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Facebook blocks news-sharing in Australia

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Facebook blocks news-sharing in Australia

Facebook said Wednesday it is banning Australian users from reading or sharing news on its platform.

The stunning decision is a response to Australia’s proposed new Media Bargaining law, requiring tech platforms to pay news outlets for their content.

Facebook’s decision means Australian news publishers will no longer be able to share stories on the social media site, and international news won’t be visible or shareable by local Facebook users, while overseas Facebook users also won’t be able to read or share Australian content.

Facebook Australia and New Zealand managing director William Easton defended the decision on the media giant’s blog.

“The proposed law fundamentally misunderstands the relationship between our platform and publishers who use it to share news content,” he wrote.

“It has left us facing a stark choice: attempt to comply with a law that ignores the realities of this relationship, or stop allowing news content on our services in Australia.

“With a heavy heart, we are choosing the latter.”

The move sets a precedent for how Facebook could handle other global efforts to force it to pay news publishers for their content.

Australian lawmakers have said they would avoid passing the new law if Google and Facebook reached payment terms with Australian news publishers on their own.

Facebook’s announcement comes just hours after rival Google, which was also subject to the same law, announced it struck a multiyear deal with News Corp., the largest owner of newspapers by circulation in Australia, to pay for its content.

News Corp. is also the parent company of the New York Post, and publishes the Wall Street Journal, Barron’s and MarketWatch in addition to numerous newspapers overseas.

Easton noted that Facebook’s business gain from news is minimal, as it makes up less than 4 percent of the content people see in their News Feed.

He also said that “journalism is important to a democratic society,” which is why Facebook was prepared to launch Facebook News in Australia and “significantly increase” its investments with “local publishers” — but only “with the right rules in place.”

“This legislation sets a precedent where the government decides who enters into these news content agreements, and ultimately, how much the party that already receives value from the free service gets paid,” Easton added.

“We will now prioritize investments to other countries, as part of our plans to invest in new licensing news programs and experiences,” he said.

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Philanthropist MacKenzie Scott marries Seattle science teacher

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Philanthropist MacKenzie Scott marries Seattle science teacher

MacKenzie Scott — the ex-wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos — has married a science teacher who works at a Seattle private school, according to a report.

Scott, one of the world’s richest women noted for her philanthropy, wed Dan Jewett, a teacher at Lakeside School, a source told the Wall Street Journal.

In a December blog post to Medium, Scott said she donated nearly $4.2 billion to charity in a span of four months to support struggling American during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Scott helped Bezos start Amazon in 1994. The two divorced in 2019.

Her Amazon author page currently says she “lives in Seattle with her four children and her husband, Dan,” the report said.

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Boeing CEO waived pay but got compensation worth $21 million

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Boeing CEO waived pay but got compensation worth $21 million

Boeing CEO David Calhoun declined a salary and performance bonus for most of last year but still received stock benefits that pushed the estimated value of his compensation to more than $21 million, according to a regulatory filing Friday.

The aerospace giant struggled last year with the continuing fallout from two deadly crashes involving its 737 Max jetliner and a downturn in demand for planes because of the pandemic. Boeing lost nearly $12 billion and announced plans to cut about 30,000 jobs through layoffs and attrition.

Calhoun, who became CEO in January 2020, received $269,231 in salary for the period before he disavowed his salary in March. He also got $289,715 in other compensation, mostly perks such as the use of company planes, retirement benefits and home-security expenses.

The company said Calhoun gave up about $3.6 million by declining most of his salary and a $2.5 million bonus.

But most of Calhoun’s compensation — valued by Boeing at more than $20 million — came in the form of stock benefits that will vest in the next few years, assuming he remains CEO.

Those grants include $7 million worth of stock for returning the Max to service after it was grounded in 2019, $10 million worth of shares to compensate for pay he left behind at his previous job at The Blackstone Group, and $3.5 million in long-term incentive awards. All would vest over the next three years.

Calhoun, 63, was a longtime Boeing board member before being named CEO after the firing of Dennis Muilenburg in December 2019.

The Chicago-based company filed its proxy statement ahead of its April 20 annual shareholder meeting, which will be conducted online.

Shareholders will elect 10 directors. Pension funds in New York and Colorado are suing current and former board members and executives, including Calhoun and Muilenburg, in a Delaware state court. The funds accuse directors of lax safety oversight during the development of the 737 Max and after the first of two crashes that killed 346 people.

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Tech rebound pulls stocks out of a slump and to weekly gain

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Tech rebound pulls stocks out of a slump and to weekly gain

Wall Street ended sharply higher after a volatile session Friday, with the Nasdaq rebounding at the end of a week that saw it extend losses to about 10 percent from its previous record high.

All three main indexes bounced back from losses earlier in the day, with investors in recent sessions spooked by rising interest rates that offset optimism about an economic rebound.

Microsoft rallied 2.15 percent, boosting the S&P 500 more than any other stock, with gains in Alphabet, Apple and Oracle also lifting the index.

The benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury yields hit a new one-year high of 1.626 percent after nonfarm payrolls increased by 379,000 jobs last month, blowing past a rise of 182,000 forecast by economists polled by Reuters.

Focus is also on a $1.9 trillion coronavirus aid bill as a sharply divided U.S. Senate began what was expected to be a long debate over a slew of amendments on how that money would be spent.

The Nasdaq logged its third straight weekly decline after a recent spike in Treasury yields dented demand for high-flying technology stocks.

Rising interest rates disproportionately hurt high-growth tech companies because investors value them based on earnings expected years into the future, and high interest rates hurt the value of future earnings more than the value of earnings made in the short term.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq is around 8 percent below its Feb. 12 closing high.

Jake Dollarhide, chief executive officer of Longbow Asset Management in Tulsa, Oklahoma, said his firm in recent days has bought shares in a handful of growth companies whose prices have been pummeled in the recent selloff.

“Next week, I would expect volatility to continue, with pockets of opportunity, with certain things that sold off potentially rebounding,” Dollarhide said.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1.85 percent to end at 31,496.3 points, while the S&P 500 gained 1.95 percent to 3,841.94.

The Nasdaq Composite climbed 1.55 percent to 12,920.15.

In a busy session, volume on U.S. exchanges was 17.4 billion shares, compared with the 15.3 billion average for the full session over the last 20 trading days.

For the week, the S&P 500 rose 0.8 percent, the Dow added 1.8 percent and the Nasdaq lost 2.1 percent.

In Friday’s session, the S&P 500 energy sector index surged 3.9 percent to over a one year high as oil prices soared.

Oracle jumped more than 6 percent after Barclays upgraded the business software maker to “overweight” expecting improvement in the IT spending environment.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 2.86-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 2.12-to-1 ratio favored advancers.

The S&P 500 posted 55 new 52-week highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 225 new highs and 134 new lows.

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