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San Francisco:  An estimated 10 million people in the US saw the Russian ads that were present on Facebook during the 2016 presidential election, the social media giant said while finally handing over nearly 3,000 Russian political ads worth $100,000 to the US Congress.

Facebook said that 44 per cent of total ad impressions (number of times ads were displayed) were before the election on November 8, 2016, while 56 per cent were shown after the election.

"Roughly 25 per cent of the ads were never shown to anyone," Elliot Schrage, Vice President of Policy and Communications at Facebook wrote in a blog on Monday. 

This, Schrage wrote, is due to the fact that most of the ads appear to focus on divisive social and political messages across the ideological spectrum, touching on topics from LGBT matters to race issues to immigration to gun rights. 

"For 50 per cent of the ads, less than $3 was spent; for 99 per cent of the ads, less than $1,000 was spent," the executive said. 

Facebook said that some of the ads were paid for in Russian currency and "currency alone isn't a good way of identifying suspicious activity, because the overwhelming majority of advertisers who pay in Russian currency, like the overwhelming majority of people who access Facebook from Russia, aren't doing anything wrong". 

Schrage wrote that it is possible that Facebook might find more than that they have found. 

"We're still looking for abuse and bad actors on our platform - our internal investigation continues. We hope that by cooperating with Congress, the Special Counsel and our industry partners, we will help keep bad actors off our platform."

The company said it was continuing to refine their techniques for identifying the ads in question but would not disclose more details because they do not want to give bad actors a roadmap for avoiding future detection.

In order to do better at catching abuse on the platform, Facebook also announced a number of improvements, including making advertising more transparent, strengthening enforcement against improper ads and tightening restrictions on advertiser content.

Facebook would also increase requirements for authenticity and establish industry standards and best practices.

 

 

 

 

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New Delhi: Instant messaging service WhatsApp has been largely blocked in China, the media reported.

The Open Observatory of Network Interference (OONI), a global observation network for detecting censorship, surveillance and traffic manipulation, suggested on Monday night that Chinese internet service providers started blocking access to WhatsApp on September 23, reports CNN. 

Public reports on Twitter indicated that WhatsApp, which is owned by the US-based social media giant Facebook, became inaccessible for some people on September 19.

Over the last few months, there were a number of WhatsApp disruptions in China. 

However, WhatsApp has not made an official announcement on the development.

China has already blocked access to a number of internet companies, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Google. 

Some people access these services through virtual private networks (VPN), or with tools that disguise internet traffic to circumvent censorship. But the Chinese government has launched a crack down on VPNs this year.

According to Timothy Heath, senior international defence research analyst at the RAND Corporation, the Chinese government does not like that WhatsApp uses strong encryption.

"The government wants to monitor internet communications, and therefore it's trying to steer its people to use technology that can be accessed and monitored by the government," Heath told CNN.

Earlier this month, WeChat, a popular chat service in China, notified users of its policies to comply with government requests for information.

 

 

 

 

 

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New Delhi:  A day after Google launched its new digital payment app "Tez" in India,the company's Indian-born CEO Sundar Pichai on Tuesday tweeted it will help India move closer to digital transformation.

"We hope that the launch of @TezByGoogle will help take India one step closer to your vision of @_DigitalIndia," Pichai tweeted.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley who launched the app here had said the idea of "Tez" was discussed by Pichai in January, just after demonetisation.

"Google saw a great potential in Indian economy and businesses," Jaitley said, adding that Google's new digital payments app over the next few months was likely to make major advances in digital transaction volumes.

Built on the Indian government-supported Unified Payments Interface (UPI), Tez allows users, free of charge, to make small or big payments straight from their bank accounts.

The app was built for India, working on the vast majority of the country's smartphones and available in English and seven Indian languages (Hindi, Bengali, Gujarati, Kannada, Marathi, Tamil and Telugu).

The app works in partnership with four Banks -- Axis Bank, HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank and State Bank of India -- to facilitate the processing of payments across over 50 UPI-enabled banks.

According to D.D. Mishra, Research Director, Gartner, Tez provides promising features which are in-line with the requirements.

"It is too early to say whether it can be a game changer as evolution in this business is going to continue, but yes it has the capabilities to bring some disruption as of now," Mishra said in a statement.

Moreover, Google's information about an individual's preferences can play a good role in enabling business to know their preferences and provide offers with interesting options.

"The mobile wallet industry too, is evolving and we are at an interesting stage in this competition. Eventually, UPI payments will have an upper hand if it continues to remain free and provide better security, convenience and add more Value Added Services," Mishra informed.

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New Delhi:  Google Tez has become the latest UPI-based payments app in the country, propelling the Internet search giant into the league of companies eyeing a piece of India's digital payments pie. The new Google Tez app can be used to pay for movie tickets, utility bills, and make other transactions online. The company will hold a launch event for the app on Monday in New Delhi, but has made it official ahead of that. Tez means fast in Hindi, which the company said was one of the selling points of its new app. Google's rivals such as Amazon and Facebook are also making efforts to tap the country's digital payments market.

Google Tez is a standalone payments app, available on Android and iOS, and is powered by UPI, a payments protocol built by government-backed organisation NPCI. The launch of Google Tez comes nine months after the company chief executive officer Sundar Pichai told us in a televised interview that he was looking at UPI and ways to adopt it.

"The app weighs just 7MB on Android and works with the vast majority of Android smartphones in the country," Caesar Sengupta, the head of Google's Next Billion programme said onstage at the event. The app even works on Android KitKat-powered smartphones, Sengupta said. iPhone users -- going as back as iPhone 4s -- will be able to use Tez app as well, he added. 

How Google Tez works

The Google Tez UPI-enabled digital payments app supports various local languages including Hindi, Bengali, Gujarati, Kannada, Marathi, Tamil and Telugu. The interface is straightforward, and strikingly different from other payments apps, Google executives said onstage at the event. "This was deliberate. We wanted to make digital payments as simple as paying via cash," executives said. The company asks users to enter their bank account number and verify their ownership. They can do so easily by quickly sending a text message from their registered phone number through the Google Tez app's interface. Once verified, Google prompts the user to add a UPI PIN, and then they can start making payments. They can then see all their friends who're also using Tez, and request and pay money.

More interesting, however, is the Google Tez "Cash mode" option, which transmits "audio" using Google's QR technology to identify the person nearby you, and lets you pay or receive money when you're able to find that user. "It works on almost all phones sold in India," a Google executive said at the event. The company has partnered with Axis, HDFC Bank, ICICI, and State Bank of India for backend processing. "With Cash Mode, we have made paying digitally as easy as paying via cash," a Google executive said. 

 

 

 

 

 

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New Delhi:  After a report revealing how Facebook allowed advertisers to reach "Jew haters" in its platform shook the conscience of a large number of its users, tech giants Google and Twitter have also been accused of letting advertisers use their platforms to reach racists.

Google, the world's biggest advertising platform, allows advertisers to specifically target ads to people typing racist and bigoted terms into its search bar, BuzzFeed News reported on Friday.

Not only that, Google will suggest additional racist and bigoted terms once you type some into its ad-buying tool, it said.

"Type 'Why do Jews ruin everything,' and Google will suggest you run ads next to searches including 'the evil jew' and 'jewish control of banks', the report said.

Soon after, The Daily Beast reported that Twitter too lets advertisers target users interested in hateful words and phrases, including "wetback," and "Nazi."

These reports follow a ProPublica investigation that revealed this week how Facebook enabled advertisers to direct their pitches to the news feeds of people who expressed interest in the topics of "Jew hater," "How to burn jews," or, "History of 'why jews ruin the world".

Buzzfeed also purchased ads and ran a live campaign before alerting Google, which promptly disabled a number of the keywords involved.

"Our goal is to prevent our keyword suggestions tool from making offensive suggestions, and to stop any offensive ads appearing," The Verge quoted Sridhar Ramaswamy, Google's Senior Vice President of Ads & Commerce, as saying.

"We have language that informs advertisers when their ads are offensive and therefore rejected. In this instance, ads didn't run against the vast majority of these keywords, but we didn't catch all these offensive suggestions. That's not good enough and we're not making excuses. We've already turned off these suggestions, and any ads that made it through, and will work harder to stop this from happening again," Ramaswamy said.

Reacting to The Daily Beast report, Twitter said that it actively prohibits and prevents any offensive ads from appearing on our platform.

"We are committed to understanding why this happened and how to keep it from happening again," Twitter told The Verge in a statement.

 

 

 

 

 

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New Delhi: To help its users during disasters, Facebook has created a new centre for crisis response where people can find information about recent crises and access the social network's crisis response tools -- including Safety Check, Community Help and Fundraisers to support crisis recovery -- all in one place.

"We are also introducing links to articles, videos and photos posted publicly by the Facebook community, to help people be more informed about a crisis," Mike Nowak, Product Director, Social Good, Facebook, posted on Thursday.

 

"People will be able to access Crisis Response on Facebook in the upcoming weeks from the homepage on desktop or from the menu button on their phone," Nowak added.

When there is a crisis, people can use Facebook to let their friends and family know they are safe with the "Safety Check" feature.

"It will continue to work the same way it does today and will be featured at the top of each crisis page if you are in the affected area," Nowak said.

"Safety Check activations and related information may also appear in News Feed to help provide additional details about a crisis," Nowak added.

With the "Community Help" feature, people can ask for and give help to communities affected by the crisis.

The "Fundraisers" let people create fundraisers and donate to support those affected by the crisis and nonprofit organisations helping with relief efforts.

 

 

 

 

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New Delhi: Three former Google employees have filed a class-action lawsuit against the tech giant accusing it of discriminating against women when it came to pay and promotions.

According to a report in Fortune late Thursday, the three former employees who served as software engineer, communications specialist and manager, filed the lawsuit that said: "Google pays women in California less than men who perform similar work and assigns female workers jobs that are less likely to lead to promotions".

 

"While Google has been an industry-leading tech innovator, its treatment of female employees has not entered the 21st century," Kelly Dermody, a lawyer for the women, said in a statement.

Google, which was yet to comment on the development, is also facing a probe by the US Department of Labour into its pay practices.

Meanwhile, in a fresh onslaught on Google, James Damore -- the engineer who was fired by the company over a memo criticising its's diversity efforts -- said that the tech giant was discriminating in hiring practices.

Damore told CNBC that Google was "treating people differently based on race or gender".

"The company is pressing individual managers to increase diversity and is using race or gender to decide which workers are promoted and which teams job candidates are placed on."

He also said that he was "pursuing legal remedies" against the company over his firing.

Last month, Google's Indian-born CEO Sundar Pichai addressed a coding event for women on the sprawling campus at Mountain View, California, after Damore's manifesto claimed that "the representation gap between men and women in software engineering persists because of biological differences between the two sexes".

"There's a place for you at Google. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. You belong here, and we need you," Pichai told woman innovators at the company.

 

 

 

 

 

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At the iPhone 8 launch event, Apple made the fans wait a little before taking the covers off its new smartphones - iPhone X, iPhone 8, and iPhone 8 Plus. While the flagship had to wait a while - as executives took the stage one after the other to introduce the Apple Watch Series 3 and Apple TV 4K - the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus were introduced first. The 'One More Thing' this time was iPhone X without bezels above and below the display, and with Face ID facial recognition technology that replaces the Touch ID fingerprint sensor on the new Apple flagship. Other key features to look forward to wireless charging, water- and dust-resistant body, animoji (animated emojis), portrait mode on both front and rear cameras.

 

 

The iPhone X has a 5.8-inch display with 2436x1125-pixel resolution Super Retina display, glass and stainless steel design, 12-megapixel dual cameras with dual OIS and quad-LED True Tone flash. Its fast-charging battery delivers 2 hours more battery life than iPhone 7, Apple claims.

 

iPhone X price and release date

 

iPhone X price starts at $999 for the variant, and storage options are 64GB and 256GB. Pre-orders for the model will start on October 27, and shipping will begin on November 3. There is no word on the iPhone X price in India and release date are yet to be announced.

 

iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus specifications, features

 

The successors to iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus run on the new A11 Bionic chip that the company says has two performance cores (25 percent than last year's A10), and four high-efficiency cores (70 percent faster than A10). Augmented Reality (AR) is a crucial part of the new iPhone 8 models, as will be the spatial audio feature - this will increase the volume when you get closer to the iPhone. Wireless charging for iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus, based on Qi standard, is finally a reality after years of rumours.

 

 

 

iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus camera

 

The iPhone 8 Plus retains the dual camera setup, but with two 12-megapixel sensors with f/1.8 aperture for the primary RGB sensor and f/2.8 aperture for the telephoto sensor. The iPhone 8 Plus camera has a new beta Portrait mode that adds lighting effects that, the company says, would normally require a proper studio lighting feature. As for video capturing, the phone can shoots 4K videos at 60fps, 1080p videos at 240fps.

 

iPhone 8 price

 

The iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus will come in two storage options - 64GB and 256GB. iPhone 8 price starts at $699, whereas that of the iPhone 8 Plus will begin at $799. Pre-orders for both variants begin on September 15, and release date is September 22. iOS 11, the latest version of the mobile software powering the iPhones, will be available to download on September 19.

 

 

First up at the event was the Apple Watch Series 3 that comes with LTE support, ending the dependence of the wearable on the paired iPhone. Users will be able to get notifications, calls, messages etc. even when you are not near your phone. Moreover, it can pair with AirPods, allowing users to listen to the Apple Music collection on the go without involving the iPhone. It also has Siri too, allowing users to communicate with the Apple Watch independent of the phone. The Apple Watch Series 3 models are also available without cellular data as well. Some of the other features of the new Apple wearable are GPS, water-resistant design, W2 wireless chip, 70 percent faster dual-core processor, all-day battery life, and barometric altimeter.

The new Apple Watch Series 3 models will become available to purchase on September 22, while watchOS 4 will be released to existing Apple Watch users on September 19.

 

 

Next came the Apple TV 4K that now supports 4K, HDR 10 and Dolby Vision support. The new Apple TV model packs the new 10.5-inch iPad Pro's A10X processor, and 4K movies will be available at the same as HD ones. Buyers will get 4K HDR titles from Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, and Apple is adding live sports and news streaming to the new model soon. Users will get notifications about games and their favourite sports teams. The live streaming features will be available in the US for now, and will come to eight others countries later via the TV app. Talking about the Apple TV 4K price in India, the 32GB variant is priced at Rs. 15,900 and 64GB at Rs. 17,900.

 

 

 

 

 

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New Delhi: Tech aficionados in India were in for a treat on Tuesday when Samsung launched its latest flagship Galaxy Note 8 device. The premium smartphone, at Rs 67,900, looks set to satisfy technology junkies who are on-the-go.

Industry analysts quickly gave the device a thumbs-up.

 

"Note 8 looks a great device with Samsung getting the software and AI piece right over there. With the likely announcement of Apple's premium phone, flagship competition is likely to push the overall average selling price (ASP) of premium segment after the introduction of Note 8 at newer price points," Tarun Pathak, Associate Director, Mobile Devices and Ecosystems, Counterpoint Research, told IANS.

The device (we experienced Maple Gold one) comes with 6GB RAM and 64GB internal memory (expandable up to 256GB).

Upfront is the patented 6.3-inch "Infinity Display" with curved edges. On the left bumper, there is a volume rocker and a dedicated button for Samsung's artificial intelligence (AI) assistant "Bixby". On the right bumper, you can find the power button.

Galaxy Note 8 is fitted with a 12MP dual-camera system at the rear, along side a flash and fingerprint sensor.

The rear camera comes with two 12MP lenses -- wide angle and telephoto. Both are equipped with Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS) for sharper photos and videos.

The photos came out very well in both day and night light conditions.

Users can change the area and amount of blur by using "Live Focus" feature. We also tried "Pro" mode and "Food", and the results were promising.

The SIM tray is at the top and below are the charging port, a 3.5mm jack, speaker grill and an enhanced "S-Pen".

Samsung has given more power to the S-Pen which has a latency of less than 50 milliseconds. Pulling out of S-Pen opens a host of options, including ones that would let you scribble on screen, magnify and even translate languages for you.

The South Korean giant included a couple of test videos in the device that played flawlessly with high-quality output.

The phone has an aspect ratio of 18.5:9 and fits quite well in the hand.

The device is also equipped with an industry-leading 8MP "Smart Auto Focus" selfie camera.

Other security options such as "Face Lock" and "Iris scanner" are easy to set up. In our review, the features worked fine.

A peek into the hardware information showed that 3.3GB of 6GB RAM was free. The device runs an Android 7.1.1 Nougat. Almost 53GB of the total 64GB of the memory was available for users.

Housing a 3,300mAh battery, Galaxy Note8 supports the most advanced wireless charging capabilities (WPC and PMA) and is fast-charging compatible with QC 2.0.

The device appears set to give Apple real tough competition in the premium segment.

"With no strong player in the Android ecosystem in the super-premium segment, it's all clear space for Samsung where Note 8 fits in. So while iPhone 8 (X) has it's space, with Note 8, the premium segment gets split between the two," Faisal Kawoosa, Principal Analyst, Telecom and ESDM, CMR, told IANS.

"With Samsung the only brand to reckon with in this top layer of the market segment, a lot of Android's competition with iPhone banks on Samsung. So Google would be needing more of Samsung than vice versa," he added.

According to Pathak, "We expect Apple and Samsung loyalists would still aspire to adopt these devices and it will remain to be seen if the high price would be somehow neutralised with clever marketing in terms of bundled offers."

You will need to wait for few more days before you grab a Note 8. The device will be available in India in Midnight Black and Maple Gold colours, starting September 21.

 

 

 

 

 

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New Delhi:  The 29-hour countdown for Thursday evening launch of India's navigation satellite IRNSS-1H using the rocket Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) will begin on Wednesday, said Indian space agency on Tuesday.

According to Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), the Mission Readiness Review (MRR) committee and Launch Authorisation Board (LAB) have cleared the 29-hour countdown to begin at 2 p.m. on Wednesday.

 

India on Thursday will at 7 p.m. launch its navigation satellite IRNSS-1H (Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System) weighing 1,425 kg with its PSLV rocket.

This eighth IRNSS satellite will be the replacement for IRNSS-1A as its atomic clocks have failed.

The PSLV rocket will sling the IRNSS-1H into a Sub-Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit.

The launch will take place from the second launch pad of Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) SHAR, Sriharikota.

--IANS

 

 

 

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