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Australia is preparing for another showdown with Big Tech



Minister for Communications and the Arts Paul Fletcher addresses media in the Press Gallery at Parliament House on June 23, 2021 in Canberra, Australia.

Sam Mooy | Getty Images

Australia is preparing for another showdown with Big Tech — this time over abusive, defamatory posts published on their platforms.

Communications Minister Paul Fletcher told CNBC on Wednesday the country has been “at the forefront” of establishing legal and regulatory framework for social media giants, and plans to continue keeping them accountable.

In a landmark decision, Australia passed a law this year that requires Google and Facebook to pay local media outlets and publishers to link their content in news feeds or search results.

“Australia has leaned in on the issue of the regulation of social media, and we intend to continue to do so,” Fletcher said on CNBC’s “Squawk Box Asia.”

What is being proposed?

Canberra is considering a range of measures that could hold social media firms more accountable for defamatory and abusive content posted onto their platforms.

“We expect a stronger position from the platforms. For a long time, they’ve been getting away with not taking any responsibility in relation to content published on their sites,” Fletcher said during an interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation on Sunday.

The government was looking at “a whole range of ways” to crack down on the idea that whatever content is posted online can be done so with impunity, he said.

‘Coward’s palace’

Last week, Prime Minister Scott Morrison described social media as a “coward’s palace” where users can hide behind anonymity and “destroy people’s lives and say the most foul and offensive things to people and do so with impunity.”

In such instances, the social media companies should be treated as publishers, he said.

Australia’s highest court last month reportedly ruled that media outlets are “publishers” of allegedly defamatory comments posted by users on their official Facebook pages — that leaves them open to defamation suits.

But that ruling did not look at whether Facebook itself was liable, Fletcher told CNBC.

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Migrants expelled from U.S. by the Biden administration faced attacks, report says



Zoe, 18-month-old asylum seeking migrant girl from Honduras, cries while being held by her mother Evelyn as she and other migrants await to be transported by the U.S. Border Patrol after crossing the Rio Grande river into the United States from Mexico on a raft in Penitas, Texas, March 15, 2021.

Adrees Latif | Reuters

Roughly 7,600 migrants expelled from the U.S. under a Trump-era pandemic policy have been subject to kidnappings and other attacks since President Joe Biden took office. 

This includes migrant families, adults and children who were kidnapped, sex trafficked, extorted or robbed by cartels and Mexican authorities after being deported to Mexico under the policy known as Title 42.

The new data comes from a Human Rights First report released Thursday about the Biden administration’s use of Title 42, which was first implemented by former President Donald Trump at the outset of the coronavirus pandemic. 

The policy gives the government the power to turn back any migrant caught crossing the border illegally, namely without a visa or without going through a formal border entry, to stop the spread of Covid-19. 

“Over 7,000 attacks is a shocking number but it isn’t surprising that policies like these, which are designed to create order on the border, are ultimately creating additional chaos and and resulting in some really serious harms to migrants that are being returned to Mexico,” said Danilo Zak, senior policy and advocacy associate of National Immigration Forum.

The report is the latest call on the Biden administration to eliminate Title 42, which has been used to address the highest number of migrants attempting to cross the U.S.-Mexico border illegally in two decades.

The report does not address violence that may have occurred to migrants turned back during the Trump administration.

Neither the White House nor the Department of Homeland Security immediately returned requests for comment on the report.

White House Deputy Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre declined to comment on the report during a press briefing Thursday, noting she had not seen it, but adding, “that does sound horrifying, not something that you know we would, you know, agree with or be proud of.”

While Biden has worked to roll back many of his predecessor’s hardline immigration policies, he renewed Title 42 in August after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an updated order justifying its use during the ongoing pandemic.

The CDC’s order said the policy would stay in effect until the border migration of non-U.S. citizens from Mexico and Canada has “ceased to be a serious danger to the public health.”

Migrants expelled from the U.S. and sent back to Mexico under Title 42, walk towards Mexico at the Paso del Norte International border bridge, in this picture taken from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico October 1, 2021.

Jose Luis Gonzalez | Reuters

Since the outset of the pandemic, more than 1 million migrants have been expelled under Title 42, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection data. More than 690,000 migrants have been expelled through the policy since Biden took office in January.

Human Rights First conducted in person and remote interviews with migrants in Tijuana and other parts of Mexico to track the attacks experienced by those who have been expelled under Title 42.

The report cites several examples of attacks, many of which are carried out by cartels and Mexican immigration officers.

One Honduran woman, for example, was raped and sold to a cartel by Mexican immigration officers after being expelled by the Department of Homeland Security to the city of Juarez, Mexico.

A Salvadoran family was also kidnapped and held captive by a cartel in a storage room for 20 days immediately after the department expelled them to Mexico.

Another woman was robbed of $500 by Mexican immigration officers after she was expelled by the department and returned to Mexico.

Zak said these attacks occur because Title 42 returns migrants to “extremely vulnerable” situations.

They are often returned to Mexico in the middle of the night and are sometimes sent to crime-heavy areas that they are unfamiliar with, which makes them “catnip for cartels,” according to Zak.

“A lot of times, they are sent to places where they become easy targets for things like kidnappings and human trafficking, and being exploited because they’re not familiar with what is a really critically dangerous area,” Zak said.

He also noted that the attacks carried out by Mexican immigration officers were “deeply concerning.”

“Whether it’s the cartels or other actors, there are people waiting to exploit these migrants as they’re being returned and that’s why we’re seeing these shocking numbers,” Zak said.

He urged the Biden administration to establish a “more orderly and secure” system for processing migrants and asylums seekers who arrive at the U.S.-Mexico border.

The Biden administration has defended its use of Title 42 on several occasions, even as it lifts restrictions for fully vaccinated foreign nationals with visas crossing the border from Canada or Mexico into the U.S.

Undocumented migrants who cross the border and are fully vaccinated can be expelled under Title 42.

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has called Title 42 a “Centers for Disease Control public health authority” and not an “immigration policy,” alleging that pandemic conditions justify its use.

“We view it as a public health imperative as the Centers for Disease Control has so ordered,” Mayorkas said in an interview with Yahoo News.

“We’re in the midst of a pandemic,” he said in the interview. “For anyone to think it’s business as usual I think would be, frankly, ignoring a pandemic that has taken more than 700,000 American lives.”

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Snap earnings Q3 2021



In this screengrab, CEO of Snap Inc. Evan Spiegel takes the stage at the virtual Snap Partner Summit 2021 on May 20, 2021 in Los Angeles.

Snap Partner Summit 2021 – Snap Inc | Getty Images

Snap stock fell 22% after reporting its third-quarter earnings on Thursday. The company’s revenue missed Wall Street expectations after its advertising business was disrupted by privacy changes Apple introduced earlier this year.

Here’s what Snap reported versus Wall Street’s estimates:

  • Adjusted earnings per share: 17 cents vs. 8 cents by Refinitiv
  • Revenue: $1.07 billion vs. $1.10 billion forecast by Refinitiv
  • Global daily active users (DAUs): 306 million vs. 301.8 million per StreetAccount
  • Average revenue per user (ARPU): $3.49 vs. $3.67 per StreetAccount

Snap CEO Evan Spiegel praised Apple’s consumer-friendly changes on CNBC in February, when he also warned they posed a risk to Q4 earnings, but said on Thursday the iPhone’s privacy settings impacted Snap’s advertising business more than anticipated.

“While we anticipated some degree of business disruption, the new Apple-provided measurement solution did not scale as we had expected, making it more difficult for our advertising partners to measure and manage their ad campaigns for iOS,” Spiegel said in his prepared remarks.

Shares of social media rivals Facebook and Twitter were each down nearly 7% in after-hours trading following the release of Snap’s third quarter earnings, showing investors may fear similar impact on their financial results.

Spiegel also warned that global supply chain interruptions and labor shortages reduces the “short-term appetite to generate additional customer demand through advertising.”

Snap CFO Derek Andersen warned that between Apple’s privacy changes, supply chain interruptions and labor shortages, the company expects its fourth-quarter revenue to come in between $1.16 billion and $1.20 billion. That’s short of the $1.36 billion in revenue that analysts were expecting for the fourth quarter, according to Refinitiv.

“Unfortunately, these changes are occurring during a season when our advertising partners would normally expect their supply chains to be operating at peak capacity, and at a time when we would otherwise expect peak advertising demand to drive peak contestation, and therefore peak pricing, in our auction,” Andersen said in his prepared remarks.

Snap’s net loss narrowed 64% to $72 million, from a loss of $200 million a year ago.

“While it is difficult to predict the trajectory of these challenges, the growth of our audience, the adoption of our new products and platforms by our community, and the underlying efficacy of our advertising products for performance advertisers gives us confidence in the future of our business and our ability to navigate this environment as we continue to invest in our long-term vision,” Spiegel said.

Snap reported 306 million daily active users, up more than 4% from the 293 million the company reported in April. That figure is up nearly 23% compared with the 249 million daily users the company reported a year prior.

The company expects to reach between 316 million and 318 million DAUs in the fourth quarter, the company said in its prepared remarks. That came in ahead of the 311.8 million daily active users analysts were expecting for the fourth quarter, according to StreetAccount.

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Stock futures dip slightly after S&P 500 hits new record close



A specialist trader works inside a booth on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, October 6, 2021.

Brendan McDermid | Reuters

Stock futures dipped slightly in overnight trading Thursday after the S&P 500 reached new highs.

Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average shed 15 points. S&P 500 futures dipped 0.3% and Nasdaq 100 futures fell 0.7%.

In Thursday’s regular session, the S&P 500 notched both a fresh intraday high and new record close. The broad index rose 0.3% for its seventh consecutive positive session. The Nasdaq Composite rose 0.6%, while the Dow shed 6.26 points, or 0.02%.

Investors digested a slew of corporate earnings reports. Tesla shares closed 3% higher Thursday, providing support to the S&P 500 and Nadaq Composite.

Companies are posting strong profits so far this third-quarter reporting season despite supply chain and inflation headwinds. Out of 101 S&P 500 members that have reported financial results, 82.6% have topped earnings expectations, according to FactSet as of Thursday after the bell.

“In a quarter where we thought things would slow down and there was concern about what profit margins were going to look like, these companies are still doing well,” said Victoria Fernandez, chief market strategist at Crossmark Global Investments.

Strong jobs data also added to the positive market sentiment. Initial jobless claims fell to a new pandemic low of 290,000 last week, the Labor Department reported Thursday — down 6,000 from the previous week and lower than the 300,000 expected from economists surveyed by Dow Jones.

All three major averages are on track to close the week higher for three-straight weeks of gains. On the month, all three indexes are up at least 5%.

Investors await earnings reports Friday from companies including American Express, Honeywell, Schlumberger and Cleveland-Cliffs.

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