Facebook files’ saga, Lubov Chernukhin and Bond’s triumphant return

Planet Business: For sale, thousands of songs, much-streamed

Facebook files: whistleblower Frances Haugen listens during a Senate sub-committee hearing in Washington on Tuesday. Photograph:  Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg

Facebook files: whistleblower Frances Haugen listens during a Senate sub-committee hearing in Washington on Tuesday. Photograph: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg

 

Image of the week: Fixing Facebook

From this angle, Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen looks as if she is rehearsing for an appearance on Mastermind, her specialist subject being the ways in which she believes her former employer prioritised profit over the public good.

The former product manager on the social media company’s civic integrity team attended a Congress sub-committee in Washington DC on Tuesday, coherently outlining why she chose to share deeply worrying internal company documents with the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) and US securities regulators. “I’m here today because I believe Facebook’s products harm children, stoke division and weaken our democracy,” said Haugen, adding that children who grow up with its products “learn to be incredibly cruel to each other”.

Earlier, Haugen told the WSJ she wanted to fix Facebook, not harm it, and in a week in which all Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp systems went down for six hours, a few fixes would indeed have come in handy round Menlo Park’s direction. Founder Mark Zuckerberg later countered that many of Haugen’s accusations “don’t make any sense”.

In numbers: Craig, Daniel Craig

€1.73 million
Opening weekend all-Ireland box office for No Time to Die, the James Bond film that was the first major film to have its release postponed because of the pandemic. It was subsequently delayed twice more before finally arriving with a familiar bang.

€1.6 million
The previous opening weekend Irish box office record for a Bond film, set by 2012’s Skyfall, which No Time to Die has now beaten despite cinema capacity limits, as audiences flocked to see Craig’s final turn in the role.

$1.11 billion
Total worldwide box office earnings for Skyfall, which 2015’s Spectre failed to surpass, but No Time to Die could yet exceed if pent-up demand for Craig seething his way through espionage and action succeeds in reminding audiences that cinemas exist.

Getting to know: Lubov Chernukhin

Lubov Chernukhin is one of the many protagonists in the Pandora Papers, but don’t let the size of the cast in this season’s dive into the world of offshore financial shenanigans put you off getting to know her.

Lubov, aka Luba, is a former banker who came to Britain from Russia in the early Noughties and subsequently married former oligarch Vladimir Chernukhin. She is perhaps best known as the Conservative Party donor who outbid every other attendee at last year’s fundraising ball for the “prize” of playing tennis with Boris Johnson – a replay of a match she paid for in 2014 when he was mayor of London. Sadly, she is not confusing him with Boris Becker. This was all part of a track record of donating about £2.1 million (€2.5 million) to the Tories since 2012, for which she has enjoyed other honours, including but perhaps not limited to dinner with Theresa May – prime ministers apparently being a lot more fun to hang out with than, say, tax authorities. The good news is her donations are all legal as she’s a British citizen.

The list: Going for a song (reprise)

By last Christmas, several high-profile musicians had already given their song publishing rights away in exchange for a nice lump sum. This year, the trend has not exactly slowed down much: here are five artists who have sold ownership or part-ownership of their song catalogues.

  1. Tina Turner. What’s love got to do (got to do) with it? Not a lot, with the veteran singer selling rights to her six-decade catalogue to music publishers BMG.
  2. Paul Simon. The similarly veteran singer-songwriter announced in April that Sony Music Publishing would be “the custodian” of his songs for the coming decades.
  3. KT Tunstall. The Scottish singer, who sold 50 per cent of her song rights to Primary Wave in January, has admitted struggling with overnight success. Being told she couldn’t delay her second record “because it was going to make somebody’s share prices drop” was not fun.
  4. Neil Young. When Young sold 50 per cent of the rights to his songs to Hipgnosis, the company’s founder, Merck Mercuriadis, declared himself a fan, saying Young’s songs were “part of who I am, they’re in many ways responsible for who I’ve become and they’re most certainly in my DNA”.
  5. Shakira. The Colombian singer, who has a cameo role in this week’s Pandora Papers, also struck a deal with Hipgnosis this year, selling rights to songs including Hips Don’t Lie and World Cup song Waka Waka (This Time for Africa).
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