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Google likely to launch Snapchat ‘Discover’ competitor

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San Francisco, Aug 5: Looks like everyone is after Snapchat. After Facebook-owned Instagram ‘copied’ several of its features, now Google is likely to launch a competitor to Snapchat’s ‘Discover’ feature, the media reported.

Snapchat ‘Discover’ was first introduced in January 2015. It is a section of the app that lets news partners distribute video, image and text collections that remain accessible for 24 hours.

Google is developing a technology that would allow news publishers to build a news service that is similar to Snapchat ‘Discover’, by making mini-magazine of slides that users could swipe one-by-one on their smartphones, The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday.

“We don’t have anything to announce at the moment but look forward to sharing more soon,” a Google representative was quoted by tech website CNET.

Google had held informal dialogue with Snap Inc — the parent company of popular messaging app Snapchat — and reportedly offered $30 billion to buy Snap Inc in 2016.

Snap’s CEO Evan Spiegel, who is widely considered as being independent, apparently did not show interest in selling his firm to Google or anybody else.

Spiegel also values running Snap in Southern California and outside of Silicon Valley, where Alphabet – Google’s parent company is headquartered.

Earlier, in 2013, Google was rumoured to have been tried to acquire Snapchat for $4 billion after Spiegel refused an offer from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

Snap Inc is set to announce earnings report next week, its second since going public at $17 just four months ago.

IANS

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Facebook suspends analytics firm Crimson Hexagon

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Washington, July 21: After the Cambridge Analytica data scandal, Facebook has now suspended Boston-based data analytics company Crimson Hexagon over concerns that it harvested users’ data.

The social media giant was investigating whether the analytics firm’s “contracts with the US government, a Russian non-profit organisation tied to the Kremlin and the Turkish government violate the platform’s policies”.

Crimson Hexagon has reportedly collected more than 1 trillion public social media posts from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr and other online sources.

The company has had contracts in recent years to analyse public Facebook data for third-party clients, the report claimed.

It was co-founded by Harvard professor Gary King in 2007 who now leads Facebook’s independent research initiative titled “Social Science One” which is focused on preventing election interference, said the report.

“We are investigating the claims about Crimson Hexagon to see if they violated any of our policies,” Ime Archibong, Facebook’s Vice President of Product Partnerships, said in a statement.

Facebook, however, said the firm didn’t inappropriately obtain any Facebook or Instagram user data, adding that using the data for surveillance is a violation of the company’s policies.

“We do not collect private data from social media providers or anyone else,” Crimson Hexagon’s Chief Technology Officer Chris Bingham said in a blog post.

“Crimson Hexagon only allows government customers to use the platform for specific approved use cases; and under no circumstances is surveillance a permitted use case,” Bringham wrote.

According to Crimson Hexagon, it uses technologies including Artificial Intelligence (AI) to help clients get insights and shape marketing campaigns and develop new products.

In a statement to the portal Fast Company, King said: “Even though he is co-founder and board chairman, he has never had day-to-day involvement in Crimson Hexagon.”

In April this year, Facebook had warned investors that more users’ data scandals in the future may adversely affect the social networking giant’s reputation and brand image.

In its quarterly report, Facebook said that its ongoing investments in safety, security, and content review will identify additional instances of misuse of user data.

“We may also be notified of such incidents or activity via the media or other third parties,” Facebook said.

Appearing before the US Congress, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told the lawmakers that his own personal data was part of 87 million users’ that was ‘improperly shared’ with the British political consultancy firm Cambridge Analytica.

Facebook warned investors that there may be more such data breaches in the future.

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Google shows Trump’s photo if you search for ‘idiot’

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The first results shown for the word "idiot" in Google Images search were of US President Donald Trump.

San Francisco, July 20: After grabbing headlines for showing results related to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the search of the word “Feku” in May, Google algorithms are again hogging the limelight. This time for showing images of US President Donald Trump for a search of the word “idiot”.

The latest image onslaught is apparently the result of a campaign by online activists who are manipulating Google’s algorithm by linking the word to an image of Trump, CNET reported on Thursday.

According to a report in The Guardian this week, the trend began with Reddit users upvoting a post containing a photo of Trump and the word.

The campaign to link the word “idiot” with the US president’s images has taken the form of an online protest as it is spearheaded by people who are not happy with Trump’s policies.

By helping prioritise information presented in search results, Google’s algorithms have played stellar role in the rise of the company, but at times they have also played the spoilsport.

In May, a Google search for the name “Pappu” led to results related to Congress President Rahul Gandhi.

“Feku” and “Pappu” are less-than-flattering names given by the opponents of parties of Modi and Gandhi.

In April, Google showed pictures of Modi if one searched for “India’s first Prime Minister” until the glitch was corrected by the global search engine.

IANS

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WhatsApp to limit message forwarding to 5 chats in India

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New Delhi, July 20: As the government served WhatsApp with a second notice asking it to check the spread of fake and provocative content, the Facebook-owned platform has said it is launching a test to limit forwarding that will apply to everyone in India.

“In India where people forward more messages, photos, and videos than any other country in the world, we’ll also test a lower limit of 5 chats at once.

“We will also remove the quick forward button next to media messages,” WhatsApp said in a blog post on Thursday.

In its second notice, the Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY) on Thursday said WhatsApp has been requested to come out with more effective solutions that can bring in accountability and facilitate enforcement of law in addition to their efforts towards labelling forwards and identifying fake news.

“It has been conveyed to them in unmistakable terms that it is a very serious issue which deserves a more sensitive response,” MeitY said.

WhatsApp said that with new changes, which it will continue to evaluate, “will help keep WhatsApp the way it was designed to be: a private messaging app”.

“We are deeply committed to your safety and privacy which is why WhatsApp is end-to-end encrypted, and we’ll continue to improve our app with features like this one,” it added.

In its first reply, WhatsApp wrote to the IT Ministry, saying the company is horrified by terrible acts of violence.

The IT Ministry had asked WhatsApp to ensure that the platform is not used for malafide activities over the growing instances of lynching of innocent people owing to large number of irresponsible messages filled with rumours.

WhatsApp, which has over 200 million monthly active users in India, listed several measures it is taking — including labelling Forwarding messages — to control the spread of misinformation and abuse on its platform.

Several people have lost their lives in the past one year by lynch mobs after rumours of child lifting triggered via messages on WhatsApp.

IANS

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