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Facebook Shares Drop as Data Privacy Fallout Spreads

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Facebook Inc shares sank on Wednesday as concerns about its ability to safeguard user data sparked a government lawsuit, criticism in the U.S. Congress and a New York Times report on how it had shared data with other companies.

The stock of the world’s largest social media company fell 7.25 percent, its biggest intraday drop since July, taking losses for the year to about 24 percent. Investors are concerned about snowballing legal and regulatory efforts over data use polices that have upset many customers and could carry significant penalties and costs.

In particular, the Silicon Valley firm has drawn global scrutiny since disclosing earlier this year that a third-party personality quiz distributed on Facebook gathered profile information on 87 million users worldwide and sold the data to British political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica.

Washington, D.C., Attorney General Karl Racine said the U.S. capital city was suing Facebook, accusing it of misleading users because it had known about the incident for two years before disclosing it.

It further alleges Facebook misled users by allowing several app makers it called partners “to override Facebook consumers’ privacy settings and access their information without their knowledge or consent.”

Facebook said in a statement, “We’re reviewing the complaint and look forward to continuing our discussions with attorneys general in D.C. and elsewhere.”

The New York Times reported new details on Tuesday about the user data that remained available to such partners years after they had shut down features that required them. Facebook acknowledged the lapse in a blog post but said it had not found evidence of wrongdoing by those partners.

In response, both Democrat and Republican lawmakers criticized the company and queried whether Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg had lied to Congress in hearings earlier this year.

The incoming chair of the House Judiciary Committee’s antitrust subcommittee, Representative David Cicilline, tweeted: “Zuckerberg told Congress that Facebook users had ‘complete control’ over their data. Sure looks like he lied.”

Incoming Republican senator Josh Hawley made similar comments about Zuckerberg’s testimony.

The stock slide was the worst since the owner of Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram warned in July that profit margins would erode in coming years because of consumer and government pressure to better guard data and suppress objectionable content.

“Facebook could have prevented third parties from misusing its consumers’ data had it implemented and maintained reasonable oversight of third-party applications,” according to the lawsuit filed in the Superior Court of Washington, D.C., on Wednesday.

The court could award unspecified damages and impose a civil penalty of up to $5,000 per violation of the district’s consumer protection law, or potentially close to $1.7 billion, if penalized for each consumer affected. The lawsuit alleges the quiz software had data on 340,000 D.C. residents, though just 852 users had directly engaged with it.

‘CONFUSING SETTINGS’

Facebook offered separate privacy settings around 2013 to control what friends on the network could see and what data could be accessed by apps, enabling the quiz and other services to collect details about users’ Facebook friends without many of them realizing it, according to the lawsuit.

Racine told reporters that Facebook had tried to settle the case before he filed suit, as is common during investigations of large companies, but that a lawsuit was necessary “to expedite change” at the Silicon Valley company.

Britain’s data protection authority in July fined Facebook 500,000 pounds ($631,000) for breaches of data in the Cambridge Analytica incident.

Since then, Facebook has disclosed a pair of security breaches involving profile data and posts of up to 29 million users and 6.8 million users, respectively.

At least six U.S. states have ongoing investigations into Facebook, according to state officials.

In March, a bipartisan coalition of 37 state attorneys wrote to the company, demanding to know more about the Cambridge Analytica data and its possible links to U.S. President Donald Trump’s election campaign.

At the same time, the Federal Trade Commission took the unusual step of announcing an investigation into whether Facebook had violated a 2011 consent decree, exposing the company to a multi-billion dollar fine.

State attorneys general have found some success taking on technology companies over data privacy. Uber Technologies Inc [UBER.UL] in September agreed to pay $148 million as part of a data breach settlement with 50 U.S. states and Washington, D.C..

Facebook says users knew of tech firms’ data access

Agnieszka McPeak, a professor at Duquesne University School of Law, said states will likely make claims similar to those of D.C., pressuring Facebook into a settlement that involves both a monetary fine and modified business practices.

“If a company faces 51 separate actions around the country for deceptive practices, that can have a real impact,” McPeak said. -Reuters

  • Lisa Lambert, Paresh Dave, David Shepardson and Jan Wolfe

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South Africa aims to finalize long-term energy plan next month: minister

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South Africa is aiming to finalize a long-term plan for the country’s energy mix next month, and once that is done it will launch another round of renewable energy deals, Energy Minister Jeff Radebe said on Wednesday.

“We are aiming for February,” Radebe told Reuters, when asked when the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) would be completed. “Straight away after that we will launch more renewable energy contracts,” he added. -Reuters

-Alexander Winning

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The Happiest Companies To Work For In 2018

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Companies that keep employees happy aren’t just helping their workers—they’re helping themselves, since satisfied workers are more productive. In fact, a mutual fund that invests in companies with positive workplace ratings, Parnassus Endeavor, has beaten the market handily over the past 10 years.

What are the organizations with the happiest employees? Careers site CareerBliss launched its eighth-annual list of the happiest companies in America. It surveyed tens of thousands of workers and asked them to rate their employers on ten key factors, such as their relationship with management, workplace environment, compensation, satisfaction with job function and growth opportunities.

To see the top 10 happiest companies to work for, open the gallery below. For the full list of 50, see the end of this article.

Keller Williams Realty takes the top spot. The Austin, Texas company has 175,000 agents across more than 900 metro areas and claims to be the world’s largest real estate franchise by agent count. A Keller Williams Realty employee wrote on CareerBliss.com, “One of the greatest benefits is how our company promotes from within. All employees are encouraged and supported to be in control of their growth and career paths.”

Sneaker king Nike ranks second. It remains one of the most valuable brands in the world, and it’s navigating a big transition as more consumers shop online. In June it announced its “NIKE Direct” initiative—the company is trying to sell more of its products directly to consumers through its website and own stores, rather than rely on traditional retailers like Foot Locker.

Adobe is the fourth happiest company, according to CareerBliss. The Silicon Valley tech giant invented PDFs and launched them 1993. It claims PDFs have led to a 91% reduction in environmental impact and 90% cost savings when compared with paper-based processes. And Adobe’s Photoshop software is used by 90% of creative professionals. “The atmosphere is highly collaborative and energizing. People have always been friendly and helpful; very professional,” wrote one employee on CareerBliss.com.

Pharmaceutical giant Amgen ranks fifth. Arthritis drug Enbrel is its top-selling product, bringing in nearly $6 billion in sales last year. “The work-life balance is great, fantastic daycare on campus, lots of smart co-workers,” wrote one CareerBliss reviewer. “Working for Amgen was very rewarding to see the positive impact we made in patients’ lives,” reported a West Coast employee.

Full List: The Happiest Companies to Work for in 2018

  1. Keller Williams Realty
  2. Nike
  3. Total Quality Logistics
  4. Adobe
  5. Amgen
  6. Chevron
  7. Intuit
  8. Bristol-Myers Squibb
  9. PNC Financial Services Group
  10. TruGreen
  11. CIGNA
  12. Starbucks
  13. Apple
  14. Quicken Loans
  15. Leidos
  16. Qualcomm
  17. iGATE
  18. The Vanguard Group
  19. Citrix Systems
  20. Kaiser Permanente
  21. Chase
  22. Pfizer
  23. Fidelity Investments
  24. American Income Life Insurance Company
  25. Blue Cross Blue Shield Association
  26. American Express
  27. GE Capital
  28. Merck
  29. American Airlines
  30. Microsoft
  31. Cisco Systems
  32. Nordstrom
  33. Exxon Mobil
  34. Alcatel-Lucent
  35. CenturyLink
  36. Bank of America
  37. The Walt Disney Company
  38. Wells Fargo
  39. Oracle
  40. Citigroup
  41. Broadcom
  42. Farmers Insurance Group of Companies
  43. DirecTV
  44. Dell
  45. Symantec
  46. Metropolitan Life Insurance Company
  47. ABC News
  48. CareFusion
  49. Spectrum
  50. Verizon Communications
    – Jeff Kauflin

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5 Questions You Should Never Ask During A Job Interview

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So, you think you’re acing your job interview.


Your interviewer seems to like you. You like your job interviewer. The camaraderie couldn’t be better.

Then comes the proverbial: “So, what questions do you have for me?”

Whether you’re interviewing for a job at Google or joining your local small business, the questions that you ask your interviewer matter. It’s your opportunity to showcase your talents, knowledge, and judgment.

Here are 5 questions that you should never ask during a job interview (and three more that you should).

1. “So, how much will I get paid?”

This seems like a no-brainer, but for some reason, interviewees still think the question is fair play.

That said, it is a fair question. After all, you need to know how much you’ll be paid before you take the job. While that’s true, the interview is not the time to discuss salary.

If you receive a job offer, you can discuss salary at that time.

2. “How much vacation time will I get?”

Again, your vacation and personal time might be an important part of your calculus when deciding to take a job offer.

However, asking how much vacation time you’ll get demonstrates you’re focused more on time off than working.

Like salary, your vacation and other benefits should be reflected in the job offer. You can ask all the questions related to salary and benefits at that time. You can also schedule a follow-up session with the human resources department for a benefits deep-dive.

3. “How quickly can I get promoted?”

Climbing the ladder of your potentially new organization is admirable.

However, don’t assume during the interview that you have the job. It’s important to understand options for movement – both upward and lateral – within the organization. If you plan to work at this organization, it’s essential to understand your career trajectory.

You don’t want to come off as entitled. This question may convey to the interviewer that you think you already have the job (when you don’t).

4. “Why did the company fire so many people last month?”

It’s never a good sign to read about layoffs.

This is especially true when you may be joining an organization after a big headcount reduction.

It’s a fair question, and you should understand the details. However, the job interview is the wrong time.

When you receive your job offer, you can have a frank conversation with your manager about the layoffs, the rationale, whether additional layoffs are expected and other related information to fortify your understanding.

Before accepting a job, make sure to understand if the headcount reduction is expected to be ongoing or if it was a one-time occurrence.

5. “So, who do you consider your competition?”

Instead of asking your interviewer about the competition, spend the time asking questions that demonstrate your interest in the company and also show that you’ve done research prior to your interview.

Before the interview, you should have conducted due diligence on the competitive landscape.

That includes understanding key competitors, relative strengths and weaknesses, the supply chain, key opportunities and threats, barriers to entry and other pertinent market dynamics.

You’re better off weaving this information into the interview, rather than asking during the question period.

3 Questions That You Can Ask During An Interview

Here are three potential questions that you could ask during your job interview:

1. “What are the best attributes of the company’s culture?”

  • Show your interest in company culture.
  • Understand the key values that set this company apart.
  • Learn more about the company’s mission and value proposition.

2. “How much is collaboration across departments encouraged?”

  • Determine whether collaboration is promoted internally.
  • Learn more about ways in which collaboration helps create value for employees and customers.
  • See if the interviewer can share concrete examples to further your understanding.

3. “What would you like the person that you hire to accomplish over the next 6-12 months?”

  • Learn about your interviewer’s goals for the position.
  • Understand expectations.
  • This will give you insights because the question is specific to the role and shows your ability to think longer-term.
  • -Zack Friedman

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