Apple to Pay $38 Billion in Taxes on Offshore Cash: DealBook Briefing:

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Good Wednesday. Here’s what we’re watching:

• Apple will pay $38 billion in repatriation tax.

• Could antitrust law fell the tech giants?

•Bank of America reported $2.4 billion in fourth-quarter profit, as well as a $2.9 billion charge tied to the new tax law.

• Goldman Sachs reported a $1.9 billion loss, and a $4.4 billion tax charge.

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Apple will pay $38 billion in repatriation tax.

The tech giant said it will pay $38 billion in taxes to repatriate its overseas cash because of the new law.

As of late September, Apple held about $252 billion in cash offshore.

Under the new tax law, foreign earnings sitting offshore would be considered to be automatically repatriated and taxed at reduced rates.

The iPhone maker also said it expects to invest over $30 billion in capital expenditures in the United States over the next five years.

Could antitrust law fell the tech giants?

That’s the provocative question posed by Greg Ip of the WSJ. And it reflects governments’ growing wariness toward the tech industry.

Google, Amazon and Facebook aren’t like the Standard Oil or AT&T of old, gouging consumers on price. (Indeed, many of their services are free.) But if the question is “Are consumers better off?” then could there be an opening for regulatory action?

More from Mr. Ip:

If market dominance means fewer competitors and less innovation, consumers will be worse off than if those companies had been restrained. “The impact on innovation can be the most important competitive effect” in an antitrust case, says Fiona Scott Morton, a Yale University economist who served in the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division under Barack Obama.

Where tech has support: In its efforts to keep net neutrality regulations, with a lawsuit against the F.C.C. by 22 state attorneys general and a bill by Senate Democrats to undo the repeal using the Congressional Review Act.

Goldman posts first quarterly loss in six years.

Goldman once seemed invincible. Its trading business was a profit machine.

This morning it posted a quarterly loss in part because of the poor performance in its trading unit.

The numbers:

• $1.9 billion. Goldman’s fourth-quarter loss.

• $4.4 billion. The charge Goldman took related to the new tax law, which wiped out nearly half of Goldman’s earnings for the year, according to the WSJ.

• $5.68. The Wall Street firm’s profit per share excluding the tax-related charge, beating the consensus estimate of $4.90 from Wall Street analysts.

•$7.8 billion. Goldman’s revenue for the quarter, down 4 percent. Goldman is the only big bank to report a decline in revenue so far.

• $2.37 billion. Goldman’s trading revenue for the fourth quarter, down 34 percent from a year ago. That was the steepest decline of any of banks reporting so far. Citigroup, JPMorgan and Bank of America have reported declines in trading revenue of 19 percent, 17 percent and 9 percent.

• $1 billion. Goldman’s revenue from buying and selling bonds, commodities and currencies, half of what it generated a year ago. To put that in perspective: Goldman’s fixed-income division at its peak churned out nearly a billion dollars every two weeks.

In unrelated Goldman news…

Federal prosecutors in Manhattan unsealed an indictment charging Nicolas De-Meyer, 40, with stealing $1.2 million worth of rare wine from a former employer. The former employer in question was Mr. Solomon, who employed Mr. De-Meyer as a personal assistant, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

According to the indictment, the wine was stolen from around October 2014 to around October 2016, when Mr. De-Meyer had been asked to transport it from his former employer’s Manhattan apartment to his wine cellar in East Hampton, N.Y.

Mr. De-Meyer was arrested in Los Angeles on Tuesday, according to a spokesman for the Los Angeles federal prosecutor’s office. He could not immediately be reached for comment.

“The theft was discovered in the fall of 2016 and reported to law enforcement at that time,” a Goldman spokesman said.

Excluding tax hit, BofA posts biggest profit in more than a decade.

Bank of America reported $2.4 billion in fourth-quarter profit, after taking a $2.9 billion charge tied to the new tax law.

The numbers:

• $5.3 billion, or 47 cents a share. BofA’s profit in the fourth quarter excluding the tax-related charge. Analysts had expected the bank to report earnings of 44 cents per share.

• $21.1 billion. BofA’s earnings for 2017, excluding the tax-related charge. That matches its biggest annual profit since 2006.

•$20.4 billion. The bank’s revenue for the fourth quarter, up from $19.99 billion a year ago.

•$2.66 billion. BofA’s fourth-quarter trading revenue, down about 9 percent from a year ago.

• $11.46 billion. The bank’s net-interest income, up 11 percent.

CreditTimothy A. Clary/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The new tax code and banks: short-term pain, long-term gain

Let’s recount the hits that U.S. banks took from the tax overhaul:

• Citigroup: $22 billion

• JPMorgan Chase: $2.4 billion

• Goldman Sachs: $4.4 billion

We’ll ignore Wells Fargo for now (it gained). The bigger point is that, thanks to lower corporate rates and preferential treatment for pass-through entities, financial institutions are some of the new code’s biggest winners.

More from Jim Tankersley of the NYT:

“The good news is that tax reform has produced both current and future benefits for our shareholders,” PNC’s president and chief executive, Bill Demchak, told analysts on Friday. He said the bank’s preference would be to divert the tax savings “toward dividend” — which is to say, to return a higher dividend to shareholders.

CreditRichard Drew/Associated Press

G.E.’s problems have investors thinking ‘breakup’

The conglomerate itself isn’t planning on going that far just yet.

Here’s John Flannery, its chief, on a conference call yesterday:

“We are looking aggressively at the best structure or structures for our portfolio to maximize the potential of our businesses. Our results, over the past several years, including 2017 and the insurance charge, only further my belief that we need to continue to move with purpose to reshape G.E.”

The context

Mr. Flannery didn’t say anything out of line with his past remarks. It’s just that he said it as G.E. announced an unrelated $6.2 billion charge connected to its legacy insurance portfolio.

Other conglomerates, from Honeywell to United Technologies to Tyco, have explored restructuring to varying degrees, as Wall Street analysts question the viability of the model.

G.E. and its advisers are still thinking about how to reshape the 125-year-old group, whose complexity may mask yet more problems. The company promises an update in spring, and is unlikely to announce something that only fiddles around the edges. But don’t expect plans for it to become three or four fully separate companies.

Critics demand more boldness

• Lex writes, “Once a paragon of management acumen, it is now a rolling train wreck of unexpected and expensive blunders.” (FT)

• Brook Sutherland writes, “The reasons for keeping G.E. together — shared resources and technology — look increasingly tenuous.” (Gadfly)

• Justin Lahart and Spencer Jakab write, “The problem is that G.E.’s parts might be worth a lot less than even the company’s sharply diminished value today.” (Heard on the Street)

CreditT.J. Kirkpatrick for The New York Times

Government shutdown forecast: cloudy

The deadline: 12:01 a.m. Eastern on Saturday

The issues

• Immigration, of course: President Trump still insists on funding for a border wall and Democrats are fuming over his comments on African countries.

• Republicans are weighing whether to use funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program as a carrot — or stick — for Democrats to join a stopgap funding measure.

The state of play

Red-state Democrats are uneasy about allowing a shutdown in an election year. Some Republicans are irked by a stream of temporary funding resolutions, rather than a full agreement that would permit more military spending.

House Speaker Paul Ryan’s proposal for a continuing resolution — which includes delays to several health care taxes in addition to CHIP funding — has support among many, but not all, Republicans. It has little among House Democrats.

The politics flyaround

• Steve Bannon has been subpoenaed by both Robert Mueller and the House Intelligence Committee. (NYT)

• The C.F.P.B. will reconsider rules on high-interest payday loans, in a potential win for the industry. (WSJ)

• N.Y. Governor Andrew Cuomo unveiled a state budget meant to counter the tax-code changes that hurt high-tax states: “Washington hit a button and launched an economic missile and it says ‘New York’ on it, and it’s headed our way.” (NYT)

• Support for the new tax code has grown, according to a SurveyMonkey poll. (NYT)

• G.M.’s chief, Mary Barra, urged Mr. Trump to be cautious about withdrawing from Nafta. (NYT)

• How Michael Wolff got into the White House. (Bloomberg)

CreditPhoto illustration by Delcan & Company

Forget the Bitcoin frenzy

The biggest thing about virtual currencies isn’t how much their prices rise (or fall). It’s the technology that makes them work, argues Steven Johnson in the NYT Magazine.

More from Mr. Johnson:

What Nakamoto ushered into the world was a way of agreeing on the contents of a database without anyone being “in charge” of the database, and a way of compensating people for helping make that database more valuable, without those people being on an official payroll or owning shares in a corporate entity.

We’ll count him as a skeptic: Dick Kovacevich, the former Wells Fargo C.E.O., told CNBC that he thinks Bitcoin is “a pyramid scheme” that “makes no sense.”

Beware cryptoheists: North Korea looks to be using the same malware found in the Sony Pictures hack and the Wannacry assault against digital currency investors.

Virtual currency quote of the day, from Bloomberg:

“I have a Zen philosophy that you just go with the flow,” said George Tasick, a part-time cryptocurrency trader in Hong Kong whose day job is making fireworks. “I’m not really changing my behavior in any way.”

The issues in selling the Weinstein Company

Issue one: Some potential buyers may want to pick up the troubled studio through the bankruptcy process, to cleanse it of legal liabilities.

Issue two: Advocates for women who have brought allegations against Harvey Weinstein worry that could deny them justice.

More from Jonathan Randles and Peg Brickley of the WSJ:

A Chapter 11 filing would halt lawsuits brought by women against the studio, forcing them to line up with low-ranking creditors to await their fate. Once the money from a sale comes in, bankruptcy law dictates who gets paid first — the banks that kept Weinstein Co. in business — and who gets paid last — women claiming that Weinstein Co. was part of Mr. Weinstein’s pattern of alleged sexual misconduct.

But it’s complicated. A bankruptcy filing could provide legal structures for Mr. Weinstein’s accusers, like a judge’s supervision of sales and settlements.

A suitor from the past: Among the bidders is the previous studio founded by the Weinstein brothers, Miramax, according to Bloomberg.

What about RICO? DealBook’s White Collar Watch takes a look at using the racketeering law against Mr. Weinstein and his company:

RICO lawsuits are tempting. They allow a plaintiff to sue a variety of defendants by claiming that they acted together and seek an award of triple damages, a bonanza in some business disputes that can run into millions of dollars. But these cases should also come with a bright red warning sign: Tread lightly or see your case thrown out of court before it even gets started.

CreditTony Cenicola/The New York Times

The M. & A. flyaround

• Nestlé finally struck a deal to sell its U.S. confectionary business, with Ferrero paying $2.8 billion. Gadfly asks if Hershey should jump on the deal bandwagon. (NYT, Gadfly)

• Qualcomm had a busy deal day yesterday. It made its case against Broadcom’s $105 billion hostile bid, as its own $38.5 billion offer for NXP Semiconductor was rejected by the money manager Ramius. (Qualcomm, Ramius)

• Silver Lake put up a hefty $1.7 billion equity check as part of its $3.5 billion bid for Blackhawk Network. (NYT)

• Celgene is in talks to buy Juno Therapeutics, maker of a cancer treatment, according to unidentified people. (WSJ)

The Speed Read

• Bill Miller, the value investor who beat the S. & P. 500 15 years running (and whose faith in banks was mocked in the movie “The Big Short”), has donated $75 million to the philosophy department of Johns Hopkins University. (NYT)

• YouTube said it had altered the threshold at which videos could accept advertisements and pledged more oversight of top-tier videos. It’s said similar things before. (NYT)

• Amazon has advertised for an expert in health privacy regulations, suggesting it plans to work with outside partners that manage personal health information. (CNBC)

• A federal judge indicated he would approve a $290 million settlement by Pershing Square Capital Management and Valeant Pharmaceuticals with Allergan shareholders who accused them of profiting improperly from a failed takeover bid. (WSJ)

• Informa, which owns the shipping journal Lloyd’s List, is in talks to buy the exhibitions and events company UBM, creating a company worth more than 9 billion pounds, or about $12.4 billion. (FT)

• The National Retail Federation’s annual trade show is starting to look more like CES. (NYT)

• Joseph A. Rice, who fought a hostile takeover of the Irving Bank Corporation as its chairman and chief executive in the 1980s, died on Jan. 8 at 93. (NYT)

• Greenlight Capital’s David Einhorn is betting on Twitter, saying revenue should grow after user-experience improvements. (Bloomberg)

• Melrose Industries, which specializes in turning around manufacturers, has made a hostile public bid worth about $10 billion for GKN, a British maker of aerospace and automotive parts that could face trading issues as Brexit looms. (Bloomberg)

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You can find live updates throughout the day at nytimes.com/dealbook.

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Tech Backlash Grows as Investors Press Apple to do something on Children’s Use

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A creator from the iPhone known as the unit “addictive.”

A Twitter founder stated the “internet is damaged.”

An earlier Facebook investor elevated questions regarding the social network’s effect on children’s brains.

Now, two greatest investors on Wall Street have requested Apple to review the results of its products and to really make it simpler for moms and dads to limit their children’s utilization of iPhones and iPads.

Once uncritically hailed for his or her innovation and economic success, Plastic Valley information mill under fire all sides, facing calls to consider more responsibility for his or her role in from election meddling and hate speech to health and internet addiction.

“Companies contribute to experience in assisting to deal with these problems,” stated Craig Rosenstein, managing partner of Jana Partners, a good investment firm that authored a wide open letter to Apple a few days ago pushing it to check out its products’ health effects, especially on children. “As increasingly more founders from the greatest tech information mill acknowledging today, the times of just tossing technology available and washing both hands from the potential impact are gone.”

The backlash against big tech continues to be growing for several weeks. Twitter and facebook they are under scrutiny for his or her roles in enabling Russian meddling within the 2016 presidential election as well as for facilitating abusive behavior. Google was hit having a record antitrust fine in Europe for incorrectly exploiting its market power.

But so far, Apple had steered clear of largely untouched, and concerns concerning the unhealthy results of excessive technology use haven’t been one of the most pressing matters for Plastic Valley executives.

Jana, an activist hedge fund, authored its letter with Calstrs, the California Condition Teachers’ Retirement System, which manages the pensions of California’s public-school teachers. When such investors pressure companies to alter their behavior, it is normally with the aim of lifting a sagging stock cost. Within this situation, Jana and Calstrs stated these were attempting to raise awareness a good issue they cared deeply about, adding when Apple was positive about creating changes, it might assist the business.

“We believe the lengthy-term health of their youngest customers and the healthiness of society, our economy and the organization itself are inextricably linked,” the investors stated within the letter. Jana, that is frequently vilified because of its aggressive concentrate on short-term profits, also stated it might be raising a fund this season that will participate in more such campaigns, an attempt that may help soften its image.

Regardless of the motivations, the 2 large investors are making use of the growing anxiety among parents regarding their children’s preoccupation with devices, at the fee for pursuits like studying and sports.

“Over yesteryear ten years, there’s been a bottom-up backlash,” stated Sherry Turkle, a professor in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and also the author of “Alone Together: Why We Predict More From Technology and fewer From One Another.” “You view it in such things as people not delivering their children to colleges which use iPads, and youngsters telling their parents to place their phones lower.”

For a long time, scientific study has been sounding the alarm within the ubiquity of cell phones and social networking. A 2015 study by Good Sense Media, an investigation group that studies technology use, found which more than 1 / 2 of teenagers spent upward of 4 hrs each day searching at screens, which for any quarter of teenagers, the figure was greater than eight hrs. In another survey, in 2016, half the teenagers stated they believed hooked on their cellular devices.

“These things could be incredibly addictive,” stated Tony Fadell, an old Apple executive who helped produce the ipod device and iPhone. “It’s amazing, but there are plenty of unintended effects.”

An increasing roster of prominent technology executives have become concerned about the creations that introduced them fame and fortune.

Sean Parker, an earlier investor in Facebook, reflected around the sprawling influence from the social networking. “It literally changes your relationship with society, with one another,” he stated within an interview with Axios in November. “It most likely disrupts productivity in weird ways. God only knows what it’s doing to the children’s brains.”

Evan Johnson, among the founders of Twitter, this past year lamented the amount that the messaging service became a bastion for hateful speech. “The internet is damaged,” he stated.

Chamath Palihapitiya, an earlier Facebook executive and also the leader of Social Capital, a investment capital firm, stated in November he felt “tremendous guilt” about his role in building the social networking.

“The temporary, dopamine-driven feedback loops we have produced are destroying how society works,” he stated. “No civil discourse, no cooperation, misinformation, mistruth. And it is no American problem. This isn’t about Russian ads. This can be a global problem.”

By pursuing Apple, Jana and Calstrs, which together own about $2 billion price of their stock, have selected the tech giant that’s possibly least determined by its users’ time. Because Apple makes the majority of its money selling hardware, instead of through digital advertising, it theoretically can afford to inspire its users to invest a shorter period using its products.

“Apple’s business design isn’t predicated on unneccessary use of the products,” Jana and Calstrs stated within their letter to the organization.

Because of this, stated Ms. Turkle, the M.I.T. professor, “it ends up that Apple is the organization best positioned to do something.”

Inside a statement, Apple stated the parental controls already on its devices “lead the industry” which “we think deeply about how exactly our goods are used and also the impact they’ve on users and also the people around them.”

“We take this responsibility seriously,” the statement ongoing, “and we’re dedicated to meeting and exceeding our customers’ expectations, especially with regards to protecting kids.”

Fears about technology addiction aren’t new. The BlackBerry, an earlier smartphone, was nicknamed “CrackBerry.” Adam Alter, a social psychiatrist and also the author of “Irresistible: An Upswing of Addictive Technology and the process of Keeping Us Hooked,” documents cases of internet addiction spanning the world.

However, many tech executives now acknowledge that not even close to becoming an accident, their goods specified for to become addictive.

Mr. Parker stated that whenever Facebook was getting began, the idea process involved “how will we consume because your time and effort and conscious attention as you possibly can?”

Mr. Palihapitiya stated as Facebook was quickly growing, “in the rear, deep, deep recesses in our minds, we type of understood something bad might happen.”

Mr. Fadell stated that at that time Apple was designing the iPhone, “we was clueless that this would happen.” But, he added, consumers are merely spending a lot of time searching in their phones.

“Now it must be addressed,” he stated. “It’s been ten years within the making.”

Even Mark Zuckerberg, the main executive of Facebook in most cases a staunch defender of his company’s influence, has made an appearance more reflective in recent days.

“The world feels anxious and divided, and Facebook provides extensive try to do — whether it’s protecting our community from abuse and hate, protecting against interference by nation states, or ensuring time allocated to Facebook ‘s time wisely spent,” he stated inside a Facebook publish a week ago. “My personal challenge for 2018 is to pay attention to fixing these important issues.”

Follow David Gelles on Twitter: @dgelles.

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Facebook Job Ads Raise Concerns About Age Discrimination

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This article was written through collaboration between The New York Times and ProPublica, the independent, nonprofit investigative journalism organization.

A few weeks ago, Verizon placed an ad on Facebook to recruit applicants for a unit focused on financial planning and analysis. The ad showed a smiling, millennial-aged woman seated at a computer and promised that new hires could look forward to a rewarding career in which they would be “more than just a number.”

Some relevant numbers were not immediately evident. The promotion was set to run on the Facebook feeds of users 25 to 36 years old who lived in the nation’s capital, or had recently visited there, and had demonstrated an interest in finance. For a vast majority of the hundreds of millions of people who check Facebook every day, the ad did not exist.

Verizon is among dozens of the nation’s leading employers — including Amazon, Goldman Sachs, Target and Facebook itself — that placed recruitment ads limited to particular age groups, an investigation by ProPublica and The New York Times has found.

The ability of advertisers to deliver their message to the precise audience most likely to respond is the cornerstone of Facebook’s business model. But using the system to expose job opportunities only to certain age groups has raised concerns about fairness to older workers.

Several experts questioned whether the practice is in keeping with the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, which prohibits bias against people 40 or older in hiring or employment. Many jurisdictions make it unlawful to “aid” or “abet” age discrimination, a provision that could apply to companies like Facebook that distribute job ads.

“It’s blatantly unlawful,” said Debra Katz, a Washington employment lawyer who represents victims of discrimination.

Facebook defended the practice. “Used responsibly, age-based targeting for employment purposes is an accepted industry practice and for good reason: it helps employers recruit and people of all ages find work,” said Rob Goldman, a Facebook vice president.

The revelations come at a time when the unregulated power of the tech companies is under increased scrutiny, and Congress is weighing whether to limit the immunity that it granted to tech companies in 1996 for third-party content on their platforms.

Facebook has argued in court filings that the law, the Communications Decency Act, makes it immune from liability for discriminatory ads.

Although Facebook is a relatively new entrant into the recruiting arena, it is rapidly gaining popularity with employers. Earlier this year, the social network launched a section of its site devoted to job ads. Facebook allows advertisers to select their audience, and then Facebook finds the chosen users with the extensive data it collects about its members.

The use of age targets emerged in a review of data originally compiled by ProPublica readers for a project about political ad placement on Facebook. Many of the ads include a disclosure by Facebook about why the user is seeing the ad, which can be anything from their age to their affinity for folk music.

The precision of Facebook’s ad delivery has helped it dominate an industry once in the hands of print and broadcast outlets. The system, called microtargeting, allows advertisers to reach essentially whomever they prefer, including the people their analysis suggests are the most plausible hires or consumers, lowering the costs and vastly increasing efficiency.

Targeted Facebook ads were an important tool in Russia’s efforts to influence the 2016 election. The social media giant has acknowledged that 126 million people saw Russia-linked content, some of which was aimed at particular demographic groups and regions. Facebook has also come under criticism for the disclosure that it accepted ads aimed at “Jew-haters” as well as housing ads that discriminated by race, gender, disability and other factors.

Other tech companies also offer employers opportunities to discriminate by age. ProPublica bought job ads on Google and LinkedIn that excluded audiences older than 40 — and the ads were instantly approved. Google said it does not prevent advertisers from displaying ads based on the user’s age. After being contacted by ProPublica, LinkedIn changed its system to prevent such targeting in employment ads.

The practice has begun to attract legal challenges. On Wednesday, a class-action complaint alleging age discrimination was filed in federal court in San Francisco on behalf of the Communications Workers of America and its members — as well as all Facebook users 40 or older who may have been denied the chance to learn about job openings. The plaintiffs’ lawyers said the complaint was based on ads for dozens of companies that they had discovered on Facebook.

The database of Facebook ads collected by ProPublica shows how often and precisely employers recruit by age. In a search for “part-time package handlers,” United Parcel Service ran an ad aimed at people 18 to 24. State Farm pitched its hiring promotion to those 19 to 35.

Some companies, including Target, State Farm and UPS, defended their targeting as a part of a broader recruitment strategy that reached candidates of all ages. The group of companies making this case included Facebook itself, which ran career ads on its own platform, many aimed at people 25 to 60. “We completely reject the allegation that these advertisements are discriminatory,” said Mr. Goldman of Facebook.

After being contacted by ProPublica and The Times, other employers, including Amazon, Northwestern Mutual and the New York City Department of Education, said they had changed or were changing their recruiting strategies.

“We recently audited our recruiting ads on Facebook and discovered some had targeting that was inconsistent with our approach of searching for any candidate over the age of 18,” said Nina Lindsey, a spokeswoman for Amazon, which targeted some ads for workers at its distribution centers between the ages of 18 and 50. “We have corrected those ads.”

Verizon did not respond to requests for comment.

Several companies argued that targeted recruiting on Facebook was comparable to advertising opportunities in publications like the AARP magazine or Teen Vogue, which are aimed at particular age groups. But this obscures an important distinction. Anyone can buy Teen Vogue and see an ad. Online, however, people outside the targeted age groups can be excluded in ways they will never learn about.

“What happens with Facebook is you don’t know what you don’t know,” said David Lopez, a former general counsel for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission who is one of the lawyers at the firm Outten & Golden bringing the age-discrimination case on behalf of the communication workers union.

‘They Know I’m Dead’

Age discrimination on digital platforms is something that many workers suspect is happening to them, but that is often difficult to prove.

Mark Edelstein, a fitfully employed social-media marketing strategist who is 58 and legally blind, doesn’t pretend to know what he doesn’t know, but he has his suspicions.

Mr. Edelstein, who lives in St. Louis, says he never had serious trouble finding a job until he turned 50. “Once you reach your 50s, you may as well be dead,” he said. “I’ve gone into interviews, with my head of gray hair and my receding hairline, and they know I’m dead.”

Mr. Edelstein spends most of his days scouring sites like LinkedIn and Indeed and pitching hiring managers with personalized appeals. When he scrolled through his Facebook ads on a Wednesday in December, he saw a variety of ads reflecting his interest in social media marketing: ads for the marketing software HubSpot (“15 free infographic templates!”) and TripIt, which he used to book a trip to visit his mother in Florida.

What he didn’t see was a single ad for a job in his profession, including one identified by ProPublica that was being shown to younger users: a posting for a social media director job at HubSpot. The company asked that the ad be shown to people aged 27 to 40 who live or were recently living in the United States.

“Hypothetically, had I seen a job for a social media director at HubSpot, even if it involved relocation, I ABSOLUTELY would have applied for it,” Mr. Edelstein said by email when told about the ad.

A HubSpot spokeswoman, Ellie Botelho, said that the job was posted on many sites, including LinkedIn, The Ladders and Built in Boston, and was open to anyone meeting the qualifications regardless of age or any other demographic characteristic.

She added that “the use of the targeted age-range selection on the Facebook ad was frankly a mistake on our part given our lack of experience using that platform for job postings and not a feature we will use again.”

For his part, Mr. Edelstein says he understands why marketers wouldn’t want to target ads at him: “It doesn’t surprise me a bit. Why would they want a 58-year-old white guy who’s disabled?”

Looking for ‘Younger Blood’

Although LinkedIn is the leading online recruitment platform, according to an annual survey by SourceCon, an industry website, Facebook is rapidly increasing in popularity for employers.

One reason is that Facebook’s sheer size — two billion monthly active users, versus LinkedIn’s 530 million total members — gives recruiters access to types of workers they can’t find elsewhere.

Consider nurses, whom hospitals are desperate to hire. “They’re less likely to use LinkedIn,” said Josh Rock, a recruiter at a large hospital system in Minnesota who has expertise in digital media. “Nurses are predominantly female, there’s a larger volume of Facebook users. That’s what they use.”

There are also millions of hourly workers who have never visited LinkedIn, and may not even have a résumé, but who check Facebook obsessively.

Deb Andrychuk, chief executive of the Arland Group, which helps employers place recruitment ads, said clients sometimes asked her firm to target ads by age, saying they needed “to start bringing younger blood” into their organizations. “It’s not necessarily that we wouldn’t take someone older,” these clients say, according to Ms. Andrychuk, “but if you could bring in a younger set of applicants, it would definitely work out better.”

Ms. Andrychuk said that “we coach clients to be open and not discriminate” and that after being contacted by The Times, her team updated all their ads to ensure they didn’t exclude any age groups.

Employment ads and notifications that Mark Edelstein was shown when he browsed Facebook.

But some companies contend that there are permissible reasons to filter audiences by age, as with an ad for entry-level analyst positions at Goldman Sachs that was distributed to people 18 to 64. A Goldman Sachs spokesman, Andrew Williams, said showing it to people above that age range would have wasted money: roughly 25 percent of those who typically click on the firm’s untargeted ads are 65 or older, but people that age almost never apply for the analyst job.

“We welcome and actively recruit applicants of all ages,” Mr. Williams said. “For some of our social-media ads, we look to get the content to the people most likely to be interested, but do not exclude anyone from our recruiting activity.”

Pauline Kim, a professor of employment law at Washington University in St. Louis, said the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, unlike the federal anti-discrimination statute that covers race and gender, allows an employer to take into account “reasonable factors” that may be highly correlated with the protected characteristic, such as cost, as long as they don’t rely on the characteristic explicitly.

The Question of Liability

In various ways, Facebook and LinkedIn have acknowledged at least a modest obligation to police their ad platforms against abuse.

Earlier this year, Facebook said it would require advertisers to “self-certify” that their housing, employment and credit ads were compliant with anti-discrimination laws, but that it would not block marketers from purchasing age-restricted ads.

Still, Facebook didn’t promise to monitor those certifications for accuracy. And Facebook said the self-certification system, announced in February, was still being rolled out to all advertisers.

LinkedIn, in response to inquiries by ProPublica, added a self-certification step that prevents employers from using age ranges once they confirm that they are placing an employment ad.

With these efforts evolving, legal experts say it is unclear how much liability the tech platforms could have. Some civil rights laws, like the Fair Housing Act, explicitly require publishers to assume liability for discriminatory ads.

But the Age Discrimination in Employment Act assigns liability only to employers or employment agencies, like recruiters and advertising firms.

The lawsuit filed against Facebook on behalf of the communications workers argues that the company essentially plays the role of an employment agency — collecting and providing data that helps employers locate candidates, effectively coordinating with the employer to develop the advertising strategies, informing employers about the performance of the ads, and so forth.

Regardless of whether courts accept that argument, the tech companies could also face liability under certain state or local anti-discrimination statutes. For example, California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act makes it unlawful to “aid, abet, incite, compel or coerce the doing” of discriminatory acts proscribed by the statute.

“They may have an obligation there not to aid and abet an ad that enables discrimination,” said Cliff Palefsky, an employment lawyer based in San Francisco.

The question may hinge on Section 230 of the federal Communications Decency Act, which protects internet companies from liability for third-party content.

Tech companies have successfully invoked this law to avoid liability for offensive or criminal content — including sex trafficking, revenge porn and calls for violence against Jews. Facebook is currently arguing in federal court that Section 230 immunizes it against liability for ad placement that blocks members of certain racial and ethnic groups from seeing the ads.

“Advertisers, not Facebook, are responsible for both the content of their ads and what targeting criteria to use, if any,” Facebook argued in its motion to dismiss allegations that its ads violated a host of civil rights laws. The case does not allege age discrimination.

Eric Goldman, professor and co-director of the High Tech Law Institute at the Santa Clara University School of Law, who has written extensively about Section 230, says it is hard to predict how courts would treat Facebook’s age-targeting of employment ads.

Mr. Goldman said the law covered the content of ads, and that courts have made clear that Facebook would not be liable for an advertisement in which an employer wrote, say, “no one over 55 need apply.” But it is not clear how the courts would treat Facebook’s offering of age-targeted customization.

According to a federal appellate court decision in a fair-housing case, a platform can be considered to have helped “develop unlawful content” that users play a role in generating, which would negate the immunity.

“Depending on how the targeting is happening, you can make potentially different sorts of arguments about whether or not Google or Facebook or LinkedIn is contributing to the development” of the ad, said Deirdre K. Mulligan, a faculty director of the Berkeley Center for Law and Technology.

Julia Angwin and Ariana Tobin are reporters at ProPublica. Jeff Larson and Madeleine Varner of ProPublica contributed research.

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The Winners and Losers within the Goverment Tax Bill

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President Trump has known as the $1.5 trillion tax cut that Republican lawmakers are near passing a Christmas present for the whole nation.

But the small print reveals that some will receive a much better gift than the others, the advantages can change with time, and a few is going to be overlooked within the cold. Property developers and technology companies often see big tax cuts, while low-earnings households and individuals buying medical health insurance could miss out.

Using the bill finally headed to some election next week, taxpayers are scrambling to find out if the legislation renders them winners or losers.

WINNERS

PRESIDENT TRUMP And The FAMILY Numerous industries will take advantage of the Republican tax overhaul, but possibly none as dramatically because the industry where Mr. Trump earned his riches: real estate. Mr. Trump, together with his boy-in-law Jared Kushner, who’s part who owns their own property firm, may benefit from lower taxes on so-known as “pass through” earnings, that is money earned by partnerships and other kinds of companies whose earnings is undergone to the owner and taxed in the individual tax rate. Mr. Trump and Mr. Kushner benefit given that they own qualities through limited liability companies along with other similar vehicles.

Under current law, that earnings is taxed at rates up to 39.6 %. Underneath the bill, a lot of that earnings might be taxed for a price as little as 29.6 %, susceptible to some limitations. Property also prevented new limits on interest deductions and retained being able to defer taxes around the exchange of comparable types of qualities. The advantages of lower rates on pass-through earnings will include Mr. Trump and Mr. Kushner’s partners at investment trusts too. In the last second, lawmakers added language to really make it simpler legitimate estate proprietors to prevent a few of the pass-through provision’s limitations and increase the tax benefits much more.

BIG CORPORATIONS Industries like big retailers will take advantage of the new corporate rate of 21 percent, since individuals companies pay relatively near to the full 35 % rate. Other facets of the organization tax cuts is going to be enjoyed by a range of multinational industries, particularly technology and pharmaceutical companies, like Google, Facebook, Apple, Manley &amp Manley and Pfizer. Such multinational companies have accrued nearly $3 trillion offshore, mostly in tax haven subsidiaries, untouched through the U . s . States inland revenue. The goverment tax bill will pressure individuals companies to progressively bring that cash home, but it’ll be taxed at rates varying from 8 percent to fifteen.five percent. That’s cheaper compared to current 35 % tax rate on corporate profits as well as less than the brand new 21 percent rate.

Plus, American companies won’t owe full corporate taxes on future profits they are saying they earn abroad, supplying more incentive to push earnings into tax haven subsidiaries. What the law states even includes provisions that may encourage companies to maneuver workers abroad, despite pledges to target your product.

MULTIMILLIONAIRES An exemption for estates that owe what Republicans call the “death tax” was lifted to $22 million from $11 million. That does not matter much to billionaires like Charles Koch, but means a large tax cut for those who have estates worth millions of dollars.

Plus, the very best rate signing up to wages and interest earnings could be cut to 37 percent from 39.6 %.

Private Equity Finance MANAGERS Throughout the campaign, Jesse Trump railed against wealthy investment managers who, because of the so-known as transported interest loophole, pay taxes on nearly all their pay in a lower capital gains rates. However the purported reform for this tax provision will affect couple of or no private equity finance managers, departing the loophole intact.

PRIVATE SCHOOLS AND Those Who Are Able To Afford THEM Parents could be qualified to utilize a kind of tax-preferred savings plan — referred to as a 529 plan — in order to save for his or her children’s elementary and secondary education. At this time, individuals savings plans are just qualified for school. However they could be expanded to match as much as $10,000 annually for tuition at private and non secular schools.

THE LIQUOR BUSINESS Excise taxes for small brewers and distillers are reduced within the final agreement. Individuals industries are covered with entrepreneurial small companies frequently located in rural areas. They likewise have strong lobbyists, and lots of are located in states with effective senators, like Senator Take advantage of Portman of Ohio. Mr. Portman, who tucked a provision to assist craft brewers in to the Senate legislation, was area of the small group of lawmakers who merged the 2 bills right into a final version.

ARCHITECTS AND ENGINEERS These were initially restricted in just how much they may need the brand new pass-through provision. When they structure their companies in a certain style, the ultimate version will allow them to benefit fully.

TAX ACCOUNTANTS AND LAWYERS Mr. Trump once stated his “dream” ended up being to put tax preparation services bankrupt by simplifying the tax code. However the rushed legislation will most likely possess the opposite effect, as individuals make and try feeling of the complicated new provisions, staggered dates and new rates. The uncertainty and confusion will most likely create numerous new possibilities to game the machine: tax preparers are certain to visit a boom running a business counseling clients regarding how to restructure their employment and compensation plans to benefit from the low tax rates on earnings as reported by corporations and pass-through entities.

Demonstrators protesting the tax plan recently. 13 million less Americans are forecasted to possess coverage of health.CreditMichael Reynolds/European Pressphoto Agency

LOSERS

PEOPLE BUYING Medical Health Insurance Using the repeal of the baby mandate, many people who presently buy medical health insurance since they’re needed legally to do this are anticipated to visit without coverage. Based on the Congressional Budget Office, healthier people are more inclined to drop their insurance, departing insurers tied to more those who are older and ailing. This really is likely to make average insurance costs around the individual market increase by about 10 %. All in all, 13 million less Americans are forecasted to possess coverage of health, based on the Congressional Budget Office.

INDIVIDUAL TAXPAYERS Later On To remain underneath the $1.5 trillion limit for brand new deficits lawmakers looking for themselves, they opted to help make the cuts for people and families temporary, expiring in the finish of 2025 — even while the organization tax cuts is going to be permanent. Republicans are relying on the next Congress to increase the low rates, as has happened previously. But there aren’t any guarantees, which can often mean a large tax increase lower the street. Furthermore, using a different, less generous way of measuring inflation would push taxpayers into greater tax brackets more rapidly.

THE Seniors A 2010 law mandates that any legislation that increases the federal deficit be compensated for by spending cuts, increases in revenue or any other offsets. Some cuts could be automatic, and also the greatest program to become affected is Medicare, the insurance program for that seniors and disabled. A large number of other individuals could be cut too, but Medicare, which may face a 4 % cut, is definitely the greatest. Republicans state that this rule is going to be waived and also the cuts is going to be averted, however that will require a bipartisan deal.

LOW-Earnings FAMILIES Low-earnings families who claim the earned-tax credit overlook a minimum of $19 billion within the coming decade underneath the bill due to the change in the manner inflation is calculated. Along with a new requirement that families claiming the kid tax credit give a Ssn is forecasted to mean a large decrease in the families claiming it, since individuals who aren’t within the U . s . States legally could be prohibited, even when their kids were born within the U . s . States.

Proprietors OF HIGH-Finish HOMES Under current law, the eye on mortgages for third and fourth homes is deductible for that first $a million from the loan. The overhaul would cut that towards the first $750,000 and get rid of the owner’s ability in the present law to subtract the eye on the home-equity loan as much as $100,000. This might drive lower home values in certain high-finish markets great for prospective buyers but harmful to prospective sellers.

Individuals HIGH PROPERTY TAX, HIGH Earnings STATES Homeowners in high-tax states new You are able to, Nj and California might be big losers, particularly should they have high property taxes. Remarkable ability to subtract their local property taxes and condition and native earnings taxes using their federal tax bills has become limited to $10,000. In some instances, that may be offset through the lower tax rates that taxpayers will owe on their own ordinary earnings.

PUERTO RICO Puerto Rico had searched for an exemption from new taxes, citing the frail condition of their economy nearly three several weeks after Hurricane Maria. But no such luck. The goverment tax bill treats affiliates of yankee companies around the island as though Puerto Rico were overseas and imposes a 12.five percent tax on ip. Puerto Rico’s governor, Ricardo A. Rosselló, stated the tax would hurt the biomedical and technology affiliates that comprise in regards to a third of Puerto Rico’s tax base.

THE Irs The tax debt collection agency continues to be underfunded and understaffed for a long time. Now, it’ll have a raft of recent tax rules to cope with that will need upgrading its software, printing new manuals and trying to explain to confused taxpayers how things work. All of this is anticipated to occur as the commission is working underneath the supervision of the interim commissioner, who’s expected to get replaced sometime the coming year.

Patricia Mazzei, Thomas Kaplan and Jim Tankersley contributed reporting.

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Condition from the Art: How 2017 Grew to become a Level for Tech Giants

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It was a dreadful year for that tech industry.

That’s a strange factor to state at any given time of record growth and profits. In 2017, large American tech companies have stored hauling in additional money and much more users, and — to some degree that may appear dystopian — they ongoing to grow their foothold within our lives. It was annually by which Amazon . com produced a means because of its delivery motorists to allow themselves to your house, and Apple produced a telephone you are able to unlock together with your face.

Yet underneath this apparent success would be a momentous transfer of the way the tech business handles the planet. Five or ten years from now, our exterminator will come to treat 2017 like a level.

Why? As this year, the very first time, tech giants started to grudgingly accept they have some responsibility towards the offline world. The scope of this responsibility, though, is yet another matter entirely.

Allow me to let you know that this really is all happening.

The dawning realization that the tech platform includes real-world responsibilities.

“Platforms” would be the shiniest prizes within the tech business. The main reason the 5 best American tech companies — Amazon . com, Apple, Facebook, Alphabet and Microsoft — are the five best American companies of any sort is they own these fundamental foundations from the digital economy, whether or not they are os’s, application stores, social systems, cloud servers, or shipping and logistics infrastructure.

Consider these platforms because the roads, railroads and waterways from the information economy — an basically unavoidable a part of existence for just about any business or regular individual who doesn’t reside in a secluded cabin within the forest.

For a long time, despite their growing power, tech platforms rarely received much scrutiny, plus they were frequently loath to simply accept just how much their systems affected the real life. Indeed, the internet ethos continues to be that platforms aren’t really accountable for how people rely on them. It may as well function as the slogan of Plastic Valley: We simply result in the tech, how people utilize it is yet another story.

In 2017, that altered. Initially grudgingly after which with apparent enthusiasm, platform the likes of Facebook started accepting some responsibility for the way they’re affecting the real life. They didn’t go so far as some critics might have loved — however in many significant ways they offered a transfer of tone and tactics that recommended these were rethinking their positions.

You can argue that they no choice. Previously year, social systems and check engines happen to be blamed for undermining this news media, fostering echo chambers, and distributing misinformation, hate, misogyny along with other general social unpleasantness. (YouTube, for instance, removed plenty of videos of youngsters being pretend-tortured by their parents.) There is also, obviously, the unfolding saga from the companies’ role in Russia’s propaganda efforts, which led to their being hauled before lawmakers.

Its keep were the bigger questions regarding who helps make the platforms and who advantages of them. The tech market is overwhelmingly operated by men, which is a location of little racial and sophistication diversity. A whistle-blowing blog publish by Susan Fowler, an engineer who detailed a culture of harassment and misogyny in the ride-hailing company Uber, sparked a women’s movement in tech which was then subsumed through the global #MeToo movement.

Many tech titans were clearly unprepared for that serious questions that started coming their way last year. Once the Facebook leader Mark Zuckerberg was requested about his site’s role within the 2016 election just days after Jesse J. Trump’s victory, he responded having a line from tech’s old playbook: It had been a “pretty crazy idea,” he stated, that misinformation on Facebook had “influenced the election by any means.”

Since tone is finished. Mr. Zuckerberg has apologized for his glibness. And through Facebook’s last earnings are accountable to investors, he place the company’s social mission towards the top of his agenda. “Protecting our community is much more important than maximizing our profits,” he stated.

Other tech executives have expressed similar commitments to some much deeper mission. Timothy D. Prepare, Apple’s leader, told my friend Andrew Ross Sorkin that Apple were built with a “moral responsibility” to try to heal the nation’s social and economic fissures.

Sure, all of this might just be marketing. But I’m inclined to think the shift represents a different way of navigating the planet, for any couple of reasons.

First, workers are demanding a different way. The highly compensated workers of Plastic Valley were lured around the commitment of altering the planet, and previously year many grew to become demoralized regarding their companies’ apparent impact. In some instances they’re pushing their bosses to alter.

Second, the very first time in a long time, there’s real pressure from lawmakers. Which has led to some real-world retreats. For example, tech giants recently stopped fighting an invoice in Congress that will allow victims of sex trafficking to file a lawsuit websites that supported the sex trade. In another time, this will be a gimme for tech companies — they aren’t accountable for how people use their professional services, remember?

Not this time around.

But nobody can tell what ‘responsibility’ means.

When the big shift of 2017 is the fact that tech companies now accept some responsibility for the way their platforms change up the world, the large mystery of 2018 and beyond is exactly what, exactly, that responsibility may be like.

Mr. Zuckerberg stated he was prepared to risk their profitability to enhance its community. Facebook continues to be testing new suggestions for making its News Feed less divisive and fewer vulnerable to misinformation, as well as for promoting what the organization calls “meaningful” social connections. Facebook can also be testing systems it stated would more stringently police advertising, with the hope of stopping foreign actors by using its ad network to help an election.

And as a result of critique from former Facebook employees that it is tech may be addictive, the organization stated now it has conducted extensive research about them and it was “using it to tell our product.”

What if these early efforts don’t mitigate the issues? Let’s say Facebook finds that offering people a less polarized News Feed dramatically reduces engagement on its site, affecting its main point here? Or let’s say the alterations disproportionately affect one political ideology over another — would Facebook stick to a type of responsibility that risks calling into question its impartiality?

I do not mean to provide a barrage of hypotheticals only for the it. My point is the fact that these problems would most likely be pretty difficult to solve.

“Just because the packaged food industry did within the 1950s, Google and facebook have lured users with convenience, while providing them with food an eating plan sure to cause lasting harm,” Roger McNamee, the music performer and venture capitalist, explained. “The problem can’t be addressed by hiring it may simply be fixed by altering the algorithms with techniques which will materially reduce profitability.”

Or think about the question of diversity. I requested Ellen Pao — the previous Reddit leader who unsuccessfully sued the investment capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield &amp Byers for gender discrimination — what she made from the industry’s efforts to deal with the problem this season.

“I will give tech a C grade,” Ms. Pao, who’s the chief diversity and inclusion officer in the Kapor Center for Social Impact, authored within an email. “Leaders do the minimum to deal with problems and therefore are not even close to doing everything is essential to resolve the issue.”

She stated she wished for an even more energetic effort that ushered inside a complete overhaul from the culture of tech companies, which held leaders accountable.

“It means firing everyone active in the failures, in the C.E.O. towards the H.R. leaders towards the board people in some instances,” she authored.

Ms. Pao’s and Mr. McNamee’s comments underline the actual problem for that industry. When you believe that you’re responsible for fixing problems brought on by the factor you built, people will begin to expect that you will will fix them — whether or not the solutions are costly or else conflict together with your business interests.

So, yeah, 2017 would be a terrible year for that tech industry. When the fixing doesn’t really happen, 2018 could be worse.

Email: [email protected] Twitter: @fmanjoo.

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Google Overlooked China. Will It Achieve India?

JODHPUR, India — Each month, four million more Indians get online. They include people like Manju, a 35-year-old seamstress within this town of ancient castles, who got her first internet phone a week ago.

“It’s necessary that i can learn something totally new,Inches stated Manju, who uses just one name. She am happy to uncover YouTube along with other streaming video services that they rapidly burned through her monthly data plan. Now her phone carrier, Reliance Jio, has relegated her to some trickle of low-speed data until the following month, when her plan resets.

“It’s all finished,” she complained on Monday whenever a Google investigator found visit to check out her online habits.

Google, which overlooked an upswing from the internet in China, is decided not to help make the same mistake in India. It’s marshaled a number of its best developers, designers and researchers to learn how to adapt or completely re-think items like YouTube for everyone the requirements of mobile online users with smaller sized budgets but big aspirations.

Most of the world’s greatest tech companies — Facebook, Google and Amazon . com in the U . s . States, and Alibaba and Tencent from China — are rivaling local companies like Reliance, Flipkart and Paytm to win their loyalties. With 1.3 billion people, just one-third who are presently online, India has huge moneymaking possibility of the help that secure a foothold.

In an event on Tuesday in New Delhi, Google unveiled its most ambitious India-focused product to date — a brand new form of its Android operating-system and related apps created for low-finish smartphones. The package includes YouTube Go, which enables users to simply download and share videos using their buddies, and Google Go, a variant of their internet search engine that can help users learn more by tapping the smartphone screen rather of typing a question.

“We need to learn how to build the best products on their behalf,Inches stated Caesar Sengupta, google’s v . p . who oversees Next Billion Users, its unit focused on creating products for emerging markets like India, South america and Indonesia. “This is an extremely high priority for Google.”

New Indian users have fundamental phones, which will make it hard to allow them to run certain apps in order to store big files like videos. Data plans are restricted, and despite a telecom cost war which has cut the cost of the megabyte of information up to 97 percent, some clients are not able to pay for more data once they go out.

Google’s Android software and apps such as the Chrome browser, Maps and YouTube are frequently incorporated with smartphones. But Facebook also makes items that vie for that attention of Indian consumers and advertisers.

Actually, WhatsApp, Facebook and Instagram — all Facebook products — occupied three from the top six spots this season once the research firm Application Annie measured how Indians spent time online.

Arjun Vishwanathan, affiliate director of emerging technologies at IDC India, stated that search, Google’s core expertise, was “culturally not too vital that you Indians.”

“Where Google scores is being able to make it simple and it convenient while letting the customer determine what she would like to complete without having to be in her own face,” he stated. Google also offers huge amounts of data about its users that may be useful for developing new items and targeting ads, he stated.

Google continues to be serving Indian online users as lengthy as the organization has existed. But intense efforts to evolve Google’s products for India — and invent brand new ones for everyone Indian customers — started in serious in 2015 after Sundar Pichai, who had been born in India, grew to become Google’s leader.

In the last couple of several weeks, Mr. Sengupta’s team continues to be releasing new items like Tez, a payments application, and Datally, an information-saving application. On Tuesday, Google announced that Maps will offer you driving directions for motorcycles and 2-wheeled scooters, that are common types of transportation here.

All the jobs are supported by a comprehensive research effort by Google in India along with other developing countries to look at how people really use their phones, what needs are unmet and just how their apps are received.

Datally would be a product of these research. Whenever a user opens it, a giant screen appears and shows just how much mobile data the individual has utilized, measurable during the day, week or month. Additionally, it shows which apps are utilizing the information and enables users to bar some or these. A current tweak added an element for locating nearby Wi-Fi locations.

Ted McCarthy, a Google consumer experience investigator, is at Jodhpur on Sunday and Monday to collect feedback on Datally and the other application, a voice-controlled va that is built to focus on a $23 feature phone. He quizzed Indians regarding their internet use, the habits of rats, even the way they commuted to operate, collecting information to consider to they.

Among the interview subjects, Deepika Panwar, 22, works inside a bookkeeping job while attempting to begin a clothing and jewellery business. The majority of her salary, Ms. Panwar stated, would go to her parents to assist support her more youthful brother and sister. She spends 179 rupees per month, or about $2.77, for any mobile phone line with one gigabyte of information.

She stated her monthly data pack was frequently gone in 15 days as she browsed YouTube for fashion videos, used WhatsApp or surfed the net.

When Mr. McCarthy demonstrated her Datally, Ms. Panwar rapidly understood what it really involved. “It is showing me what each application does,Inches she stated. “It is a great assistance to me.”

The interviews confirmed to Mr. McCarthy that Datally’s fundamental premise was seem: The tool could be helpful to individuals with data constraints. They also revealed a few problems. The app’s Wi-Fi finder had couple of public locations to point out. And also the technical language around the sign-up screen — having a warning the application was developing a virtual private network to watch network traffic — stymied potential users.

On Monday, Mr. McCarthy visited Manju and demonstrated her google’s Assistant on her behalf new Reliance Jio feature phone. The application enables her to talk instructions towards the phone in Hindi or British.

Language is a particular barrier for internet adoption in India. The voice-driven assistant continues to be extremely popular in India, with 28 percent of Google searches conducted by voice.

Initially, the application had trouble understanding her. Before lengthy, she’d it answering her questions.

“I just express it, and it is there,” she stated.

Creating A.I. That May Develop A.I.

Bay Area — They’re an aspiration of researchers but possibly a nightmare for highly trained software engineers: artificially intelligent machines that may build other artificially intelligent machines.

With recent speeches both in Plastic Valley and China, Shaun Dean, certainly one of Google’s leading engineers, spotlighted a Google project known as AutoML. ML is brief for machine learning, talking about computer algorithms that may learn how to perform particular tasks by themselves by analyzing data. AutoML, consequently, is really a machine-learning formula that learns to construct other machine-learning algorithms.

By using it, Google may soon try to produce a.I. technology that may partially go ahead and take humans from building the A.I. systems that lots of feel are the way forward for we’ve got the technology industry.

The work belongs to a significantly bigger effort to create the most recent and finest A.I. strategies to a broader assortment of companies and software developers.

The tech market is promising from smartphone apps that may recognize faces to cars that may drive by themselves. But by a few estimates, only 10,000 people worldwide possess the education, experience and talent required to build the complex and often mysterious mathematical algorithms which will drive this latest variety of artificial intelligence.

The world’s largest tech companies, including Google, Facebook and Microsoft, sometimes pay huge amount of money annually to some.I. experts, effectively cornering the marketplace for this tough-to-find talent. The shortage isn’t disappearing in the near future, simply because mastering these skills takes many years of work.

The isn’t prepared to wait. Information mill developing a variety of tools that can make it simpler for just about any operation to construct its very own A.I. software, including such things as image and speech recognition services an internet-based chatbots.

“We are following a same path that information technology has adopted with each and every new kind of technology,” stated Frederick Sirosh, smoking president at Microsoft, which lately unveiled something to assist coders build deep neural systems, a kind of computer formula that’s driving a lot of the current progress within the A.I. field. “We are eliminating many of the heavy-lifting.Inches

This isn’t altruism. Researchers like Mr. Dean think that if more and more people and firms will work on artificial intelligence, it’ll propel their very own research. Simultaneously, the likes of Google, Amazon . com and Microsoft see serious profit the popularity that Mr. Sirosh described. All are selling cloud-computing services that will help other companies and developers develop a.I.

“There is real interest in this,” stated Matt Scott, a co-founder and also the chief technical officer of Malong, a start-in China that provides similar services. “And the various tools aren’t yet satisfying all of the demand.”

Interactive Feature The way a Robot Learns to understand

Interactive Feature Exactly what a Robot Can Perform Once It’s Learned to Learns

This is probably what Google has in your mind for AutoML, as the organization is constantly on the hail the project’s progress. Google’s leader, Sundar Pichai, boasted about AutoML recently while unveiling a brand new Android smartphone.

Eventually, google’s project can help companies build systems with artificial intelligence even when it normally won’t have extensive expertise, Mr. Dean stated. Today, he believed, a maximum of a couple of 1000 companies possess the right talent for creating a.I., however, many more possess the necessary data.

“We wish to move from a large number of organizations solving machine learning problems to millions,” he stated.

Bing is investing heavily in cloud-computing services — services which help other companies build and run software — so it expects to be among its primary economic engines within the a long time. After snapping up this type of large area of the world’s top A.I researchers, it features a way of jump-beginning this engine.

Neural systems are quickly speeding up the introduction of A.I. Instead of building a picture-recognition service or perhaps a language translation application by hands, one type of code at any given time, engineers can a lot more rapidly build an formula that learns tasks by itself.

By analyzing the sounds inside a vast assortment of old tech support team calls, for example, a piece of equipment-learning formula can learn how to recognize spoken words.

But creating a neural network isn’t like creating a website or some run-of-the-mill smartphone application. It takes significant math skills, extreme learning from mistakes, along with a fair quantity of intuition. Jean-François Gagné, the main executive of the independent machine-learning lab known as Element AI, refers back to the process as “a new type of computer-programming.Inches

In creating a neural network, researchers run dozens or perhaps countless experiments across an enormous network of machines, testing how good an formula can become familiar with a task like recognizing a picture or converting in one language to a different. They adjust particular areas of the formula again and again, until they choose something which works. Some refer to it as a “dark art,” simply because researchers find it hard to explain why they create particular adjustments.

However with AutoML, Bing is attempting to automate this method. The organization is building algorithms that evaluate the introduction of other algorithms, learning which methods are effective and which aren’t. Eventually, they learn how to build more efficient machine learning. Google stated AutoML could now build algorithms that, in some instances, identified objects in photos more precisely than services built exclusively by human experts.

Barret Zoph, among the Google researchers behind the work, believes the same method will ultimately work nicely for other tasks, like speech recognition or machine translation.

This isn’t always a simple factor to wrap your mind around. But it’s a part of a substantial trend inside a.I. research. Experts refer to it as “learning to learn” or “meta-learning.”

Many believe such methods will considerably accelerate the progress of the.I. both in the internet and physical worlds. In the College of California, Berkeley, researchers are building techniques that may allow robots to understand new tasks according to what they’ve learned previously.

“Computers are likely to invent the algorithms for all of us, basically,” stated a Berkeley professor, Pieter Abbeel. “Algorithms introduced by computers can solve many, many problems very rapidly — a minimum of that’s the hope.”

This is a means of expanding the amount of people and companies that may build artificial intelligence. These techniques won’t replace A.I. researchers entirely. Experts, like individuals at Google, must still do large amount of the key design work. However the belief would be that the work of the couple of experts might help many more build their very own software.

Renato Negrinho, a investigator at Carnegie Mellon College who’s exploring technology much like AutoML, stated it was not really a reality today but ought to be within the a long time. “It is only a matter of when,” he stated.

Education Disrupted: Inside Silicon Valley’s Playbook for Wooing School Superintendents

BALTIMORE COUNTY, Md. — They call it the “Church Lane Hug.”

That is how educators at Church Lane Elementary Technology, a public school here, describe the protective two-armed way they teach students to carry their school-issued laptops.

Administrators at Baltimore County Public Schools, the 25th-largest public school system in the United States, have embraced the laptops as well, as part of one of the nation’s most ambitious classroom technology makeovers. In 2014, the district committed more than $200 million for HP laptops, and it is spending millions of dollars on math, science and language software. Its vendors visit classrooms. Some schoolchildren have been featured in tech-company promotional videos.

And Silicon Valley has embraced the school district right back.

HP has promoted the district as a model to follow in places as diverse as New York City and Rwanda. Daly Computers, which supplied the HP laptops, donated $30,000 this year to the district’s education foundation. Baltimore County schools’ top officials have traveled widely to industry-funded education events, with travel sometimes paid for by industry-sponsored groups.

Silicon Valley is going all out to own America’s school computer-and-software market, projected to reach $21 billion in sales by 2020. An industry has grown up around courting public-school decision makers, and tech companies are using a sophisticated playbook to reach them, The New York Times has found in a review of thousands of pages of Baltimore County school documents and in interviews with dozens of school officials, researchers, teachers, tech executives and parents.

School leaders have become so central to sales that a few private firms will now, for fees that can climb into the tens of thousands of dollars, arrange meetings for vendors with school officials, on some occasions paying superintendents as consultants. Tech-backed organizations have also flown superintendents to conferences at resorts. And school leaders have evangelized company products to other districts.

These marketing approaches are legal. But there is little rigorous evidence so far to indicate that using computers in class improves educational results. Even so, schools nationwide are convinced enough to have adopted them in hopes of preparing students for the new economy.

In some significant ways, the industry’s efforts to push laptops and apps in schools resemble influence techniques pioneered by drug makers. The pharmaceutical industry has long cultivated physicians as experts and financed organizations, like patient advocacy groups, to promote its products.

Studies have found that strategies like these work, and even a free $20 meal from a drug maker can influence a doctor’s prescribing practices. That is one reason the government today maintains a database of drug maker payments, including meals, to many physicians.

Tech companies have not gone as far as drug companies, which have regularly paid doctors to give speeches. But industry practices, like flying school officials to speak at events and taking school leaders to steak and sushi restaurants, merit examination, some experts say.

“If benefits are flowing in both directions, with payments from schools to vendors,” said Rob Reich, a political-science professor at Stanford University, “and dinner and travel going to the school leaders, it’s a pay-for-play arrangement.”

Close ties between school districts and their tech vendors can be seen nationwide. But the scale of Baltimore County schools’ digital conversion makes the district a case study in industry relationships. Last fall, the district hosted the League of Innovative Schools, a network of tech-friendly superintendents. Dozens of visiting superintendents toured schools together with vendors like Apple, HP and Lego Education, a division of the toy company.

The superintendents’ league is run by Digital Promise, a nonprofit that promotes technology in schools. It charges $25,000 annually for corporate sponsorships that enable the companies to attend the superintendent meetings. Lego, a sponsor of the Baltimore County meeting, gave a 30-minute pitch, handing out little yellow blocks so the superintendents could build palm-size Lego ducks.

Karen Cator, the chief executive of Digital Promise, said it was important for schools and industry to work together. “We want a healthy, void-of-conflict-of-interest relationship between people who create products for education and their customers,” she said. “The reason is so that companies can create the best possible products to meet the needs of schools.”

Several parents said they were troubled by school officials’ getting close to the companies seeking their business. Dr. Cynthia M. Boyd, a practicing geriatrician and professor at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine with children in district schools, said it reminded her of drug makers’ promoting their medicines in hospitals.

“You don’t have to be paid by Big Pharma, or Big Ed Tech, to be influenced,” Dr. Boyd said. She has raised concerns about the tech initiative at school board meetings.

A Makeover Is Born

Baltimore County’s 173 schools span a 600-square-mile horseshoe around the city of Baltimore, which has a separate school system. Like many districts, the school system struggles to keep facilities up-to-date. Some of its 113,000 students attend spacious new schools. Some older schools, though, are overcrowded, requiring trailers as overflow classrooms. In some, tap water runs brown. And, in budget documents, the district said it lacked the “dedicated resources” for students with disabilities.

In a district riven by disparities, Dallas Dance, the superintendent from 2012 through this past summer, made an appealing argument for a tech makeover. To help students develop new-economy skills, he said, every school must provide an equitable digital learning environment — including giving every student the same device.

“Why does a first grader need to have it?” Mr. Dance said in an interview last year. “In order to break the silos of equity, you’ve got to say that everyone gets it.”

The district wanted a device that would work both for youngsters who couldn’t yet type and for high schoolers. In early 2014, it chose a particularly complex machine, an HP laptop that converts to a tablet. That device ranked third out of four devices the district considered, according to the district’s hardware evaluation forms, which The Times obtained. Over all, the HP device scored 27 on a 46-point scale. A Dell device ranked first at 34.

Document | How One School District Chose Its Laptops The district’s hardware evaluations for HP, Dell, Apple and Lenovo devices. The winning device: HP.

The district ultimately awarded a $205 million, multiyear contract to Daly Computers, a Maryland reseller, to furnish the device, called the Elitebook Revolve.

Mychael Dickerson, a school district spokesman, said, “The device chosen was the one that was closely aligned to what was recommended by stakeholders.” Daly did not respond to inquiries.

With the laptop deal sealed, Silicon Valley kicked into gear.

In September 2014, shortly after the first schools received laptops, HP invited the superintendent to give a keynote speech at a major education conference in New York City. Soon after, Gus Schmedlen, HP’s vice president for worldwide education, described the event at a school board meeting.

“We had to pick one group, one group to present what was the best education technology plan in the world for the last academic year,” Mr. Schmedlen said. “And guess whose it was? Baltimore County Public Schools!”

An HP spokesman said the company did not pay for the trip. He said the company does not provide “compensation, meals, travel or other perks to school administrators or any other public sector officials.”

Interactive Feature | Education Disrupted A series examining how Silicon Valley is gaining influence in public schools.

The superintendent later appeared in an HP video. “We are going to continue needing a thought partner like HP to say what’s working and what’s not working,” he said.

Microsoft, whose Windows software runs the laptops, named the district a Microsoft Showcase school system. Intel, whose chips power the laptops, gave Ryan Imbriale, the executive director of the district’s department of innovative learning, an Intel Education Visionary award.

Recently, parents and teachers have reported problems with the HP devices, including batteries falling out and keyboard tiles becoming detached. HP has discontinued the Elitebook Revolve.

Mr. Dickerson, the district spokesman, said there was not “a widespread issue with damaged devices.”

An HP spokesman said: “While the Revolve is no longer on the market, it would be factually inaccurate to suggest that’s related to product quality.”

Asked what device would eventually replace the Revolve in the schools, the district said it was asking vendors for proposals.

Mr. Dance’s technology makeover is now in the hands of an interim superintendent, Verletta White. In April Mr. Dance announced his resignation, without citing a reason. Ms. White has indicated that she will continue the tech initiative while increasing a focus on literacy.

A Baltimore County school board member, David Uhlfelder, said a representative from the Office of the Maryland State Prosecutor had interviewed him in September about Mr. Dance’s relationship with a former school vendor (a company not in the tech industry).

The prosecutor’s office declined to confirm or deny its interest in Mr. Dance.

Mr. Dance, who discussed the district’s tech initiatives with a Times reporter last year, did not respond to repeated emails and phone calls this week seeking comment.

Courting the Superintendents

In Baltimore County and beyond, the digital makeover of America’s schools has spawned a circuit of conferences, funded by Microsoft, Google, Dell and other tech vendors, that lavish attention on tech-friendly educators.

Mr. Dance’s travel schedule sheds light on that world.

Between March 2014, when the laptop contract was announced, and April 2017, when he announced his resignation, Mr. Dance took at least 65 out-of-state trips related to the district’s tech initiatives or involving industry-funded groups, according to a Times analysis of travel documents obtained under public records laws — nearly two trips per month on average. Those trips cost more than $33,000. The Times counted only trips with local receipts, indicating Mr. Dance set foot in the cities.

At least $13,000 of Mr. Dance’s airline tickets, hotel bills, meals and other fees were paid for by organizations sponsored by tech companies, some of which were school vendors, The Times found. The $13,000 is an incomplete number, because some groups cover superintendents’ costs directly, which means school records may not include them.

Another way tech companies reach superintendents is to pay private businesses that set up conferences or small-group meetings with them. Superintendents nationwide have attended these events.

One prominent provider is the Education Research and Development Institute, or ERDI, which regularly gathers superintendents and other school leaders for conferences where they can network with companies that sell to schools.

ERDI offered several service levels this year, according to a membership rate card obtained by The Times. A $13,000 fee for Bronze membership entitles a company to one confidential meeting, where executives can meet with five school leaders to discuss products and school needs. Diamond members could pay $66,000 for six such meetings.

Document | How Much It Costs to Meet With Superintendents The Education Research and Development Institute, known as ERDI, charges membership fees to school vendors to arrange small-group meetings with superintendents who can provide product feedback.

ERDI has offered superintendents $2,000 per conference as participating consultants, according to a Louisiana Board of Ethics filing. And there are other perks.

“Because we are asking for their time and expertise, we commonly offer to pay the cost of their food, transportation and lodging during their participation,” ERDI’s president, David M. Sundstrom, said in an email.

Mr. Dance’s calendar indicated that he had attended at least five ERDI events.

Mr. Dance received payment last year as an adviser for ERDI, according to his most recent district financial disclosure. It lists Dulle Enterprises, a company that owned ERDI in the past, as an employer from which he earned income.

Last February, at an ERDI conference in New Orleans, Mr. Dance met with Curriculum Associates, which makes reading software, as well as DreamBox Learning, a math platform.

At the time, both companies had contracts with the district. A few months after the event, the school board approved additional money for both companies. Each contract is now worth about $3.2 million.

A DreamBox spokeswoman said there was no connection between the meeting and its contract. “Even the appearance of impropriety is something we take very seriously and take steps to avoid,” she said.

A Curriculum Associates spokeswoman said: “These panels are not sales presentations, but rather focus-group opportunities to solicit feedback on products under development.”

Ms. White, the interim superintendent, has been involved with ERDI since 2013, according to Mr. Dickerson. He said Ms. White used vacation time to attend events, where she “provided guidance to education-related companies on goods, services and products that are in development to benefit student performance.”

Asked whether Ms. White had received ERDI payments, Mr. Dickerson said, “Participation in ERDI is done independently of the school system.” In an email, Ms. White said she found ERDI to be a “beneficial professional learning experience.” She didn’t respond to a question about ERDI compensation.

She added, “I do not believe there are any conflicts of interests” related to the district’s tech initiative.

Mr. Sundstrom, ERDI’s president, said education companies pay a fee to attend events “not to meet school leaders or make a sale,” but to get meaningful feedback on their education products from knowledgeable school leaders. He added that school officials do not make purchases at ERDI sessions and that it is their school boards that approve district purchases.

Baltimore County’s travel rules say, “No travel expenses will be paid by those seeking to do business with the Baltimore County Public Schools prior to obtaining a contract.” Mr. Dickerson explained that applied to companies currently bidding for contracts.

A Foundation’s Big Fund-Raiser

Beneath crystal chandeliers last April, politicians, school leaders, vendors and community members gathered in a banquet hall. The occasion was State of the Schools, an annual fund-raising luncheon arranged by the Education Foundation of Baltimore County Public Schools.

The foundation was created in the early 1990s and raises money for schools. Tech companies have made significant donations, and have directors sitting on the foundation’s board. The directors include employees from Discovery Education, Pearson and Microsoft, all vendors with multimillion-dollar district contracts.

Daly, the laptop provider, was the biggest donor, giving $30,000. McGraw-Hill, Discovery Education, Pearson and Microsoft each donated $1,500 to $15,000. Of the $211,500 in publicly listed donations for the event, tech companies gave about 43 percent.

“You have these huge contracts, and then you donate all this money, and the foundation puts up a banner advertising your company’s name,” said Michael J. Collins, a former Maryland state senator and former school board member. “I just didn’t think that passed the smell test.”

Discovery Education said it trained employees to avoid potential conflicts of interest. Microsoft said its policies followed government gift and ethics rules. Pearson said its donation had been nominal and vetted to prevent conflict of interest. McGraw-Hill said it was committed to integrity and transparency.

Deborah S. Phelps, the foundation’s executive director, said it awarded scholarships and gave schools grants for projects in culture, science, technology and other subjects.

When asked if the foundation had policies governing donations from vendors or potential vendors, Ms. Phelps said no. “‘There’s not necessarily a policy,” she said. There is also no policy prohibiting foundation board members who are vendors from reviewing grants involving their or competitors’ products, she said.

Mr. Dickerson said the focus of Baltimore County Public Schools was on “supporting students, teachers and their learning environments.” He added: “We are unapologetic for engaging with our Education Foundation, business partners and community stakeholders in an effort to close known achievement gaps.”

Mr. Reich of Stanford suggested school districts establish clearer rules governing their relationships with vendors, particularly with tech companies racing to win over the gatekeepers to America’s classrooms. Otherwise, parents could lose trust in the system.

“School leaders should be just as concerned about the perception of corruption as actual corruption,” he said.

Russia Investigation Has Tech Giants Shying From ‘Social’ Label

SAN FRANCISCO — After years of trying unsuccessfully to build a social network to rival Facebook, Google finally got something out of all of its failures: cover.

Members of Congress grilled the executives of Google, Facebook and Twitter this week in a trio of hearings focused on the role that social media played in advancing a Russian disinformation campaign before the 2016 election. Google’s representative at two of the hearings, Kent Walker, the company’s general counsel, made a point of distinguishing the search giant from its internet brethren. Repeatedly and unequivocally, he answered questions at the hearings by saying, “We’re not a social network.”

Tech companies have taken a pounding in the court of public opinion in recent months. In the eyes of their critics, they have become too big, too powerful and too unmindful of their influence. And this week’s congressional hearings cast added and unflattering light on the industry’s growing embarrassment over the Russian election meddling.

“Without sufficient oversight, these companies never imagined hostile intelligence services would misuse their platforms in this way,” said Renee DiResta, an independent security researcher at Data for Democracy. “The people running it appear to not fully appreciate what they’ve designed.”

Not surprisingly, perhaps, a few of the industry’s biggest companies have been happy to say, in essence, don’t blame us.

Tim Cook, Apple’s chief executive and an outspoken critic of the data-collection practices of his company’s technological rivals, said Wednesday that he was concerned that social networks could be weaponized against the people who use them.

“The bigger issue is that some of these tools are used to divide people, to manipulate people, to get fake news to people in broad numbers, and so to influence their thinking,” said Mr. Cook in an interview with NBC News.

Frank Shaw, head of communications at Apple’s longtime rival, Microsoft, praised Mr. Cook’s comments in a Twitter post, saying that Mr. Cook had framed the issue “perfectly.” Last year, Microsoft did purchase LinkedIn, a career-oriented social network, for $26.2 billion, but that site appears to have played little role in Russia’s influence efforts.

With the emergence of Facebook, Twitter and their ilk over the last decade, “social” became a key Silicon Valley buzzword as companies crammed social network-like features into new products. Even Apple, despite the tens of billions of dollars it has earned making computing devices, has tried its hand at a social network focused on music.

But as social media has become increasingly connected to unpleasant bickering, race-baiting and Russian propaganda, the must-have “social” label has become an albatross, said Joseph Bayer, an assistant professor at Ohio State University who focuses on social networks.

“The mere fact that a tech company is trying to minimize its overall influence is a telling signal of the moment we’re in,” said Mr. Bayer.

Google, which operates under the parent company Alphabet, can offer a distinction between its business and how social networks operate — largely because its attempts to build a social network have not been very successful.

The company spent millions of dollars creating Google+, a social site built specifically to take on Facebook. The company tied Google+ into nearly every one of its properties, describing it as the “social spine” of Google in public statements at the time.

There also were short-lived efforts like Google Buzz and Google Wave, or geographically specific sites like Orkut — popular in Brazil but ignored elsewhere.

Google+ continues to exist but it is considered a disappointment. Google said it had found no political posts from state-linked actors on Google+.

Google has often tried to fashion YouTube, its sprawling video service, into something more like a social network in hopes of keeping visitors interested. Last year, YouTube added what it called its “Community” product, essentially features intended to inspire users to interact more with one another.

Google said accounts believed to have ties to the Kremlin had uploaded more than 1,100 videos to YouTube on racial, religious and political topics. Those videos were viewed 309,000 times. Many of those videos had only a small number of views, though they were “frequently posted to other social media platforms,” Richard Salgado, Google’s senior counsel in law enforcement and information security, told a Senate subcommittee on Tuesday.

Facebook, to offer a comparison, estimated that 150 million users of Facebook and its subsidiary, Instagram, had been exposed to 80,000 posts that came from the Russian influence campaign.

Twitter said it had discovered more than 2,700 accounts that were linked to Russia’s Internet Research Agency, a company tied to the Kremlin, between September 2016 and November 2016. Those accounts posted roughly 131,000 tweets over that period. Twitter identified an additional 36,000 automated accounts that had posted 1.4 million election-related tweets linked to Russia over that same period. The tweets received about 288 million views.

“Now you’re seeing all the attention from Congress go to Facebook and Twitter, because they’re the linchpin” of the Russian information operations, said Ms. DiResta, the security researcher.

In his testimony on Capitol Hill, Mr. Walker, Google’s general counsel, sought to draw a bright line separating his company’s services from social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, which has been an occasional subject of Google acquisition rumors.

He also played down what Google knows about its users, a surprising conceit for a company that makes more money than anybody from selling advertising based on the online interests of users.

“We’re somewhat differently positioned because we’re not primarily a social network,” Mr. Walker said in response to a question regarding whether Google should notify users who are exposed to propaganda or divisive content from a foreign government. “Many users are not logged in when they access content, so it’s difficult to know who sees what.”

Still, social media remains a compelling proposition for internet companies, even Google, because it keeps people coming back and creates a place for them to spend their time, said Jan Dawson, an analyst at the technology data firm Jackdaw Research.

Take the example of Facebook. Despite having been assailed for weeks about the role it played in the 2016 election, Facebook reported another blockbuster financial quarter on Wednesday, shattering analysts’ expectations with more than $4.7 billion in profit in the third quarter. That was a 79 percent increase from the same period one year ago.

“If you gave Google the choice of having a social network, even with everything that’s happened,” said Mr. Dawson. “I think it would still like to have one.”

Russia Analysis Has Tech Giants Shying From ‘Social’ Label

Bay Area — After many years of attempting unsuccessfully to construct a social networking to rival Facebook, Google finally got something in the of their failures: cover.

People of Congress grilled the executives of Google, Twitter and facebook now inside a trio of proceedings centered on the function that social networking performed in evolving a Russian disinformation campaign prior to the 2016 election. Google’s representative at two proceedings, Kent Master, their general counsel, made an item of distinguishing looking giant from the internet brethren. Frequently and positively, he clarified questions in the proceedings by saying, “We’re not really a social networking.Inches

Tech companies took a pounding in the courtroom of public opinion in recent several weeks. Within the eyes of the critics, they’ve become too large, too effective and too unmindful of the influence. Which week’s congressional proceedings cast added and unflattering light around the industry’s growing embarrassment within the Russian election meddling.

“Without sufficient oversight, these businesses never imagined hostile intelligence services would misuse their platforms in this manner,Inches stated Renee DiResta, a completely independent security investigator at Data for Democracy. “The people running it seem to not fully appreciate what they’ve designed.”

Unsurprisingly, possibly, a couple of from the industry’s greatest companies happen to be pleased to say, essentially, don’t blame us.

Tim Prepare, Apple’s leader as well as an blunt critic from the data-collection practices of his company’s technological rivals, stated Wednesday he was concerned that social systems might be weaponized against those who rely on them.

“The bigger concern is that a few of these tools are utilized to divide people, to control people, to obtain fake news to individuals in broad figures, and thus to help their thinking,” stated Mr. Prepare within an interview with NBC News.

Frank Shaw, mind of communications at Apple’s longtime rival, Microsoft, recognized Mr. Cook’s comments inside a Twitter publish, stating that Mr. Prepare had presented the problem “perfectly.” This past year, Microsoft did purchase LinkedIn, a job-oriented social networking, for $26.2 billion, however that site seems to possess performed little role in Russia’s influence efforts.

Using the emergence of Facebook, Twitter as well as their ilk during the last decade, “social” grew to become a vital Plastic Valley buzzword as companies crammed social networking-like features into new items. Even Apple, regardless of the many vast amounts of dollars it’s earned making computers, has attempted its hands in a social networking centered on music.

But because social networking is becoming more and more linked to uncomfortable bickering, race-baiting and Russian propaganda, the must-have “social” label is becoming an albatross, stated Frederick Bayer, a helper professor at Ohio Condition College who concentrates on social systems.

“The mere proven fact that a tech clients are attempting to minimize its overall influence is really a telling signal from the moment we’re in,” stated Mr. Bayer.

Google, which operates underneath the parent company Alphabet, can provide a among its business and just how social systems operate — largely because its tries to develop a social networking haven’t been very effective.

The organization spent huge amount of money creating Google+, a social site built particularly to defend myself against Facebook. The organization tied Google+ into nearly all of its qualities, describing it as being the “social spine” of Google in public places statements at that time.

There also were short-resided efforts like Google Buzz and Google Wave, or geographically specific sites like Orkut — famous South america but overlooked elsewhere.

Google+ is constantly on the exist but it’s considered a disappointment. Google stated it’d found no political posts from condition-linked actors on the internet+.

Google has frequently attempted to fashion YouTube, its sprawling video service, into some thing just like a social networking hoping keeping visitors interested. This past year, YouTube added what it really known as its “Community” product, basically features meant to inspire users to have interaction more with each other.

Google stated accounts thought to have ties towards the Kremlin had submitted greater than 1,100 videos to YouTube on racial, religious and political topics. Individuals videos were viewed 309,000 occasions. A lot of individuals videos had only a small amount of views, though these were “frequently published with other social networking platforms,” Richard Salgado, Google’s senior counsel in police force and knowledge security, told a Senate subcommittee on Tuesday.

Facebook, to provide a comparison, believed that 150 million users of Facebook and it is subsidiary, Instagram, have been uncovered to 80,000 posts that originated from the Russian influence campaign.

Twitter stated it’d discovered greater than 2,700 accounts which were associated with Russia’s Research Agency, a business associated with the Kremlin, between September 2016 and November 2016. Individuals accounts published roughly 131,000 tweets over the period. Twitter identified yet another 36,000 automated accounts which had published 1.4 million election-related tweets associated with Russia over that very same period. The tweets received about 288 million views.

“Now you’re seeing all of the attention from Congress visit Twitter and facebook, because they’re the linchpin” from the Russian information operations, stated Ms. DiResta, the safety investigator.

In the testimony on Capitol Hill, Mr. Master, Google’s general counsel, searched for to attract a vibrant line separating his company’s services from social networking platforms like Twitter and facebook, that has been an periodic subject of Google acquisition rumors.

Also, he performed lower what Google is aware of its users, an unexpected conceit for an organization which makes more income than anybody from selling advertising in line with the online interests of users.

“We’re somewhat differently positioned because we’re not mainly a social networking,Inches Mr. Master stated as a result of an issue regarding whether Google should inform users who’re uncovered to propaganda or divisive content from the foreign government. “Many users aren’t logged in once they access content, so it’s hard to know who sees what.”

Still, social networking remains an engaging proposition for internet companies, even Google, since it keeps people returning and helps to create a spot for these to spend time, stated Jan Dawson, an analyst in the technology data firm Jackdaw Research.

Consider for example Facebook. Despite getting been assailed for days concerning the role it performed within the 2016 election, Facebook reported another blockbuster financial quarter on Wednesday, shattering analysts’ expectations using more than $4.7 billion in profit within the third quarter. Which was a 79 percent increase in the same period twelve months ago.

“If you gave Google the option of getting a social networking, despite everything that’s happened,” stated Mr. Dawson. “I think it might still enjoy having one.”