Facebook gaffe fuels big tech critics

|| March 22, 2019

By Jordan McDonald

55 comms social media coordinator

The debate about the dominance of tech giants such as Facebook, Google and Amazon continues, fuelled by media publishers whose lives have become much harder in this new world. Google didn’t help its cause this week when it was handed another fine by the European Union for $1.7 billion, bringing their fine total to $3 billion. The root of the complaint involved the terms that third party websites had to agree on to use Google’s search bar tool on their websites. It’s alleged Google enforces that these websites favour ads from its own advertising services above that of competitors. This operates against the European Union’s anti-trust rules. Google has responded to the fine by stating it ceased this sort of practice back in 2016 but the search engine giant hasn’t commented on whether or not it will challenge the fine despite previously appealing fines.

Disney acquires 21st Century Fox

Disney has finally closed the deal acquiring 21st Century Fox. The goal of the enormous $52.4 billion deal was to help position Disney for a streaming-centric future. The company has already taken a step in that direction with the ESPN+ streaming service, and it has plans to launch another service called Disney+ later this year, which will include new shows based on the Star Wars and Marvel universes, as well as Disney’s entire movie library. With the Fox acquisition, Disney has even more films, TV shows and intellectual property to draw on — as indicated by the redesigned lead image on the Disney corporate website, which now features The Shape of Water, Avatar and Deadpool (all Fox films), as well as The Simpsons and Atlanta (which are produced by Fox studios and air on Fox networks). It also becomes the majority owner of Hulu, with CEO Bob Iger saying that Disney will invest in more original content for Hulu and help it expand internationally.

In addition, the deal solidifies Disney’s already dominant position in Hollywood, as seemingly the one studio that can still reliably draw massive audiences to theatres. Thanks to its previous acquisitions of Marvel and Lucasfilm, Disney has had the No. 1 movie at the worldwide box office for each of the past four years, and in 2018, it released three of the top four films, while Fox had two movies in the top 10.

Eggboy! 

Horrific tragedy struck New Zealand last week, sparking an outpouring of commentary and sorrow from around the country and the world. However, there’s always a minority that exists somewhere and amidst the sadness a particular minority decided to use their platform to reiterate a highly controversial message. Cue Australian Senator, Fraser Anning and Eggboy! There’s no point rehashing the details of Senator Anning’s comments due to their entirely inappropriate nature (which were called ‘disgraceful’ by New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern), but it’s worth mentioning Eggboy, aka: Will Connolly. The young teenager ‘heroically’ egged Senator Anning last week which resulted in viral online support around the country and the world. Suffering minor injuries from being restrained, a GoFundMe was set up for Will to help with legal fees but he’s instead decided to give that money (well over $30,000) to Christchurch to help that situation.

But now that the dust has settled, Will has found himself at the helm of a massive new following, 635,000+ Instagram followers in fact. At one point, Will was gaining a thousand followers every few minutes. It’s a platform he probably wasn’t expecting which may be why he hasn’t posted anything on Instagram since the egging incident. It’ll be interesting to see what Will does with his new audience – whether he’ll continue being a normal 17-year old or whether this has given him a pathway to build from. Only time will tell…

Facebook… again

Just when I thought I might be able to get by one week without reporting on Facebook, another story breaks. Today it’s about passwords – hundreds of millions of user passwords, that Facebook has stored for years in an encrypted format easily readable by Facebook employees. Facebook did comment saying they didn’t discover any misuse of that data, (indirectly accepting the truth of the allegation). It’s not entirely clear exactly how many people were affected but Facebook says it plans to notify them all. Digital security best-practice calls for all passwords to be stored in an encrypted format making them unreadable even by the company that holds them. In Facebook’s case, these passwords were stored in plain text meaning anyone with the file could access these passwords. It’s another strike against the social media giant as it tries to fend off the critics.