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Insights: Facebook Won Big Antitrust Decision, But Big Tech’s Headaches Are Far From Done

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Facebook scored a couple of big wins this week in a major antitrust suit by the Federal Trade Commission and nearly 50 states when a judge threw out the states’ case and told the FTC it needed to provide more evidence of actual violations. 

The decisions immediately benefited Facebook shareholders, who saw the company’s share prices jump, pushing its valuation past $1 trillion for the first time. But as often happens in the era of meme stocks and twitchy retail investor apps, that vote of confidence may prove slightly premature.

In fact, it may lead to even more problems for not just Facebook, but all the other tech giants facing growing pressure over anti-competitive tactics. Here’s why: 

To start with, the judge tossed out the states’ case, saying they should have acted back in 2012 and 2014 to oppose Facebook’s acquisitions of WhatsApp and Instagram. Basically, the judge used a “speak now or forever hold your peace” approach to the states’ objections to the increasing market power of the two giant apps, which each have more than one billion users. 

But if that’s going to be the case going forward, state regulators will have all the more reason to nearly automatically oppose big deals, or even potentially big deals involving major companies. 

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If states need to presume they won’t get a second chance to reconsider and unwind deals that lead to impermissible market power and abuses, they’re going to need to Just Say No.

That won’t unwind the WhatsApp and Instagram deals, but likely will lead to far more state-level headaches for big tech companies going forward. 

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The judge also blocked the FTC case, but gave the federal body 30 days to refile with more evidence of antitrust behavior.

Given the new FTC chair Lina Khan made her reputation calling for changes in antitrust law, expect a sharper edge on the filing that comes back here.

This is a big reason why Amazon, already facing its own antirust case on vendor pricing requirements and potentially its MGM acquisition, asked that Khan be recused for bias, given her past criticisms of Amazon’s problematic behavior. 

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The decisions, which almost certainly will be appealed, also could spur further action by legislators, exactly what Big Tech companies are furiously lobbying to avoid.

A separate ruling set off a gold rush to sign college athlete-influencers

Just look what happened with the NCAA this week, finally, after a big court decision. In that case, a 9-0 U.S. Supreme Court decision brutally rebuked the college sports regulator for its egregious foot-dragging over compensation for student athletes.

While the specific case was narrowly focused, it also made clear the court won’t have much patience for NCAA intransigence over Name, Image and Likeness rules.

As I wrote earlier this month, the court practically invited ruinous additional antitrust suits against the college sports regulator if it didn’t stop, to use Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s term, “price fixing labor.”

So, after years of logjams and delay, the NCAA this week approved an interim blanket approval of NIL rules across the country, hours before new laws in six states took effect. The interim policy likely will remain in place quite a long time, given stalemates within the organization and in Congress over details of a permanent national policy.  

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And with the interim policy in place, it’s set off a gold rush to sign college athletes with promising off-field relationships and skills. 

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TMZ reported that Hercy Miller, an incoming freshman at Tennessee State University joining its men’s basketball team, signed a $2 million deal with an unnamed tech company the day after the new rules took effect. Miller isn’t headed to a basketball powerhouse, but he does have one advantage other athletes may not:  his father is rap star, label owner, and all-around entrepreneur Master P.  

There are going to be plenty of other talented, telegenic, and social media-savvy college athletes, in all kinds of sports and schools, signing up as brands get ready to take advantage of the new opportunities. 

As one example, consumer products giant Unilever has set aside $5 million over the next five years in budget for a single one of its brands, Degree deodorant, for deals with college athletes. According to the Wall Street Journal, those funds aren’t just headed to big names in football and men’s basketball, either

It’s a brave new world for college athlete-influencers. The tech giants better understand the ground is changing under their feet, too. 

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Facebook Messenger Is Launching a Split Payments Feature for Users to Quickly Share Expenses

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Facebook Messenger Is Launching a Split Payments Feature for Users to Quickly Share Expenses

Meta has announced the arrival of a new Split Payments feature in Facebook Messenger. This feature, as the name suggests, will let you calculate and split expenses with others right from Facebook Messenger. This feature essentially looks to bring an easier method to share the cost of bills and expenses — for example, splitting a dinner bill with friends. Using this new Split Payment feature, Facebook Messenger users will be able to split bills evenly or modify the contribution for each individual, including their own.

The company took to its blog post to announce the new Split Payment feature in Facebook Messenger. 9to5Mac reports that this new bill splitting feature is still in beta and will be exclusive to US users at first. The rollout will begin early next week. As mentioned, it will help users share the cost of bills, expenses, and payments. This feature is especially useful for those who share an apartment and need to split the monthly rent and other expenses with their mates. It could also come handy at a group dinner with many people.

With Split Payments, users can add the number of people the expense needs to be divided with and, by default, the amount entered will be divided in equal parts. A user can also modify each person’s contribution including their own. To use Split Payments, click the Get Started button in a group chat or the Payments Hub in Messenger. Users can modify the contribution in the Split Payments option and send a notification to all the users who need to make payments. After entering a personalised message and confirming your Facebook Pay details, the request will be sent and viewable in the group chat thread.

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Once someone has made the payment, you can mark their transaction as ‘completed’. The Split Payment feature will automatically take into account your share as well and calculate the amount owed accordingly.


For the latest tech news and reviews, follow Gadgets 360 on Twitter, Facebook, and Google News. For the latest videos on gadgets and tech, subscribe to our YouTube channel.

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Tasneem Akolawala is a Senior Reporter for Gadgets 360. Her reporting expertise encompasses smartphones, wearables, apps, social media, and the overall tech industry. She reports out of Mumbai, and also writes about the ups and downs in the Indian telecom sector. Tasneem can be reached on Twitter at @MuteRiot, and leads, tips, and releases can be sent to tasneema@ndtv.com.

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Facebook Owner Meta Launches New Platform, Safety Hub to Protect Women in India

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Meta (formerly Facebook) on Thursday announced a slew of steps to protect woman users on its platform, including the launch of StopNCII.org in India that aims to combat the spread of non-consensual intimate images (NCII).

Meta has also launched the Women’s Safety Hub, which will be available in Hindi and 11 other Indian languages, that will enable more women users in India to access information about tools and resources that can help them make the most of their social media experience, while staying safe online.

This initiative by Meta will ensure women do not face a language barrier in accessing information Karuna Nain, director (global safety policy) at Meta Platforms, told reporters here.

“Safety is an integral part of Meta’s commitment to building and offering a safe online experience across the platforms and over the years the company has introduced several industry leading initiatives to protect users online.

“Furthering our effort to bolster the safety of users, we are bringing in a number of initiatives to ensure online safety of women on our platforms,” she added.

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StopNCII.org is a platform that aims to combat the spread of non-consensual intimate images (NCII).

“It gives victims control. People can come to this platform proactively, hash their intimate videos and images, share their hashes back with the platform and participating companies,” Nain said.

She explained that the platform doesn’t receive any photos and videos, and instead what they get is the hash or unique digital fingerprint/unique identifier that tells the company that this is a known piece of content that is violating. “We can proactively keep a lookout for that content on our platforms and once it”s uploaded, our review team check what”s really going on and take appropriate action if it violates our policies,” she added.

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In partnership with UK Revenge Porn Helpline, StopNCII.org builds on Meta’s NCII Pilot, an emergency programme that allows potential victims to proactively hash their intimate images so they can”t be proliferated on its platforms.

The first-of-its-kind platform, has partnered with global organisations to support the victims of NCII. In India, the platform has partnered with organisations such as Social Media Matters, Centre for Social Research, and Red Dot Foundation.

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Nain added that the company is hopeful that this becomes an industrywide initiative, so that victims can just come to this one central place to get help and support and not have to go to each and every tech platform, one by one to get help and support.

Also, Bishakha Datta (executive editor of Point of View) and Jyoti Vadehra from Centre for Social Research are the first Indian members in Meta”s Global Women”s Safety Expert Advisors. The group comprises 12 other non-profit leaders, activists, and academic experts from different parts of the world and consults Meta in the development of new policies, products and programmes to better support women on its apps.

“We are confident that with our ever-growing safety measures, women will be able to enjoy a social experience which will enable them to learn, engage and grow without any challenges.

“India is an important market for us and bringing Bishakha and Jyoti onboard to our Women”s Safety Expert Advisory Group will go a long way in further enhancing our efforts to make our platforms safer for women in India,” Nain said.

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Facebook Adds New Trend Insights in Creator Studio, Which Could Help Shape Your Posting Strategy

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Facebook’s looking to provide more content insight within Creator Studio with the rollout of a new ‘Inspiration Hub’ element, which highlights trending content and hashtags within categories related to your business Page.

Facebook Inspiration Hub

As you can see in these screenshots, posted by social media expert Matt Navarra, when it becomes available to you, you’ll be able to access the new Inspiration Hub from the Home tab in Creator Studio.

At the right side of the screen, you can see the first of the new insights, with trending hashtags and videos from the last 24 hours, posted by Pages similar to yours, displayed above a ‘See more’ prompt.

When you tap through to the new hub, you’ll have a range of additional filters to check out trending content from across Facebook, including Page category, content type, region, and more.

Facebook Inspiration Hub

That could be hugely valuable in learning what Facebook users are responding to, and what people within your target market are engaging with in the app.

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The Hub also includes insights into trending hashtags, within your chosen timeframe, which may further assist in tapping into trending discussions.

Facebook Inspiration Hub

How valuable hashtags are on Facebook is still up for debate, but you’ll also note that you can filter the displayed results by platform, so you can additionally display Instagram hashtag trends as well, which could be very valuable in maximizing your reach.

Much of this type of info has been available within CrowdTangle, Facebook’s analytics platform for journalists, for some time, but not everyone can access CrowdTangle data, which could make this an even more valuable proposition for many marketers.

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Of course, overall performance really relates to your own creative, and thinking through the action that you want your audience to take when reading your posts. But in terms of detecting new content trends, including hashtag usage, caption length, videos versus image posts, and more, there’s a lot that could be gleaned from these tools and filters.

It’s a significant analytics addition – we’ve asked Facebook for more info on the rollout of the new option, and whether it’s already beyond test mode, etc. We’ll update this post if/when we hear back.

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