Facebook Has a Three-Strike Day
There isn’t a day that goes by that Facebook isn’t in the news for violating your privacy, censorship, technical difficulties, or just kinda messing everybody’s day up.
But it’s not very often it gets caught doing all those things at once.
Today’s news looks like a greatest hits of the social media giant’s worst gaffes.
There’s a lot to get through, so buckle up.
Zuckerberg’s babies were out for the count yesterday. Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp all went down for more than 14 hours.
This is by far the biggest interruption the drunk-photo machine has ever suffered through. And with Instagram down, Facebook was forced to update its users through its No. 1 rival, Twitter.
(The only family of apps I’m interested in is the blooming onion-chicken wing family.)
Facebook has yet to reveal the cause of the outages. But our team of crack researchers has put together a list of top suspects:
- Russian Hackers
- Social Media Gremlins
- Elizabeth Warren
Despite the news, Facebook’s (NASDAQ: FB) stock managed to keep its head above the water yesterday afternoon but fell 1.8% when the markets opened this morning.
His name was Mark Zuckerberg
Zero Hedge has reported that Facebook has started banning users from posting links to the libertarian financial website.
The first rule of Libertarian Financial Club: Zero Hedge was founded during the 2008 financial crisis and has since gained a reputation for its hardcore financial analysis and biting political commentary. All writers on the site post under the username Tyler Durden, a reference to the 1999 Brad Pitt movie Fight Club. (Real cool and edgy guys.)
In a blog post on Zero Hedge, “Tyler Durden” wrote that he’s “surprised by this action as neither prior to this seemingly arbitrary act of censorship, nor since, were we contacted by Facebook with an explanation of what ‘community standard’ had been violated or what particular filter or article had triggered the blanket rejection of all Zero Hedge content.”
The Brad Pitt impersonator went on to speculate that Zero Hedge was banned for reporting on Facebook’s “chronic privacy violations, mass abandonment by younger users, its gross and ongoing misrepresentation of fake users [and] ironically — in retrospect — its systematic censorship and back door government cooperation.”
Facebook ‘em Danno
A grand jury has launched a criminal investigation into Facebook’s data-sharing practices. (Practices which can be characterized as: “You give us money, we’ll tell you what the back of John’s hand looks like.”)
According to The New York Times, prosecutors subpoenaed records from two prominent makers of smartphones who struck a data-sharing deal with Facebook.
It’s unknown who those companies are right now. But Facebook shares the scoop on its users with more than 100 partners, including Apple, Microsoft, and Amazon.
These “partnerships” are also facing scrutiny from the Federal Trade Commission and the SEC. No wonder Zuckerberg is trying to rebrand himself as Mr. Privacy.
All of this comes at the worst time for Facebook.
Right now, people are flocking to a new social media alternative that already has a market larger than Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook’s audience.
According to research from the largest accounting and consulting firm in the world, Deloitte, this “rapidly maturing [opportunity] is already bigger than many realize.”
But make no mistake, we are still on the ground floor of this breakthrough opportunity.
Most people still haven’t seen what’s coming. But our researchers clocked this exploding trend months ago.
And they discovered one tiny company that allows regular investors a chance to get in on the ground floor quickly and collect a $1.9 million payday.
Tesla’s Going Down
Professional Twitter troll and occasional CEO Elon Musk will unveil Tesla’s Model Y tonight at the electric vehicle manufacturer’s Los Angeles design studio.
With the Model Y, Tesla is looking to capitalize off the exploding demand for SUVs in the U.S. According to the president of vehicle forecasting at LMC Automotive, 50% of all vehicles bought in the U.S. 2020 will be SUVs. (Damn America, why you need so much car?)
Tesla’s stock (NASDAQ: TSLA) was up 2% yesterday ahead of tonight’s event. But the stock is still down 15% from this time last year.
It’s clear that investors are losing confidence in Tesla. Part of that has to do with Musk’s increasingly erratic behavior. But according to our technology investing expert James Altucher, Tesla’s got a bigger problem than its CEO:
Many car companies have been very successful with hybrid cars that are mostly electric and that technology has been improving every single year. Soon, you won’t be able to tell the difference in the environmental savings between Tesla and Toyota.
I think that there are too many unknowns in the premium price that you’re paying for a Tesla. Are you paying the Elon Musk premium? Are you paying the electric car premium? Are you paying an autonomous driving premium? You’re probably paying all those premiums. And I think they are probably all overvalued on Tesla. So I think Tesla’s going down.
I think James is onto something here.
Tesla has enjoyed some success as the first company to get a fully electric vehicle to market. But if you look at the slate for 2021, when the Model Y is scheduled for release, there will be 21 electric cars on the market. In 2022, there will be almost 100.
The market is about to get a lot more competitive for Tesla.
To be honest, with every car manufacturer under the sun working on electric, self-driving cars, it’s hard to tell who’s going to come out on top.
In fact, a smart investor wouldn’t even play that game. There’s too much to lose and not enough money to be made.
That’s why, instead of betting on the success of the company, my researchers look at the underlying tech that will be at the heart of the revolution.
After days of research, they found one company that’s going to be supplying a piece of tech desperately needed for one of the biggest new trends in driving in the next 50 years.
This little company already has partnerships to supply Toyota and Audi with this crucial tech. And right now it’s selling for just $15 a share… but it won’t be for long.
This company is positioned at the forefront of a world-changing automotive revolution set to reach $15 trillion.
Centrist Wildcard Enters the 2020 Race
Well folks, it looks like everybody but the kitchen sink is running in the 2020 Democratic primaries. Hold on… I’m getting a live report… yes, the kitchen sink has announced a 2020 presidential run.
You probably remember Beto O’Rourke as the candidate who opposed U.S. Senator Ted Cruz in the 2018 midterms. (Though, if you were a teenage girl who grew up in El Paso in the early ‘90s, you might recognize him as the bass guitarist of the emo-punk band Foss).
I would classify Foss’s genre of music as “not good.”
O’Rourke garnered media attention last year when he ran an unexpectedly competitive campaign for the Texas Senate seat — a seat previously thought untouchable by a Democrat.
Ultimately O’Rourke lost, but it was a much closer race than anyone expected. In the end, 48.3% of the vote went to O’Rourke but Ted Cruz secured his seat with a tidy 50.9% majority.
It was enough to put O’Rourke on President Trump’s radar (which is not a place you want to be as a young Democrat).
When the president visited O’Rourke’s home town of El Paso, he called Beto “a young man who’s got very little going for himself.” And during the midterms, he got a taste of the good old Trump Tweet Treatment.
(If you find yourself on the receiving end of the Trump Tweet Treatment, apply a thin layer of burn cream to the affected area.)
So, with a million different people and their mothers running in the Democratic primaries, why should we care about this upstart, ex-punk, former congressman from El Paso?
Finding the Middle Ground
A Trump vs. O’Rourke election would be a very different race than the one the Trump base has been gearing up for.
Up until now, the Dems have been swinging for the fences with hard left-wing policies — with frontrunners like Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, and Kamala Harris making no bones about their hardline left agendas.
An election against one of those candidates would be fought on a message of maintaining a strong economy vs. sudden, radical change that would destroy the status quo.
But O’Rourke is much more of centrist. He pitches himself as a regular guy “with liberal values.” He’s pro-gun control, supports single-payer healthcare, and played bass guitar in a terrible punk band. But historically he votes more conservative than your average Democrat.
While serving as a member of Congress, O’Rourke voted for several GOP bills. And he was a member of the New Democrat Coalition, a centrist caucus that supports responsible fiscal policies and economic growth.
There are a few other centrist candidates in the Democratic primary like Cory Booker, the junior United States Senator from New Jersey. But O’Rourke sets himself apart as a centrist who can still mobilize the youth vote.
Whether or not O’Rourke has what it takes to beat out the hardline left candidates in the primaries remains to be seen. But the Trump campaign should establish a plan B-eto, just in case.
What’s your read on this guy? Is he a progressive in centrist’s clothing? Are the Dems too far gone to even consider a centrist candidate? Should he go back to playing in a punk band?
One Last Thing
Prohibition Made Them Legends
Prohibition was meant to be a magic law that solved all our problems.
It would reduce crime and corruption. Reduce the tax burden created by prisons and poorhouses. And improve the general health and mental wellbeing of the American people.
Instead, it made people go bat$#&% insane.
There was some sound economic theory behind the law. But it failed to take into account basic human nature. (The Oxford English Dictionary defines human nature as “the need to get $%&@faced twice a week just to feel normal”).
Crime not only increased, it became organized. Smuggling syndicates supplied liquor to underground speakeasies. Crime bosses like Al Capone made millions off skyrocketing demand for black market liquor.
By the time Prohibition ended, nearly 10,000 people died from drinking crappy bootleg poison. And the prisons were overflowing with folks who had broken the very prohibition laws that were drawn up specifically to clear out the prisons.
Obviously, the brewing industry was devastated by Prohibition. But there were a few companies who managed to keep their doors open by pivoting to other, more legal business opportunities.
Pabst Brewing Company dropped “Brewing” and started producing a processed cheese spread called Pabst-ett.
Yuengling got by on some non-alcoholic beer substitutes and ice cream.
Jim Beam sold its bourbon as medicinal liquor.
Coors Brewing Company got into the toilet game and rebranded as the Coors Porcelain Company.
Anheuser-Busch InBev played the loophole game by selling the raw ingredients for beer. (If its customer’s happened to go home and turn those raw ingredients into beer that was none of InBev’s business.)
Noticing something about all the companies I mentioned?
They all went on to become the biggest names in the brewing business. That’s because they managed to keep their doors open during Prohibition with tricks and loopholes.
When the law lifted, new brewers had to rush to build their business from the ground up. But these companies were ready to go.
They had the equipment. The experience. The channels of distribution.
They came out of the gate like a rocket. Which gave them the momentum to go on to dominate the market years later.
Would you believe me if I told you we are in a similar position right now? There’s a prohibition in place in the U.S. that’s about to be lifted. And there are a choice few companies ready to rocket out of the gate.
More on that tomorrow.