'Tis the season ... to try to look busy while really thinking about what you are going to do over the holidays. Well, part of looking busy is reading through your email, starting with Login.
Good news, it's only 1,236 words, a 4-minute read.
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
News that the Federal Trade Commission is weighing immediate action to block Facebook's effort to integrate its messaging products casts a pall over the company's plans, whether or not regulators actually follow through, Axios' Scott Rosenberg, Margaret Harding McGill and Sara Fischer report.
The big picture: CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced in January that Facebook would integrate the technical foundations of its messaging services — Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and Instagram.
Driving the news: The Wall Street Journal reported late last week that the FTC was considering seeking a preliminary injunction to bar Facebook from proceeding with its integration plan.
Where it stands: The FTC would have to ask for an injunction against Facebook in federal court, and demonstrate to a judge that harm to consumers is likely if Facebook proceeds with its integration plans.
Facebook's position: Its back-end integration of messaging services has been underway a long time and is not a reaction to potential antitrust action, and the project has more to do with enabling messaging across platforms than fully combining its services.
What we don't know: Whether this is a warning shot fired in Facebook's direction or a real precursor to action.
The intrigue: Facebook's relationship with the FTC is already contentious.
As the FTC bears down on Facebook's product integration plans, remember that similar questions have driven every major previous tech-industry antitrust battle, Scott writes.
Between the lines: In tech's antitrust battles, the outcome is often less important than how broadly the process distracts the targeted company or deters it from moving aggressively in new directions.
The bottom line: Federal efforts against Facebook may be less important for their concrete legal results than for limiting the company's ability to dominate the next phase of tech industry growth — whatever it proves to be.
Instagram is trying a new technique when it comes to cracking down on cyberbullying: asking posters with potentially negative comments to take a moment and think about what they are about to say.
Why it matters: There's a great deal of negative commenting on social media, but much of it doesn't violate platforms' specific rules. Companies are getting more creative about trying to alter the tone as they see users souring on the sniping.
Details: Users who post a comment that is similar to past comments reported as harassment will see a warning and get asked whether they want to edit their comment, learn more, or share anyway.
What they're saying:
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios Visuals
Thousands of Instacart contract "shoppers" — who fetch groceries for one of the largest on-demand companies in the gig economy — have gone on strike for higher wages, as Axios' Orion Rummler reports.
The big picture: Instacart shoppers said their wages were slashed in late 2018 when the company introduced an algorithmic pay system to estimate workers' earnings per job, the Washington Post reports.
Details: On Nov. 3, thousands of Instacart shoppers joined a three-day strike, according to rough estimates from organizers via Facebook. Some customers deleted the app and called for a boycott, per the Post. A few days later, Instacart announced plans to cut $3 quality bonuses offered for shoppers who received five-star ratings.
Background: Instacart settled a $4.6 million class action lawsuit in 2017 involving allegations of improper tip pooling and failing to reimburse workers for business expenses, which Instacart denied, per Vox.
Image: Hot Wheels
Hot Wheels is adding a coding component to its existing smartphone-connected car system, known as Hot Wheels id.
Why it matters: The effort, like others from Kano and Littlebits, aims to get kids interested in coding by tapping into their enthusiasms, whether for Harry Potter, Star Wars or race cars.
Hot Wheels' effort works with Apple's existing Swift Playgrounds programming environment.
How it works: Hot Wheels id Swift Playgrounds places kids into a story in which they learn programming basics as they try to rescue a car that has been stolen by the evil genius Draven.
Check out this periodic table that embeds actual samples of 83 of the 118 elements, including bubbles of the gaseous ones.