Inside Social - July 18th, 2019 |

Inside Social (Jul 18th, 2019)

Q2 earnings due next week / Is FaceApp actually a privacy threat? / Instagram outages

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$FB (4:00 PM EDT): $200.78 (-0.51%) // More info

$TWTR (4:00 PM EDT): $37.68 (-0.05%) // More info

$SNAP (4:00 PM EDT): $14.53 (-2.65%) // More info

$PINS (4:00 PM EDT): $25.73 (-0.69%) // More info

$WORK (4:00 PM EDT): $31.99 (-4.39%) // More info

1. Second-quarter earnings reports are due out next week for the three big social networks, and Snap Inc. has the potential for more positive momentum on Wall Street. Snap shares surged over the $15 mark for the first time in over a year last week, before settling back down in the $14 range this week, and Zacks predicts the company's Q2 earnings will show 37 percent growth over the same quarter last year. The company's earnings have exceeded Zacks' Consensus Estimates for the last four quarters in a row, and may do the same again, coming in above $358.5 million. The company has been showing growth in daily active users and user engagement, most notably with a viral gender-swap lens that drove new downloads in May. Snap's earnings will come out July 23, with Facebook's to follow on July 24, and Twitter's on the morning of July 26 before market open. – NASDAQ

2. Following all the hubbub Wednesday about FaceApp being a Russian creation, with possible implications for the privacy of users who've downloaded it, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-New York) has called for an investigation into the matter. Soberer minds and actual security experts have already done some investigating and so far this viral app that makes your face look old — or changes your hairstyle, etc. — seems like a standard, innocuous knockoff of a Snapchat lens, and not a covert Russian government tool. Forbes calls this a "storm in an internet teacup," and found in its own investigation that FaceApp isn't uploading any photos beyond those a user selects. And, what's more, the app is primarily using Amazon servers in the US, not Russia. The only outstanding concern would be if Russian intelligence demanded that FaceApp's St. Petersburg office turned over whatever data it had on its own servers. – KGO-ABC7

3. Throwback Thursday: When Facebook went public. Oh what a comparatively innocent time that was, seven years and two months ago, when Facebook debuted on the NASDAQ on May 18, 2012. "Investors who buy Facebook shares are taking a stake in a unique and potentially valuable business," the New York Times wrote the day before. "But they are also exposing themselves to the risks posed by a relatively young company operating in uncharted territory." The company's shares debuted at a price of $38, and closed that Friday up just 23 cents, at $38.23.

If you had bought 100 shares at that IPO price for $3,800, those would be worth $20,000 as of today, for a net profit of $16,200. Of course not all investors saw the potential in Facebook at the time, even though the company's valuation of $104 billion was at the time higher than Amazon's, McDonald's or Citigroup's. The IPO made the company $16 billion, and it made Zuckerberg an immediate billionaire, with his personal shares worth $19 billion.

To celebrate the IPO, instead of a lavish party, Zuckerberg and company had a "hackathon" on the eve of the IPO, working into the wee hours like nerds, "amped up on Red Bull and workers-turned-D.J.’s playing their tunes," as the company told the Times. It was the company's 31st hackathon, and already a tradition at that point.

Facebook would see a leap in its share price in February 2014 when it announced its acquisition of WhatsApp, hitting $68 that day. And while the stock took a dive amid scandal and poor earnings last summer, it is back up to $200 a share today.

4. Instagram appeared to have yet another partial outage Thursday morning, and the memes about this are getting pretty old on Twitter. According to a map on Down Detector, users were reporting problems across the country and in Europe, and this followed a brief outage on Wednesday, and a larger one that hit the app on Tuesday, marking a particularly rough week for Instagram's crisis team. The problem has surfaced in users not able to refresh their feed or load other peoples' stories. Thursday's troubles may have just been residual from Wednesday's outage, but this has followed a month in which the app has gone down multiple times, including on June 13 and July 3. – DOWN DETECTOR

5. Following Calibra chief David Marcus' testimony before Senate and House banking committees Tuesday and Wednesday, TechCrunch brings us a long-read about what Marcus clarified, and what questions remain unanswered about Facebook's Libra project. He notes that the Democratic-led House was more pointed in its questions about the Libra Association and Facebook's role as the architect and driver of this project. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) suggested that this cryptocurrency would be "controlled by an undemocratic selection of largely massive corporations" — essentially a consortium hand-picked by Facebook with a number of shared interests. Also, Reps argued that if all of Facebook's users put $100 into Libra, it would put it in the ranks of America's 20 biggest banks, with $100 billion in assets. Marcus conceded there could be "some degree of volatility" in Libra's value, but the global implications and potential impacts on weaker currencies remain unclear. – TECHCRUNCH

6. TikTok is testing several new features, including a Discover tab (like Instagram and Snapchat), and a shortcut that lets users quickly share videos with friends on WhatsApp. The growing short-video-sharing app is also testing new icons that show how many times a video has been liked or shared. – THE NEXT WEB

7. Facebook Stories continue to grow in popularity, as those who haven't migrated to Instagram or Snapchat discover the art of ephemeral video. Usage of Stories has reportedly gone up 44 percent among 18- to 24-year-olds since Q1, and 47 percent among 25- to 34-year-olds. – BUSINESS INSIDER

8. Slack reset the passwords of 1 percent of its user base who have been using the app since prior to a March 2015 security breach. A set of Slack passwords was recently found for sale on the dark web, and the company believes these relate to the 2015 breach — which does not affect the 99 percent of users who have adopted the service in the years since. – TECHCRUNCH

9. A vulnerability was revealed in both WhatsApp and Telegram this week that enabled malware to alter images after they had been sent to a user. Hackers were potentially able to alter photo or audio files, something that could be used, for instance, to scam people into making payments to strangers. The same researchers at Symantec also found a fake version of Telegram for sale in the Google Play store. – CNET

10. A libertarian engineer developed Parler as a "nicer" and "safer," "free-speech" alternative to Twitter for more civilized political discourse, but it's been taken over by white supremacists. It's just more proof that when you give those who have been kicked off of other platforms a new space to spread hate, they're not going to be civil about it. – FORWARD

Inside Social is written and curated by Jay Barmann. Jay has spent a decade covering the social media space and the tech world in general for, the San Francisco branch of Gothamist. As editor of Grub Street San Francisco, he also covered the food world around the Bay Area. As a freelance writer he has written for SF Weekly, 7x7, Curbed SF, Eater SF, Eventbrite, New York Magazine, and San Francisco Magazine, among others. Follow him on Instagram at @conflator or Twitter at @jaybarmann.

Editor: David Stegon (senior editor at Inside, whose reporting experience includes cryptocurrency and technology).

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