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B.C. shop owner 'surprised' he's in guide that colour codes businesses to support Hong Kong protests – CBC.ca

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The entrance of a tea shop that has been turned into a ‘Lennon Wall’ of pro-protest notes in Hong Kong, in this Thursday photo. Stores that openly support Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protest movement are nicknamed ‘yellow shops.’ (Mark Schiefelbein/The Associated Press)

Alan Yu runs an auto repair shop in northern Richmond, B.C. Last month, Yu discovered his business was caught up in a political debate that is raging across the Pacific.

A Facebook group published a crowdsourced list that categorizes his eight-year-old business as “yellow,” meaning he supports the ongoing protests in Hong Kong.

Yu said he was “surprised” but happy that his business had been identified as one that supports the protesters, who since last spring have staged massive demonstrations calling for political change in Hong Kong. 

“If the people like it, I can put the Lennon Wall in my office,” he said, referring to a space for Post-it notes written with solidarity messages for the protesters thousands of kilometres away.

Yellow vs. blue shops 

In Hong Kong, people who sympathize with pro-democracy movements call themselves “yellow ribbons.” Those who support the Chinese government and the police’s use of force on protesters call themselves “blue ribbons.”

The idea to form a “yellow economic circle” originates from a protest slogan being circulated on a Hong Kong discussion forum: “Boycott the blue businesses, shop at the yellow businesses.” 

The Canada Hongkonger page, liked by nearly 13,000 users, has been inviting Metro Vancouver “netizens” (politically conscious people using the internet) to report which local shop is yellow, blue or green (meaning political neutrality).

Alan Yu owns a Richmond, B.C., auto repair shop that a crowdsourced shopping guide has identified as being a yellow business. (Salimah Shivji/CBC)

The 46-year-old immigrated to Canada several months before the former British colony was reversed to China in 1997. He said the yellow solidarity campaign may have the same impact of pro-democrats’ landslide victory in the district council elections: “Maybe the Chinese government will try to adjust something for the Hong Kong people.”

‘Yellow’ means corporate responsibility

Albert Chan was a pro-democratic district councillor and legislative councillor in Hong Kong for three decades before moving back to Vancouver two years ago. He praised Yu for participating in the developing “yellow economic circle” for the Lower Mainland.

The 64-year-old said being a yellow business is a matter of corporate responsibility and social conscience: “If you can support a government killing people without reasons, that reflects your values. With people holding those values, how can you trust them to run a business?”

Former Hong Kong lawmaker Albert Chan supports the ‘yellow economic circle’ in Vancouver. (CBC)

The retired politician said Hong Kong is being economically controlled by Beijing and yellow shopping is to terminate this situation. He said Canadians should also buy yellow because of what he called the “alarming” Chinese infiltration into their way of life, citing B.C. seniors’ homes failed care standards after takeover by a Chinese government-controlled company.

“If the Trudeau government refuses to do anything to control that, sooner or later Canada will become a colony of Communist China,” Chan said of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Canada Hongkonger administrator Rick Lau said his Facebook group has connected with Yellow Avengers, an initiative to compile a global yellow shopping guide for Hong Kong travellers.

‘Yellow economy’ may create division

Leo Shin, a history professor at the University of British Columbia, said the idea of using spending power to pressure on a government is not new, quoting the global Anti-Apartheid Movement where international companies disinvested from South Africa.

Shin looks at the shopping with caution, saying it could potentially cause “a great deal of division within the Chinese communities.”

UBC historian Leo Shin said the ‘yellow economy’ may divide Chinese communities. (CBC)

“We should always keep in mind that the ultimate goal is not to encourage division, but to promote coming together in one form or another,” the historian said.

But Yu suggested yellow and blue can coexist: “They believe what they believe, I believe what I believe. In Vancouver, you have freedom of speech… That’s the foundation of Canada’s democracy.”

CBC News contacted B.C. businesses labelled as blue on the list. They all disputed the label and declined interview requests.

With files from Salimah Shivji

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Facebook’s Zuckerberg lays out ‘metaverse’ vision at developers event

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Facebook Inc CEO Mark Zuckerberg said privacy and safety would need to be built into the metaverse, as he opened the company’s annual conference on virtual and augmented reality on Thursday.

Facebook continues to battle criticism over its market power, its content moderation practices and harms linked to its social media platforms. The tech giant, which reports about 2.9 billion monthly users, has faced increasing scrutiny in recent years from global lawmakers and regulators.

In the latest controversy, whistleblower and former Facebook employee Frances Haugen https://www.reuters.com/technology/facebook-sees-safety-cost-whistleblower-says-2021-10-25 leaked documents which she said showed the company chose profit over user safety. Zuckerberg earlier this week said the documents were being used to paint a “false picture.”

The metaverse, a term first coined in a dystopian novel three decades ago and now attracting buzz in Silicon Valley, refers broadly to the idea of a shared virtual environment which can be accessed by people using different devices.

Zuckerberg has increasingly been promoting the idea of Facebook, which has invested heavily in augmented and virtual reality, as a “metaverse” company https://www.reuters.com/technology/facebook-sets-up-new-team-work-metaverse-2021-07-26 rather than a social media one.

The CEO, speaking during the live-streamed Facebook Connect event, gave examples of privacy and safety controls that would be needed in the metaverse, such as the ability to block someone from appearing in your space. Zuckerberg is betting that the metaverse will be the next big computing platform, calling it “the successor to the mobile internet.”

The whistleblower documents, which were first reported by the Wall Street Journal, show internal research and employee discussions on Instagram’s effects on the mental health of teens and whether Facebook stokes divisions, as well as its handling of activity around the Jan. 6 Capitol riot and inconsistencies in content moderation for users around the globe.

The company gave a slew of updates for its VR and AR products. It said it would this year launch a way for people using its Oculus VR headset to call friends using Facebook Messenger and for people to invite others to a social version of their home, dubbed “Horizon Home,” to talk and play games as avatars.

Facebook also said it would introduce a way for Oculus Quest users to use different 2D apps like Slack, Dropbox and Facebook while in this “Horizon Home” VR space.

The company, which began a beta test of its virtual meeting spaces “Horizon Workrooms” earlier this year, said it was working on ways of customizing these with company logos and designs and said it would be bringing more work capabilities into consumer Quest devices. It also announced new fitness offerings for Oculus Quest users.

Facebook said this week that its hardware division Facebook Reality Labs, which is responsible for AR and VR efforts, would become a separate reporting unit and that its investment in it would reduce this year’s total operating profit by about $10 billion.

This year, Facebook created a product team focused on the metaverse and it recently announced plans to hire 10,000 employees in Europe over the next five years to work on the effort.

Facebook also said it would run a $150 million education program aimed at helping AR and VR creators and developers.

(Reporting by Elizabeth Culliford in New York and Sheila Dang in DallasEditing by Matthew Lewis)

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Shopify’s revenue rises in run-up to key holiday season; shares up

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Canadian e-commerce giant Shopify Inc reported a 46% rise in quarterly revenue as consumer spending “normalizes” after a year of a pandemic-fueled online shopping frenzy, sending its shares up 9%.

The widespread shift to e-commerce at the height of the pandemic had brought a wave of new business to Shopify, which provides infrastructure for retailers to set up their stores online and generates revenue mainly through subscriptions and merchant services.

However, on a call with analysts, Shopify executives flagged “pressures in supply chain” for the key holiday shopping season.

Companies across the globe have sounded alarm bells on supply issues that have pushed costs higher and made some products scarce.

Shopify raked in billions of dollars over the past year, growing quarterly revenue by over 90% in four of the last six quarters.

It has been able to maintain a healthy growth rate even as people stepped out of their homes and bigger rivals like Amazon.com Inc bolster their offerings to retain customers.

“The strength of Shopify’s flywheel was on display within the more normalized spending environment we saw this past quarter, as more merchants used more of our platform to start and grow their businesses,” said Shopify’s finance chief, Amy Shapero.

The company’s subscription solutions revenue jumped by 37% to $336.2 million in the quarter ended Sept. 30.

Analysts are optimistic about Shopify’s business model, which is driven primarily by mom-and-pop stores.

“Shopify was a high-growth company long before COVID, and it’s going to be a high-growth company after the pandemic tailwinds fade,” said Samad Samana, analyst at Jefferies.

The company’s total revenue was $1.12 billion, narrowly missing expectations of $1.14 billion, according to Refinitiv data. Its adjusted profit of 81 cents per share also came in below an estimate of $1.18.

(Reporting by Richard Rohan Francis and Eva Mathews in Bengaluru; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri, Saumyadeb Chakrabarty and Maju Samuel)

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