Tuesdata: The most interesting data from Facebook’s infamous Cunningham Memo
Meta’s (then Facebook) Cunningham Memo of 2018 has been made public - here’s some of the most interesting information
Welcome to Tuesdata, where the hogging of the headlines around the world by Meta continues, and Unmade is happy to help that trend continue.
This week we will pick apart an internal memo from Meta that late last month was made available to the public thanks to the U.S. congressional antitrust subcommittee. It didn’t receive a significant amount of coverage, particularly in Australia, which is a shame as it contains some very interesting information.
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The short version of this story is that the US Congress is considering antitrust legislation. The legislation would make it more difficult for companies to stifle competition either through acquisitions or their behaviour.
Part of that push is called the American Innovation and Choice Online Act. The proposed bill was introduced into the House of Representatives on June 11, 2021, and has advanced to the stage where a floor vote is now expected in September this year.
The bill aims to prevent big tech companies from self-preferencing their products and services at the expense of the competition, particularly the smaller players.
Furthermore, in late 2020 the US Federal Trade Commission sued Meta in an attempt to try to get it to divest Instagram and Whatsapp.
There is a lot going on - this is a rabbit hole that would be easy to dig too deep into, so let’s stop there and instead focus on the aforementioned document that is part of all of this - what’s come to be known as the Cunningham Memo.
Written by Thomas Cunningham in 2018, then a data scientist at Facebook, it was created for Mark Zuckerberg to illustrate in depth the environment the tech giant was playing in. While Meta had been suggesting in public that it had myriad rivals, the memo suggests that it was more focused on itself rather than the competitors.
Not only that, it was keen to ensure that its brands such as Facebook, Instagram and Whatsapp didn’t have negative impacts on each other.
Below we will take a look at some of the most interesting aspects of the Cunningham Memo and pull out some of the key data points.