Facebook sets things straight with India

Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg is trying to set things straight after tweets from board member Marc Andreessen put the company’s image in hot water. Andreessen reacted to the Indian telecom regulator’s ban on Facebook’s Free Basics service by bringing up India and colonialism.

Zuckerberg was quoted as saying, “I found the comments deeply upsetting, and they do not represent the way Facebook or I think at all.”

The comments that he refers to start with Andreessen’s tweet, “Another in a long line of economically suicidal decisions made by the Indian government against its own citizens,” referencing the Free Basics ban. He continues saying, “Denying world’s poorest free partial Internet connectivity when today they have none, for ideological reasons, strikes me as morally wrong.”

Indian entrepreneur Vivek Chachra reportedly tweeted in response that the Free Basics argument that some Internet is better than no Internet sounded like a “justification of Internet colonialism.” To which Andreessen responded, “Anti-colonialism has been economically catastrophic for the Indian people for decades. Why stop now?”

Zuckerberg wants to bring the Internet to the entire planet by 2020. India would be a major factor in making that goal come true. Andreessen’s comments make it appear as though Facebook may have other motives for expanding into India, and may jeopardize future growth in that market. Some say that Facebook should ask Andreessen to step down, and make an example out of him showing that this kind of behavior would not be tolerated.

In response, Zuckerberg has made statements of his own, via Facebook, to combat the controversy. India “has been personally important to me and Facebook….I’ve gained a deeper appreciation for the need to understand India’s history and culture” and “I look forward to strengthening my connection to the country.”

Facebook has withdrawn Free Basics from India and continues to weather the storm of this controversy.

Article via TechNewsWorld, 12 February 2016

Photo: facebook global by Global Panorama [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]


Petition against pro-rape meetings

Several thousands have signed a petition in an attempt to reach out to the Scottish government hoping they will take action against the rape advocate.

Last Monday, Cat Boyd started the petition calling for the Holyrood government to stop Daryush Valizadeh, the rape-promoting “neo-masculinist” .

“RooshV (Valizadeh), a militant pro-rape pick-up artist is holding gatherings for his followers in Glasgow and Edinburgh. This makes our cities unsafe for at least half the population. Promoting rape is hate speech, and should be treated as such,” the petition says.

Valizadeh writes that rape should be allowed and claims it would actually be good, as it will help push women to become more alert in situations such as this. He also thinks that by legalizing rape, women will stop showing mixed signals about consent, but in Valizadeh’s previous journal, his movement seems to be in favor of women’s well-being, his next articles show his true intentions.

“Modern women are too broken, unreliable and narcissistic to give men anything reliable besides fornification,” said Valizadeh.

Not only are Glasgow citizens petitioning against his movement, but people several other communities are also taking part in stopping his world-wide meet-ups.

“Pro-rape women-haters are not welcome in Glasgow, as they will find out when they gather in George Square… and have the pish ripped right out of them by decent Glaswegians.

“These men deserve derision and pity. Violence and intimidation is their game and we will not join in,” protestors said.

Valizadeh’s plans failed to execute as they occurred during Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness Week. His announcement for his plans only encouraged people around the world to promote against sexual abuse.

“The focus is going to be on the fact that all forms of sexual abuse and sexual violence are unacceptable and survivors should not have to tolerate it. There should also be adequate services to support those who have experienced it and clear guidelines for reporting it,” a spokesperson for the week’s organizer said.

Article via The Guardian, 2 February 2016
Photo: End rape_ Sexual Abuse by Your DOST [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]


Child labor used for tech gadgets

Child laborers are mining cobalt for the devices of major tech companies like Apple, Samsung and Sony, alleges a report issued Tuesday. Amnesty International and African Resources Watch issued a report suspecting that the supply chains of these major electronics companies are using child labor, partly because they have failed to make basic checks to halt these actions.

The report traces the harvesting and sale of cobalt in the poverty-stricken Democratic Republic of Congo — where children as young as seven work the mines. The cobalt is used in lithium-ion batteries that power smartphones and electric cars. The DRC is listed in the U.S. Department of Labor’s Worst Forms of Child Labor report, and goods made under those conditions are listed in the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act.

Amnesty International contacted 16 companies listed as customers of the battery manufacturers that reportedly sourced processed ore from the DRC. Half the worlds cobalt comes from this country, specifically.  None of the firms contacted could provide documentation to prove where their cobalt originated. Apple stated in a letter that “…underage labor is never tolerated in our supply chain and we are proud to have led the industry in pioneering new safeguards.” Samsung SDI does not have any transactions with Huayou Cobalt, the company said in a statement.

“Amnesty would like to see the home state countries — U.S., China, Japan, etc. — conduct human rights due diligence on their cobalt supplies,” reported author Mark Dummett. “An effective lasting solution to a complex problem such as this is going to require a collaborative approach with government, civil society, subject matter experts and multiple industries,” said Deborah Albers, vice president of social and environmental sustainability at the Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition, said.

 

Article via TechNewsWorld, 20 January 2016

Photo: Conflict minerals 4 – Lezhnev by ENOUGH Project [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]


Facebook to fight hate speech

Facebook is promising to fight hate speech amid the European refugee crisis.

“In the past year, we’ve seen millions of people come together online to support refugees and stand in solidarity with the victims of terror attacks,” wrote Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg in a post on Monday. “But we’ve also heard voices of hate growing louder. With extremism damaging lives and societies across the world, challenging those voices has never been more important.”

The company did not disclose a particular plan, but they did announce the Online Civil Courage Initiative, meant to empower users to fight against hate speech. It also appears that Facebook will be backing more powerful non-governmental organizations which are already involved in fighting radicalism and hate speech online.

The Online Civil Courage initiative is yet another effort to prevent hate speech on social media. In December, Facebook and other companies like Google and Twitter agreed to remove instances of hate speech within 24 hours, in accordance with an agreement with Germany authorities. German politicians and celebrities also voiced concern about rising hatred on social media, as nearly 1.1 million migrants and refugees entered the country in 2015 alone. Last August, Germany’s minister of justice asked Facebook to remove racist posts targeting asylum seekers.  Three months after that prosecutors opened a criminal investigation because they suspected that Facebook failed to take down a wave of anti-immigrant posts on the social network, inciting racial hatred.

Following the terror attacks in Paris, France also called on Facebook, Twitter, Apple, Google and Microsoft to combat extremist propaganda and expand safety tools in the event of a future attack.

“Hate speech has no place online — or in society,” Sandberg said. “Together, we can make sure the voices of peace, truth and tolerance are heard. Love is louder than hate.”

 

Article via Mashable, 19 January 2016

Photo:Facebook icon by Jurgen Appelo[Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]


Sexual harassment in silicon valley

Sexual harassment in Silicon Valley has affected 60 percent of the senior women in technology, according a recent survey. The survey, Elephant in the Valley, surveyed more than 200 women of power and influence in the Bay Area. According to the respondents, nearly 60 percent of these women stated that they had received unwanted sexual advances in the workplace. 65 percent of those advances came from a superior, and 1 in 3 stated that the advances made them fear for their safety.

The authors of the survey wrote that they were inspired by the conversations generated by the Ellen Pao trial. Writing on their website the authors stated, “What we realized is that while many women shared similar workplace stories, most men were simply shocked and unaware of the issues facing women in the workplace. In an effort to correct the massive information disparity, we decided to get the data and the stories.”

Treo Vassallo, an investor and advisor who participated in the Ellen Pao trial was also one of the authors of the survey. She testified against Kleiner Perkins during the trial , vividly recalling her own experience being sexually harassed by a former partner at the VC firm. Afterwards, she stated that a large number of women approached her with their own horrifying stories of harassment. Moved by what she heard from others, Vassallo wanted to be a catalyst to continue to conversation and bring change.

Part of the problem could be that women are the minority in the tech world. Nearly 80 percent of reported sexual harassment crimes are committed by men against women, especially when men are senior to them. The purpose of this survey is to make these numbers more visible. The hope is that by bringing these stories to light, and exposing the data that has been collected, the male-dominated culture of sexual harassment will be tempered within the workplace.

 

Article via Cnet, 11 January 2016

Photo: Trae Vassallo, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers by Dow Jones Events [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]


Obama seeking smart gun tech

President Obama is ordering the federal government to study smart gun technology.

On Monday, Obama told the departments of Defense, Justice and Homeland Security to look into smart gun technology, such as fingerprint and radio-frequency identification. The goals are to track lost or stolen guns and to prevent accidental gunfire. The president cited a 2013 Department of Justice report as inspiration for the studying smart gun technology. Obama was quoted saying that “…the (DOJ) made clear that technological advancement in this area could help reduce accidental deaths and the use of stolen guns in criminal activities…”

These actions and others were addressed in a speech from the White House on Tuesday by the President. Obama outlined this memo and other executive actions meant to tackle gun violence. This speech comes one month after 14 people in San Bernardino, California were fatally shot by a couple influenced by radical islamic beliefs. In response, gun sales rose sharply amid fear of extremists.

In addition to encouraging gun safety, these executive actions will expand background checks in order to  close the “gun show loophole”. This loophole allows gun dealers conducting business at gun shows or online to do so without conducting background checks. Current laws exempts gun collectors and hobbyists from conducting background checks before selling a firearm.

Although The President’s recommendations are consistent with the Second Amendment and supported by the “overwhelming majority of the American people, including gun owners”, it is unlikely to find support among gun rights groups. These groups have stated that smart technology is a way for the federal government to track gun owners.

Chris Cox, executive director of the National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action, said in a statement Tuesday that the NRA would not allow “law-abiding gun owners to become scapegoats for President Obama’s failed policies…The NRA will continue to fight to protect the fundamental, individual right to keep and bear arms as guaranteed under our Constitution.”

Obama plans to address gun violence during a nationally televised town hall meeting at George Mason University in Virginia on Thursday night. In his speech Tuesday, he recalled the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut that left 20 children and six teachers dead. Obama stated, “Every time I think about those kids, it gets me mad”.

In his memo, he continues with that sentiment stating that “…developing and promoting technology that would help prevent these tragedies is an urgent priority…”

Article via CNET, 6 January 2016

Photo: 44 by SAL [Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs]