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Remember, before Facebook, when friends used to ring you up to wish you a happy birthday? Or to congratulate you on a new job rather than writing on the wall or clicking the ‘Like’ button?
Well now the traditional expressions of sympathy during sad times, an arm around the shoulder, an invite for a pint, a card in the post or a bunch of flowers are potentially under threat from the social network.
Facebook has revealed it is actively experimenting with a ‘Sympathise’ button, which was dreamt up at a recent hackathon event and was an immediate hit.
It would work, as thus: If you tag your status with a negative emotion, such as ‘feeling sad’ then a ‘Sympathise’ button would replace the ‘Like’ button.
“It would be, ‘five people sympathise with this,’ instead of ‘five people ‘like’ this,’” said Dan Muriello, a Facebook engineer. “Of course a lot of people were – and still are – very excited about. But we made a decision that it was not exactly the right time to launch that product. Yet.”
In some cases, this would be a nice idea. After all, when someone expresses a loss, users may appreciate the sentiment’s expressed in a status update, but clicking ‘Like’ doesn’t quite seem appropriate.
Also when one of your mates complains about their boss, or the late running trains, or their relegation-threatened football team, Like also doesn’t seem to cover it.
However, Facebook already does so much to take the effort out of maintaining a real, friendship and the sincerity of real-life well wishes, do we really need that threatened further by a sympathy button?
Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.
Via Huffington Post
Well, the U.S. government isn’t going to “like” this: Facebook shifted a little over $1 billion in profits earned overseas to the Cayman Islands last year.
The world’s largest social networking site avoids hefty tax bills on most of its international earnings by using a web of subsidiaries in Ireland and the Cayman Islands, a favorite tax haven for many multinational corporations because it has no corporate tax.
Facebook uses a tax-avoidance scheme that has been dubbed the “double Irish” because it involves two subsidiaries incorporated in Ireland. Similar strategies have been employed by other large multinationals like Google and Apple. In Facebook’s case, one subsidiary, Facebook Ireland Limited, collects advertising revenue from around the world. In 2012, for example, it boasted a profit of €1.75 billion (or about $2.3 billion), but that quickly turned into a pre-tax loss of €626,000 (or about $850,000) when the company paid €1.75bn in “administrative expenses” tied to the use of intellectual property to the second subsidiary, Facebook Holdings Limited, the Financial Times reported.
The string of money moves dramatically reduced the taxes Facebook owed for 2012. In the end, Facebook reportedly paid €1.9 million (about $2.6 million) in Irish corporate taxes even as revenues surged to €1.79 billion.
The company defended its tax payments. “Facebook complies with all relevant corporate regulations including those related to filing company reports and taxation. We have our international headquarters in Ireland that employs almost 400 people and a series of smaller local offices providing support services all over Europe. Dublin was selected as the best location to hire staff with the right skills to run a multilingual hi-tech operation serving the whole of Europe,” a spokesman for Facebook said in a statement.
This isn’t the first time the social media giant’s tax practices have come under scrutiny. Earlier this year, the Center for Tax Justice, a left leaning tax advocacy group, released a report saying Facebook paid a negative tax rate in 2012, as company filings showed it would receive a tax refund of $429 million despite booking $1.1 billion in U.S. profits. The tax refund resulted from Facebook’s use of a tax break that allows companies to treat executive stock options the way they treat compensation—as an expense that trims their profits. The company’s CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg paid a bigger tax bill last year – about $1 billion.
Facebook is not alone, of course. In fact, every year U.S. multinational corporations avoid paying an estimated $90 billion in federal income taxes by sheltering profits in subsidiaries registered in tax havens, according to a report issued earlier this year by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG).
The report showed that the top 100 publically traded U.S. corporations, including tech giants Apple, Microsoft and Google, had a collective $1.17 trillion stored offshore. Just 15 companies accounted for about two-thirds of that total.
Here are the top 10 companies sheltering the most money offshore, according to PIRG.
General Electric: GE has the most money parked offshore. In 2012, it held at least $108 billion abroad, with the money distributed across 18 subsidiaries in tax havens like Bermuda, Bahamas and Ireland.
Apple: The tech titan stores $102 billion offshore – under three Irish subsidiaries, two of which have no employees. PIRG estimates that if Apple didn’t harbor these profits offshore, it would owe the U.S. government $26 billion in taxes. Instead, it paid an effective tax rate of 3.4 percent on its offshore cash.
Pfizer: The world’s largest pharmaceutical company operates 174 subsidiaries in tax havens and currently stores $73 billion offshore. According to PIRG, Pfizer made more than 40 percent of its sales in the U.S. between 2010 and 2012 and still managed to report no federal taxable income in the U.S.
Microsoft: The company reported that five offshore subsidiaries held $60.8 billion in 2012. PIRG estimated that the software giant would owe $19.4 billion in U.S. taxes if it didn’t use tax havens. Microsoft also uses a subsidiary in Puerto Rico to avoid U.S. taxes on 47 percent of its U.S. sales, a Senate investigation found last year.
Merck: One of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world, New Jersey-based Merck Co., had an estimated $53.4 billion offshore at 151 different subsidiaries in tax haven countries.
Johnson Johnson: The company may be based in New Jersey but it harbored an estimated $49 billion abroad. It operates 55 different subsidiaries in tax havens like Ireland, Hong Kong, Luxembourg and Singapore.
IBM: The tech and financial consulting corporation headquartered in New York stored $44.4 billion offshore in 2012 through 16 different subsidiaries.
Exxon Mobil: The Texas-based oil giant generated some $450 billion in 2012 revenue. It had $43 billion offshore, controlled by 36 different subsidiaries in places like Bermuda, Luxembourg and Hong Kong, among others.
Citigroup: The bank reported operating 427 tax haven subsidiaries in 2008 but disclosed only 20 in 2012. Over that time period, Citigroup increased the amount of cash it reported holding offshore from $21.1 billion to $42.6 billion, ranking the company ninth on PIRG’s list.
Cisco Systems: The California-based tech company shelters $41.3 billion offshore. It reported having 47 different subsidiaries in places like Bahrain, Costa Rica, Cyprus, Jordan and Ireland.
Follow Brianna Ehley on Twitter: @BriannaEhley
Top Reads from The Fiscal Times:
Facebook is considering adding a less cheery alternative to its “like” button: a “sympathize” button.
The social network has been toying with this option, which was devised at a Facebook hackathon, a Facebook engineer said Thursday, according to The Huffington Post. Here’s how it could work: if you were to tag your status with a negative emotion (from Facebook’s lists of feelings), the “sympathize” button would automatically replace the “like button.”
And as much as we all want one, it seems Facebook is just never going to add a “dislike” button. (Basically, we are all Gretchen Weiners and Mark Zuckerberg is Regina George and he’s saying, “Stop trying to make a “dislike” button happen. It’s not going to happen.”)
The “sympathize” feature isn’t making its way to the site “yet,” said a Facebook spokesperson. Until then, we’ll just carry on with awkward silences.
December 8, 2013
Twitter (NYSE: TWTR ) enjoyed healthy gains on Thursday after it unveiled a new initiative called Tailored Audiences, which would allow Twitter to use data shared by advertisers to retarget users and display more relevant ads. This would all be courtesy of browser cookies that advertisers use on desktop platforms. Twitter has been testing Tailored Audiences for several months, and preliminary data suggests that advertisers will see meaningful gains in engagement along with substantial cost savings.
There are privacy concerns that Twitter will have to navigate to avoid offending users, but if it can do so, then Twitter will strengthen its value proposition to advertisers. Twitter’s advertising platform — and overall business — continue to mature and evolve, and Tailored Audiences is the latest evidence of that.
In this segment of Tech Teardown, Erin Kennedy discusses Twitter’s latest move with Evan Niu, CFA, our tech and telecom bureau chief.
CINCINNATI – It was a nice gesture, but a person posing as Buddy LaRosa on Twitter put the local pizzeria in a pinch.
At about 2 a.m. Sunday morning @RealBuddyLarosa showed up on Twitter, saying he was tweeting for his grandchildren. By 7 a.m. “Buddy” was seeking 3,000 followers with the promise he would donate to the Freestore Foodbank if his account met that magic number.
Problem was, @RealBuddyLarosa wasn’t real.
“LaRosa’s is a valued supporter of the Freestore Foodbank and our efforts to serve the community. Earlier today a Twitter account using Buddy LaRosa’s name stated a donation would be made to the Freestore Foodbank if the account reached 3,000 followers. LaRosa’s has informed us that the Twitter handle is not an approved account. For customers who would like to support the Freestore Foodbank through LaRosa’s, the pizzeria is currently running a holiday promotion to help our efforts,” wrote Sarah Cook, a Freestore Foodbank public relation specialist.
Cook pointed out the Freestore already has a charitable deal with LaRosa’s. For every Buddy Card purchased through the end of the ear, the pizzeria is making a $5 donation to the Foodbank.
“We truly appreciate LaRosa’s Pizzeria, Buddy and Mike LaRosa and all of their great work in our local community,” Cook stated.
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Following Nelson Mandela’s death Thursday afternoon, CNN contributor Newt Gingrich posted some remarks about the late African leader on his Facebook page (duplicated here on his website).
The reaction was not what he was expecting:
Gingrich responded on CNN’s State of the Union Sunday morning.
“What would you have done?” Gingrich asked, noting that Mandela opposed, both politically and personally, what was effectively “a police state.” “After 27 years in prison, he doesn’t come out bitter. He doesn’t come out angry. He comes out as an extraordinarily wise man who actually invites his prison guard to sit in the front row at his inauguration as president.”
Host Candy Crowley asked if Gingrich thought the commenters were fellow conservatives. (a similar group also bothered Ted Cruz’s remembrance of Mandela on his own Facebook page.)
“I think some people bought a rationale that defined everybody who was in any way in rebellion against the established system in the third world as anti-American,” Gingrich said. “There are people who have sustained this kind of mythology. There’s no question that in the ’50s Mandela moved from a nonviolent model toward being allied with the Communists. My point to conservatives is: there weren’t any conservative allies. Churchill allied with Stalin in World War II. I think in a similar tradition, Mandela was desperate by that stage, he saw the scale of the oppression, and the only allies that were available, frankly, were on the hard left.”
Watch the clip below, via CNN:
[Image via screengrab]
Lauren Verow admits that she really didn’t know what she was getting herself into.
A liberal arts student studying for a bachelor’s degree at the University of Maine’s Bangor campus, the 25-year-old Hampden resident started her Bangor Area Barter and Swap page on Facebook to give Bangor residents a chance to save money buying, exchanging or giving away goods.
“I started one after seeing some [similar Facebook pages] in other states and I thought it would be a good thing for up here,” Verow said Friday.
That was two years ago. Today, Verow spends 30 minutes to four hours a day accepting or declining new members, setting page rules and clearing up disputes among the page’s 4,230 members as a volunteer.
Verow’s page is among at least 135 similar Facebook pages that appear to serve Maine communities. A Facebook search using the words “Maine swap sell” on Friday found about 135 pages. Other pages accomplishing the same tasks might use other names.
Many of the pages featured all sorts of goods and were created according to areas or towns they serve. Other pages seek buyers and sellers of specific items, such as DVDs or farm livestock and equipment, in specific areas or statewide.
The pages usually featured closed memberships, meaning that anyone wishing to join had to apply for acceptance. The largest single page appeared to be Kids Adult Stuff Swap, Sell, or Trade (Maine). That lists 5,187 members.
“I didn’t expect it to explode into so many members. It can be a very stressful thing to manage. It started just as a thing for fun,” Verow said. “[Members] want to exchange goods maybe to have a closer interaction with people so they don’t have to travel so far.”
“The page saves them travel time, time waiting in stores, and sometimes things are barely used and they can get a good bargain for it,” Verow added.
Several page administrators said that their volunteer work is sometimes tricky and often time-consuming, but they do because they enjoy helping others to find bargains. They also like to find good deals for themselves.
“It is very similar to the concept of eBay, but it is local. I do it for the deals and the bargains. Clothing is like half what you would pay in a store,” said Sharlene Lambert Black, who administers a sell or swap page for Lincoln Lakes region residents. “Sometimes you save even more than that. Children’s toys are very reasonably priced. When you have kids, you have to save money whatever way you can. These sites really help with that.”
“Washers and driers sell almost immediately,” Black added. “I put a washer on once for $70 and it sold in five minutes.”
The pages and their customers are largely self-policing. The pages based around towns or areas often rely upon members knowing one another to help keep the business practices legitimate, said Maryann Kimball Burleigh, who manages a Lincoln-area page.
“People join [because] they can actually see what they are buying most of the time,” Burleigh said. “Some meet [buyers or sellers] at a department store. Some meet at their homes. They pay cash or PayPal, whichever the seller wants to do.”
Buyers and sellers should always beware, administrators said. People who are complained about often find themselves very quickly removed from page memberships, and administrators quickly relay news of bad buyers or sellers to other administrators to keep others from being ripped off, Black said.
“I look for spam, where people are trying to sell stuff that they really don’t have [or actually possess] to sell,” Black said. “Some of them do sunglasses, jewelry, a lot try to do pets, but as soon as you ask for the Maine vendor’s license [which state law requires pet-sellers to have], they disappear.”
The pages are especially well-used during the holiday season, said Verow, who enjoys the work.
“It’s just knowing that people can do good locally that makes me feel good,” Verow said. “I have always been a frugal person and have always done pretty well [in buying goods] if I was just patient enough.”
Black said she won’t have to visit a retail store this holiday season thanks to the pages she uses or administers.
“I am done with the holiday rush,” she said happily.
Facebook recently announced that it plans to change how its News Feed prioritizes news and updates. Basically, “high quality” news stories and new comments on old status updates will get a boost, whereas meme-centric posts (i.e., a Grumpy Cat Imgur-made image) will not.
There, of course, lies a lot of interpretation between “high quality news” and “meme” or “meme-like,” so it’s hard to say how exactly this will look when it hits our feeds. But this is going to be a huge change: According to AllThingsD, after talking to Facebook’s News Feed Manager Lars Backstrom, this is going to be to Facebook what Panda was to Google.
Panda was the code name of an iteration of Google’s search algorithm that had huge, lasting effects on the Web. It was an attempt to punish content farms – sites the scraped stories and just rewrote their own versions of it, or even just straight-up copied them. While Google’s intentions here were good, the effects weren’t necessarily so, and some sites that produced much of their own content were punished. But it’s a matter of opinion, whether you think Panda improved or worsened the Web.
As it will be with this new Facebook News Feed. If you like informative, researched, news-oriented long form, then you’re in luck. If you liked those superfluous Grumpy Cat pictures, you aren’t. Backstrom says point blank: “If you see a funny meme photo in your feed – sure, you get some value from that. But if you compare that to reading 1,000 words on AllThingsD, you would presumably get more value from that experience than the first one.”
Regardless of whether you agree, that sounds an awful lot like Facebook knows what’s best for us and we’re going to get a dose of that – like it or not.
You might find yourself asking “what if I like meme photos more?” or “what if I get the same amount of enjoyment out of both of these types of content?,” and those are legitimate questions to ask. But the answer, unfortunately, is that Facebook surveyed us, and survey says … meme photos are getting buried.
A few sources of this type of content come to mind – Buzzfeed, 9GAG, Viralnova, and Upworthy. Apparently, Facebook won’t necessarily target sources, but what they’re publishing. So while a single photo meme from Buzzfeed won’t get boosted, a long form piece of original reporting will.
Still, the iron hand Facebook’s laying down here means that publishers and users want to at least make their voices heard in the matter – so Upworthy’s own Eli Parisier and a few other interested parties are making an open list of things Facebook should be taking into considering. Some of the ideas that the social network’s machines could read? According to the growing list, Facebook content should be boosted by:
The list goes on and on, and has many notable contributors. Anything you’d like to see? Maybe add it to list. Who knows? Facebook should could be listening.
Former celebrity Paris Hilton was on the receiving end of a Twitter hoax Thursday involving “her” supposed reaction to the death of Nelson Mandela.
“Paris” did not sound smart in her alleged Tweet, posted after Nelson Mandela died at the age of 95, and actual Paris is not happy about it whatsoever.
“RIP Nelson Mandela,” the Photoshopped tweet purportedly from Hilton read. “Your ‘I Have A Dream’ speech was so inspiring. An amazing man.”
That’s right, Hilton was supposedly so brick stupid that she confused Mandela with Martin Luther King Jr., or so the fake tweet would have you believe.
Which more than a few people did … which isn’t all that surprising, considering the proliferation of hoaxes on Twitter, and the fact that it’s Paris Hilton.
NOTE: Paris is a former celebrity who was like the Kim Kardashian of 2003-2007. The two were even friends, and their “career paths” are similar.
You could say the Paris Hilton sex tape was the Kim Kardashian sex tape before the Kim Kardashian sex tape was the Kim Kardashian sex tape.
In any case, a quick check of Hilton’s verified account at the time the hoax started revealed she was on a plane to Miami, and did not send the Tweet.
The socialite and reality star was quick to re-tweet items debunking the hoax, which according to reports, came from another account, not hers.
“Just landed heard the sad new[s] about Nelson Mandela,” real Paris wrote. “He was a true Hero the world is a better place because of him. May he rest in peace.”
Eleven minutes later, she let loose on the Twitter hoax: “Whoever made that stupid fake tweet lacks respect to the loss the world is mourning right now.”
“Same goes for all the blogs who ran with it.”
In the wee hours Friday morning, Hilton was still ticked off, tweeting, “I’m so sick of people lying about me using my name . Please get a life stop talking about mine.”
“It’s beyond. #URPathetic #GetYourOwnLife”
Seriously … the girl makes a valid point. Who still talks about Paris Hilton these days? What is this, 2007? Isn’t Miley Cyrus Twerking somewhere?