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May 27, 2022 14 min read

🔫 Newsletter #79: Guns, Lobbying and Social Media | Zuckerberg Sued | TikTok | Snap | Crypto and Metaverse

🔫 Newsletter #79: Guns, Lobbying and Social Media | Zuckerberg Sued | TikTok | Snap | Crypto and Metaverse
Table of Contents

Newsletter #79: For 2 years, 50 senators have held up new background laws for buying guns. And the killing continues, decade after decade. Also, in this issue; Snap's stock price collapse, Mark Zuckerberg just can not get away from Cambridge Analytica and someone stole Seth Green's Bored Ape!

w/Issue #79 - 27th May 2022

Welcome, Wiser! friends.

There are now over 11,300 like-minded subscribers just like you who want to know what's happening and what's coming next in the digital economy. Thank you for your support. 🙏

This week I'm covering the Cambridge Analytica boomerang that Facebook can't get away from; Snap, latest to be hit by the run on tech stocks; someone stole Seth Green's NFTs; some stuff about the Metaverse, TikTok and crypto.

Plus a short rant about guns in America, a load of snippets of insight and information...and Episode 2 of Big Tech Little Tech is out now.


A North Texas mother and her son hold protest signs at the March for Our Lives sister rally in Denton, Texas on March 24th, 2018. In the background, volunteers register people to vote.
Photo by Heather Mount / Unsplash

How can the most powerful nation in the world be so deluded!?

Nothing new here:  This subject may seem off piste to my usual commentary, but there’s a relevancy, just bare with me. BTW, if you’re a gun lovin’ American you might want to unsubscribe now.

The awful killing of children and teachers in Texas this week, just 2 weeks after the mass shooting in Buffalo, has yet again ignited the gun control debate. Which is crazy that there is a debate at all! The United States of America is a nation that stands head and shoulders above any other when it comes to mass shootings

Already this year there have been 199 of them, hardly surprising when a quarter of Americans (81.4 million) own a gun.

On top of that, "gun violence" now officially outranks "car accidents" as the dominant cause of death of American children and adolescents (according to recently released mortality data from the CDC.)

In 2019 and 2020 children’s firearm-related deaths increase by a whopping 29.5%, twice the national average. This increase was primarily driven by firearm homicides, which increased by 33.4% in the same time period.


Here's the thing:  Lobbying and Social Media play a role. These are both subjects that I have been covering for Wiser! (hence this piece for this week's newsletter).

Political Lobbying

When it comes to lobbying, gun rights groups spent a record $15.8 million on lobbying in 2021 and $2 million in the first quarter of 2022.

Ask yourself?: why is there so much money spent on lobbying by the National Rifle Association and Gun Owners of America…when the right to carry a gun is enshrined in law?

Because the gun lobbyists are not trying to change the law, they’re spending vast sums on protecting the status quo.

But, it’s not just buying paying for professional lobbyists, this practice also means funding politicians.

From 1998 to 2022, gun rights groups contributed $50.5 million to federal candidates and party committees. 99% of this went direct to Republicans.

Gun supporting Republican Senator Ted Cruz has received more funding from gun rights groups than any other politician since he was elected to Congress in 2012.

On the flip side, gun control groups also spend money on lobbyists and supporting Democrat candidates. In terms of outright lobbying, gun control spends around 1/6th of the amount of gun advocates.

When it comes to supporting political candidates, gun control spending has caught up gun advocates.

Social Media Influence

As the story of the latest shooting unfolded, social media was filled with “facts” and “breaking news” about the shooter. Not all of them true.

A story that caught my eye in Mashable was of 2 trans women who where both mistakenly identified as the killer. Their pictures were being posted as images of the now-deceased shooter. It is not clear how or why their images were used because both individuals were innocent and unconnected with the shooting.

However they did carry the same general features of the killer...and, I'm guessing, the fact that they were both transexuals enabled a false narrative of a troubled soul (which is, BTW, a view I 100% do not agree with).

But here’s the thing: without any editorial oversight, fact checking or content moderation, in an unrestricted social media world of “free speech”, once these “facts” get out there, they spread like wildfire.

Especially when they are amplified by a US Congressman who tweeted “it’s a transsexual leftist alien named Salvatore Ramos. It’s apparently your kind of trash.” The tweet has now been deleted by the whack-a-doodle US politician called Paul Gosar.

And to be clear, the shooter was born in the USA (so, not an alien), has no history or connection to the trans community, and his political affliations are unknown. So far, I’ve seen nothing to suggest this is a politically motivated killing.

For an idea of the depth of the Twitter sewer, the right-wing personality Candace Owens tweeted “What drives an 18 year to murder innocent children? I don’t know. But judging by the photos of him cross-dressing, we can assume that were plenty of signs that he was mentally disturbed and abused by adults in his life.

To be clear….the photos that Owens refers to are NOT of the killer, but of one of the trans women who’s images were falsely used.

But that didn't stop the

w/Further Reading

Divide & Conquer: BigTech’s lobbying is overwhelming lawmakers
Divide and conquer. That’s the strategy when it comes to fending off BigTech in the USA. With individual states going their own way, disconnected from any Federal efforts, BigTech’s considerable spending on lobbying is overwhelming lawmakers one state at a time.
BigTech’s Record Spending on Lobbying & Buying Up Competition
Wiser! Essay: BigTech spent record amounts on lobbying and buying up its competition in 2021. Meanwhile, the FTC charged with regulating the Tech Economy has a limited budget and a mountain to climb.
Social Media Has Not Done Enough To Curb Hate Crime.
There’s a worrying connection between Social Media, the rise in hate crime, and the battle for free speech. The mass killing of Black people in Buffalo by a young white male is yet another example of the toxic mix of freely available guns and the wide spread dissemination of conspiracy theories.


big tech little tech
Big Tech Little Tech is available on all major podcast platforms

Episode #2: Shaun and I discuss Bitcoin, Deepfakes, TikTok, iPod

For all episodes, go here or there.

Leave a Comment or Ask a Question
Let us know what you think by putting your opinions, questions or feedback in the comment section below. ☟Or email me at wiser@rickhuckstep.com. You never know, you may be in the next episode!


mark zuckerberg

Mark Zuckerberg is being sued for his role in enabling the Cambridge Analytica scandal

Back Story:  The District of Columbia in the USA has sued Meta/Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, seeking to hold him personally liable for the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Cambridge Analytica is the Boomerang that won’t stop coming back!

This relates to the privacy breach of millions of Facebook users’ personal data that became a major corporate and political scandal in 2016.

The lawsuit maintains that Mr Zuckerberg directly participated in important company decisions and was aware of the potential dangers of sharing users’ data (which is at the heart of the case involving Cambridge Analytica.)

Without Consent:  UK tech company Cambridge Analytica was a political consulting firm that specialised in data mining. Using a Facebook app, they gathered details on as many as 87 million Facebook users without their permission.

The data breach allowed Cambridge Analytica to target and influence Facebook users during the 2016 US presidential election and the Brexit referendum.

Here’s the thing:  In 2019, the US Federal Trade Commission fined Facebook $5 billion for the Cambridge Analytica data breach. A few month’s later, Facebook paid UK’s Information Commissioner $0.5 billion for exposing its users to “serious risk of harm.”

Now, DC attorney-general Karl Racine is going after Zuckerberg directly. However, it’s not Racine’s first rodeo when it comes to going for the CEO with majority control over the world’s largest social network. In 2018 Racine failed in his attempt to add Zuckerberg to a previous lawsuit filed against Facebook.

Day of Reckoning:  IMHO, whether Racine succeeds or not is a mute point (he’ll probably fail). The real damage has already been done to Facebook’s reputation.

This is just the latest as the reckoning continues after a decade of behaviour that has, net/net, caused more harm than good.

w/Further Reading

Facebook's New Values Are All About ME

Facebook v Apple: The Battle of Privacy Versus Surveillance


Are you on Facebook or Instagram?

I post cards like these on Instagram and Facebook, if you want to follow me on either platform...

w/Tech Stocks

Snapchat 3D icon concept
Photo by Alexander Shatov / Unsplash

Social Media Stocks Sink to Erase $135 Billion on Snap Warning

BackStory:  Snap closed down 43% on its worst trading day ever earlier this week. Snap’s shares are now down over 80% from its high in September 2021.

The collapse was sparked by Snap’s warning that it will miss its 2nd quarter numbers. Snap only set the revenue and profits projections a few weeks ago, and now say they'll miss them because of a "faster than expected deterioration in macroeconomic conditions".

It sends a concerning signal that has wide implications for tech players in the digit ad market. Up until now, Snap had outperformed many of its digital ad peers, most obviously MetaFacebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

Unsurprisingly/surprisingly (depending on your POV), the tech stock holding up best is Twitter. Thanks to the belief that Elon Musk will still go through with the buyout (although it's unlikely it will be at the price Musk is committed to buy at).

BigTech’s Quarterly Earnings Roundup - April 2022
Tech Stocks had enjoyed a 2 year ride since the Covid induced crash of March 2020. With a few notable exceptions, that’s over for alot of the tech stocks. It’s tough times ahead as I take a look at the round of quarterly earnings for BigTech’s BigNumbers.


Where’s My Bored Ape NFT Gone?

Back Story:  Actor Seth Green's Bored Ape NFT has been stolen in a phishing scam. And with it goes the commercial rights to use the character, called Fred Simian, as the lead character in his new TV show.

Blockchain records show that the scammer flipped the Bored Ape NFT straight away for c$200k. The anonymous buyer is called “DarkWing84”. Green has been tweeting his Twitter account trying to work something out and get it back.

Moral of the story:  just because it’s an NFT, doesnt mean it is any less susceptible to being nicked. But, because it is a digital asset on a decentralised blockchain then there’s a footprint, a trail. Third party mamrketplaces (like Opensea, where NFTs are traded) can place digital markers on the asset so that future transactions can be impeded, although not stopped entirely.

In a digital world, online security is everything. If you, like me, get loads of emails claiming to be from PayPal or eBay or Apple, ie., brands that you trust, and they ask you to reset your password or validate a $17.84 transaction you didn't make…DON’T TRUST IT.

This is how phishing scams work. Once you open the link, the scammer is inside your device. Within no time at all they have taken whatever they want - passwords, account details, your NFTs.


wiser on linkedin

Wiser! on LinkedIn

Today:  It's Friday and you’ve just been received Wiser! directly into your Inbox. You are are the first people to see it, nobody else gets this issue before you do!

You may be the first, but you're not the last. Because on Sunday, I post an edited version of this email as a LinkedIn newsletter. If you are on Linkedin, you can find it here.

But…be aware. The ONLY way that you can be certain you’ll see Wiser! every week is via the email version. The distribution of the LinkedIn version is entirely at the mercy of their algorithms.

w/Further Reading

Some Interesting Reading About The Metaverse

Curious about the Metaverse? And what does in mean for businesses and our digital lives in the next 10 years? Here’s some interesting reading:

1️⃣ The Metaverse sure feels like an Enterprise thing. Can a mass market Metaverse dream come true? Source: Alex Kantrowitz

2️⃣ Web3 is our chance to make a better Internet. Source: Harvard Business Review

3️⃣ Microsoft wants to be build the “industrial Metaverse”. Source: YouExec

4️⃣ A whole new world? Exploring the Metaverse and what it could mean for you. Source: Deloitte


Carnage, what carnage?:  The next time someone says to you "crypto carnage", or something similar about the end of Bitcoin, explain to them that all markets are down, it's not unique to cryptocurrency;

📉 The Dow just posted its eighth straight weekly loss, which is its longest weekly losing streak since 1923!

📉The S&P has lost ground for seven straight weeks, its longest losing streak since 2001!

📉The Nasdaq has dropped more from its peak last November than when the world shut down because of Covid in the Spring of 2020!

Remember!:  if you’d bought Bitcoin 2 years ago, you’d still be up 200%!

Kinda puts things into perspective, right?

w/Attention Economy

Back Story:  TikTok users in the US are forecast to overtake YouTube users when it comes to time spent on each platform.

It has already overtaken Facebook and Instagram, now it seems that it's about to  surpass YouTube.

So What?:  TIME SPENT ON THE PLATFORM is the ONLY metric that matters in the Attention Economy. Remember, YouTube and TikTok earn money by selling advertising space. The more of your attention they can keep, the more ads they can put in front of your eyeballs. Which means the more money they can make.

Here's the thing:  in a strategic move to go after YouTube's space, TikTok increased the max length of its videos to 5 minutes last year. Then, in February this year they bumped it up again to 10-minute videos.

And it's working!

Over 40% of Gen Z spends more than 3 hours a day on TikTok.

Expect these attention economy platforms to continue to mimic each other's features. Instagram and YouTube are going after TikTok's short-form dominance with Reels and Shorts. Meanwhile, TikTok has eyes on Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, and Twitch with a host of new features coming, including Reposting and live streaming.

What makes TikTok so addictive?
Wiser! Essay: TikTok is the most addictive platform on Social Media. Leaked documents reveal the how and why.

w/Snippets of Insight and Information

🤖 Gizmodo has published the Facebook Papers, a collection of documents that together, explain how the Facebook algorithms work. Interesting reading... Source: Gizmodo

💰 In 2020, Mark Zuckerberg donated $419 million to fund making it easier for people to vote during the pandemic-hit US Presidential Elections. What started as a well-intentioned act of citizenship has turned into a right-wing conspiracy that gave Joe Biden the White House. You know I’m no fan of Facebook or the Zuck, but I cant help feel for him on this occasion. Hoist by his own petard! Source: Protocol

🪙 A16Z announced their 4th crypto fund. It’s a gargantuan $4.5 Billion and is the largest crypto fund, ever. Source: Forbes

🧬 UK finally opens antitrust probe of Google’s role in the adtech stack. Source: TechCrunch

🚨 The worlds leading facial recognition software firm, Clearview AI, has been fined more than £7.5m by the UK's privacy watchdog. It’s a subject that we discussed in the latest issue of Big Tech Little Tech just days before this news broke. You can listen to it here 👉 https://lnkd.in/gtJqMJVM

🇸🇻 El Salvador president and Bitcoin aficionado, Nayib Bukele has revealed the layout of Bitcoin City. It's a bold vision for the poorest and most deadly nation in Central America. Bukele plans to issue Bitcoin Bonds, a financial instrument to raise $10 billion to build the City. Source: Twitter

🚁 Walmart delivery will be coming from the sky soon in the USA. The retail giant is expanding its drone coverage to six states after extending its partnership with DroneUp. It seems that the $4 shipping fee is not enough to deter people from selecting that method of shipment, even for the very small items. Source: The Guardian

🏠 54% of workers, including executives, rate a four-day workweek as a top 3 benefit priority. Source: LinkedIn

🐦 Twitter has agreed to pay $150 million as part of a settlement with regulators over allegations that the social media company misrepresented the “security and privacy” of user data over several years. Source: TechCrunch

🚀 SpaceX raised $1.5 billion in its latest funding round with a valuation of $125 billion. It suggests the company may be immune to the latest Musk controversies, unlike Twitter and Tesla. Source: Wall Street Journal

🤑 Negotiations have stalled the OECD’s global tax deal on multinational corporations. Analysts now project the 15% global minimum tax rate won’t be implemented until 2024. Source: Reuters

🍎 Apple is reported to be in talks to buy video games publisher Electronic Arts. Also rumoured to be in the mix are Disney and Amazon. This follows the monster $69 billion acquisition of Activision Blizzard by Microsoft. Source: 9to5Mac

👋 Jack Dorsey has left the board of Twitter. The move had been widely anticipated after the Twitter co-founder stepped down as CEO last year. Man-child musk tweeted "Jack off Twitter board." Source: Elon Musk on Twitter

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