PDF version of this report
You must have Adobe Acrobat reader to view, save, or print PDF files. The
reader is available for free
Copyright 2021, Faulkner Information Services. All
Publication Date: 2112
Report Type: VENDOR
Facebook has changed its name to Meta Platforms, Inc., reflecting the
intention of co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg to transition Facebook
from a social media company to a “metaverse company.” According to Zuckerberg,
this means establishing “an embodied Internet, where instead of just
viewing content – you are in it.”1 Meanwhile, the business we
know as Facebook continues as Meta’s principal property. Facebook is the third most-visited destination on the Internet (after
Google and YouTube) and the top choice for social media. Although hardly the first to turn social networking into a business
model, Facebook usurped incumbent offerings such as MySpace and Friendster several
years back by targeting the desire of college students to constantly know
what their friends and acquaintances are up to. This early strength was
quickly parlayed into an open social network, not just for students but
for anyone willing to sign up. The growing archive of user data that it was
quickly able to accumulate became Facebook’s core asset. As it brought in
new users and their information, it developed ways to target
advertising to its members that drives the majority of Meta’s revenues. Despite renewed
concerns over user privacy and media manipulation, Facebook continues to
be a popular medium for keeping track of – and communicating with –
others. This report takes a more detailed look at Meta and Facebook operations,
which also include popular brands such as Instagram, WhatsApp, and
[return to top of this
Name: Meta Platforms, Inc.
1 Hacker Way
Menlo Park, CA 94025
Phone: (650) 543-4800
Type of Vendor: Social Networking Site
Service Areas: Global
Stock Symbol: FB (NASDAQ)
[return to top of this
In October 2021, Facebook changed its name to Meta Platforms, Inc., reflecting the
intention of co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg to transition
from a social media company to a “metaverse company." According to the firm, “Meta builds technologies that help people
connect, find communities, and grow businesses. When Facebook launched in
2004, it changed the way people connect. Apps like Messenger, Instagram
and WhatsApp further empowered billions around the world. Now, Meta is
moving beyond 2D screens toward immersive experiences like augmented and
virtual reality to help build the next evolution in social technology.”
Facebook will begin trading under a new stock symbol, MVRS, in first quarter 2022. Meanwhile, the business we know as Facebook continues as Meta’s principal property and,
therefore, the subject of this report.
Facebook is the world’s largest and most visited social network, and the
third most popular Web destination (after Google and YouTube). The site’s
pervasiveness gives it a tremendous amount of power to (a) facilitate
communication, and (b) collect user data. In both cases, these factors
provide Facebook with the massive revenue stream it enjoys today. Although
it was far from the first company to turn the idea of social networking
into a business model, Facebook usurped incumbent offerings such as
MySpace and Friendster by initially targeting the desire of college
students to constantly know what their friends and acquaintances are up
to. This early strength was quickly parlayed into an open social network,
not just for students but for anyone willing to sign up. The growing
archive of user data this brought in quickly came to be Facebook’s core
business, while its social networking services took on the responsibility
for bringing in new users and the information that can be used for the
targeted advertising that drives the majority of Facebook’s revenue.
History and Milestone Events
Facebook was founded in February 2004 in the Harvard dorm room of Mark
Zuckerberg, along with co-founders Dustin Moskovitz, Chris Hughes, and
Eduardo Saverin. In June of 2004, Zuckerberg moved Facebook’s headquarters
to Palo Alto, California. The site originally found success as a college
student-only social network, first at several Ivy League schools and
eventually at colleges around the country. It wasn’t until Facebook opened
enrollment to the general public that it truly began growing into the
juggernaut it is today. The site went from a milestone one million unique
visitors (2007) to a staggering 2.89 billion Monthly Active Users (2021).
Although some estimate that the social network’s growth has begun to slow
due to saturation, most of the site’s unbelievable growth occurred within
the past five years. Facebook seems to make a habit of reaching at least
one important milestone per year. Perhaps Facebook’s most important moment
occurred in February 2012, when the company officially held its
long-awaited initial public offering. The massive interest in the
company’s IPO foreshadowed not only Facebook’s future success but also was
an indicator of the viability of taking a Web-based startup public in the
post-Google era. Facebook’s initial filing valued the IPO at $5 billion,
one of the largest in US tech industry history, with initial share prices
set at $38. This placed the company’s valuation at $104 billion, making it
the highest valuation at that point for a company just going public.
Although Facebook has generally refrained from launching any new,
discrete products in recent years, this business practice has not stopped
the company from expanding its offerings. However, instead of developing
its own products, Facebook has taken to acquiring up and coming companies
in hot areas of technology and leveraging their potential to expand its
own reach in the social networking market and elsewhere. The practice
began with Instagram, which the company famously paid $1 billion for in
2012. Since then, it has acquired WhatsApp, another firm focused on
messaging and social communication, and Oculus VR, which develops virtual
reality hardware and software.
Below is a timeline of milestone events in Facebook’s history.
- 2004 – “The Facebook” is founded
by Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg in his college dorm room. Later that
year, the company moves into its first true headquarters in Palo Alto,
- 2005 – Shortens its name to “Facebook” … Secures
$13.7 million in funding from Accel Partners and Jim Breyer … A high
school version of the site joins its original college-only offering.
- 2006 – Officially opens to anyone wanting to join
that is at least 13 years of age and has a valid e-mail address …
Introduces its first “Newsfeed,” a feature that would come to define the
profiles found on the site.
- 2007 – Launches “Fan Pages,” the earliest form of
profiles for commercial entities.
- 2008 – Establishes its first international
headquarters in Dublin, Ireland … Introduces its first major redesign
- 2009 – Sees Compete rank Facebook as the
top social network on the Web and one of the most visited Web sites, in
- 2010 – Facebook launches the first iteration of what
would later evolve into its current messaging platform.
- 2011 – Revamps its Profiles in a new “Timeline”
style. This new format organizes a user’s social updates into a
chronological history of their life and activities.
- 2012 – Holds its Initial Public Offering.
- 2013 – Becomes a member of the Fortune 500 following
- 2014 – Reaches a market capitalization of $134
billion, with 1.23 billion active users recorded on the site in
- 2015 – Announces that it will finally release a
“dislike” button, an oft-requested alternative to the company’s
well-known like button. It is later revealed that the new way of
expressing opinions will support a range of emotions about a given
- 2016 – Launches “Reactions,” a broader range of
emotional ratings designed to expand the accuracy of “liking” something
on the Internet.
- 2017 – Introduces new Watch platform for streaming
shows, Live Location services for Messenger, and Live Video Broadcasting
support for its Web-based version … Teams with Microsoft, Twitter, and
YouTube to announce the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism.
- 2018 – Rolls out new functions for sharing
music via one’s profile … Disables its “View As” function after a flaw
is discovered to have exposed 30 million accounts … Introduces
Portal Video Calling as a feature … Expands Menlo Park headquarters
with creation of MPK 21 building … Sees departure of CSO Alex Stamos
… Participates in the Data Transfer Project collaborative … Expands
AI Research Program with new laboratories and personnel … Shutters its
Moves, tbh, and Hello apps due to “low usage” … Removes its Trending
function … Announces a new “Clear History” feature.
- 2019 – Begins testing its new Facebook News service
… Provides new details regarding its Oversight Board … Rolls out new
“simplified” Privacy settings for Groups … Is criticized for its
alleged use of paid audio transcribers to write down audio clips from
Messenger chats … Reaches a $5 billion settlement agreement with the
US FTC regarding a consumer privacy investigation … Refreshes its
Terms of Service toward allegedly improving transparency …Introduces
polices to prevent ad targeting discrimination.
- 2020 – Launches Elevate, a resource for helping
businesses locate information regarding workshops, live events, circles,
and career connections … Adds support for searching and streaming
videos … Updates Messenger API to support Instagram Messaging …
Introduces its Oversight Board for reviewing content-removal cases …
Creates “Project Aria” research initiative for AR … Debuts Facebook
Campus with resources for students … Unveils Facebook Shop marketplace
for discovering businesses and shopping opportunities … Expands mass
removal program to add “dangerous individuals and organizations” …
Revises its terms of service … Sees federal court approve its
settlement with the FTC regarding the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
– Changes its name from “Facebook” to “Meta Platform,
Inc.,” a designation that, currently, is more aspirational than
operational, and involves the transition of Facebook from a social media
company to one offering an immersive Internet experience.
[return to top of this
Facebook’s mission is to give people “the power to build community and
bring the world closer together.” Its products, at their core, are
designed to help users to stay connected, discover what is going on in the
world, and share and express what matters. Top priorities include:
- Building useful and engaging products for connecting and sharing with
friends and family through mobile devices, PCs, and other surfaces.
- Helping users discover and learn about what is going on in the world
- Allowing people to share opinions, ideas, photos, and videos – as well
as other activities – with audiences ranging from close friends to the
public at large.
- Helping stay connected “everywhere.”
As a company, Facebook thrives by connecting people and groups. In all
cases, however, the company makes its money by facilitating relationships.
Facebook’s business model consists of providing two distinct products to
two separate groups:
- Consumers – Offers the creation of a personal profile
with the user’s likes, dislikes, activities, life events, photos,
videos, and all of the other trappings that have become synonymous with
social networking profiles. The owners of these profiles can connect
with one another in a multitude of ways including commenting on each
other’s posts, liking content, direct messaging, playing games with or
against each other, and more. Facebook currently has 2.89 billion
Monthly Active Users (Q3 2021).
- Advertisers – Through a plethora of Web and mobile
ad spaces, provides the advertisers filling those slots with information
on how to best target ad spends. As of Q3 2020, Facebook is estimated to
have more than 10 million “active” advertisers3, or
advertisers that placed at least one ad within a given 28-day period.
Facebook is the world’s largest and most highly-trafficked social
networks and Web destinations, both in the US and worldwide. This fact –
even without its massive amounts of stored user data – makes the engine a
potential advertiser haven across its collection of sites, apps, and other
services and holdings. When combined with Facebook’s highly targeted
advertising opportunities, those ads can also become more valuable due to
increased chance of converting spend into sale. Through its family of apps
and services, the company serves to connect billions of people around the
world, giving them ways to share information. Facebook also creates new
products for helping small businesses expand their reach.
As reported by Facebook, Statista, and the New York Times, as of Q3 2021, Facebook has:
- 1.93 billion Daily Active Users
- 2.89 billion Monthly Active Users
- 3.6 billion Monthly Active Users across Facebook, Instagram,
Messenger, and WhatsApp
- 71 percent of Monthly Social Media Visits in the US
Amidst scandals such as Cambridge Analytica4, claims that it
falls short on “transparency commitments”5, Facebook continues
to survive based largely on its platform’s popularity. Also at issue for
the social network’s users are assorted complaints of outright censorship.
While accusations – often baseless – of having politically charged posts
removed without reason likely comes with the territory, Facebook is known
to regularly, actively remove Accounts, Groups, and Pages for what it
calls “inauthentic behavior” from “bad actors.” This potentially
controversial activity led the ACLU to issue the statement that Facebook
“does a bad job of moderating ‘hateful’ or ‘offensive’ posts, even when
its intentions are good … and we should remain wary of its power to
deprioritize certain posts or to moderate content in other ways that fall
short of censorship.” The ACLU further contended that:
Given Facebook’s nearly unparalleled status as a forum for political
speech and debate, it should not take down anything but unlawful speech,
like incitement to violence. Otherwise, in attempting to apply more
amorphous concepts not already defined in law, Facebook will often get
it wrong. Given the enormous amount of speech uploaded every day to
Facebook’s platform, attempting to filter out “bad” speech is a nearly
impossible task. The use of algorithms and other artificial intelligence
to try to deal with the volume is only likely to exacerbate the problem.
Facebook gives itself broader censorship powers, it will inevitably take
down important speech and silence already marginalized voices.6
“The Facebook Papers”
As reported by the New York Times, former Facebook employee and
whistle-blower, Frances Haugen, said that Facebook had hidden research
revealing that teenagers felt worse about themselves after using Facebook
products, and that the company was willing to use hateful content to
retain users. Other documents have questioned Facebook’s role in spreading election
misinformation and promoting the pro-Trump attack on the US Capitol on
January 6. The implication is that Facebook knew its properties were being
employed to propagate disinformation and could have done more to prevent
or mitigate the damage.
In India, Facebook’s biggest market, the company discovered that users
were leveraging key features like “likes” to amplify toxic content.7
Facebook’s alleged complicity in harmful, if not illegal, activities is
producing renewed calls for government regulation, up to and including
breaking up the social media behemoth.
Additional Risk Factors
- Potential failure to retain existing users or add new users.
- Possible loss of marketers or a reduction in their spending.
- Dependence on mobile OSs, networks, and standards.
- The growing, competitive social media landscape.
- Inability to maintain or enhance its brand.
- Security breaches and / or data leaks.
- Unfavorable media coverage.
- Antitrust suits, similar to US vs. Microsoft in the 90s.
The future of Facebook – or, rather, Meta Platforms – is tied to
Zuckerberg’s ability to:
convince the public that Facebook remains a force for good,
connecting the world’s citizens and enabling the growth of small
reduce the volume of false and misleading information relative
and other prominent public policy issues.
maintain the illusion that Facebook is merely a platform, not
a publisher, a distinction critical to avoiding responsibility – and
accountability – for the proliferation of misinformation and
disinformation on the world’s leading social networking site.
allege that other tech companies also break the rules.
Zuckerberg accused Apple of making “misleading” privacy promises to
consumers, contending that Facebook’s WhatsApp offers more privacy than
change the subject from Facebook to Meta by developing a
compelling vision of the metaverse, and Meta Platform’s role in
realizing that vision. Critics, thus far, are unconvinced. As analyst
Jasmine Teng, says pointedly, “Facebook’s rebrand to
Meta is … a convenient distraction … and
reflects every tech incumbent’s fear of missing the next big thing. The
metaverse is Silicon Valley’s latest buzzword
to describe an immersive, persistent virtual world, and Mark Zuckerberg
has shifted his company’s ambition to becoming
company – even if it’s not yet 100 percent clear what that means.”9
[return to top of this
Generally speaking, Facebook offers products to help users connect,
share, discover, and communicate. Among numerous ways to engage,
Facebook’s News Feed displays an algorithmically-ranked
series of stories and advertisements that are customized based on observed
user preferences. To a large extent, Facebook’s most important product for
consumers is the social networking Profile. Here, users
can upload and share thoughts, interests, and opinions; as well as post
photos, videos, and other forms of media. Figure 1 shows the Facebook
Figure 1. Facebook Profile Page
Facebook also places a special emphasis on various products and services
that it offers, among them its mobile app, Messenger, Instagram, WhatsApp,
Oculus, and others.
Table 1 looks at Facebook’s core properties.
|Facebook (Social Network)||Engine for connecting and communicating
with other accounts
|Sharing visual stories through photos,
videos, and direct messages
|Messenger||Application for helping users connect
with people, groups, or businesses across a variety of platforms
Also includes a social gaming aspect that includes various
|Application for secure and private
|Oculus||VR (virtual reality) technology and
content platform for entering immersive and interactive
environments for training, learning, gaming, consuming content,
and connecting with other users
|Mobile App||Available for current major mobile
operating systems (iOS, Android, etc.) to mirror the desktop
version of the site
Includes features such as the ability to snap a photo with a
|Advertising||Selling advertising placements to
marketers, reaching users based on age, gender, location,
interests, and behaviors, among other factors, for placement on
Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, and third-party applications and
|Marketplace||Displaying and purchasing items for sale|
|“Longer-Term” Initiatives||Includes connectivity efforts, AI
(artificial intelligence) research, and AR (augmented reality) and
VR (virtual reality)
Facebook competes against companies that sell advertising and provide
social, media, and communication products and services. Other competitors
- Those offering products that replicate Facebook’s capabilities.
- Companies that develop applications such as messaging, photo- and
video-sharing, and micro-blogging.
- Regional social networks.
- Traditional, online, and mobile businesses that provide media for
marketers to reach audiences and develop tools and systems for managing
and optimizing advertiser campaigns.
- Companies that develop and deliver VR products and services.
Generally speaking, Facebook competes on two fronts, as detailed in Table
|Standard Social Networks||Non-Standard Social Communication Sites|
|Those that closely mirror Facebook’s own
service model, with users maintaining a profile, posting text and
media, and connecting with friends and family. This includes
general social networks such as Google+, but also includes more
purpose-oriented networks such as Microsoft’s business-centric
LinkedIn and the design-friendly Pinterest.
|Offerings such as Twitter, YouTube, or
other services where users can post or upload text, images, or
video solely for the purpose of sharing, without an extensive
personal profile being linked to shared media.
- LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com
- MySpace: http://www.myspace.com/
- Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com
- Snapchat: http://www.snapchat.com/
- Tagged: http://www.tagged.com/
- Twitter: http://www.twitter.com
- YouTube: http://www.YouTube.com/
[return to top of this
Products and Services
Facebook established the Women’s
Safety Hub. This online resource is designed to centralize the safety
information that “women need when navigating [its] platform.” The Women’s
Safety Hub includes options for women leaders, journalists, and survivors
of abuse, and was developed in consultation with nonprofit partners,
worldwide, supporting 55 languages.
Facebook is adding a feature to Instagram to allow users to designate a
business profile as “Black-owned.” This label is designed to make such
businesses easier to discover and enhance their ability to conduct
Facebook announced a number of new
initiatives designed to promote “equitable access” to COVID-19 vaccines.
The efforts specifically target under-served communities in the US,
including Black, Latinx, Native American, Asian American, and Pacific
Island demographics. Aims include an expanded program to support vaccine
clinics in low-income areas; teaming with local nonprofits to promote mass
vaccinations; promoting improved access to vaccination information and
resources; and partnering with PEN America to offer media literacy
training sessions in under-served areas.
Facebook launched Bulletin, a
collection of publishing and subscription tools to support US creators.
The resources – which are now available to a “first wave of writers” –
include support for content creation, monetization, and audience growth.
Key features include its publishing tools, standalone Web site builder,
embedding and styling options, support for subscription payments; and
Facebook introduced new features
to allow users to better shop across its apps. Elements include Instagram
visual searches, AR (augmented reality) Dynamic Ads, and other efforts to
personalize shopping and issue investments in AR and AI (artificial
intelligence) to shape “shopping experiences of tomorrow.” Additional info
is available via the Facebook Web site.
Facebook launched new Instagram
Reels Ads, which are designed to extend opportunities to “grow and reach
new customers.” The rollout – which follows successful tests in several
countries – includes full-screen and vertical ads that appear in between
individual Reels. The ads will loop and can be up to 30 seconds, with
options to Comment, Like, View, Save and Share.
Facebook deleted a supposed
network of Accounts, Pages, and Groups on its platform that it claims
engaged in CIB (coordinated inauthentic behavior). The alleged network
reportedly targeted domestic audiences in Ethiopia, and included 65
handles, 52 Pages, 27 Groups, and 32 Instagram
accounts. Facebook claims the campaigns employed tactics such as posing as
media entities to post “false” or “misleading” news, employ “spam-like”
distribution tactics, and promote agendas related to news and current
events in the country.
Facebook unveiled new tools to
support community builders. The releases – which are based on Group admin
feedback – include an Admin Home interface for accessing tools, settings,
and features; enhanced support for moderating conversations and
eliminating conflict; a Conflict Alerts moderation type that employs AI
(artificial intelligence) to detect and notify administrators of
“contentious” or “unhealthy” free speech; a Member Summary feature for
providing an overview of Group activity; a streamlined appeals process for
flagged admin posts; and the ability to tag Group Rules, either
individually or as a whole, in comments and posts.
Facebook is working with Michigan
State University researchers to create a new method for detecting and
attributing deepfakes, or realistic-looking but manipulated images and
video that are typically used to facilitate fake news, hoaxes, and
financial fraud. The development relies on reverse engineering, and works
back from a single AI (artificial intelligence)-generated image to the
generative model used to produce it.
Facebook began testing in-headset
advertisements within the Oculus mobile app. The test is initially
commencing with a “few” apps, after which time Facebook will incorporate
feedback from developers and the community prior to making the ads more
broadly available across the Oculus Platform and mobile app. The
advertisements, Facebook noted, will follow its advertising principles.
Facebook added new features to
Messenger. Elements include refreshed chat themes, a quick-reply bar, and
QR codes and payment links for sending and receiving money, even with
those who are not Friends.
Facebook announced new Instagram
features to help creators “build their personal brands.” Functions include
new Affiliate and New Shops features for sharing products and accounts; a
soon-to-be-unveiled native affiliate tool for discovering products;
elements to open a shop or add an existing shop to their profile; and
support for linking accounts to merchandise providers such as Bravado/UMG,
Fanjoy, Represent, and Spring.
Facebook has released
its Coordinated Inauthentic Behavior Report for May 2021. The social
network noted that it has censored and removed “deceptive campaigns,”
supposedly originating in Russia, Sudan, and Pakistan, including 123
Facebook accounts, 77 Instagram
handles, 55 Pages, and 12 Groups.
Facebook, in response
to the ruling of its Oversight Board, disclosed that it is changing Donald
Trump’s user suspension from “indefinitely” to a two-year period,
effective the initial penalty issuance on January 7, 2021. The move is
part of what the social network is calling “new enforcement protocols” for
Facebook is open-sourcing
FLORES-101, its “many-to-many” evaluation data set that covers 101
languages. The FLORES-101 tool allows users to test and improve upon
multilingual translation models while also creating more diverse
Facebook is releasing
its Messenger Platform as a series of open APIs (application programming
interfaces). The rollout includes a Messenger API for Instagram
that is available to “all developers”; Login Connect with Messenger, for
opting into messaging with businesses from directly within the Facebook
Login flow; a Business Extensions developer platform for developing
Business Apps; the Spark AR mobile platform; and the PyTorch open-source
ML (machine-learning) framework.
Facebook introduced new tools for
its Facebook and Instagram platforms
to protect athletes and other public features from abuse. Elements include
dedicated Instagram account for athletes competing in the 2021 Olympics;
reachability controls for limiting who can send DMs; a long-requested,
never delivered “Hidden Words” function that filters DM requests
containing certain words, phrases, or emojis; new Post “comment controls”;
and an extended Blocking feature that allows the user to block future
accounts created by the same user.
Facebook posted its Threat Report
on Influence Operations report, which covers our CIB (coordinated
inauthentic behavior) enforcements from 2017 through 2020. The social
network noted that it has identified and removed more than 150 “covert
influence operations” for violating policies. The document draws on
existing public disclosures and internal threat analysis to define CIB
activity; analyze adversarial trends; identify threat actor adaptation;
and offer mitigation strategies it views as effective against efforts to
IO (influence operations). The full document is available
via the Facebook Web site.
Facebook rolled out new features
to censor those it believes are promoting “misinformation.” Of note, the
social network introduced new methods for informing users that they are
interacting with at-question content; reducing News Feed distribution;
linking to fact-checker articles; and providing notices to those posting
Facebook announced that it is
adding an optional feature for Instagram
to allow users to restrict access to public Like counts. This option –
which can be toggled on or off – applies to all of one’s Posts, and
includes an option to hide Like counts from one’s own view.
Facebook added new Instagram
features for collecting insights from Reels and Live. The company claims
that the elements are “based on feedback from creators and businesses.”
Tools include new metrics counts for Plays, Accounts Reached, Likes,
Comments, Saves, and Shares, in Reels; as well as Accounts Reached, Peak
Concurrent Viewers, Comments, and Shares for Live.
Facebook published its latest Transparency
Report, covering the 2020 second half. Of note, Facebook claims to
have fielded 191,013 government requests for user data, up 10 percent
sequentially from the first half. The top country for requests continues
to be the US, which allegedly logged more than 61,000 requests, followed
by India, Germany, France, Brazil, and the UK.
Facebook published its newest Intellectual
Property Transparency Report, covering the second half of 2020. The
social network claims it removed nearly 336 million instances of suspected
counterfeit content – claiming to have “proactively” detected 99.7 percent
of them – as well as almost 2.7 million supposed infractions from Instagram.
Regarding copyright-related removals, Facebook deleted nearly 2.7 million
instances and 2.2 million Instagram posts.
Facebook released its Community
Standards Enforcement report for first-quarter 2021. This report
provides metrics into how the social network enforced its policies across
multiple metrics on Facebook and Instagram.
Of note, Facebook removed 8.8 million pieces of bullying or harassing
content; 9.8 million instances of organized hate crime, 25.2 million posts
containing hate speech from its platform, as well as 5.5 million
(bullying), 324,500 (organized hate), and 6.3 million (hate speech) posts
on Instagram. In nearly all cases, these numbers were up, sequentially,
when compared to 20Q4, attributed to “improvements in … proactive
Facebook released its Coordinated
Inauthentic Behavior report for April 2021. The social network noted that
it removed 1,565 accounts, 141 Instagram
handles, 724 Pages, and 63 Groups, allegedly from countries of origin such
as Mexico, Peru, the Ukraine, Palestine, Azerbaijan, and the Central
Facebook is updating Messenger
with a tap-to-record option for audio messaging on both Messenger, and,
“soon,” Instagram. This feature is
designed to help more easily record audio messages. This announcement
comes in addition to a swipe-to-archive function for reducing inbox
clutter. The new elements will be available “soon.”
Facebook began testing
Neighborhoods, an interface for building and strengthening local
communities on the social network. This dedicated space within the
Facebook app is designed to help users connect with their neighbors,
participate in local community efforts, and discover local points of
interest. Users can create a Neighborhoods-specific profile, adding
interests, favorite places, and other info for listing within the
Neighborhoods Directory. The function is now available in Canada, with
rollout in select US cities to follow “soon.”
Facebook announced that its
Oversight Board has upheld
the suspension of Donald Trump’s Facebook and Instagram
accounts in light of the January 2021 Capitol Hill incident, albeit while
calling the action “open-ended.” Facebook noted that it is “pleased the
board has recognized that the unprecedented circumstances justified the
exceptional measure [it] took.” In a statement, the independent party
called Trump’s deactivation an “indeterminate and standardless penalty.”
Despite not calling for a reinstatement, the board is recommending
Facebook investigate a course-of-action that is “clear and proportionate.”
Trump’s accounts, meanwhile, will remain suspended.” The Oversight Board
also issued several recommendations to improve Facebook’s ongoing
policies, which the social network did not allow the public to see.
Facebook has published
a whitepaper to document its efforts toward protecting privacy within its
various COVID-19 initiatives. The paper explores core areas such as
working with – and seeking advice from experts; adding accountability
processes and frameworks; promoting symptom and preventative behaviors
surveys, and providing insight through its Our Data for Good program.
Facebook has disclosed
a number of moves to increase COVID-19 vaccination and awareness.
Particular aims include fundraising to promote “global vaccine equity”;
promoting “reliable” information to more-affected communities; amplifying
“trusted” messengers; and sharing other insight and tools regarding
vaccine distribution efforts.
Facebook announced a new
“evolution” in its video advertising services for Facebook and Instagram.
This rollout includes several new topic-targeting options for in-stream
video ads; testing for Instagram Reels Ads; and “other ad experiences” for
Facebook stories. The elements are designed to “increase opportunities” to
“engage with relevant audiences.” Facebook also revealed that – as part of
the impending release of iOS 14 that it claims will “create limitations”
for using Facebook advertising for mobile apps on iOS devices – it is
implementing new advertiser experiences and measurement protocols such as
Apple’s SKAdNetwork API (application programming interface) and Facebook’s
Aggregated Event Measurement.
Facebook announced that it is
expanding its reliance on user feedback to affect its News Feed ranking
process. Tenets of this plan include an expansion of its “Worth Your Time”
survey program; exploring more feedback-driven signals; and developing a
News Feed ranking product mock.
Facebook revealed that it has
taken actions against two separate, purported Palestinian hacking groups:
the Preventative Security Service and the Arid Viper threat actor. In both
cases, the social network claims to have removed their ability to use
their infrastructure to abuse its platform, distribute malware, and hack
Facebook has broken up a hacker
network run by the Palestinian intelligence service that targeted
journalists, human rights activists, and government critics. According to
Press, the Palestinian Preventive Security Service “used fake and
compromised accounts to create fictitious personas,” often young women,
journalists, and political activists, “to build trust with people they
targeted and trick them into installing malicious software.” The malware
gave the security agency access to targets’ phones, including contacts,
text messages, locations, and even keystrokes, Facebook said. Mike
Dvilyanski, Facebook’s head of cyber espionage investigations, said nearly
800 people in the Palestinian territories, Syria, Turkey, Iraq, Lebanon,
and Libya were targeted. The company believes the effort also used other
online platforms, so the total number of targets is unknown.
Facebook detailed its recent
efforts to censor online content it believes can be linked to “offline
harm.” Specific measures include identifying and removing calls to bring
arms to areas such as Minneapolis, in light of the Derek Chauvin trial;
monitoring events to determine other “temporary, high-risk
locations”;protecting George Floyd’s family members from harassment and
abuse; removing content that praises, celebrates, or mocks his death; and
working to limit “misinformation” and content it considers “graphic.”
Facebook is incorporating new
audio features to make the social network more “immersive” and “intimate.”
Elements include audio-creation cools, including speech-to-text and voice
morphing; music streaming via Facebook’s Sound Collection; support for
sound effects, voice effects, and filters; “soundbite” creation; embedded
support for streaming podcasts; and Live Audio Rooms for Facebook and
Facebook added the ability to port
data from Posts and Notes to Google
Docs, Blogger, and WordPress. To reflect these additions, the social
network is renaming its Data Portability tool as “Transfer Your
Facebook added support for Zoom
and GoToMeeting to Portal TV. This integration is designed to extend
support for connecting with others “using the largest screen in your
home.” Portal offers a smart, hands-free video calling device with
high-fidelity sound and an AI (artificial intelligence)-powered Smart
Facebook has released
its Coordinated Inauthentic Behavior report for March 2021. This document
details the social network’s past-month efforts to “find and stop
coordinated campaigns” that it claims “seek to manipulate public debate.”
March 2021 removals include 14 networks, 1,167 handles, 290 Instagram
accounts, 255 Pages, and 34 Groups that the social network claims
originated in 11 countries. Nations of purported origin include Albania,
Iran, Spain, El Salvador, Argentina, Egypt, Israel, Benin, Comoros,
Georgia, and Mexico.
Facebook announced the global
expansion of its COVID-19 vaccine profile frames. The social network is
launching the new frames, which surround one’s profile picture and promote
pandemic awareness and vaccination efforts, are being made available in
eight new countries, with more to follow “in the coming weeks and months.”
Facebook unveiled Dynamic Ads for
Streaming. This advertising solution was created to help video-streaming
brands highlight their complete content library and showcase “the right
titles to the right audiences.” Consumers can swipe through an ad to see
personalized, relevant titles in which they might be interested based on
targeting from Facebook and Instagram. Users can also follow a custom
call-to-action or begin a trial within the ad.
Facebook rolled out new functions
to give users “more control” over what is shared on the News Feed.
Features include an element to give the poster limited control over who
can comment on a public post. The menu of options includes “anyone” and
“only the people and Pages you tag.” Facebook also unveiled its revised
Feed Filter Bar, which offers streamlined access to Most Recent posts, for
switching between the algorithmically-ranked and chronological News Feed.
Facebook announced that it is
expanding its free Rise program – for providing Facebook Groups-based
resources for those experiencing issues related to novel coronavirus – to
new markets in the US, Canada, Latin America, Italy, and Singapore.
Content is based on three pillars: Learn educational options, Grow
soft-skills training and career perspectives, and Thrive inspirational
Facebook completed the first-phase
buildout of its fiber network build across the state of Indiana. This
“unique” network route encompasses 80 miles along Interstate 70, from the
Ohio border to Indianapolis. A second phase – scheduled for completion “by
the end of 2021” – will support an additional 85-mile route west to the
Illinois border, providing “important” infrastructure to boost economic
growth, opportunity, and job creation.
Facebook detailed specific courses
of action it has taken against “Earth Empusa” – or “Evil Eye” – a group of
Chinese hackers. The social network noted that it is seeking to disrupt
the group’s ability to abuse its platform, distribute malware, and hack
user accounts. The collective, Facebook claims, used “various cyber
espionage tactics to identify its targets and infect their devices with
malware to enable surveillance.” Specific measures it has undertaken
include blocking malicious domain sharing, deleting the group’s accounts,
notifying targeted users, and sharing its findings and “threat indicators”
with “industry peers.”
Facebook updated its brand safety
controls and intellectual property protection tools. Particular elements
include support for helping copyright owners claim and collect ad earnings
on content; the ability to use previously copyrighted content without it
being removed; publisher allow lists and inventory filters; and
enhancements to its Commerce & Ads IP Tool for identifying and
reporting infringing content.
Facebook – as part of its recent
focus on offering a more-secure experience for its minor users – is
rumored to be building a version of Instagram
that will be specifically targeted toward users “under the age of 13.” BuzzFeed News, citing an
“internal company post” it obtained, noted
that the platform will focus on “integrity and privacy work” in order to
make it safer for underage users. Currently, the social network’s policy
restricts users to 13 or over. Per BuzzFeed, “various laws” place limits
on how products can be targeted toward children. No indication has been
made as to what other sort of concessions would need to be made.
Facebook announced that it is
activating support for setting up two-factor authentication when using an
iOS or Android device. This security key option – which is “available to
anyone in the world” – is designed to better protect one’s information
from malicious hackers.
Facebook expanded its features for
helping “keep Facebook Groups safe.” Specific measures include improved
Group recommendations to restrict access to those it considers “harmful”;
restrictions to the reach of Groups and individual members that accrue
violations; a Groups Integrity graphic prior to joining; and new blocking
options for offending users.
Facebook is adding new features
and resources to Instagram to help
protect minors. Elements include new resources for parents and teens;
improved measures to understand real user ages; restricting Direct
Messages between underage users and adults they do not follow; and
campaigns for teenage users to make their accounts private.
Facebook has launched
its new corporate human rights policy, which covers all of its social
network and establishes a fund to “support human rights defenders.” This
policy specifically sets human rights standards to which it claims it will
strive to meet, as defined in international law such as the UN’s Guiding
Principles on Business and Human Rights. The standards will apply to
Facebook-umbrella apps and products, policies, programming, and “overall
approach to … business.” Facebook claims that it will report its “most
critical” human rights violations – such as, interestingly enough, “risks
to freedom of expression” – to its Board of Directors.
the steps it plans to take, moving forward, to promote resources that
“help get people vaccinated against COVID-19.” Specific measures include a
tool to connect users to informational resources; an expanded COVID-19
Information Center for Instagram;
upgraded WhatsApp chatbots for registering for vaccines; “additional
information” labels on novel coronavirus-related posts; and making
available resources regarding common questions and concerns.
The GSMA’s annual Mobile World
Congress in Barcelona, Spain has lost several major vendors, according to
The annual trade show is currently scheduled to return as an in-person
event despite having been cancelled in 2020 due to the ongoing COVID-19
pandemic. Obviously, Spanish officials have concerns over the event
becoming a super-spreader incident, and are maintaining strict controls on
who can travel into the nation for the convention. Because of the reality
of pandemic travel and safety, Ericsson, Sony, Nokia, and Facebook have
all confirmed that they will not be in attendance. While the GSMA does
plan to hold a corresponding online event to coincide with the in-person
MWC, all of the aforementioned vendors will be skipping that as well. They
will instead be opting to hold their own online events to reveal any
products that would have otherwise made their debut in Barcelona. It is
worth noting that the show does still have several major attendees,
including Qualcomm, with its CEO, Cristiano Amon, scheduled to deliver the
event’s keynote. However, Qualcomm told CNet that it will “continue to
monitor the situation and work with the GSMA in the run up to the event.”
Samsung, CNet noted, is also still reviewing its options.
Facebook is adding new elements to
help content creators more easily “monetize on Facebook.”
Options include improved support for pulling revenue from short-form
videos, expanded monetization ability to more creators, larger outlets for
garnering fan support, and research into new in-stream advertising
formats. Additional information
is available via the Facebook Web site.
Facebook is distributing its new Instagram Lite app in over 170
countries. This application – which is part of a collaboration between the
company’s development teams in Tel Aviv and New York – is designed to
provide rural and remote users with “high-quality” access to the social
network while consuming “minimal data.” Instagram Lite requires 2MB to
download (Android), but retains “key” features, including those related to
video and messaging. The app is available via Google Play in a number of
major markets, with a global rollout to follow “soon.”
Facebook introduced support for
private, secure, one-to-one voice and video calling using the WhatsApp
desktop app. Enhanced features include support for both portrait or
landscape orientation, resizing to computer screen, a pin function to keep
video chats at the top, and encrypted support, regardless of using mobile
device or computer.
Facebook has released
its Coordinated Inauthentic Behavior report, which documents the
censorship it conducted in February alone. The social network noted that
it removed 915 Facebook accounts, 606 Instagram
handles, 86 Pages, and 21 Groups over its belief that they were involved
in “coordinated campaigns” to “manipulate public debate.” Supposed
countries of origin include Thailand, Iran, Morocco, and Russia.
Facebook instituted a series of
new measures as a result of recent decisions rendered by its Oversight
Board. Of note, Facebook plans to consolidate and clarify health
misinformation policies; update its Instagram
policy to allow for “health”-related nudity; launch a Transparency Center;
calibrate automation use; explore use of people and technology for
reviewing appeals; promote transparency around automation; evaluate its
tools; remove content based on consultation with “experts”; and reinstate
identical content with parallel context in some cases. The social network
also noted that, despite the Oversight Board’s stated purpose, it would
outright ignore the group’s decision that it needs to work toward less
aggressively enforcing COVID-19 information.
Facebook announced a series of new
features across its apps for helping “celebrate and empower women.”
Specific additions include a Live Rooms function for Instagram;
custom Messenger sticker art; a new Community Help category for organizing
drives and collecting items for underserved women and girls; women-owned
shopping collections on Facebook and Instagram Shop; and other training
seminars, workshops, e-books, and resources.
Facebook has introduced
its new “Good Ideas Deserve To Be Found” initiative. This program
specifically highlights personalized advertisements as an “important way
people discover small businesses” on the Facebook and Instagram platforms.
The initiative also serves to promote ads to help grow businesses and
recover from novel coronavirus. As part of the announcement, Facebook also
introduced its streamlined Ads Manager, began waiving fees for businesses
selling with Checkout on Shops through June 2021, options to note
restaurant details, and a revamped Business Resource Hub (Facebook) and
Professional Dashboard (Instagram).
Facebook announced that it is
relaunching its news-sharing service in Australia following “discussions”
with the country’s government. The social network noted that it now
anticipates “agreeing to new deals” with publishers toward “enabling
Australians to share news links once again.” In a statement, Facebook said
in a statement
that accusations that it “steams original journalism for its own benefit”
are “false. We neither take nor ask for the content for which we were
being asked to pay a potentially exorbitant price.”
Facebook began testing new tools
to prevent users from sharing content that “victimizes children” or
promotes child exploitation. The announcement – which includes features
for preventing abuse and detecting and reporting content – is based on
close collaboration with “experts” and “authorities.” The rollout includes
targeted tools and policies to reduce sharing of such content; block
malicious searches; and promote resources and information that discusses
the aftermath and consequences of viewing illegal content. Further info
rmation is available via a dedicated subsite.
Facebook introduced new features
to support Instagram users affected
by negative body images or eating disorders. Elements include newly
surfaced, “expert-backed” resources for users searching such content;
expanded collaboration to inform its policies; and ongoing work with
“community leaders” to help create and share “positive, inspiring”
Facebook is rolling out two
experimental features for Oculus Rift. The “long-requested” elements
include support for multi-user accounts, including logging multiple
handles into a single headset; and app sharing, with friend lists, browser
history, and customizable privacy settings.
Facebook announced plans to expand
and improve access to its Climate Science Information Center. This update
includes a new section focused on debunking “common climate myths,”
directing users to the UN Environment Program in areas where the resource
is not available, and providing informational labels on “some posts” (UK
only). Facebook is also expanding the center’s availability to other
countries beyond the US, UK, France, and Germany. Additional information
is available via the Facebook Web site.
Facebook rolled out new resources
for helping app developers and publishers to “monetize and grow” on the
Audience Network. Elements include new gaming app monetization guides,
learning tools, app bidding guides, and other “inspiration.” Additional info
is available via the Facebook for Business Web site.
Facebook published its Community
Standards Enforcement Report for the fourth quarter of 2020. Of note,
Facebook noted that it removed 6.3 million instances of bullying or
harassment content, 6.4 million pieces of organized hate content, 26.9
million pieces of hate speech, and 2.5 million posts with suicide or
self-injury content. On instagram, bullying and harassment (five million),
hate content (308,000), hate speech (6.6 million), and suicide and
self-injury (3.4 million) were likewise flagged and deleted.
Facebook noted that it is taking
steps to support frequent user requests to cut back on political content
on its platforms. The social network – which already has the technology in
place to filter out specific topic content by user-preset keywords – noted
that it plans to try to “better understand peoples’ varied preferences”
and “test a number of approaches based on those insights.” While not
honoring multiple user requests over the years to add such filters,
Facebook noted that it will temporarily reduce News Feed political content
for a “small percentage of people” in the US, Canada, and Indonesia. The
service noted that it will exempt unwanted content from official
government agencies, services, and COVID-19 resources from this
deprioritization. Facebook also plans to survey its users regarding their
experiences during these tests.
Facebook has published
its latest “Coordinated Inauthentic Behavior” report for January 2021.
This document records instances of account shut-downs for such alleged
activity over the 31-day period. Removals include 426 Facebook and 153 Instagram accounts; 210 Pages, and 62
Groups. Most activity is believed to have originated in Uganda and
Facebook established a new
campaign to promote “authoritative” information regarding the novel
coronavirus vaccination process. Specific resources include information
regarding scheduling a vaccine; providing $120 million in ad credits to
help agencies promote health information; providing data to inform
effective vaccine delivery and educational efforts; and expanded efforts
to remove “false” claims on Facebook and Instagram.
Facebook announced that it will
test News Feed topic exclusion controls – a long-requested consumer
feature – but only exclusively for its advertisers. The function, which
will first be made available to a “small group of advertisers,” allows
users to prevent their ads from appearing next to certain undesired
topics, based on brand suitability preferences.
Facebook issued a series of
announcements to honor Black History Month. In particular, the social
network noted that it is using its platforms to “elevate Black voices and
businesses” by spotlighting content to highlight “diversity of
experiences, interests and definitions of ‘Blackness’.” Particular
announcements include rolling out a new “Written By” docuseries;
establishing a We The Culture creative community; streaming a Facebook
Watch mini-series dedicated to music; launching a Lift Black Voices hub on
the app; and issuing other calls-to-action. Additional details
are available via the Facebook news site.
Facebook‘s Oversight Board published
its official decisions of record on their initial review cases. The social
network noted that it will implement these verdicts as “binding.”
Additional details are available via the Oversight Board subsite.
Facebook announced that it is
providing new Holocaust-related informational resources via its platform.
Users who search for terms associated with the genocide or Holocaust
denial claims will now see a custom message encouraging them to connect
with credible information. The resources build on the social network’s
recent efforts to “keep Holocaust denial content off of [its] platform.”
The tool will first be available in English-speaking platforms, but will
expand to more languages and countries “over the coming months.”
Facebook announced a new effort to
bolster transparency regarding ads concerning social issues, elections,
and politics that ran on Facebook and Instagram
during the 2020 US election cycle. The social network noted that,
effective February 1st, researchers can gain access to targeting
information regarding 1.3 million social issue, electoral, and political
advertisements through the Facebook Open Research & Transparency (FORT)
platform.Facebook also noted that it will migrate the associated ad
Library to its Elections page, where the information will remain available
for download, starting in February.
Facebook began rolling out
Facebook News in the UK. This in-app “destination” includes news from
“hundreds of leading national, local and lifestyle outlets.” Partnerships
include Channel 4 News, Daily Mail Group, DC Thomson, Financial Times, Sky
News, and Telegraph Media Group, in addition to a number of other
previously announced outlets. Key features include options to read latest
news, access personalized filters, and functions to “dive deeper” into
business, entertainment, health, science & tech, and sport, as well as
revamped controls for hiding certain topics or sources.
Facebook disclosed that it will
refer its decision to indefinitely suspend Donald Trump’s account access,
across both Facebook and Instagram,
to its Independent Oversight Board. The company noted that it believes its
decision was “necessary and right,” but that “given its significance …
it is important for the board to review it and reach an independent
judgment.” Trump’s account was suspended on January 7th following the
Capitol Hill conflict involving some of his supporters, over allegations
that he “actively” fomented an insurrection and thwarted peaceful
transition of power.
Facebook rolled out new resources
for helping businesses “build a more equal future.” The online resources
include tools, programs, and resources to foster business equality, boost
customer interactions, more creatively advertise, become more diverse and
inclusive, and access “real-life examples of inspiration.”
Facebook streamlined its Access
Your Information interface to improve access to one’s data. The
restructuring includes eight new categories: Your Activity Across
Facebook, Friends and Followers, Preferences, Personal Information, Logged
Information, Ads Information, Apps and Websites, Off of Facebook, Security
and Login Information. Each category, it was noted, can be broken down
into sub-categories to more easily locate information.
Facebook has posted
its latest Coordinated Inauthentic Behavior report, noting that it removed
17 networks of Accounts, Pages, and Groups in December 2020. Deceptive
accounts included 1,957 handles, 707 Instagram
users, 156 Pages, and 727 Groups that it believes originated in Russia,
Iran, the Ukraine, Brazil, Argentina, Morocco, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan,
Indonesia, and France.
Facebook outlined its policies and
practices as it prepares for US Inauguration Day. The company plans to
implement a series of “additional steps” – using the same teams and
technology as it did during the general election – that it claims are
designed to prevent the spread of “misinformation and content that could
incite further violence.” Measures include complete censorship of any
messages containing the phrase “Stop the Steal”; keeping its Integrity
Operations Center operating “at least through January 22”; maintaining its
pause on all ads in the US about politics or elections; and connecting
users with “reliable” information and “high-quality” news via popups.
Facebook is also adding a news digest to Facebook News as a curated place
for “reliable” news; increasing requirements for Group admins to review
and approve posts; automatically disabling comments on posts in Groups
that start to have a high rate of undesired language or calls for
violence; and using AI to demote content that “likely” violates Facebook
Facebook updated its Messenger
Kids app with a number of features for the holiday season. Options include
an opt-in chat with Santa Claus; seasonal AR (augmented reality) effects,
stickers, and frames; and customizable digital holiday cards.
Facebook removed three separate
networks from its platforms for allegedly violating its policy against
“foreign or government interference.” The censorship over supposed
“coordinated inauthentic behavior” involved 358 handles, 161 Pages, 32
Groups, and 32 Instagram accounts
that Facebook claims originated in France and Russia. The groups
supposedly targeted interference toward the Central African Republic,
Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Algeria, Cote d’Ivoire, Chad, Madagascar,
Cameroon, Equitorial Guinea, Mozambique, South Africa, Libya, Sudan, and
Facebook announced that it has
taken action against a pair of alleged hacker groups. According to the
social network, Vietnam’s APT32 and another collective out of Bangladesh
used the platform to distribute malware and hack user accounts. Facebook
noted that it believes it has removed the groups’ ability to use their
infrastructure to abuse its platform. Additional information
is available via the Facebook Web site.
Facebook launched a new Receivables
Financing Program to support US suppliers. This one-year program
allows some businesses owned by minorities, women, veterans, disabled
citizens, and members of the LGBTQ+ community to gain access to additional
working capital by having their invoices paid immediately.
Facebook debuted a Carts feature
for WhatsApp for messaging and interacting with businesses that sell
multiple items at once. The Carts function will allow users to browse a
catalog, select multiple products, and send orders as one message to a
Facebook announced that it will
again begin removing user posts on Facebook and Instagram
that it deems make “false claims about COVID-19.” In particular, this
round of censorship focuses on assertions made about the effectiveness and
safety of vaccines. Particular areas of target will include
“misinformation” that Facebook asserts could lead to “imminent physical
harm”; potentially inaccurate info regarding vaccine efficacy,
ingredients, or side effects; claims that vaccines contain microchips; and
conspiracy theories about COVID-19 vaccines that Facebook says are false.
The mass removal – which affects any statements Facebook alleges have been
debunked by “public health experts” – will take place “over the coming
Facebook incorporated several new
features for helping automobile dealers manage and promote inventory on
Facebook. The updates – which are available on the Pages of US-based
dealerships – include a “Manage Inventory” tab, streamlined setup for
inventory ads, and a new “Vehicles” tab for showcasing available cars.
Alliances and Joint Ventures
Facebook joined the EU
Climate Pact. The European Commission (EC)-run
initiative was established to promote climate change learning and develop,
implement, and scale related solutions. As part of this agreement, the
social network outlined a series of pledges for helping users “take action
against climate change” and “build a greener Europe.” Among Facebook’s
pledges are supporting 100 percent renewable energy and achieve net zero
emissions (2030); amplifying climate science information through the
Climate Science Information Center; supporting via investments in
education and sustainability innovation through the Data Center Community
Skills program; and sharing learnings and tactics to support other
businesses in Europe with their transition to net zero emissions.
Facebook is partnering with
several parties to establish the Alliance for Advancing Health Online.
This initiative will serve to “advance public understanding of how social
media and behavioral sciences can be leveraged to improve the health of
communities around the world.” Alliance members include the Bay Area
Global Health Alliance, the CDC Foundation, the MIT Initiative on the
Digital Economy, Merck, Sabin
Vaccine Institute, the Vaccine Confidence Project at the London School of
Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, the World Bank, and the World Health
Organization. For its part, Facebook will specifically work with Merck,
each committing $20 million to initially focus on addressing vaccine
hesitancy and vaccine equity among underserved communities.
Facebook is partnering with Analytic
Edge to run a MMM SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) program. This
initiative will employ a self-serve MMM (marketing mix modeling) platform
to help advertisers accelerate MMM processes and adopt real-time solutions
to evaluate publisher incrementality and performance. The adoption of MMM
SaaS allows advertisers to integrate and collect data, run analysis in a
“short time,” and reference the results to plan the future marketing
Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), Facebook, and Microsoft
announced that they are making “key” patents available toward helping
“accelerate the adoption of low-carbon technology” under HPE’s Low-Carbon
Patent Pledge. This initiative is designed to provide access to hundreds
of patents to support technologists developing low-carbon solutions for
“generating, storing, and distributing low-carbon energy” that is
Facebook joined Talent
x Opportunity Initiative (TxO). This group serves to provide
entrepreneurs from udner-served communities, providing options for
funding, skilling, and other resources to help grow their businesses.
Specifically, Facebook plans to leverage its resources to provide cohort
companies with ad credits and strategic guidance, via Facebook Evaluate.
Facebook AI teamed with the Helmholtz
Zentrum Munchen to introduce a new method for accelerating discovery
of effective new drug combinations. The social network noted that it built
a single AI (artificial intelligence) model for predicting the effects of
drug combinations, dosages, timing, and intervention types. An open-source
model – called “Compositional Perturbation Autoencoder” – includes an API
(application programming interface) and Python package. Additional info
is available via the Facebook Web site.
Personnel and Organizational
Facebook is increasing workforce
diversity, and support for minority-owned businesses. “We increased
representation of women in technical, non-technical and leadership roles
globally as well as Black and Hispanic employees in the US. In just one
year, we achieved a 38.2 percent increase in Black leaders, getting a head
start on a five-year goal to increase leaders who are people of color by
30 percent. Representation of women globally, combined with
underrepresented minorities, people with disabilities and veterans in the
US slightly outpaced our ambitious growth, and today make up 45.6 percent
of our workforce, up from 45.3 percent in 2020. We’re on track to meet our
goal of spending $1.1 billion with diverse-owned businesses, and donating
to underrepresented creators and nonprofits this year.”
Facebook announced that its
Oversight Board has accepted its first policy advisory opinion referral
from the social network. Facebook noted that this non-binding
recommendation will specifically allow it to “improve” its policies,
“especially those that are significant and difficult.” This request is
related to proper privacy levels for residential information, via
Facebook’s Privacy Violations and Image Privacy Rights. Under its bylaws,
Facebook will review Oversight Board opinions over a 30-day period prior
to issuing a public response. Policy advisory cases, it was noted, differ
from traditional Oversight Board cases in that they do not involve
specific pieces of content or instances of punishment.
Facebook responded to a recent
report attributed to Business
Insider that noted that information from 530 million accounts was
made “publicly available in an unsecured database.” The social network
noted that this data was obtained by “malicious actors” by “scraping it
from our platform prior to September 2019.” No information, Facebook
claims, was hacked from its systems. Data scraping occurred at the time
via Facebook’s contact importer tool. “When we became aware of how
malicious actors were using this feature in 2019, we made changes,”
Facebook noted in a statement.
“We updated it to prevent malicious actors from using software to imitate
our app and upload a large set of phone numbers to see which ones matched
Facebook hired Roy Austin, Jr., a
civil rights attorney and advocate, as VP of Civil Rights and Deputy
General Counsel. The nomination – which is part of a plan to establish a
new Civil Rights organization – takes effect on January 19, 2021. Austin
also worked on the White House Domestic Policy Council as Deputy Assistant
to the President for the Office of Urban Affairs, Justice and Opportunity,
between 2014 and 2017. He will be based out of Washington, DC.
Facebook designated $150 million
of its $1 billion Affordable Housing Commitment to build homes for
low-income Bay Area residents. This Community Housing Fund will support
the development of at least 2,000 houses for those making less than 30
percent of the region’s median income.
Facebook reported third quarter
2021 results. In the quarter, Facebook earned revenues of $29.01 billion,
up 35 percent from Q3 2020 ($21.47 billion). “We made good progress this
quarter and our community continues to grow,” said Mark Zuckerberg. “I’m
excited about our roadmap, especially around creators, commerce, and
helping to build the metaverse.”
Facebook is pledging to make a $2
million donation toward supporting Asian and Pacific Islander small
businesses. This investment includes an “Amplify API” program of resources
and training, entrepreneur spotlights to “fuel future growth,” and other
Facebook noted a 94 percent
year-on-year increase in profits for the 2021 first quarter ended March
31st. Net earnings were $9.5 billion, or $3.30 per share, compared to a
21Q1 net income of $4.9 billion, or $1.71 per share. At the same time,
revenues were $26 billion, an amount that is up by 48 percent from 2020 Q1
sales of $18 billion. By segment, Advertising revenue grew 46 percent Y2Y
to $25.4 billion, while Other revenue increased 146 percent to $732
million. In terms of subscribership, Facebook logged DAUs (daily active
users) of 1.88 billion (March 2021), good for 8 percent Y2Y growth; and a
MAU (monthly active user) increase of 10 percent to 2.85 billion (March
Facebook posted 58 percent
year-on-year profit growth for the 2020, 12-month period ended December
31, 2020. Earnings were $29 billion, or $10.09 per share, compared to a
2019 net income of $18.5 billion, or $6.43 per share. Revenues, meanwhile,
were $86 billion, which is up by 22 percent from 2019 sales of $71
billion, with Advertising revenue improving 21 percent Y2Y to $84 billion.
Fourth quarter net income was $11.2 billion, or $3.88 per share, which is
up by 53 percent from 2019 Q4 profits of $7.3 billion, or $2.56 per share.
Revenues were $28 billion, which is up by 33 percent from 19Q4 sales of
$21.1 billion. Of this amount, Advertising revenue improved 31 percent Y2Y
to $27 billion. Monthly active users were up 12 percent year to year to
2.8 billion, as of December 31, 2020, while daily active users were 1.84
billion for December.
Facebook filed separate lawsuits
against two alleged perpetrators of online scams. The defendants, in both
cases, reportedly violated the social network’s Terms and Advertising
Policies. One suit involves N&J USA, Mohit Melwani, and Vishaal
Melwani, who it claims ran deceptive ads to promote merchandise sales, but
instead redirected to third-party e-commerce Web sites to complete a
transaction that either went unfulfilled or delivered products with a
lesser quality than advertised. In the second case, Facebook sued four
Vietnamese individuals – Them Huu Nguyen, Le Khang, Nguyen Quoc Bao, and
Pham Huu Dung – for allegedly employing “session theft” and “cookie theft”
practices to compromise the accounts of employees of advertising and
marketing agencies, then run unauthorized advertisements. Additional info
is available via the Facebook Newsroom.
Facebook and luxury fashion brand
a joint lawsuit against the alleged head of an “international
counterfeiting business.” This US District Court case for the Northern
District of California accuses the defendant of using multiple Facebook
and Instagram accounts to promote
sales of counterfeit Gucci products. According to Facebook and Gucci, the
purported counterfeiter also employed multiple accounts in order to “evade
Facebook’s enforcement efforts.
Facebook says it will make
materials and documents available to Epic
Games in support of the Fortnite maker’s legal fight against Apple
and its App Store practices. Stopping short of joining the lawsuit against
Apple, Facebook’s material is expected to be useful to Epic during the
discovery phase. Epic filed suit against both Apple and Google after the
companies pulled Fortnite from their app stores, saying that an
unauthorized payment system skirted the stores’ policies on in-app
purchases. Facebook’s move can be seen as an escalation in its ongoing
fight with Apple over various policies ranging from App Store commissions
to privacy issues. The social media firm recently criticized Apple’s plan
to allow users to restrict certain apps from collecting personal data,
saying those policies could imperil small businesses while potentially
benefiting its own bottom line. “This is not really about privacy for
them,” Facebook’s head of ad products Dan Levy told the Wall
Street Journal. “This is about an attack on personalized ads and the
consequences it’s going to have on small-business owners.”
Facebook supports the climate and
clean energy provisions of Congress’ budget reconciliation bill. “Facebook
recognizes the urgency of climate change and is committed to help tackle
this global challenge. Earlier this year we announced that our global
operations are supported by 100 percent renewable energy and have reached
net zero emissions, completing the goal we set for ourselves in 2018.
We’ve already set a new goal that in 2030, we will reach net zero
emissions across not only our own operations, but also our value
Facebook completed a six-month
independent privacy assessment, as agreed by the Federal Trade Commission
(FTC). According to the company, “The report recognizes the high level of
access and cooperation that we provided throughout the assessment process.
It also calls out our extensive investments in privacy compliance and
notes that the scope of our privacy program and the structure we’ve used
to organize it are comprehensive. As a result, the key foundational
elements necessary for an effective program are now in place even if some
are still developing.”
Taking aim at the country’s major tech companies, the US House of
Representatives unveiled five new bills that lawmakers say will address
competition and antitrust concerns. The bipartisan agenda of legislation
comes as a result of the House’s Antitrust Subcommittee investigation into
the business practices of Facebook,
and Google. One of the main
proposals as outlined in a House press
release would directly affect Amazon, possibly resulting in the
separation its online marketplace from its branded product lines. Titled
the “Ending Platform Monopolies Act,” the bill would make it unlawful for
an online platform to own a business that “utilizes the covered platform
for the sale or provision of products or services” or that sells services
as a condition for access to the platform. If passed, Amazon would have to
separate its online presence into one site that sells goods by
third-parties and another focusing on its own products. Other options
would include divesting or shutting down its private-label division. The
other pieces of legislation include the “American Innovation and Choice
Online Act” that prohibits discriminatory conduct by dominant platforms;
the “Platform Competition and Opportunity Act” forbidding the acquisition
of competing companies by dominant platforms; the “Augmenting
Compatibility and Competition by Enabling Service Switching (ACCESS) Act”
that would promote online competition by lowering barriers to entry and
switching costs for businesses and consumers through interoperability and
data portability requirements; and the “Merger Filing Fee Modernization
Act” to update filing fees for mergers for the first time in two decades.
This would provide additional resources to the Department of Justice and
the Federal Trade Commission to aggressively enforce antitrust laws.
The US House of Representatives Judiciary Committee voted to formally
approve an official committee report that could eventually serve as a
blueprint for legislative action against the anticompetitive practices of
Big Tech companies. The 400-page report was approved by a 24-17 vote that
split along party lines, according to Reuters.
Google, and Facebook
each hold monopoly power over significant sectors of our economy. This
monopoly moment must end,” Rep. David Cicilline (D. – Rhode Island) said
in a statement. “Now that the Judiciary Committee has formally adopted our
findings, I look forward to crafting legislation that addresses the
significant concerns we have raised.” The House report includes proposals
for increasing the budgets and powers of regulators and antitrust
agencies, but also includes a measure seemingly aimed directly at Amazon
that would bar companies from selling their own products on e-commerce
platforms they operate.
The CEOs for Facebook, Google,
and Twitter are set
to appear before Congress, per CNBC,
to “discuss misinformation” and “defend the liability shield that helped
establish the industry.” As noted by Facebook, the House
Energy and Commerce Committee is examining the tech platforms’
response to misinformation as a “single challenge that can be solved.” Of
note, Facebook revealed
that it has disabled “more than 1.3 billion” “fake” accounts in the last
three months of 2020 alone; made efforts to take down covert foreign and
domestic influence operations; and cracked down on deceptive behavior.
Facebook filed separate motions to
dismiss the antitrust lawsuits brought against it by the Federal Trade
Commission (ftc) and several state
Attorneys General. The controversial social network noted in a statement
that the complaints “do not credibly claim that our conduct” caused harm,
and that the regulators are “relying on a market definition that doesn’t
make sense. … People around the world use our products not because they
have to, but because we make their lives better.” Additional information
is available via the Facebook Newsroom.
Facebook and Amazon
spent record amounts on lobbying federal lawmakers in 2020, as Big Tech
firms laid out $65 million to counter growing regulatory threats. Recent
financial disclosures show that Facebook spent $19.7 million on its
lobbying efforts, well above its 2019 total of $16.7 million. Amazon
reported spending at least $18.5 million in 2020 vs. $16.1 million the
year before. Apple, meanwhile, paid
out $6.7 million last year, below its record outlay of $7.4 million in
2019. Google spent $8.7 million,
down sharply from its peak of $21.7 million in 2018, and Netflix
disclosed spending just $750,000 in 2020, down from its 2015 peak of $1.3
million. Michael Beckel, research director for Issue One, which advocates
for an overhaul of the country’s campaign finance and ethics laws, told
Post, “There’s a lot of policymakers and lawmakers on both sides of
the aisle [that] are giving the tech industry more scrutiny. And with that
increased scrutiny comes a desire to spend more on lobbying and make sure
your side of the story is heard.”
The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced it is launching a broad
inquiry into the privacy and data collection practices of a number of big
tech firms. Nine social media and video streaming companies, including Amazon, TikTok,
and YouTube are being required to
provide information on how they collect, use, and present personal
information, how they determine which ads and other content are shown to
consumers, and whether they apply algorithms or data analytics to personal
information. The companies will have 45 days from the date they received
the order to respond. The commission’s press
release states that the order is being issued under an article of
the FTC Act that authorizes them to conduct “wide-ranging studies that do
not have a specific law enforcement purpose.” The FTC says one of the
goals of the study is to understand “how their practices affect children
Facebook has been sued
by the US federal government and a collective group of 48 state Attorneys
General, accusing it of “illegal, anti-competitive tactics” by seeking to
“buy, bully and kill its rivals.” These statements come via The
Washington Post, which noted that the social network’s acquisitions
of Instagram (2012) and WhatsApp
(2014) helped it “remove potentially potent rivals from the digital
marketplace” in order to “enrich itself on advertising dollars at the cost
of users, who as a result have fewer social networking options at their
disposal.” Per the news outlet, The Federal Trade Commission (ftc)
filed its case in Washington, DC District Court, with a bipartisan group
led by Attorney General Letitia James (D-NY) and including “dozens of
states and territories” registering similar complaints. For its part,
Facebook called the case “revisionist history,” noting that it complied
with all antitrust regulations at the time, and passed FTC and EC
reviews, in addition to a “second request” survey by the Trade Commission.
“Now, many years later, with seemingly no regard for settled law or the
consequences to innovation and investment, the agency is saying it got it
wrong and wants a do-over,” said VP and General Counsel, Jennifer
Newstead, in a statement.
“This is simply not how the antitrust laws are supposed to work.”
- 1 Merchant, Brian. “The Real Reason Facebook Changed Its
Name.” The Atlantic. October 28, 2021.
- 2 Kazeniac, Andy. “Social Networks: Facebook Takes Over Top
Spot, Twitter Climbs.” Compete. February 12, 2009.
- 3 “Number of Active Advertisers on Facebook from 1st
Quarter 2016 to 3rd Quarter 2020.” Statista. 2021.
- 4 Kang, Cecilia, Mike Isaac, and Nathaniel Popper.
“Facebook’s Zuckerberg, Accused of Lying, Withstands a Washington
‘Beating.’" The New York Times. October 23, 2019.
- 5 Boyd, Ashley. “Facebook Is Still Failing at Ad
Transparency (No Matter What They Claim).” Mozilla (blog).
October 31, 2019.
6 Eidelman, Vera. “Facebook Shouldn’t Censor Offensive
Speech.” ACLU. July 20, 2018.
- 7 “The Facebook Papers and Their Fallout.” The New York Times.
October 28, 2021.
- 8 Asher Hamilton, Isobel. “Mark Zuckerberg Says Apple Is
Becoming Facebook’s Biggest Competitor. He Also Accused Apple of
Misleading Users on Privacy and Abusing Its Dominance.” Insider, Inc.
January 28, 2021.
- 9 Teng, Jasmine. “Meet Facebook’s Metaverse Competitors.”
Quartz Media. November 11, 2021.
[return to top of this