clock menu more-arrow no yes

Recode Daily: Black Friday shoppers chose their screens over brick-and-mortar stores

Plus: Facebook and the White House try to sneak bad news past us over the holiday; Jeff Bezos awards $97.5 million to 24 U.S. nonprofits in the first stage of his Day One Fund; Disney is facing princess backlash.

People walk past a clothing store window featuring mannequins and a sign advertising “Everything 75% off.” Frederic J. Brown / AFP / Getty Images

Black Friday foot traffic to traditional stores fell between 5 percent and 9 percent compared with last year, but a surge in online shopping and higher spending by low-income Americans gave a lift to the start of the holiday season. Purchases continued to shift online as stores put many of their best deals on their websites and more consumers, even those earning minimum wages, shop on their smartphones. Online sales for Wednesday through Black Friday surged 26.4 percent from a year earlier to $12.3 billion, making it the fastest-growing day for e-commerce sales in history. [Sarah Nassauer and Khadeeja Safdar / The Wall Street Journal]

[Want to get the Recode Daily in your inbox? Subscribe here.]

Joining a long tradition of companies and campaigns that dump bad news on holidays, Facebook on Thanksgiving eve took responsibility for hiring a Washington-based lobbying company, Definers Public Affairs, that pushed negative stories about Facebook’s critics, including the philanthropist George Soros. Facebook’s communications and policy chief, Elliot Schrage, said in a memo that he was responsible for hiring the group, and had done so to help protect the company’s image; Schrage will be leaving the company, a move planned before the memo was released, and Facebook fired Definers last week, after a New York Times investigation published on Nov. 14. [Nellie Bowles and Zach Wichter / The New York Times]

The U.K. Parliament seized internal Facebook documents in an extraordinary attempt to hold the U.S. social media giant to account after CEO Mark Zuckerberg refused to answer questions from members of Parliament about data decisions and privacy control preceding the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Facebook asked the British legislative body to refrain from reviewing the seized documents and to return them to counsel or to Facebook, to which Member of Parliament Ian Lucas said, “Too late.” As Facebook’s No. 2, COO Sheryl Sandberg is hardly blameless for the company’s bad decisions, with some even calling for her to be pushed out of the company. But Kara Swisher points out that Sandberg is being held to a tougher line than Zuckerberg, the company’s top executive, visionary founder and its controlling shareholder. [Carole Cadwalladr / The Guardian]

The Trump administration released a major report on climate change, on the Friday afternoon after Thanksgiving. Produced by 13 federal departments and agents, the 1,656-page report said that by 2090, labor-related losses from extreme heat could amount to an estimated $155 billion annually and deaths from temperature extremes could take an economic toll of $141 billion per year. The administration is expected to discount or ignore the congressionally mandated study — the first of its kind issued during the Trump administration — even as it continues to cut environmental regulations. [Brady Dennis and Chris Mooney / The Washington Post]

Jeff Bezos’s $2 billion Day One Fund awarded its first grants, worth $97.5 million, to 24 U.S. nonprofits that provide “needle-moving work” for homeless families like emergency shelter and permanent housing. Launched in September by the Amazon CEO and his wife MacKenzie, the fund’s dual mission is to provide aid for the homeless and to fund a network of nonprofit preschools. The recipient organizations are sprinkled across the country from California to North Carolina; 15 of the charities were bestowed with $5 million gifts, and the remainder received $2.5 million donations. [Olivia Carville / Bloomberg]

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s hold on her expanded and fractious caucus faces its first major test on Wednesday, when House Democrats cast initial votes for their leaders as they prepare to reclaim control of the chamber next year. Pelosi has been working methodically to overcome dissatisfaction among some representatives with the lack of youth and diversity on the party’s leadership team. Although she is expected to win the nomination to become the next House speaker, the level of support she receives at the closed-door meeting will be a key barometer of how much opposition she will face in January during the much-tougher vote on the House floor. [Natalie Andrews and Kristina Peterson / The Wall Street Journal]


Recode Presents ...

On the Recode Decode podcast, Kara Swisher grills the most important people at the intersection of tech, culture and politics. This December, the newly minted Washington, D.C., resident is focused on journalism in the age of our tweeter in chief. Join Swisher in D.C. on Dec. 4 as she records a podcast with three veteran political journalists from NBC News: Chuck Todd, Andrea Mitchell and Hallie Jackson. She will be asking these accomplished journalists how covering the Trump administration is different from previous presidents, what it’s like to be targeted by the president on Twitter and how they think the midterm elections are shaking up the status quo. There will be drinks, networking with other Recode fans and the chance to meet Swisher herself. Click here for tickets and more information.


Top stories from Recode

Who could buy Discord? Acquirers have been giving the gaming startup a long look.
Discord has hired Qatalyst Partners, the boutique investment bank known for selling tech companies. [Theodore Schleifer and Kurt Wagner]

How Twitch CEO Emmett Shear thinks about tech addiction. On the latest episode of Recode Media, Shear said that watching something for two hours is different from repeatedly opening an app over two hours. [Kurt Wagner]

It’s time for Facebook’s board to step up.
On the latest Pivot podcast: The spotlight has been on Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg. But Facebook’s board is MIA. [Kara Swisher and Scott Galloway]

This is cool

Victoria’s secret sadness: Sex isn’t selling.

Meanwhile, Disney is facing princess backlash.

This article originally appeared on Recode.net.