|Bid||225.21 x 1100|
|Ask||225.46 x 800|
|Day's range||222.90 - 227.49|
|52-week range||137.10 - 240.90|
|Beta (5Y monthly)||1.16|
|PE ratio (TTM)||30.89|
|Earnings date||22 Jul 2020 - 27 Jul 2020|
|Forward dividend & yield||N/A (N/A)|
|1y target est||237.38|
Online sales have exploded during the coronavirus pandemic, as consumers try to stay home more. Online sales at Walmart, Target, and Best Buy in the first quarter increased by 74%, 141%, and 155%, respectively. Meanwhile, the 800-pound gorilla that is Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) continued its steady march, growing global online sales by 24% (Amazon's fiscal quarter ends a month before the other retailers mentioned).
Instagram is going to share some revenue with users. The move could generate billions in revenue for the Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) subsidiary and put it in greater competition with Alphabet's (NASDAQ: GOOG) (NASDAQ: GOOGL) YouTube for both talent and ad sales. For reference, YouTube generated $15 billion in gross revenue last year.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- It was a momentous week for social media. After years of trying to have it both ways, Twitter — one of the industry’s major platforms — moved to hold President Donald Trump accountable for the content in his posts under the same rules it applies to the general public. This decision to regulate some of Trump’s most controversial posts has now sparked a blacklash from the president, and spawned a new uncertain chapter for the industry.It all started on Tuesday, when Twitter Inc. added a fact-check warning label to two of president’s posts about mail-in voting. In response, Trump threatened in a set of tweets Wednesday to “strongly regulate or close” down social-media platforms. He followed up by signing an executive order late Thursday that seeks to limit some of the broad liability protection social media companies have under federal law. Undaunted, Twitter escalated the situation early Friday by putting up a notice that obscured one of the president’s posts about protests in Minneapolis, which included the phrase “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.” Twitter said it violated the platform’s rules on “glorifying violence.” The back-and-forth will likely continue, but either way, this is a turning point. Historically, Twitter and Facebook have walked a fine line when regulating content on their platforms, flagging or removing the most egregious posts while turning a blind eye to some polarizing content, including potentially misleading posts from elected officials. Critics have argued social media firms are incentivized to elevate content with binary takes that spur outrage, often with misinformation, as it drives more viral engagement over nuanced discussion with context. On Tuesday, the Wall Street Journal reported Facebook had glossed over internal research that showed its algorithms were feeding users more and more divisive content.Facebook has implemented a fact-checking program that reduces the distribution of false news, while Facebook and Twitter require the removal of hateful and threatening posts and employ algorithms to help them detect and deter the spread of misinformation by the general public. The social media firms have vigorously shuttered posts on anything that threatens physical harm, but have generally shied away from regulating posts from politicians, citing political free speech and newsworthiness factors. So the flagging of Trump’s posts marks a departure.Conspicuously, Facebook has taken a different tack than its competitor. CEO Mark Zuckerberg told Fox News this week, “We have a different policy than, I think, Twitter on this,” referring to Twitter’s fact-check labels on the president’s mail-in voting posts. He added his company “shouldn't be the arbiter of truth of everything that people say online.” Zuckerberg’s position to shy away from the controversy is curious, given Facebook does have an official policy to regulate anything that could promotes “voter suppression.” Clearly, there is a line there. For Twitter, led by CEO Jack Dorsey, the platform’s actions followed inflammatory tweets from the president in which he posited conspiracy theories alleging, without evidence, that cable-TV news host Joe Scarborough may be involved with a murder decades ago. Twitter’s lack of action on the conspiracy posts spurred wide criticism questioning why Trump was being held to a different standard, versus the average user. If anyone else had tweeted something similar in such a blatant manner against the rules, their account would have likely been suspended or shut down. Twitter’s terms of service clearly says: “Abuse/harassment: You may not engage in the targeted harassment of someone, or incite other people to do so.” It seems the added spotlight may have pushed Twitter to move this week.Will it hurt Twitter? The company’s shares have taken a hit, for sure — the stock fell 9 percent in the past three days. But Twitter has had many single days with bigger declines. Moreover, Twitter and Dorsey have endured multiple attacks from the left and right, without seeing users or advertisers flee. Now, with another presidential election just months away, they made a calculated gamble that it was time to take a stand. It will be hard to retreat from here.When the dust settles, Trump’s threats will likely be seen as political theater without any lasting ramifications for Twitter’s business. Technology companies will challenge the president’s executive order in court on the grounds he can’t unilaterally change precedent without Congressional approval. Yes, there may be additional legal fees, but the executive order’s effects aren’t imminent and it will likely get struck down by the courts in time. The irony is, if Twitter does lose its legal protections and can be sued for defamatory content generated by its users, Trump’s Twitter account would be the prime candidate for deleted posts as the company would try to protect itself from lawsuits. Of course, the last thing the president is going to want to do is give up his direct line to his nearly 80 million followers. For all his bluster, he needs Twitter and doesn’t really have the power to shut down the service.As Twitter tightens its policy, it must also make sure its senior executives are held to a higher standard in all their public conduct as well — including vetting its new leadership when they are elevated to crucial policy roles. This is important, so the company doesn’t to open itself up to criticism or perceptions of bias under the current microscope of scrutiny. But at the end of it all, this week’s shift is an important step. Twitter is doing the right thing and that counts for something.This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Tae Kim is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering technology. He previously covered technology for Barron's, following an earlier career as an equity analyst.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- U.S. President Donald Trump unleashed fury at Twitter Inc. this week for fact-checking him and putting a warning label on a message that seemed to invoke violence. But that anger has been channeled through his favorite medium -- Twitter itself -- which is likely to be good for the company’s business, despite Trump’s harangue.“Look at how much he uses Twitter,” said Rich Greenfield, an analyst at Lightshed Partners. “Advertisers want to be where eyeballs are, and people are turning to Twitter for this news.”For years the San Francisco-based company has been under pressure to enforce its content rules against Trump. This week, for the first time, the social network took action in two separate instances. First, it appended a fact-check label to two Trump posts that said mail-in voting would lead to fraud. Then, on Friday, Twitter added a warning filter to other tweets for violating its rules against promoting violence. The actions prompted retaliation from Trump, including more angry tweets and an executive order calling for social media regulations to change.Attention is Twitter’s most valuable asset. Though the company may be facing serious questions about its approach to troublesome content, its revenue comes from the ads it can slot between users’ posts -- the more posts, the more slots Twitter can make money from. During busier news cycles, such as elections and sports events, and even the coronavirus pandemic, new users tend to sign up and spend more time on their feeds. Trump has made Twitter more essential, since much of what the president says shows up on Twitter first.Chief Executive Officer Jack Dorsey’s job was threatened earlier this year -- not by Trump, but by Elliott Management, an activist investor that called for changes including boosting usage of the product, which is a fraction of Facebook’s size. The company in March reached an agreement with Elliott that set ambitious targets for daily active users, accelerated revenue growth and greater market share in digital advertising. Those goals seemed even tougher in late March, when Twitter slashed its quarterly sales forecast and warned of a loss because marketers were spending less during the economic slowdown caused by the Covid-19 outbreak.The summer Olympics and professional sports leagues may not be giving users a reason to tune in to Twitter right now, but Trump’s tussle with the company is its own kind of must-watch contest.“My guess is that the controversy spurs engagement, or at least doesn’t reduce engagement,” said Mark Mahaney, an analyst at RBC Capital Markets.What’s more, advertisers may appreciate Twitter taking a stronger position on misinformation and harmful content, even if the violator is the president. Advertisers don’t want their content to run alongside anything that could hurt the perception of their products -- a value known as “brand safety.”“Advertisers care about brand safety and truth, and from what I’ve seen, most brands support the actions that Twitter is taking,” said Pete Stein, CEO of Huge, an agency that represents brands including McDonald’s Corp. and Vanguard.That’s also set up a clearer contrast between the company and its social-media peers, most of which have been under fire for lax enforcement against offensive or inappropriate content. Twitter is the first to take action on Trump’s posts. On Facebook Inc.’s main app and Instagram, where Trump made the same posts, the messages remain online with no additional context from the company. Facebook has similar content policies, but CEO Mark Zuckerberg has decided his company should be especially hesitant to weigh in or take action on posts from political leaders.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
In a statement posted to Facebook late Friday afternoon, Mark Zuckerberg offered up an explanation of why his company did not contextualize or remove posts from the accounts associated with President Donald Trump that appeared to incite violence against American citizens. "We looked very closely at the post that discussed the protests in Minnesota to evaluate whether it violated our policies," Zuckerberg wrote. Facebook's position stands in sharp contrast to recent decisions made by Twitter, with the approval of its chief executive, Jack Dorsey, to screen a tweet from the President on Thursday night using a "public interest notice" that indicated the tweet violated its rules glorifying violence.
(Bloomberg) -- Tensions between Twitter Inc. and Donald Trump soared after the social-media platform warned users that the president broke its rules against violent speech, prompting critics to accuse the company of unfairly censoring one of its most prominent users.On Friday Twitter slapped a rule-violation notice on a Trump tweet warning protesters in Minnesota that “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.” Earlier this week Twitter added a fact-check label to two Trump posts that made unsubstantiated claims about mail-in voting. Infuriated, Trump responded with an executive order Thursday that aims to curb some of the legal protections social media sites have regarding content on their sites.Twitter has long faced calls to both clean up the toxic culture on its site and to remove Trump, who has tweeted falsehoods and misleading information to his 80 million followers. After years of largely staying on the sidelines, the company has recently become more active in policing commentary from public officials.The shift has inevitably outraged many of Trump’s supporters, who claim the site is biased against conservative voices. Twitter’s crackdown also opens it up to charges that its fact-checking is inconsistent. On Friday, just hours after Trump’s Minnesota tweet was flagged, the chairman of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission challenged Twitter over a bellicose posting from Iran’s top leader asking if it also violated the company’s rules.“Serious question for @Twitter: Do these tweets from Supreme Leader of Iran@khamenei_ir violate ‘Twitter Rules about glorifying violence?’” Ajit Pai said in a tweet. He attached screen shots of May 22 tweets from Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei predicting the eventual elimination of Israel.Some of Twitter’s initial flags on officials’ posts were related to misinformation about Covid-19 that the company deemed potentially harmful. Racial violence is another area open to abuse on the site and a topic Twitter Chief Executive Officer Jack Dorsey has taken personally. In 2014 he marched in protests and documented rising tensions in Ferguson, Missouri, after the police shooting of an unarmed black man.Trump’s tweet early Friday referred to increasingly violent protests in Minneapolis over the killing in police custody of George Floyd, who was black. The authorities on Friday charged police officer Derek Chauvin with Floyd’s murder, according to the Associated Press.The president used Twitter to assail Minneapolis’s mayor, Jacob Frey, as weak and said he had told Minnesota Governor Tim Walz that “the military is with him all the way, ” and that if there was any difficulty, “we will assume control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts.”Twitter obscured the offending message on Trump’s profile with the following warning: “This Tweet violated the Twitter Rules about glorifying violence. However, Twitter has determined that it may be in the public’s interest for the Tweet to remain accessible.”The official White House Twitter account later retweeted Trump’s post about looting and shooting. It also was marked with a warning.“We’ve taken action in the interest of preventing others from being inspired to commit violent acts,” Twitter said in a statement on its @TwitterComms account. It said the company had kept Trump’s tweet live “because it is important that the public still be able to see the Tweet given its relevance to ongoing matters of public importance.”The president’s tweets about the situation in Minneapolis prompted a strong response from other Twitter users, but those replies have since been hidden or removed by the company. The options to reply and like the tweet have also been disabled, while the retweet and quote-tweet functions have been left active.VIOLENCE SPREADSThe Telegraph newspaper in the U.K. called Twitter’s move “perhaps the bravest and riskiest thing that any tech giant has ever done.”Following up from his executive order, Trump on Friday morning called on lawmakers on Capitol Hill to revoke Twitter’s liability shield under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996, which allows companies like Twitter and Facebook Inc. to display content that’s controversial, offensive and libelous without fear of lawsuits.Dorsey this year survived a skirmish with activist investor Elliott Management Corp., partly with an agreement to appoint Elliott representative Jesse Cohn and Egon Durban of the private equity firm Silver Lake to its board. He also agreed to meet certain performance-improvement metrics. Paul Singer, who founded Elliott in 1977, is often described as a megadonor to the Republican party.As part of the agreement, Cohn and Durban said they would recuse themselves of any direct or indirect influence on the content of the Twitter platform, including its policies, rules or enforcement decisions. The company said in a statement at the time that both Elliott and Silver Lake said they were doing so to emphasize the importance of maintaining the independence and impartiality of the Twitter platform and its rules and enforcement.Protests have been gathering force across the country following the death of Floyd, who died when a white police officer pressed his knee into his neck in an encounter that was captured on video. The event set off scattered looting and demonstrations in Minneapolis, culminating in the burning of a police station on Friday. Demonstrators have gathered in cities from New York to Los Angeles, to Memphis, Tennessee and Louisville, Kentucky, to call attention to the killings of black men and women at the hands of police. Some of the gatherings were peaceful, but others were marked by violence, including in Columbus, Ohio, where crowds surged up the steps of the State Capitol and broke windows, according to the New York Times.Trump’s shooting and looting tweet echoed remarks in the late 1960s by the controversial and tough-talking Miami Police Chief Walter Headley. “We haven’t had any serious problems with civil uprising and looting because I’ve let the word filter down that when the looting starts, the shooting starts,” Headley said in 1967.Trump later attempted to explain the earlier tweet, saying on Twitter, “looting leads to shooting, and that’s why a man was shot and killed in Minneapolis on Wednesday night.” He continued in another tweet, “It was spoken as a fact, not as a statement. It’s very simple, nobody should have any problem with this other than the haters, and those looking to cause trouble on social media.”The spreading violence was another sign of simmering tensions in the U.S., where much of the country has been on lockdown for more than two months and unemployment has reached historic highs. Some see Trump’s reaction to Twitter as a tactic to deflect attention from the country’s woes in the months leading up to the presidential election this fall.“This is a fight he wants. Not only on Twitter, but on mail-in ballots,” said California’s Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom, speaking on The View Friday morning. “It’s a deflecting tool, but it’s also a mobilizing tool for his base. We have to walk through this next process of how we respond with those eyes wide open and that in mind.”For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- President Donald Trump’s executive order targeting social-media companies raises tough questions about presidential power, presidential bullying and freedom of speech. To understand it, we need to start with what’s clear, and then explore what’s not.An executive order is not a law. It doesn’t bind the private sector. It doesn’t require Twitter or YouTube to do anything at all. Many executive orders are orders from the president to his subordinates, directing them to do things. That’s what this one is. With respect to the communications market (of which the social-media companies are an important part), the most important federal agency is the Federal Communications Commission, an independent agency not subject to the president’s policy control. The executive order signed by Trump on Thursday respects the FCC’s independence. It doesn’t direct the FCC to take action.Some passages of this executive order read like a fit of pique, or an attempt at punishment. Indeed, the order does not obscure the fact that it is, at least in part, a response to behavior by Twitter that Trump didn’t like: adding fact-check labels to two misleading presidential tweets about voting by mail. Consider this:Twitter now selectively decides to place a warning label on certain tweets in a manner that clearly reflects political bias. As has been reported, Twitter seems never to have placed such a label on another politician’s tweet. As recently as last week, Representative Adam Schiff was continuing to mislead his followers by peddling the long-disproved Russian Collusion Hoax, and Twitter did not flag those tweets.It’s appropriate for the president to call for reassessments of national policy. It’s not appropriate for the president to use the authority of his office to punish perceived political enemies.The order attempts to use the power of the purse to threaten social media companies. It directs all executive agencies to review their spending on advertising and marketing on such platforms — and then directs the Department of Justice “to assess whether any online platforms are problematic vehicles for government speech due to viewpoint discrimination, deception to consumers, or other bad practices.”In the abstract, there’s nothing wrong with that. In context, it looks like an effort to get the companies to act in a way that pleases the president.(2)The most important provisions of the order involve section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996. That all-important law states: “No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.”As a result, Twitter, Facebook,(1) YouTube, and others are regarded as platforms, not publishers. If their platform contains defamatory material posted by users, or material that inflicts emotional distress, the platforms themselves cannot be sued (as can, for example, newspapers or television networks when they run defamatory material). There are specified exceptions, as for copyright violations and sex trafficking.Section 230 goes on to insulate providers of such services from liability for “any action voluntarily taken in good faith to restrict access to or availability of material that the provider or user considers to be obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable, whether or not such material is constitutionally protected.”If, for example, Twitter restricts access to sexually explicit material, or to material by which one user harasses another, it cannot be held liable.This is where things get complicated. Trump’s order says that section 230 should not protect companies that “use their power over a vital means of communication to engage in deceptive or pretextual actions stifling free and open debate by censoring certain viewpoints.”If companies “stifle viewpoints with which they disagree,” the order says, they should not be free from liability. A provider should lose that protection if it is engaged in certain “editorial conduct.”To implement that conclusion, the order asks agencies to “take appropriate actions” — without saying what those actions might be — and directs the Secretary of Commerce to petition the FCC to make regulations to clarify the meaning of section 230, consistent with the order’s understanding of that meaning.Here’s the problem. Love it or hate it, section 230 does not allow the president, the FCC, or anyone else to eliminate the immunity that it grants because a social media company has engaged in “editorial conduct.”Section 230 says flatly that interactive computer services shall not be treated as publishers or speakers. Section 230 also grants companies immunity when they take good-faith steps to restrict access to obscene or violent material. The executive branch and the FCC have no power to say that if Twitter labels misleading tweets, or even discriminates on the basis of viewpoint, it loses its immunity from (say) defamation suits.The executive order directs the attorney general to develop a proposal for legislation to promote its policy objectives. That’s perfectly legitimate. Many people — Democrats, Republicans, and independents — have questioned the broad immunity conferred by section 230.To be sure, social media providers should not be treated in the same way as newspapers and magazines. Their unique role is to provide a forum for very large numbers of people. At the same time, it is hardly clear that they should be immunized from liability if (for example) they are put on notice that material on their platform is clearly defamatory, or has been found to be defamatory in state court.Section 230 was enacted over two decades ago, in what was a radically different communications environment. Rethinking it is a reasonable idea.It’s unfortunate that serious, substantive issues have been raised by an executive order whose clear motivation is to intimidate and punish those who are daring, even in mild ways, to hold the president accountable.(1) So far unsuccessfully, apparently. On Friday, Twitter partially obscured a Trump tweet about a Minnesota police incident with a rule-violation notice, saying the president's words amounted to "glorifying violence."(2) I’ve served as a paid consultant to Facebook on three occasions, totaling about one day of work, between 2012 and the present. None of the work involved issues related to the topic of this column.This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Cass R. Sunstein is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist. He is the author of “The Cost-Benefit Revolution” and a co-author of “Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth and Happiness.”For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- U.S. President Donald Trump isn’t the only politician to earn a Twitter Inc. rule-violation notice. Several other politicians and officials have had tweets blacklisted for violating the platform’s terms of service on grounds such as spreading misinformation or, as in Trump’s case, the “glorification of violence.”Twitter put up a rule-violation notice on one of Trump’s most recent posts that included the phrase “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.” While the president’s comments about violent protests in Minneapolis were against its rules, Twitter said it determined that it “may be in the public’s interest for the Tweet to remain accessible.” In order to read the tweet a user must click on a separate button to view it.Here’s a quick rundown of some of the other notable officials that Twitter has previously taken action against to combat breaches of its terms and rules.Trump’s LawyerTrump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, tweeted in March that the controversial drug hydroxychloroquine “was found 100% effective in treating the coronavirus.” Trump has said he’s personally taken the medication and touted it as a possible coronavirus treatment despite warnings by doctors about its unproven efficacy.Twitter removed Giuliani’s post and trying to access it now results in an error reading: “Sorry, that page does not exist.” Unofficial archives captured the post in time for it to be preserved.U.S. PoliticiansBoth Republican state representative Briscoe Cain of Texas and the daughter of the U.S. Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, have had tweets removed for breaching Twitter’s violent language rules. Cain tweeted “My AR is ready for you” at Texas Democrat Beto O’Rourke, according to the Guardian, while Christine Pelosi posted, “Rand Paul’s neighbor was right” after the Republican senator’s neighbor broke several of his ribs in an assault.Venezuela’s PresidentIn March, Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro tweeted that a “prominent Venezuelan scientist” had given him permission to share three “interesting” articles about the coronavirus. One of them he linked to contained a recipe for a “natural antibiotic” that “works against this virus.”The tweet was removed for “violating Twitter Rules” according to archived screenshots of the post, but the same message and website links remains accessible and public on the politician’s official Facebook page.Brazilian OfficialsIn April, a message from Brazilian lawmaker Osmar Terra was flagged after he said quarantine measures risked increasing the spread of Covid-19. He included a chart to support his argument.As was the case with Trump’s tweet, Terra’s message remained accessible because it was in “the public interest,” but its content was hidden from view by default.In March, Twitter confirmed to CNET that it also deleted two posts made from the account of Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro on misinformation grounds. The posts contained videos, now inaccessible, but seen by Buzzfeed and summarized as having contained promotions for the use of hydroxychloroquine to treat Covid-19 and ending social distancing.Chinese SpokesmanDeletion or hiding isn’t always Twitter’s go-to policy for posts that make controversial claims. For instance, this week it applied a fact check tag to at least two posts made by China Foreign Ministry Spokesman Zhao Lijian, both of which advanced questions about whether the Covid-19 virus began in the U.S. rather than China.The tags, at the base of the tweets originally posted in March, are marked with an exclamation point inside a circle and follow with text that reads “Get the facts about Covid-19”. Clicking the link takes a user to tweets about the virus origin, which emphasize that the virus appears to have originated in animals in China, rather than a virus laboratory in Wuhan, China.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- One constant in Facebook's corporate culture is the ruthless aggression when it comes to growth and competition. To take just one example: More than a decade ago, a young, upstart Facebook smashed a wage-fixing cartel that than had been imposed by older, more established tech companies and it tried to hire the best tech talent. With Facebook now among the most dominant employers in the San Francisco Bay Area labor market, the company is using its lessons from the past few months of work from home to hire remotely all across the country in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. In doing so, it's telling both its own employees and tech employers across the country that competition is coming. What remains to be seen is what effect this will have on wages both in and beyond the San Francisco area, where terms are ultimately set when it comes to the compensation of tech employees.The headlines in Facebook's announcement about working from home were twofold: First, that during the next five to 10 years, as many as half of Facebook's employees could be remote; and second, that the pay of remote workers will be tied to where they work. In other words, if you're moving from Palo Alto, California, to Boise, Idaho, expect a pay cut.Although controlling employee compensation costs is surely part of the thinking, current and would-be Facebook employees should recall that today's high compensation for Silicon Valley software engineers is partly because of Facebook's rule-breaking moves in the past. Until Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg left Google for Facebook, large technology companies such including Google, Apple, Intel and Intuit had what constituted a hiring cartel to prevent employee poaching, part of an effort to retain scare talent and hold down wages. Facebook, perhaps as an early indication of the disruptive nature of the next generation of technology companies, decided it would prioritize its own growth and talent acquisition. That undermined the cartel and led to rapid growth in both employee pay and home prices in the San Francisco Bay Area during the past decade.Facebook's decision on remote work is an extension of that mindset, one that doesn't abide by any niceties when it comes to attracting and retaining elite technology workers. Although the Facebook decision might be seen as little different from similar work-from-home announcements made by other Silicon Valley companies like Twitter and Square, it serves as a watershed moment in the same spirit as Amazon's public search for a second headquarters. Both decisions reflect the high cost and limited availability of technology talent on the West Coast, and that the need to hire outside the region persists, with different companies experimenting with different models on how best to do that.What's unclear is how this will shake out for workers. Although current and prospective Facebook employees are understandably concerned about the company saying that compensation will be tied to location, as long as technology talent remains much sought after, compensation should stay high. Housing costs outside of the West Coast may still be a fraction of what they are in San Francisco or Palo Alto, but technology talent is scarce and mobile throughout the country. It's unlikely that an employee that Facebook would pay $300,000 in San Francisco will be available for $100,000 in Salt Lake City, and if they are, that gap is unlikely to last for long as the word gets out and as other San Francisco Bay Area-based technology companies mimic Facebook's approach.Facebook's latest decision may well have a comparable impact to its decision not to join the hiring cartel, lifting pay everywhere outside the San Francisco area. Many tech employers in Tulsa, Oklahoma, or Kansas City know their best employees could always get recruited by West Coast tech companies if those workers were willing to relocate. But there are frictions involved in relocating, and maybe companies have been willing to bet that those workers aren't willing to move because of family and community ties. But if all of a sudden it's well-known that companies such as Facebook and Google are willing to hire anywhere without demanding relocation, then other companies will be forced to raise pay or risk losing talent -- the same quandary once faced by cartel members such as Intel and Intuit.Ultimately, the question is does being based in the San Francisco Bay Area function as a moat for technology employees, guarding their lofty pay, but one that is ready to be breached ? Or is high pay a function of high productivity, demand and industry growth? If it's the latter, tech workers shouldn't worry about Facebook's work-from-home decision. But it might well be the former.This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Conor Sen is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist. He is a portfolio manager for New River Investments in Atlanta and has been a contributor to the Atlantic and Business Insider.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
Facebook's (NASDAQ: FB) Oculus is unquestionably the market leader in virtual reality headsets in 2020, and given the current competitors, I don't see that changing anytime soon. The Oculus Quest has made six-degrees-of-freedom virtual reality attainable for the masses, and expanded the ecosystem of headsets for consumers. The recent announcement of $100 million in content sales is a testament to the device's success.
Facebook's R&D group, NPE Team, is launching Venue, a new app for engaging fellow fans around live events. This is the third new app to launch this week from Facebook's internal team focused on experimenting with new concepts in social networking. With Venue, the company aims to offer a digital companion for live events, starting with this Sunday's NASCAR race.
In the wake of Twitter's decision to fact-check his tweets for the first time, President Trump has responded with a series of broadsides against the company. Here’s some notable mentions of the company over the years.
If outrage is the business model of social media, then president Donald Trump has just handed the shareholders of Twitter and Facebook another gift. This week’s threat from the tweeter-in-chief to clamp down on alleged bias in social media is certainly ominous. It is not just the social media that thrives on division: the president himself has turned it into a governing philosophy.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Stocks were supposed to be mired in a bear market after they plunged in March as the coronavirus pandemic shuttered business and sent U.S. unemployment to its highest rate since the Great Depression.Even a 62% recovery by the S&P 500 Index by the middle of May failed to comfort experts like billionaire money managers Stan Druckenmiller and David Tepper , who characterized stocks as the worst investments of their careers. They weren't alone; amid an estimated 47% collapse in gross domestic product, fewer than a quarter of respondents to an Evercore ISI survey said they expected the next 10% move in the market to be higher.So far, though, stocks have held their own as economic indicators sagged, regaining 37% of their value from the low point in mid-March. “The stock market looks increasingly divorced from economic reality,” a New York Times article on the phenomenon proclaimed.Or maybe not — not if you think of it as the Microsoft market. No company has defied the pessimism more than Microsoft Corp., and for a lot of sensible reasons. The Seattle-based maker of global business and consumer software led all publicly traded companies most of the year with a $1.4 trillion market valuation, exceeded only by Saudi Arabian Oil Co. which isn't yet freely traded.Unlike the largest fossil fuel company, which lost 13% since its December $1.9 trillion initial public offering, Microsoft is within 5% of its Feb. 11 record high and appreciated $947 billion since 2015, more than any of the 10 largest companies, including Apple Inc., Alphabet Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. The gap between Microsoft and Aramco narrowed to $229 billion from $840 billion, a trend likely to continue amid weak global growth in the months ahead.That's because Microsoft, unlike Aramco, is a mainstay of the global economy, developing and supplying 75% of the operating systems used by computers and servers worldwide, according to the market-analysis company IDC.Microsoft's vast infrastructure and productivity applications enable companies, governments and individuals to navigate increasing social and workforce disruption caused by the pandemic and other disasters stoked by global warming and climate change.As one of the anchors of the Nasdaq 100 Index (more than 80% are technology firms) Microsoft signifies the growing dependence of the economy on these companies, which this year outperformed the Dow Jones Industrial Average by the most since 2000 (Nasdaq 100 gained 8% as the DJIA lost 10%), according to data compiled by Bloomberg.“Microsoft could emerge stronger than most of its rivals once the Covid-19 crisis subsides, in our view, as enterprises spend more to upgrade their infrastructure and applications, translating into above-consensus, double-digit sales growth from fiscal 2022-2021,” said Anurag Rana, a senior analyst with Bloomberg Intelligence in a May 15 report. “Its deep portfolio of cloud products, client relationships and security spending are differentiators.”Such confidence is prompted by the past five quarters, when Microsoft earnings for the first time exceeded forecasts by at least 10% after beating the average of analyst estimates in all but one of the 23 quarters since 2015, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Unlike its five more glamorous peers — Facebook Inc., Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google (Alphabet) — Microsoft has an uninterrupted growth rate with the least volatility, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.To be sure, the Faang companies and similar technology marvels retained much of their value during the Coronavirus pandemic. Netflix has gained 28% since the end of 2019; Amazon is up 30%, Apple 9%, Facebook 10%. Tesla Inc., the maker of electric, battery-powered vehicles, rallied 93% since the end of 2019 and is worth just $59 billion less than No. 1 Toyota Motor Corp.Tesla anticipated the remotely engaged economy by selling its vehicles online and improving the customer experience with periodic, automatic software upgrades. The traditional auto companies haven't fared well. Bayerische Motoren Werke AG, is down 24% since the end of 2019 and General Motors Co., the largest U.S. auto maker, declined 28% and is worth only 26% of Tesla's current market capitalization of $149 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.That's why the Dow, once the benchmark of corporate America, is a shadow of its former self as industrial companies represent just 9% of the average, down from 16% in 2000, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.“Microsoft already had a great relationship with Fortune 2000 tech departments because of its dominance in Windows and Office software products,” said Bloomberg's Rana in a recent interview. “As these legacy companies look to invest more digitally transforming their business post Covid-19, Microsoft should get its fair share of work” — lifting the stock market as it helps transform the economy.This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Matthew Winkler, Editor-in-Chief Emeritus of Bloomberg News, writes about markets.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Twitter Inc. flagged one of Donald Trump’s posts for violating its rules against glorifying violence, escalating a clash with the U.S. president after he signed an executive order that seeks to limit liability protections for social-media companies.Early Friday, the social media company obscured the president’s comments about protests in Minneapolis with a warning that the tweet “violated the Twitter Rules about glorifying violence. However, Twitter has determined that it may be in the public’s interest for the Tweet to remain accessible.”Trump’s executive order came after Twitter began selective fact checks of his posts on the platform. Under current law, companies like Twitter and Facebook Inc. are protected for users’ posts. Trump told reporters that his order “calls for new regulations under section 230 of the Communications Decency Act to make it that social media companies that engage in censoring or any political conduct will not be able to keep their liability shield.”Twitter earlier this week labeled two of his posts about mail-in voting “potentially misleading” and provided links to news coverage of his comments. The president responded with outrage, accusing the social media company of censorship and election interference and threatening to possibly shut down the service.“I’m signing an executive order to protect and uphold the free speech rights of the American people,” Trump said. “Currently, social media giants like Twitter receive an unprecedented liability shield based on the theory that they’re a neutral platform, which they’re not.”Trump said he expected the order or the regulations it produces to be challenged in court. If it were legal for him to shut down Twitter, Trump said, “I would do it.”In the clash Friday over protests in Minnesota after the death of a man in police custody, Trump’s comments, concluding with the words “when the looting starts, the shooting starts,” incited a strong response from other Twitter users. Those replies have since been hidden or removed by the company. The options to reply and like the tweet have also been disabled, while the retweet and quote-tweet functions have been left active.Twitter rose less than 1% in late trading Thursday after the signing was announced. That followed a 4.4% decline in the regular session, the most in four weeks.Order TextThe order said the protections against lawsuits should only apply when companies act in “good faith” to take down or limit the visibility of content.Any removal or restriction made in a manner that is “deceptive, pretextual, or inconsistent with a provider’s terms of service” would not qualify as being in good faith, nor would a move without “adequate notice, reasoned explanation, or a meaningful opportunity to be heard.”Gary Shapiro, president of the Consumer Technology Association trade group, called the order “unconstitutional and ill-considered.”“America’s internet companies lead the world and it is incredible that our own political leaders would seek to censor them for political purposes,” Shapiro said in a statement.In a tweeted statement, Twitter called the executive order “a reactionary and politicized approach to a landmark law,” adding, “attempts to unilaterally erode it threaten the future of online speech and Internet freedoms.”A Facebook spokesperson said exposing companies to liability would penalize those that allow controversial speech and “encourage platforms to censor anything that might offend anyone.”YouTube Chief Executive Officer Susan Wojcicki, in an interview with David Rubenstein on Bloomberg Television while the order was being prepared, said, “we have worked extraordinarily hard to make sure that all of our policies and systems are built in a fair and neutral and consistent way.”The Department of Commerce, in consultation with the attorney general, would be responsible for petitioning the Federal Communications Commission within 60 days to craft the new regulation.“This debate is an important one,” FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said in a statement. “The Federal Communications Commission will carefully review any petition for rulemaking filed by the Department of Commerce.”Industry and civil liberties groups who denounced the order as an illegal end-run around free-speech protections and said it gave the FCC powers it does not actually have.Twitter has been an essential tool for Trump as both a politician and as president, dating back to his false allegations that President Barack Obama was born in Kenya. Trump has observed himself that the social media platform allows him to dodge the press and speak directly to his 80 million followers. It has also afforded him the unfettered opportunity to assail political opponents and to promulgate conspiracy theories and other misinformation.Attorney General William Barr, who joined Trump for his remarks, said the order would not repeal Section 230, which provides social-media companies their liability protection.“But it’s been stretched and I don’t know of anyone in Capitol Hill who doesn’t agree that it’s been stretched beyond its original intention,” he said. “I think this will help get back to the right balance.”Trump and Barr also said they were reviewing possibilities to seek legislation further curbing Section 230 protections. Barr said the government may also bring litigation.“One of the things we may do, Bill, is just remove or totally change 230,” Trump said. “What I think we can say is we’re going to regulate it.”Roth CriticismEarlier Thursday, Trump called out a single Twitter employee, head of site integrity Yoel Roth, in a tweet complaining that the platform’s decision to fact-check his tweets on voting by mail could “taint” the U.S. election.White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany criticized Roth for political tweets, including one that said “actual Nazis” inhabit Trump’s White House.“Twitter’s head of site integrity has tweeted that there are quote, ‘actual Nazis,’ in the White House and no fact-check label was ever applied to this actually outrageous and false claim made against the White House and its employees,” she said.White House officials complained that Twitter did not originally append fact checks to China Foreign Ministry Spokesman Lijan Zhao, who without evidence wrote that “it might be” the U.S. military that brought the coronavirus to China. Twitter has since added the fact-check link to his tweets.Democrats have largely applauded the effort to fact-check the president. But they questioned why Twitter didn’t similarly add links to recent tweets by the president that baselessly accused MSNBC host Joe Scarborough of murdering a former staffer who died while at work in one of his congressional offices nearly two decades ago.“Yes we like Twitter to put up their fact check of the president, but it seems to be very selective,“ House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday.The executive order is the latest in a years-long campaign by the president and his allies against social media companies. The companies say they have more aggressively sought to combat disinformation and foreign interference campaigns after the federal government found that Russia and other state operatives used U.S. social media to influence the 2016 election.Bias AllegationsRepublicans have alleged that Twitter and Facebook are politically biased in the way they display posts and block certain material deemed offensive, and objected to Twitter’s decision to ban certain political advertising. Last May, the administration set up a website asking Americans to submit instances of alleged political bias on social media.“We always knew that Silicon Valley would pull out all the stops to obstruct and interfere with President Trump getting his message through to voters,” Trump 2020 campaign manager Brad Parscale said in a statement. “Partnering with the biased fake news media ‘fact checkers’ is only a smoke screen Twitter is using to try to lend their obvious political tactics some false credibility.”The president has complained about Twitter’s efforts to combat manipulative and abusive content by deleting fake profiles -- leading to a decline of hundreds of thousands of users in his follower count.The websites have denied their actions are politically motivated, and Twitter Chief Executive Officer Jack Dorsey said then he also lost around 200,000 followers in the purge. In 2018 congressional testimony, Dorsey said there were technical explanations for cases of alleged bias raised by Republican lawmakers.Still, the debate has exposed a rift among Silicon Valley tech giants, with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg criticizing Twitter’s decision in an interview with Fox News.“I just believe strongly that Facebook shouldn’t be the arbiter of truth of everything that people say online,” he said. “Private companies probably shouldn’t be, especially these platform companies, shouldn’t be in the position of doing that.“Dorsey fired back in a tweet posted Wednesday night, saying the fact-check was designed to make sure people didn’t misunderstand the president’s tweet and believe they didn’t need to register to vote in order to receive an absentee ballot.(Updates with latest Twitter-Trump clash in sixth paragraph)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
May.30 -- Teddy Goff, Founding Partner at Precision Strategies, and former Obama re-election digital director, talks about claims that Twitter is censoring President Donald Trump's tweets. He appears on "Bloomberg Technology."
In an email to Nike (NKE) staff obtained by Yahoo Finance, Nike CEO John Donahoe explained why the company decided to respond via Instagram (FB) to the racially motivated attacks on George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Christian Cooper, and Breonna Taylor.
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Donald Trump was at the steering wheel as we drove through the rain together on a New Jersey highway in 2005. He had recently considered taking the stage to play a politician in the Broadway comedy “La Cage aux Folles,” but he had other things on his mind as he glanced over at me.“I have one asset that I think nobody else has. And that’s that if somebody writes about me badly, I sort of own my own newspaper in a way. Like I went after you on the ‘Today’ show,” he told me. “I do have the ability to fight back in the media. I can say that, ‘You, Tim, is not smart. Is a terrible guy.’”“A total whack job,” I suggested, since he’d used that one before.“I can say that. Nobody else can,” Trump continued. “In other words, I’m the only guy who can fight back on an almost even plane. I mean, I’m not saying it’s an even plane because you may have an advantage. But I have an advantage, too. Because I’m on television every day.”He finished off his primer with a flourish: “People don’t want to read about a negative Trump. I really believe that.” Remember, this was 15 years ago and Twitter hadn’t yet been invented. Neither had Instagram or Snapchat. Facebook was still a baby. But Trump already instinctively understood one of his advantages as a ubiquitous and media-soaked mogul: He had direct access to readers and viewers and could circumvent traditional news sources to get his message out or to go into battle.Trump’s gut sensibility about how to play the media had been honed through decades of courting and jousting that, even after a series of failures, had left him as an object of interest. That led to his public rebirth on “The Apprentice” and made him ready to rock and roll once social media blossomed. Every social platform offered him the opportunity to run his own printing press and speak directly to fans and critics, but Twitter, a venue of choice for newsies, always held a special allure. And Trump, who adores basking in media attention while also being so singularly insecure that any form of criticism unspools him, has a love-hate relationship with Twitter.So it came to pass that Twitter, which has long tolerated Trump’s retweeting of racists and anti-Semites while painting his targets as everything from “skanks” to murderers, decided on Tuesday to slap fact-checking notices on a pair of bogus Trump tweets claiming that mail-in ballots lead to voting fraud. Trump, who has the November election front of mind and is reeling from an onslaught of criticism for repeatedly bungling his response to the coronavirus pandemic, would have none of that. He claimed that revenge via a federal crackdown on Twitter and other social media companies was coming.Early Thursday evening, Trump issued an executive order that seeks to strip Twitter and other social media platforms of liability protections they enjoy from lawsuits involving the content users post on their sites — including false or defamatory content. In other words, the kind of stuff Trump posts a lot on Twitter. While such a move might be self-defeating, it’s also not clear how serious Trump is about it. The order is littered with personal jibes at Trump’s enemies and the White House said it might still be revised.Trump is also reportedly planning to ask the Federal Communications Commission to make it easier for social media users to sue platforms for removing posts and other content. He also reportedly plans to ask Attorney General William Barr to convene state attorneys general to investigate social media companies for deceptive practices.“There’s nothing I’d rather do than get rid of my whole Twitter account,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office on Thursday. “But I’m able to get to, I guess, 186 million people when you add up all the different accounts…. That’s more than the media companies have, frankly, by a lot.”Trump actually has about 130 million followers on his primary personal social accounts (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram) and he certainly doesn’t have more followers than all of the media companies combined, but you get the point.We’ll have to wait and see if this turns out to be Trump rattling his saber. He has a long history of threatening to sue critics and competitors and then not following through. (I was an exception.) If he decides to try to enforce the executive order, he, the FCC and his White House lawyers will face daunting legal hurdles. Trump can’t force the FCC to change existing regulations that give social media companies latitude to restrict objectionable content. And even if the FCC acts as he wishes, it may not complete its work prior to the November election, because the social media companies will unleash their own attorneys to challenge any change.The First Amendment’s broad protection for editorial discretion from government dictates applies to social media platforms. In a 2017 federal appeals court fight over net neutrality rules, none other than future Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh argued that the government cannot tell companies such as Twitter and Facebook what content to post or favor.The mere whiff of a federal crackdown could have a chilling effect on the social platforms, it’s true, but that will happen only if the companies allow it. Some internecine squabbles have already popped up, with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg telling Fox News that Twitter made a mistake, because no social media platform should be the “arbiter of truth.” It’s quite possible that Zuckerberg is more worried about Facebook being regulated as a news provider rather than as a technology company, or about the added hard work that would come with adequately policing his own website. But that’s a discussion for another day.None of this is really about free speech or proper regulation of social media, however. It’s about the president’s abuse of his power and his fixation on the politics informing the coming election. Also, his feelings are hurt. He’s acting out. Twitter is one of Trump’s favorite toys, and although he’s momentarily bashing it in frustration, he probably won’t go so far as to break it.Trump won’t undermine Twitter because he’s addicted to it. He revels in mainlining his thoughts into the American conversation and absorbing all the responses back into his own bloodstream. Twitter is Trump’s drug of choice, and addicts don’t break their habits so easily.(This column was updated to include new details from the White House's executive order.)This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Timothy L. O'Brien is a senior columnist for Bloomberg Opinion.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
Facebook (FB) closed at $225.46 in the latest trading session, marking a -1.61% move from the prior day.
There’s a brand-new $30 trillion investment trend that has investors across the globe giving on up old way of doing things, and focusing more on sustainable investments
(Bloomberg) -- Equity analysts see President Trump’s threatened social media executive order as little more than bluster, with limited economic impact on the companies he’s targeting, such as Twitter Inc. and Facebook Inc.The order represents “more noise on social media regulation,” Baird analysts led by Colin Sebastian wrote in a note. They don’t see “any material impact” on Facebook or Twitter revenues, as a dispute over content moderation probably won’t influence users, and as advertisers are likely to “follow traffic and eyeballs.” Sebastian added that “any significant pullback in shares would likely be good buying opportunities.”Twitter shares pared a loss of as much as 5.3%, the most since May 13, in Thursday trading. Facebook shares climbed as much as 0.7%. Earlier, Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg told CNBC that social networks shouldn’t fact-check politicians.Trump’s moves are likely “more bark than bite,” Height Capital Markets analysts Chase White and Clayton Allen wrote in a note, citing news reports suggesting the order will address Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, the liability shield that protects Internet platforms from whatever content is posted on their sites. They see the Federal Communications Commission as having limited control over social media companies, which aren’t directly regulated like utilities or broadcasters.“There will be zero financial impact from [Trump’s] temper tantrum,” Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter said via email. “While it is definitely the FCC’s responsibility to execute the laws subject to its interpretation of them, it is hard to see how the FCC is responsible for following the president’s interpretation from an executive order.”The timing of the executive order is unclear; earlier the White House said it was still in the works. On Thursday morning, Trump used Twitter to say “This will be a Big Day for Social Media and FAIRNESS!” and to discuss technology companies and the November election.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- YouTube’s battle against Covid-19 misinformation is causing collateral damage as the world’s largest online video service struggles to pick up on nuances of an increasingly complex and political topic.Since January, California pulmonologist Roger Seheult has posted regular medical lectures about the novel coronavirus on his YouTube channel, MedCram. His audience jumped to more than 700,000 subscribers. But as the virus spread in the spring, YouTube deleted five of the MedCram clips, including two about the controversial drug hydroxychloroquine and one about Remdesivir, an experimental Covid-19 treatment developed by Gilead Sciences Inc.Seheult appealed the decisions. Viewer complaints flooded in; one fan started a petition demanding YouTube stop “censoring” the footage. For Seheult, YouTube’s new rules were applied without explanation. “It’s like you’re in a hockey game,” he said. “And you keep getting called for penalties, but you don’t know what the penalties are.”According to YouTube, the referee made a mistake.“With the massive volume of videos on our site, sometimes we make the wrong call,” a YouTube spokesman said on Wednesday after Bloomberg News reached out for comment. “When it’s brought to our attention that a video has been removed mistakenly, we act quickly to reinstate it.” The five MedCram videos are back on the site now.The incident is another flash point in the debate over the role of internet gatekeepers like YouTube and its parent, Alphabet Inc.’s Google. On Wednesday, U.S. President Donald Trump railed against social-media companies after Twitter Inc. fact-checked some of his tweets. He’s also preparing an executive order that could limit liability protections from the largest user-generated networks: Twitter, Facebook Inc. and YouTube.At the same time, Democratic lawmakers have chastised YouTube for not removing conspiracy theories about the pandemic swiftly enough. In a letter to House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff, released on Thursday, YouTube Chief Executive Officer Susan Wojcicki wrote that the company’s automated systems detected a majority of “dangerous or misleading” videos about the virus. “The complex nature of misinformation online presents a number of challenges for platforms such as YouTube and I welcome your suggestions as to what we can do better,” she added.In addition to this political pressure, YouTube has been inundated with virus videos, while the pandemic has disrupted its contract workforce doing content moderation.“YouTube has a really tough job,” said Kyle Allred, MedCram’s co-founder and producer. “But the reality is: YouTube’s the second biggest search engine in the world. If our videos aren’t on YouTube, we don’t have the benefit of reaching as many people.”During the pandemic, YouTube has aggressively moderated virus videos after years of a more laissez-faire approach. The company has pulled thousands of clips for promoting misleading information or advice that conflicts with public health agencies. To filter footage, YouTube relies on viewers flagging videos, automated software and legions of human moderators.At the best of times, the system is sometimes heavy-handed or too lenient. In March, the company said it had to limit its use of human moderators, due to remote work limitations, and would lean more on machines to make decisions.YouTube’s challenge has grown even harder as medical videos pour onto the site and the debate about the pandemic response evolves from a mostly scientific discussion into a political fight.Trump has said he took hydroxychloroquine for about two weeks and the president has promoted it as a possible coronavirus therapy, despite an outcry from medical professionals about its unproven efficacy and potential side effects.At times, YouTube has filtered out sham science, such as videos promoting fake cures for Covid-19. More controversially, it has acted against doctors departing from public health advice. In April, YouTube removed videos by two doctors in Bakersfield, California, who used their YouTube channel to call for an end to social-distancing policies.Seheult, the pulmonologist, said his videos are nothing like that. Instead, MedCram clips dissect medical studies and early research, called preprints, related to the virus. Seheult narrates the findings and statistics -- low-key footage that, thanks to the pandemic, now draws a large audience.It seems Seheult was struck by YouTube’s algorithms scanning footage about Covid-19 cures. All five removed videos focused on potential treatments. YouTube says it relies on medical advisers and public agencies for guidance on how to handle videos about health issues. Yet the scientific consensus on some Covid-19 treatments is still taking shape. A study in The Lancet medical journal, released last week, linked hydroxychloroquine with increased risk of death and heart ailments.The YouTube spokesperson declined to cite the reason why the MedCram videos were initially removed, beyond noting that it was a mistake.The team behind MedCram is happy to have their work back on the world’s biggest video site. But they still feel frustrated with the minimal communication from YouTube. “We’re grateful to have our website MedCram.com where we don’t have to worry about censorship,” said Allred.(Updates with information on Trump executive order, YouTube CEO letter to Congress in eighth and ninth paragraphs.)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.