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Instagram vows to fight hidden ads amid UK competition probe

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A person using Instagram.

Lorenzo Di Cola | NurPhoto via Getty Images

LONDON — Facebook-owned Instagram committed to take further action to prevent “hidden advertising,” the U.K.’s competition watchdog said Friday.

Back in 2018, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) began investigating the issue of social media influencers using their profiles to promote businesses without disclosing whether they’d been paid to do so.

Last year, 16 celebrities including British singer Rita Ora and vlogger Zoella agreed to declare whether they were paid or otherwise incentivized to endorse products, after warnings from the CMA.

The regulator now says it has gotten Instagram to crack down on hidden ads as well. A Facebook spokesperson told CNBC the social media giant was “pleased to be working with the CMA on our continued efforts to help people be transparent about when they are paid to post content on Instagram.”

According to the CMA, the new measures from Instagram will include: Asking users whether they’ve been incentivized to promote something and, if so, to disclose it; allowing all users to display clear labels on paid posts; and using algorithms to sniff out users that fail to disclose their post is an ad.

“For too long, major platforms have shied away from taking responsibility for hidden advertising on their site,” CMA Chief Executive Andrea Coscelli said in a statement Friday.

“So, this commitment to tackle hidden adverts and overhaul the way people post on Instagram — making it difficult for users to ignore the law — is a welcome step forward.”

The changes apply to all Instagram users in the U.K. and anyone globally who directs their posts toward Brits, the CMA said. Instagram will also give the watchdog regular updates on its progress.


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‘Who the hell elected you?’ Big tech CEOs grilled in US Senate hearing – video | Technology

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Republican and Democrat lawmakers grill the CEOs of tech giants Twitter, Facebook and Google in a hearing about a federal law protecting internet companies from legal liability for content generated by its users. While Republicans focused on disinformation and the ‘censoring’ of Donald Trump, Democrats accused their rivals of politicising the hearing, while also questioning the mechanics of the platforms that promoted content they deemed divisive

Republicans use congressional hearing to berate tech CEOs and claim Trump is ‘censored’


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Mark Zuckerberg gives Facebook employees all of Thanksgiving week off

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Facebook’s founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks to participants during the Viva Technologie show at Parc des Expositions Porte de Versailles on May 24, 2018 in Paris, France.

Chesnot | Getty Images

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is giving all U.S. employees the entire week of Thanksgiving off, according to an internal message he sent on Wednesday night. The move is meant to reward employees for the work they’ve done during “unprecedented challenges,” and could help bolster morale after the company’s moderation policies have come under fire from some employees.

The note says that all employees around the world will get an extra three days off — either Monday Nov. 23 through Wed. Nov 25, or other days for particular teams or geographical regions.

“The idea here is to give as many people as possible a break. I hope you can disconnect and take the time to rest and recharge before the final push of the year,” Zuckerberg wrote.

Facebook has faced an unusually tumultuous time internally. All employees have been working remotely since the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, and the company has instituted a wide range of policies around misinformation and political posts over a politically charged summer and in the run-up to the U.S. elections next Tuesday.

In May and June, employees grew upset after Facebook decided not to remove a post from President Trump saying “when the looting starts, the shooting starts” in reference to widespread protests over the police killing of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man. Facebook later restricted how and where employees could express political views on internal message boards.

More recently, the company has rolled out a string of new policies related to the election, but has sometimes struggled to enforce them consistently, or to explain that enforcement to outsiders. For instance, earlier this week, the company allowed the Trump campaign to set up an ad implying he had won the election, in direct contradiction to Facebook’s rules, then justified the decision by saying that the precise wording of the ad — “President Trump is STILL your president” — would be true until January even if Trump loses.

Earlier on Wednesday, Zuckerberg testified before the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee to defend Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which shields online platforms like Facebook from liability over material their users post, and allows them to moderate content without fear of legal retribution.

Facebook reports Q3 earnings on Thursday.


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Samsung Q3 2020 earnings, forecasts weak demand amid competition

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A South Korean flag, left, and Samsung Electronics flag fly outside the company’s headquarters in Seoul, South Korea, on July 5, 2019.

Jean Chung | Bloomberg | Getty Images

SINGAPORE — Samsung Electronics on Thursday said it expects a decline in profit in the three months that will end on Dec. 31 due to weak memory chip demand and intense competition in the smartphone and consumer electronics.

The world’s top smartphone maker announced a 59% year-on-year jump in operating profit to 12.35 trillion Korean won (about $10.89 billion) for the July-September quarter, which was in line with earlier guidance. Samsung said it was partly due to a boost in demand for smartphones and consumer electronics — sale of smartphones, including new flagship models like the Galaxy Note20, saw a near 50% jump in sales.

Samsung shares fell 1.19% in early trade, tracking the overall decline in the South Korean market where the Kospi index was down 1.27%.

“Looking ahead, Samsung Electronics expects profit to decline in the fourth quarter amid weakening memory chip demand from server customers and intensifying competition in mobile phones and consumer electronics,” the company said in a statement.

Low prices for memory chips used by servers in data centers are likely to weigh on the main profit-making semiconductor business in the last three months of 2020. Demand for chips used in smartphones, personal computers and graphics processing units, used for gaming consoles and PCs, is predicted to rise, Samsung said.

The mobile business will potentially see smartphone sales decline, according to the South Korean tech giant. But the displays unit, which counts Apple as a customer, is set to see a significant rise in mobile panel sales from the third quarter due to new smartphone launches.

For next year, Samsung predicted a recovery in overall global demand but said uncertainties will remain over the coronavirus pandemic.


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