Zuckerberg Testifies in Congress Amid Data Scandal: ‘I’m Responsible for What Happens Here’

Mark Zuckerberg sat down to answer questions from Congress for the first time ever today, as he would previously send a deputy in his stead, according to CNN. The recent Facebook data scandal, however, has seemingly made it clear for the CEO that he better personally get in front of this debacle and cooperate with the government before things get any worse. A mere 10 days after the Cambridge Analytica news was uncovered, for example, Facebook lost a stunning $70 billion. There have been demonstrations, protests, and calls for the social media company to do better in terms of privacy, accuracy, and user integrity.

Earlier today, CNN reported that 100 cardboard cutouts of Zuckerberg were propped up on the U.S. Capitol lawn by activist group Avaaz, which is calling on the internet CEOs like Zuck, age 33, and government regulators to more stringently combat “fake news” on social media platforms. Additionally, the campaign published an open letter responding to Zuckerberg’s apology, which was signed by over 850,000 people worldwide. This letter reportedly demands platforms like Facebook “tell the truth, ban the bots, alert the public, and fund the fact-checkers.”

“We know Facebook is doing things to address the fake news problem, but they are doing it in a way that is too small and too secretive,” said Avaaz campaign director Nell Greenberg. “We want Facebook to tell the truth regarding the work that is being done to stop this and the scale of the fake news and fake post problem. We just want to know the transparency of the problem and what is being done to tackle it.” The cutouts splayed across the lawn reportedly represent the hundreds of millions of fake accounts still running rampant on the social media platform, with each cutout wearing a shirt that reads “Fix Facebook.”

Now, as for the actual Senate hearing and Mark Zuckerberg’s official testimony, there were some fairly notable questions and answers to consider. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Committee of Commerce, began the proceedings with an opening statement littered with demands for discipline and responsibility on Facebook’s behalf. “Mr. Zuckerberg, in many ways you and the company you’ve created represent the American Dream,” said Thune. “Many are incredibly inspired by what you’ve done. At the same time, you have an obligation to ensure that dream doesn’t become a privacy nightmare for the scores of people who use Facebook.”

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Zuckerberg countered the opening statements by Sen. Thune, Sen. Grassley, and Ranking Member Feinstein with a statement summarizing the socially positive aspects of the social media platform, like the fundraising post-Hurricane Harvey, or the benefits small businesses can find by connecting to customers online. He also maintained that Facebook is a force for good, and an idealistic company since its founding. “My top priority has always been our social mission of connecting people, building community and bringing the world closer together,” said Zuckerberg. “Advertisers and developers will never take priority over that as long as I’m running Facebook.” Ultimately, he claimed complete responsibility. “I started Facebook, I run it, and I'm responsible for what happens here.”

In terms of Facebook and its CEO not taking more aggressive action upon discovering Cambridge Analytica’s illegal use user data in 2015, Zuckerberg claimed they considered it “a closed case,” since he believed Cambridge Analytica had deleted the content they had collected. This is why, he claims, he neither contacted the Federal Trade Commission nor took further action. “We try not to make the same mistakes multiple times,” said Zuckerberg. “It’s pretty much impossible to grow a business from your dorm room to a scale of this size without making mistakes.” When it came to a Senator’s concern regarding targeted advertisements on the social media platform, Zuckerberg approached his answer with a positive spin. “People really don’t like ads that aren’t relevant,” he said.

As for the alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, Zuckerberg vocalized his remorse for not identifying bad actors sooner. He mentioned the French and German elections, during which Facebook seemed to have more “proactively removed tens of thousands of accounts before they could contribute significant harm.” As for the Russian influence, Zuckerberg added, “This is an arms race. They’re going to keep getting better at this.”

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Donald Trump Attacks the Amazon and USPS Deal in a Series of Tweets

Donald Trump is going after Amazon, again.

In a series of tweets, Trump wrote that Amazon's package deal with the U.S. Post Office is a bad deal for taxpayers. But federal regulators say otherwise.

“While we are on the subject, it is reported that the U.S. Post Office will lose $1.50 on average for each package it delivers for Amazon. That amounts to Billions of Dollars,” read his series of tweets. “The Failing N.Y. Times reports that 'the size of the company’s lobbying staff has ballooned' and that…does not include the Fake Washington Post, which is used as a “lobbyist” and should so REGISTER. If the P.O. 'increased its parcel rates, Amazon’s shipping costs would rise by $2.6 Billion.' This Post Office scam must stop. Amazon must pay real costs (and taxes) now!”

However, The Associated Press reports that federal regulars reviewed the deal (as it does every year) and found it to be “profitable” for the USPS. While envelope mailing has gone down, companies like Amazon have helped package deliveries to be on the rise for the company. But even if it weren't—the U.S. Post Office isn't funded by taxpayer money. As the USPS' site reads, “The Postal Service receives NO tax dollars for operating expenses and relies on the sale of postage, products and services to fund its operations.”

This leads many to believe that Trump isn't actually concerned with Amazon's packaging deals—but rather Amazon's CEO, Jeff Bezos, also owns The Washington Post, one of the news sources that's been consistently critical of him.

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Listen to Lil Pump’s “Gucci Gang” Remix f/ 21 Savage, Gucci Mane, French Montana, and More

The season 2 premiere of OVO Sound Radio got off to a solid start on Saturday evening. During host Oliver El-Khatib's regular set, listeners were treated to the premiere of Lil Pumpa��s star-packed a�?Gucci Ganga�? remix. And we mean packed.

The new version includes guest appearances by Gucci Mane, 21 Savage, French Montana, J Balvin, Bad Bunny, and Ozuna. Though ita��s an unexpected lineup, therea��s no doubt that the update will give the viral hit a second wind.

You can listen to a�?Gucci can i buy imitrex in mexico Ganga�? remix below.

The premiere arrives just a few days after Lil Pump secured a new deal with Warner Bros. Records. Earlier this month, rumors circulated that the 17-year-old rapper had inked an $8 million contract with the label. Lil Pump later went to social media to address the claims, insisting the deal was just for one release: “I don't know where the hell you heard all that other bullshit, but I got $8 million for one project, and that's it.”

Warner Bros. later confirmed that it had, in fact, entered a a�?successful partnershipa�? with Lil Pump.

a�?We are pleased that we can bring the next album release from Lil Pump to Warner Bros. Records,a�? Dooney Battle, the CEO of Lil Pump's management, said in a press release. a�?From the second I met Lil Pump, it was clear that he had star power and could lead the wave of rappers breaking on SoundCloud and YouTube.a�?

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Tinder Sues Dating App Bumble for Allegedly Copying Them

Tinder's parent company, Match Group, is going after one of its main competitors, Bumble.

CNN reports that Match filed a lawsuit against the dating app which creates a space for women to make the first move. The legal docs state that Bumble, which was co-created by three former Tinder employees, stole their “world-changing, card swipe-based, mutual opt-in premise.” It also states that Bumble has features that were “learned of and developed confidentially” while the Bumble co-creators were at Tinder. This includes the “undo” button, a feature that they say is “nearly, if not literally, identical” to Bumble's “backtrack” option which lets users go back if they accidentallyA�swiped the wrong way on a person.

Although Match “applauds Bumble's efforts at empowering women, both in its app and offline” and “cares deeply both about its women users and about women's issues generally”, they noted that “this case is simply about forcing Bumble to stop competing with Match and Tinder using Match's own inventions, patented designs, trademarks, and trade secrets.”

Bumble isn't the buy depo provera no prescription only company to have the “mutual opt-in premise” though. But it seems that Match is only going after Bumble. This could be due to the fact that the former Tinder employees created it, reports that Match was unsuccessful in buying Bumble last year, or because they're launching their own option for women to make the first move.

As for Bumble's CEO,A�Whitney Wolfe Herd, who left her co-founded company buy pills Tinder after she reported several verbal and sexual harassmentA�claims against them, said that the company doesn't cross her mind anymore.

“I actually don't think about Tinder,” Wolfe Herd said in a conversation with Gayle King at SXSW earlier this year, according to CNN.A�”I don't believe revenge is part of my agenda. I'm a firm believer that just like hate spreads hate, love and kindness spread love and kindness. We're doing our own thing.”

But propecia cost in australia it seems like Match is thinking the exact opposite.

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Offset and Metro Boomin Blast Epic Records for ‘Bad Business’ Practices

It seems Offset and Metro Boomin have some kind of beef with Epic Records.

Shortly after they released their “Ric Flair Drip” video with 21 Savage on Thursday, the producer and Migos member called out the record label via Instagram. Offset shared a story that simply read: “@epicrecords Bad business,” while Metro went to his own account to call the company “lame af.”

Offset Instagram
Image via Instagram
Metro Boomin Instagram
Image via Instagram

Because the messages didn’t provide any details, many fans assume the drama has something to do with the recently released “Ric Flair Drip” visual, or perhaps the entire Without Warning project, which was released via Epic Records in 2017. The surprise drop was a collaborative effort between Offset, Metro, and 21 Savage; however, it should be noted that 21 has yet to make any public statement about the apparent dispute.

We’ll just have to keep our eyes peeled for more information.

This isn’t the first time Metro has called out a major record label. Back in October, the Atlanta producer issued a warning to other artists about working with Atlantic.

PSA to producers everywhere,” he tweeted. “Don't let Atlantic Records steal your soul. Looking out for you because they didn't look out for us.”

He later clarified that his remarks were directed toward Mike Caren, the CEO of Artist Partners Group and the founder of Artist Publishing Group. You can check out his statements below.

 

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Now You Can Buy Weed Stocks on the U.S. Stock Exchange

For those hoping to get in on the cannabis stock game, a Canadian company has gotten approval to start trading on the NASDAQ. It's the U.S. Stock Exchange's first listed marijuana company, according to VICE.

The company, Cronos Group, is already on the Toronto Stock Exchange but will make its American debut this week. As Canadians wait for the legalization of recreational weed sometime this summer, the interest to invest in cannabis stock has stretched south of the border, too. The stigma attached to buying cannabis stocks and weed in general (since it's still federally illegal across the U.S.) has made it a niche endeavor.

But it's actually completely legal for Americans to own Cannabis stocks despite the current legal standing of the drug itself. “I grew up in the U.S. and most of our investor base is in the U.S.,” Mike Gorenstein, CEO of the Toronto-based company, told VICE Money. “But I still get calls from American investors who are unsure as to whether they can buy Canadian weed stocks.” Gorenstein also explained that while recreational weed is only legal in nine states and medical weed is legal in 29, the American market for weed is worth billions, and it will only grow even more in coming years. 

The process of getting the company listed in the first place was, of course, not without its obstacles. “It’s complicated and intense because of their securities rules. We started building a relationship with the NASDAQ sometime last year, and we had to go through many audits and reviews by different independent committees to make sure that our governance was up to snuff,” said Gorenstein.  

Prior to this listing, American investors had to go through the Toronto Stock Exchange or invest via the ETFMG Alternative Harvest ETF on the NYSEArca, a smaller U.S. exchange that mainly trades ETFs, allowing people to invest in a handful of weed stocks. Cronos's listing on the U.S. stock exchange introduces a specific brand to investors who might want to hedge their bets on just one company. 

“This is about our shareholders. I will just stress that we do not plan on entering the U.S. market from a production or sales standpoint until cannabis is federally legal,” Gorenstein clarified. Currently, the company has a market value of $1.4 billion and plenty of growth potential. It not only produces cannabis for the Canadian market but also ships products to Germany, and it plans to work alongside countries like Australia and Israel to produce medicinal marijuana.

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Drake Is Giving You the Opportunity to Invest in His Whiskey

Drake is a man of many passions: the city of Toronto, female comedians, his mother, strip clubs, and whiskey. In fact, he loves whiskey so much he made his own: Virginia Black. The drink has previously been confined to smoky clubs, the halls of liquors stores, or just plastered all over Drake’s Instagram. But Drake and his business partner Brent Hocking have announced today that they will be going public and accepting investments from those who wish to join them in their “vision to redefine whiskey.”

The offering will begin at the end of the first quarter of 2018, and those who wish to invest should register interest now. Shares are starting at $5 and the minimum investment is $100.

Virginia Black is the lovechild of Drake and Brent Hocking, an “acclaimed spirits producer and entrepreneur” who is “known for creating award-winning brands and bottle designs,” per a press release. Hocking describes Virginia Black as the “perfect combination of exceptionally good juice in exquisite packaging at an accessible price” and is “pleased” that millions of Americans will now have the opportunity to join the “Virginia Black family.”

 

@champagnepapi @therealdennisg

A post shared by Virginia Black (@virginiablackwhiskey) on

When it comes to taste, Virginia Black is a “rich, decadent, smooth” aged Bourbon whiskey with a “decadent profile,” which are also probably all the words Drake would use to describe himself. But it’s not just talk: the whiskey has been well-received by experts and has also won numerous awards, including being voted among the top 5 spirits in 2016 by Wally’s Wine and top 100 spirits of 2017 by Wine Enthusiast with a 91 point rating. In flavor profile ratings, it supposedly surpasses famous whiskey brands like Jack Daniel’s, Jim Bean, and Maker’s Mark.

Virginia Black leads us into exciting new territory where Main Street meets Wall Street, giving millions of fans worldwide the opportunity to be a part of Drake's success,” Mark Elenowitz, CEO of TriPoint, which will be the lead managing selling agent and book runner for the public offering.

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New Report Exposes Alleged Concert Ticket Scheme Orchestrated by Fyre Festival Organizer

When reports started coming out about the doomed Fyre Festival, which was originally billed as a “luxury” music festival and advertised by the likes of Kendall Jenner and Bella Hadid and which promised performances from Pusha T, Desiigner, Lil Yachty, Blink-182, and more, it became clear the whole thing had sounded too good to be true.

Billy McFarland, one of the masterminds behind the catastrophic festival and the owner of Fyre Media, has been hit with several lawsuits, arrested and charged with fraud, and been forced to place Fyre Festival LLC under involuntary bankruptcy. But Fyre Media is not the only company McFarland owned. He is also the CEO of Magnises, a company he founded prior to Fyre Media, that functioned as a members-only concierge service. However, documents acquired by VICE News suggest McFarland has been mismanaging that company’s finances, too, by running what appeared to be a complicated concert ticket scheme.

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One of the benefits that Magnises offered its members was discounted concert and event tickets. But credit card records suggest that McFarland was buying the tickets from third-party distributors like Ticketmaster, StubHub, and Vivid Seats and then selling them to Magnises members at a significant loss.

Moreover, McFarland used a Fyre Media corporate credit card to pay for many of the Magnises tickets, effectively ensuring that both companies suffered similar financial woes even though they were entirely different entities. McFarland allegedly charged his Fyre Media American Express credit card for more than $1 million worth of tickets in just four months.

The records also show that other Fyre Media company credit cards were issued to at least nine employees including co-founder Ja Rule and Grant Margolin, the music festival’s marketing director. But the charges on those cards “appear reasonably related to the Fyre Media business,” according to VICE. It's the charges on McFarland’s card that raise the most eyebrows, since that’s where more than $1 million worth of Ticketmaster, StubHub, and Vivid Seats tickets were charged.

The problem for McFarland is that Fyre Media was conceived as an app for people to book artists for private events. It never claimed to sell tickets for concerts and events. Magnises did.

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Former employees and Magnises members claim that McFarland would advertise and sell tickets to events he did not already have tickets to. And when the event dates arrived, McFarland would either cancel the reservations or provide tickets purchased through third-party organizations.

For example, Magnises advertised tickets to a series of Adele concerts in September 2016. A former employee told VICE McFarland did not possess the tickets he advertised and the whole situation sounds like it was a total clusterfuck.

“What happened with Adele was that we found out that Billy wasn’t going through a source in Live Nation at all, because for that concert, there were no e-tickets available; the whole thing was all ticket stubs,” the anonymous former employee told VICE. “We had to go and meet with these brokers who act as third-party buyers around MSG. And we’re spending the whole time running around the city trying to get them together and figure out how many they have and who’s going to go in which section.”

What’s more, McFarland was apparently buying the tickets on the same day as the performances. McFarland’s credit card records show more than $150,000 worth of StubHub, Vivid Seats, Fan Exchange, and My Ticket Tracker charges on September 19, 20, 22, 23, 25 and 26, the exact days Adele was performing at Madison Square Garden. There were no ticket charges on September 21 and 24, when she did not perform.

A similar situation happened when Magnises offered members $250 tickets for Hamilton. McFarland’s Fyre Media American Express records have charges totaling almost $30,000 labeled with Vivid Seats and Hamilton. The cheapest transaction with this label is $1,401.30, which means McFarland was operating on at least a $1,200 loss per ticket for this Hamilton deal through Magnises.

Finally, McFarland’s company offered discounted floor tickets to Kanye West’s Saint Pablo Tour in June 2016 at $275 each, about $100 less than the median resale ticket price. As should be expected by now, McFarland’s credit card records show more than $10,000 worth of Ticketmaster charges on the first night the Saint Pablo Tour arrived in New York City, September 5, 2016, also at Madison Square Garden.

All of this appears as though it's going to make life even more difficult for McFarland. Outside of the headache he's dealing with due to the Fyre Festival issues, he's also going to have to explain why it appears he was running a ticket scheme in the months leading up to that debacle.

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Mayweather Promotions CEO Disputes Reports About Ticket Sales for Mayweather/McGregor Fight

In late July, a report came out indicating that ticket sales for the Aug. 26 fight between Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas weren’t exactly going according to plan. Many people expected the fight to sell out rather quickly, but according to the report, there were still thousands of tickets available for it, which seemed to suggest that the promoters for the fight might have issues getting top dollar for them.

But Mayweather Promotions CEO Leonard Ellerbe spoke out about the reported slow ticket sales for the fight on Thursday during Mayweather’s open media session at his gym in Las Vegas, and he said that he’s not worried at all. Contrary to what has been reported, Ellerbe said that the fight is currently on pace to break the record for the highest boxing gate ever.

“Right now, we have over $60 million in the box office,” Ellerbe said. “And you tell me, what part of that remotely looks like ticket sales are slow. This isn’t a damn Rolling Stones concert. That’s the only thing that sells out in seconds. When you are talking about tickets going from $500 to $10,000, that’s an expensive ticket. So you have every CEO from every major company. You know, guys, it takes time to plan and get it together.”

Ellerbe also talked about some of the VIPs who have expressed interest in attending the fight:

Additionally, Mayweather echoed what Ellerbe told reporters before his workout on Thursday and said that he believes his fight with McGregor is ultimately going to sell out as we move closer to fight night. Mayweather is also doing his part to continue to promote the fight. Here he is interrupting a live shot on ESPN’s SportsCenter on Thursday to tell people to watch the fight:

ESPN is reporting that, if you want a ticket, they’re not difficult to find right now. There are reportedly still thousands of them available on the Ticketmaster website, and there are also plenty of them available through ticket resale sites like Vivid Seats and StubHub. They’re not cheap, though. Vivid Seats, for example, is reporting that the average ticket sold on its site is going for more than $3,600.

To set a new record for a boxing gate, the Mayweather/McGregor fight would need to eclipse the $72.2 million mark. That’s how much money Mayweather’s fight against Manny Pacquiao brought in back in May 2015.

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