November 2, 2017 Last Updated 11:06 am

Facebook revenue grows 47% in Q3, as does resentment over its lack of transparency

Morning Brief: ‘You have a huge problem on your hands,’ said Sen. Dianne Feinstein yesterday. ‘We are not going to go away, gentleman. This is a very big deal.’

The social media giant Facebook reported earnings after the markets closed yesterday, and reported another blow-out quarter. Revenues grew 47 percent as it continued to swallow up digital advertising, while profits grew 79 percent to $4.7 billion.

This morning, in comparison, Gannett also grew profits in Q3, but the publisher of USA Today did it by slicing costs (read: layoffs), as its revenue fell over 9 percent (see report here).

Also yesterday, Senators grilled Facebook’s representative, as well as those of Twitter and Google, about the general lack of concern social media companies seem to have regarding security and interference by foreign governments (read: Russia) in the politics of western democracies.

“What we’re talking about is the beginning of cyber-warfare: a major foreign power with the sophistication and ability to involve themselves in a presidential election and sow conflict and discontent all over this country,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.)

“You have a huge problem on your hands,” Sen. Feinstein said. “We are not going to go away, gentleman. This is a very big deal.”

Reuters, David Ingram and, Aishwarya Venugopal:

Facebook profit soars, with no sign of impact from Russia scandal

Facebook Inc. faced harsh criticism in Washington on Wednesday over its failure to prevent Russian operatives from using its platform for election meddling, but the earnings report it issued hours later showed just how insulated its business remains from political risk…

…hief Executive Mark Zuckerberg condemned Russia’s attempts to influence last year’s election through Facebook posts and advertisements designed to sow division, and repeated his pledge to ramp up spending to confront the problem…

“What they did is wrong, and we are not going to stand for it,” Zuckerberg said of the Russians, on a conference call with analysts.

The Guardian, Barry Lynn and Matt Stoller:

How to stop Google and Facebook from becoming even more powerful

On Tuesday, Senator John Kennedy of Louisiana told the general counsels of Facebook and Google: “your power sometimes scares me.” The problem, Kennedy said, is that the corporations know too much about us, and too little about themselves.

Kennedy illustrated his fears with two rhetorical questions. “If the CEO came to you … and said I want to know everything we can find out about Senator Graham … You could do that, couldn’t you?” On the other hand, Kennedy said: “You don’t have the ability to know who every one of [your] advertisers is, do you?”

The Washington Post: How Russian trolls got into your Facebook feed
The New York Times: Russia-Financed Ad Linked Clinton and Satan
Fox News: Facebook isn’t the problem. We are



Back in my college days I took a semester off to take a series of classes which would not help me get my journalism degree. It was the first Medieval Semester to be conducted at the university, and while it meant I would graduate a semester late, tuition costs were only a fraction of what they are today, and it saved me for a few months from having to join the work force.

I mention this because it feels like we are reliving the middle ages now.

Los Angeles Times, Michael Hiltzik:

Ending birth control coverage, Notre Dame abandons its progressive legacy on women’s rights

The University of Notre Dame, which once reigned as a beacon of liberal Catholic thought, has announced that it will cancel all birth-control coverage for students and employees next year. That includes contraception provided to those recipients for free, under government auspices and at government expense.

Notre Dame thus becomes the first and most important employer publicly to take advantage of the Trump administration’s Oct. 6 rollback of contraceptive coverage under the Affordable Care Act.



The Catalan effort to create a new nation is once again coming to a predictable ending. The region’s president, Carles Puigdemont, called for independence and then ran out of town (actually, out of the country), knowing he would be arrested and no one would come to his aid.

It was cowardice, but not unexpected. Separatist leaders had been preaching nonviolence and talked as if merely holding rallies would be enough to create the republic. Meanwhile, polls showed that a bare majority of Catalans support independence (and other polls independence supporters to be in the minority). That any nation could be built on such a weak foundation was foolishness.

BBC:

Spain’s prosecutors ask for eight leaders to be jailed

Prosecutors in Madrid have asked for eight sacked members of Catalonia’s regional government to be jailed over their role in October’s disputed independence referendum.

Nine Catalan officials testified at Spain’s high court over accusations of rebellion, sedition and misuse of public funds. Ousted Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont and four others disregarded a summons.

The deposed leader, who is in Belgium, said the trial was “political”.

Update:

Catalan News, ACN:

Eight deposed Catalan ministers sent to prison without bail

Prison. This is the answer of the Spanish judiciary system to the already dismissed Catalan government’s roadmap to independence, despite repeated calls for dialogue and mediation in the past few weeks by Puigdemont’s cabinet. Spain’s National Court sent eight dismissed Catalan ministers to provisional prison without bail. Led by the vice president, Oriol Junqueras, all the deposed officials who have appeared in court in Madrid will be sleeping in jail tonight.

Yet the former Business minister, Santi Vila, who stepped down in disagreement with the Declaration of Independence, got a different ruling. He has been sent to prison with a €50,000 bail, so he is likely to avoid being held.

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