Friday, October 22News That Matters

Tag: Corporate Social Responsibility

Instagram Struggles With Fears of Losing Its ‘Pipeline’: Young Users

Technology
With the leadership changes, Facebook went all out to turn Instagram into a main attraction for young audiences, four former employees said. That coincided with the realization that Facebook itself, which was grappling with data privacy and other scandals, would never be a teen destination, the people said.Instagram began concentrating on the “teen time spent” data point, three former employees said. The goal was to drive up the amount of time that teenagers were on the app with features including Instagram Live, a broadcasting tool, and Instagram TV, where people upload videos that run as long as an hour.Instagram also increased its global marketing budget. In 2018, it allocated $67.2 million to marketing. In 2019, that increased to a planned $127.3 million, then to $186.3 million last ye...
Plant-Based Food Companies Face Critics: Environmental Advocates

Plant-Based Food Companies Face Critics: Environmental Advocates

Business
Consumers and investors alike have gobbled up Beyond Meat’s burgers, sausage and chicken in recent years, thanks at least in part to the company’s message that its plant-based products are good for the environment.But some aren’t so sure.One investor tracking firm gives Beyond Meat a zero when it comes to sustainability measures. Another rates it a “severe risk,” putting it on a par with the beef and chicken processing giants JBS and Tyson.“We don’t feel we have sufficient information to say Beyond Meat is fundamentally different from JBS,” said Roxana Dobre, a manager of consumer goods research at Sustainalytics, a firm that rates the sustainability of companies based on their environmental, social and corporate governance impact.At first glance, it seems logical that plant-based food com...
Shareholder Democracy Is Getting Bigger Trial Runs

Shareholder Democracy Is Getting Bigger Trial Runs

Business
Well, that’s beginning to change. Several intriguing experiments are underway.One of the most interesting is a collaboration between an activist hedge fund, Engine No. 1, and the asset management platform Betterment, demonstrating that it’s easy to ask index fund investors what corporate battles they believe are most worth waging.The hedge fund in June started a new exchange-traded fund, available to individual investors. The fund is formally called Engine No. 1 Transform 500 ETF, but it has a catchier ticker symbol: VOTE. In important ways, the fund is quite ordinary: a plain vanilla E.T.F. with an expense ratio of 0.05 percent, making it a reasonable alternative to standard S&P 500 index funds run by far bigger companies.But this one has the express aim of “harnessing the power of in...
LinkedIn to End Service in China, Citing ‘Challenging’ Environment

LinkedIn to End Service in China, Citing ‘Challenging’ Environment

Technology
Since Microsoft bought LinkedIn for $26.2 billion in 2016, revenue from the business has tripled. Mr. Nadella told investors in July that LinkedIn’s revenue had surpassed $10 billion in annual sales, up 27 percent from the previous year. LinkedIn declined to comment beyond its announcement.While Microsoft has tried to build a market in China for more than a decade, it has had only modest success. Last year, Brad Smith, Microsoft’s president, said the country accounted for less than 2 percent of its revenue.Microsoft Windows and Office are common in China, but many people use pirated copies. The company has tried to overcome the issue, by hosting its software online and by tapping a major Chinese military contractor to help it offer an operating system better trusted by China’s government.I...
Facebook Whistleblower Fallout Prompts a Push to Calm Employees

Facebook Whistleblower Fallout Prompts a Push to Calm Employees

Technology
Executives also distributed a list of talking points, a copy of which was obtained by The Times, so workers knew what to say if friends and family asked them about “recent events.” That list included a denial that Facebook puts profit and growth above people’s safety and how the company has called for regulations from the government.In Mr. Zuckerberg’s regularly scheduled question-and-answer session with employees, which took place on Thursday, he defended Facebook and disputed Ms. Haugen’s characterizations, according to the recording of the meeting.“We care deeply about issues like safety and well-being and mental health,” he said at one point. “So when you see press coverage that just misrepresents our work and takes that out of context and then uses that to tell narratives that are fal...

BlackRock’s Transfer of Power

Technology, World
The right to voteLarry Fink, the C.E.O. of BlackRock, which has nearly $10 trillion in assets, is widely considered to be the world’s most powerful investor. His annual letters to leaders of the nation’s largest companies are must-reads that change corporate behavior.This year, BlackRock sided with the upstart firm Engine No. 1 in its proxy fight with Exxon, helping the small, climate-focused hedge fund win two seats on Exxon’s board. That shareholder vote followed through on Fink’s promise last year to hold companies accountable if they didn’t have a credible plan to reduce their carbon emissions.Now BlackRock is offering to give up a bit of its power. Starting next year, some of its biggest institutional clients will have the ability to cast their own votes at shareholder meetings instea...
Whistle-Blower Says Facebook ‘Chooses Profits Over Safety’

Whistle-Blower Says Facebook ‘Chooses Profits Over Safety’

Business
John Tye, the founder of Whistleblower Aid, a legal nonprofit that represents people seeking to expose potential lawbreaking, was contacted this spring through a mutual connection by a woman who claimed to have worked at Facebook.The woman told Mr. Tye and his team something intriguing: She had access to tens of thousands of pages of internal documents from the world’s largest social network. In a series of calls, she asked for legal protection and a path to releasing the confidential information. Mr. Tye, who said he understood the gravity of what the woman brought “within a few minutes,” agreed to represent her and call her by the alias “Sean.”She “is a very courageous person and is taking a personal risk to hold a trillion-dollar company accountable,” he said.On Sunday, Frances Haugen r...
Facebook Struggles to Quell Uproar Over Instagram’s Effect on Teens

Facebook Struggles to Quell Uproar Over Instagram’s Effect on Teens

Technology
SAN FRANCISCO — Over the past few weeks, top Facebook executives assembled virtually for a series of emergency meetings.In one gathering last weekend, half a dozen managers — including Adam Mosseri, head of Instagram, and Nick Clegg, Facebook’s vice president of global affairs — discussed pausing the development of an Instagram service for children ages 13 and under, said two people briefed on the meeting. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, weighed in to approve the decision, the people said.The meetings continued this week, with a larger group that included Facebook’s “Strategic Response” teams, which are overseen by Mr. Clegg and Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer, the people said. The executives debated what to do about internal research around teenagers and Instagra...

Facebook Downplays Internal Research Released on Eve of Hearing

Business
Facebook on Wednesday published two internal research reports about its photo-sharing app, Instagram, and downplayed their conclusions, as the company prepared for two congressional hearings in the next week that are focused on its products’ effects on children’s mental health.The reports — “Teen Mental Health Deep Dive,” published internally in October 2019, and “Hard Life Moments,” published in November 2019 — were accompanied by annotations from Facebook that sought to contextualize the limitations of the research and chastised its own researchers for using imprecise language.In one slide, with a title that said “one in five teens say that Instagram makes them feel worse about themselves, with UK girls the most negative,” Facebook wrote in its annotation that the research had not been i...
Inside Facebook’s Push to Defend Its Image

Inside Facebook’s Push to Defend Its Image

Business
The changes have involved Facebook executives from its marketing, communications, policy and integrity teams. Alex Schultz, a 14-year company veteran who was named chief marketing officer last year, has also been influential in the image reshaping effort, said five people who worked with him. But at least one of the decisions was driven by Mr. Zuckerberg, and all were approved by him, three of the people said.Alex Schultz, Facebook’s chief marketing officer, has been influential in reshaping the company’s image.Credit...Tommaso Boddi/Getty ImagesJoe Osborne, a Facebook spokesman, denied that the company had changed its approach.“People deserve to know the steps we’re taking to address the different issues facing our company — and we’re going to share those steps widely,” he said in a state...