Facebook’s Privacy Scandal Appears to Have Little Effect on Its Bottom Line


On Wednesday, Facebook showed that — as with past scandals — the controversy is so far doing little to hurt its bottom line. The Silicon Valley company reported a 63 increase in profit and a 49 percent jump in revenue for the first quarter, driven by continued growth in its mobile advertising business. Mobile advertising now represents more than 90 percent of Facebook’s advertising revenue.

The earnings report followed weeks of tumult for Facebook, after a controversy erupted last month when The New York Times and other news outlets reported that millions of Facebook users’ private information had been harvested by Cambridge Analytica, a political firm with ties to the Trump campaign. The revelations drew alarm from regulators and lawmakers and Mr. Zuckerberg appeared at two congressional hearings in Washington this month to answer questions about Facebook’s role and responsibilities.

Facebook faces other challenges. Next month, strict new European privacy regulations are set to take effect, which require tech companies to seek people’s consent before accessing their data. Facebook said that the rules, known as the General Data Protection Regulation, could lead to a decline in use in Europe.

Announcing changes to its News Feed that demoted news in favor of updates shared by users’ friends and family. The company said then that it had experienced its first decline in the number of people who use Facebook on a daily basis in the United States and Canada; it also reported a dip in the amount of time spent on the platform. Mr. Zuckerberg said at the time that the changes would make Facebook more valuable over the long term. On Wednesday, Mr. Zuckerberg said that the News Feed changes had worked largely as expected, increasing certain types of friends-and-family sharing while decreasing passive consumption of videos. Mr. Zuckerberg also spoke about his trip to Washington to testify before Congress, saying it represented an “important moment” for the company. His testimony, which included fielding questions from members of Congress about Russian interference, political censorship and Facebook’s role in the developing world, was largely seen as a success within Facebook. Lawmakers were less enchanted. On Wednesday, Democrats on the House’s Energy and Commerce Committee sent Facebook a list of follow-up questions that Mr. Zuckerberg had declined or been unable to answer during the hearings.

Representative Frank Pallone, Democratic of New Jersey, said that he hoped Mr. Zuckerberg would respond promptly to the questions, noting that Facebook “has yet to fully account for all of the data that it has on both users and nonusers and how it uses that data.”



Trump Decision to Meet Kim Wasn’t Impulsive

06.04.2018 –

President Donald Trump’s advisers on Sunday argued that his surprise decision to agree to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was less impulsive than it appeared to U.S. allies and members of Congress. The advisers, including CIA Director Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, said the administration had laid the groundwork for talks with Mr. Kim by imposing tougher economic sanctions than previous administrations on the North Korean government.

“I do believe a major reason why they’re having this meeting is because the economic sanctions have had a very big impact on both their economy and their ability to get pieces of material and other things they need for their weapons programs,” Mr. Mnuchin said Sunday, speaking on NBC’s Meet the Press. Mr. Pompeo accused previous presidential administrations of “whistling past the graveyard” as the North Korean government advanced its nuclear weapons program, and said on CBS’s Face the Nation that the Trump administration’s sanctions prompted Kim Jong Un to seek a meeting with Mr. Trump.

Since taking office, the Trump administration has levied new sanctions and put North Korea back on a list of state sponsors of terrorism, from which it was removed in 2008 by then-President George W. Bush in an effort to bring the North Koreans to the negotiating table. The remarks by Mr. Trump’s cabinet officials suggested the president’s surprise decision to agree to meet with Mr. Kim had been made in line with a broader strategy of combating the North Korean nuclear threat. Mr. Trump abruptly agreed to the meeting on Thursday, telling a stunned delegation of South Korean officials, “Tell him yes,” the Journal previously reported.



The EU’s Real Rule-of-Law Crisis


Frustration with uneven application of EU law is a feature of the domestic politics of all member states. It has become accepted wisdom to talk of the European Union being afflicted by a rule-of-law crisis. This is often portrayed as the latest threat to the EU’s cohesion, following hard on the heels of the eurozone debt crisis and the migration crisis. The focus of this new crisis is central and Eastern Europe, where authoritarian governments are alleged to be driving through reforms that undermine important democratic safeguards including the freedom of the press and the independence of the judiciary. This perceived assault on core liberal democratic values has fueled talk of an emerging East-West split that could lead to further EU fragmentation. One problem with this narrative is that it seeks to draw a link between unrelated situations. It may be appropriate to talk of a crisis with respect to Poland given that the European Commission has launched a formal process that could lead to Warsaw being sanctioned over its judicial reforms. But while this threatens to create tensions between member states who must now decide which side to back, no one believes this process will end in Poland being stripped of its EU voting rights.

Indeed, frustration with the uneven application of EU law is now a feature of the domestic politics of all EU member states. Italian politicians, for example, complain that Hungary and Poland are defying EU law by refusing to take their share of asylum seekers. Dutch officials complain that Italy is also defying EU law by failing to send back asylum seekers whose claims are obviously bogus. German politicians complain that Brussels has made a mockery of EU fiscal rules with what they consider its excessively flexible treatment of France, Italy and Spain. Southern European governments accuse Brussels of ignoring EU rules by failing to take action against Germany and the Netherlands for running excessive trade surpluses.

The European Commission accuses Poland of undermining the rule of law; Warsaw says its new system for appointing judges closely resembles that used in Spain, which hasn’t been criticized. Alongside this belief in double standards is a wider concern that some countries are either unwilling or unable to live up to their wider responsibilities as EU members.

The origins of the euro crisis, for example, lay in part in the failure of some countries to undertake the overhauls of their economies to make them sufficiently competitive to cope with membership of a single currency. Governments have been too slow to cut public deficits and debts, overhaul inflexible labor and product markets and overhaul inefficient public administrations.