Telstra customers slugged $3.1 billion with “Telstra tax”; Facebook updates News Feed based on time spent on post: Midday Roundup

Telstra customers slugged $3.1 billion with "Telstra tax"; Facebook updates News Feed based on time spent on post: Midday Roundup

Eloise Keating and Kirsten Robb 

Telstra is annually charging its customers $3.1 billion more than their competitors for their service, in what’s been labelled a “Telstra tax” by the Centre for International Economics.

A report by the centre showed Telstra customers, including business customers, pay an average of $20 per month more for fixed-line services compared to services offered by their competitors, while its mobile customers pay a $9 monthly premium for their service, according to Fairfax.

The report claimed the net result can be compared to Telstra customers paying the equivalent to a 15c per litre increase in petrol prices just for using Telstra’s phone and internet services.

“This simply confirms that over several years Telstra has been attracting more customers because we offer the things they value most, better network coverage and more innovative products and services,” a Telstra spokeswoman told Fairfax.

The $3.1 billion figure was calculated by taking the telco’s plan prices and data allowances and extrapolating them across its market share.

Facebook updates News Feed based on how long users spend on a post

Facebook has updated its News Feed algorithm to place more emphasis on posts that users spend the most time viewing.

In a blog post explaining the update, Facebook software engineers Ansha Yu and Sami Tas said the social network’s research found just because a Facebook user doesn’t like, comment or share a particular post, it doesn’t mean that the content was not relevant to them.

“The actions people take on Facebook—liking, commenting or sharing a post—are historically some of the main factor we’ve considered to determine what to show at the top of your News Feed,” Yu and Tas said.

“But these factors don’t always tell us the whole story of what is most meaningful to you … There are times when, for example, people want to see information about a serious current event, but don’t necessarily want to like or comment on it.”

Yu and Tas said the News Feed ranking system will now assume if a user doesn’t scroll straight a post and spends significantly more time on that particular story, compared to the majority of other stories they look at, the social media “may start to surface more posts like that higher up in your News Feed in the future”.

Facebook has already begun rolling out the change and will continue doing so over coming weeks. However, the social media giant said it does not expect the change to cause “significant changes in distribution” to Facebook changes.

Shares up on open

Aussie shares have traded higher this morning, despite a negative lead from Wall Street overnight.

But Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets, said in a statement turmoil in European markets will continue to influence local trading today.

“European shares were slammed overnight as the likelihood of a Greek default increased,” McCarthy explained.

“Further signs that Greek politicians are widely out of touch with reality mean global markets are steeling themselves for a worst case scenario. Capital controls are unavoidable without a climb down and it is increasingly likely that the ancient nation will cede all control of its future due to the unrestrained ego of its population.”

The S&P/ASX 200 benchmark was up 34.2 points to 5573 points at 11.50am AEST. On Monday, the Dow Jones closed 107.67 points lower, down 0.60% to 17791.2 points.

 

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