London, Apr 9 (AP/UNB) — Tech giants like Facebook and Google came under increasing pressure in Europe on Monday when countries proposed stricter rules to force them to block extreme material such as terrorist propaganda and child porn.
Britain called for a first-of-its-kind watchdog for social media that could fine executives and even ban companies. And a European Union parliamentary committee approved a bill giving internet companies an hour to remove terror-related material or face fines that could reach into the billions.
"We are forcing these firms to clean up their act once and for all," said British Home Secretary Sajid Javid, whose department collaborated on Britain's proposal.
Opponents warned the British and EU measures could stifle innovation and strengthen the dominance of technology giants because smaller companies won't have the money to comply. That, in turn, could turn Google and Facebook into the web's censors, they said.
The push to make the big companies responsible for the torrent of material they carry has largely been driven by Europeans. But it picked up momentum after the March 15 mosque shootings in New Zealand that killed 50 people and were livestreamed for 17 minutes. Facebook said it removed 1.5 million videos of the attacks in the 24 hours afterward.
The U.S., where government action is constrained by the First Amendment right to free speech and freedom of the press, has taken a more hands-off approach, though on Tuesday, a House committee will press Google and Facebook executives on whether they are doing enough to curb the spread of hate crimes and white nationalism.
Australia last week made it a crime for social media platforms not to quickly remove "abhorrent violent material." The offense would be punishable by three years in prison and a fine of 10.5 million Australian dollars ($7.5 million), or 10% of the platform's annual revenue, whichever is larger. New Zealand's Privacy Commissioner wants his country to so the same.
The British plan would require social media companies such as Facebook and Twitter to protect people who use their sites from "harmful content." The plan, which includes the creation of an independent regulator funded by a tax on internet companies, will be subject to public comment for three months before the government publishes draft legislation.
"No one in the world has done this before, and it's important that we get it right," Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright told the BBC.
Facebook's head of public policy in Britain, Rebecca Stimson, said the goal of the new rules should be to protect society while also supporting innovation and freedom of speech.
"These are complex issues to get right, and we look forward to working with the government and Parliament to ensure new regulations are effective," she said.
Britain will consider imposing financial penalties similar to those under the EU's online data privacy law, which permits fines of up to 4% of a company's annual worldwide revenue, Wright said. In extreme cases, the government may also seek to fine individual company directors and prevent companies from operating in Britain.
Under the EU legislation that cleared an initial hurdle in Brussels, any internet companies that fail to remove terrorist content within an hour of being notified by authorities would face similar 4% penalties. EU authorities came up with the idea last year after attacks highlighted the growing trend of online radicalization.
The bill would apply to companies providing services to EU citizens, whether or not those businesses are based in the EU's 28 member countries. It still needs further approval, including from the full European Parliament.
It faces heavy opposition from digital rights organizations, tech industry groups and some lawmakers, who said the 60-minute deadline is impractical and would lead companies to go too far and remove even lawful material.
"Instead, we call for a more pragmatic approach with removals happening 'as soon as possible,' to protect citizens' rights and competitiveness," said EDIMA, a European trade group for new media and internet companies.
Opponents said the measure also places a bigger burden on smaller internet companies than on giants like Facebook and Google, which already have automated content filters. To help smaller web companies, the bill was modified to give them an extra 12 hours for their first offense, a measure opponents said didn't go far enough.
Mark Skilton, a professor at England's Warwick Business School, urged regulators to pursue new methods such as artificial intelligence that could do a better job of tackling the problem.
"Issuing large fines and hitting companies with bigger legal threats is taking a 20th-century bullwhip approach to a problem that requires a nuanced solution," he said. "It needs machine learning tools to manage the 21st-century problems of the internet."
Wright said Britain's proposed social-media regulator would be expected to take freedom of speech into account while trying to prevent harm.
"What we're talking about here is user-generated content, what people put online, and companies that facilitate access to that kind of material," he said. "So this is not about journalism. This is about an unregulated space that we need to control better to keep people safer."
San Francisco, Mar 30 (AP/UNB) — Facebook says it has removed 200 pages, groups and accounts linked to Nic Gabunada, reportedly the former social media manager of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, for misleading people.
The social network says it took down the accounts for "coordinated inauthentic behavior," the term it uses to describe accounts that work together to mask who is behind them and what their purpose is. In the past, Facebook has removed accounts linked to Russia , Iran and other countries for trying to wreak political havoc or influence elections in the U.S. and elsewhere.
The accounts and posts in question posted about elections, alleged misconduct by political candidates and local news. Facebook says they tried to hide their identity but were linked to a network organized by Gabunada.
New Delhi, Mar 27 (AP/UNB) — Facebook is taking steps to reduce the spread of false information on its platforms ahead of India's general election, company officials said Monday.
Facebook listed a variety of measures it is taking, from blocking fake accounts to employing third-party fact-checking organizations, through the campaign and voting, with polling scheduled to take place in stages from April 11 to May 19.
Calling the Indian elections a "top priority," Samidh Chakrabarti, director of Facebook's Product Management for Civic Integrity division, said the company has put in a "tremendous amount of efforts over the last two years" to prepare for the polls.
He said Facebook has partnered with Indian media organizations to check and flag false stories in English, Hindi and some other regional Indian languages.
After a fact-checker flags a story as containing false information, Facebook reduces the number of times it appears in any individual user's newsfeed by about 80 percent, Chakrabarti said.
The social media giant came under immense scrutiny after it failed to prevent the spread of false information during the 2016 U.S. elections, when allegations of outside interference resulted in Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg testifying in the U.S. Senate.
Facebook-owned messaging applications such as WhatsApp have been repeatedly scrutinized by the Indian government and security agencies, and asked to prevent the spread of false information and rumors that have been linked to mob killings.
In 2018, at least 20 people were killed in India, mostly in rural villages, in attacks by mobs that were inflamed by social media.
In response, WhatsApp restricted the forwarding of messages to five recipients at a time, instead of the 256 previously allowed.
Although the move was India-specific, it was applied globally earlier this year, WhatsApp announced in January.
But social media have also become a critical tool for Indian political campaigns. Ahead of elections in 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party used social media extensively for political advertisements and to interact with young voters.
The Election Commission of India is trying to rein in social media giants such as Google, Twitter and Facebook to prevent the release of user data and to curb the spread of politically motivated manipulative information.
Social media companies have presented a "Voluntary Code of Ethics for the General Elections 2019" to the election monitoring body, a new requirement this year.
"We are working hard to prevent bad actors from interfering with elections on Facebook," Chakrabarti said, adding that Facebook has tripled the number of people working on safety and security to 30,000.
India reportedly has the highest number of Facebook users in the world, with more than 300 million. That is about a third of the 900 million people eligible to vote in 2019.
The elections will be held in seven phases to ensure proper security and manageable logistics across the country of 1.3 billion people. Counting of votes is to be conducted on May 23, with results expected the same day.
Dhaka, Mar 25 (UNB)- Local brand Walton has released its new 4G smartphone- ‘Primo H8’ in country’s tech market.
Customers will get discounts of Tk 1000 and purchase the device that features 3 GB RAM along with various attractive features at Tk 6,999 from its own online sales platform E-Plaza.
Asifur Rahman Khan, Chief of Walton Cellular Phone sales department, said that the regular price of the new smartphone is Tk 7,999. However, customers will get discount of taka 1,000 on online purchasing from March 26 to March 31, 2019.
They can order the new device from http://eplaza.waltonbd.com and will get the phone within 24-48 hours. Free delivery will be provided within 10 kilometers of the nearest Walton Plaza.
Attractively designed, the Primo H8 comes in three different colors- Midnight Blue, Rose Gold and Twilight Blue and features a 5.45-inch full-view HD+ IPS display with 1440X720 pixel screen resolutions. It sports a 1.3 GHz Quad Core processor, 3GB DDR3 RAM, 16GB internal storage (expandable up to 64 GB) and PowerVR Rogue GE8100 GPU along with 3,200 mAh battery.
Runs on Android 8:1 Oreo operating system, the new device features 8-megapixel auto focus rear Sony camera with LED flash. It also sports another 8-megapixel front facing Omnivision selfie camera.
Some other attractive features of the dual-SIM supported phone is face unlock, fingerprint sensor and OTG support, full HD video playback etc.
Customers will also enjoy instant replacement warranty for 30 days for the phone along with one-year regular service warranty.
Dhaka, Mar 25 (UNB)- Vivo announced partnership with the world’s leading mobile game Player Unknown's Battlegrounds Mobile (PUBG MOBILE) on Monday as the title sponsor of the upcoming PUBG MOBILE Club Open 2019, one of the biggest mobile gaming tournaments in the world.
Vivo will provide the official smartphones for the PUBG MOBILE Club Open 2019, which players from 10 regions across the globe will be leveraging to battle their way through the Spring & Fall Split, for the total prize pool of $2.5 million.
This global partnership reinforces Vivo’s commitment to bring an ultra-smooth gaming experience to connect with consumers through meaningful partnerships.
The partnership between Vivo and the game’s developers Tencent Games and PUBG Corporation announced Monday.
Vivo thrives to be at the forefront of the eSports industry to best serve its consumers. The partnership with PUBG MOBILE is a key milestone, especially given that it is a leading mobile game developed by Tencent Games and PUBG Corporation that has over 200 million fans per download excluding China, Korea, and Japan.
The PUBG MOBILE Club Open 2019 is a strong opportunity to showcase Vivo’s vision of ‘enjoying the extraordinary’ by bringing global players a true gaming experience like no other.
This global partnership will unfold and strengthen Vivo’s position in being an innovative and stylish brand that always puts our consumer experience first.
The PUBG MOBILE STAR CHALLENGE 2018 was watched by over 230 million viewers and drew in over 5,000 live attendees at the global finals in Dubai. The qualifying round of PUBG MOBILE Club Open 2019 began March 22.
The Spring Split Global Finals will be hosted in July this year, with the Fall Split Global Finals following in December.
“We are excited to partner with Vivo, as they have a strong reputation in being innovative and putting the consumer’s needs first. As an innovative brand ourselves, this partnership highlights our dedication to bring the best experience possible to our players and fans around the world,” said Vincent Wang, General Manager of Global Publishing Department, Tencent Games.