Tech

FILE PHOTO: File photo of the Twitter logo displayed on a screen on the floor of the NYSE
FILE PHOTO: The Twitter logo is displayed on a screen on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City, U.S., September 28, 2016. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

April 24, 2019

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Twitter was ablaze on Wednesday with humorous commentary and speculation over why Tesla Inc’s first-quarter earnings release was so late. As of 5:05 p.m. ET (2105 GMT), one hour after the market close, the results still had not been released.

Here is a sampling of comments on Twitter:

“Tesla forgot to get Deepak’s password when he left and now they can’t release the earnings. 40 minute late and counting…” – @FredericLambert, referring to former Chief Financial Officer Deepak Ahuja

“TSLA has sent one of the new flawless robotaxis to deliver the earnings report, apparently.” – @NickGiva

“Maybe Tesla switched to full self accounting and it works as well as their full self driving.” – @bgrahamdisciple

“TSLA forgot to pay their WebEx Conference call bill.” – @mackandcompany

“I’m imagining Elon in a huge fight with the board right now who’s trying to convince him that he has to release the #s.” – “@EternityStake

(Reporting by Alexandria Sage; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

Source: OANN

The headquarters of Wirecard AG, an independent provider of outsourcing and white label solutions for electronic payment transactions is seen in Aschheim
FILE PHOTO: The headquarters of Wirecard AG, an independent provider of outsourcing and white label solutions for electronic payment transactions is seen in Aschheim near Munich, Germany September 6, 2018. REUTERS/Michael Dalder

April 24, 2019

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – German digital payments company Wirecard on Wednesday said all its subsidiaries were subject to regular audits, denying a Financial Times report.

The FT cited whistleblowers as saying that the accounts of Wirecard’s largest business, Card Systems Middle East in Dubai, were not audited in 2016 and 2017.

“All subsidiaries of Wirecard, including Card Systems Middle East, are subject to regular audit procedures, including but not limited to quarterly and annual audits,” the company said.

The FT added that almost all of Wirecard’s reported profits had come from three partner companies in recent years and that much of the profits from these entities had been booked through Card Systems, citing documents it obtained.

Wirecard said that the FT story included “many false and misleading statements.” The company’s stock closed 8.5 percent higher, paring earlier gains of as much as 15.5 percent. Japan’s Softbank Group Corp earlier on Wednesday said it would invest around 900 million euros ($1 billion) in Wirecard, giving it the option to acquire a 5.6 percent stake.

(Reporting by Ludwig Burger; Editing by David Goodman and Jane Merriman)

Source: OANN

Uber's logo is displayed on a mobile phone in London
FILE PHOTO: Uber’s logo is displayed on a mobile phone in London, Britain, September 14, 2018. REUTERS/Hannah Mckay

April 24, 2019

BENGALURU (Reuters) – Uber Technologies Inc said on Wednesday the head of its Asia-Pacific operations will leave the company at the end of next month, and will be replaced by Pierre-Dimitri Gore-Coty.

Amit Jain had joined the app-based ride-hailing company as its India operations chief in 2015 and had taken over as head of Uber’s Asia-Pacific business last year.

The company, which recently unveiled its IPO plans, said https://ubr.to/2vjtq22 Gore-Coty, who heads its EMEA rides business, will also take charge of the Asia-Pacific business.

He will work to “unlock opportunity markets such as Japan and South Korea, and continue our strong momentum in markets such as India and Australia,” Chief Operating Officer Barney Harford said in a statement.

San Francisco-based Uber counts India as one of its major growth markets and has been locked in a fierce battle with homegrown rival Ola for years.

(Reporting by Derek Francis in Bengaluru; Editing by Shreejay Sinha)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Huawei Technologies is pictured in front of the German headquarters of the Chinese telecommunications giant in Duesseldorf
FILE PHOTO: The logo of Huawei Technologies is pictured in front of the German headquarters of the Chinese telecommunications giant in Duesseldorf, Germany, February 18, 2019. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay/File Photo

April 24, 2019

Source: OANN

The Google logo is pictured at the entrance to the Google offices in London
FILE PHOTO: The Google logo is pictured at the entrance to the Google offices in London, Britain January 18, 2019. REUTERS/Hannah McKay

April 24, 2019

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Top U.S. lawmakers on Tuesday wrote to Google’s chief executive raising concerns about reports of a massive database known as Sensorvault that allegedly contains precise consumer location information from hundreds of millions of devices.

The letter from Democrats and Republicans on the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee to CEO Sundar Pichai seeks a briefing and answers on how this information is used and shared, citing a New York Times report that the database includes nearly every consumer with an Android mobile device, in some cases storing information dating back to 2009.

A representative for Google, a unit of Alphabet Inc, said in a statement: “The data in question is used for Location History, which is off by default. If a user chooses to turn it on, we can provide helpful information, like real-time data to help them beat traffic on their way home from work. They can delete their Location History data, or turn off the product entirely, at any time.”

The letter is one of several sent by members of Congress in recent months that raise concerns about how Google and other big Internet companies use information they have gathered about consumers.

The letter, which was signed by Democratic Representatives Frank Pallone and Jan Schakowsky and Republicans Greg Walden and Cathy McMorris Rodgers, asked Google who has access to the Sensorvault database and which Google services or apps collect the information.

The lawmakers asked for answers to their questions as well as a briefing on the issue by May 10.

They also asked Google if information is collected from consumers who requested that their data not be shared and asked to be briefed on any third parties, other than law enforcement, given access to location data.

Google, Facebook, Twitter and other free online services rely on advertising for revenue and use data collected on users to more effectively target those ads.

Congress has long been expected to take up privacy legislation after California passed a strict privacy law that goes into effect next year.

Two U.S. senators introduced a bill in early April that would ban online social media companies like Facebook and Google from misleading consumers in order to convince them to give up personal data.

The bill from Mark Warner, a Democrat, and Deb Fischer, a Republican, would also ban online platforms with more than 100 million monthly active users from designing addicting games or other websites for children under age 13.

(Reporting by David Shepardson and Diane Bartz; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Rosalba O’Brien)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: Small toy figures are seen in front of a binary code in this illustration picture
FILE PHOTO: Small toy figures are seen in front of a binary code in this illustration picture, April 8, 2019. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic//File Photo

April 24, 2019

By Joseph Menn

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Technology firms should do more to connect people in positive ways and steer away from trends that have tended to exploit human weaknesses, ethicists told a meeting of Silicon Valley leaders on Tuesday.

Tristan Harris and Aza Raskin are the co-founders of the nonprofit Center for Humane Technology and the ones who prompted Apple and Google to nudge phone users toward reducing their screen time.

Now they want companies and regulators to focus on reversing what they called “human downgrading,” which they see as at the root of a dozen worsening problems, by reconsidering the design and financial incentives of their systems.

Before a hand-picked crowd of about 300 technologists, philanthropists and others concerned with issues such as internet addiction, political polarization, and the spread of misinformation on the web, Harris said Silicon Valley was too focused on making computers surpass human strengths, rather than worrying about how they already exploit human weaknesses.

If that is not reversed, he said, “that could be the end of human agency,” or free will.

Problems include the spread of hate speech and conspiracy theories, propelled by financial incentives to keep users engaged alongside the use of powerful artificial intelligence on platforms like Alphabet Inc’s YouTube, Harris said.

YouTube and other companies have said they are cracking down on extremist speech and have removed advertising revenue-sharing from some categories of content.

Active Facebook communities can be a force for good but they also aid the dissemination of false information, the campaigners said. For example, a vocal fringe that oppose vaccines, believing contrary to scientific evidence that they cause autism, has led to an uptick in diseases that were nearly eradicated.

Facebook said in March it would reduce the distribution of content from groups promoting vaccine hoaxes.

In an interview after his speech, Harris said that what he has called a race to the bottom of the brainstem – manipulation of human instincts and emotions – could be reversed.

For example, he said that Apple and Google could reward app developers who help users, or Facebook could suggest that someone showing signs of depression call a friend who had previously been supportive.

Tech personalities attending included Apple Inc co-founder Steve Wozniak, early Facebook funder turned critic Roger McNamee and MoveOn founders Joan Blades and Wes Boyd. Tech money is also backing the Center, including charitable funds started by founders of Hewlett Packard, EBay, and Craigslist.

The big companies, Harris said, “can change the incentives.”

(Reporting by Joseph Menn; Editing by Greg Mitchell and Rosalba O’Brien)

Source: OANN

U.S. President Trump attends the 2019 White House Easter Egg Roll in Washington
FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump attends the 2019 White House Easter Egg Roll on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, U.S., April 22, 2019. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

April 23, 2019

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump met with Twitter Inc’s Chief Executive Jack Dorsey on Tuesday and spent a significant time questioning him about why he has lost some Twitter followers, a person briefed on the matter said.

The meeting, which was organized by the White House last week, came hours after Trump again attacked the social media company over his claims it is biased against conservatives.

“Great meeting this afternoon at the @WhiteHouse with @Jack from @Twitter. Lots of subjects discussed regarding their platform, and the world of social media in general. Look forward to keeping an open dialogue!” Trump tweeted, posting a photo of Dorsey and others with him in the Oval Office.

Earlier on Tuesday, Trump suggested Twitter was biased against him without providing evidence. He wrote on Twitter that the company does not “treat me well as a Republican. Very discriminatory.”

Twitter said in a statement Dorsey had a “constructive meeting with the president of the United States today at the president’s invitation. They discussed Twitter’s commitment to protecting the health of the public conversation ahead of the 2020 U.S. elections and efforts underway to respond to the opioid crisis.”

Unlike other major U.S. tech company executives, Dorsey had not previously met with Trump.

He was not invited to a December 2016 meeting with president-elect Trump that featured other major tech companies. Reuters reported in 2016 Trump had been angry with Twitter because it had rejected an advertising deal with his campaign.

Trump has been upset about losing followers.

In October, Trump wrote that “Twitter has removed many people from my account and, more importantly, they have seemingly done something that makes it much harder to join – they have stifled growth to a point where it is obvious to all. A few weeks ago it was a Rocket Ship, now it is a Blimp! Total Bias?”

Any reduction is likely the result of Twitter’s recent moves to remove millions of suspicious accounts after it and other social media services were used in misinformation campaigns attempting to influence voters in the 2016 U.S. presidential race and other elections, Reuters reported in October.

Shares in Twitter jumped 13 percent on Tuesday after it reported quarterly revenue above analyst estimates, which executives said was the result of weeding out spam and abusive posts and targeting ads better.

Trump lost 204,000, or 0.4 percent, of his 53.4 million followers in July when Twitter started its purge of suspicious accounts, according to social media data firm Keyhole.

Trump has one of the most-followed accounts on Twitter. But the president and Republicans in Congress have repeatedly criticized the company and its social media competitors for what they have called bias against conservatives, something Twitter denies.

Democratic U.S. Senator Mazie Hirono said earlier this month “we cannot allow the Republican party to harass tech companies into weakening content moderation policies that already fail to remove hateful, dangerous and misleading content.”

Carlos Monje, Twitter’s public policy director, said at a Senate hearing earlier this month the site “does not use political viewpoints, perspectives or party affiliation to make any decisions, whether related to automatically ranking content on our service or how we develop or enforce our rules.”

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Tom Brown)

Source: OANN

Logo of Tencent is displayed at a news conference in Hong Kong, China
FILE PHOTO: Logo of Tencent is displayed at a news conference in Hong Kong, China March 22, 2017. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

April 23, 2019

By Cassandra Garrison

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) – Chinese tech giant Tencent Holdings Ltd has invested in Argentine mobile banking service Uala, which also counts George Soros and Point72 Ventures LLC among its investors, the start-up’s founder said.

Uala founder Pierpaolo Barbieri said the company planned to collaborate with the Chinese social media-to-gaming giant to further develop its app. He declined to disclose the amount of Tencent’s investment.

Tencent, one of Asia’s most valuable listed companies, announced last year it would boost investments in a number of “key areas” including digital payment, where its service jostles with rival Alipay, backed by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.

Tencent’s own messenger-to-payment app WeChat now has more than 1 billion users in China and has launched in-app services that compete with Apple and Google apps.

“We are proud of their interest in Uala and look forward to collaborating on new products and services. This investment will allow us to grow even faster with our product roadmap,” Barbieri said in an email to Reuters.

Argentine startups face regulatory hurdles in South America’s second largest economy, but the country has spawned some of the region’s most successful tech startups, including U.S.-listed online marketplace MercadoLibre Inc and Internet travel agent Despegar.com Corp.

The country, which has a large unbanked population, is also seeing a boom in digital finance from start-ups like Uala to a new wave of online banks competing with more traditional lenders.

(Reporting by Cassandra Garrison; Editing by Marguerita Choy)

Source: OANN

FILE PHOTO: A combination photo from files of Facebook Google and Twitter logos
FILE PHOTO: Facebook, Google and Twitter logos are seen in this combination photo from Reuters files. REUTERS//File Photo

April 23, 2019

By Foo Yun Chee

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Google, Facebook and Twitter have to do more to tackle fake news ahead of key European Parliament elections next month, the European Commission said on Tuesday, as its latest report showed a lack of progress in some areas.

The monthly reports follow a pledge made by the tech giants and advertising trade bodies in October last year to combat the spread of fake news and avoid more heavy-handed regulations.

The EU has warned of foreign interference during campaigning for the European Parliament elections and national elections in Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Poland, Portugal and Ukraine in recent and coming months.

“Further technical improvements as well as sharing of methodology and data sets for fake accounts are necessary to allow third-party experts, fact-checkers and researchers to carry out independent evaluation,” the EU executive said.

The Commission said Google had made insufficient progress in defining issue-based advertising. The report covered actions taken by the companies in March.

It said Facebook, which took down eight coordinated inauthentic behavior networks originating in North Macedonia, Kosovo and Russia, failed to disclose whether these affected EU users.

Twitter also fell short because it did not provide details on its measures against spam and fake accounts and also did not report on any action to improve the scrutiny of ad placements.

(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; editing by Philip Blenkinsop)

Source: OANN

An illustration photo shows the Facebook page displayed on a mobile phone internet browser held in front of a computer screen at a cyber-cafe in downtown Nairobi
An illustration photo shows the Facebook page displayed on a mobile phone internet browser held in front of a computer screen at a cyber-cafe in downtown Nairobi, Kenya April 18, 2019. REUTERS/Stringer

April 23, 2019

By Maggie Fick and Paresh Dave

NAIROBI/SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Facebook Inc’s struggles with hate speech and other types of problematic content are being hampered by the company’s inability to keep up with a flood of new languages as mobile phones bring social media to every corner of the globe.

The company offers its 2.3 billion users features such as menus and prompts in 111 different languages, deemed to be officially supported. Reuters has found another 31 widely spoken languages on Facebook that do not have official support.

Detailed rules known as “community standards,” which bar users from posting offensive material including hate speech and celebrations of violence, were translated in only 41 languages out of the 111 supported as of early March, Reuters found.

Facebook’s 15,000-strong content moderation workforce speaks about 50 tongues, though the company said it hires professional translators when needed. Automated tools for identifying hate speech work in about 30.

The language deficit complicates Facebook’s battle to rein in harmful content and the damage it can cause, including to the company itself. Countries including Australia, Singapore and the UK are now threatening harsh new regulations, punishable by steep fines or jail time for executives, if it fails to promptly remove objectionable posts.

The community standards are updated monthly and run to about 9,400 words in English.

Monika Bickert, the Facebook vice president in charge of the standards, has previously told Reuters that they were “a heavy lift to translate into all those different languages.”

A Facebook spokeswoman said this week the rules are translated case by case depending on whether a language has a critical mass of usage and whether Facebook is a primary information source for speakers. The spokeswoman said there was no specific number for critical mass.

She said among priorities for translations are Khmer, the official language in Cambodia, and Sinhala, the dominant language in Sri Lanka, where the government blocked Facebook this week to stem rumors about devastating Easter Sunday bombings.

A Reuters report found last year that hate speech on Facebook that helped foster ethnic cleansing in Myanmar went unchecked in part because the company was slow to add moderation tools and staff for the local language.

Facebook says it now offers the rules in Burmese and has more than 100 speakers of the language among its workforce.

The spokeswoman said Facebook’s efforts to protect people from harmful content had “a level of language investment that surpasses most any technology company.”

But human rights officials say Facebook is in jeopardy of a repeat of the Myanmar problems in other strife-torn nations where its language capabilities have not kept up with the impact of social media.

“These are supposed to be the rules of the road and both customers and regulators should insist social media platforms make the rules known and effectively police them,” said Phil Robertson, deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Asia Division. “Failure to do so opens the door to serious abuses.”

ABUSE IN FIJIAN

Mohammed Saneem, the supervisor of elections in Fiji, said he felt the impact of the language gap during elections in the South Pacific nation in November last year. Racist comments proliferated on Facebook in Fijian, which the social network does not support. Saneem said he dedicated a staffer to emailing posts and translations to a Facebook employee in Singapore to seek removals.

Facebook said it did not request translations, and it gave Reuters a post-election letter from Saneem praising its “timely and effective assistance.”

Saneem told Reuters that he valued the help but had expected pro-active measures from Facebook.

“If they are allowing users to post in their language, there should be guidelines available in the same language,” he said.

Similar issues abound in African nations such as Ethiopia, where deadly ethnic clashes among a population of 107 million have been accompanied by ugly Facebook content. Much of it is in Amharic, a language supported by Facebook. But Amharic users looking up rules get them in English.

At least 652 million people worldwide speak languages supported by Facebook but where rules are not translated, according to data from language encyclopedia Ethnologue. Another 230 million or more speak one of the 31 languages that do not have official support.

Facebook uses automated software as a key defense against prohibited content. Developed using a type of artificial intelligence known as machine learning, these tools identify hate speech in about 30 languages and “terrorist propaganda” in 19, the company said.

Machine learning requires massive volumes of data to train computers, and a scarcity of text in other languages presents a challenge in rapidly growing the tools, Guy Rosen, the Facebook vice president who oversees automated policy enforcement, has told Reuters.

GROWTH REGIONS

Beyond the automation and a few official fact-checkers, Facebook relies on users to report problematic content. That creates a major issue where community standards are not understood or even known to exist.

Ebele Okobi, Facebook’s director of public policy for Africa, told Reuters in March that the continent had the world’s lowest rates of user reporting.

“A lot of people don’t even know that there are community standards,” Okobi said.

Facebook has bought radio advertisements in Nigeria and worked with local organizations to change that, she said. It also has held talks with African education officials to introduce social media etiquette into the curriculum, she said.

Simultaneously, Facebook is partnering with wireless carriers and other groups to expand internet access in countries including Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo where it has yet to officially support widely-used languages such as Luganda and Kituba. Asked this week about the expansions without language support, Facebook declined to comment.

The company announced in February it would soon have its first 100 sub-Saharan Africa-based content moderators at an outsourcing facility in Nairobi. They will join existing teams in reviewing content in Somali, Oromo and other languages.

But the community standards are not translated into Somali or Oromo. Posts in Somali from last year celebrating the al-Shabaab militant group remained on Facebook for months despite a ban on glorifying organizations or acts that Facebook designates as terrorist.

“Disbelievers and apostates, die with your anger,” read one post seen by Reuters this month that praised the killing of a Sufi cleric.

After Reuters inquired about the post, Facebook said it took down the author’s account because it violated policies.

ABILITY TO DERAIL

Posts in Amharic reviewed by Reuters this month attacked the Oromo and Tigray ethnic populations in vicious terms that clearly violated Facebook’s ban on discussing ethnic groups using “violent or dehumanizing speech, statements of inferiority, or calls for exclusion.”

Facebook removed the two posts Reuters inquired about. The company added that it had erred in allowing one of them, from December 2017, to remain online following an earlier user report.

For officials such as Saneem in Fiji, Facebook’s efforts to improve content moderation and language support are painfully slow. Saneem said he warned Facebook months in advance of the election in the archipelago of 900,000 people. Most of them use Facebook, with half writing in English and half in Fijian, he estimated.

“Social media has the ability to completely derail an election,” Saneem said.

Other social media companies face the same problem to varying degrees.

(GRAPHIC: Social media and the language gap – https://tmsnrt.rs/2VHjwTu)

Facebook-owned Instagram said its 1,179-word community guidelines are in 30 out of 51 languages offered to users. WhatsApp, owned by Facebook as well, has terms in nine of 58 supported languages, Reuters found.

Alphabet Inc’s YouTube presents community guidelines in 40 of 80 available languages, Reuters found. Twitter Inc’s rules are in 37 of 47 supported languages, and Snap Inc’s in 13 out of 21.

“A lot of misinformation gets spread around and the problem with the content publishers is the reluctance to deal with it,” Saneem said. “They do owe a duty of care. “

(Reporting by Maggie Fick in Nairobi and Paresh Dave in San Francisco; Additional reporting by Alister Doyle in Fiji and Omar Mohammed in Nairobi; Editing by Jonathan Weber and Raju Gopalakrishnan)

Source: OANN


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