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Facebook refutes WSJ report, lists efforts to curb polarisation

The WSJ report examined a rigorous process Facebook instituted called ‘eat your veggies’ that was designed to vet new products before they were shipped.

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg

San Francisco, May 27 : Facebook on Wednesday refuted a Wall Street Journal report claiming that the company “shut down efforts to make the site less divisive” and “largely shelved” internal research on whether social media increases polarisation.

Detailing the investments Facebook has done so far to fight polarisation, Guy Rosen, Vice President Integrity at the company, said that the story “wilfully ignored” critical facts that undermined its narrative.

“The piece disregarded how our research, and research we continue to commission, informed dozens of other changes and new products. It also ignored other measures we’ve taken to fight polarization,” said Rosen.

As a result, he added, that readers were left with the impression “we are ignoring an issue that in fact we have invested heavily in”.

Rosen said that in 2018, Facebook made a fundamental change to the way content is surfaced in people’s News Feed to prioritize posts from friends and family over news content.

“This was based on extensive research that found people derive more meaningful conversations and experiences when they engage with people they know rather than by passively consuming content,” he stressed.

According to the WSJ report, Facebook’s algorithms weren’t bringing people together but “were driving people apart”.

According to Rosen, the company has in fact reduced clickbait headlines.

“We’ve reduced links to misleading and spammy posts. And we’ve improved how comments are ranked to show people those that are more relevant and of higher quality,” he added.

Facebook currently has a global team of more than 35,000 people working across the company on issues to secure the safety and security of it services, “including those related to polarization”.

“We’ve removed billions of fake accounts. We made it easier to see who is behind political ads. And we’ve updated our privacy settings and built new tools to give people more control over their information,” said Rosen.

The WSJ report examined a rigorous process Facebook instituted called ‘eat your veggies’ that was designed to vet new products before they were shipped.

“The process was put in place as a response to valid criticism, including from the media, that tech companies weren’t doing enough to anticipate unintended uses of their products,” said Rosen.

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No BS-IV vehicles will be registered if sold after March 31: Supreme Court

This comes as India has decided to switch to the world’s cleanest emissions standard from April 1. It has gone straight to Euro-VI emission standards from Euro-IV.

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BS IV

NEW DELHI : The Supreme Court on Wednesday observed that no BS-IV vehicles will be registered if sold after March 31, 2020.

A bench of the Apex Court, headed by Justice Arun Mishra was hearing the matter pertaining to sale of BS-IV vehicles during COVID-19 lockdown, via video conferencing.

The top court recalled its earlier March 27 order allowing sale of BS-IV vehicles for 10 days post lockdown. The apex court had back then allowed marginal relief to auto dealers and auto companies, permitting sale of 10% unsold BS-IV inventory.

Justice Arun Mishra said, “Please do not take advantage of this court by playing fraud. You have told us no sales have taken place. You are understating your values.”

He said, “no vehicle could be registered without our order.” “You have sold more than allowed,” the court noted.

KV Vishwanathan, lawyer for FADA, said, the apex court allowed registration in March 2020.

However, the Bench asked how vehicles were sold during lockdown.

“It would be violation of the spirit of the court order if we allow sales after opening of lockdown,” the Apex Court said.

This comes as India has decided to switch to the world’s cleanest emissions standard from April 1. It has gone straight to Euro-VI emission standards from Euro-IV.

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New sanitiser makers face action for GST evasion

The urgent requirement for alcohol-based hand sanitisers amid the Covid-19 pandemic enthused many firms, including sugar mills and alcohol producers, to jump on the bandwagon.

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GST

New Delhi, July 8 : The urgent requirement for alcohol-based hand sanitisers amid the Covid-19 pandemic enthused many firms, including sugar mills and alcohol producers, to jump on the bandwagon.

But, it seems, some evaded duties worth crores of rupee by classifying their products under a lower-taxed tariff heading.

The Central Economic Intelligence Bureau (CEIB), which comes under the Department of Revenue, in a recent communication to the Directorate General of GST Intelligence (DGGI) has said some manufacturers of alcohol-based sanitisers are resorting to “non-payment” or “evasion” of Central GST and State GST by adopting wrong classification. They were paying 12 per cent GST instead of the 18 per cent, it said.

Following the CEIB letter, the DGGI prepared a list of 62 manufacturers and suppliers of sanitisers for analysis.

The DGGI has asked the CGST and the Customs Excise zones officials to look into the cases of evasion by sugar mills and distilleries and plug the leakages. The DGGI zonal units are looking into the instances of evasion by established brands.

“These manufacturers are classifying such products under the tariff heading 3004 under the harmonized system of nomenclature (HSN), whereas they are correctly classifiable under the tariff heading 3808,” the CEIB letter said.

The current applicable GST on products under heading the tariff heading 3004 of HSN of 2017 is 12 per cent, while the rate on those items under the tariff heading 3808 is 18 per cent.

The misclassification had resulted into “substantial evasion of CGST across the country,” it noted.

Acknowledging that the GST on alcohol-based hand sanitisers is 18 per cent, sugar industry officials said some manufacturers might be paying lower tax but that couldn’t be generalised.

The tariff heading 3004 includes medicaments comprising mixed or non-mixed products for therapeutic or prophylactic uses or in packs for retail sale, including Ayurvedic and Unani.

The tariff heading 3808 includes disinfectants under which alcohol-based hand sanitisers come. The classification also comprises insecticides, fungicides among others.

The misclassification had been continuing since the introduction of GST on July 1, 2017, it said.

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In latest attack on govt, Rahul Gandhi highlights NPAs, says was ridiculed

Rahul Gandhi has been leading his party’s sharp criticism of the central government over a host of issues, including the June 15 standoff between the Indian and Chinese soldiers.

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Rahul Gandhi

New Delhi: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday said that large companies are under severe stress in India and banks are in distress. He targeted the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for ridiculing him for warning about all this months ago.

“Small & medium enterprises stand destroyed. Large companies are under severe stress. Banks are in distress. I stated months ago that an economic tsunami was coming and was ridiculed by BJP and the Media for warning the country about the truth,” Gandhi said on Twitter.

He also attached a news report which claimed that the non-performing assets (NPAs) in the country will increase.

The former Congress president had attacked the BJP on Tuesday too by accusing the government led by it of economic mismanagement. “India’s economic mismanagement is a tragedy that is going to destroy millions of families. It will no longer be accepted silently,” he had tweeted yesterday.

He tagged a report with his tweet that claimed that India’s economic growth is likely to contract 4.5 per cent in 2020-21 due to Covid-19.

Gandhi has been leading his party’s sharp criticism of the central government over a host of issues, including the June 15 standoff between the Indian and Chinese soldiers. He has criticised Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s statement at all-party meeting and questioned the government’s stand on China.

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