Lots of media frothing over the long holiday weekend on the FBI’s Russia indictment and Trump’s Twitter ripostes. But CEO Daily thinks the biggest loser in the melee was Facebook. The indictment goes after a group of Russians who are beyond U.S. reach, and doesn’t cite any U.S. colluders in the process. But it does make graphically clear how the social media platform can be used and abused to sow dissent by the nation’s enemies.
To their credit, the folks at Facebook seem to have leaned forward in assisting Mueller and his investigation. But I still think we are at a turning point for the social media giant. It can no longer hide behind its claim to be a neutral platform, but instead will have to take increasing responsibility for the information it distributes. And that has implications that go far beyond Russian spying. Facebook has already acknowledged that profits may take a hit as a result.
Interestingly, Facebook may turn to old-fashioned paper postcards to help fight the foreign threat.
More news below.
HSBC Misses Estimates
HSBC’s annual revenues were up 5% and its full-year profit was up almost 11%, but it missed some analyst estimates, hitting the bank’s stock by more than 3% in Hong Kong. It’s a mixed send-off for exiting chief Stuart Gulliver, who passing the baton to former global head of retail banking, John Flint. “It has been my great privilege to lead HSBC for the last seven years, and in handing over to John I am confident the organization is in great hands,” Gulliver said. Financial Times
Deutsche Bank Jobs
Deutsche Bank is to shed up to 500 jobs in its investment and corporate banking divisions as part of a cost-cutting exercise. The cuts appear to hit those in senior and mid-level positions in the U.S. and U.K., with the European energy investment banking head being one victim. According to reports, not all of the layoff notices have been delivered yet. Independent
The European Central Bank has stepped in to freeze all payments by Latvian lender ABLV, after the U.S. Treasury last week accused the country’s third-largest bank of “institutionalized money laundering.” According to the Americans, ABLV allowed its customers to do business with North Korea-linked entities. In a possibly unconnected incident, Latvian anti-corruption authorities have detained the head of the country’s central bank. CNBC
Venezuela’s government today officially opened the pre-sale of its “petro” cryptocurrency, making 82.4 million of the commodity-backed virtual coins available. The aim of the project is to bust the economic blockade imposed on the country by the U.S. People can buy the petro using other cryptocurrencies and “hard currencies” but not, in this first phase, the bolivar. However, the cryptocurrency will be usable for buying local currency once the system is fully up and running. Fortune
Around the Water Cooler
Sweden is the world’s most cashless society—more than a third of people there never or almost never use cash, and only a quarter use it at least once a week. But authorities are worried that the transition is taking place too quickly, because it makes it difficult to maintain the infrastructure for handling cash. In other words, too many facilities already don’t take cash, which potentially shuts some people out of the economy. Bloomberg
Millennials are on average making 4% less than their Generation X counterparts did at the same age, according to a study of eight high-income countries by the U.K.’s Resolution Foundation. The think tank found the biggest disparity was in the U.K. itself—a whopping 13%. Meanwhile in the U.S., where Generation X earned 54% more than the preceding Baby Boomer generation, there was no real difference between Generation X and the Millennials’ income when adjusted for inflation. Fortune
Twitter vs. Trolls
Twitter is losing its battle against abuse, according to a big Vanity Fair piece. “The way they deal with abuse and talk about it, and the way the goal line moves over time, is not crisp,” said one former exec. “It’s like, now this is abuse, and now this is abuse, and now this is abuse—when what seems like abuse to the outside world is much more straightforward.” However, the story also highlights deeper infrastructural problems with the platform that make it difficult to tackle trolls. Vanity Fair
Many cybersecurity researchers are reticent to report serious security flaws to the companies whose products and services are affected, because they fear legal retribution. The line between researchers (“white hat” hackers) and criminal “black hat” hackers can be legally blurry and, according to this report, the result is that dangerous flaws may not come to light. ZDNet