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Facebook scraps ‘Trending’ feature, tests breaking news indicator

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San Francisco, June 2: Social media giant Facebook is scraping “Trending” feature in a bid to make way for “future news experiences” which may include a breaking news notification.

“We will remove Trending from Facebook next week and we will also remove products and third-party partner integrations that rely on the Trends API,” Alex Hardiman, Facebook’s Head of News Products said in a statement on Friday.

Facebook introduced the Trending feature in 2014 with a motive to help people discover news topics that were popular across the community.

But for this feature that shows a collection of headlines, Facebook soon witnessed allegations of political bias.

According to NBC report, the headlines were initially selected by human editors and a former contractor on the project claimed that Facebook used this feature to promote liberal causes and suppress conservative issues.

Later, Facebook removed the human editors and in its bid to appear neutral put in place an algorithm to decide what would find a place in the Trending section.

However, the algorithm went haywire, at times promoting hoax stories and offensive headlines, including one about a man masturbating with a McDonald’s sandwich, the NBC News report said.

Facebook said that the feature was only available in five countries and accounted for less than 1.5 percent of clicks to news publishers on average.

“From research, we found that over time people found the product to be less and less useful,” Hardiman said.

“We’re exploring new ways to help people stay informed about timely, breaking news that matters to them, while making sure the news they see on Facebook is from trustworthy and quality sources,” she added.

Facebook said it is running a test with 80 publishers across North America, South America, Europe, India and Australia to let publishers put a “breaking news” indicator on their posts in News Feed.

“We’re also testing breaking news notifications,” Hardiman said.

Apart from this, the Social Networking major is also testing a dedicated section called “Today In” that connects people to the latest breaking and important news from local publishers in their city, as well as updates from local officials and organisations.

“We will soon have a dedicated section on Facebook Watch in the US where people can view live coverage, daily news briefings and weekly deep dives that are exclusive to Watch,” Hardiman added.

“We are committed to ensuring the news that people see on Facebook is high quality, and we’re investing in ways to better draw attention to breaking news when it matters most,” she said.

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Instagram down, users reporting issues worldwide

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Instagram Data Leak

New Delhi, Sep 18 : Instagram users, including from the US, the UK, Middle East and India, took to Twitter on Friday to report problems while using the photo and video sharing app.

According to Downdetector website, which monitors online outages, the outages did not appear to hit the entire Instagram network but several places reported disruption in services.

Nearly 72 per cent faced problems with their news feed, 12 per cent had problems in logging in while 14 per cent mentioned website issues.

“Everybody running to twitter to see if Instagram is really down or the wi-fi is not working,” a user said.

“Refreshing my feed on Instagram since its not loading,” replied one user.

“Me on my way to twitter after Instagram went down for the 178th time this year #instagramdown,” another user said.

“Twitter was invented to check if Instagram and Facebook are not working for other people,” tweeted one user.

The social media giant was yet to update about the reason for the outage.

On April 2, Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp went down for millions of users in North and South America and Europe.

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Business

Telefonica partners with Japan’s Rakuten to develop open 5G network

The technology promises to radically cut costs for telecom operators as it uses cloud-based software and commoditized hardware instead of proprietary equipment supplied by companies such as Nokia, Ericsson and Huawei.

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Stockholm: Spain’s Telefonica has signed a pact with Japan’s Rakuten to develop a 5G radio network system that uses an open platform and artificial intelligence, the companies said on Wednesday.

The Japanese firm has become the first mobile operator to deploy a network based on a technology called Open Radio Access Network (RAN) that uses software to run network functions on the cloud, which requires less physical equipment.

Rakuten plans to launch 5G services in Japan later this month, Rakuten Mobile’s Chief Technology Officer Tareq Amin said on a call with journalists, after it was forced to delay the introduction by months due to disruption from the coronavirus outbreak.

The technology promises to radically cut costs for telecom operators as it uses cloud-based software and commoditized hardware instead of proprietary equipment supplied by companies such as Nokia, Ericsson and Huawei.

The companies plan to develop a joint procurement scheme for Open RAN software and hardware that will increase volumes and reach economies of scale.

“We are not building a competitive tool with Open RAN. We are trying to build an ecosystem,” said Enrique Blanco, chief technology & information officer at Telefonica, adding that they are open to working with other operators.

Telefonica has been deploying Open RAN pilots in Brazil, Germany, Spain and Britain, and plans to ramp up deployments in 2021 and significant rollouts in 2022.

The Spanish group plans to phase Huawei equipment out of the sensitive core for its 5G network in order not to run the performance and data protection risks that come with relying on one sole supplier, although it has repeatedly said it has no evidence to support U.S. President Donald Trump’s accusations that the Chinese firm’s kit is unsafe.

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India

Zhenhua data leak: Govt sets up expert panel to study reports of China snooping on VIPs in India

The Government of India has constituted an expert committee under the National Cyber Security Coordinator to study reports released earlier this week saying that a China-based company is mining data and snooping on hundreds of Indian politicians and leaders.

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The Government of India has constituted an expert committee under the National Cyber Security Coordinator to study reports released earlier this week saying that a China-based company is mining data and snooping on hundreds of Indian politicians and leaders, including the Prime Minister, President, Chief Justice of India and other chief ministers.

The panel will study these reports, evaluate their implications, assess any violations of law and submit its recommendations within 30 days.

“Government of India is deeply concerned with any report that suggests that foreign sources are accessing or seeking to access the personal data of our citizens without their consent. The government takes very seriously the protection of privacy and personal data of Indian citizens,” news agency ANI reported quoting sources.

The sources said that the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has also raised the issue of Zhenhua Data Information Technology Co. allegedly spying on prominent Indians with the Chinese Ambassador on Wednesday. China reportedly said that Zhenhua is a private company and has made clear its position publicly.

The decision about the constitution of the expert panel was communicated to Congress MP KC Venugopal by Minister of External Affairs S Jaishankar in response to the former’s demands to protect the data of Indian leaders and others from spying by Chinese companies. Several other MPs raised this demand in the Parliament on Wednesday.

A Shenzen-based technology company with links to the Chinese government and the Chinese Communist Party is keeping an eye on more than 10,000 Indians and organisations. The company calls itself a pioneer in using big data for ‘hybrid warfare’ and the ‘great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation’.

Meanwhile, China has reportedly taken down one of its website after a detailed questionnaire was sent to the email ID mentioned on contact section of the website.

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