Facebook is down and out this week, the minimum wage might be going up, and China is getting a bit too close for Taiwan’s comfort.
DOWN AND OUT
Facebook and its products “harm children, stoke division and weaken our democracy,” according to a former product manager turned whistleblower.
In a three-hour testimony, Frances Haugen gave lawmakers a rare insight into the inner workings of the social media platform, and called on them to regulate the company.
She has accused Facebook of putting profits before people, hiding evidence of the damage it does to young people, and leaked thousands of internal documents before going public.
How did Facebook respond? Mark Zuckerberg released a lengthy rebuttal of the accusations made.
“The argument that we deliberately push content that makes people angry for profit is deeply illogical. We make money from ads, and advertisers consistently tell us they don't want their ads next to harmful or angry content. And I don't know any tech company that sets out to build products that make people angry or depressed. The moral, business and product incentives all point in the opposite direction.” - Mark Zuckerberg
ON TODAY’S AGENDA…
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will make a speech at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester later today. As BBC News noted, it will be “his first to the massed Conservative faithful since before the pandemic”.
Meanwhile, The Times reported Johnson will announce in the next few weeks a minimum wage increase to £9.42 per hour. It is currently £8.91.
*Here is a helpful explainer with excerpts of his speech today.
PIN DROP - WHAT’S GOING ON IN TAIWAN?
So, what is actually happening? China has flown a record number of its planes into Taiwan’s defence zone in recent days, which some interpret as a warning from Beijing to Taiwan.
Care for some context? Taiwan views itself as its own country independent from China. China doesn’t see it that way. It’s hard to stress just how contested the status of Taiwan is, just ask John Cena. As you can see below, Taiwan is an island north-east of Hong Kong, and about 100 miles from mainland China. It has its own political system, military and constitution, but China sees it as a “breakaway province”.
Can we interest you in some history? Put very simply, a civil war in 1949 led to nationalists being defeated by communists on mainland China. The nationalists then fled to Taiwan.
#NowYouKnow: China is 267 times bigger than Taiwan, according to Channel 4 News.
KEEPING AN EYE…
On Ireland’s corporation tax rate.
Why? To see whether or not they agree to raise it from 12.5% to 15%.
Background: There’s an international effort underway to have a common corporation tax rate around the world. Talks were held over the summer by the OECD on this, and 130 countries - who represent more than 90% of global GDP - committed to the deal. Ireland - a country that has hugely benefited from its competitive tax rate - was alongside Hungary and Estonia in not committing.
Okay, so what’s happening at the moment? An issue for the government in the original wording of the deal was that each country would have a tax rate of “at least” 15%. The Irish government wanted the “at least” removed, to avoid being forced in the future to raise it further. RTÉ News is now reporting the OECD have agreed to remove this term, citing a “well-placed source”.
*Here is a link to an interesting and thought-provoking piece from a tax director, who argues the international deal “doesn’t add up”.
“A study published on behalf of the Irish finance ministry showed royalty payments from Irish companies to the US jumped from €8bn a year on average, between 2014 and 2019, to €52bn in 2020. Irish-based companies are frequently used by tech companies as a conduit for US companies moving profits out of Europe.” - George Turner, Director at TaxWatch
ABUSE OF POWER
There have been around 216,000 cases of clerical abuse in the French Catholic Church since 1950, according to a damning investigation.
How many victims were there? The investigation identified around 2,700 victims but estimated that the actual number is closer to 216,000. This could rise to 330,000 when including abuse by lay members. The majority of victims are believed to be pre-adolescent boys.
How many abusers were there? The enquiry had uncovered evidence of between 2,900 and 3,200 abusers hidden among 115,000 priests. That’s one in 36 priests.
Worth noting: While the investigation looked at the last 70 years, more than half of the abuse - 56% - related to the first 20 years, between 1950 and 1970.
How did the Catholic Church react? Pope Francis expressed “great sorrow” for the victims.
- BBC News: Covid toe condition explained by new study
- The Guardian: And we don’t care! Tories operate in their little bubble in Manchester
- The Financial Times: Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp restore services after outage
- Al Jazeera: Biden and Xi discuss Taiwan and spike in cross-strait tensions
- The Irish Times: ‘It’s bowled me over how Irish people look after each other. And they work bloody hard.’
HELLO! IT’S ADELE
As expected, Adele’s new album is coming out. Speculation mounted after mysterious billboards were spotted around the world, the singer confirmed it herself with a teaser on Instagram. The new music will be released on October 15.
As we mentioned yesterday, our big announcement was pushed back after social media glitches continued. Let’s keep fingers crossed and eyes peeled for later.
You’re going to love it!