Tag Archives: Seek

Contrite Facebook executives seek to ward off more European rules
January 21, 2018 6:00 pm|Comments (0)

MUNICH (Reuters) – Facebook executives are fanning out across Europe this week to address the social media giant’s slow response to abuses on its platform, seeking to avoid further legislation along the lines of a new hate speech law in Germany it says goes too far.

Facebook’s communications and public policy chief used an annual meeting in Munich of some of Europe and Silicon Valley’s tech elite to apologize for failing to do more, earlier, to fight hate speech and foreign influence campaigns on Facebook.

“We have to demonstrate we can bring people together and build stronger communities,” the executive, Elliot Schrage, said of the world’s biggest information-sharing platform, which has more than 2 billion monthly users.

“We have over-invested in building new experiences and under-invested in preventing abuses,” he said in a keynote speech at the DLD Munich conference on Sunday.

In the United States, lawmakers have criticized Facebook for failing to stop Russian operatives using its platform to meddle in the 2016 presidential elections, while Britain’s parliament is looking again at the role such manipulation may have played in Britain’s Brexit vote to leave the European Union.

(reut.rs/2FZJlXB) ((reut.rs/2y9i98F)

A German law that took effect at the start of the year requires social networks such as Facebook, Google and Twitter to remove online hate speech or face heavy fines. (reut.rs/2rm6AI2)

“It sets forth the right idea for the relation between government and the private sector but it also goes farther than … we think it should go,” Schrage said of the law.

”At the same time the law places the responsibility on us to be judge and jury and enforcer determining what is legally compliant and not. I think that is a bad idea.

“The challenge is how to define where the violation has been or not,” he said.

By contrast, Schrage praised the approach of the European Union in demanding that internet companies adhere to a code of conduct and respond quickly to requests to take down illegal content rather than being required to make those decisions themselves.

“That’s an example of how we can work with governments to be more responsive to their concerns,” Schrage said of the EU.

The EU has put internet companies on notice that it will legislate if they don’t do a better job self-policing their services for extremist propaganda, hate speech and other abuses. (reut.rs/2DmXGeU)

NO WILD WEST

Far from being a “Wild West of content”, Schrage argued, Facebook’s policies on policing content are far more in line with Europe’s strict boundaries governing hate speech than the anything-goes reputation it has coming from Silicon Valley.

“We are often criticised for being an American company. But our policies with respect to speech and expression are much closer to how the standards have evolved in Europe than they are in the United States,” Schrage said.

“We do not permit hate speech, we do not permit incitement. There is a tremendous amount of content we remove regularly. When we see content related to terrorism, to hate speech, to incitement, we reach out to law enforcement,” he said.

But several tech leaders in the audience said Facebook had long ignored what are effectively editorial responsibilities for policing abusive content on its platform.

Schrage said Facebook now employed thousands of people to monitor content and to work more closely with law enforcement, while automated algorithms detect and delete 99 percent of Islamic State and al Qaeda content before any Facebook users ever see it.

Paul-Bernhard Kallen, chief executive of Hubert Burda Media, one of Germany’s largest publishers, said Facebook has avoided responsibility for moderating content on its platform.

“From my perspective, Facebook is a media company. One way or the other, Facebook should accept it,” Kallen said of taking more control over content or facing regulatory demands to do so.

Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg is meeting policymakers in Paris and Brussels, while Schrage is touring Germany. Later this week they will converge on Davos, the annual policy gathering of world politicians, business chiefs, bankers and celebrities taking place in the Swiss Alps.

Facebook founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg, who has declared earlier this year that his 2018 goal is to “fix” Facebook, is staying home (reut.rs/2F2w8g6).

Reporting by Eric Auchard and Douglas Busvine in Munich; Editing by Adrian Croft

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SoftBank considers IPO for Japan wireless unit, said to seek $18 billion
January 15, 2018 6:00 am|Comments (0)

TOKYO (Reuters) – SoftBank Group Corp (9984.T) said on Monday it was considering listing its Japanese wireless business, seeking to raise a reported $ 18 billion in a move that would accelerate the conglomerate’s transformation into one of the world’s biggest tech investors.

A spin-off – potentially the biggest IPO by a Japanese company in nearly two decades – would also give the unit more autonomy as well as help investors with valuing the business and its parent.

SoftBank Group, which saw its shares climb 4 percent on the news, has a vast range of holdings including stakes in British chip designer ARM Holdings ARM.L, struggling U.S. wireless service provider Sprint Corp (S.N) as well as Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (BABA.N).

It has with other investors also set up a $ 93 billion Vision Fund, that is investing in range of firms to capitalize on a tech future expected to be driven by artificial intelligence, robotics and interconnected devices.

SoftBank Group plans to sell some 30 percent of SoftBank Corp, raising around 2 trillion yen ($ 18 billion) that would go towards investments in growth, such as buying into foreign information-technology companies, the Nikkei newspaper said without citing sources.

It plans to seek approval from the Tokyo Stock Exchange as early as spring and aims to debut in Tokyo as well as overseas, possibly London, around autumn, the business daily said.

SoftBank Group said in a statement that a listing of the business was one option for its capital strategy but that no such decision had been made.

A 2 trillion yen ($ 18 billion) IPO would be one of the biggest listings by a Japanese company, rivaling the 2.2 trillion yen 1986 offering of Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp (9432.T) as well as a 2.1 trillion yen listing by NTT DoCoMo Inc (9437.T) a decade later.

“It makes sense to spin off the mobile-phone business using a public offering that would leave SoftBank in control and provide SoftBank with more cash to pursue its strategy of investing in companies with potentially high growth prospects,” Erik Gordon, a professor at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business.

“It is a way of obtaining capital without adding debt or diluting SoftBank’s equity interests in the growth companies.”

The domestic telecoms unit, Japan’s No. 3 wireless carrier, posted a 4.5 percent rise in operating profit to 720 billion yen in the year ended March on sales of 3.2 trillion yen.

SoftBank Group’s complicated structure and constant stream of new investments have left many investors struggling to value the company with analysts often noting that its market value does not accurately reflect the value of its massive holdings.

SoftBank’s market value currently stands at around $ 92 billion. By contrast, its near 30 percent stake in Alibaba is worth around $ 140 billion.

Large companies seeking to list in Tokyo are required to float at least 35 percent of their shares although these rules can be eased when the company is also listing overseas.

Reporting by Yoshiyasu Shida and Sam Nussey; Additional reporting by Chris Gallagher and Minami Funakoshi; Writing by William Mallard; Editing by Edwina Gibbs

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