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Recode Daily: Facebook has behaved like “digital gangsters,” says a UK report on fake news and data privacy

Plus: Northern Virginia is keeping Amazon’s 25,000 jobs; Amazon invests in a rival to Tesla’s electric cars; what all the US presidents served at state dinners — and what it means.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive officer and founder of Facebook. attends the Viva Tech startup and technology gathering at Parc des Expositions Porte de Versailles on May 24, 2018 in Paris, France.
Christophe Morin / IP3 / Getty Images

Comparing Facebook to “digital gangsters” in the online world, a final report by a British parliamentary committee found that the company deliberately broke privacy and competition laws, and called for Facebook’s use of user data to be investigated by the UK’s data watchdog. The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee spent months last year investigating online political disinformation and singled out Facebook for “disingenuous” and “bad faith” responses to democratic concerns about the misuse of people’s data. The committee also urged the government to investigate whether Facebook specifically has been involved in any anti-competitive practices and conduct a review of its business practices toward other developers “to decide whether Facebook is unfairly using its dominant market position in social media to decide which businesses should succeed or fail.” [Natasha Lomas /TechCrunch]

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Uber is slowing down, and it no longer looks unstoppable. The ride-hail company generated $14.2 billion in bookings in the quarter ended December 31 — which includes what customers spend on Uber rides, Uber Eats orders, and other Uber services. Uber reported $3 billion in revenue, which is roughly the share of bookings the company is left with after paying out wages to drivers and delivery people. Both those figures — up from the same period a year earlier — represented Uber’s slowest growth rate for 2018. Uber lost $865 million in the latest quarter, down from a loss of $1.07 billion in the third quarter of 2018. The deceleration in Uber’s bookings and revenue could alarm investors as the company prepares for an initial public offering expected this year; Uber hopes to be valued at as much as $120 billion in its IPO. [Alison Griswold / Quartz]

Northern Virginia is keeping Amazon’s 25,000 jobs — and wants you to know it. When the company canceled its plans to build an expansive corporate campus in New York City, Virginia officials more than 200 miles away decided to make a statement: Their region has its act together, has been far more prepared, and is free of drama. The comments came from people in the area that has branded itself National Landing, an amalgamation of Arlington and Alexandria neighborhoods that was the other winner in Amazon’s sweepstakes last year to award massive new campuses. After landing Amazon, National Landing faded from the spotlight as attention focused on NYC. [Cecilia Kang / The New York Times]

A potential rival to Tesla in electric cars just got a big boost from Amazon. The online retail giant is leading a $700 million investment in Rivian, a Michigan company that is developing a battery-powered pickup truck and an electric sport utility vehicle; Rivian said it would remain independent. Founded in 2009 by MIT-trained engineer R. J. Scaringe, Rivian first showed its truck and SUV at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November. The key feature of each is a chassis that is shaped like a skateboard and includes all the components that propel the vehicles — a large battery pack, axles, suspension, cooling system, and four electric motors. The company says its pickup will be able to go up to 400 miles on a full charge. [Neal E. Boudette / The New York Times]

Discount shoe chain Payless is liquidating its 2,100 US and Puerto Rico stores and shutting down its online operations. Payless, which was founded in 1956 with the goal of selling affordable shoes in a self-service setting, was preparing to file for bankruptcy for the second time in two years; the company is starting liquidation sales on February 17 and expects its stores to remain open until at least the end of March. Heavily indebted store chains have been going under for two years, claiming once-iconic names like Toys “R” Us and retailers including Shopko, FullBeauty Brands, Charlotte Russe, Things Remembered and Gymboree, all of which have filed for bankruptcy this year. [Dan Wilchins and Lauren Coleman Lochner / Fortune]

There were no tears for now-defunct Toys “R” Us at the no-kids-allowed Toy Fair New York, the largest toy show in the US. The giant that once dominated the show was liquidated last year, leaving hundreds of toy sellers high and dry, but the show was bigger than in recent years as toymakers looked for new buyers. Manufacturers like Wicked Cool, which makes Cabbage Patch dolls and Pokémon toys, set up booths in New York’s Javits Convention Center to woo buyers like Walmart, Target, and Amazon. “It’s hard to hold grudges when you’re trying to open doors,” said Wicked Cool co-president Jeremy Padawer; Toys “R” Us once made up 15 percent of his company’s business. [Hailey Waller / Bloomberg]

Top stories from Recode

Amazon’s grave HQ2 mistake: The political landscape changed, but the company’s playbook didn’t. The HQ2 contest was very Amazonian. So was its refusal to back down. [Jason Del Rey]

How long before big media companies become big sports-gambling companies? Sooner than you think. But AT&T — which owns HBO, TNT, and CNN — says it won’t be taking your bets. [Peter Kafka]

“Hollywood is now irrelevant,” says IAC Chairman Barry Diller. On the latest Recode Decode, Diller, the former CEO of Paramount and Fox, talks about the diminished power of movie studios and why “Netflix has won this game.” [Kara Swisher]

This is cool

All the presidents’ meals.

How do the insanely wealthy actually pay for something worth hundreds of millions of dollars?

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