India mulls single regulator for e-commerce sector: document

MUMBAI (Reuters) – India is mulling a single legislation to address all aspects of e-commerce regulation, and it is also exploring the idea of setting up a single regulator to consider all sector-related issues, according to a draft policy document seen by Reuters.

The federal government has indicated it aims to remove the legal fragmentation governing the e-commerce sector, according to the Draft National Policy Framework on e-commerce.

Some of the measures suggested in the draft include local data storage, mandating the use of state-run RuPay payments in online transactions and enhancing the participation of micro, small and medium enterprises in online retail.

Reporting by Sankalp Phartiyal; Editing by Euan Rocha

Why Companies Are Turning To Chief Data Officers To Generate More Value Out Of Data

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In a conversation with MicroStrategy CMO Mark Gambill, he described the rise of a new type of role—the Chief Data Officer (click here for article). As part of that conversation, he suggested I talk with Matthew Thomas, CDO, Pandera Systems, a leader in helping firms deliver analytics and automated decision capabilities, to better understand why financial institutions in particular need the CDO role (in addition to the CMO and CIO roles). Below are insights from Thomas regarding the CDO role—and how it adds value above and beyond the CMO and CIO roles.

WhitlerCan you describe the CDO role?

Thomas: To truly appreciate the increasing need for the CDO’s role, one must first understand that 90 percent of the world’s data was created in the past two years alone. That’s a lot of information for a company to suddenly organize, secure and make sense of, let alone make strategic decision on. The CDO emerged as organizations realized the need for someone to lead the management of all of this data as well as guide the organization in technology adoption and training necessary to storing and distributing it all.

Modern CDOs have a hybrid role: first control and secure data, second, maximize data’s value with accessibility throughout an organization while continuing to maintain this controlled state

Whitler: Is this a common role in the financial services industry?

Thomas: With the volume and velocity of data continuing to grow the challenge of reporting that data in a timely and trustworthy medium is a constant challenge. Regulatory reporting and legislative deadlines can cause more than migraines. Consider this: the average company loses up to twelve percent of its annual revenue due to bad data. If there are any non-compliance fines or other consequences on top of that, an organization can be crippled. This is especially important in financial services where those regulatory requirements are more stringent.

I’ll also add that in the age of millennials, there is no longer a single team of IT folks building reports. At companies across the globe, the masses have data access and want more from it. The need for self-service is very real, but behind that, the importance of governing data to avoid incorrect reporting becomes an even larger need.

Whitler: What are the consequences of having a CDO role? Or, what is the incremental value above and beyond other C-suite positions?

Thomas: The CDO is charged with providing decision-ready data to other executives to improve cycle times and cost on capital project considerations. For example, I was recently tasked with a plan to extract data from the Oracle E-Business System and input the information into MicroStrategy, our Business Intelligence solution. During the transfer my team came across a range of inconsistencies, such as departments using conflicting facts to report on given subjects. It’s my job to figure out whose data is correct, how long teams have been working with inconsistent data and what the potential domino effects of this inaccurate reporting were.

CDOs remove ambiguity around what data to use and how it should influence decision-making. Going back to my point on a data governance framework, it’s essential that CDOs implement systems that protect data and provide users with a seamless operating language across all elements of corporate data.

Whitler: Who does the CDO report to? And how are they different than a CIO?

Thomas: It’s ideal that a CDO report directly to the CEO, because it’s the CEO’s overall business strategy that’s defining a CDO’s day-to-day work.

There are important distinctions between what a CDO and a CIO do. The CDO’s role is to manage the information necessary to run the business, while the CIO manages the systems that run the business. In the modern economy, a CDO needs to provide standardized, quality controlled data that people can access to make informed decision that align to the overarching goals of the company.

Whitler: What experiences can help prepare somebody for a CDO role?

Thomas: The most important thing that someone can do to prepare for a CDO role is understand how significant data is in making informed business decisions at every level. A CDO must understand how information disseminates throughout an entire organization to support corporate strategy.

 Join the Discussion: @KimWhitler

Google's Grand Plan To Make AI Accessible To Developers And Businesses

Artificial intelligence took center stage at Google’s annual user conference, Cloud Next 2018. The company made several announcements that make machine learning and artificial intelligence accessible to both developers and businesses.

Fei-Fei Li, Chief Scientist, Google AISource: Google

One of the first announcements came in the form of Cloud AutoML, a managed service that lets developers build machine learning models without requiring any specialized knowledge in machine learning or coding. AutoML Vision, along with other automated ML services became publicly available. According to Google, it is a suite of machine learning products that enables developers with limited machine learning expertise to train high-quality models specific to their business needs, by leveraging Google’s state-of-the-art transfer learning, and Neural Architecture Search technology.

With AutoML, developers use a simple graphical user interface (GUI) to train, evaluate, improve, and deploy models based on their own data. Apart from computer vision, AutoML also offers translation and natural language models. AutoML Natural Language helps customers to predict custom text categories specific to domains automatically. With AutoML Translation, they can upload translated language pairs to train custom translation models.

Google has also enhanced its cognitive computing APIs. Cloud Vision API now recognizes handwriting, supports additional file types (PDF and TIFF) and product search, and can identify where an object is located within an image. The improvements to Cloud Text-to-Speech include multilingual access to voices generated by DeepMind WaveNet technology and the ability to optimize for the type of speaker from which the speech is intended to play. Cloud Speech-to-Text added the ability to identify what language is spoken as well as different speakers in a conversation, word-level confidence scores, and multi-channel recognition. With this enhancement, customers can record each participant separately in multi-participant recordings.

Dialogflow, the platform to build bots, can now be used to build AI-powered virtual agents for the contact center, including phone-based conversational agents known as interactive voice response (IVR). Google Cloud Contact Center, an AI solution based on Dialogflow, includes new features alongside other tools to assist live agents and to perform analytics.

With Dialogflow Phone Gateway, customers can assign a working phone number to the virtual agent and begin taking calls. The dynamic platform can scale based on the utilization patterns. Behind the scenes, all of the telephony infrastructure, speech recognition, speech synthesis, natural language understanding and orchestration are managed automatically.

Another component of Dialogflow Enterprise, the Dialogflow Knowledge Connector understands unstructured documents like FAQs or knowledge base articles to automatically build intents with automated responses sourced from internal document collections, enriching the conversational experience with little extra effort. The added information extracted from the knowledge base is integrated with the Dialogflow agent to deliver conversational user experience.

Apart from the above enhancements, Dialogflow now includes automatic spelling correction, sentiment analysis and text-to-speech capabilities.

Google is integrating its cloud-based machine learning assets with Dialogflow to build an intelligent contact center. The platform includes an agent assist system to provide the call center agents with relevant information through suggested articles and shortcuts for fulfilling relevant tasks in real time. Another feature called the Conversational Topic Modeler uses Google AI to analyze historical audio and chat logs to uncover insights about topics and trends in customer interactions.

Google is working with several industry players to integrate Cloud Contact Center AI with mainstream contact center platforms.

From automated ML to AI-based contact center, Google wants AI to become accessible to both developers and enterprises.

Southwest Airlines Says It Won't Do This Incredibly Annoying Thing That Other Airlines Always Do (And Passengers Rejoice)

Case in point: There’s a lot of stuff to get annoyed about with air travel. But my #1 pet peeve is when flight attendants insist that you listen to them while they try to sell you on an airline-sponsored credit card.

Mental muscle memory

Of course, there are times when it’s crucial that you pay attention to the cabin crew. Even if you’ve flown 100 times this year, it’s still useful to hear the safety instructions–if only for mental muscle memory in the event of an actual emergency.

And if you’ve memorized it all, at least you can understand the benefit of being quiet so that other not-so-frequent fliers can absorb the information.

But a lot of airlines go beyond that. They turn off the in-flight entertainment and insist that passengers sit still and quiet while the flight attendants pitch you on a credit card.

It’s doubly annoying when you already have the credit card that they’re pitching you.

Flight attendants on both United and American get paid commissions for each credit card they sell: between $50 and $100 depending on the circumstances.

Not even optional?

On United Airlines it’s not even optional: As my colleague Chris Matyszczyk recently wrote, flight attendants are actually being required to try to make sales on every flight. (The flight attendants say they don’t like the policy anymore than the passengers do.)

People worried recently, when Southwest Airlines announced that it was going to launch a branded credit card of its own.

Would it mean that we’d start hearing credit card pitches on LUV? Would singing flight attendants be replaced with hawking salespeople?

My friends, we needn’t have worried. 

‘No plans for an onboard sales program’

Writing in the Chicago Business Journal, the utterly indefatigable Lewis Lazare reports that Southwest says it has “no plans for an onboard sales program for the new Priority card.”

That means no brochures for busy flight attendants to hand out, no “lean[ing] heavily on passengers to consider signing up for the new card,” and no annoying on-board announcements trying to hawk the new credit card.

By the way, as Lazare aptly summarizes, Southwest’s new credit card comes with:

  • a $149 annual fee 
  • 7,500 anniversary Rapid Rewards points each year 
  • a $75 annual Southwest travel credit, 
  • 20 percent back on inflight purchases, and 
  • up to four upgraded boardings per year when available

Is that a good deal, then? Should you apply for a Southwest Airlines-branded Chase Rapid Rewards Priority? 

I have no skin in the game either way. And maybe neither should your flight attendant.
 

HipChat Maker Atlassian Cedes Chat Software Battle to Slack; Takes Equity Stake

Slack is now hip. And HipChat? Square.

Slack has purchased the intellectual property rights to competing products from its longtime competitor Atlassian, which announced on Thursday that it will halt development on HipChat and Stride and migrate current users to its rival’s software. Atlassian will receive a small stake in Slack, which is privately held and valued at about $8 billion. Atlassian’s central services for the products in question will continue to run through Feb. 15, 2019; specialized corporate options will shut down through June 2020.

Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield announced the deal in a brief series of posts on Twitter, which was followed up by a more detailed announcement by Atlassian.

Moving forward, the true competitor for the now-friendly companies is Microsoft, which offers its Teams group communication system to 135 million Office cloud-based subscribers. Facebook offers its own system, called Workplace, but has made far fewer inroads in the corporate world. Facebook’s last update on usage, in October 2017, said about 14,000 organizations were using Workplace, but didn’t disclose use numbers. Slack said in May that it has 8 million daily active users, 3 million of which are in paid teams. With a free tier, Slack has 500,000 teams registered, of which 70,000 pay a few to tens of dollars per user per month.

Launched in 2010, HipChat was a successful early model for managed corporate chatrooms that combined aspects of social networking with the need for IT control, provision, oversight, and archiving. Stride was intended as its replacement and was released in Sept. 2017. Slack, an outgrowth of a failed multiplayer online video game, launched in 2013 and rapidly captured market share.

The deal with Slack allows Atlassian to focus on its successful products for software development and product management, including the ticketing management system Jira and Trello, a card/stack/board-structured project management system.

Atlassian said it planned to deepen integration between its remaining products and Slack, which has a robust and deep approach for third-party tie-ins. It also said that its more than 2,600 employees will begin using Slack.

“We believe that this partnership is the best way to advance our mission to unleash the potential of every team,” the company wrote in its announcement. “And it will allow us to improve our focus in other areas.”

Facebook’s Biggest Problem? A Crisis of Words.

“The [executive] either has a meaning and cannot express it, or he inadvertently says something else, or he is almost indifferent as to whether his words mean anything or not.”

The quote is from Politics and the English Language and while George Orwell never made Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg his object of scorn—the original reads “writer” in place of “executive”—he would have been right to do so. More than any other company today, Facebook has a freakish inability to use words.

Facebook’s penchant for verbal nonsense is neither new nor particularly unique in a corporate world that loves self-interested spin. But today, that habit is driving a crisis of trust engulfing the Silicon Valley company. The failure of its executives, particularly co-founder Zuckerberg, to speak in plain, candid language during earnings calls and other appearances is a big reason that Facebook can’t escape the moral quagmire that led to an overnight plunge in its lofty stock price.

Want an example of Facebook’s failure with words? Begin with Zuckerberg’s bizarre insistence that he doesn’t run a media company. Facebook has long operated a global broadcast channel with more viewers than any television station on the planet, and has gobbled much of the advertising revenue once enjoyed by traditional media outlets. Yet in testifying before Congress in April, Zuckerberg again would not concede the obvious proposition that Facebook is a media company.

“I consider us to be a technology company,” he told lawmakers on Capitol Hill. Many observers interpreted the response as an attempt to shirk responsibility for Facebook’s role as a purveyor of news, video, and other media in the wake of Russian interference in U.S. elections.

Such prevarications are akin to the CEO of a large energy company declaring, when confronted with a massive spill: “We’re not an oil company.” In Facebook’s case, the company pumps its own pollution in the form of fake news, troll armies, and conspiracy theories. At Facebook’s scale, it amounts to a massive sludge of toxic media. If Zuckerberg truly hopes to clean it up, he can start by admitting he’s in the media business.

Another example of what Orwell called “debased language” is Facebook’s invocation of “the community” to justify behavior that is abhorrent and wrong. Most recently, executives muttered about “community standards” in a limp defense of why Facebook allows Holocaust deniers or the noxious conspiracy site InfoWars to flourish on its platform.

Zuckerberg himself has invoked “the community” over and over to explain Facebook’s foot-dragging. But as sociologist Zeynep Tufekci pointed out, Zuckerberg has failed to explain how the 2 billion people who use Facebook can possibly be defined as a community.

I called Facebook to learn more about what “community” means to the company, to little avail. A spokesperson said Facebook develops guidelines “with the community in mind” and on the basis of “safety, equity, and voice.” I asked the spokesperson to explain how a billion people can be “a community” and she simply referred me back to the guidelines.

The exchange underscored why New York Times columnist Farhad Manjoo has concluded that Facebook’s stated policies make no sense. “All of this fails a basic test: It’s not even coherent. It is a hodgepodge of declarations and exceptions and exceptions to the exceptions,” Manjoo wrote while describing Zuckerberg’s verbal contortions about Holocaust deniers using the service.

The incoherence is frustrating but, worse, it’s disempowering. When Zuckerberg defends Facebook’s latest outrage in the name of the community, it puts all of us in that community—you and me and the trolls and the hate-mongers and yes, the Holocaust deniers. No decent person wants to be part of such a community. Most see a community as a group of people who share similar values and with whom they choose to identify. To Zuckerberg, the word apparently means something else.

“Platforms like Facebook, which exist for the express purpose of ‘creating community,’ turn out to be in the business of exploiting the communities they’ve created for the benefit of those outside (the business community, the strategic communications community, the Moldovan hacker community),” explains writer Carina Chocanoa. “They invite members to ‘participate,’ but not, in the end, to make decisions together; the largest rewards, and the greatest powers, stay private.”

If Zuckerberg wants to cling to the word “community,” he will have to make some hard decisions about who is part of that community and who is not. Such a decision should be informed by law and ethics and philosophy—not a slapdash jumble of words compiled by his public relations team.

In a remarkable farewell letter this month, a longtime Facebook executive, Alex Stamos, made this very point. Using blunt and very understandable language, Stamos attributed the company’s current predicament to thousands of small decisions and called for a change. “We need to be willing to pick sides when there are clear moral or humanitarian issues,” Stamos wrote in the letter, first published by BuzzFeed. (Stamos served as chief information security officer at Facebook.)

That clarity—of words and thoughts and deeds—is what’s needed from Zuckerberg if he wants to lift his company out of the moral muck. One way to start would be for him to jettison what Orwell called “lump[s] of verbal refuse” and speak to Facebook users in clear English.

Facebook’s Stock Just Took a Massive Hit, Wiping Off As Much As $145 Billion in Market Cap

Facebook’s problems have reached a boiling point. After months of questions and, often reluctant, disclosures about massive information leaks and about how it handles false information on its site seen by hundreds of millions of people, disappointing user growth caused the social network’s stock to plummet in after-hours trading on Wednesday, shedding over $145 billion in market cap.

Investors’ alarm was likely triggered by a failure in growth in its most important markets, the combined U.S. and Canada segment and Europe. U.S. and Canadian traffic was flat from the previous quarter, while Europe shed 3 million average daily users quarter over quarter, down to 279 million.

U.S. and Canadian Facebook visitors provided an average revenue per user (ARPU) in the latest quarter of $25.91, the vast majority from advertising, while the ARPU of Europeans was $8.76, according to figures provided by Facebook. Other markets offer much less value: Asia-Pacific users rack up just $2.61 in revenue, and the rest of the world lumped together, a mere $1.91.

The drop in European visitors was potentially due to the continuous revelations highlighted there about Facebook’s breaches and weaknesses, and the implementation of the European Union and related entities’ General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in late May. The GDPR requires more disclosure and opting in to many tracking and ad-related behaviors that aren’t related to the core function of a website.

While the company saw revenue up 42% year-over-year to $13.2 billion in its second quarter, that was short of what Wall Street expected. Net income was similarly up, to $5.1 billion from $3.9 billion the year-ago quarter, but that didn’t assuage investors and institutions. The after-hours plunge came despite Facebook also beating a consensus estimate of earnings per share of $1.72 by two cents.

This slowing growth in valuable markets may have provided the jitters that led investors to significant after-hours profit taking. The company had a nearly unbroken steady climb in its stock price since mid-2014, with a blip shedding 15% in a matter of days in March when revelations about alleged data misuse by Cambridge Analytica emerged. Facebook stock recovered gradually, and was up 29% in the last year and 21% in 2018 through the close of regular trading today, rising to a new high of 217.50, before the after-hours tumble. Nearly the last year’s gains have now been lost.

Facebook has no end in sight for scrutiny and oversight, with regulators, prosecutors, and other public and private parties in multiple countries examining the company’s actions, those of nation states allegedly manipulating news and advertising, and that of firms like Cambridge Analytica, which obtained massive amounts of information that many Facebook users likely considered private.

Yesterday, BuzzFeed published a memo by chief security officer Alex Stamos written to staff in March after the initial Cambridge Analytica stories broke in which he urged the company to pick sides on important issues. Stamos reportedly still plans to leave the company next month, following a reorganization that the New York Times said earlier this year took away 98% of the group he managed. Today, Facebook’s chief legal officer announced he’s departing at the end of this year for family reasons.

Qualcomm investors cheer end of NXP deal doomed by China-U.S. tensions

(Reuters) – Qualcomm Inc (QCOM.O), the world’s biggest maker of chips for mobile phones, said on Wednesday it would drop its $44 billion bid for NXP Semiconductors (NXPI.O) after failing to secure regulatory approval from China against a backdrop of widening trade tensions.

FILE PHOTO: A sign on the Qualcomm campus is seen in San Diego, California, U.S. November 6, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake

Investors expressed relief at the end of the project that has dragged on since 2016, all while Qualcomm fended off a $117 billion takeover bid from Broadcom Inc (AVGO.O), fought in court with Apple Inc (AAPL.O), and faced billions of dollars in fines from antitrust regulators around the world over its licensing practices.

The San Diego chipmaker also delivered surprisingly strong third-quarter results and a rosy outlook for so-called 5G technology, the next generation of wireless data networks. Those numbers, combined with a $30 billion share buyback plan that Qualcomm had promised to implement if the NXP deal fell through, sent its shares up almost 6 percent to $62.95 after the bell.

Qualcomm still faces challenges, including expectations that its chips will not be in the next round of Apple’s iPhones and the need to find new markets beyond mobile phones without NXP’s help. But it cited progress on one of two major patent royalty conflicts, thought to be with Chinese phonemaker Huawei Technologies Co Ltd [HWT.UL], in the form of a $700 million interim agreement, $500 million of which was paid this quarter.

The collapse of what would have been the largest-ever merger of two chip companies may discourage other U.S. firms hoping to buy into China’s huge developing markets and companies, although technology deals seemed the main concern.

“We obviously got caught up in something that was above us,” Qualcomm Chief Executive Steve Mollenkopf said in an interview after the announcement.

“We think moving on, reducing the amount of uncertainty in the business and increasing the focus is the right thing to do with the company.”

Qualcomm needed approval from China, the last of nine global regulators to be consulted, because the country accounted for nearly two-thirds of its revenue last year.

Barring a last-minute reprieve, the chipmaker said in its results release it would make good on a pledge with NXP to call off the merger if it had not won Chinese regulatory approval by 23:59 Eastern U.S. time on Wednesday.

Qualcomm forecast fourth-quarter revenue of $5.1 billion to $5.9 billion, and adjusted earnings of 75 to 85 cents per share. Analysts were expecting forecasts of $5.45 billion and 76 cents respectively, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

NXP Semiconductors shares fell almost 4 percent to $94.50.

TRUMP’S ROLE

Moves by the Trump administration have played an outsized role in Qualcomm’s fate, and there had been expectations that the lifting of a ban on U.S. chipmakers doing business with China’s ZTE Corp (000063.SZ) would clear the way for the NXP deal.

Dealmakers advising on mergers and acquisitions hoped the fallout would be limited to the technology sector in which China is racing for primacy against the United States.

United Technologies Corp (UTX.N) chief Gregory Hayes said earlier this week that the industrial conglomerate was on track with regulatory approvals to close its $23 billion acquisition of U.S. airplane-parts maker Rockwell Collins Inc (COL.N), seeking to quell fears that China could delay its review.

No other major semiconductor deal is pending. Broadcom, whose $117 billion hostile bid for Qualcomm was blocked by the United States in March on national security grounds, says its $19 billion purchase of U.S. software company CA Technologies (CA.O) does not require China’s blessing.

For Qualcomm, the deal’s demise means it will have to focus on expanding beyond making mobile chips.

Qualcomm predicted on Wednesday that Apple would drop the company’s chips from its next-generation iPhones in favor of modems from Intel Corp (INTC.O), the latest sign of fallout from their acrimonious battle over pricing and licensing costs. Qualcomm’s revenue projections had already assumed it would gain no new revenue from Apple.

Intel and Apple both declined to comment.

Qualcomm sold $3 billion of chips last year for non-phone use, up 75 percent from two years ago. It has a $5 billion “backlog” of chip sales to the automotive industry, in which NXP is also a dominant player, it said.

Reporting by Michael Martina in Beijing and Greg Roumeliotis in New York; Additional reporting by Adam Jourdan and Ben Blanchard in Beijing; Subrat Patnaik in Bengaluru and Stephen Nellis in San Francisco; Writing by Patrick Graham; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman, Meredith Mazzilli and Richard Chang

R. Kelly's Empty Confessions, Meet Black Twitter's Wrath

For two decades, R. Kelly’s predatory appetite for young women has been an insidiously well-known secret within the music industry. And on “I Admit,” a 19-minute song the R&B singer uploaded to SoundCloud Monday, he publicly responds to allegations of sexual misconduct. Kelly sings of being sexually abused as a child, of having sexual relationships with multiple fans, and of numerous peccadilloes—but it all reads as a calculated smokescreen. Despite the song’s title, never does the Chicago-born lothario own up to the crimes of sexual abuse many detractors and former fans believe he is guilty of.

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Darkly Shakespearean, “I Admit” is not completely devoid of self-reckoning. As such, it’s meant to function as a life raft against the raging currents that have billowed against the singer’s reputation in recent months, set asunder by #MuteRKelly, a social media campaign created by Kenyette Barnes and Oronike Odeleye that works to muzzle the artist’s music and financial wellbeing. (Writer-activists like Jamilah Lemieux and Mikki Kendall have similarly worked to raise awareness surrounding Kelly’s misdeeds). To this, Kelly replies: “Yeah, go ahead and stone me, point your finger at me, turn the world against me, but only God can mute me.”

But the crux of what “I Admit” represents is far simpler: it is Kelly’s most brazen, and sickening, piece of pop art since “Trapped in the Closet,” the 33-chapter hip-hopera the singer released in batches between 2005 and 2012. He’s a gifted swindler, and the song figures perfectly into a long pattern of refuting accusations of sexual deviance, whether coercing underage girls or making child pornography—which date back to his 1994 marriage to singer Aaliyah, then 15 years old.

When news of the song reached Black Twitter, the social platform’s most sprawling and influential cultural institution, just about everyone weighed in. The consensus—like many opinions of the singer since Jim DeRogatis’s investigative report from BuzzFeed last July claimed the Kelly was holding a group of women against their will—was a binding of cynicism, denial, and utter shock. Marred by allegations of sexual misconduct, many users across the community did little to hide their disgust at a man who has openly preyed on young women for decades.

At its best and most radiant, Black Twitter mirrors the fractures of IRL black communities. It amplifies traumas and triumphs. Outsiders love to think of it as a monolith, but the ecosystem is just as divided as any other Twitter niche. Which is to say, Kelly was not without a strong show of support. For decades, his fans—and label executives—deliberately ignored the allegations against him or found little worth in the stories of his black women accusers.

The question of should fans bridge the gulf between an artist’s private life and creative work (if indeed there is one) has become a recurring theme of late in music circles, most recently with Kanye West, who tested the boundaries of his own fandom in the run-up to ye. In Kelly’s case, it led the music website HipHopDX to wonder: “Can you separate the music from the man?” For some, the answer was an obvious affirmative.

Yet, the one enduring hallmark of Black Twitter has been its embrace of humor in times of dissonance, turning the community into a conduit for externalized joys and pains, accommodated without the need for a singular viewpoint. A figure like Kelly, whose outsized influence on R&B cannot be denied, will always have defenders, but Black Twitter remains the official arbiter. The jokes, especially, become essential not just to the Twitter cycle—news and humor coexisting, neither diluting the other—but to how users reckon with, and express, difficult truths.

Still, the ugly specter of truth hangs heavy in the air. On my timeline, alongside the reaction to Kelly’s song was news of two black women, MeShon Cooper and Nia Wilson, being murdered by white men. The connection between R. Kelly’s alleged abuses and the deaths of Cooper and Wilson is more than tenuous. Years ago, while reporting on Kelly, DeRogatis told the Village Voice: “The saddest fact I’ve learned is nobody matters less to our society than young black women.” As painful realities like these continue to sprout in the present, across all manner of social feeds, you begin to wonder if anyone was actually listening.


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LG Display losses mount on falling panel prices

SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea’s LG Display Co Ltd (034220.KS) said on Wednesday its losses mounted in the second quarter due to falling panel prices and weaker demand from television and handset makers.

FILE PHOTO: A woman looks at LG Electronics’ organic light-emitting diode (OLED) TV sets, which are made with LG Display flat screens, at its store in Seoul, South Korea, April 26, 2016. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji/File Photo

The Apple Inc (AAPL.O) supplier posted an operating loss of 228 billion won ($202.1 million), compared with an average forecast of a 247 billion won loss derived from a Thomson Reuters survey of 11 analysts.

Revenue for the April-June quarter fell 15 percent from a year earlier to 5.6 trillion won.

It was LG Display’s second consecutive quarterly loss amid an uncertain time for the global panel industry, with Chinese manufacturers ramping up capacity and a glut of LCD output crimping prices and profit margins.

A structural oversupply in panels and fierce competition among display makers were expected to continue, LG said in a statement.

LG is focused on investing in next-generation organic light-emitting diode (OLED) technology, with strong positions in large OLED TV screens.

China recently approved an LG joint venture to run a new OLED factory there, as the company tries to expand its OLED business towards Chinese TV makers.

While the OLED panel business has yet to make a profit for LG, some analysts say it should be earnings-positive from this year.

The LCD business, which analysts estimate makes up more than 90 percent of LG’s sales, is struggling with falling prices as fast-growing Chinese panel makers ramp up their capacity.

Prices of 50-inch LCD panels slid 38 percent in May versus the same month last year, according to South Korean government data.

Reporting by Ju-min Park and Heekyong Yang; Editing by Stephen Coates