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Facebook adds 5 new partners to fact-checking network in India




New Delhi, Feb 11 (IANS) With the general elections just months away in India, Facebook on Monday added five new partners including the India Today Group to its third-party fact-checking programme aimed at reducing the spread of false news on its platform.

With the addition of the new partners, Facebook has expanded the programme to three new languages.

The new partners – India Today Group,, Factly, Newsmobile and Fact Crescendo – will review news stories on Facebook for facts, and rate their accuracy starting on Monday, Facebook said.

Along with its existing partners BOOM Live and AFP, the Facebook partners will be doing fact checking in six languages including English, Hindi, Bengali, Telugu, Malayalam and Marathi.

“We are excited to announce new partners including some leading traditional media to our fact checking programme in India. We are committed to fighting the spread of false news on Facebook, especially ahead of the 2019 general election campaign season,” Manish Khanduri, News Partnership Head, Facebook India, said in a statement.

When a fact-checker rates a story as false, the social network shows it lower in News Feed, significantly reducing its distribution.

The social media giant warned that Pages and domains that repeatedly share false news will also see their distribution reduced and their ability to monetise and advertise removed.

“In our past experience, once a story is rated as false, we’ve been able to reduce its distribution by 80 per cent,” Facebook said.

Facebook recently introduced the ability for checkers to review photos and videos to help identify and take action against more types of misinformation.

Although false news does not violate its community standards, it may still be removed if it violates Facebook’s policies in other categories, such as spam, hate speech or fake accounts.


Modi popular but will be tough for BJP to replicate 2014 in UP: Survey

And in what may come as good news for the Opposition, the CLSA report says the entry of Priyanka Gandhi — which has already energised the Congress cadres — may hurt the prospects of the Samajwadi Party-Bahujan Samaj Party (SP-BSP) combine and give the BJP a tough fight.



narendra modi

New Delhi, Feb 20 (IANS) Prime Minister Narendra Modi still remains popular with the masses but it would be difficult for the BJP to replicate its 2014 success in Uttar Pradesh, says a survey on the evolving political scenario in the state ahead of the upcoming elections.

The survey also says that the tension after the Pulwama terror attack will have a significant bearing on the upcoming general elections.

Released on Wednesday, the survey report by market research and brokerage firm CLSA says that the BJP would find it difficult to replicate its 2014 success, though it could still win over half of the Lok Sabha seats in the country’s most populous state.

“Our discussions with various politicians, including those of the BJP, indicate that the BJP would likely win 40-45 seats (out of 80) in UP, on the higher side against 73 back in 2014,” the report adds.

A CLSA team travelled across Uttar Pradesh over the past two weeks to reach its conclusions.

During the course of its survey, it also found that Modi still remains popular on the ground across different castes, a factor that could translate into more votes in the caste-sensitive state.

And in what may come as good news for the Opposition, the CLSA report says the entry of Priyanka Gandhi — which has already energised the Congress cadres — may hurt the prospects of the Samajwadi Party-Bahujan Samaj Party (SP-BSP) combine and give the BJP a tough fight.

The SP and the BSP have joined hands to corner the Muslim and Dalit votes.

“Though the alliance is a formidable opposition to the BJP, the entry of Priyanka Gandhi can still take away some of SP-BSP vote share. If not formal, at least, an informal alliance with the Congress will be required for the combine to work,” the CLSA report says.

The survey adds that a possible alliance of the SP-BSP with the Congress can turn the tables and limit the gains made by the BJP, preventing a clean sweep of sorts registered by the party in the last general elections.

“We understand that the SP-BSP might tie-up with the Congress, at least informally, which could possibly limit the gains for the BJP,” says the report.

There is also a possibility of disgruntled party workers from the SP and the BSP, after the two joined hands, shifting to the Congress, which might help the BJP.

But CLSA says that cow vigilantism in the state has badly hurt farmer sentiments turning a large section against the ruling party.

Vigilantism has prevented farmers from selling their cattle and the excess cattle are, in turn, destroying farm produce.

The confusion in the state and the emerging political scenario does not portent good for the markets.

The CLSA survey says that in the short term, domestic equity flows will likely reflect these political uncertainties over the next three months, driving the market lower.

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Congress to contest nine seats in Tamil Nadu, one in Puducherry




Chennai, Feb 20 (IANS) The Congress will contest nine seats in Tamil Nadu and the sole seat in Puducherry in the Lok Sabha elections in alliance with the DMK, DMK President M.K. Stalin announced here on Wednesday.

He was speaking to reporters after the two parties inked the electoral pact at DMK’s headquarters Anna Arivalayam here. Tamil Nadu has 39 Lok Sabha constituencies.

The pact between the two parties was widely expected as Stalin had proposed Congress President Rahul Gandhi’s name for the Prime Minister’s post at a DMK function here in December last year.

Taking a dig at the state’s ruling AIADMK that signed poll pacts with the PMK and the Bharatiya Janata Party at a five star hotel on Tuesday, Stalin said the DMK and the Congress signed their deal in his party headquarters.

According to him, the AIADMK alliance is a “money welfare alliance” and not a “people welfare alliance”.

Queried about the constituencies that Congress would contest in Tamil Nadu, Stalin said talks for alliance are on with several other parties and once the alliance with others are finalised, then the constituencies will be decided.

He said that those parties which have been with DMK for the past two years and participated in its protest programmes will be part of the party’s alliance.

The DMK will contest in all the Lok Sabha constituencies that were not shared with its alliance partners, he added.

The DMK-led alliance is expected include the two communist parties, the VCK and the IUML.

Queried whether the Congress will also support the DMK in the upcoming bypolls for 21 assembly constituencies, he said: “Let the bypolls get announced, then the announcement will be made about Congress party’s support.”

He also said the party’s Lok Sabha poll manifesto is under preparation.

Congress leader K.C. Venugopal said Gandhi gave a clear direction on the alliance talks and for the past two days, DMK and Congress leaders were holding informal talks in Delhi and Chennai.

Claiming that the entire country was disappointed with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government, he said the alliance will win all the 40 seats – 39 in Tamil Nadu and one in Puducherry.

Earlier in the day, DMK MP Kanimozhi and Tamil Nadu Congress unit President K.S. Alagiri returned here. They had met Gandhi on Tuesday in Delhi separately.

Speaking to reporters here, Alagiri said the AIADMK-PMK alliance announced on Tuesday is an “opportunistic one”.

In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the Congress drew a blank as it contested alone in Tamil Nadu while the DMK and its allies also drew blank in the state and Puducherry.

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DMK, Congress seal pact for LS elections



Stalin Rahul
File Picture : DMK Stalin Sonia Rahul Kani Raju

Chennai, Feb 20 (IANS) The DMK and the Congress on Wednesday said they have finalized an agreement to jointly contest the Lok Sabha elections in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry.

DMK MP Kanimozhi and Tamil Nadu PCC President K.S. Alagiri, who met Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday in Delhi separately and returned here on Wednesday, said the details of the agreement would be announced at the DMK headquarters here in the evening.

Kanimozhi said senior Congress leaders Mukul Wasnik and K.C. Venugopal would meet DMK President M.K. Stalin on Wednesday after which the details would be made public.

It is understood that the Congress would contest nine of the 39 Lok Sabha seats in Tamil Nadu and the lone Puducherry seat.

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