Facebook Owner Meta To Lay Off 11,000 Staff

This file photo taken on October 28, 2021 shows the META logo on a laptop screen in Moscow.  (Photo by Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV / AFP)

 

Facebook owner Meta will lay off more than 11,000 of its staff in “the most difficult changes we’ve made in Meta’s history,” boss Mark Zuckerberg said on Wednesday.

He said the cuts represented 13 percent of the social media titan’s workforce and would affect its research lab focusing on the metaverse as well as its apps, which include Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp.

The tech industry is in a serious slump and several major firms have announced mass layoffs — Twitter’s new owner Elon Musk fired half its staff last week.

“I want to take accountability for these decisions and for how we got here,” Zuckerberg said in a note to staff.

“I know this is tough for everyone, and I’m especially sorry to those impacted.”

Ad-supported platforms such as Facebook and Google are suffering with advertisers looking to cut costs as they struggle with inflation and rising interest rates.

Zuckerberg told 87,000-strong staff he had expected the boost in e-commerce and online activity during the Covid pandemic to continue, but added: “I got this wrong, and I take responsibility for that.”

The downturn has affected companies across the sector, with Apple and Amazon also recently announcing results that disappointed investors.

But Meta also faces some unique problems of its own.

The California-based company is being squeezed by Zuckerberg’s decision to devote billions of dollars to developing the metaverse, an immersive version of the web accessed via virtual reality headsets.

Zuckerberg renamed the company Meta a year ago to reflect the commitment to the project, but the division working on metaverse technology has since made losses of more than $3.5 billion.

Facebook is also struggling to fend off Chinese-owned TikTok, the now dominant social media for younger users to the detriment of Meta’s Instagram.

– ‘Last resort’ –
Mike Proulx, a research director at Forrester, said “Meta is amidst an identity crises” and that severe cost-cutting was “inevitable.”

“The company has one foot in a risky long-term metaverse bet and another foot failing to compete with TikTok,” he added.

Zuckerman has hinted several times this year that belt-tightening measures were just around the corner and said in his letter on Wednesday that staff layoffs were a “last resort.”

Meta would also keep a hiring freeze going into next year, he said, and other spending cuts were envisaged.

“Fundamentally, we’re making all these changes for two reasons: our revenue outlook is lower than we expected at the beginning of this year, and we want to make sure we’re operating efficiently,” Zuckerman wrote.

The measures were also a message to Wall Street, where the company’s poor performance has sent the Meta share price plummeting by 70 percent since the start of the year.

Last month, Meta announced profits of $4.4 billion in the third quarter, a 52 percent decrease year-on-year.

The slump in profits comes despite its platforms dominating the world in terms of users — Facebook alone claims to have around two billion people who log on daily.

AFP

Meta’s Quarterly Profit Dives As Tough Economy Hits Tech

Meta CEO, Mark Zuckerberg

 

Facebook-parent Meta reported Wednesday that its profit more than halved to $4.4 billion in the third quarter from $9.2 billion a year earlier, and said it plans “significant changes” to bolster efficiency in a tough economic environment.

The social networking giant, which faces stagnating user numbers and cuts in advertising budgets, also said revenue slipped to $27.7 billion from $29 billion a year earlier.

“We’re approaching 2023 with a focus on prioritization and efficiency that will help us navigate the current environment and emerge an even stronger company,” said Meta chief Mark Zuckerberg.

Meta shares plunged 19.1 percent to $105 in after-market trades, the price less than a third of what it was at the start of this year.

“While we continue to navigate some challenging dynamics – a volatile macro economy, increasing competition, ad signal loss and growing costs from our long term investments — I have to say that our product trends look better from what I see then some of the commentary I’ve seen suggests,” Zuckerberg told analysts on an earnings call.

The number of monthly active users at Facebook was up just two percent to 2.96 billion at the end of September, Meta reported.

Meanwhile, the number of employees at the tech titan tallied 87,314, a 28 percent increase from a year earlier, the earnings report stated.

“We are making significant changes across the board to operate more efficiently,” Meta said in the release.

The Silicon Valley-based tech firm said that it expects to hold headcount levels in check over the next year.

Zuckerberg said that while tightening its belt, Meta will focus on its artificial intelligence that powers recommendations at offerings such as short-form video feature Reels, as well as ad messaging platforms and its vision for the metaverse.

– Apple squeeze –
Big tech platforms have been suffering from the economic climate, which is forcing advertisers to cut back on marketing budgets, and Apple’s data privacy changes, which have reduced leeway for ad personalization.

“Meta is on shaky legs when it comes to the current state of its business,” said Insider Intelligence principal analyst Debra Aho Williamson.

“Mark Zuckerberg’s decision to focus his company on the future promise of the metaverse took his attention away from the unfortunate realities of today.”

Those realities include Meta being under pressure due to global economic conditions, competition including TikTok, and Apple letting iPhone users curb collection of data “signals” for targeting money-making ads, according to the analyst.

Apple last year began letting iPhone users decide whether to allow their online activity to be tracked for the purpose of targeting ads — a change which it said shows its focus is on privacy, but which critics note does not prevent the company itself from tracking.

Meta expected that policy, which impacts the precision of the ads it sells and thus their price, to cost the social media giant $10 billion in lost revenue this year.

This week, Apple updated its App Store rules to require that apps offered there use its payment system for sales of “boosted” posts, which are essentially ad messages promoted to the top of social media feeds for a price.

The App Store is the lone gateway for digital content to get onto iPhones or iPads.

The change means that Apple will be able to collect its 30 percent commission on that type of advertising at Facebook and Instagram, where all the money made previously had gone to Meta because they used their own payment system.

“Apple continues to evolve its policies to grow their own business while undercutting others in the digital economy,” Meta said in reply to an AFP inquiry.

“Apple previously said it didn’t take a share of developer advertising revenue, and now apparently changed its mind.”

Meta had long delivered seemingly endless upward growth, but reported early this year its first decline in global daily users.

In July, Meta reported its first quarterly revenue drop and a plunging profit.

AFP

Twitter Shares Fall As Musk Takeover Faces Fresh Questions

A photo of Elon Musk

 

Twitter shares fell about five percent early Friday as the proposed takeover by Elon Musk faced new questions and weak Snap results weighed on social media shares.

Bloomberg reported that the Biden administration was weighing a national security review of Musk’s $44 billion takeover of Twitter, in part because of Musk’s investment consortium, which includes Prince Alwaleed bin Talal of Saudi Arabia and Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund.

Biden administration officials are also concerned about Musk’s favorable public posture towards Russian President Vladimir Putin, Bloomberg reported.

Also, the Washington Post reported that Musk plans deep staff cuts at Twitter if his purchase goes through.

While pitching the acquisition to investors, Musk said he planned to get rid of nearly three-quarters of Twitter’s workers, lopping its ranks to just over 2,000 employees from 7,500, the Post reported.

The on-again, off-again deal to merge Twitter into Musk’s empire could close as soon as next week.

Twitter had filed a lawsuit to hold Musk to the terms of the takeover deal he inked in April, even though Musk tried to get out of it.

A US judge recently suspended litigation in the saga after Musk expressed a change of heart, giving the parties until October 28 to finalize the megadeal.

Wedbush analyst Dan Ives described the reported 75 percent Twitter staff cut as “way too aggressive,” adding that “Musk cannot cut his way to growth with Twitter.”

READ ALSO:  Twitter To Lay Off Nearly Three-Quarters of Staff

While acknowledging lingering questions about financing, Ives predicted the Twitter deal “gets done next week.”

A third factor weighing on Twitter shares Friday was a dismal earnings report from Snapchat parent Snap, which reported a quarterly loss of $360 million on weakening online advertising revenue.

Near 1430 GMT, Twitter shares were down 4.7 percent at $49.97.

Snap shares were off about 30 percent Friday, while other online advertisers including Facebook parent Meta and Google parent Alphabet were also lower.

AFP

UK Orders Meta To Sell Giphy After Failed Appeal

(FILES) This file photo taken on October 28, 2021 shows the META logo on a laptop screen in Moscow. – Russia on October 11, 2022 added US tech giant Meta, the parent company of Instagram and Facebook, to a list of “terrorist and extremist” organisations, according to a database of the Federal Service for Financial Monitoring (Rosfinmonitoring). Russia in late March banned Facebook and Instagram for “carrying out extremist activities” after authorities accused Meta of tolerating “Russophobia” during Russia’s military campaign in Ukraine. (Photo by Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV / AFP)

 

 

A UK competition regulator on Tuesday re-issued its order for Facebook owner Meta to sell animated graphics startup Giphy in a final decision after a failed appeal.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said in a statement that Giphy must be “sold off in its entirety”, having already ruled last year that the acquisition would hit competition and advertising.

The regulator has again ordered the sale after the US tech giant lost an appeal over the purchase.

The watchdog argued the deal would limit choice for UK social media users and reduce innovation in UK display advertising.

“The CMA has concluded the only way to avoid the significant impact the deal would have on competition is for Giphy to be sold off in its entirety to an approved buyer,” it said in a final verdict.

Giphy is a platform and search engine for “stickers” and other products using the graphics interchange format, or GIFs.

Meta had announced the purchase for a reported $400 million in May 2020.

“This deal would significantly reduce competition in two markets,” added Stuart McIntosh, chair of the CMA’s inquiry group, in the statement.

“It has already resulted in the removal of a potential challenger in the UK display ad market, while also giving Meta the ability to further increase its substantial market power in social media.

“The only way this can be addressed is by the sale of Giphy.”

McIntosh said that the sale would promote “innovation in digital advertising, and also ensure UK social media users continue to benefit from access to Giphy.”

In response, Meta expressed disappointment but said it would “accept today’s ruling as the final word on the matter”.

“We are grateful to the Giphy team during this uncertain time for their business, and wish them every success,” said a Meta spokesperson.

“We will continue to evaluate opportunities — including through acquisition — to bring innovation and choice to more people in the UK and around the world.”

New York-based Giphy, founded in 2013, is one of the world’s top GIF-sharing platforms with more than 700 million daily users.

The CMA had in late 2021 fined social media giant Facebook, whose parent group is now known as Meta, more than £50 million for deliberately failing to provide details of the takeover.

ARCON Sues Meta N30bn Over Unapproved Adverts

A photo collage of Mark Zuckerberg and the Meta logo

 

The Advertising Regulatory Council of Nigeria (ARCON) has instituted a suit against Meta Platforms Incorporated (owners of Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp platforms) and its agent AT3 Resources Limited at the Federal High Court, Abuja.

ARCON is seeking a declaration among others, that the continued publication and exposure of various advertisements directed at the Nigerian market through Facebook and Instagram platforms by Meta Platforms Incorporated without ensuring same is vetted and approved before exposure is illegal, unlawful, and a violation of the extant advertising laws in Nigeria.

READ ALSO: US Jury Orders Meta To Pay $174.5mn For Violating Patents

ARCON stated that Meta Platforms Incorporated’s continued exposure of unvetted adverts has also led to the loss of revenue to the Federal Government.

ARCON is seeking N30bn in sanction for the violation of the advertising laws and for loss of revenue as a result of Meta Incorporated’s continued exposure of unapproved adverts on its platforms.

ARCON reiterated that it would not permit unethical and irresponsible advertising in Nigeria’s advertising space.

ARCON further stated that it is not regulating the online media space but rather advertisement advertising and marketing communications on the online platforms in line with its establishment Act.

US Jury Orders Meta To Pay $174.5mn For Violating Patents

(FILES) In this file photo taken on October 28, 2021 the META logo on a laptop screen in Moscow as Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg announced the parent company’s name is being changed to “Meta” to represent a future beyond just its troubled social network. (Photo by Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV / AFP)

 

 

A US jury on Wednesday ordered Meta to pay $174.5 million for violating live-streaming patents developed by a US Army veteran seeking to fix shortcomings in battlefield communications.

A trial in Texas federal court ended with jurors deciding that “live” features at Facebook and Instagram used technology patented by Voxer, a company co-founded by Tom Katis, legal documents showed.

“We believe the evidence at trial demonstrated that Meta did not infringe Voxer’s patents,” a company spokesperson said in response to an AFP inquiry.

“We intend to seek further relief, including filing an appeal.”

Katis had reenlisted in the army after the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States and served as a Special Forces communications sergeant in Afghanistan, court filings said.

When his combat unit was ambushed in Kunar province, he felt that the systems for coordinating reinforcements, medical evacuations and more “were ill-suited for time-sensitive communications with multiple groups in a highly disruptive environment,” the complaint said.

“Mr. Katis and his team began developing communications solutions in 2006 to remedy these shortcomings,” his lawyers said.

“The new technologies enabled transmission of voice and video communications with the immediacy of live communication and the reliability and convenience of messaging.”

Facebook approached San Francisco-based Voxer about potential collaboration after it launched a Walkie Talkie app in 2011, but no agreement was reached, according to legal documents.

Instead, the lawsuit argued, Facebook went on to launch Facebook Live and Instagram Live, incorporating Voxer technology into the features.

Facebook Bans Major US Anti-Vaccine Group

In this file illustration photo taken on March 25, 2020, a Facebook app logo is displayed on a smartphone in Arlington, Virginia. Olivier DOULIERY / AFP
In this file illustration photo taken on March 25, 2020, a Facebook app logo is displayed on a smartphone in Arlington, Virginia. Olivier DOULIERY / AFP

 

 

Facebook-owner Meta said Thursday it had kicked one of the most influential US anti-vaccination groups off the social media network for spreading COVID-19 misinformation.

The Children’s Health Defense (CHD), which has been a critic of Covid vaccines, immediately accused Meta of stifling its free speech rights.

“Facebook is acting here as a surrogate for the federal government’s crusade to silence all criticism of draconian government policies,” CHD founder Robert Kennedy Jr., nephew of late president John F. Kennedy, said in a press release.

Meta spokesperson Aaron Simpson told AFP that the group’s accounts at Facebook and Instagram were shuttered on Wednesday. The ban came after repeated violations of Meta’s misinformation rules.

CHD said its social media accounts were followed by hundreds of thousands of people, and claimed the action by Meta came as a surprise.

In a release, the group shared a screen capture showing messages stating the accounts were suspended for violating Meta policies regarding “misinformation that could lead to real world harm.”

CHD contended that the ban could be related to a lawsuit it filed against Meta accusing the tech giant of infringing free speech rights by relying on US Centers for Disease Control regarding what Covid-19 information is scientifically backed.

The anti-vaccine group has appealed a lower court ruling against it in the litigation, according to legal filings.

Kenya Says Social Media Won’t Be Blocked After Warning To Facebook

Facebook’s new rebrand logo Meta is seen on smartpone in front of displayed logo of Facebook, Messenger, Intagram, Whatsapp and Oculus in this illustration picture taken October 28, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

 

 

Kenya insisted Saturday that social media would not be blocked, after a state watchdog warned Facebook it risked suspension if it did not tackle hate speech on its platform.

The National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) said Friday it had given Facebook’s parent Meta seven days to act following a report it allowed more than a dozen hateful political ads in the run-up to Kenya’s August 9 election.

But Joe Mucheru, Kenya’s minister of information, communications and technology, said on Twitter Saturday: “Media, including social media, will continue to enjoy press freedom in Kenya.”

He said it was “not clear” what legal framework the NCIC planned to use to suspend Facebook, adding: “Govt is on record. We are NOT shutting down the Internet.”

His comments were echoed by Interior Minister Fred Matiang’i who said Kenyans’ right to free expression was enshrined in the constitution.

“And, we as a government, have no intention of infringing on that right.”

The NCIC is an independent ethnic cohesion watchdog set up after the 2007-8 post-election violence that left more than 1,000 people dead.

It does not have the power to suspend Facebook but can make recommendations to the government’s Communications Authority.

The body’s recommendations followed a report by advocacy group Global Witness and UK-based legal activist firm Foxglove that said Facebook had accepted and broadcast at least 19 ads in both English and Swahili calling for rape, slaughter and beheadings.

– ‘Addressing errors’ –
Asked about the NCIC warning, a Meta spokesperson said: “We’ve taken extensive steps to help us catch hate speech and inflammatory content in Kenya, and we’re intensifying these efforts ahead of the election.

“Despite these efforts, we know that there will be examples of things we miss or we take down in error, as both machines and people make mistakes. That’s why we have teams closely monitoring the situation and addressing these errors as quickly as possible.”

With its diverse population and large ethnic voting blocs, Kenya has long suffered politically motivated communal violence around election time, often blamed on hate speech.

An undercover expose by UK media revealed that British consulting firm Cambridge Analytica used the personal data of millions of Facebook users to target political ads and spread misinformation during Kenya’s 2013 and 2017 presidential campaigns.

 

Facebook’s Meta Posts First-Ever Revenue Drop

(FILES) In this file photo taken on October 28, 2021 the META logo on a laptop screen in Moscow as Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg announced the parent company’s name is being changed to “Meta” to represent a future beyond just its troubled social network.  (Photo by Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV / AFP)

 

 

 

Facebook-parent Meta reported on Wednesday its first quarterly revenue drop and a plunging profit as the social media powerhouse battles a turbulent economy and the rising phenomenon of TikTok.

Meta had long delivered seemingly endless upward growth but after this income miss — and reporting earlier this year its first decline in global daily users — the company sounded a more modest tone.

“This is a period that demands more intensity, and I expect us to get more done with fewer resources,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg told analysts after the firm reported a 36 percent drop in profit to $6.7 billion.

Meta also said that revenue in the recently ended quarter ebbed a percent to $28.8 billion, its first such slip since the firm, then known simply as Facebook, went public in 2012.

“The year-over-year drop in quarterly revenue signifies just how quickly Meta’s business has deteriorated,” said analyst Debra Aho Williamson.

“The good news, if we can call it that, is that its competitors in digital advertising are also experiencing a slowdown.”

Meta however reported an increase in daily Facebook users to 1.97 billion, defying analysts’ predictions of a drop, but noted monthly users fell about two million to 2.93 billion.

Its shares were down around 3.5 percent in after-hours trading, continuing a decline in the firm’s stock since February that has erased about half of its value.

Meta has also faced steady scrutiny from lawmakers and regulators over not only its massive strength in the social media market, but also its impact on the health of its users.

The results came just hours after US regulators announced they would try to block Meta’s acquisition of virtual reality fitness app maker Within, a potential blow to the tech giant’s metaverse ambitions.

– US targets Meta VR purchase –
“This acquisition poses a reasonable probability of eliminating both present and future competition,” the FTC complaint said. “And Meta would be one step closer to its ultimate goal of owning the entire ‘Metaverse.'”

Meta is focused on building its metaverse vision for the internet’s future, betting heavily on the interactive virtual world that the company believes will ensure its powerful position.

The social media giant said the FTC’s move defied reality, and expressed confidence that its buy of Within would be good for VR users as well as developers who make apps in that market.

“The FTC’s case is based on ideology and speculation, not evidence,” Meta said in response to an AFP inquiry.

Meta has also faced turbulence as it tries to adapt its platforms to better battle short-video app TikTok, which is threatening the Silicon Valley giant’s primacy.

Meta-owned Instagram is attempting to quell complaints by users including celebrities Kylie Jenner and Kim Kardashian who say changes have made it too much like TikTok, including video recommendations.

Instagram chief Adam Mosseri posted a video on Twitter addressing the complaint, saying a number of changes were being experimented with and promising not to abandon photo sharing at the service.

“We are going to continue to support photos, it is part of our heritage,” Mosseri said.

Earnings season has gotten off to a less than great start with disappointing reports from Netflix, Snapchat’s parent company and Microsoft.

Snap announced plans last week to “substantially” slow recruitment after bleak results wiped some 30 percent off the stock price of the tech firm, which is facing difficulties on several fronts.

Even juggernaut Google reported its profit and revenue slipped as the internet giant’s long sizzling ad revenue growth cooled, but the market seemed relieved the news wasn’t worse.

The big tech platforms have been suffering from the economic climate, which is forcing advertisers to cut back on their marketing budgets, and Apple’s data privacy changes, which have reduced their leeway for ad personalization.

‘Register With CAC, Delete Harmful Accounts’: FG Sets Rules For Facebook, Twitter, Others

A photo combination created on December 10, 2020 showing visual identities of internet giants Facebook, Netflix, Twitter and Google.
A photo combination created on December 10, 2020 showing visual identities of internet giants Facebook, Netflix, Twitter and Google.

 

The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) on Monday issued new regulations for Internet platforms available in Nigeria.

A statement signed by NITDA spokesperson, Hadiza Umar, said the new code was designed to protect the “fundamental human rights of Nigerians and non-Nigerians living in the country as well as define guidelines for interacting on the digital ecosystem.”

The code requires Internet platforms to “register with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) and appoint a designated country representative to interface with Nigerian authorities.”

It also requires that they comply with all regulatory demands and comply with all applicable tax obligations on its operations under Nigerian law.

READ ALSO: Old Tricks, New Crises: How Misinformation Spreads

On content moderation, NITDA said Internet platforms must “provide a comprehensive compliance mechanism to avoid publication of prohibited contents and unethical behaviour on their platform.”

They must also “provide information to authorities on harmful accounts, suspected botnets, troll groups, and other coordinated disinformation networks and deleting any information that violates Nigerian law within an agreed time.”

NITDA said the new rules were “developed in collaboration with the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), as well as input from Interactive Computer Service Platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, Google, and Tik Tok amongst others.

“Other relevant stakeholders with peculiar knowledge in this area were consulted such as Civil Society Organizations and expert groups. The results of this consultations were duly incorporated into the Draft Code of Practice.”

The draft Code of Practice notes that Internet platforms must promptly obey court orders directing it to provide “information under its domain or any assistance to any authorised government.”

It is not yet clear how the new rules will be implemented.

Nigeria suspended Twitter in June 2021 for several months after the social media network deleted a tweet by President Muhammadu Buhari.

The Buhari administration has sought to pass more stringent laws regulating Internet platforms, especially social media networks.

Old Tricks, New Crises: How Misinformation Spreads

This file photo taken on October 5, 2020, shows logos of US social networks Facebook, Instagram and mobile messaging service WhatsApp on the screens of a smartphone and a tablet in Toulouse, southwestern France. Lionel BONAVENTURE / AFP
This file photo taken on October 5, 2020, shows logos of US social networks Facebook, Instagram and mobile messaging service WhatsApp on the screens of a smartphone and a tablet in Toulouse, southwestern France. Lionel BONAVENTURE / AFP

 

 

With gun control under debate and monkeypox in the headlines, Americans are facing a barrage of new twists on years-old misinformation in their social media feeds.

Accurate news stories about mass shootings have attracted eyeballs but algorithms have also spurred baseless conspiracy theories from trolls who want to push lies to attract traffic. And thousands have unwittingly shared them on Facebook, Twitter and other sites.

The May 24 attack at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas was a “false flag” operation aimed at pushing restrictive gun laws, according to Telegram posts from supporters of QAnon.

Carl Paladino, a New York congressional candidate, was among those who shared a similar theory on Facebook, later deleting it.

Others misidentified a shooting victim as “Bernie Gores” — a made-up name paired with an image of a YouTuber who has been wrongly linked to other major news events, including the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Experts say such misinformation is part of a pattern in which unscrupulous operators intentionally repurpose old narratives.

“A lot of this stuff is put together almost in this factory production style,” said Mike Caulfield, a misinformation researcher at the University of Washington’s Center for an Informed Public.

“You have a shooting event, you have these various tropes you can apply.”

Groundless claims of a “false flag” operation, which refers to political or military action that is carried out with the intention of blaming an opponent, can be traced back to the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

After 20 children and six staff members were killed, InfoWars founder Alex Jones falsely claimed the Newtown casualties were “crisis actors” — people who are paid or volunteer to play disaster victims.

In November 2021, a Connecticut judge found Jones liable for damages in a defamation suit brought by parents of the victims.

But regardless, allegations of staged mass shootings have routinely spread from fringe online networks such as 4chan to mainstream platforms — including the social media feeds of politicians such as Republican congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene and, more recently, Arizona state senator Wendy Rogers.

Hoax posts misidentifying gunmen or victims as internet personalities have also become common.

In the race to capture online attention following breaking news, recycled narratives can be produced quickly and are easier for audiences to digest, Caulfield said. Content producers “make guesses” about what may go viral based on past popular tropes, which can help monetize that attention.

“When you spread this stuff, you want to be seen as in the know,” he said, even though the information is demonstrably false or misleading.

– Copying the Covid-19 playbook –
Similarly, false claims about the recent spread of monkeypox — a rare disease related to smallpox — borrow from Covid-19 misinformation.

Since the outbreak, social media posts have claimed without evidence that the virus is a bioweapon, that the outbreak was planned, and that Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates is behind it. Others have falsely equated monkeypox to other viruses, including shingles.

Those claims resemble debunked conspiracy theories from the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Memetica, a firm that conducts digital investigations, has researched some of the top Covid-19 misinformation recycled for monkeypox. One widespread theory points to a 2021 threat preparation exercise conducted by the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) as purported evidence that the outbreak was planned.

That conspiracy theory is nearly identical to claims about Event 201, a pandemic simulation held in October 2019, that circulated online in early 2020.

“What was surprising to me was how similar (Covid-19 misinformation) is now to monkeypox,” Adi Cohen, chief operating officer at Memetica, told AFP.

“It’s the same exact story — oh, this is all planned, it’s a ‘plandemic,’ here’s the proof.”

Some monkeypox theories have been shared by conservative figures including Glenn Beck and anti-vaccine advocate Robert F. Kennedy Jr, according to Memetica’s research. Both have previously promoted misinformation about Covid-19.

Cohen said such tactics may be an effective way to get engagement on social media, regardless of the falsity of the information being shared.

“It’s the replication of what seems to work in the past,” he said. “Why work hard when you don’t have to?”

Zuckerberg Staying At Meta Helm For Years ‘Makes Sense’: Clegg

#ZuckerBowl Without A Clear Winner As Facebook Hearings End
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. (JIM WATSON / AFP)

 

 

Mark Zuckerberg’s presence at the helm of Facebook parent Meta for “many, many years” would be perfectly natural, his global affairs director has told AFP, even as the founders of many tech companies hand off to fresh blood.

Succession at the mega company has been in the headlines in recent weeks with the announcement of the departure of Sheryl Sandberg after 14 years as the firm’s number two.

But while the founders of companies like Amazon, Twitter and Google have all moved on, Zuckerberg has shown no sign of giving up the reins — despite raging criticism over privacy scandals and the rampant spread of misinformation across Facebook.

Now as Meta rolls out its plans for the metaverse — the immersive virtual world that it considers the future of the internet — there’s no reason for the 38-year-old to go anywhere anytime soon, said Nick Clegg, the company’s director of global affairs.

“It’s a multi-year project. It would make sense to me that Mark Zuckerberg would want to continue, to build this new chapter of the company, and that’s going to last for many years, many years,” Clegg told AFP on the sidelines of the Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles.

“He is the founder of the company, of Meta, but he is also the architect of the new chapter, of this construction, of these augmented reality and virtual reality technologies.”

Facebook bought virtual reality headset maker Oculus in 2014 and launched a social VR platform.

The technology has taken off in the gaming industry, and become popular among players of Fortnite and Roblox.

But Clegg, a former British deputy prime minister, said the metaverse promised great opportunities in the fields of education and medicine, as well as entertainment.

For example, he said, teachers can take their students on a virtual trip through ancient Greece, and medics can learn sophisticated surgical techniques.

And, he said, as hardware improves, the need for specialist equipment will diminish.

“In years to come, people will be able to access these new technologies through their phones,” he said.

“We are exploring how we can increase access to everyone and not just people who can afford the new and latest hardware.”