#SocialStocks: CMA Probe Calls On Facebook To Sell Giphy

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Facebook finance head seeks seat at crypto payments table, Snap creators seek out bigger paydays on rival apps and other notable stories from this week. Welcome to “#SocialStocks,” The Fly’s weekly recap of Wall Street’s reactions to social media stock news.

ANTITRUST LATEST: 

Amazon (AMZN) has been contacting certain third-party sellers on its marketplace and warning them that that the House Judiciary Committee reforms put through in June “could limit their ability to sell on Amazon,” wrote CNBC’s Annie Palmer. “We’re reaching out to a small group of our sellers to make them aware of a package of legislative proposals, currently in Congress, that is aimed at regulating Amazon and other large technology companies…”It is early in the process and the bills are subject to change, but we are concerned that they could potentially have significant negative effects on small and medium-sized businesses like yours that sell in our store,” said Amazon in an email to a small number of third-party sellers. Amazon said it has recently received inquiries from several sellers asking how the bills will affect them. Amazon failed to mention what types of concerns sellers had raised about the bills. The six bills would make it more difficult and costly for tech companies like Apple, Facebook (FB) and Google (GOOGL) to complete mergers and mandate data portability between services. The bills would also reportedly make it easier for state attorneys general to choose where to bring antitrust cases and allow federal regulators to sue to break up companies that “operate a dominant platform” and own or operate “a business that presents a clear conflict of interest.”

The head of Facebook’s financial unit, David Marcus, wants the company to have a fair chance at being involved in the cryptocurrency payments arena, Ephrat Livni reported for the New York Times. The The NYT story points out that “$100 billion in payments have been enabled by Facebook over the past year,” but Facebook, according to the executive, has been the focus of numerous antitrust inquiries, which may have hampered its efforts in the space. Facebook faces unfair resistance in the financial industry, Marcus wrote. “I’ve heard multiple conversations about how this proposal would be so great if only Facebook wasn’t involved,” he said. “I understand and accept the need for extra scrutiny due to our scale.” However, Marcus describes Facebook as a “challenger in the payments industry,” with no specific plan yet to monetize use of the Novi wallet, which won’t charge for person-to-person payments, even across borders. He added that allowing users to pay with dollars, euros and other fiat currencies via the Novi wallet would bring a lot of value. “So why not just do that and call it a day?” he wrote. “Well, we might.” But before deciding on that, he doesn’t want to “waste our shot” at incorporating stablecoins into an “open, interoperable protocol” for online payments. “To have the maximum impact, building a closed system using fiat only wasn’t going to cut it,” he said in the memo.

The Competition and Markets Authority, or CMA, in the UK initiated a probe into Facebook’s $400M acquisition of animated gifs supplier Giphy earlier in 2021, Mark Sweney of The Guardian reported. The regulatory watchdog launched an investigation after identifying a number of concerns about the $400M deal struck in 2020. According to the CMA’s provisional findings it found that “the only effective way to address the competition issues that we have identified is for Facebook to sell Giphy, in its entirety, to a suitable buyer.” The CMA found that Facebook’s ownership of Giphy, which it intends to integrate with Instagram, could lead to it stopping supplying gifs to other social media sites. Or Facebook could demand more user data from Giphy’s social media customers to continue to get access to its gifs, increasing the company’s already “significant” market power. Facebook has said in submissions to the investigation that Giphy, which has no revenues or staff in the UK, did not compete with it before the merger and Instagram was committed to continuing to allow rivals access to the library of images. “We disagree with the CMA’s preliminary findings, which we do not believe to be supported by the evidence,” said a Facebook spokesperson. “As we have demonstrated, this merger is in the best interest of people and businesses in the UK – and around the world – who use Giphy and our services. We will continue to work with the CMA to address the misconception that the deal harms competition.”

TWITTER TESTS MINSINFORMATION FEATURE: 

Twitter said in a statement: “We’re testing a feature for you to report Tweets that seem misleading – as you see them. Starting today, some people in the US, South Korea, and Australia will find the option to flag a Tweet as “It’s misleading” after clicking on Report Tweet. We’re assessing if this is an effective approach so we’re starting small. We may not take action on and cannot respond to each report in the experiment, but your input will help us identify trends so that we can improve the speed and scale of our broader misinformation work.”

BLUESKY LEADER NAMED: 

Cryptocurrency developer Jay Graber has been has been appointed as the formal project lead for Twitter’s (TWTR) decentralized social media working group ‘bluesky,” wrote Lucas Matney for TechCrunch. Graber , who has been working in a less formal role at “bluesky” will direct how the protocol develops moving forward,” added the TC story. The “bluesky” initiative, which has been funded by Twitter employees, hopes to “eventually create a decentralized social media protocol that a number of social networks including Twitter will operate on,” added TechCrunch. In an interview in January, Graber told TechCrunch she saw a major opportunity in Twitter entering the decentralized social space due to the hefty user base on the Twitter platform, which will itself eventually migrate to the protocol, the company has said. “The really powerful thing about Twitter doing a decentralized protocol move is that if you could design a protocol that works in an ideal way, you don’t have to go through the initial effort of finding the niche to bootstrap from because Twitter will bring so many users,” Graber previously told TechCrunch.

GREENER GRASS: 

Creators are leaving Snapchat’s (SNAP) Spotlight feature after payments on the service had dried up, and are instead heading to rival social networks like TikTok, Instagram and YouTube, CNBC’s Salvador Rodriguez and Jessica Bursztynsky reported. Spotlight creators say there was a method to how Snap paid them prior to June 1, but after Snap said it would pay “millions” per month, payments have been dwindling, according to the report. Snap’s spokespeople told CNBC that the company remains heavily invested in paying creators and is now reaching all-time highs for creators who submit content to Spotlight on a daily basis. “We have seen incredible creativity and growth on Spotlight this year, including a tripling of daily submissions quarter-over-quarter and all-time highs in the daily number of creators posting to Spotlight since June 1,” a Snap spokesperson said in a statement. “While this growth has made our incentive program more competitive, more creators are receiving Spotlight payouts than ever before, and we have recently rolled out a wide variety of new programs and tools to help creators continue to grow and monetize with Snapchat.”

VOICE AND VIDEO CALLS NOW ENCRYPTED ON MESSENGER: 

Facebook said in a blog post that it is rolling out the option to make voice and video calls end-to-end encrypted on Messenger, along with updated controls for disappearing messages. “People expect their messaging apps to be secure and private, and with these new features, we’re giving them more control over how private they want their calls and chats to be,” the company said. “End-to-end encryption is already widely used by apps like WhatsApp to keep personal conversations safe from hackers and criminals,” Facebook continued. “It’s becoming the industry standard and works like a lock and key, where just you and the people in the chat or call have access to the conversation. The content of your messages and calls in an end-to-end encrypted conversation is protected from the moment it leaves your device to the moment it reaches the receiver’s device. This means that nobody else, including Facebook, can see or listen to what’s sent or said. Keep in mind, you can report an end-to-end encrypted message to us if something’s wrong.” “We’ve also updated the expiring message feature within our end-to-end encrypted chats,” the company added. “People don’t always want or need their messages to stick around and the timer controls let someone decide when their messages expire in the chat. We’ve updated this setting to provide more options for people in the chat to choose the amount of time before all new messages disappear, from as few as 5 seconds to as long as 24 hours.” The social media giant noted that in the coming weeks, some people may get access to more test features within these fully encrypted chats that give people greater privacy and security in their conversations. Those features include end-to-end encrypted group chats and calls in Messenger, as well as opt-in end-to-end encryption for Instagram DMs.

Originally Posted on August 18, 2021 – #SocialStocks: CMA Probe Calls On Facebook To Sell Giphy

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