Weekly Industry News Round-Up
Facebook and Paypal being faced with massive tax bill increases, Instagram server issues and more. Find out everything in Bright Design’s Tuesday Newsday.
Facebook’s enormous tax bill still too low?
This week seems to be the week of tax bills (as you will see later). Making the headlines this week is the giant increase in tax that Facebook now has to pay HMRC. Now I know what you’re thinking, Facebook is a massive company that brings in stupid amounts of money, so of course, they are going to pay a massive amount of tax. But did you think they would have to pay three times what they paid the previous year?
Back in 2016 Facebook had to pay a total of £5.1 million, which let’s be fair, is a reasonable bunch of change. But that is nowhere near the £15.7 million that Facebook has now been faced to pay.
What makes this tax bill increase really significant is that Facebook hasn’t tripled their profits throughout the year, so this tax bill will have a major impact on their yearly profits. This tax bill has come even after Facebook decided to give out 1.48 million restricted ordinary shares which in theory, should reduce their tax liability.
Recently Amazon and Apple have both been in the news because of a report that suggested that the two mega companies have had data stolen from them by Chinese spies. The report explained that the Chinese spies had installed malicious chips into servers that were made in China before they were sent off to be used by Amazon and Apple. These chip will then activate once the machines were supplied with power overseas. The report states that the servers bugged with the chips were all manufactured for the US firm Super Micro Computer Inc.
Now I would just like to state that it isn’t just Apple and Amazon, in fact, there are another 30 companies that are hosted on these servers. However, we are reporting on Amazon and Apple as they are the most significant.
However, the two companies have both stated that there was no such leak within their companies. Apple claim that they told the investigators of this report that they were wrong, they’ve said that they have “never found malicious chips, ‘hardware manipulations’ or vulnerabilities purposely planted in any server”. They also stated that they conducted ‘rigorous internal investigations’ based on the information that’s fueled the report.
Amazon also publicly stated that the story was untrue and that they have never come across “modified hardware or malicious chips” within their servers.
It’s difficult not to believe Apple and Amazon’s stance on this report. Until proven wrong, the two major companies both have enough credibility between them to convince us that the story about Chinese spies hacking into their servers is fake. It’s possible that the report may be fictitious, created in order to put shareholders and customers off and damage the businesses.
Another tax bill?
Yes we know, it seems like the news is full of tax bills this week. Well, it seems that Facebook isn’t the only company to face a tax bill increase. This week we learnt that Paypal has seen a massive increase in the amount of tax that they now have to pay.
Research has shown that this year Paypal has been forced to pay a total of £4.7 million in tax to HMRC. This is definitely a jump from the ‘small’ £181,000 they paid in tax in 2016. The reason for this massive increase has been due to HMRC reviewing Paypal’s direct tax position. Because of Paypal’s new position, this has meant a definite tax increase.
It’s not surprising that PayPal and Facebook have seen massive tax increases this year, considering their huge profits and previously relatively low tax bills. It will be interesting to see how this will have changed next year.
Google’s fake shopping scheme?
Back in 2017, the European Commission fined Google a whopping £2.14 billion for not giving Google’s comparison shopping competitors equal treatment compared to their own shopping comparison sites. Due to this Google then contacted a variety of advertising agencies to invite them to build their own shopping comparison sites. This meant for the past four months, there has been a large increase in comparison sites appearing on Google.
Skip ahead four months and news from these sites have just begun to emerge. Turns out that there were underlining benefits which incentivized these advertising agencies to create their own price comparison sites and become a part of the Google comparison Shopping Service (CSS) scheme. The increase in comparison sites allowed Google to give the impression that they held a competitive shopping comparison marketplace.
However, it turns out that these shopping comparison sites were designed and used for a completely different purpose than we would really think about. Several people have recently described the comparison site that they have created as an “advertising system” and also as “a means of getting a rebate”.
Honestly, this news isn’t very surprising. In order for Google to prove that they had created a ‘fair’ (and I say that in heavily implied quotations) marketplace for comparison sites, they needed to incentivize advertisers to invest into the marketplace and make the marketplace monetisable in multiple different ways, whether that be tax rebates or making the comparison site itself collect data for advertisement purposes.
Global Instagram blackout
For the first time ever (as far as I know?) Instagram, the photo-sharing platform crashed across multiple different countries. Not only did we miss out on an hour of dog photos and overly complicated and descriptive egg on toast pictures but so did the rest of the world.
When people woke up in the morning, grabbed their phones and opened the Instagram app they were faced with the Instagram logo, usual buttons and nothing but a “couldn’t refresh feed” message.
If you were desperate to see your dog and food photos, you might have opened up Instagram on your browser where you were met with a blank white page that displayed a “5xx Access Error” in the top left corner of the page.
Needless to say, people jumped straight to Twitter to voice their frustrations and joke with the #instagramdown hashtag.
Luckily the staff that work for Instagram managed to get the app and the website back up within an hour of the crash. The blackout period is now over, so now you can go back to posting pictures of your food once again.
Google algorithm update
We always say that the Google algorithm is forever updating and it seems that this past week only goes to prove our point as it seems that Google has released another small update to their Google Birthday Update.
You may have noticed that the world of SEO has been pretty active within the past five weeks, not only have we just had the small update at the end of September, but we have experienced multiple updates throughout the month.
Note: If you have noticed a change in where your website ranks, don’t worry, wait for the algorithm to settle before you take drastic action to your site or get in touch for our advice.
Well, it seems that Facebook has lost a little of it’s competition (If we can even call Google+ competition), as news has just broken that Google+ will be shutting down. Now when I heard the news about Google+, I thought it was shutting down because of a lack of users to the social media platform, not because of a half a million users information leak.
The Wall Street Journal reported that there has been a bug in the Google+ software which has allowed third parties to gain access to private information about the users, due to this flaw a whopping half a million users have been affected by this software flaw.
The Wall Street Journal reported that Google has known about this software flaw since March of this year. In a statement, Google stated that the issue was not serious enough to inform the public. Which seems to me to be a poor excuse after half a million Google+ users have now had their private information leaked.