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Facebook said Wednesday that new data privacy rules and forthcoming privacy-focused product changes would slow its revenue growth and significantly raise expenses, driving down its shares in after-hours trade even as quarterly revenue topped estimates.
The outlook came soon after the company agreed to pay $5 billion to settle a data privacy probe and disclosed that it faces a new U.S. government antitrust investigation.
While the quarterly results and the settlement with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission over privacy issues demonstrate significant progress in tackling two of Facebook’s biggest challenges, the newly disclosed FTC antitrust probe and the continuing privacy scrutiny show that hurdles remain on the road ahead. Facebook said the FTC had told it in June of the antitrust probe.
Shares of Facebook, which also owns WhatsApp and Instagram, fell 1% after hours to $202.50 after initially rising on its quarterly results. The shares have recouped most of the losses sparked a year ago on concerns of slowing usage and the costs of improving privacy, which had spurred the biggest ever one-day drop in Facebook shares.
A ‘significant investment’
On Wednesday, Facebook’s chief financial officer, Dave Wehner, told analysts that the FTC settlement would require “significant investment” in people and technology. He said ad revenue would be affected by new privacy laws rolling out globally, changes in privacy rules by the operating systems on which Facebook relies, and the company’s tweaking of its own services.
Facebook has increased the number and variety of ads, which are the foundation of its business, as users gravitate toward private and interactive features such as Stories. It has responded to political and regulatory pressure by expanding programs and promises related to securing data and policing objectionable content.
The initiatives remain a drag on earnings, but the company’s wealth of information on its users remains valuable to advertisers.
Facebook, which had set aside $3 billion in the first quarter to cover a regulatory settlement, said it took a $2 billion charge in the second quarter to account for the remainder of the $5 billion settlement with the FTC. The settlement is still subject to court approval.
Facebook also acknowledged in a statement the U.S. Justice Department’s announcement Tuesday of an “antitrust review of market-leading online platforms.”
Steady user numbers
For the second quarter, Facebook reported 2.7 billion monthly users and 2.1 billion daily users across Facebook, Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp, both figures about the same as last quarter.
Quarterly revenue rose to $16.9 billion from $13.2 billion a year ago, beating analysts’ average estimate of $16.5 billion, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.
“News regarding FTC and data privacy, along with antitrust investigations and additional headline risks likely to continue to hang over the stock, but it looks like the platform still remains a very popular destination for the users,” Morningstar analyst Ali Mogharabi said in an email to Reuters.
Facebook has faced questions for the past three years from regulators and users worldwide over how a service designed to share news and events with friends and family has become a platform for spreading misinformation about politics, health and other subjects. A series of data breaches has prompted investigations in several countries.
The U.S. Justice Department said Tuesday that it would examine complaints that some “search, social media, and some retail services online” are engaging in anti-competitive practices, an apparent reference to big tech companies including Facebook.
The FTC inquiry that was settled Wednesday stemmed from allegations that Facebook inappropriately shared information belonging to 87 million users with the now-defunct British political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica. A Netflix documentary about the scandal, “The Great Hack,” premiered Wednesday.
The fine, which some lawmakers have called “a slap on the wrist,” cut second-quarter profit to $2.6 billion, compared with $5.1 billion, a year earlier.
Excluding the fine and a $1.1 billion one-time tax expense, earnings would have been $1.99 per share, Facebook said.
The tax expense stemmed from a court ruling, in which the company was not involved, that it said required accounting changes for stock-based compensation.
Costs jumped 66% compared to a year ago, to nearly $12.3 billion, as Facebook continues to ramp up spending to improve content and security across its platforms.
Facebook has said it expects expenses and revenue growth to come back closer to even but several hurdles remain.
In emerging markets such as India, revenue is lagging behind Facebook’s number of users. Efforts to enter new businesses, such as recently announced plans for a cryptocurrency called Libra as part of a move into digital payments, have faced pushback from lawmakers and regulators.
Meanwhile, the company is developing additional hardware products, which can be more costly to build than apps.
There were bright spots in the second-quarter results. For instance, revenue from Europe accelerated for the first time in several quarters, growing 24% compared to 20% last quarter. (VOA)
By Maria Wirth
This is a true story about a Hindu who had converted to Christianity, and who felt the need to convince his family also to convert.
Once on a flight from Germany to India, one of those bright, young Indians sat across the aisle. We started talking. He was a science lecturer at an American university.
When food came, he ordered non-veg and I ordered veg. I teasingly asked him “non-veg”? He replied, “Yes, I started to eat meat when I converted to Christianity eight years ago.”
“You… converted… to… Christianity?” I asked in disbelief. “How could you do this? Are you not aware of their belief?” I kept throwing questions at him. He surely had not expected this reaction from a white woman with the name Maria. In all likelihood he had converted because he wanted to belong and fit in into the new surrounding in America.
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But since I grew up as a Christian, I knew what Christianity claims and he didn’t have answers. Ultimately he fell back at the ‘personal experience with Jesus’ which convinced him that Christianity is the true religion.
I told him, “If your trust in Jesus helps you, great, but why convert?” Doesn’t your own tradition stress the importance of devotion and does it hinder you from trusting Jesus?” And while for you Jesus may be the ideal guide, for others it may be Shiva or Krishna or Devi. Your tradition allows you all freedom whereas the Church binds you to the doctrine. For example it claims that Hindus go to hell. Do you believe that your Hindu brothers and sisters go to hell?” I asked.
I couldn’t believe his answer and by now he did not look anymore so bright. He said, “Yes, we have to believe this.” … we have to…
So I asked him about his family. Will they burn in hell? He had managed to convince his parents to convert, but his siblings had not (yet?) converted.
I really felt pity for him. His mental freedom to question and to enquire was gone.
He had earlier told me that he wanted to return to India. If he did, I hope he has found his way back to common sense and realised the folly to believe that Hindus go to hell.
By- Laxman Balagani
Remote working has grown to be a dominant trend in the post-pandemic world. Gartner anticipates that 41% of employees will work at least some of the time remotely once the coronavirus is in the rear-view mirror. Such a lasting change in the workplace culture has had the biggest impact on cybersecurity.
Many businesses struggle with how to secure remote workers or if it's even worth trying at all due to fears about security risks for those who aren't physically present on-site at any given time. What they need is insightful, practical, and useful visibility across all communication vectors as they support vast, remote workforces. To obtain this level of visibility, organizations should reconsider their data and user protection techniques and strive to get meaningful insights into what's going on behind the scenes.
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There are cyber risk management solutions available today that can help ensure your business stays safe and productive without sacrificing flexibility for your employees.
To guarantee a safe and secure working environment, enterprises must rethink their approach to security and privacy when dealing with a dispersed workforce. This article explores how business leaders should approach cybersecurity risk management in the era of remote working.
A behavior-centric approach based on a human-centric viewpoint on cybersecurity
The growing usage of smartphones, cloud-based apps, and social media in both work and personal has made it clear that people are the new perimeter. To contain these changes, the new cybersecurity risk management strategy, which aims to protect people, places, and things, works on a behavior-centric approach.
This approach centers on understanding users' behaviors using critical data and intellectual property across worldwide IT systems. This strategy is designed to identify problematic employee behaviors and prevent them from escalating. It's a new way of defending against threats that complements the traditional cyber risk management approach of stopping the bad guys.
It has become essential for businesses to integrate edge security, cloud security, and network security into a single, cohesive format. Here are a few steps businesses can take to enhance cybersecurity when working remotely -
To guarantee a safe and secure working environment, enterprises must rethink their approach to security and privacy when dealing with a dispersed workforce.Unsplash
Providing cyber security training to employees who work remotely can help minimize cyber threats. Ideally, employees should be able to spot a cyber scam in action and know how to avoid it in the future so they stay one step ahead of cyber threats. Providing cyber security training through video modules or cyber security e-learning is a great way to help remote employees retain cyber threat prevention techniques, cyber-hygiene standards, and cyber safety procedures.
There is an absence of a true security perimeter in a remote workplace. Thus, organizations must adopt the mentality of zero trust. All systems must be properly secured and require verified access, whether internal or external. Adding a layer of multi-factor authentication is a crucial step that will protect data from unauthorized access.
Ironically, cloud-based security systems offer better cybersecurity risk management than on-premise servers. Cloud systems are built from the ground up to be safe even when exposed to the public internet. This gives them an edge over regular file servers, which are only lightly secured with sensitive data.
The use of collaboration tools and videoconferencing platforms to allow for business interactions while away has increased significantly. Most of these were quickly integrated, with resiliency taking precedence over any security concerns. The recent Zoom-bombing is the poster child for the risks that come with adopting technologies fast. Teams in the CXO suite need to get defensive and audit all tools and platforms for security flaws before integrating them.
We've already seen software-defined networks (SDNs) emerge to define and protect networks, allowing businesses to use a single, holistic approach for all edge computing. Now that remote networks have taken center stage, IT leaders must apply the same strategy across the network and into the cloud to ensure consistency, cohesion, and security.
Remote working makes it imperative to rely on digital connections, making it critical to ensure that they're secure, fast, scalable, and robust across all networks.
Some companies may not embrace working remotely as their modus operandi, while some organizations might cling to an outdated network model. Anyhow, businesses must consider the long-term impacts of technological disruption and look at them as opportunities. With a distributed workforce, organizations must reconsider how they secure and protect their data.
(Disclaimer: This article is sponsored and includes some commercial links.)
By- Devakinanda Ji!
ॐ त्रिकालसन्ध्यानुष्ठितभूम्यै नमः
(Ṫrikāla: Three periods of the day; Sandhya: Obeisance to Sun god; Anuṣthiṫa: Practice, performance)
The word sandhya refers to those times, when night passes into day and day passes into night. They are dawn and dusk. The ritual of one's obeisance to God during these periods is known as sandhyāvandanam. Doing the ritual thrice at dawn (prātah sandhyā), at midday when the sun is right above our head (madhyāhna sandhyā); and dusk (sāyantrah sandhyā) is known as trikāla.
A person who has undergone the upanayana ceremony, as also house-holders (except the working class), are expected to perform this sandhyā ritual three times a day, as a sacred duty. These three rituals have many steps in common. However, in practice, only the first and the last have survived. The scriptures have provided for this modification.
After taking a bath and wearing the traditional religious dress (dhoṫi and chadar or uttarīya) one should apply the religious marks on the forehead (like the vibhūti or the ūrdhva puṇḍra as per one's family traditions), and sit on the seat (kept aside and used only for such religious purposes). Though there are differences in the procedure and the various steps to be followed, the six steps common to all and the detailed procedure has to be learnt from the family priest or the elders in the family.
These six steps are: 1) Āchamanam- is the ceremonial sipping of water from the right hand cupped in the shape of the ear of a cow (gokarṇam) to the appropriate mantras. This āchamanam is a general purification act that precedes every religious undertaking. 2) Prāṇāyāmam- is the control of the prāṇic energy through the regulation of the breathing process as detailed in the works of yoga. Prāṇayāmam helps in the control of the mind also. 3) Mārjanam- is literally means cleansing or purifying. It consists of sprinkling water on specified parts of the body with a mantra. This process will make the body ceremonially pure and fit the ritualistic act. 4) Arghyapradāna-is the offering of water taken in the two hands cupped together, by repeating the Gāyatrī mantra and addressing the Sun-god. This is just to show our gratitude to the Sun-god who is our primary life-support. 5) Gāyatrī japa-is for the goddess Gāyatrī within the orb of the sun. 6) Sūryopasṭhāna- is repeating the prayer addressed to the deity Gāyatrī in the standing posture, facing the sun. This is the last rite of bidding farewell to the goddess after having invoked her and satiated her through japa.
Hence, our land which worships the Sun-god who is our primary life-support, three times a day is known to be 'Trikālasandhyāvandānuṣthiṫa Bhūmi'.