Saturday, March 9, 2019

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The Week in Business: Facebook Wants to Be Your ‘Digital Living Room,’ and Tesla to Unveil the Model Y - The New York Times

Posted: 09 Mar 2019 09:42 AM PST

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Welcome to your quick and painless summary of tech and business news. You don't need reminding that it's the shortest weekend of the year; make the most of it.


Facebook, the platform known for sharing your personal information with the world whether you like it or not, is going for a more discreet vibe these days. The company's chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, wants to nudge users toward "private" messaging and away from blasting their networks with status updates, a trend he says is already underway. He likened his new vision, which will integrate other Facebook-owned platforms like Instagram and WhatsApp, to a "digital living room" where people can have intimate discussions secure from outsiders. (He emphasized the term "encrypted.") It's unclear how this pivot will affect Facebook's business model, and critics have pointed out the obvious paradox of a company known for playing fast and loose with users' data suddenly espousing privacy protection.

Yet another sign that the country's economy may be cooling: February's disappointing jobs numbers. Only 20,000 new jobs were added, far less than the 175,000 that analysts had predicted. It's the weakest report since September 2017, but on the upside, it still marks the 101st consecutive month of growth. Wall Street got good news this past week as regulators eased their oversight of the nation's biggest banks. The policy shift is part of the Trump administration's promise to call off the watchdogs put in place after the 2008 financial crisis, rules that the financial industry has criticized as hampering economic growth. While these rollbacks may help stoke markets, they could also lead to a less transparent financial system — and a repeat of past mistakes.

Go back to enjoying your pasta: The Italian food impresario Mario Batali has formally exited his dining empire. More than a year after multiple women accused him of sexual harassment and assault, he "will no longer profit from the restaurants in any way, shape or form," said Tanya Bastianich Manuali, who will run the remaining 16 establishments in Mr. Batali's former portfolio. She and her brother, Mr. Batali's erstwhile business partner Joe Bastianich, bought the disgraced chef's shares in the Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group for an undisclosed sum. Mr. Batali will also hand over the keys to Eataly, the chain of Italian food emporiums.

CreditTill Lauer

MARCH 10-16

If you've been holding out for a Tesla that can fit your family and Elon Musk's ego, the automaker will unveil its new crossover S.U.V., the Model Y, at the company's Los Angeles design studio this week. Mr. Musk, the chief executive, said that the Model Y will be about 10 percent roomier than the Model 3 sedan, have slightly less battery range and come at a higher price. Tesla could certainly use the revenue boost. In its effort to sell the Model 3 for a long-promised $35,000, it's had to lay off workers, close showrooms and cut other costs — moves that have battered its stock price.

Wondering what the growing crowd of presidential candidates will be talking about this coming week, in addition to the country's new record-high trade deficit? Well, President Trump is expected to deliver his budget proposal for 2020 this Monday, about a month late because of the government shutdown earlier this year. Lower tax revenue and increased government spending have driven up annual budget deficits, which now are expected to exceed $1 trillion starting in 2022, according to the Congressional Budget Office. But Mr. Trump is likely to play down those numbers and focus on spending cuts instead.

It's understandable if you've been ignoring the Brexit commotion; all that back-and-forth was getting tedious. But now is the time to start paying attention, as talks come down to the wire. Britain's House of Commons will vote on the latest version of Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit plan this Tuesday. If it is rejected — as it probably will be — then Parliament will vote on whether to leave the European Union without a deal or to delay Britain's departure beyond the original March 29 deadline. Either way, the path doesn't look smooth, and the European Central Bank is bracing itself. On Thursday, it abruptly reversed course and revived its stimulus measures.

Uber will not be held criminally liable for the death of a woman who was hit by a self-driving test car in Arizona last year, although its safety driver — who was sitting in the driver's seat at the time of the accident — still could face charges. In other news, a new cosmetics deal has made Kylie Jenner, at 21 years old, the world's youngest "self-made" billionaire (the "self-made" label is up for debate, but hey, the money's real). Perhaps she'll buy this Bugatti, which set a record last week as the world's most expensive car at $19 million.

How Facebook Stands to Profit From Its 'Privacy' Push - U.S. News & World Report

Posted: 09 Mar 2019 05:43 AM PST

Correction: Facebook-Vaccine Misinformation story | Business - Times Daily

Posted: 09 Mar 2019 02:56 PM PST

NEW YORK (AP) — In a story March 7 about Facebook fighting vaccine information on its platform, The Associated Press reported erroneously that Facebook would remove groups and pages that spread misinformation about vaccinations. In fact, Facebook won't remove those groups or pages; instead, they won't appear in recommendations or predictions when searched for on the site.

A corrected version of the story is below:

Facebook steps up fight against vaccine misinformation

Social media giant Facebook says it is hiding groups and pages that spread misinformation about vaccinations from the search function of its site.

NEW YORK (AP) — Social media giant Facebook says it is hiding groups and pages that spread misinformation about vaccinations from the search function of its site.

It's the latest step Facebook and others are taking to stem the tide of misinformation on social media sites.

Facebook said Thursday it will take its cue from global health organizations, such as the World Health Organization and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which have publicly identified verifiable vaccine hoaxes.

If groups and pages spread those hoaxes, they won't appear in recommendations or in predictions functions when searched for in Facebook. Ads with similar information will be rejected.

And content that contains the misinformation won't be shown on Instagram Explore or hashtag pages.

Federal health officials have attributed a recent spike in the number of measles cases in part to misinformation that has made some parents shun the vaccine.

The bogus notion that vaccines cause autism — kicked off by a now disproven study from 1998 — didn't start on social networks but has spread there. While overall vaccination rates remain high in the U.S. according to the Centers for Disease Control, the number of kids under two who haven't received any vaccines is growing. The CDC attributes much of this to lack of health insurance — uninsured kids are much more likely to be unvaccinated than children who have health insurance.

Vaccination against a list of diseases is required to attend school in the U.S., but 17 states allow some type of non-medical exemption for "personal, moral or other beliefs," according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Would you give a kidney to a Facebook friend? - Allentown Morning Call

Posted: 09 Mar 2019 01:01 PM PST

Can you donate your kidney?

Scott Bedics, who has kidney failure, asks everyone this question: his family, his friends, the people at his church, his nurse, his doctor, the reporter writing this story.

But word of mouth won't reach everyone, so he uses Facebook to expand his reach. It's a path many are taking, as social media becomes ubiquitous and the wait for a deceased organ donor remains stubbornly long.

People who don't find a kidney match in a relative or friend, typically wait three to five years for a donation from a deceased person because the demand is so high, according to the National Kidney Foundation. And many die waiting. For a tiny fraction of people, social media campaigns have yielded results, giving hope to those desperate for a chance at survival.

"You really quickly lose your pride," she said. "You go from someone who doesn't want to ask for anything, to sharing your story to anyone who'd listen. You need something from someone. The only way to get it is to talk about it."

Jay Sostarecz wasn't a tireless advocate like Bedics, or a reluctant participant like Migliore. He was too tired to pay close attention to his campaign.

But Jamie Hunt Hartranft, a cousin who lost contact with Jay Sostarecz for four decades, was paying attention. She saw the posts and thought for six months about whether to help.

It's understandable that Hunt Hartranft needed time to ponder the request. Donation comes with risks, both physical and financial, for the giver. On its website, the Kidney Foundation notes that while insurance may cover surgery, it often doesn't make up for lost wages. And donors can expect recovery to take four to six weeks, depending on whether the organ was removed by traditional surgery or less-invasive laparoscopy.

Research suggests that life expectancy is not affected and that donors can live normal healthy lives with one kidney. But the foundation points out that some people experience health problems and that research into the long-term effects for living donors is limited.

Hunt Hartranft weighed the risks against what would be gained. She has a father, brother and a granddaughter who are diabetic, which made her more empathetic.

"I would want someone to do it for my granddaughter," she said.

So she offered — and turned out to be a match.

Jay and Christine Sostarecz sobbed when they found out.

"She gave me my life back," Jay Sostarecz said.

He felt better immediately after the surgery, though he spent a week in the hospital and months recovering at home. Hunt Hartranft said the process was painful but she's now fully recovered.

Today Jay Sostarecz works part time as a ranger at a golf course. He can even help around the house.

"It's like I'm a kid again, before the diabetes and complications," he said.

That's the ending Bedics is hoping for.

He took up coloring, figuring it would be a good activity to pass the time in the hospital after his transplant.

Colored pencils covered his desk on a late February day, as he filled in the letters of a sign that read: "Enjoy the little things in life for one day you will look back and realize they were the big things."

He longs to feel better. To eat pizza again. To stay out late at night.

But more than anything, he said, "I want my time back."


There are 100,791 people waiting for a deceased organ donation.

Each day, 13 people on the kidney transplant list die.

The wait typically is three to five years.

Source: National Kidney Foundation


Sign up to be a deceased donor through your state's Transportation Department or Motor Vehicle Division.

Living donors can fill out a screening form at (610-402-8506 ext. 5). Potential donors are required to have an exam to show they're in good health and a blood test to determine compatibility.

Twitter @Bhuang2012


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