to tackle this concern in the near future as well.

Ever since the European Union called out the 2016 Privacy Shield agreement invalid in July, transatlantic data transfers have been a boiling issue considering how the surveillance practices of the US government can never guarantee any kind of privacy of users involved.

Right after the verdict, all the companies involved in data transfers have used other mechanisms to make sure that the data keeps on flowing. Hence, as a result, the campaign group of Schrem, noyb, has issued almost 100 complaints regarding how the data of European users is still being transferred to the US with the help of Google Analytics and Facebook Connect.

But the US government, on the other hand, has been smart enough to sideline the issue by stating in its newly published white paper that the transfer process is not something one should worry about.

In fact, deputy assistant secretary of Department of Commerce, James Sullivan has also issued a letter stating that the US legal framework for foreign intelligence collection is based on clear limits, strong safeguards, and continuous independent oversight to ensure privacy and it stands better than equivalent laws of other countries.

Furthermore, according to the paper, even if there are concerns regarding the surveillance practices of the US government, one should not be worried as the tech companies dont really deal with the kind of data that can actually be of help for US intelligence agencies.

Photo: Emmanuele Contini/NurPhoto via Getty Images

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Facebook, Netflix and Other US Tech Giants Have Again Been Called Out For Shady Data Handling Procedures - Digital Information World

GLOBAL MARKETS LIVE: Tech giants in the hot seat – Marketscreener.com

Apple launching new audio products? Apple has stopped marketing the wireless headphones and speakers of its rivals, including SONOS Bose and Logitech International, a sign that the apple company is preparing to launch new audio products, according to Bloomberg.

McAfees founder in jail. John McAfee, the McAfee software creator indicted for fraud in the United States, was in jail today pending extradition procedures after being arrested in Barcelona airport at the weekend, Reuters reports.

A thousand pieces? The report to be submitted this week by the antitrust committee of the U.S. House of Representatives concerning Amazon.com, Apple, Facebook and Alphabet contains "a thinly veiled call for the split" of these companies, according to corroborating rumors. Republican Congressman Ken Buck shares Democrats' fears about the omnipotence of these players, but does not believe that dismantling them is the answer.

Oil backlash. Exxon Mobil is going to cut 1600 jobs by the end of 2021 in Europe. This represents 11% of its workforce in the region. The company did not give details on the geographical distribution of the cuts.

Golden merger. Northern Star will buy Saracen Mineral in shares, for a valuation of approximately AUD 5.20 per share. The transaction creates the 8th largest player among gold mining companies.

In other news. Southwest Airlines offers its employees the opportunity to accept salary reductions in exchange for the absence of short-time work. BHP will buy an additional 28% interest in the Shenzi project, in the Gulf of Mexico, for $505 million from Hess Corp. Cisco will appeal a judgment that condemns it to pay $1.9 billion in a patent infringement case. Vontier will replace Noble Energy in the S&P500. K+S AG sells its US subsidiary to a consortium for $3.2 billion. Sonova will enter the Chinese hearing market. Dufry publishes the terms of its capital increase.

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GLOBAL MARKETS LIVE: Tech giants in the hot seat - Marketscreener.com

Cloud Computing Market Worth $760.98 Billion at 18.6% CAGR; Tech Giants Such as IBM and Microsoft to Focus on Introducing Advanced Cloud Solutions:…

Pune, Oct. 01, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The global cloud computing market size is projected to reach USD 760.98 billion by 2027, exhibiting a CAGR of 18.6% during the forecast period. Rising preference for omni-cloud systems will prove highly beneficial for the growth of this market, states Fortune Business Insights in its report, titled Cloud Computing Market Size, Share & Industry Analysis, By Type (Public Cloud, Private Cloud, Hybrid Cloud), By Service (Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), Software as a Service (SaaS)), By Industry (Banking, Financial Services, and Insurance (BFSI), IT and Telecommunications, Government, Consumer Goods and Retail, Healthcare, Manufacturing, Others (Energy and Utilities, Education, Media and Entertainment etc.)), and Regional Forecast, 2020-2027.

Omni-cloud computing is a cloud solution that allows multiple cloud services to smoothly integrate and streamline their data on a single platform. The omni-cloud system is being increasingly preferred over the multi-cloud system owing to its multiple advantages and leading the cloud computing market trends. For example, an omni-cloud tool makes possible accessing real-time information from any location. In a departmental store, for instance, whenever there is an inventory shortfall, the cloud will send notification to the authorities, who will then take the necessary action. Similarly, storage of data on a unified platform also enables efficient analysis, enhances productivity, and elevates the quality of services. These, along with a few other benefits, are widening the applicability of omni-cloud computing across a variety of industries.

The emergence of COVID-19 has brought the world to a standstill. We understand that this health crisis has brought an unprecedented impact on businesses across industries. However, this too shall pass. Rising support from governments and several companies can help in the fight against this highly contagious disease. There are some industries that are struggling and some are thriving. Overall, almost every sector is anticipated to be impacted by the pandemic.

We are taking continuous efforts to help your business sustain and grow during COVID-19 pandemics. Based on our experience and expertise, we will offer you an impact analysis of coronavirus outbreak across industries to help you prepare for the future.

Click here to get the short-term and long-term impact of COVID-19 on this Market.

Please visit: https://www.fortunebusinessinsights.com/enquiry/covid19-impact/cloud-computing-market-102697

According to the cloud computing market research report, the value of the market stood at USD 199.01 billion in 2019. The other highlights of the report are:

Market Restraint

Potential Risk of Cyber Attacks to Negatively Influence Adoption of Cloud Systems

Today, majority of organizations and many government departments and agencies have shifted their databases onto the cloud to improve efficiency and productivity of resources as well as bring down costs. Unfortunately, this move has exposed sensitive information to hackers, who have frequently launched cyber-attacks to retrieve and misuse data. For instance, the US-based Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) revealed that in April 2020 hackers from Iran attempted to breach personal files of World Health Organization (WHO) staffers while the world was reeling under the coronavirus pandemic. In February 2020, two Chinese hackers were persecuted by the US Department of Justice for performing cryptocurrency laundering activities for North Korean nationals. Such attacks are prompted by the availability of delicate data on cloud platforms and the constant threat of privacy infringement may hinder the cloud computing market growth in the upcoming years.

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Regional Analysis

Strong Presence of Tech Bigwigs to Augment the Market in North America

North America is home to some of the biggest technology companies such as Google, Microsoft, and IBM and this factor has enabled the region to boast a market size of USD 61.59 billion in 2019. Moreover, the regulatory and research environment in the region is extremely favorable for development and adoption of advanced cloud technologies based on Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML). As a result, North America is slated to dominate the cloud computing market share during the forecast period. Increasing penetration of the internet and rising usage of smartphones will aid Asia-Pacific register a high CAGR, while rapid deployment of 5G will favor market growth in Latin America and Middle East & Africa.

Competitive Landscape

Advent of IoT to Create Numerous Innovation Opportunities for Market Players

The market leaders such as Oracle and SAP are directing their research and investment energies toward efficiently utilizing the opportunities generated by the Internet of Things (IoT) phenomenon. Most of the players in this market are focused of making their products and services smarter and more streamlined using IoT-based tools.

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Industry Developments:

List of Key Players Profiled in the Cloud Computing Market Report:

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Cloud Computing Market Worth $760.98 Billion at 18.6% CAGR; Tech Giants Such as IBM and Microsoft to Focus on Introducing Advanced Cloud Solutions:...

Chart: Visualizing The World’s 20 Largest Tech Giants

Social media has seeped into virtually all aspects of modern life. The vast social media universe collectively now holds 3.8 billion users, representing roughly 50% of the global population.

With an additional billion internet users projected to come online in the coming years, its possible that the social media universe could expand even further.

To begin, lets take a look at how social networks compare in terms of monthly active users (MAUs)an industry metric widely used to gauge the success of these platforms.

Heres a closer look at individual social platforms, and their trials and tribulations:

To put it mildly, Facebook has had its hands full. A flurry of companies are boycotting Facebooks ads, while the platform struggles to fend off the spread of misinformation.

Yet, its stock price continues to advance to new highs while the traditional economy faces less than rosy forecasts. Facebook still possesses the largest cohort of users, inching closer to the 3 billion MAU marka breakthrough yet to be achieved by any company.

Snapchat and founder Evan Spiegel have had a bumpy road since their IPO in 2017. The stock price reached its nadir near $4 in 2018, reflecting investor concerns tied to the introduction of Instagram Stories. In recent times, the stock has advanced past the $20 mark, although there is still long-term unclarity around monetization and profitability.

YouTube competes head on against traditional television and streaming programs for eyeballs. The platform raked in revenues of $15.1 billion in 2019, nearly double their figures in 2017.

Parent company Alphabet has invested in YouTube with new rollouts like YouTube Music (merged with what was once Google Music) and YouTube Premiuma bundled subscription-based platform providing music, ad-free content, and YouTube Originals. By the looks of it, the future of YouTube will be much more than just videos.

The biggest social platform in China, WeChat has flourished, now holding a whopping 1.2 billion MAUs. As part of the Tencent Holdings conglomerate, they belong to the BATX group that is seen to lock horns with Americas Big Tech.

There have been whispers of a Reddit IPO on Wall Street for some time now. While such an event has not yet materialized, Reddits success certainly has. With 430 million MAUs relative to 330 million in 2018, the company continues to attract a larger audience. The notion of community has taken on a different meaning in the digital age, and Reddit represents this transition with their ever-growing network of users.

Instagram has been vital to Facebooks success, since its $1 billion acquisition in 2012. The platform attracts a younger audience compared to Facebook and it has demonstrated an ability to remain versatile, specifically by implementing Instagram Stories and Reels.

Busy schedules dont seem to faze Jack Dorsey who has not one, but two CEO jobs in Twitter and Square. Twitter has been able to achieve profitability in the last two years, reporting net income figures of $1.2 and $1.5 billion in 2018 and 2019 respectively. They no doubt have their work cut out for them as they continue to combat fake news and similar controversies on their platform.

If any publicity is good publicity, then 2020 has been TikToks year. Headlines include privacy breaches with alleged ties to the Chinese Communist Party, a banning of the app by India Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and now, talks of a partial U.S. acquisition. Potential acquirers include leaders Microsoft, Twitter, and Oracle.

Despite the list of headwinds social media has faced, about half of the world is now on itand there seems to be no end in sight for future growth.

How have companies with exposure to the social media universe fared in 2020 so far?

Widespread participation in social media comes with its fair set of problems. Some companies such as Facebook have found themselves in the crosshairs on both sides of the political spectrum. As concerns grow around privacy and data, social media will be front and center in shaping the future of government, business, and politics.

Only time will tell just how high user counts will reach. The long-term trajectory suggests theres more room left in the engine. There are still parts of the world that are just beginning to possess the technological infrastructure for social media to be a possibility. Its plausible future growth will come from that avenue.

If stock prices of companies linked to social media are of relevance, their performance this year paired with the fact that they are trading near all-time highs supports such a growth thesis.

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Chart: Visualizing The World's 20 Largest Tech Giants

Why the tech giants may suffer lasting pain from their …

Want the full play-by-play? Check out POLITICOs live coverage. With that, here are five top takeaways of what we learned Wednesday.

The House antitrust subcommittee has spent a year on this investigation collecting emails and confidential presentations, locating chat records, and reassuring small competitors that its safe to tell them of their stories of the Big Four. And some of the subcommittees top Democrats came prepared with that evidence, in a coordinated effort to poke holes in Zuckerberg's, Bezos', Pichai's and Cooks contentions that they compete fully in the letter and spirit of U.S. antitrust law.

Take Rep. Pramila Jayapals (D-Wash.) back-and-forth with Zuckerberg over whether hed threatened Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom before eventually buying the company for a billion dollars in 2012. Jayapal pulled up a chat between Systrom and an investor in which the Instagram co-founder floated the possibility that Zuckerberg will go into destroy mode if I say no.

When Zuckerberg disputed the congresswomans characterization of those events, Jayapal swung back with a classic bit of congressional theater: I'd like to remind you that youre under oath. Underscoring the point, the subcommittee published a cache of its investigative materials, including the full Systrom chat log, midway through the hearing a way of extending the five-hour-plus hearings shelf-life even longer.

In the same vein, committee members hit Bezos with emails illuminating Amazon's motivation for buying the smart doorbell company Ring; wrote Bezos in that correspondence, "To be clear, my view here is we are buying market position not technology."

Rep. Jim Jordan speaks during a House Judiciary subcommittee hearing on antitrust on Wednesday in Washington. | Graeme Jennings/Pool via AP

The hearing got off to a bang when Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) brought out his outdoor voice to recite a litany of alleged examples of anti-conservative bias, including on the part of Twitter, whose CEO Jordan had made a show of attempting to invite to the hearing.

Perhaps anticipating Jordan would have a go at hijacking the hearing, subcommittee chairman David Cicilline (D-R.I.) was primed to shut him down: He quickly swatted away Jordans attempt to enlist a fellow Republican not on the subcommittee to question the CEOs on their threats to freedom.

That put to rest any notion that the tech executives were facing a unified bipartisan front ready to drill down on antitrust abuses.

Jordan later tried again, attempting to go to the ropes with Google CEO Pichai over whether his company would play fair during the 2020 election. Pichai seemed somewhat befuddled by Jordans line of questioning, eventually promising that, yes, Google would play things neutral. Pichai was let off the hook when the right to question passed to Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (D-Pa.), who opened with a shot at "fringe conspiracy theories."

Jordan objected, loudly, but the hearing moved on.

Republicans did get traction here and there. Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-N.D.), for example, got into a robust exchange with Pichai on the ins-and-outs of how the companys ad tools interact with the YouTube platform it owns. When Pichai said the companys approach was more sensitive to users' data-security concerns than other models, Kelly shot back that Google was using privacy as a cudgel to beat down the competition.

But even Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.), who has recently carved out a lane as a thoughtful conservative critic of Silicon Valley, touched on how Amazon engages with competitors before veering off onto a round of getting each of the CEOs to commit to not sell products produced using slave labor.

And while the hearing produced few of the full-out tech gaffes that Congress has become known for, top subcommittee Republican Jim Sensenbrenner notched one when he asked Zuckerberg about why presidential son Donald Trump Jr.'s social media account was recently taken down for a short time over a controversial hydroxychloroquine video. But that controversy involved Trump's Twitter account, not Facebook. (Zuckerberg sidestepped the platform misidentification, using it as a moment to point out that Facebook is pointedly pro-free expression.)

Zuckerberg was the target of perhaps the days toughest questioning, not simply from Jayapal but other from Democrats who homed in on Facebooks billion-dollar acquisition of Instagram in 2012. Their premise: that Zuckerberg saw the photo-sharing platform not as a neat startup that would round out Facebook's own image-sharing tools but a potential existential threat one whose absorption, then, potentially violated U.S. competition law.

New York Democrat Jerry Nadler, the chairman of the full Judiciary Committee, laid into Zuckerberg on the topic, again using internal communications in making his case. Nadler pointed out that according to documents in the subcommittees hands, Zuckerberg was prompted to dig out his checkbook because he worried that Instagram could meaningfully hurt us without becoming a huge business, and that by buying the still-small company, what were really buying is time.

Buying up a competitor simply so it will stop competing is potentially a no-no under U.S. antitrust law, Nadler pointed out, to which Zuckerberg responded that the Federal Trade Commission knew his thinking about Instagram way back in 2012, and those antitrust enforcers still signed off on the deal. But Cicilline was unpersuaded, telling Zuckerberg that "the failures of the FTC in 2012 of course do not alleviate the antitrust challenges that the chairman described.

The shorter version: Just because that one corner of the federal apparatus approved the deal some eight years ago doesnt mean Zuckerberg is out of the woods. And deals that are made can be unmade.

Facebook has bought scores of companies, of course, but Instagram is different. The visual-first platform, hugely popular in its own right, is key to Zuckerbergs vision for the future of Facebook especially as its a way of attracting a Facebook-phobic younger audience that otherwise is flocking to the Chinese-owned upstart TikTok. Washington peeling Instagram away from Zuckerbergs empire might be unlikely, but its also a future that the CEO isnt eager to contemplate. And the House antitrust subcommittee made plain that its a possibility it wants Zuckerberg to worry about.

This was, somewhat amazingly, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos first ever time testifying before Congress, despite the enormous wealth and power he enjoys. (When Bezos was sworn in today, he was ranked No. 1 on Forbes list of the worlds richest people, with $180 billion under his control. As a point of comparison, the wealthiest member of House of Representatives, Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-Mont.), was worth about one-thousandth that.)

And for a time, it looked like it would be a easy day for Bezos. Seemingly because of technical difficulties with his Cisco Webex feed, Bezos wasnt called on for questions until long after the hearing that begun. But when the technical details were sorted out, Bezos was in for it.

Some of the toughest queries came from Cicilline himself, on a topic that the chairman has been pursuing for many months now: whether Amazon uses the data of independent sellers on its platform to figure out how to best sell its own products. (The committee has questioned whether another Amazon witness misled the panel on this very point a year ago.) Bezos declined repeatedly to dig into the details, often arguing that he simply didnt know the relevant information, even though it's common for CEOs to prep thoroughly for these sort of high-profile Q&As.

After Bezos responded "I can't answer that question yes or no" when Jayapal asked whether Amazon has ever used information extracted from the experiences of its on-platform independent sellers to plan its own offerings, Cicilline followed up incredulously: You said that you cant guarantee that the policy of not sharing third-party sellers data with Amazons own line [of products] hasnt been violated. You couldnt be certain. Can you please explain that to me?

Said Bezos: We are investigating that, and I do not want to go beyond what I know right now.

At another point in the hearing, Bezos said he was unfamiliar with a startup that was featured in the opening anecdote of a Wall Street Journal story on the company's dealings with smaller competitors that appeared last Thursday.

Dont expect Cicilline to let this one go. Hes known to keep his teeth dug into topics that have grabbed his attention, and hes made clear that he takes strong offense to how Amazon has handled this key question.

Cicilline has said from the start of his tech investigation back last summer that hes eager to keep it a bipartisan affair, and somewhat remarkably he has mostly met that goal. Still, it became clear Wednesday that the subcommittee's Republicans are not on board with making major changes to antitrust law to counter Silicon Valleys power a stalemate that could give the beleaguered tech giants a legislative win by default.

Some GOP lawmakers also explicitly rejected the idea that, as the oft-heard saying goes, big is bad.

I have reached the conclusion that we do not need to change our antitrust laws, said Sensenbrenner, the top Republican on the subcommittee, who would be a crucial ally for any bipartisan drive to make transformational changes. Theyve been working just fine. The question here is the question of enforcement of those antitrust laws.

That still leaves Cicilline a plenty-big lane to have some impact on the countrys competition policy, though he will to navigate carefully to make sure that pre-election bickering doesn't rip apart the policy recommendations he has said hell release by the end of the year.

On the other hand, the November election could yield him another path to victory, by offering an antitrust legislative roadmap to the next presidential administration if that president is Joe Biden.

Leah Nylen and John Hendel contributed to this report.

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Why the tech giants may suffer lasting pain from their ...

Tech giants are the ‘winners’ of the coronavirus crisis and should pay more tax, Europe official says – CNBC

Big Tech has to pay a "fair amount" of taxes in Europe, especially as they are the "real winners" of the coronavirus crisis, a top European official told CNBC Saturday.

His comments come amid an ongoing rift between the United States and the European Union over the taxation of companies such as Apple, Alphabet and Amazon.

"It is a major problem," Paolo Gentiloni, European Commissioner for economics and taxation, told CNBC at the European House Ambrosetti Forum, acknowledging the difficulty in overcoming differences with the United States.

The giants of the digital platforms are the real winners of this crisis.

Paolo Gentiloni

European Commissioner

However, the former Italian prime minister added that it was no longer possible "to accept the idea that those giants, the winners of the crisis, are not paying a fair amount of taxes in Europe."

In 2018, the European Commission, the executive arm of the EU, proposed a 3% digital levy, arguing that the tax system needed to be updated for the digital age. However, the White House said a digital tax was unfair as it disproportionately impacted American firms.

At the time, the European Commission said digital companies, on average,pay an effective tax rate of 9.5% compared to 23.2% for traditional businesses.

However, in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, Big Tech has got a boost, with many consumers relying on these companies for teleworking, shopping and staying connected.

"The giants of the digital platforms are the real winners of this crisis, from the economical point of view,"Gentiloni added. "We all experience this in our own lives."

Meanwhile, governments are in desperate need of additional funding and imposing new taxes is one key way of achieving this.

In this context, the EU is looking to propose a new digital tax in 2021 if negotiations at the OECD-level collapse by year-end.

"If we will not have decent results at the global level, the European Commission will come out next year with our own a proposal," Gentiloni said.

In a blow to negotiations, the United States pulled out of talks in June raising doubts about any feasible progress this year.

Gentiloni said there had been progress at the technical level, but the upcoming presidential election in the United States was impacting the process.

"We are in an electoral year in the U.S. and I think this also has an influence," he said, adding that, nonetheless, the EU needed "to insist on the necessity of a global solution."

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Tech giants are the 'winners' of the coronavirus crisis and should pay more tax, Europe official says - CNBC

As Tech Giants Face Congress, Heres What Americans …

TOPLINE

Congresss grilling of top Silicon Valley CEOs Wednesday on antitrust issues reflects the American publics broad distrust of big tech companies increasing powerbut polling released throughout 2020 shows that while Americans may be wary of big tech, theyre more conflicted when it comes to what action the government should take in response.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before the House Financial Services Committee on October 23, ... [+] 2019. (Photo by Aurora Samperio/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

72% of U.S. adults believe big tech companies have too much power and influence in politics, per a Pew Research survey conducted in June, while an Accountable Tech/GQR Research poll in July found 85% of respondents believe they have too much power in general.

A Morning Consult poll released in January found that 65% believe tech companies benefits to users arent worth the industrys becoming more powerful at the expense of smaller companiesbut a majority of those respondents still enjoy big tech products, using major social media and search tools and predominantly shopping online.

Americans who distrust big tech dont necessarily support government action: 69.8% of respondents to a July poll by the Center for Growth and Opportunity/YouGov said they somewhat or completely agree that tech companies are too big, but only 44.4% agree the government should break them up.

A Knight Foundation/Gallup poll conducted in December and released in March found 50% support government intervention to break up tech companies, while 49% oppose, and the Pew survey found only 47% support more government tech regulationdown from 51% in 2018.

88% of Knight/Gallup respondents said they do not trust social media platforms to make the right decisions about what users can post, but 55% still said the companies should be making those decisions anyway, rather than the government.

A July Morning Consult poll found only 46% of Americans trust Congress to best regulate big tech companies, as compared with 57% who trust the courts, 53% trusting federal agencies and 34% who trust the president.

A national survey by The Verge released in March found that 51% believe Google and YouTube should be broken up into two different companiesbut 66% dont have a problem with Facebook owning Instagram and WhatsApp.

CEOs of worlds most powerful tech companies on Wednesday defended themselves against lawmaker accusations that their companies have too much power and stifle smaller businesses, claiming that their practices are instead part of a thriving competitive economy and that their size is essential to their value. Just like the world needs small companies, it also needs large ones, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos argued in his opening statement to the House antitrust subcommittee, while Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Facebooks large size is an asset to its work to keep people safe on our platform, and to make sure were investing to fix our issues and get ahead of new risks.

Zuckerberg and Bezos, along with Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai and Apple CEO Tim Cook, appeared before the House antitrust subcommittee Wednesday, amid widespread scrutiny into the tech giants alleged anticompetitive practices. The companies are also facing antitrust investigations from the Department of Justice, Federal Trade Commission, state attorneys general and the European Union. The antitrust struggles come amid broader distrust of big tech companies and their role in the coronavirus pandemic, racial justice protests and impending November election, as companies have struggled to respond to growing misinformation and address hate speech and extremist groups on their platforms.

Though Americans are increasingly suspicious of big tech companies, polls show that the coronavirus pandemic may be improving their standing in the eyes of Americans. A Harris poll released in April found that 38% of respondents view of the tech industry had become more positive over the course of the pandemic, while an April report by the National Research Group found a full 88% of Americans say the pandemic has given them a greater appreciation for technologys positive impact.

Mark Zuckerberg Is Even Less Popular Than Donald Trump, Poll Finds (Forbes)

The Verge Tech Survey 2020 (The Verge)

Techlash? America's Growing Concern With Major Technology Companies (Knight Foundation)

Most People Dont Like Giving Big Tech More Power, but They Rely on Its Services (Morning Consult)

Most Americans say social media companies have too much power, influence in politics (Pew Research Center)

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As Tech Giants Face Congress, Heres What Americans ...

Australia vs the tech giants – Spiked

Can Australia take on the most powerful and wealthy global companies in the world? The Pacific nation is currently squaring up to the Californian tech giants, demanding that they, finally, pay journalists for their work which they display, aggregate and host. The outcome could define the future of the Bucks Free Press and the Cumberland and Westmorland Herald as well as the entire global newspaper industry, upon which Western democracy relies.

Newspapers are no longer viable because Facebook and Google eat up more than 80 per cent of online ad revenue. Papers have been closing at an alarming rate during the coronavirus pandemic. The European Commission has made some efforts to correct this and many others are urging action, including the UKs Competitions and Markets Authority. But Australia looks to be one of the first and most determined to act, with lawmakers drafting legislation that could force Facebook and Google to pay news organisations for the value their stories generate for the platforms, by driving people on to their feeds and search engines.

The tech giants have come out fighting, with Google saying services will be restricted and plastering aggressive, bright yellow ads on YouTube videos in Australia. Facebook reacted by threatening to block news entirely from being shared to Australian audiences on the worlds largest social-media platform, as well as its subsidiary Instagram.

The Australian government insists it will not bend to coercion or heavy-handed threats. Facebook has been accused of bullying elected representatives and the Australian people, nearly 40 per cent of whom rely on Facebook for their daily news (and that figure rose during the lockdown). Imagine if, say, an oil monopoly threatened to cut off fuel or some other critical commodity to half of Australians because the government was considering a policy that would increase their costs? How would we react?

It is an unsettling and increasingly familiar response from Facebook. But the proposed Australian law is, admittedly, far from perfect.

A row is already brewing, for example, over the question of which publications should benefit from the cash from the social-media giants, which ones constitute public-interest journalism, and if publicly funded broadcasters should also be included. This law could hand far too much power to the state to decide what type of journalism survives. Facebook has defended itself by pointing out that it has been willing to fund some local newspapers already, but this is an equally unsatisfactory outcome, leaving newspapers reliant on handouts from a firm more powerful than some governments.

In truth, some of the online and local papers currently struggling deserve to go under. They failed to adapt, uncritically parroted the output of political parties who fed them headlines, and did not represent the readers who paid for them. If the new law is badly instituted, or if funding is not closely linked to the number of clicks and readers a publication has, then the Australian government could end up propping up shoddy journalism. It would be comparable to how the licence fee props up a bloated BBC, which serves a minority of people while being forcibly funded by all of us.

The potential problems are many, but it is clear that some form of action is needed, and therefore Australia deserves our solidarity. Spain tried to introduce a law in 2014 requiring aggregators like Google to pay to link to news articles, and the monopolous giant simply withdrew its news service. In France, Google responded to a law by bluntly refusing to pay and restricting news to hyperlinks, which are much less likely to be clicked on. News websites, some of which are completely dependent on search engines and often unable to speak up, need help, and governments have been failing.

Somewhat ironically, Google, Facebook and Apple are behaving more and more like the very news organisations they are strangling. Facebook tells us what is trending and hosts entire articles. Google and Android push top stories on their editorialised news apps, arranged just like the homepage of a news website, and send breaking-news notifications to our phones at all hours. Apple News now takes subscriptions and it is making editorial calls, deciding what is newsworthy, who to quote, and even writing some words. These platforms cannot, therefore, claim to be politically neutral in this debate.

But because Facebook and Twitter insist they are platforms and not publishers or publications, they dont have to take the same legal responsibility that news websites do for potentially libellous and defamatory content. In the US, at least, Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act protects them as long as they offer a forum for a true diversity of political discourse. But many now argue that they do not offer this, and Section 230 and similar protections across the world are being challenged.

More papers, I am sure, will begin to follow the New York Times, which pulled its content from Apple News in June. Similar aggregators will soon suffer unless the tech giants begin to offer a fair deal. Fortnite developers Epic Games are currently locked in a bitter standoff with Apple over the punitive 30 per cent cut it takes from sales and there is a wider feeling that a reckoning with these tech monopolies is coming. Unless they act in good faith and without coercion, corrective action on a scale not seen since the break-up of Standard Oil in 1911 is not inconceivable.

For now, the best thing readers can do is make sure that, where possible, we use alternative search engines and subscribe and get our news directly from websites we trust. If we, the consumer, can correct the market and challenge these monopolies, then intervention from governments and regulators might not be necessary. The best solution is always organic.

Liam Deacon is the Brexit Partys former head of press.

To enquire about republishing spikeds content, a right to reply or to request a correction, please contact the managing editor, Viv Regan.

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