Tag Archives: Twitter

Soc-Media Giants Looking for Clues From Biden Team

The US presidency may have shifted parties, but social media giants Google, Facebook and Twitter are in a wait-and-see pattern vis-à-vis President Biden’s approach to the social media sector .

At home, all three platforms have come under fire in recent years for allegedly violating federal antitrust statutes. In December, the Federal Trade Commission filed suit for what the Commission called “a years-long course of anticompetitive conduct.” That followed a trifecta of antitrust cases filed against Google.

The companies have also run into trouble in recent months on the socio-cultural stage, with social and political conservatives accusing the platforms of censoring conservative voices, and progressives arguing that the lack of oversight has facilitated the spread of disinformation and fake news.

Here, too, the battle is likely to play out in court: Parler, a Twitter-like platform favored by many conservatives that have been banned by Twitter,  sued Amazon after the latter’s Amazon Web Services announced it would cut service to Parler.

In the international arena, too, the social media giants are facing unprecedented scrutiny and legal challenges. In Brussels, the European Commission has opened an investigation into Google’s advertising practices, while in Australia the company is embroiled in a political fight with Canberra  over paying for news articles that appear in the company’s search results.

Facebook Bans Suspicious Accounts

Following the banning of 32 accounts in late July with suspected connections to Russia, Facebook removed an additional 652 accounts, groups and pages that it identified as exhibiting “coordinated inauthentic behavior.” That behavior included the sharing of political material.

The banned accounts were linked not only to Russia, but what was a surprise, also to Iran.
The 32 accounts banned in July were generally engaged in efforts to influence the up and coming November mid-term elections. The 632 additional fake accounts were focused more on influencing US foreign policy, and regional politics in the Middle East.

Facebook is not the only internet site where foreign entities go to influence the US voting public. Twitter suspended 284 accounts for “coordinated manipulation,” with many of those accounts sourced to Iran. Microsoft announced they saw a new Russian practice to copy conservative US websites, perhaps as a component of a spy campaign.

“There’s a lot we don’t know yet,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg said.

“You’re going to see people try to abuse the services in every way possible … including now nation states,” he said. He described the deception campaigns as “sophisticated and well-funded efforts that aren’t going to stop.”

Successful Social Media Giants Fail in Profitability

Despite the importance and influence social media sites have had on the way we journey through the world, as businesses, they are almost universally failures.

Yelp was founded in 2004, and went public in 2012, boosted by the millions of people who were using the site to rate local businesses and read those ratings. Prior to the IPO the company raised $56 million in venture capital investments. The IPO brought in an additional $107 million. Still not able to switch to black ink after all this time, a secondary stock offering raised $250 million. Yet, profitability remained an elusive dream.

Before we judge Yelp to harshly, this is a good moment to point out that profitability for social media sites is the exception and not the rule. Today there are only two such online platforms that can be said to make money rather than lose it. Those two are Facebook, which took years to reach profit-making status, and LinkedIn, which has a paid pro subscription, making it less dependent on advertising. You will be looking long and hard to find another social media company that is in this exclusive club. Not YouTube. Not Twitter. And not Yelp.

Now Yelp is looking for a buyer. But its prospects are not good. This is a quote from the company’s annual report:

“We expect that our revenue growth rate will decline as a result of a variety of factors, including the maturation of our business and the gradual decline in the number of major geographic markets, especially within the United States, to which we have not already expanded.”

Over its lifetime Yelp has raised a total of about $400 million from investors. The company has a market value of $3.51 billion, and in 2014 they did manage to eke out a profit for the first time in their history. Over its lifetime, however, Yelp has reported a total of $34 million in losses.

Who will buy this company is yet to be seen. If they do, it will be not as a source of income, at least not soon, but as a way to provide this service to its otherwise loyal customers.

Super Watched Super Bowl

Super Bowl Action Viewed by Millions

For the third year in a row fans tuned-in by the millions, making the Super Bowl football game the most-watched television broadcast in history.

According to Nielsen estimates 111.3 million fans turned on their TVs to watch the NBC sponsored final match of the 2011/2012 football season between the New York Giants and the New England Patriots, constituting 47.8% of all US households.

The halftime show was an even bigger hit as far as number of viewers is concerned with 114 million people watching Madonna perform, making this show the most-watched Super Bowl halftime spectacle in history.

Twitter also went ballistic as 12,233 tweets per second were registered during the final few minutes of the game, setting a Twitter record for sporting events. According to Twitter, this Super Bowl game received the most tweets per second for an English language event in Twitter history. Last year’s game registered one third the number of tweets, 4,064 per second, but a year ago that was a record number.

So who won? Some say the Giants, but really, it was the businessmen selling ad time for this incredibly lucrative American commercial experience.

Saudi Billionaire Buys Shares in Twitter

Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, active Saudi global investor, has just become part owner of the

Prince Alwaleed bin Talal

famous micro-blogging website Twitter for $300 million.

Breaking Into Global Communications

Alwaleed is one of the Saudi King’s nephews was estimated to be worth at least $19 billion and is already has a 7% stake in News Corps and is considering beginning his own cable news channel.

It is interesting to note that Twitter was one of the major tools used for communications between the protestors during the famed Arab Spring revolts a year ago, including violence which posed a threat to the ruling family of Saudi Arabia. The revolt was quelled after the kingdom proposed a $130 billion social spending package.

Months of Negotiations

The purchase of Twitter came after months of intense negotiations between Twitter and the Prince and his Kingdom Holding Company investment firm.

The investment transaction was what is known as a secondary transaction, which means that the shares that Alwaleed and his Kingdom Holding Company purchased were from shareholders already invested in Twitter, and not a direct investment in the company.

Owns Four Percent of Twitter

Chief executive of Twitter Dick Costolo said that the company is valued at about $8 billon in the secondary markets as of October, making Alwaleed’s investment worth about 4 percent of the company.

The co-founder of Social Media, a firm specializing in analysis and advice, Bernhard Warner said,

“The Arab world, of course, knows full well the value of Twitter. In the past year, it has been a force in politics, in regime change, so there is not a single person in that region in a position of influence who is not following the increasing power of Twitter.”

“(Alwaleed) must see Twitter as something that is going to be a really powerful broadcast channel,” he said, and added that the Saudis got into the internet craze relatively late, which has been a bit of a problem, and it could still be “kind of late” again to this game.