Displaying items by tag: Twitter

Twitter’s CEO pledges $1bn to coronavirus relief

Written on Wednesday, 08 April 2020 08:38

Twitter co-founder and chief executive Jack Dorsey has pledged $1 billion of his personal fortune to Covid-19 relief. The money comes from his share in Square and equates to almost a third of his overall net worth.

Dorsey said in a series of tweets that he would transfer his equity in his digital payments group Square to his limited liability corporation Start Small, contributing around 28 percent of his overall wealth.

The move could be the largest from a single individual for coronavirus relief and comes with the pandemic spanning the globe and inflicting a heavy toll in lives and economic devastation on the United States.

"Why now? The needs are increasingly urgent, and I want to see the impact in my lifetime," Dorsey said.

"I hope this inspires others to do something similar. Life is too short, so let's do everything we can today to help people now."

Dorsey said that after the pandemic ends, the fund would focus on health and education for girls and "universal basic income" efforts.

Dorsey, who is CEO of both Twitter and Square, has created a foundation as well as the Start Small LLC, a model similar to that established by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg in his Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative, to allow for flexibility in funding startups and efforts a foundation may be ineligible to fund.

A document link tweeted by Dorsey showed the new fund had already pledged $100,000 to a new initiative called America's Food Fund launched by Laurene Powell Jobs, the widow of Steve Jobs, and actor Leonardo DiCaprio.

Dorsey's net worth is estimated at about $3 billion including his stake in Twitter and Square.

He said he chose to use his equity from the payments group because "I own a lot more Square."

Other technology entrepreneurs have pledged relief efforts in varying amounts. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has pledged $100 million to help food relief efforts during the pandemic, and Zuckerberg has offered more than $25 million to help research through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The Gates Foundation last month pledged $125 million for research but is believed to be investing more in a variety of projects.

Published in Reports

Twitter warns of Covid-19 impact on Q1 results

Written on Tuesday, 24 March 2020 08:58

Twitter has announced it expects operating loss in the first-quarter, and quarterly revenue to be down on a year-over-year basis, as a result of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. 

"Twitter had a strong start to the year before the effects of COVID-19 began spreading more broadly...... it has impacted Twitter's advertising revenue globally more significantly in the last few weeks," said Ned Segal, Twitter's Chief Financial Officer.

Despite this, the crisis has significantly expanded its average daily user base — with a net gain of 12 million so far in the current period. The COVID-19 outbreak have boosted Twitter’s overall daily active users (DAU): According to the company, year to date average total monetizable DAU are approximately 164 million, up 23% from 134 million in Q1 2019 and an increase of 8% from 152 million in Q4 2019.

In the current quarter, “We’re seeing a meaningful increase in people using Twitter, and our teams are demonstrating incredible resilience adapting to this unprecedented environment,” Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said in a statement. “We’ll continue to navigate this environment focusing on supporting our employees, customers, and partners, while strengthening our service for everyone around the world and adjusting to a new operating and economic environment.”

While announcing the fourth-quarter results, Twitter had expected operating income to be between break even and $30 million, and total revenue of $825 million - $885 million for the first-quarter.

The company said it withdrew its prior operating income and revenue guidance for the first quarter of 2020, due to the profound changes on the global operating and economic environment and the effect on advertiser demand.

Twitter expects to release financial results for the first quarter on April 30, 2020.

Published in Finance

On Saturday, the Australian government pledged to introduce new laws on social media executives in light of the latest terrorist attack in New Zealand.

The new law would be imposed on social media executives of big tech companies which could lead up to a three-year prison sentence if they fail to remove extremist material from their platforms.

This new legislation is to be discussed in parliament next week.

Facebook has said that it removed around 1.5 million videos which comprised of the livestreamed massacre which took play on March 15 in Christchurch mosque in New Zealand. It was a 17-minute video which was filmed by the terrorist himself going on a rampage and killing 50 innocent people. This video was almost immediately available online and Facebook quickly took the video down several hours after the attack.

“Big social media companies have a responsibility to take evry possible action to ensure their technology products are not exploited by murderous terrorists,” said Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

Morrison met with several tech companies on Tuesday some of which included Facebook, Twitter and Google. At the meeting, Australia stated that it would advise other G20 countries to do the same and hold social media firms accountable.

At the meeting, Facebook said that it was “committed to working with leaders and communities” in order to “help counter hate speech and the threat of terrorism.” However, the tech company refused to give any further comments.

Attorney General Christian Porter said that the new legislation would make it a criminal offence if social media platforms fail to discard “abhorrent violent material” such as murder, rape and terror attacks.

The fines for such an offence are expected to be worth billions of dollars.

Porter stated, “Mainstream media hat broadcast such material would be putting their licence at risk and there is no reason why social media platforms should be treated any differently.”

Nigel Phair, a cybersecurity expert, hinted that this new law could not possibly imprison social media executives. He stated that jail was reserved for “serious criminal matters” and that executives based in Australia were not company “decision makers”.

“Jails is for violent offenders, not marketing representatives in Australia of an American social media company.”
He said that the social media firms could have done more than what they pledged to do on Tuesday. He added, “They didn’t read the tea leaves back then, it’ll be different how they read the tea leaves now.”

Published in Apps

Social media platforms such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter are facing scrutiny following the horrific terrorist attack in New Zealand. 

Published in Apps

Trump thanks Apple CEO for job opportunities in Texas

Written on Monday, 17 December 2018 07:15

Plans for a $1 billion Apple campus in Texas has won the praise of President Donald Trump.

Published in Apps

More than a dozen tech giants in the United States, including Verizon, Facebook, Snap, Twitter and Alphabet’s Google, have filed a 44-page brief with the Supreme Court calling for tighter restrictions on government officials having access to private and sensitive cellphone data of individuals.

The move highlights an ongoing dispute in the US over whether authorities should have to obtain a warrant before accessing data that could reveal an individual’s location via their cellphone. More and more data is being collected through digital devices, the brief said; therefore greater protection is needed for individuals under the law.

The brief stated: “That users rely on technology companies to process their data for limited purposes does not mean that they expect their intimate data to be monitored by the government without a warrant.”

Timothy Carter, a man convicted of robbing Radio Shack and T-Mobile stories in Ohio and Michigan in 2013, appeared before the justices last June to hear his appeal that data was used to convict him without a warrant. Using “cell site location information” obtained from Carter’s wireless carrier, federal prosecutors were able to prove his location near several of the robbery sites.

Carpenter claims that the prosecutors didn’t obtain a warrant to access information about his whereabouts, which he said amounts to an unreasonable search and seizure under the US Constitution’s Fourth Amendment. But Carpenter’s convictions were upheld by a federal appeals court last year, who determined that no warrant was needed to access the data.

The debate over how much surveillance law enforcement and intelligence agencies should have over individuals is heating up in the US, amidst concern among lawmakers that authorities are ignoring warrant requirements to obtain private information.

Carpenter’s representative, Nathan Freed Wessler with the American Civil Liberties Union, said the brief by tech giants represents a “robust defense of their customers’ privacy rights in the digital age.” Carpenter’s case will be brought before the court some time after its new term begins in October, Reuters said.

Mr. Wessler highlighted the importance of Verizon’s role in the brief, given that, as the largest carrier in the United States, it receives thousands of requests for cellphone location records from authorities every year and just about always complies.

Civil liberties lawyers argue that in order to pursue an arrest, authorities need “probable cause” and therefore a warrant, to avoid searches that are unconstitutional.

People should be able to use technologies without running the risk of having their personal data taken without permission, the tech giants explain in their brief to the Supreme Court.

Published in Government

The European Union has increased pressure on US technology leaders Facebook, Twitter and Google in relation to its user terms. The EU has requested that they amend their user terms in order to make them compliant with current EU law - after EU lawmakers deemed the proposals submitted by the technology giants as ‘insufficient’.

In June, the European Commission (EC) and consumer protection authorities in the EU wrote directly to Facebook, Google and Twitter in which they stressed to the technology companies that they need to improve their proposed changes to user terms by the end of September.

The EU has the power to impose fines if Facebook, Twitter and Google fail to comply with the request issued. Twitter has thus far not responded to an e-mailed request for a comment from Reuters, whilst Google declined to comment on the ongoing situation. However, Facebook believes that it is compliant with current EU law, but conceded that its terms could be formatted in a way which was easier to understand and would work to meet the authorities concerns.

The concerns are concentrated mainly on procedures the social media entities propose to set up for the removal of illegal content on their websites, some analysts have claimed that the terms limit their liability and allows them unilaterally to remove content posted by users.

The US technology trio has been given a deadline of July 20th to submit new proposals, which need to be implemented by the end of September. A source close to the case has claimed that two of the companies had submitted amended proposals, while a third had asked for more time, declining to specify which one.

Facebook, Google and Twitter agreed to the proposed changes touted in March amidst concerns raised by European regulators in March of this year. One of the main issues centered on the terms which forced European consumers to seek redress in California, where the companies are all headquartered, instead of the consumer’s home address.

US technology firms have previously faced scrutiny over the way it conducts its business in Europe, ranging from issues such as privacy, to illegal or threatening content. Both the consumer protection authorities and the EC has requested that the trio provide more details on the timeframe and deadlines it will apply in relation to dealing with notifications of content deemed illegal under consumer law.

Published in Government

Twitter has dropped some subtle hints that suggest it may introduce a subscription-based option on the hugely popular social networking platform. Reports have emerged that management is considering the option of building a premium version of its popular ‘Tweet-deck’ interface which is specifically aimed at professionals. Analysts have predicted that there is now a distinct possibility that it could collect subscription fees from some users for the first time.

Twitter which was founded in 2006 – has like all other successful social media outlets focused on building a huge core of followers for a free service which generates income through advertising. Twitter has claimed that it has 319 million users worldwide, and is more popular with celebrities than Facebook. Its most famous user is current US President Donald Trump who tweets on a regular basis. However, its numbers are significantly inferior to Facebook who have consistently been able to grow its reach. This has subsequently and rather inevitably led Twitter to fail to attract enough in advertising revenue to turn a profit. 

The potential of subscriptions fees could come from a premium version of Tweet-deck that is an existing interface on the platform that helps users to navigate Twitter. It has conducted market research to assess whether or not there would be interest in a new, more enhanced version of the interface.

Twitter spokeswoman Brielle Villablanca said: "We regularly conduct user research to gather feedback about people's Twitter experience and to better inform our product investment decisions, and we're exploring several ways to make Tweetdeck even more valuable for professionals." However, there was no concrete indication that Twitter was considering charging fees from all its users.”

Word of the survey had earlier leaked on Twitter, where a journalist affiliated with the New York Times posted screenshots of what a premium version of Tweetdeck could look like. That version could include "more powerful tools to help marketers, journalists, professionals, and others in our community find out what is happening in the world quicker.

It was further reported that if the new and improved experience generates enough interest, it could be ad-free. Other social media firms such as Microsoft Corp’s and LinkedIn unit have already implemented memberships and subscriptions version that offer greater access and data.

Twitter posted the slowest revenue growth since it went public four years earlier, and revenue from advertising fell year-over-year. The company also said that advertising revenue growth would continue to lag user growth during 2017. Financial markets speculated about a sale of Twitter last year, but no concrete bids were forthcoming.

Published in Apps

The European Commission has reportedly given social networks GooglePlus, Facebook and Twitter a month to figure out how they will comply with an EU regulatory framework designed to protect users from fraud, after the EC received complaints from users who were targeted by fraudsters via the social media sites.

“The Commission and the consumer authorities will review the final proposals,” said a statement by the EU. “If they are not satisfactory, consumer authorities could ultimately resort to enforcement action.”

The three social media companies had been contacted by EU consumer authorities in November 2016, under the leadership of the French consumer authority, which asked the firms to address the fraud cases.

Under the EU’s Unfair Contract Terms Directive, social media companies cannot deprive consumers of their right to go to court in their member state of residence, or require them to dismiss mandatory rights such as entitlement to withdraw from an online purchase. In addition, social media firms must remove any fraud and scams that appear on their sites which could be misleading to consumers.

Germany is reportedly working towards a new law that asks social networks to remove slanderous or threatening online postings or else face fines of up to 50 million euros.

EU commissioner for justice, consumers and gender equality, Vera Jourova, said it was “not acceptable that EU consumers can only call on a court in California to resolve a dispute.” Jourova said social media companies “need to take responsibility in addressing scams and fraud happening on their platforms.”

Published in Government

Twitter recently reported a net loss in the fourth quarter of 2016 of $167 million, after a $90 million deficit in the corresponding period a year ago. The company's shares dropped more than 12 percent to close at $16.41 as investor hopes faded for a revival of the micro-blogging platform, which has been lagging behind its social media rivals.

Revenue in Q4 2016 rose one percent for Twitter to $717 million. The crucial area of user growth saw Twitter end 2016 with 319 million monthly active users – an increase of four percent from the previous year and just two million more than the previous quarter. Despite the fact that US President Donald Trump shares updates via the platform, Twitter's user growth is relatively low.

Twitter relies heavily on advertising for its revenue, which was down slightly from the previous year at $638 million. In the United States alone Twitter's revenue was down five percent at $440 million. For the total year 2016, the company lost $456 million on revenues of $2.5 billion. That represented a narrowing of the deficit from 2015 and a 14 percent increase in revenue.

Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey remains positive that the company will bounce back, speaking of long-term prospects following its efforts to revamp the platform with more video and other changes.

"The whole world is watching Twitter," said Dorsey in a conference call. "While we may not be meeting everyone's growth expectations, there's one thing that continues to grow and outpace our peers: Twitter's influence and impact." Dorsey said Twitter "carries some of the most important commentary and conversations," and is a tool to mobilize people into action.

However, some analysts believe Twitter is growing at too smaller rate in the rapidly evolving social media space. For instance, Jan Dawson from Jackdaw Research says Twitter has been attempting to get more users and has improved engagement, but "some of this stuff has been in the works for over two years, and Twitter still doesn't seem to be making meaningful progress."

Dawson went so far as to label Twitter's revenue outlook as "pretty awful" in a blog post, and said the company will likely face a difficult time keeping advertisers interested.

Dawson said, "Twitter's big competitors for direct response advertising  -- notably Facebook and Google  --  are just way better at this stuff than they are, and Twitter simply hasn't made anywhere near enough progress here over the last few years. As a result, Twitter is enormously susceptible to competitive threats."

Despite the criticism, Twitter says it continues to work toward achieving profitability in 2017. Dorsey said that Twitter "overcame the toughest challenge for any consumer service at scale by reversing declining audience trends and re-accelerating usage." He added that "daily active usage accelerated for the third consecutive quarter, and we see this strong growth continuing."

Published in Finance
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