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The departure of Instagram’s cofounders is a bad thing for Facebook — but it could be even worse for the rest of us (FB)

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  • Instagram cofounders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger announced on Monday they are leaving the company.
  • Their departure poses big risks for the service they created and for Facebook, its corporate parent.
  • Their resignations come as Facebook has becoming increasingly reliant on the revenue and user growth Instagram provides.
  • It also follows a series of scandals at Facebook that have exposed the shortcomings of Mark Zuckerberg as a leader and CEO.

It’s usually not huge news when the founders of a startup leave after their company is acquired.

But the departure of Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger from Instagram is a big deal — and not just because it was so unexpected. Their resignations are a huge blow to parent company Facebook.

Their move puts the future of Instagram up in the air even as it has become increasingly important to Facebook’s overall business. And their departure — which follows that of other other top executives — comes as it’s become increasingly clear that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg could use more, not fewer, strong voices to check his impulses and guide the company.

Perhaps not so coincidentally, the early indications are that Systrom and Krieger are leaving Instagram precisely over a difference of opinion with Zuckerberg about the future of Instagram.

Up until recently, Systrom was largely able to run Instagram on his own, according to multiple reports. Although Instagram tapped into Facebook’s engineering resources and infrastructure, its founders were largely able to stick to their own vision when running the service, and to shrug off product suggestions from their corporate parent.

But Facebook had recently begun to alter the nature of its relationship with the photo-sharing service. Zuckerberg has been personally taking a more active interest in Instagram’s direction of late, according to the Wall Street Journal. A management shakeup earlier this year appeared to decrease Systrom’s power over the service and access to the CEO, the Journal reported. Meanwhile, Facebook has dramatically cut back on promoting Instagram inside its main social networking app, according to the Journal.

Systrom and Krieger were upset about the loss of the site’s autonomy and their ability to steer its direction, according to multiple reports.

Instagram was doing great under Systrom and Krieger’s leadership

At least from the outside, the two have done a terrific job with the service. In the six years since Facebook acquired Instagram, it’s grown from 30 million to a billion active users. When it became part of Facebook, Instagram was basically generating no revenue. This year, it’s expected to pull in $8 billion advertising sales, according to eMarketer.


Under cofounder Kevin Systrom's leadership, Instagram grew from 30 million users at the time it was acquired by Facebook to 1 billion now.play

Under cofounder Kevin Systrom’s leadership, Instagram grew from 30 million users at the time it was acquired by Facebook to 1 billion now.

(Getty)

As it’s grown, Instagram has become an increasingly key part of Facebook’s overall business. This year, the photo service’s revenue will account for an estimated 17% of its corporate parent’s ad sales, up from 9% last year.

Instagram’s fast sales and user growth have come as the revenue growth from Facebook’s core app has started to slow. They also come as the number of Facebook users in developed countries has started to stagnate and the amount of time those users spend on the service has started to fall.

Indeed, Instagram has started to look like Facebook’s bright hope for the future. Young consumers increasingly signing up for and spending time with it instead of with Facebook’s main social network. And while the reputation of Facebook’s main service has been sullied by a succession of scandals, including the Cambridge Analytica fiasco, Instagram has largely maintained its positive image.

But Facebook is risking that success with Systrom and Krieger leaving. Consumers bought into their vision, which was a site that was distinct from Facebook. If Facebook muddies that vision by remaking the service so it’s more like, or more integrated into the company’s core social network, users may go elsewhere.

It’s clear that Zuckerberg needs outside voices on his team

But that’s not the only danger Facebook faces from the departure of the Instagram founders. Perhaps the bigger risk is to the company’s management and leadership.

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Thanks to a stock structure that gives him outsized voting power in any corporate matter, Zuckerberg appears to rule Facebook unchecked by the company’s board. That makes the role of the top managers around him even more important, giving them a key role in help shape shape and influence the company’s direction.

It’s clear that Zuckerberg could use some help. The company has been stumbling through a series of crises for much of the last two years, from the Russian-linked propaganda campaign during the 2016 election to the persecuting of Myanmar’s Rohingya people to the massive compromise of customer data to Cambridge Analytica. To a large degree, those problems have been of the company’s own making, stemming from a culture that promoted growth above just about all else, no matter whether it was privacy or social harm.


WhatsApp cofounder Jan Koum, who left Facebook earlier this year, was reportedly upset with with the company's efforts to commercialize the chat app.play

WhatsApp cofounder Jan Koum, who left Facebook earlier this year, was reportedly upset with with the company’s efforts to commercialize the chat app.

(Reuters)

But at a time when Zuckerberg could use some voices in the upper levels of management who might offer a different vision for how to grow and run a social network, he’s been losing just the kinds of executives who could provide that kind of insight.

Jan Koum and Brian Acton, the cofounders of WhatsApp, who promoted privacy within the chat app and criticized Facebook’s efforts to commercialize it, left within the past year. Alex Stamos, Facebook’s security chief who warned that the US is unprepared from a security standpoint for this year’s election, left last month. And now Systrom and Krieger are gone.

The remaining cadre around Zuckerberg is mostly comprised of managers who have been at the company and working on its core social network for years, many since its early days. They’re precisely not the sort of people who might be able to offer Zuckerberg an outside perspective that’s not heavily steeped in how the company has always done things.

If Instagram falters in the wake of Systrom and Krieger’s departure, that will be a bad thing for its users, for Facebook, and for Facebook’s shareholders. But if their resignation helps lead to a CEO and company that are even more insulated from outside perspectives and contrary visions, that will be bad for the rest of us too, given how much power the company has and how much social harm it can and has caused.



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Public officers above 58 years and with pre-existing conditions told to work from home: The Standard

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Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua. [File, Standard]
In a document from Head of Public Service, Joseph Kinyua new measure have been outlined to curb the bulging spread of covid-19. Public officers with underlying health conditions and those who are over 58 years -a group that experts have classified as most vulnerable to the virus will be required to execute their duties from home.

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However, the new rule excluded personnel in the security sector and other critical and essential services.
“All State and public officers with pre-existing medical conditions and/or aged 58 years and above serving in CSG5 (job group ‘S’) and below or their equivalents should forthwith work from home,” read the document,” read the document.
To ensure that those working from home deliver, the Public Service directs that there be clear assignments and targets tasked for the period designated and a clear reporting line to monitor and review work done.
SEE ALSO: Thinking inside the cardboard box for post-lockdown work stations
Others measures outlined in the document include the provision of personal protective equipment to staff, provision of sanitizers and access to washing facilities fitted with soap and water, temperature checks for all staff and clients entering public offices regular fumigation of office premises and vehicles and minimizing of visitors except by prior appointments.
Officers who contract the virus and come back to work after quarantine or isolation period will be required to follow specific directives such as obtaining clearance from the isolation facility certified by the designated persons indicating that the public officer is free and safe from Covid-19. The officer will also be required to stay away from duty station for a period of seven days after the date of medical certification.
“The period a public officer spends in quarantine or isolation due to Covid-19, shall be treated as sick leave and shall be subject to the Provisions of the Human Resource Policy and procedures Manual for the Public Service(May,2016),” read the document.
The service has also made discrimination and stigmatization an offence and has guaranteed those affected with the virus to receive adequate access to mental health and psychosocial supported offered by the government.
The new directives targeting the Public Services come at a time when Kenyans have increasingly shown lack of strict observance of the issued guidelines even as the number of positive Covid-19 cases skyrocket to 13,771 and leaving 238 dead as of today.
SEE ALSO: Working from home could be blessing in disguise for persons with disabilities
Principal Secretaries/ Accounting Officers will be personally responsible for effective enforcement and compliance of the current guidelines and any future directives issued to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.

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Uhuru convenes summit to review rising Covid-19 cases: The Standard

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President Uhuru Kenyatta (pictured) will on Friday, July 24, meet governors following the ballooning Covid-19 infections in recent days.
The session will among other things review the efficacy of the containment measures in place and review the impact of the phased easing of the restrictions, State House said in a statement.
This story is being updated.
SEE ALSO: Sakaja resigns from Covid-19 Senate committee, in court tomorrow

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Drastic life changes affecting mental health

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Kenya has been ranked 6th among African countries with the highest cases of depression, this has triggered anxiety by the World Health Organization (WHO), with 1.9 million people suffering from a form of mental conditions such as depression, substance abuse.

KBC Radio_KICD Timetable

Globally, one in four people is affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives, this is according to the WHO.

Currently, around 450 million people suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.

The pandemic has also been known to cause significant distress, mostly affecting the state of one’s mental well-being.

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With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic attributed to the novel Coronavirus disease, millions have been affected globally with over 14 million infections and half a million deaths as to date. This has brought about uncertainty coupled with difficult situations, including job loss and the risk of contracting the deadly virus.

In Kenya the first Coronavirus case was reported in Nairobi by the Ministry of Health on the 12th March 2020.  It was not until the government put in place precautionary measures including a curfew and lockdown (the latter having being lifted) due to an increase in the number of infections that people began feeling its effect both economically and socially.

A study by Dr. Habil Otanga,  a Lecturer at the University of Nairobi, Department of Psychology says  that such measures can in turn lead to surge in mental related illnesses including depression, feelings of confusion, anger and fear, and even substance abuse. It also brings with it a sense of boredom, loneliness, anger, isolation and frustration. In the post-quarantine/isolation period, loss of employment due to the depressed economy and the stigma around the disease are also likely to lead to mental health problems.

The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) states that at least 300,000 Kenyans have lost their jobs due to the Coronavirus pandemic between the period of January and March this year.

KNBC noted that the number of employed Kenyans plunged to 17.8 million as of March from 18.1 million people as compared to last year in December. The Report states that the unemployment rate in Kenya stands at 13.7 per cent as of March this year while it stood 12.4 per cent in December 2019.

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Mama T (not her real name) is among millions of Kenyans who have been affected by containment measures put in place to curb the spread of the virus, either by losing their source of income or having to work under tough guidelines put in place by the MOH.

As young mother and an event organizer, she has found it hard to explain to her children why they cannot go to school or socialize freely with their peers as before.

“Sometimes it gets difficult as they do not understand what is happening due to their age, this at times becomes hard on me as they often think I am punishing them,”

Her contract was put on hold as no event or public gatherings can take place due to the pandemic. This has brought other challenges along with it, as she has to find means of fending for her family expenditures that including rent and food.

“I often wake up in the middle of the night with worries about my next move as the pandemic does not exhibit any signs of easing up,” she says. She adds that she has been forced to sort for manual jobs to keep her family afloat.

Ms. Mary Wahome, a Counseling Psychologist and Programs Director at ‘The Reason to Hope,’ in Karen, Nairobi says that such kind of drastic life changes have an adverse effect on one’s mental status including their family members and if not addressed early can lead to depression among other issues.

“We have had cases of people indulging in substance abuse to deal with the uncertainty and stress brought about by the pandemic, this in turn leads to dependence and also domestic abuse,”

Sam Njoroge , a waiter at a local hotel in Kiambu, has found himself indulging in substance abuse due to challenges he is facing after the hotel he was working in was closed down as it has not yet met the standards required by the MOH to open.

“My day starts at 6am where I go to a local pub, here I can get a drink for as little as Sh30, It makes me suppress the frustration I feel.” he says.

Sam is among the many who have found themselves in the same predicament and resulted to substance abuse finding ways to beat strict measures put in place by the government on the sale of alcohol so as to cope.

Mary says, situations like Sam’s are dangerous and if not addressed early can lead to serious complications, including addiction and dependency, violent behavior and also early death due to health complications.

She has, however, lauded the government for encouraging mental wellness and also launching the Psychological First Aid (PFA) guide in the wake of the virus putting emphasis on the three action principal of look, listen and link. “When we follow this it will be easy to identify an individual in distress and also offer assistance”.

Mary has urged anyone feeling the weight of the virus taking a toll on them not to hesitate but look for someone to talk to.

“You should not only seek help from a specialist but also talk to a friend, let them know what you are undergoing and how you feel, this will help ease their emotional stress and also find ways of dealing with the situation they are facing,” She added

Mary continued to stress on the need to perform frequent body exercises as a form of stress relief, reading and also taking advantage of this unfortunate COVID-19 period to engage in hobbies and talent development.

“Let people take this as an opportunity to kip fit, get in touch with one’s inner self and  also engage in   reading that would  help expand their knowledge.

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