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Inside Social

Inside Social (Aug 20th, 2019)

$FB (4:00 PM EDT): $183.81 (-1.27%) // More info

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1. Fifteen months after Mark Zuckerberg promised it, Facebook is rolling out a "clear history" tool and opt-out feature for data collection of users' activity outside Facebook. The new settings within the privacy dashboard are labeled "Off-Facebook Activity," and they allow users both to stop web-browsing activity from being transmitted back to Facebook, and to clear all previous data collected from this activity. The Associated Press notes, via the company's talking points and Zuck's own early comments, that clearing one's history will result in ads that are less targeted, and that perhaps make little sense. And as David Baser, a director of product management at the company, tells the New York Times, "If this were widely adopted, it would mean less overall revenue for Facebook." The new features roll out in Ireland, Spain, and South Korea today, and the timeline for the rest of the rollout is TBA. – NEW YORK TIMES

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2. A group of up to 20 states attorneys general are organizing a joint antitrust probe into multiple big tech companies, which are likely to include Facebook, Apple, Alphabet, and Amazon. The state-level effort, first reported Monday by the Wall Street Journal, is separate from a federal probe by the Department of Justice into anti-competitive behavior by Google and Facebook, which was announced last month, but the two are likely to "dovetail." The states involved are likely to include attorneys general on both sides of the political spectrum, giving bipartisan weight to the effort, though the exact states involved are not yet known. The involvement of states is likely to complicate ongoing legal woes for the companies — similar involvement by attorneys general in the 1990s antitrust probe into Microsoft both "expanded and extended the legal battle" for the company, as the Journal notes. – WALL STREET JOURNAL

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3. By the Numbers: The steady growth of LinkedIn. The New York Times recently looked at the ways in which LinkedIn has managed to quietly grow and thrive while flying under the radar of social-media scrutiny, and while staying above the fray of the industry's general chaos of the last five years. "The site hasn’t proved especially useful for mainstreaming disinformation, for example, nor is it an obvious staging ground for organized harassment campaigns," the Times writes. "And perhaps even more importantly, LinkedIn is not, in the popular imagination, a force for radicalization, a threat to democracy, a haven for predators, an environment that encourages mob behavior, or even a meeting place for pot stirrers." No, LinkedIn has remained a reliable hub for networkers and job seekers, and a source of business-y content for all of the above, without ever (or yet) falling prey to darker forces. Below, a quick look at how LinkedIn has grown over the years to have twice the annual revenue of Twitter, and 303 monthly active users — less than 30 million shy of what Twitter boasts.

Total LinkedIn Members 2003 - 2019

2003 - 10 members
2004 - 100,000 members
2005 - 1.6 million members
2006 - 4.2 million members
2007 - 8 million members
2010 - 64 million members
2012 - 161 million members
2014 - 296 million members
2016 - 433 million members
2018 - 590 million members
2019 - 630 million members (Q2)

Sources: LinkedIn, Statista, Omnicore

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4. Facebook has begun to staff up its forthcoming News section, and it's now advertising for experienced journalists to serve as "news curators." As we learned two weeks ago, Facebook is re-engaging in the business of news with a set of high-profile partnerships with large media organizations, with a view toward launching a new curated News Tab on the site later this year. It's the first big push by the company to dip its hand in news curation again after the Trending Topics mini-scandal of 2016, in which the company was accused of having a liberal bias in the stories that landed in that high-profile section of the site. The New York Times later investigated and found those claims were mostly unsubstantiated, but to this day Republicans — including the president — continue to allege that Facebook, Google, and Twitter show bias against conservative speech. – CNBC

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5. Facebook's Libra project is officially getting its own antitrust investigation by regulators in the EU. Wide scrutiny of Facebook's foray into payments and cryptocurrency has been expected, and now the European Commission wants to examine how Libra presents the "potential for anti-competitive behavior." – REUTERS

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7. Instagram's test to hide Likes from other users is being received largely positively, says CNN Business. The company still hasn't said when U.S. users will see the test — in which users can see their own Like counts, but others can't — and it's mostly those in the influencer marketing world who hate the change. – CNN BUSINESS

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8. Facebook Marketplace has become a go-to place to sell second-hand guns without background checks. Sellers are evading Facebook's prying eyes and breaking the site's rules by listing gun cases and boxes for inflated prices — which is code for the fact that they're selling the real thing. – WALL STREET JOURNAL

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9. Multiple models and influencers have been showing off a phone case in their mirror selfies that displays the message "Social media seriously harms your mental health." The ironic, though demonstrably true PSA case, made by Urban Sophistication, has been spotted in photos from Kaia Gerber, Gigi Hadid, Hailey Bieber, and Delilah Belle. – THE VERGE

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10. An "instant house party" announced on Snapchat in Houston, which attracted a random group of teens and adults, ended with a fight breaking out early Saturday and seven people got shot. It's a clear lesson to teens that inviting random strangers to drink at your house en masse is not without its risks. – NEWSWEEK

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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 SFist.com, 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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