social media watch

Facebook's Sandberg Apologizes as Emotions Test Stirs Up Emotions

Posted by Sheila Shayon on July 2, 2014 01:29 PM

Facebook’s signature blue face is turning red as the social network faces inquiries from Europe’s privacy regulators following its data scientists' experimental tweaking of the emotional content of posts in the news feeds of nearly 700,000 users.

When the news broke, Facebook initially stated that it was merely conducting user testing to see if emotions were contagious. In this case—they are, and the company’s actions have roused the ire of social media, prompted an apology from COO Sheryl Sandberg, and perhaps violated local privacy laws.

The European agencies involved include Ireland’s Office of the Data Protection Commissioner and the Information Commissioner’s Office of Britain. While it’s not clear where the one out of every 2,500 Facebook users experimented with reside, 80 percent of its total 1.2 billion users are based outside North America.

“We’re aware of this issue, and will be speaking to Facebook, as well as liaising with the Irish data protection authority, to learn more about the circumstances,” a spokesman for the British regulator commented. Sandberg today apologized while on a trip to India, in comments published by the Wall Street Journal.Continue reading...

brands under fire

Up in Smoke: UK Looks to Adopt Plain Cigarette Packaging to Combat Smoking

Posted by Mark J. Miller on June 30, 2014 04:52 PM


Big Tobacco has been fighting against plain packaging for years as a global health trend continues to push an anti-smoking agenda. By blocking the brand names, some of the products will lose a major part of their social cachet, one of the reasons some smokers even get started.

According to The Guardian, the UK will announce possible plain packaging regulations this Thursday. Back in April, Public Health Minister Jane Ellison had promised that such regulations would be presented by the end of that month, and the tardiness has created concern among public-health advocates.

The regulations won't guarantee plain packaging in the UK, but will bring it closer to reality.Continue reading...

corporate citizenship

Walmart-Backed Alliance Vows to Fix Bangladesh, but Critics Fear Lack of Liability

Posted by Sheila Shayon on July 10, 2013 04:12 PM

An alliance of 17 North American brands led by Walmart, Gap and Target has unveiled the details of its independent Bangladesh Worker Safety Initiative—a five-year pact that aims to improve conditions at Bangladesh garment factories and establish more viable worker communications. 

The plan is the counter to the ILO-supported Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh, which is supported by over 70 brands, the majority of which are European. Led by two of the world's largest retailers, Inditex, owner of Zara, and H&M, the Accord includes plans for coordinated building inspections, and a broad network of support and accountability including factory owners, trade unions, government officials and brand leaders.

The apparent divide has been debated since the Rana Plaza factory building collapsed in April, killing 1,129 people. Now, with both documents in hand, it seems the only major difference is accountability—the same factor that drove Walmart, Gap and others to walk away from the legally-binding Accord.Continue reading...

corporate citizenship

Retail and Apparel Brands Move Forward With Separate Bangladesh Safety Pacts

Posted by Sheila Shayon on July 8, 2013 06:38 PM

A mostly European coalition of 70 leading clothing brands, retailers and trade unions backed by the International Labor Organization and the IndustriALL and UNI global trade unions has announced the next steps for their precendent-setting, five-year Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh.

In a joint statement, EU Commissioner Karel de Gucht, ILO Director General Guy Ryder, and Bangladeshi Foreign Minister Dupi Moni "welcome(d) the fact that over 70 major fashion and retail brands sourcing RMG from Bangladesh have signed an Accord on Fire and Building Safety to coordinate their efforts to help improve safety in Bangladesh’s factories which supply them. In this context, they encourage other companies, including SMEs, to join the Accord expeditiously within their respective capacities.”

Their remarks were targeted at the brands that are holdouts from the European-dominated IndustriALL coalition. Indeed, only a handful of North American brands have signed the global accord, including PVH (owner of Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger and other apparel brands), Abercrombie & Fitch, Zac Posen and Sean John, as well as Canada's Loblaw, which owns the Joe Fresh fashion label now sold in JCPenney stores across America.

By signing the finalized plan, which was released on Monday, the signatories vow to submit a list of names and addresses of all Bangladeshi factories used by July 15. The list, which is expected to total near 1,000 factories, will be made public along with inspection reports.Continue reading...

Google Glass Foes Highlight Rising Privacy Concerns

Posted by Sheila Shayon on April 3, 2013 11:15 AM

Six European nations are challenging Google's privacy policies it emerged on Tuesday—just after the announcement that its privacy director was stepping down. Later this year, when Google Glass hits the market, privacy issues are already emerging as Google’s wearable tech, estimated retail price $1,500, brings seismic change to the scientific landscape and to what's possible with personal computing.

Google, on the defensive, argues that its already-filled "Glass Explorer" program of Google Glass public beta-testers "will give all of us the chance to be active participants in shaping the future of this technology, including its features and social norms."Continue reading...

trademark wars

Belgian Chocolatiers Look to EU for Product Trademark

Posted by Mark J. Miller on March 28, 2013 01:37 PM

When consumers pick up a bottle of Champagne, they know it’s from France, and when they scarf down some Prosciutto di Parma, they know it’s from Italy. Now, manufacturers of Belgian chocolates are trying to legally protect their chocolate so that when folks pick up products with the phrase “Belgian chocolate” on it, you can be sure it's from Belgium.

After all, chocolate is big business in Belgium. The Telegraph reports that there are “over 200 chocolate firms, more than 2,000 chocolate stores and museums drawing thousands of sweet-toothed visitors every year.” Exports of the product are worth $5.1 billion. That’s a lot of cacao.Continue reading...

rules of engagement

Microsoft Fined Piddly $730 Million in European Browser Snafu

Posted by Mark J. Miller on March 7, 2013 12:22 PM

Microsoft is in a heap of trouble with the European Union. After agreeing in 2009 that it would let Windows users choose other Web browsers than its Internet Explorer, Microsoft didn’t deliver on its promise and now has been fined $733 million, the AP reports. This is on top of the $1.1 billion the company had already been fined at the time.

As if the sticker shock wasn't enough, the tipoff to the EU that Microsoft wasn’t doing the right thing was done by none other than Google and a Norwegian browser maker, Opera, according to the Financial Times. Ouch. Opera was actually the company that filed the first complaint about all this back in 2007, so it’s no surprise to see that brand back battling Microsoft, ZDNet points out.  Continue reading...

cause marketing

Personal Care Brands Get Ready for European Ban on Animal Testing

Posted by Sheila Shayon on March 6, 2013 12:26 PM

In just one week, the EU’s sweeping ban on animal testing for cosmetics and personal care products goes into effect.

"All personal care products, from high-end to drugstore brands, will be subject to the rules," and "final products cannot be tested on animals and nor can any of a given products’ ingredients."

The European ban starting March 11th is a hard-won victory impacting companies and brands worldwide, and follows two decades of campaigning by organizations such as PETA, public protests, phone calls, and more than 20,000 e-mails.

“It’s enormously important because it started out as an ethical stand—animals should not die for shampoo—and brought about a whole new era of non-animal science,” Kathy Guillermo, SVP Laboratory Investigations at PETA, told brandchannel. “This ban shows that once an animal test is rejected, scientists can and will come up with a new and better way. We need to put the same limitations on household chemicals, pharmaceuticals and medical devices.”Continue reading...

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