Oakland, Oct 8 (AP/UNB) — Facebook has agreed to pay $40 million to advertisers who said it inflated the amount of time its users watched videos.
The San Jose Mercury News says the California-based social media giant denied any wrongdoing in a lawsuit settlement. The settlement notice was filed Friday by the plaintiffs in Oakland federal court.
Advertisers sued Facebook in 2016 over user metrics that supposedly measured the average length of time consumers spent viewing posted video ads. The lawsuit said that the time was inflated by up to 900 percent and that helped convince advertisers to buy Facebook's video advertising services.
Facebook publicly acknowledged an error in the formula. The company denied allegations that its engineers knew about problems for more than a year and did nothing.
Caracas, Oct 8 (AP/UNB) — The software company Adobe says it is cutting off its accounts in Venezuela, the latest repercussions of U.S. financial sanctions targeting President Nicolás Maduro.
The California-based firm on Monday cited sweeping measures by the administration of President Donald Trump announced Aug. 5 banning companies and individuals from doing business with Maduro's socialist government.
Adobe is best known for its graphics and multimedia software including Adobe Acrobat, Photoshop and Adobe Flash that enable online websites.
Its cutoff follows a move by Major League Baseball to ban its players from the Venezuelan Winter League because of the sanctions.
U.S. officials back Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó's bid to unseat the socialist government, saying Maduro's election last year was a fraud.
Venezuelan officials didn't immediately comment on the move by Adobe
Washington, Oct 8 (AP/UNB) - The United States is blacklisting a group of Chinese tech companies that develop facial recognition and other artificial intelligence technology that the U.S. says is being used to repress China's Muslim minority groups.
A move Monday by the U.S. Commerce Department puts the companies on a so-called Entity List for acting contrary to American foreign policy interests.
The blacklist effectively bars U.S. firms from selling technology to the Chinese companies without government approval.
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in a written statement Monday that the U.S. government "will not tolerate the brutal suppression of ethnic minorities within China."
The blacklisted companies include Hikvision and Dahua, both of which are global providers of video surveillance technology.
Hikvision said in a statement Monday that it respects human rights and strongly opposes the Trump administration's decision. The company said it has spent a year trying to "clarify misunderstandings about the company and address their concerns," and that this will hurt its U.S. business partners.
Prominent Chinese AI firms such as Sense Time, Megvii and iFlytek are also on the list. Sense Time and Megvii are known for the development of computer vision technology that underpins facial recognition products, while iFlytek is known for its voice recognition and translation services.
The companies are among 28 organizations added to the blacklist Monday. Along with the tech companies, the Commerce Department's filing targets local government agencies in China's northwestern Xinjiang region.
The filing said the listed groups have been implicated in "China's campaign of repression, mass arbitrary detention, and high-technology surveillance" against Uighurs, Kazakhs and other predominantly Muslim minority groups.
The Chinese embassy and several of the targeted companies didn't immediately return requests for comment Monday.
The Trump administration earlier this year used the same blacklisting process to punish Huawei, the Chinese telecom giant targeted by the U.S. over national security concerns. Added to the list in June were five Chinese groups working in supercomputing.
Ross said Monday's action will ensure U.S. technologies "are not used to repress defenseless minority populations."
China is estimated to have detained up to 1 million Muslims in prison-like detention centers in the region. The detentions come on top of harsh travel restrictions and a massive surveillance network equipped with facial recognition technology. China has denied committing abuses in the centers and has described them as schools aimed at providing employable skills and combating extremism.
Cape Canaveral, OCT 8. (AP/UNB) — The solar system has a new winner in the moon department.
Twenty new moons have been found around Saturn, giving the ringed planet a total of 82, scientists said Monday. That beats Jupiter and its 79 moons.
"It was fun to find that Saturn is the true moon king," said astronomer Scott Sheppard of the Carnegie Institution for Science.
If it's any consolation to the Jupiter crowd, our solar system's biggest planet — Jupiter — still has the biggest moon. Jupiter's Ganymede is almost half the size of Earth. By contrast, Saturn's 20 new moons are minuscule, each barely 3 miles (5 kilometers) in diameter.
Sheppard and his team used a telescope in Hawaii to spot Saturn's 20 new moons over the summer. About 100 even tinier moons may be orbiting Saturn, still waiting to be found, he said.
Astronomers have pretty much completed the inventory of moons as small as 3 miles (5 kilometers) around Saturn and 1 mile (1.6 kilometers) around Jupiter, according to Sheppard. Future larger telescopes will be needed to see anything smaller.
It's harder spotting mini moons around Saturn than Jupiter, Sheppard said, given how much farther Saturn is.
"So seeing that Saturn has more moons even though it is harder to find them, shows just how many moons Saturn has collected over time," he wrote in an email. These baby moons may have come from larger parent moons that broke apart right after Saturn formed.
Seventeen of Saturn's new moons orbit the planet in the opposite, or retrograde, direction. The other three circle in the same direction that Saturn rotates. They're so far from Saturn that it takes two to three years to complete a single orbit.
"These moons are the remnants of the objects that helped form the planets, so by studying them, we are learning about what the planets formed from," Sheppard wrote.
Just last year, Sheppard found 12 new moons around Jupiter. The Carnegie Institution had a moon-naming contest for them; another is planned now for Saturn's new moons .
The jury is still out on whether any planets beyond our solar system have even more moons. For now, Saturn has the most known moons.
Monday's announcement came from the International Astronomical Union's Minor Planet Center.
Washington, Oct. 7 (Xinhua/UNB) -- Astronomers found that an expanding beam of energy sprang from close to the supermassive black hole in the center of the Milky Way, like a titanic lighthouse beam, more than 3 million years ago.
The study published on Sunday in the preprint site arxiv.org and to be published soon in The Astrophysical Journal showed that the beam had sent a cone-shaped burst of radiation through both poles of the Galaxy.
The phenomenon created two enormous ionisation cones that sliced through the Milky Way, starting with a relatively small diameter close to the black hole, and expanding vastly as they exited the Galaxy, according to the study.
The explosion was too huge to have been triggered by anything other than nuclear activity associated with the black hole, known as Sgr A*, which is about 4.2 million times more massive than the sun, according to the Australian-U.S. research team.
Using data gathered by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, the researchers calculated that the massive explosion took place about 3.5 million years ago, which is astonishingly recent in Galactic terms.
"This shows that the center of the Milky Way is a much more dynamic place than we had previously thought. It is lucky we're not residing there," said Lisa Kewley, director of Australia's ARC Centre of Excellence for All Sky Astrophysics in 3 Dimensions.
The researchers estimated that the blast lasted for perhaps 300,000 years, also an extremely short period in galactic terms.
"We always thought about our Galaxy as an inactive galaxy, with a not so bright center. These new results instead open the possibility of a complete reinterpretation of its evolution and nature," said the paper's co-author Magda Guglielmo with the University of Sydney.