Wiser! #71: Another study points the finger at Social Media for teenage angst. Meanwhile, allegations surface that Facebook paid a consulting form to smear TikTok. Plus the readers survey. Find out what you all thing about Wiser!
w/#71 1st April 2022
In This issue
➣ Just when you thought Facebook could sink no lower, a report in the Washington Post exposes the dirty tricks MetaFacebook use to bad mouth TikTok. The real question is: who was in the room when these decisions were made?
➣ Is there really a link between heavy social use and teenage anxiety? One of the largest studies ever in the UK appears to have found one.
➣ It's almost a year since Apple introduced the privacy changes that stopped apps from tracking you on iOS. Facebook said it will cost them $10 billion this year! New research shows how Facebook's loss is Google's gain.
➣ The European Union is cracking down on the BigTech gatekeepers. New legislation will prevent the likes of Apple, Google and Facebook from favouring their own services and software over competitors. The big questions: will it work and who are the winners and losers?
➣ Software firm MicroStrategy owns a lot of Bitcoin. Over the past 3 years, the firm generated around $20 million in cash. But has spent $3.7 BILLION buying Bitcoin for its balance sheet. Are they effin crazy, or the enlightened ones?
What's Happening at Wiser!
➣ I've written up the results of the survey. There are 6 takeaways that tell me all I need to know about what you want.
Podcast is Coming
➣ Needless to say, I'm super excited. I won't say anymore other than my partner and I (yep, it's going to be a double act) are piloting the format. All being well, it will be out mid-April.
➣ The other thing I can tell you is that I'm going to have more focus on talking to tech founders with interviews and insights. One takeaway from the survey: you're more interested in learning about "what's coming" rather than "what's happening". In my experience, the best way to really understand what's next is to talk to the founders building tomorrow's tech firms.
I have my first interview this week and will publish a video and essay the week after. I still have to figure out the most efficient production cycle but there's no shortage of great stories to tell.
Building a Wiser! Community
➣ Finally, a massive big thank you to everyone who has joined the waiting list for the Wiser! Community. Especially those of you who have joined the paid membership even though nothing exists yet. 🙏 If you want to know, get in touch here.
Till next week, Rick
- Heavy social media usage linked to teenage anxiety. And what my LinkedIn followers think of that
- Facebook hired a PR firm to bad mouth TikTok
- Apple's privacy changes is Facebook's loss and Google's gain
- The EU's BigTech Crackdown takes a giant leap forward
- MicroStrategy's high-risk strategy to bet everything on Bitcoin
- Results of the Wiser! Reader Survey
- Dyson's air purifying headphones are the funniest non-April Fool's joke
- Plus some other stuff to interest and entertain
Heavy Social Media Use Linked to Teenage Anxiety
BackStory: The New York Times has reported a British study of 84,000 teenagers that concluded, "heavy use of social media predicted lower life-satisfaction ratings one year later."
The study is one of the largest of its kind as experts continue to search for concrete evidence of a link between social media and adolescent unhappiness.
Read about it here...
Let me know what you think about this subject by putting your comments, thoughts or feedback in the comment section. (Found at the bottom of the page. ☟)
LinkedIn Reader Survey
Here's what my LinkedIn followers thought about it.
It's just their opinion and there's nothing scientific about it (because the LinkedIn algorithm chose the 9,000+ people who got to see the survey, not me).
Here's how they voted...
Facebook Hired Consulting Firm to Spread Bad Press on TikTok
BackStory: According to the Washington Post, MetaFacebook recruited a top Republican consulting firm to aggressively promote negative messages about rival TikTok.
The firm, called Targeted Victory, was hired to arrange anti-TikTok editorials in local papers, deliberately promoted unfavourable TikTok media coverage, and worked behind the scenes to increase legislative monitoring of the app.
One example pushed by the consulting firm was called the “Slap a Teacher TikTok Challenge” (I kid you not!). The irony is that this particular challenge began on Facebook, not on TikTok.
But that didn't stop Facebook's consulting firm from saying it was all TikTok's fault. They even posed as "ordinary" readers and wrote letters into local newspapers objecting to TikTok.
TakeAway: Here's the thing. TikTok is eating Facebook's lunch and CEO Mark Zuckerberg hasn't found a way to stop it.
For the first time ever, Facebook's user numbers are in decline, albeit small fry compared to the overall size of the social network. Younger demographics are drawn to TikTok's highly addictive short-form videos and not joining mum and dad on Facebook.
Facebook's response was to say that everyone uses these tactics. I've no doubt there's some truth in these, but it does appear that MetaFacebook have sunk to a new low. The big questions: who was in the room when this decision was made? And where is the moral and ethical leadership in the company?
MetaFacebook has spent a small fortune on a pivot to the Metaverse. This comes at the same time as Apple show the power of owning distribution with the privacy changes that will cost Facebook $10 billion this year.
There are many questions to be answered about Chinese owned TikTok and the impact of its technology on the health and wellbeing of its young user base. Mark Zuckerberg would no doubt be happy to see a new villain take over from Facebook and Instagram as the bad guys.
Source: Washington Post
The European Union Gets Waves a BigStick At BigTech
BackStory: The EU has published details of the long-awaited Digital Markets Act. It is expected to pass this summer and be law across the 27 countries in the European Union by Oct/Nov.
Here are 4 takeaways you need to know:
- The DMA is aimed at the BigTech "gateways" and will significantly change the way that the likes of Apple, Google and Facebook operate in Europe.
- The BigTech giants will no longer be able to favour their own software and services.
- "Explicit consent" is required before BigTech firms can use a user's data to target them with ads. (The beginning of the end for the ad business model?)
- Fines start at 10% of global annual revenues.
While the US sits procrastinating on the fence getting splinters, the EU, like China is taking action against BigTech. Read more next week.
MicroStrategy Put Everything On The Line With Bitcoin
BackStory: MicroStrategy may be an analytics software company, but it is better known as the firm that put all of its eggs into the Bitcoin basket.
Since 2020, MicroStrategy has put all the money it can lay its hands on to buy up Bitcoin.
They have sold bonds, convertible notes, and stock to put Bitcoin onto their balance sheet. And that's not the end to it as Microstrategy doubles down. They just borrowed another $205 million, secured by its own Bitcoins, to buy even more.
In the words of Charles Dickens, MicroStrategy is heading for "misery".
Here's What the Wiser! Survey Had to Say
Many thanks to the readers who took the short reader survey earlier this week. It has proven to be valuable feedback and help shape my thinking for developing Wiser!
The 6 takeaways are:
- 7 out of 10 readers want to keep the content wide, rather than go deep.
- 2/3rds of readers want to know What's Next more than What's Happening (now).
- 75% of readers say Stay Just The Way You Are
- 90% of Wiser! readers love to read (versus watching and listening)
- 8 out of 10 readers say that they save time and stay informed with language they can understand.
- 4 out of 5 readers are happy enough with Wiser! that they are willing to share it amongst their network.
Read the full details here...☟
News and Stories from the Tech Economy
💰Apple Makes Move In Consumer Payments
Apple has paid $150 million for Credit Kudos, a UK company that uses Open Banking to help companies do credit scores. (Open Banking is a set of UK and EU rules that allow API access to bank account data).
As I wrote recently in this Insights piece about Apple's route to being a $1 trillion a year business, Consumer Payments is a key growth segment. Readers will recall that last month Apple announced it was turning iPhones into mobile credit card readers. All signs point towards Apple moving big time into consumer financial services. Source: CNBC
🏁 Pitch Decks of 29 Startups Before They Were Famous
See 29 pitch decks from before they were big and famous, including AirBed&Breakfast and LinkedIn. Interesting. Source: CB Insights
🐵 State of the NFT Market
Global sales of NFTs exceeded $18 billion in 2021. That was up by a multiple of 570 on the year before. Forkast have produced this report with comprehensive insights, data and charts for the future of NFTs. Source: Forkast
👮🏻♂️ Apple & Facebook Handed User Data to Hackers
They thought they were the cops! Bloomberg has reported that Apple and MetaFacebook appear to have "provided customer data to hackers who masqueraded as law enforcement officials". Snap also received a fake legal request but it seems that they detected it was fake and didn't hand over any data. Source: Bloomberg
🎧 Dyson's Air Purifying Headset is Completely Nuts!
You're probably thinking that this is an April Fool's joke. I don't blame you for thinking that because this is the most bonkers thing I've seen for ages. Aparently Dyson has been working on this for 6 years. Watch the YouTube and let me know what you think. Sources: Dyson, YouTube, CNET
🕵️♀️ Apple Privacy Fallout: Facebook's Loss is Google's Gain
It's almost a year since Apple’s privacy rule went into effect and the consequence: Facebook's loss is Google's gain. On the recent earnings call, Meta's CFO said that Apple's change to tracking users would cost Facebook $10 billion in 2022.
New research from ad consulting agency Rockerbox shows us by how much. They looked at more than 150 brands and concluded that there has been a shift of almost around 20% of ad spending away from Facebook to Google. Source: The Information
🇰🇵 Google Issues Warning Over North Korea
Apparently, North Korea is trying to hack organisations and people in the USA via vulnerabilities in Chrome. Google said, "we observed the campaigns targeting U.S. based organizations spanning news media, IT, cryptocurrency and fintech industries." Source: Google
Elon Musk’s Starlink Helping Ukraine to Win the Drone War
SpaceX's Starlink Internet is being used by Ukraine's military as it fights the Russian invasion. The Telegraph described how the satellite connection helps the Ukrainian army's Aerorozvidka (Aerial Reconnaissance) unit do its work of "using surveillance and attack drones to target Russian tanks and positions." Source: The Telegraph
AI Beats 8 Former Bridge World Champions
An AI machine has beaten eight former world bridge champions. The AI is from a French startup called NukkAI. The tournament is said to be the first time that an AI has beaten a current or former bridge champion.
Here's the thing: Bridge is considered to be a more difficult game for AI than chess or Go. That's because the players have to work with incomplete information. Psychological factors like cooperation and deception play a bigger role in Bridge than it does in Chess or Go.
The AI, called NooK, uses a so-called "white box" learning method, meaning that it can show why it makes the decisions it does. This is the important bit because the lack of transparency in AI systems has been the tech's Achilles' Heel.
As AI becomes more and more involved in our lives, the ability to "see" how the computer made the decisions is going to be critical. From bank loans to insurance quotes, to cancer screening and identity verification, automating routine tasks through AI has become relatively easy. But to ease consumer concerns and satisfy regulators and lawmakers, transparency is the key. This is another step towards achieving that. Source: The Guardian
Movies: On Sunday I watched CODA, just hours before the movie was named Best Picture and Will Smith lost his cool at the Oscars. My mate Kev had said to me that he rated it the best movie of 2021. And he wasn't wrong, I loved it and it was a deserved winner.
It's also a big win for Apple. Apple TV found the independent movie at Sundance and bought it for a mere $25 million. Read the reviews here on IMDB.
Books: I cycle out the beach a lot and listen to podcasts as I do. I recently listened to an interview with Daniel Kahneman, the Noble prize winner for his work on behavioural economics.
Kahneman was fascinating to listen to as he talked about his studies into human behaviour. He got me so inspired that I started reading the book that has been on my reading list for ages. Thinking Fast and Slow is a super interesting read, highly engaging and enlightening if you, like me, are interested in understanding how our brains work.
(These are affiliate links, if you buy the book, I should earn a small commission.)
I use Typefully to write Twitter Threads. It's a super easy tool to use and is perfect for building a Twitter Thread and then scheduling it to post. I haven't found any other social media scheduling tool that can match Typefully for this.
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Let us know what you think about this subject by putting your comments, thoughts or feedback in the comment section below. ☟