Facebook's Gary Briggs on Russian influence: 'At every level of the company this is a major issue'

Plus: Boxed.com founder Chieh Huang outlined how his brand plans to steal market share from Walmart and Amazon.

Photo credit: Sean Czarnecki
Photo credit: Sean Czarnecki

NEW YORK: Facebook CMO Gary Briggs said the social media company is prioritizing the issue of Russian influence on U.S. elections, while speaking at PRWeek’s annual conference on Thursday morning.

"At every level of the company, this is a major issue we’re thinking about and working towards," Briggs said at the Swipe Right event in New York City.

Last month, Facebook turned over data collected before the 2016 presidential election, as well as 470 accounts and pages linked to Russian agents. Congress is preparing to release those ads to the public, an action Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg said this week that she "absolutely supports."

Briggs said such a precedent weighs heavily on the company, calling it a "very fine line."

"These were 470 accounts that violated our policies, but there was also legitimate activity in terms of cross-border communication on these pages," he added.

The millennial target
Millennials are a cohort that finds their "friendships dispersing" as they age, which deepens the way they use the platform, Briggs said, adding that brands can learn more about engagement from two groups: comedians and gamers.

Comedians embrace experimenting with content, understand their shelf life "super fast," adapt the nature of what they communicate to each platform, and aren’t "precious" about restructuring their content, he explained.

Gaming companies, such as subsidiary Oculus, can show brands how to push the boundaries of technology, incorporate it into their strategies, and drive engagement rates, Briggs added.

Lyft for ‘toilet paper, paper towels, and all the mundane stuff’
Boxed.com, a startup that wants to take market share from wholesalers and other retailers, hopes to undercut Walmart and Amazon with differentiators beyond just price, said CEO Chieh Huang.

"Folks don’t want to get ripped off, but at the same time, if you look at convenience, that matters, and [so does] brand," Huang said during a Thursday morning session at Swipe Right.

Boxed.com offers employees benefits and avoids automation; it has also taken stands on social issues, such as the "pink tax."

Huang drew a comparison between Uber and Lyft, two companies that dominate the ridesharing industry. While they have similar products, Lyft retains a strong customer base because of brand affinity.

"We think the same will happen when it comes to toilet paper, paper towels, and all the mundane stuff," Huang said.

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