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Facebook Scrambles to Escape Stock’s Death Spiral as Users Flee, Sales Drop

CNBC reported:

A year ago, before Facebook had turned Meta, the social media company was sporting a market cap of $1 trillion, putting it in the rarefied territory with a handful of U.S. technology giants.

Today the view looks much different. Meta has lost about two-thirds of its value since peaking in September 2021. The stock is trading at its lowest since January 2019 and is about to close out its third straight quarter of double-digit percentage losses. Only four stocks in the S&P 500 are having a worse year.

Facebook’s business was built on network effects — users brought their friends and family members, who told their colleagues, who invited their buddies. Suddenly everyone was convening in one place. Advertisers followed, and the company’s ensuing profits — and they were plentiful — provided the capital to recruit the best and brightest engineers to keep the cycle going.

But in 2022, the cycle has reversed. Users are jumping ship and advertisers are reducing their spending, leaving Meta poised to report its second straight drop in quarterly revenue. Businesses are removing Facebook’s once-ubiquitous social login button from their websites. Recruiting is an emerging challenge, especially as founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg spends much of his time proselytizing the metaverse, which may be the company’s future but accounts for virtually none of its near-term revenue and is costing billions of dollars a year to build.

Money, Good Info Can’t Undo Resistance to COVID Vaccine: Study

U.S. News & World Report reported:

Public health officials tried everything to convince Americans to get vaccinated against COVID, including giving away cash, but that wasn’t enough to change hesitant minds, a new study shows. Researchers were surprised by the findings.

There is literature and evidence from other vaccination campaigns like the flu, and even some childhood vaccinations, showing that financial incentives do move the needle. We were expecting similar results,” reasoned study co-author Mireille Jacobson. She’s an associate professor at the University of Southern California’s Leonard Davis School of Gerontology.

However, it looks like “people have much stronger beliefs and objections about COVID-19 vaccination,” Jacobson concluded in a university news release.

Public health messaging increased the number who said they would get a vaccine, but it didn’t increase the actual number of folks who followed through and did get a vaccine, nor did either of the other interventions. A 10% increase in vaccination intentions was associated with only a 1.5% increase in actual vaccinations, the researchers noted.

Big Tech Has Millions of Young People Drunk on ‘Digital Toxins’

The Daily Wire reported:

Social media is a digital toxin. Like alcohol or other drugs, it’s incredibly addictive and harmful to one’s mental health. No one can quit, because nearly everyone is unbelievably attached.

This is outlined by Dr. Nicholas Kardaras in an article for the New York Post entitled, “How social media is literally making teens mentally ill.” I recently covered it on my podcast.

As Dr. Nicholas notes, the addiction is by Big Tech’s design. Social media is set up to make addicts of us and our children. They’re incentivized to. Who doesn’t want lifelong customers and sellable data to a big pool of marketers, corporations and political influencers? They intentionally encroach on the hallowed ground of independent thoughts because there is money to be made and power to be accrued.

Many people, because of their own addiction to it, ignore the malicious and catastrophic underbelly of social media; oftentimes because they don’t see a way out of their own addiction.

Colleges Must Drop Vaccine Mandates

The Epoch Times reported:

A handful of colleges have recently announced they will require students to get the new COVID-19 bivalent booster shot.

For thousands of college students, this means they will be required to get a second booster dose that was approved without any human clinical trials to establish the safety and efficacy of the new formula and that was rushed through development “when we are at practically historic lows for deaths and ICU stays due to COVID.”

On Aug. 11, 2022, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its COVID-19 guidance. Most notable is that the CDC stated that people with previous infections have some immunity from severe infections. Colleges that maintain “blanket mandates ignore critical data, such as the benefit of prior infection and the data on adverse events” per a study authored by academics from the Universities of Washington, Oxford, Toronto, Harvard, Johns Hopkins, UCSF and others.

Italy Drops COVID Face Mask Rule for Public Transport

Reuters reported:

Italians will no longer have to wear face masks on public transport, the health ministry said late on Thursday, in the latest easing of rules against the coronavirus pandemic.

The ministry said a decree requiring mask wearing on trains, buses and ferries, expiring on Friday, would not be renewed. The obligation was extended, however, for hospitals and care homes.

As Australia Calls End to COVID Emergency Response, Doctors Warn of Risk to Public

Reuters reported:

Australia will end the mandatory five-day home quarantine for COVID-infected people on Oct. 14, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said on Friday, even as some doctors warned the move would put the public at risk.

The decision to let COVID-infected Australians decide whether they need to isolate or not removes one of the country’s last remaining restrictions from the pandemic era, and comes about a month after the quarantine period was cut to five days from seven.

A Year After Bombshell Facebook Disclosure, Fight for Kids’ Online Safety Forges Ahead

The Hill reported:

Efforts to regulate how tech companies collect and use children’s data gained momentum in the U.S. in the past year — a push supporters credit to a former Facebook product manager who took Washington and Silicon Valley by storm a year ago when she released hundreds of internal documents that offered a peek inside how the social media behemoth operates.

In the year since Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen came forward, Congress, state legislatures and federal agencies have sought to crack down on how tech firms serve kids and teens.

The documents released by Haugen and her wide-ranging testimony to the U.S. and global lawmakers dealt with a range of topics, from the spread of misinformation to human exploitation. But her accusations about how the company, especially through Instagram, negatively impacted teen mental health made the most waves.

As the one-year anniversary of the release of the documents, first reported by The Wall Street Journal, approaches, Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), a prominent voice on kids’ online regulation, is leading three Democratic colleagues in a letter urging the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to use its authority to update the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) he helped author in 1998.

Amazon’s ‘Ambient Intelligence’ Is a Cozy Way to Say Home Surveillance

Mashable reported:

Back in my day, you turned devices off when you didn’t need to use them. But in the age of Amazon, your “smart” home and its ecosystem of gadgets will ideally always be turned on. That vision even has a cool-sounding name: ambient intelligence. It’s A.I. with a new spin and the promise of a (corporate) bear hug.

Amazon cut through all that tech jargon at a device announcement event on Wednesday with a bunch of practical examples of how ambient intelligence will play out.

It added a new bedside sleep tracker called Halo Rise (which is kind of a Google Nest ripoff) and an always-on TV to a long list of devices in the company’s roster of things you’re supposed to plug in, turn on, and… stop thinking about.

While no one would deny the usefulness of products like a Ring video doorbell or an Echo smart speaker, Amazon’s marketing speak for “ambient intelligence” sounds a whole lot like giving away the entire infrastructure of your life to one megacorporation with a long history of privacy issues.

Fears of Layoffs as Facebook Parent Meta Reportedly Announces Hiring Freeze

The Guardian reported:

Meta employees have been warned of potential layoffs after the Facebook parent company announced on Thursday it would freeze hiring and “further restructure,” Bloomberg News has reported.

In company communication with employees, chief executive Mark Zuckerberg cited the uncertain macroeconomic environment for the changes. The announcement comes after several tech companies have been forced to slash headcount in recent months, as advertisers trim spending in anticipation of a recession.

Zuckerberg also said on Thursday that Meta would reduce budgets across most teams, and that individual teams will have to resolve how to handle headcount changes, the report added.

House Passes Antitrust Bills Targeting Tech Giants’ Power

The Hill reported:

The House on Thursday passed a package of antitrust bills aimed at boosting antitrust enforcers’ ability to take on powerful tech firms in a 242-184 vote that split both parties. Thirty-nine Republicans joined most Democrats in voting for the bills.

It is the first major antitrust reform package to pass on the House floor as part of a three-year process that started with a House Judiciary Committee investigation into the market power of Google, Amazon, Apple and Facebook, now under the parent company name Meta.