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Facebook stands firm on political advertising
The tech giant just announced that it would not bow to pressure to tighten its rules on political advertising, Mike Isaac of the NYT reports.
The social network won’t take down ads with misleading information, like one from the Trump campaign in October that made false accusations against Joe and Hunter Biden, it said this morning. Nor will it end microtargeting for such advertising, a practice that lets campaigns home in on a sliver of users.
The company based its decision on “the principle that people should be able to hear from those who wish to lead them, warts and all, and that what they say should be scrutinized and debated in public,” Rob Leathern, a Facebook executive, wrote in a blog post.
Other tech companies have imposed limits on political ads. Twitter has banned all such advertising, while Google has adopted tighter rules. The decision by Facebook is likely to incense both liberal and conservative critics.
“Facebook executives are essentially saying they are doing the best they can without government guidance and see little benefit to the company or the public in changing,” Mr. Isaac writes.
More: The controversy over a Teen Vogue article about Facebook’s effort to combat political misinformation — and whether the company paid the magazine for the piece. (It did.)
Carlos Ghosn speaks (but not about his escape)
The former Renault and Nissan boss spoke publicly yesterday after sneaking out of Japan late last month. He used the opportunity to denounce the charges filed against him by Japanese prosecutors, Ben Dooley and Michael Corkery of the NYT write.
Mr. Ghosn spoke at a news conference, touting his management success and railing against what he said was a conspiracy to oust him from Nissan.
He criticized the Japanese legal system, which he accused of unfair prosecution and detention. “Every day, I didn’t know whether I would see the people I love again,” he said. “It was as if I’d died.”
He also expressed some regrets about how his time as an auto magnate ended. “Frankly, I should have retired,” he told the NYT.
But Mr. Ghosn was silent on how he escaped from Japan. An unnamed source told the NYT that at least 15 operatives were involved in the plan — though some had assumed that they were helping a kidnapped child.
His legal troubles aren’t over. Lebanese prosecutors said Mr. Ghosn had to answer questions about his flight from Japan.
It’s still unclear what caused the latest Boeing crash
Investigators are poring over the wreckage of Ukraine International Flight 752, which crashed in Tehran yesterday, killing all 176 people onboard. But they are far from reaching any solid conclusions about what made the Boeing 737-800 crash, write the NYT’s David Gelles, Anton Troianovski and Daniel Victor.
Investigators have recovered the plane’s “black boxes,” the flight recording devices that often hold clues to a crash’s causes. But an Iranian government official said that contrary to standard protocol, the boxes would not be sent to Boeing. Ukraine International said it would involve the plane maker in its inquiry.
Some experts suspect that an attack may have caused the crash, especially given the heightened tensions between Tehran and Washington. Hours earlier, Iran had fired missiles at two bases in Iraq that quarter U.S. troops.
“All possible versions of what occurred must be examined,” President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine wrote on Facebook yesterday, after the Ukrainian Embassy in Tehran initially suggested that technical reasons were the cause. But it later walked back that statement.
Investors worry about possible consequences for Boeing. If technical problems are found to be the issue, the results could be “devastating” for Boeing, the NYT writes. The company’s shares fell as much as 2.3 percent yesterday, knocking $4 billion off the its market value.
More: U.S. airlines are rushing to get their hands on 737 Max flight simulators, of which there are just 34, after Boeing said that pilots needed more training.
Big names back a Los Angeles news start-up
Exclusive: Dot.LA, a news media outlet dedicated to covering Los Angeles’s tech and start-up scene, will announce today that it is beginning operations with a $4 million round of seed financing. Its list of backers reads like a who’s who of the California investment community.
• Its co-founder and executive chairman is Spencer Rascoff, a founder of the real estate data website Zillow. Its editor in chief is Joe Bel Bruno, a former reporter and editor for the WSJ and the LA Times.
• Venture-capital backers include Upfront Ventures, Thrive Capital and Comcast Ventures.
• Financial executives who have invested in dot.LA include David Bonderman of TPG; Brad Gerstner of Altimeter; Navid Mahmoodzadegan of Moelis & Company; and Brendan Wallace of Fifth Wall.
The big question is whether dot.LA can be editorially independent, given its backers. Mr. Rascoff says yes, telling Andrew: “When we were raising money, we had all investors sign an agreement acknowledging the independence of the newsroom.”
Tesla sets a new market value high
The electric carmaker’s stock has surged in the early days of 2020. The end result: Its market capitalization of roughly $85 billion is now the highest ever for an American auto company.
That’s above the previous peak of $80.8 billion set by Ford in 1999. Ford’s market value as of yesterday was $36.7 billion, while G.M.’s was $49.5 billion.
It’s a partial vindication for Tesla after a challenging few years that included questions about its ability to deliver cars and a legal battle between the S.E.C. and Elon Musk, the company’s C.E.O.
But there are plenty of caveats. Adjusting for inflation, Ford’s market value peak would be about $122 billion in today’s dollars. And overseas carmakers like Toyota are still bigger by any measure.
Tesla also faces many challenges. It has never turned an annual profit, and it is highly dependent on sales in overseas markets, particularly China.
What you missed on Day 2 of CES
The second day of the huge electronics expo in Las Vegas was a mix of product announcements and weightier discussions of public policy. Here’s what happened:
• Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao announced the Trump administration’s latest guidelines for autonomous vehicles, which call for voluntary standards. (The National Transportation Safety Board has sought federal safety standards instead.)
• Quibi, the short-form video service co-founded by Meg Whitman and Jeffrey Katzenberg, announced $400 million in new funding and a partnership with T-Mobile USA.
• The online media personality Casey Neistat is having fun trying to stoke fake M.&A. rumors.
• Just look at this robotic Labrador puppy!
The speed read
• The food-delivery company Grubhub has reportedly hired financial advisers to study options including a potential sale. (WSJ)
• Coupang, a South Korean e-commerce giant, is said to be considering going public as soon as next year. (Bloomberg)
• Buyout firms like Blackstone and Carlyle are reportedly circling Thyssenkrupp’s elevator unit, which may be put up for sale for as much as $20 billion. (FT)
• IAC plans to sell its College Humor division to the unit’s chief creative officer, which would mean layoffs for most of its employees. (Bloomberg)
Politics and policy
• Beijing said that China’s vice premier, Liu He, would travel to Washington next week to sign a phase-one trade deal with President Trump. (Bloomberg)
• Mike Bloomberg released a job-creation plan that focuses on regional economic disparity rather than along class lines. (NYT)
• The European Commission’s president, Ursula von der Leyen, said that Britain’s aim of securing a full trade deal with the E.U. by the end of the year was “impossible.” (Bloomberg)
• Uber revised how it calculates some fares in California to give drivers an opportunity to earn more, in response to a new state law tightening rules for contract workers. (WSJ)
• Amazon’s Ring security-video division told senators that it had fired four employees over the past four years for improperly looking at users’ video data. (Verge)
• David Zaslav, the C.E.O. of Discovery Communications, predicted that only two or three companies would survive the video-streaming wars. (Hollywood Reporter)
Best of the rest
• The U.S. economy is doing well, but economists foresee gloom ahead. (NYT)
• More than 1,600 C.E.O.s left their jobs in 2019, the most departures in a year since at least 2002. (CNBC)
• Critics say Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation is promoting misinformation about Australia’s wildfires. (NYT)
• The business case for letting Britain’s Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, step back from their royal duties. (Bloomberg Opinion)
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