NZ lays pressure on social media companies

New Zealand faced an unprecedented horror in March: a mass shooting, streamed live on Facebook, that filmed the act of 50 people murdered in a matter of minutes. 

Facebook didn’t take the video or stream down for hours, and other sites like YouTube struggled to deal with copycat videos to the point of breaking functionality to stop the spread of the video.

The crime, and ensuing political debate has spurred many countries to rush through penalties for social media companies that fail to act on hateful content. 

But, New Zealand’s prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, plans a push to put further liabilities on the platforms when content like this is shared using their tools. The question at the center of the push is a fairly obvious one: why can anyone in the world stream whatever they like by default?

In partnership with French president, Emmanuel Macron, a summit on May 15 will try and rally other countries alongside technology companies around the “Christchurch call”—a vow to eliminate terrorist and extremist content online.

In Ardern’s own words, she wants technology companies to be more responsible—and proactive about—the content on their platforms: “I don’t think anyone would argue that the terrorist on the 15 of March had a right to livestream the murder of 50 people.”

It’s unclear what the specifics of the pledge will contain, but The Guardian says that it’s focused on practical actions rather than rhetoric. By grabbing France onboard as a partner for launching the pledge, New Zealand is able to make a powerful case for the European Union to pay attention, and look at how it’ll legislate social media in its jurisdictions.

There’s a clear shift in how countries are willing to engage with social media companies, particularly when it comes to Facebook—shifting from willing to engage in a conversation to outright exasperation about how the company is unable or unwilling to solve problems on its platform. 

Facebook’s gravest business risk in the coming year is countries rushing to regulate it in every direction, leaving it hamstrung by new rules, and at the mercy of countries poking around for a reason to go after it for antitrust. So far, Facebook done very little to assure the public and the countries watching to see if it can respond, that it can fix anything.

Social media is going to look incredibly different in the future. Today, platforms are incredibly open, trusting by default, and largely self-moderated, but it’s clear that we’ll never see a Facebook-scale social media platform again, because we probably shouldn’t have let there be one in the first place.

Snap reverses the trend

Don’t count the ephemeral photo company out yet! 

After coming out all-product-cannons-blazing a few weeks ago, Snap just dropped a surprisingly positive earnings after a few quarters of only bad news. 

Here’s the highlights:

  • 📊 Daily active users are up 2 percent to 190 million
  • 💳 Revenue was $320 million, with a loss of $310 million
  • 📉 Revenue per user dropped in both Europe ($0.77/user) and North America ($2.81)
  • 🤖 The Android redesign is already working, causing a 6 percent bump in new Snaps in the first week

Tab Dump

President Trump met with Twitter’s CEO to complain about his follower count

Intel’s new laptop processors hit the 5GHz mark for the first time
It can’t make a 5G modem to save itself, but hey, at least it knows how to make processors.

The UK government signed off on allowing Huawei to build ‘non-core’ parts of 5G networks
It’s hard to say exactly what part of a network would be ‘non-core’ but this is a sorely-needed win for Huawei, and a surprising change of heart from the UK.

Good read: How the Kleiner Perkins Empire Fell
It’s the most prominent Silicon Valley VC, but it’s lost its magic over the past two decades of investing, distracted by bad investments in renewable energy and no future leadership.