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Inside Social

Inside Social (Aug 23rd, 2019)

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1. Facebook very quietly released some internal emails today that show company employees discussing Cambridge Analytica's data scraping activities and calling it "sketchy" as early as September 2015. The emails have been of concern to EU and US regulators because they appear to contradict Zuckerberg's congressional testimony that he was not aware of Cambridge's activities until December 2015. But as Facebook's deputy general counsel Paul Grewal writes in a blog post today titled "Document Holds the Potential for Confusion," these emails only show that there were "unconfirmed reports of scraping" in September 2015, and the company only became aware of "policy violations by Aleksandr Kogan," who sold the data to Cambridge, in a December 2015 Guardian exposé. TechCrunch points to the timing of the release of these documents — which are being made public at the behest of the District of Columbia Attorney General — as being classic Facebook, since it's a Friday in August, and there was not even a link to the blog post on the company's News Room homepage. – TECHCRUNCH

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2. Slack's stock got a brief boost Thursday with a "buy" rating from an MKM Partners analyst and a buy-in by George Soros's fund. Analyst Rohit Kulkarni gave Slack shares a target price of $40 in a new report, while also cautioning about the company's cash burn rate and its lack of a clear path to profitability. Analysts have been divided on Slack's stock since its June debut, and Kulkarni himself had originally given it a target price of $55. But a new report from Microsoft on the increased user base for its competing Teams software, among other concerns, has prompted at least seven analysts to rate the stock a "hold," not a "buy." After a 4.5 percent jump in early Thursday trading, Slack's stock is now back down 1.77 percent from yesterday, and many tech stocks were trending downward today along with the broader stock market. – MARKET REALIST

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3. Follow Friday: Louise MatsakisTech writer Louise Matsakis covers a lot of the social media beat for Wired. Just this week, she had a story about Facebook's new, widely criticized, less-than-what-was-promised "clear history" option for off-Facebook activity — and on her Twitter account she outlined how the company will continue to exploit a loophole in which it holds on to whatever browsing data it has on you for 48 hours, in order to create aggregate reports for its own advertisers. She has also covered a range of other topics — she's Wired's go-to for Amazon stories — and can often be seen retweeting the timely work of other tech journalists in her feed. Also, as she recently reported on Twitter, she's concluded that Facebook is still really good for one thing: "It's the place for the man who found your lost wallet to contact you!!"

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4. Facebook has just banned all ads and shut down a number of pages associated with the pro-Trump, Chinese religious sect-operated Epoch Times newspaper. Accounts and pages associated with Epoch Times have been found to be spreading misinformation denouncing Trump critics, and conspiracy theories elevating the president, as NBC News reported earlier this week. Facebook now says it is banning all ads from Epoch Times for violating the platform's policies and trying to get around its review systems. In several instances, the paper — which has spent millions of dollars in pro-Trump advertising, including $450,000 in the last 30 days — was posting ads under other publication names like "Honest Paper" and "Pure American Journalism." Based in New York, the paper has close ties with the Falun Gong, a Chinese spiritual community that claims oppression by the Chinese government, and believes that President Trump is part of an end-times prophecy that will bring about the collapse of Communism. – WASHINGTON POST

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5. One member of Twitter's three-year-old Trust and Safety Council says its relationship with the company has "eroded to practically nothing." The advisory board says it was accomplishing good things for the first two years, but now they are being completely ignored. – WIRED

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6. Facebook's 2018-announced initiative to partner with academics to "help people better understand the broader impact of social media on democracy" has been stalled. Academics involved say that Facebook has been extremely slow in providing the data they need to get the project going, and funders of the project are now getting nervous that it will never happen. – BUZZFEED

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7. So-called micro-influencers — those with less than 100,000 followers — can still make a healthy living off of Instagram, and they have some advice for those starting out. As one mommy blogger tells Business Insider, the best first step is to reach out to media contacts for brands that fit your personal brand, and solicit free products in exchange for coverage. – BUSINESS INSIDER

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9. Tinder and Bumble are doing some marketing via fraternity and sorority parties on the University of Texas campus. The apps are giving money to Greek houses on campus if they declare themselves a "Bumble house" or a "Tinder house" and hosting events where people download the apps. – VOX

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10. Ellen DeGeneres was mocking the celebrities who fell for that Instagram hoax this week, and then her account was hacked. The account started displaying ads for phony car and iPhone giveaways. – DEADLINE

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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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