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Twitter’s new terms of service draw online criticism

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San Francisco, Sep 5: Twitter’s new terms of service that apparently allow other companies to re-publish content on its platform without any compensation have sparked widespread online criticism.

The clause that has received flak allows the micro-blogging website to make content that is posted on Twitter “available to other companies, organisations or individuals” who can then re-publish it.

“You agree that this license includes the right for Twitter to provide, promote, and improve the Services and to make Content submitted to or through the Services available to other companies, organizations or individuals for the syndication, broadcast, distribution, promotion or publication of such Content on other media and services, subject to our terms and conditions for such Content use,” the terms read under “Your Rights” section.

First noticed by a Twitter user Richard de Nooy who called it “grotesque”, the clause led to several people retweeting and slamming it, the Independent daily reported.

The clause further reads: “Such additional uses by Twitter, or other companies, organizations or individuals, may be made with no compensation paid to you with respect to the Content that you submit, post, transmit or otherwise make available through the Services.”

The new terms will come into effect for people outside of the US at the end of the month.

Twitter is “showing a pop-up to all affected users that warns them to take a look at the new terms and asks them to agree with them, or delete their account of they don’t”, the report added.

The terms, however, say that “Twitter respects the intellectual property rights of others and expects users of the Services to do the same”.

IANS

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Account removal, information requests up from India: Twitter

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New Delhi, Dec 14 : The Indian government made information requests for 355 Twitter accounts in the January-June 2018 period while law enforcement agencies in the country asked the micro-blogging platform to remove 237 accounts for violating the law of the land.

According to Twitter’s 13th biannual Transparency Report, the company provided some information to the Indian government in 11 per cent of cases.

“Twitter withheld two accounts and 23 Tweets in response to a legal demand from the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY) under Section 69A of the India Information Technology Act, 2000, for propagating objectionable content,” the company said in the report late Thursday.

When it comes to legal requests (including 9 requests in the form of court order) from India, 19 accounts and 498 Tweets were withheld as per the rules.

In total, Twitter met the legal demands to withhold some content from India in 5 per cent of the cases.

“Governments (including law enforcement agencies), organisations chartered to combat discrimination, and lawyers representing individuals are among the many complainants that submit legal requests,” said Twitter.

In July-December 2017, the Indian government made information requests for 315 Twitter accounts and law enforcement agencies had asked the social network to remove 144 accounts.

Globally, Twitter received 10 per cent more government information requests (combined emergency disclosure requests and non-emergency requests), which is the largest percentage increase since its July-December 2015 report.

“The latest report shows that Twitter received approximately 80 per cent more global legal demands, impacting more than twice as many accounts compared to the previous reporting period.

“Similar to the last reporting period, roughly 87 per cent of the total global volume originated from only two countries: Russia and Turkey,” Twitter said.

For the first time, Twitter published metrics pertaining to its actions to fight spam and other malicious forms of automation.

“We challenge millions of potentially spammy accounts every month, requesting additional details, like email address and phone numbers to authenticate them. From January to June, 2018, approximately 75 per cent of accounts challenged ultimately did not pass those challenges and were suspended,” informed the company.

The average number of reports it received through reporting flow continued to drop — from an average of approximately 868,349 in January to approximately 504,259 in June.

“These report decreases indicate the effectiveness of our proprietary built technology in proactively identifying and challenging accounts at source and at scale,” said Twitter.

In the same period, Twitter suspended 487,363 accounts for violations related to child sexual exploitation.

Nearly 97 per cent of these accounts were proactively flagged by a combination of technology, including PhotoDNA, and other purpose-built internal proprietary tools.

Twitter also suspended a total of 205,156 accounts flagged for promoting terrorism. Of those suspensions, 91 per cent consisted of accounts that were proactively flagged by internal, proprietary tools.

“The number of reports we received from governments of terrorist content decreased by 77 per cent compared to the previous reporting period,” said Twitter.

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Facebook dismisses report of journalists’ frustration with fact-checking

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San Francisco, Dec 14: Facebook has dismissed a media report that claimed journalists working as factcheckers for the social media giant are frustrated and are ending partnerships as the company failed to use their expertise to combat misinformation.

A report in The Guardian on Thursday said outside reporters have lost trust in Facebook, “which has repeatedly refused to release meaningful data about the impacts of their work”.

Reacting to the report, Meredith Carden, Head of News Integrity Partnerships at Facebook, said the Guardian story presents several inaccuracies.

“Contrary to a claim in the story, we absolutely do not ask fact-checkers to prioritise debunking content about our advertisers,” Carden said in statement.

The report, she added, is based primarily on the account of a single fact-checker who has not been involved with the Facebook fact-checking program for six months.

“We have been committed to fighting misinformation for years now and have strong relationships with our third-party fact-checking partners — we now have 35 partners in 24 countries around the world,” said Facebook.

The report quoted Brooke Binkowski, former managing editor of Snopes, a factchecking site that has partnered with Facebook for two years, as saying that the social network is using journalists for handling crisis PR.

“They’re not taking anything seriously. They are more interested in making themselves look good and passing the buck… They clearly don’t care,” said Binkowski, who now runs her own fact-checking site which does not partner with Facebook.

According to Facebook, it values the ongoing partnerships and the work that these journalists do.

The third-party fact checking programme was launched in 2016 after the US Presidential election.

“We’re planning to expand the programme to even more countries in 2019,” said Carden.

According to Facebook, three separate researches have found that the overall volume of false news on Facebook is decreasing since it put up third-party fact-checking programme and other anti-misinformation measures in place.

However, The Guardian report said the company has ignored journalists’ concerns.

Some newsroom leaders said “they had grown increasingly resentful of Facebook, especially following revelations that the company had paid a consulting firm to go after opponents by publicising their association with billionaire Jewish philanthropist George Soros”.

A New York Times investigation in November suggested that the social network hired a Republican-owned political consulting and PR firm that “dug up dirt on its competitors” including Soros.

Reacting to the report, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg denied they had any prior knowledge about this firm.

“It was later revealed that Sheryl Sandberg had directed her staff to research Soros’s financial interests after he publicly criticised the company,” the Guardian report said.

The report quoted another factchecker as saying that he was demoralised.

“They are a terrible company and, on a personal level, I don’t want to have anything to do with them,” said the anonymous factchecker.

IANS

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Google launches new shopping search features for Indian users

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New Delhi, Dec 13: Google on Thursday said it launched shopping search features to make the experience more personal and allow users to easily filter through offers, review prices from multiple retailers and find the products they are looking for.

The new experience is available via a “Shopping” home page, shopping tab in Google search and style search in Google Lens, an image recognition mobile app, Google said.

“More than 40 million Indians are coming online every year, and search is an integral part of their online journey,” Surojit Chatterjee, Vice President – Product Management, Google said.

“From seasoned desktop shoppers to first-time users with entry-level smartphones, we hope this new shopping experience will make finding what people are looking for just a little bit easier,” Chatterjee said.

The new “Shopping” home page is a made-to-browse destination for shoppers to search across multiple product categories, and browse products from thousands of retailers.

To make the shopping experience richer, Google said it added smart features like price drops and a collection of the most popular products on the search engine.

The experience will also be available as a Progressive Web App (PWA) for users with entry level phones, Google said.

The “Shopping Tab” in Google Search will allow users to post queries in Hindi and English and show product lists, local store inventory and review prices from across multiple retailers.

Finally, “Style Search” in Google Lens is an all-new visual approach to find products such as clothes, furniture and home decor by simply pointing the Lens app.

Google also announced the availability of the Merchant Centre in Hindi starting Thursday, besides English.

For retailers, Merchant Centre offers the place to upload store and product data for Shopping ads.

So far, the Merchant Centre has been only available in English.

Retailers can now also use Merchant Centre to upload product details so they can appear across Google, without paying for ad campaigns, Google said.

“With this launch, our aim is to support the entire retail ecosystem, from shopping sites and large retailers to small local shops, and give them the tools, technology and scale to thrive in today’s digital economy,” Chatterjee said.

IANS

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