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Wednesday Wake-Up Call: Facebook's Facial Recognition, Twitter's Change of Heart and Other News

By Published on .

Credit: Illustration by Tam Nguyen/Ad Age

Welcome to Ad Age's Wake-Up Call, our daily roundup of advertising, marketing, media and digital-related news. Also, a friendly reminder: Applications for Ad Age's Agency A-List are due today.

What people are talking about today
Facebook is now using its face recognition technology to let you know if someone else posted a photo of you, even if you're not tagged. The company frames this as empowering for users, a way to make sure you can control your online identity and prevent impersonation. You can also look at this as a creepy reminder of exactly how much Facebook knows about you. (Creeped-out users can opt out of this new tool.) The company's official post doesn't get into this, but Facebook obviously benefits too by sending users alerts whenever their photo pops up somewhere. As Wired writes:

"More notifications flying around means more activity from users and more ad impressions. More people tagging themselves in photos adds more data to Facebook's cache, helping to power the lucrative ad-targeting business that keeps the company afloat."

More activity, more ad impressions, and on, and on and on.
Also: German users have a lot of concerns about Facebook, including about privacy, and Facebook's unusual new ad campaign there tackles them head-on, as Reuters reports.

Free speech (or actually maybe not)
A Twitter exec just spoke frankly about the company's evolving views on free speech, Business Insider reports. Twitter used to believe that "the most effective antidote to bad speech was good speech," as Sinead McSweeney, Twitter's vice president for public policy and communications in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, says. Her talk to UK politicians also included this thought:

"We've realized the world we live in has changed. We've had to go on a journey with it, and we've realized it's no longer possible to stand up for all speech in the hopes society will become a better place because racism will be challenged, or homophobia challenged, or extremism will be challenged."

Business Insider has more of her remarks, which she made as Twitter began enforcing new regulations on hate speech.
Also: "Twitter's new rules are hard to figure out. Britain First is banned, but David Duke is not." That's the headline on a Washington Post analysis.

Good morning
Since Matt Lauer was booted from the "Today" show because of sexual harassment allegations, ratings are doing great. As The New York Times reports, the NBC morning show has beat "Good Morning America" for three weeks in a row. And despite Charlie Rose's firing from "CBS This Morning," ratings for that show have held steady. The Times says the numbers "could provide some evidence that the shows' stars, Mr. Lauer and Mr. Rose, were not as important to viewers as they were to the network executives who paid them generously and promoted them assiduously."
This feels like the right place to point out that Mr. Lauer was reportedly making about $20 million a year.
Also: Former E! Entertainment Television host Catt Sadler says she left the network because her male co-host had been receiving "close to double" her salary, Variety reports.

Bling
One of the themes of 2017 is that giant legacy brands are feeling pressure from upstarts; that's happening for food and consumer goods. And something similar seems to be going on with legacy jewelers. As Ad Age's Adrianne Pasquarelli writes, "A new breed of jewelry buyers is looking for unique designs or products that they can create to their liking. And they're not lured in by established brand names like Tiffany & Co. or De Beers." To stay appealing to young consumers, big jewelry marketers are trying new things, Pasquarelli says. De Beers just announced its biggest marketing spend in a decade, and Tiffany has a restaurant at its Fifth Avenue location. Around the opening last month, people waited hours to eat breakfast at Tiffany. And sometimes customers waited so long that breakfast became lunch.

Just briefly:
Vatican+Accenture:
The Vatican has asked Accenture for help with its digital communications. As Megan Graham of Ad Age writes: "There are better ways to speak to the people these days than a wave from the papal apartment balcony."

Annoying ads: Google Chrome will start blocking annoying ads on Feb. 15, VentureBeat says.

Goodbye to all that: 2017 is almost over, and Ad Age is looking back. Today, check out the year's top campaign fails, by Judann Pollack. And the biggest media feuds, by Simon Dumenco. All the feuds on Dumenco's list involve one man. Sad!

Harassment: The New York Times look at sexual harassment at Ford's auto plants. In the #MeToo era, The Times writes, "much less attention has been focused on the plight of blue-collar workers, like those on Ford's factory floors."

Slimmer: Billionaire Carlos Slim plans to sell over half his 17 percent stake in the New York Times Co. to U.S. hedge fund investors, Bloomberg News reports.

'Peace, y'all. I'm out': Writer Ta-Nehisi Coates deleted his Twitter account after an online fight with Harvard professor Cornel West, The New York Times says.

Creativity pick of the day: T-Mobile CEO John Legere (actually, his Claymation-style avatar) stars in an ad modeled on the 1960s classic, "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer." For a holiday film featuring a snowman and a reindeer, he uses rather salty language. Read more by Ad Age's George Slefo, and watch it here.

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