Amazon Costs Explode – Spotlight #439

Good Monday Morning

It’s October 24th. The World Series starts Friday and wraps up as late as November 5 after owners locked players out during a late winter labor dispute last year. 

Today’s Spotlight is 654 words — about 3 minutes to read.

News To Know Now

Quoted:“What I consider offensive, you might be considering a joke. So it’s really important for us to not make a call for you. At the end of the day, you’re in the driver’s seat.

— Instagram product designer Francesco Fugo to Vox. About half of people who get a message about bullying or harmful language they typed revise their comments.

Driving the news:  Those Q3 tech earning calls this week will likely create a tsunami of poor economic news.

Three Important Stories

1)  The FTC is looking into online behavior of funeral homes. The agency says that fewer than 40% provide pricing information online although they are required to do so in person.

2Meta confirmed that it will sell Giphy after losing an appeal to a UK regulatory agency. 

That’s important because:  Meta reportedly fears similar orders in the U.S. that could affect Instagram or WhatsApp.

3) Google announced improvements to help people customize and stop specific categories from being advertised to them. Google also says that it has made it easier to completely disable ad personalization.

Trends & Spends

Spotlight Explainer — Amazon Costs Growing

Amazon costs have led to a series of initiatives as the company slashes expenses to appease Wall Street: Fabric.com (purchased in 2018), Amazon Care (started in 2019), and dozens of underperforming stores have all been closed in recent weeks. Its logistics aren’t immune from cost-cutting. Amazon closed all but one U.S. call center last month, and dozens of warehouses were delayed, closed or canceled.

Engadget recently obtained internal documents showing $8 billion in employee attrition costs against $33 billion in net profit last year, an impossibly high number even for a firm with $60 billion cash on hand.

What’s next: Amazon reports Q3 earnings after the bell Thursday. Analysts are expecting earnings to be the best so far this year, but still low compared to previous years. We’re expecting to hear more about fulfillment center automation, retail store technology as cashiers are replaced, and its integration plans for One Medical and Roomba.

Did That Really Happen? — Bear In The Car

The story of a bear trapped in a North Carolina car is being repurposed by scammers. The story gets reactions when reposted with local but false information, but comments are disabled. Eventually, scammers replace the story with scam offers seemingly backed by locals.

Following Up — TikTok Adult Content

Last week, we wrote about TikTok expansion. Now the company says it will allow creators to livestream adult-themed content beginning November 23, but what that really means is unclear. The TikTok site guidelines prohibit pornography, nudity, and explicit content.

Protip — Take the Google Phishing Quiz

Identify 8 different scenarios of legitimate and malicious emails. Discover the hidden traps and pitfalls Google engineers have set for you and pick up some great tips along the way.

Screening Room — WhatsApp Tries Pigeons

Science Fiction World — Predicting Mortality by Gait

Researchers at the University of Illinois have developed a predictive model that uses only six minutes of walking data to predict five year mortality probabilities. The model’s results are comparable to those using traditional risk factors, says one researcher.

Coffee Break — Google Freightgeist

Google Trends has created a specially themed version for Halloween showing top costumes nationally and locally based on search trends.

Sign of the Times

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