Business briefing

The daily business briefing: December 19, 2018

Facebook reportedly let partners see users' private data, stock futures rise ahead of Fed rate announcement, and more


Facebook reportedly let partners see users' messages, friend lists

Facebook gave more than 150 companies — including Netflix, Spotify, and Microsoft's Bing — special access to users' personal data, The New York Times reported Tuesday. The newspaper obtained hundreds of pages of Facebook internal documents and interviewed dozens of former employees of Facebook and its corporate partners and found that the company essentially exempted partners from its privacy rules, possibly violating a 2011 consent agreement with the Federal Trade Commission that barred Facebook from sharing user data without explicit permission. Netflix and Spotify, for example, were allowed to read users' private messages, and Amazon got contact information through users' friends. Steve Satterfield, Facebook's director of privacy and public policy, said the arrangements did not violate users' privacy, or the FTC agreement. Facebook says it didn't share data without consent.


Stock futures move higher ahead of Fed decision

U.S. stock-index futures rose early Wednesday ahead of the Federal Reserve's next move on interest rates. Fed policy makers are expected to raise rates when they wrap up a two-day meeting on Wednesday. Investors anticipate a quarter-point hike to a range of 2.25 to 2.50 percent. It would be the U.S. central bank's fourth such rate increase this year, and the ninth since it started gradually increasing its target interest rate in December 2015. Investors are looking for indications that the Fed will slow down this monetary tightening next year due to recession fears and volatile financial markets. President Trump has said the Fed's rate hikes are hurting the economy, and on Tuesday he warned Fed leaders not to "make yet another mistake."


Musk unveils Boring Co. demonstration tunnel in California

Elon Musk on Tuesday unveiled his Boring Company's first demonstration tunnel under a main street in Hawthorne, California. After a modified Tesla Model X with special wheels to keep it on track was sent through the 1.14-mile tunnel, Musk said the company's tunnels would offer "an actual solution to the soul-crushing burden of traffic." Musk, who also leads Tesla and SpaceX, founded the Boring Co. two years ago after complaining that Los Angles traffic was driving him "nuts." He said the demonstration tunnel cost about $10 million to complete. The Boring Co. in June signed a deal to develop matching 17-mile, high-speed transit tunnels for Chicago between its business district and O'Hare Airport.


More sponsors drop Tucker Carlson's Fox News show

Just For Men,, and Jaguar on Tuesday announced that they would stop advertising on Tucker Carlson's Fox News show. The departures added to a growing exodus of sponsors from Tucker Carlson Tonight following the host's recent comments suggesting immigrants make the country "dirtier." Bowflex, SmileDirectClub, NerdWallet, Minted, Pacific Life, and Indeed had previously abandoned the program. Carlson faced widespread criticism for saying on his Dec. 13 show: "We have a moral obligation to admit the world's poor, [Democrats] tell us, even if it makes our own country poorer and dirtier and more divided." In response to the backlash, Carlson has resisted apologizing, arguing that what he said was "true," and accusing liberal critics of trying to silence him.


Prada stops selling accessories after blackface controversy

Prada has stopped selling a line of accessories following complaints about what critics called blackface-style promotional imagery in a Manhattan Prada boutique. The line, which the Italian fashion house recently launched, included luxury keychains and trinkets, one showing a character with brown skin and exaggerated lips. Last week, a New York woman called the imagery "racist and denigrating" in a Facebook post that went viral. Prada Group said it was withdrawing the characters and that it "abhors all forms of racism." The company added that the imagery was not meant to "have any reference to the real world and certainly not blackface."


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