Half of online world use Facebook; England bankruptcies lowest in 15 years; Whitney Houston and virtual heir apparents

1 Half of online world use Facebook (Katie Hope on BBC) Half the world’s estimated online population now check into social networking giant Facebook at least once a month. Facebook said the number of people who check into the social network at least monthly grew 13% to 1.49 billion in the three months to the end of June.

The number is equal to half of the estimated three billion people who use the internet worldwide. Of those users, it said well over half, 65%, were now accessing Facebook daily. The rise in monthly active users helped drive second quarter revenue up 39% year-on-year to $4.04bn. Mobile advertising revenue was the biggest factor, accounting for more than three quarters of the total.

In the US, the company said people were now spending more than one out of every five minutes on their smartphones on Facebook. “But as well as keeping an eye on the short term gains they’re also keeping an eye on the long term so they’re future proofing themselves – it’s clear this is an organisational imperative,” Forrester analyst Erna Alfred Liousas said.

Facebook said that costs and expenditures for the quarter had surged by 82% to a hefty $2.8bn. As a result, net income fell 9.1% to $719m – equal to 25 cents a share – but the firm said if various expenses were excluded earnings would have been 50 cents a share.

Facebook also highlighted the increasing importance of video, saying that usage continued to grow. And it said it would start selling its Oculus Rift 3D headset in the first three months of next year. “3D content is the obvious next thing after video. Video will be huge, gaming will be huge. Once you start to get a critical mass we can get a social app which we are more specialised in,” said Mr Zuckerberg.


2 England bankruptcies lowest in 15 years (Patrick Collinson in The Guardian) Just one person was made bankrupt in the City of London in 2014, compared to 101 in Blackpool, according to figures from the Insolvency Service which reveal a deep north-south divide in debt problems.

The total number of personal bankruptcies in England and Wales peaked during the financial crisis in 2009, but has fallen dramatically and now stands at the lowest level for 15 years. Part of the reason is that individuals are opting for other forms of insolvency – such as individual voluntary arrangements [IVAs] and debt relief orders [DROs]. These have fallen from the peak seen in 2009, but are still nearly three times the rate in 2000.

Blackpool council said 2014 was a good year for the town’s tourist trade, but acknowledged the deep financial problems faced by many residents. “We are one of the most economically deprived areas in the UK so perhaps it’s not that suprising we have a high level of personal insolvencies. Studies have also shown that Blackpool has been among the towns hardest hit by government cuts.”

Nationally, debt advisers are warning that interest rate rises and the loss of tax credits is likely to see the downward trend in insolvencies since 2009 go into reverse. Jane Tully of the Money Advice Trust, said: “This steady downward trend in insolvencies is welcome news. We must be mindful, however, of what lies ahead. Household debt is forecast to pass its pre-recession peak of 169% of household incomes in 2020. We are concerned that many will turn to credit to plug gaps in their budgets.”


3 Whitney Houston and virtual heir apparents (Khaleej Times) With the untimely and unfortunate death of Bobbi Kristina Brown – the late Whitney Houston’s daughter – there is widespread speculation on what will happen to Houston’s financial ‘legacy’: her life’s earnings, her properties – that would have normally been passed on to her daughter. With Bobbi Kristina dead at 22, the field has been left wide open.

Who will inherit Whitney Houston’s vast fortune? It’s turned out to be a million-dollar question. It is ironical that on the same day Facebook introduced its legacy feature in the UK; it’s now gone live, and millions of Facebook users can now nominate an ‘inheritor’.

We’ve all heard of apps that continue to tweet your train of thoughts after you’re dead and gone – and it sounded somewhat odd, even morbid, that you could pretend to live on virtually. But what Facebook is doing is creating a property out of its page (the legacy feature will soon be a worldwide phenomenon); it’s almost like having a piece of real estate with your personal touches (and possessions) in place, and you are, in turn, “willing” it to who you consider your most worthy inheritor: the one who will take forward your vision.

Although it may seem like overarching ambition on Zuckerberg’s part to assume his brand can be this valuable, Netizens are excited at the prospect. Some are being made to feel important that this is yet another feather in their caps, one that can be “passed on”; and some are made to feel equally important that they stand to inherit something so virtually valuable.

And there is bound to be a smaller percentage of Facebook users who will perhaps get creeped out at the prospect of their social media page being used as a goldmine. Here too, the field is wide open, and as Facebook would say, more comments are awaited.



About joesnewspicks

This blog captures interesting news items from around the world for those strained by information overload and yet need to stay updated on global events of significance. The news items displayed are not in order of merit. (The blog takes a weekly off — normally on Sundays — and does not appear when I am on vacation or busy.) I am a journalist for nearly three decades.
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