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Facebook planned to sell users’ data in 2012: Report

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San Francisco, Jan 12: Facebook considered selling users’ data to companies some years ago but later decided to act against it, the media reported.

According to Arstechnica.com that viewed an unredacted court document, Facebook staff in 2012 considered charging companies at least $250,000 for “access to one of its primary troves of user data — the Graph API”.

“In April 2014, Facebook changed the way the previously permissive Graph API works.

“The social media giant restricted some data access and eliminated all access to the earlier version by June 2015,” the report said on Friday.

The Wall Street Journal also reported that “Facebook employees discussed pushing some advertisers to spend more in return for increased access to user information”.

A failure on Facebook’s part to adequately redact a public court document revealed this information.

According to Arstechnica.com, Facebook gave “extended access to the v1.0 of Graph API to numerous companies not only including Nissan and Royal Bank of Canada but now also to Chrysler/Fiat, Lyft, Airbnb, and Netflix, among others”.

A Facebook spokesperson, however, was quoted as saying that Chrysler/Fiat and the other companies, besides Nissan and Royal Bank of Canadaa, were listed erroneously in the court document.

The news comes on the heel of the British Parliament obtaining a set of internal Facebook documents from US software company Six4Three that has sued the social media giant over what it claims are fraudulent breaches of contract.

Facebook, however, defended itself, saying that Six4Three’s “claims have no merit, and we will continue to defend ourselves vigorously”.

Now defunct, Six4Three in a new filing to a California lawsuit in May 2018 alleged that Facebook collected information on users and their friends through its apps.

The filing was part of a suit brought against Facebook in 2015 by Six4Three.

To collect the information, Facebook used several methods including tracking users’ locations, reading their text messages and accessing their photos on phones, according to the allegations as reported by the Guardian.

In March, Facebook admitted it collected data from people’s calls and texts but said it had prior consent.

However the Guardian reported that it logged some messages without explicitly notifying users.

Six4Three sued Facebook over its app Pikinis, which allowed users to zoom in on bikini photos.

It alleged that Facebook tracked users, sometimes without their express consent.

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Make a WhatsApp voice or video call with Google Assistant

If you have set up the Google Assistant app on your Android device, you may directly invoke it by saying OK Google or Hey Google.

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New Delhi, July 12 : Google recently announced that Assistant would be able to make video and audio calls with WhatsApp.

This means that one can easily access WhatsApp and some of its options by triggering the Google Assistant from the home screen on your smartphone.

The voice calls commenced by Assistant were earlier used to place a network call for the user. While video calls could be set up via Hangouts or Duo only.

If you have set up the Google Assistant app on your Android device, you may directly invoke it by saying OK Google or Hey Google.

One may also wake up the assistant app using the dedicated key, if available or by long-pressing the Home button on your device.

When Google Assistant is open, use one of the two commands, “Make a WhatsApp call to [contact-name]” or “Call [contact-name] on WhatsApp and for video call just say “Make a WhatsApp video call to [contact-name]”.

To make things faster, one should add a nickname to the most frequently called contacts.

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Bill Gates warns ‘deadlier pandemic’ if vaccine goes to ‘highest bidders’

There are at least 21 vaccines currently under key trials, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

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San Francisco, July 12 : Microsoft founder Bill Gates has warned about a deadlier pandemic if successful drugs or a COVID-19 vaccine, when developed, go first to the highest bidders and not reach the common people who need it the most.

Addressing a remote COVID-19 conference hosted by the International AIDS Society on Saturday, Gates said democratizing the vaccine must be the goal, reports CNBC.

“If we just let drugs and vaccines go to the highest bidder, instead of to the people and the places where they are most needed, we”ll have a longer, more unjust deadlier pandemic,” he said.

“We need leaders to make these hard decisions about distributing based on equity, not just on market-driven factors,” Gates added.

There are at least 21 vaccines currently under key trials, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The fear is that once the vaccine is developed, the rich and the powerful people would grab it first.

However, despite encouraging preliminary data coming from some research labs, a Covid-19 vaccine is nowhere near while new corona cases are mounting in several countries including in India.

No vaccines have yet started their large and critical Phase-III trials in the US.

WHO Chief Scientist Soumya Swaminathan has said that AstraZeneca”s coronavirus vaccine candidate is currently the most advanced vaccine in terms of development.

AstraZeneca”s Covid-19 vaccine candidate, developed by researchers from the Oxford University, will likely provide protection against the disease for one year, the British drug maker”s CEO told Belgian radio station Bel RTL recently.

The vaccine developed at the Oxford Jenner Institute is currently on trial in the UK, where over 4,000 participants have enrolled and additional enrollment of 10,000 participants is planned for the clinical trial. The ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine has been licenced to AstraZeneca.

“Global cooperation, a resolve to invent the tools and get them out where they”re needed most is critical,” said Gates at the virtual event.

Gates in May said the vaccine development may take at least nine months to two years.

“Most of the drug candidates right now are nowhere near that powerful. They could save a lot of lives, but they aren”t enough to get us back to normal,” the Microsoft co-founder wrote in his GatesNotes blog.

In the absence of an “almost perfect drug to treat COVID-19”, it becomes imperative that every person on the planet gets vaccinated against coronavirus.

“Realistically, if we”re going to return to normal, we need to develop a safe, effective vaccine. We need to make billions of doses, we need to get them out to every part of the world, and we need all of this to happen as quickly as possible,” he said.

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Google to boost fake news, illegal content monitoring on YouTube

In a blog post, Pichai said that since January, Google has blocked hundreds of thousands of ads attempting to capitalize on the coronavirus pandemic.

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Seoul, July 12 : Google’s video-sharing platform YouTube will cooperate with South Korea to closely monitor and prevent the spread of fake news and illegal content.

Google’s Senior Vice President Neal Mohan made the comments during a videoconference with Han Sang-hyuk, chairman of the Korea Communications Commission (KCC).

The remarks came after Han requested such cooperation, considering fake news surrounding Covid-19 and a recent high-profile digital sexual abuse case in South Korea, in which such illegal materials were distributed across social media platforms.

The regulator has kept a close watch over the tech giant this year.

Last month, Google voluntarily corrected subscription practices on its YouTube Premium service in the country, after the KCC found they were unfair for users.

The regulator also imposed a fine of $720,000 on Google for violating local telecom laws, as it did not properly notify users of YouTube Premium’s charged service.

In March this year, Alphabet and Google CEO Sundar Pichai said the company has taken down thousands of videos on YouTube related to dangerous or misleading coronavirus information using its Artificial Intelligence (AI)-based technology.

In a blog post, Pichai said that since January, Google has blocked hundreds of thousands of ads attempting to capitalize on the coronavirus pandemic.

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