Dhaka, Nov 10 (UNB): Facebook is dropping a requirement for mandatory arbitration of sexual misconduct allegations, acceding to a demand recently pressed by other Silicon Valley tech workers.
Google made a similar change on Thursday, a week after thousands of employees briefly walked off their jobs to protest how the company handled sexual-misconduct allegations against prominent executives.
The move at Facebook, first reported by The Wall Street Journal, means that employees no longer have to submit to private arbitration, which kept misconduct allegations secret and sometimes allowed abusers to continue their behavior. Employees can now press their claims in court instead. Other tech companies such as Microsoft and Uber have previously dropped mandatory arbitration.
Facebook will now also require executives at director level and above to disclose any dating relationships with company employees.
San Francisco, Nov 9 (AP/UNB) — Google is promising to be more forceful and open about its handling of sexual misconduct cases, a week after thousands of high-paid engineers and others walked out in protest over its male-dominated culture.
Google bowed to one of the protesters' main demands by dropping mandatory arbitration of all sexual misconduct cases. That will now be optional, so workers can choose to sue in court and present their case in front of a jury. It mirrors a change made by ride-hailing service Uber after complaints from its female employees prompted an internal investigation. The probe concluded that its rank had been poisoned by rampant sexual harassment.
"Google's leaders and I have heard your feedback and have been moved by the stories you've shared," CEO Sundar Pichai said in an email to Google employees. "We recognize that we have not always gotten everything right in the past and we are sincerely sorry for that. It's clear we need to make some changes." Thursday's email was obtained by The Associated Press.
Last week, the tech giant's workers left their cubicles in dozens of offices around the world to protest what they consider management's lax treatment of top executives and other male workers accused of sexual harassment and other misconduct. The protest's organizers estimated that about 20,000 workers participated.
The reforms are the latest fallout from a broader societal backlash against men's exploitation of their female subordinates in business, entertainment and politics — a movement that has spawned the "MeToo" hashtag as a sign of unity and a call for change.
Google will provide more details about sexual misconduct cases in internal reports available to all employees. The breakdowns will include the number of cases that were substantiated within various company departments and list the types of punishment imposed, including firings, pay cuts and mandated counseling.
The company is also stepping up its training aimed at preventing misconduct. It's requiring all employees to go through the process annually instead of every other year. Those who fall behind in their training, including top executives, will be dinged in annual performance reviews, leaving a blemish that could lower their pay and make it more difficult to get promoted.
But Google didn't address protesters' demand for a commitment to pay women the same as men doing similar work. When previously confronted with accusations that it shortchanges women — made by the U.S. Labor Department and in lawsuits filed by female employees —Google has maintained that its compensation system doesn't discriminate between men and women.
The changes didn't go far enough to satisfy Vicki Tardif Holland, a Google employee who helped organize and spoke at the protests near the company's Cambridge, Massachusetts, office last week.
"While Sundar's message was encouraging, important points around discrimination, inequity and representation were not addressed," Holland wrote in an email responding to an AP inquiry.
Nevertheless, employment experts predicted the generally positive outcome of Google's mass uprising is bound to have ripple effects across Silicon Valley and perhaps the rest of corporate America.
"These things can be contagious," said Thomas Kochan, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology management professor specializing in employment issues. "I would expect to see other professionals taking action when they see something wrong."
Some employers might even pre-emptively adopt some of Google's new policies, given its prestige, said Stephanie Creary, who specializes in workplace and diversity issues at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School. "When Google does something, other employers tend to copy it," she said.
Google got caught in the crosshairs two weeks ago after The New York Times detailed allegations of sexual misconduct against the creator of Google's Android software, Andy Rubin. The newspaper said Rubin received a $90 million severance package in 2014 after Google concluded the accusations were credible. Rubin has denied the allegations.
Like its Silicon Valley peers, Google has already acknowledged that its workforce is too heavily concentrated with white and Asian men, especially in the highest-paying executive and computer-programming jobs. Women account for 31 percent of Google's employees worldwide, and it's lower for leadership roles.
Critics believe that gender imbalance has created a "brogammer" culture akin to a college fraternity house that treats women as sex objects. As part of its ongoing efforts, Google will now require at least one woman or a non-Asian ethnic minority to be included on the list of candidates for executive jobs.
St. Louis, Nov 9 (AP/UNB) — The ride-hailing company Uber instituted a new guideline prohibiting drivers from broadcasting passengers' images amid privacy concerns after a St. Louis-area driver posted hundreds of videos.
The new guideline was put in place at the end of September, an Uber spokesman said Thursday. It allows drivers to use video cameras, dash cameras and other recording devices for security purposes — but not to broadcast them.
"Broadcasting a person's image, audio, or video recording is a violation of these terms and may result in loss of account access," the guideline states.
Uber said the guideline was in place when a Phoenix driver posted video from Oct. 29 of Ottawa Senators players insulting the team and an assistant coach. The players apologized to their coach and said in a statement that their "private conversation was recorded without our knowledge or consent."
Uber said the driver's access was removed.
In July, both Uber and its rival, Lyft, cut ties with driver Jason Gargac , who recorded about 700 St. Louis-area passengers without their permission and most were streamed to his channel on the live video website Twitch. Passengers who were unwittingly recorded and broadcast included children, intoxicated college students and public figures, including Alice in Chains lead guitarist Jerry Cantrell, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
The newspaper said the posted videos sometimes included names and showed passengers vomiting, kissing, and trash-talking relatives, friends and employers. Gargac said at the time he was trying to capture what a Lyft and Uber ride is really like.
Uber began a review of its policies after the incident with Gargac, the company said.
It is not a crime in Missouri for parties to record their own interactions, unless it shows someone nude without that person's consent. The recording of the NHL players in Phoenix was legal as well since Arizona law requires consent of only one party — in the case of the Uber recording, the driver.
Fallout from Gargac's recording prompted the St. Louis Metropolitan Taxicab Commission in September to prohibit taxi drivers from livestreaming video of passengers. But the commission has no authority over Uber, Lyft and other similar services.
Lyft has not changed or instituted a new policy, but requires drivers to follow local laws and regulations, "including with regard to the use of any recording device," a spokeswoman said.
San Francisco, Nov 8 (AP/UNB) — For the past few years, the smartphone industry has been searching for a breakthrough to revive a market mired in an innovation lull and a sales slump. A potential catalyst is on the horizon in the form of flexible screens that can be folded in half without breaking.
Samsung and several rivals are preparing to roll out such screens to make devices more versatile for work and pleasure. The foldable screens could increase display space to the size of a mini-tablet, but fold like a wallet so they revert to the size of regular phones. But there are questions about price and durability.
If the new phones fulfill their makers' ambitions, they will become a leap ahead for an industry whose origins can be traced to the old flip phones that consumers once embraced as cool and convenient. Foldable-screen phones, though, won't need hinges because they have continuous displays that can bend.
In an indication of how difficult it is to make a flexible screen that's also durable, Samsung first announced plans to build a folding-screen phone five years ago. It wasn't until Wednesday, though, that Samsung finally provided a glimpse at what it's been working on.
"We have been living in a world where the size of a screen could only be as large as the device itself," said Justin Denison, Samsung's senior vice president of mobile product marketing. "We have just entered a new dimension."
Except for a fleeting look at a device he held in a hand, Denison provided scant information about the phone. Samsung says it will be ready to hit the market at some point next year.
Smartphone makers are looking for something to excite consumers as they replace phones less often because new models are pricey and aren't that much different from their predecessors beyond slightly better cameras and batteries.
That's the main reason worldwide smartphone sales have fallen from the previous year for four consecutive quarters, according to IDC. Add it all up, and smartphone sales declined by 4 percent during 12 months ending in September. Samsung, the world's leading seller of smartphones, suffered a 7 percent decline in shipments during that period, based on IDC's calculations.
But it's not clear whether flexible-screen phones will have mass appeal, especially when the bendy devices are expected to cost more than $1,000. Royole Corp., a small Silicon Valley company, is hoping to sell early versions of its FlexPai foldable-screen phone for $1,300 to $1,500 once it comes to the U.S. — something that won't happen until next year, at the earliest. For now, it will be available in China starting next month, at a price equivalent to about $1,300.
While the idea of a device being able to bend into different shapes may sound good, IDC analyst Ramon Llamas is skeptical about how practical and durable they will be. One of the biggest questions is whether the quality of the screens will degrade as they get repeatedly folded. "Are people really going to want to watch a Netflix show on these devices if there is a crease down the middle of it?" Llamas said.
Royole said its FlexPai can be bent more than 200,000 times without deteriorating.
Other foldable-screen phones running Google's Android software are expected to be available, too. Huawei confirmed last month that it is working on a phone with a flexible screen. LG Electronics is widely expected to unveil one at the CES gadget show in Las Vegas in January. LG didn't respond to a request for comment.
"Everyone has been thinking about the same question: 'What's next? Is there nothing more from a smartphone?'" Royole CEO Bill Liu said.
Dhaka, Nov 7 (UNB)- Social media Facebook has launched ‘Ad Breaks’ facilities in Bangladesh.
Eligible publishers and creators can now earn as well as increase their number of followers of the facebook page using their longer-form videos through the facilities.
From Wednesday, the users can get the facilities in both English and Bangla of uploaded video on the facebook, said a press release.
As the facebook started the facilities in various languages across the global, it expanded the service in Bangladesh too as part of the initiative, added the press release.