Days after India banned 59 Chinese apps, the US said that it is ‘looking’ at banning Chinese social media apps too. In an interview with Fox News, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the US may ban a few Chinese apps. Meanwhile, in Australia, there are calls for the govt to ban TikTok and other Chinese social media apps.
Shopping websites in India including Amazon.in and Flipkart.com may soon have to ensure that products sold on their platforms clearly highlight the country of origin and how much role India has played in the manufacturing of these products. This comes at a time when tensions with China are at an all-time high, and there is a push towards Made in India products. The government, if this draft ecommerce policy gets finalized, will have the right to access the shopping website source codes and algorithms that dictate product listings, rating and recommendations when a user searches on the shopping website.
The draft policy, which has been seen by Bloomberg, wants to eliminate the possibility of “digitally induced biases”. The report also suggests that the draft clearly refers to ascertaining whether e-commerce businesses have “explainable AI,” amidst the larger use of artificial intelligence. If implemented, this could help improve transparency on shopping websites including Amazon and Flipkart as to how products are listed and recommended to users. The addition of the country of origin tag will also make it easier for users to eliminate products from a particular country from their search results.
“It is in the interest of the Indian consumer and the local ecosystem that there are more service providers” and that “the network effects do not lead to creation of digital monopolies misusing their dominant market position,” says the draft policy, as reported by Bloomberg. It is expected that the government will open the draft ecommerce policy for comments before it is finalized. The draft has been prepared by the Ministry of Commerce’s Department for Promotion of Industry & Internal Trade.
There will also be guidelines on complying with information requests by law enforcement agencies and the government, with shopping websites expected to share required data within 72 hours, reports CNBC-TV18. The report also says that the government is yet to finalize the list of categories for which data localization is mandatory, and for which data mirroring will be permitted. Where websites save user data has long been debated, with calls requiring websites to mandatorily save data on servers in India, often being touted as the safer option. Websites will also have to share the contact details of sellers with buyers and also the complete complaint redressal details.
The new draft ecommerce policy focuses on “explainable AI”, which could help improve transparency on shopping websites including Amazon and Flipkart as to how products are listed and recommended to users
The module has been designed to guide students to become responsible digital users, identify and report threats and harassment as well as report misinformation.
Last Updated: July 6, 2020, 11:00 AM IST
The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) on Sunday announced a partnership with Facebook to provide training on digital safety, online well being and training on augmented reality (AR) to students and teachers. The training modules are for secondary school students. The curriculum is now available on the CBSE website. The curriculum on digital safety and online well-being cover aspects such as safety, privacy, mental health and Instagram’s guide for building healthy digital habits, Facebook said in a statement. The module has been designed to guide students to become responsible digital users, identify and report threats and harassment as well as report misinformation.
At least 10,000 students will be covered in the training to be imparted by the Centre for Social Research (CSR). “I congratulate CBSE and Facebook on its partnership to introduce certified programs in augmented reality for teachers and digital safety and online-wellbeing for students,” said Union Human Resource Development Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank.
Also, as part of the collaboration, Facebook will support CBSE in its first-ever initiative to introduce AR as a curriculum. In the first phase, 10,000 teachers will be trained while 30,000 students will undergo the same in the second phase. The three-week training, to be conducted in batches, will cover fundamentals of AR and ways to utilise Facebook’s software, Spark AR Studio in order to create augmented reality experiences.
The objective is to give the learners an opportunity and platform to conceptualise, create and brand their own AR experiences. The hands-on learning experience of AR will help in preparing the students for a career in the digital economy. According to the US tech giant, the teachers who successfully complete the training in the first phase will train 30,000 students in the second phase.
“Through our ‘Facebook for Education’ programme in India, we wish to support the educational agencies in the country in enabling lessons on fostering safe online experiences,” said Ankhi Das, Director, Public Policy, India, South and Central Asia. “We are excited to partner with CBSE, and hope that this collaboration grows to support more teachers and students in the country,” Das added.
The call to boycott ads on Facebook started after the social networking giant decided to allow controversial posts by US President Donald Trump to stay up.
Last Updated: July 3, 2020, 12:40 PM IST
Sony Playstation has joined over 400 advertisers who have decided to pull out ads from Facebook and Instagram over its failure to curb hate speech and misinformation. The #StopHateForProfit boycott has more than 400 participants and the civil rights groups, including the NAACP and the Anti-Defamation League on June 17, are now calling for a global expansion of Facebook ad boycott.
“In support of the #StopHateForProfit campaign, we have globally suspended our Facebook and Instagram activity, including advertising and non-paid content, until the end of July,” PlayStation said in a statement to GamesIndustry.biz on Thursday. As hundreds of companies halt advertising on Facebook and Instagram, CEO Mark Zuckerberg is confident the brands would soon return on the platform.
According to a report in The Information, Zuckerberg told employees he was reluctant to bow to the threats of a growing ad boycott, saying “my guess is that all these advertisers will be back on the platform soon enough.” The social networking giant said it was getting better at removing harmful content and that the platform does not in any way profit from hate speech.
The call to boycott ads on Facebook started after the social networking giant decided to allow controversial posts by US President Donald Trump to stay up. American food company Chobani, drugmaker Pfizer and software major SAP were among the latest brands pulling who joined Coca Cola, Adidas, cleaning supply firm Clorox, Conagra (the maker of Slim Jim, Duncan Hines and Pam), fast-food chain Denny’s, Ford and Starbucks to pull their ads from the platform. Facebook’s digital advertising accounted for over 98 per cent of the company’s nearly $70 billion in revenue last year.
The chairman of the US Federal Communications Commission underlined the act of replacing Huawei and ZTE’s communications equipment in USA with ‘more trusted’ companies.
Last Updated: July 3, 2020, 8:15 PM IST
Ajit Pai, chairman of the United States Federal Communications Commission, stated that the labelling of Huawei and ZTE as ‘national security threats’ is a key move that has been taken after considering data and submissions collated from all stakeholders, and is one that all allies of USA are being urged to take. In conversation with Zakka Jacob, executive editor of CNN-News18, Pai clarified the scanner that Huawei and ZTE came under in USA, the premise for it, the on-ground repercussions of it in USA, how this may affect India, and also answered questions regarding allegations of USA preventing the two companies from getting a “level playing field” in one of the largest technology markets around the world.
“We asked companies that we fund to stop using their technologies after listening to multiple stakeholders – companies, intelligence agencies, as well as Huawei and ZTE,” said Pai. Explaining how the ban would work in terms of the technological deployments as well as employee operations, Pai said, “From our perspective, it means that for the $8.3 billion that we at FCC distribute to private companies every year – that money will not be allowed to be spent on Huawei or ZTE equipment. Our regulations won’t extend to the regular life of employees – we are solely focused on the federal funding. In addition, we’ve also been working with the Congress on a ‘rip and replace’ programme, where we’re working with relevant companies, identifying telecom equipment that already uses components from Huawei and ZTE, and substitute them with secure replacements.”
With India set to take a decision on which companies would it allow to participate in 5G trials, Pai said that on behalf of USA, he has urged Indian officials to proceed with caution and take a responsible call. “Even during my visit to India, I highlighted that the equipment that will be used in network infrastructure in the near future would be extremely important for national security across all sectors of the economy. Think very careful about equipment vendors and suppliers, and especially operators who may be subject to pressure from the Chinese communist party, the PLA etc. They represent an unacceptable risk to us, and we hope that the Indian government will act responsibly too. My early discussions with officials on this note have been very productive,” Pai said.
As a parting comment, Pai also underlined that it is “ironic” that the Chinese communist party, which heavily controls the operation of foreign companies in China and subsidises its own companies, has complained about the US preventing Huawei and ZTE from gaining a “level playing field” in the country and in the world. Pai also said that technological innovation does not necessitate compromising security, and entirely denied that preventing Huawei and ZTE would cause consumers to pay higher prices for network devices.
The Realme Narzo 10A will be going on sale today for consumers in India. The company’s budget offering was launched alongside the Narzo 10 back in May. The smartphone features triple-cameras at the back and a big 5,000mAh battery. Notably, the handset is a rebranded version of the Realme C3 that was launched in Thailand back in the month of February.
The Narzo 10A will be going on sale today at 12PM via Flipkart and the Realme India website. The Realme Narzo 10A is priced at Rs 8,499 for the single 3GB RAM + 32GB storage variant while the 4GB + 64GB model comes at Rs 9,999. As for the offers, customers buying the phone from Flipkart can avail 5 percent cashback via Flipkart Axis Bank Credit Card and 10 percent instant discount with Axis Bank Buzz Credit Card as well as no-cost EMI options. If you plan to buy the phone from Realme’s website, you get the option of exchanging your old smartphone.
REALME NARZO 10A SPECIFICATIONS
The Narzo 10A comes with a 6.5-inch HD+ (1600×720 pixels) resolution display with a 20:9 aspect ratio and Corning Gorilla Glass 3 protection. It is powered by an octa-core MediaTek Helio G70 SoC, paired with 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage which will be expandable using a dedicated microSD card slot.
There is a triple rear camera setup at the back with a 12-megapixel primary sensor and an f/1.8 lens. There is also a 2-megapixel portrait camera with an f/2.4 aperture and a 2-megapixel macro camera with a similar f/2.4 aperture lens.
At the front, the Narzo 10A features a 5-megapixel selfie camera. According to the company, the cameras offer features such as AI Beautification, HDR, Panorama, and Timelapse and full-HD (1080p) video recording support with 30fps frame rate.
The phone runs on the company’s Realme UI based on Android 10. Connectivity options on the phone include 4G LTE, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth v5.0, GPS/ A-GPS, and a Micro-USB port. The battery is similar on the device rated at 5,000mAh battery.
Just a few hours ago, the Government of India issued an order banning as many as 59 Chinese owned smartphone apps in the country. The notification issued by The Ministry of Information Technology of the Government of India derived powers under the section 69A of the Information Technology Act read with the relevant provisions of the Information Technology (Procedure and Safeguards for Blocking of Access of Information by Public) Rules 2009 citing the concerns about the security, integrity and defense of India. The apps that now stand banned in India, across all platforms now include TikTok, Shareit, WeChat, Helo, Likee, UC News, Bigo Live, UC Browser, ES File Explorer and Mi Community. All big names, but one does truly stand out.
But does this open up the door for Facebook to take advantage of the situation and introduce the Facebook Lasso and Instagram Reels products in India. At this time, with TikTok inaccessible, all the creators and influencers on the platform are searching for a viable alternative to ply their trade. And show their creative side. This could be a good time for Facebook to simply bring their TikTok alternatives, because people need to switch. And fast. Never has there been a more ready-made demographic of users, just waiting to sign up.
Facebook Lasso and Instagram Reels, With WhatsApp as the secret ingredient
Facebook Lasso also has similar set of features as TikTok, including the ability to shoot and post 15-second videos. You can overlay these with popular music tracks, filters, effects, hashtags, the ability to directly share to Facebook and more. At this time, Lasso has pretty limited availability around the world, including the US, though it has already seen more than 5,000,000 downloads just on the Google Play Store till now. Facebook, which also owns Instagram, has a similar product for that photo sharing social media platform as well. It is called Instagram Reels and that’s also all about the magic of 15-second videos, dressed up with a variety of music tracks, filters and editing tools. This app also has limited availability right now, including Brazil, Germany and France.
In India, WhatsApp could prove to be the secret ingredient for Lasso or Reels, whichever one Facebook does eventually decide to launch in India. If at all. A simple integration in the most popular instant messaging app could make all the difference in terms of popularizing the new video sharing platform and give it the sort of adoption push that would otherwise be unimaginable.
TikTok’s numbers must have worried Facebook
TikTok, owned by Chinese tech company ByteDance, has climbed the popularity charts rapidly. The ability to showcase creativity and talent in quick 15-second videos had caught the attention of the masses. And that is truer in India than anywhere else in the world. According to data analytics firm App Annie, India accounted for 323 million, which is 44%, of the total 740 million TikTok app downloads in 2019 across all platforms. They also suggest that Indians spent 5.5 billion hours on the TikTok app last year. In fact, at the beginning of this year, it was reported that ByteDance was targeting Rs 100 crore in revenue in India, banking on new quick advert formats for brands as well.
While TikTok’s revenue targets were still no match for Facebook, TikTok’s active user base was proving to be a headache for the world’s largest social media platform, Facebook. According to regulatory filings by Facebook, they clocked Rs 892 crore in revenue in India in 2018-19.
Does TikTok still have a future?
TikTok has confirmed that they have been invited to meet with the Government to respond to the order and submit clarifications. TikTok, a popular social media platform owned by Chinese tech company ByteDance, is on the list of banned apps. At this time, TikTok is also not available for download on the Google Play Store for Android phones and the Apple App Store for the iPhone. “The Government of India has issued an interim order for the blocking of 59 apps, including TikTok and we are in the process of complying with it. We have been invited to meet with concerned government stakeholders for an opportunity to respond and submit clarifications,” says Nikhil Gandhi, Head of TikTok, India, in a statement. The company says they continue to comply with all data privacy and security requirements under Indian law and has not shared any information of our users in India with any foreign government, including the Chinese Government. Gandhi insists that even if they are requested to do so in the future, they would not. “We place the highest importance on user privacy and integrity,” says Gandhi.
Late yesterday, India banned as many as 59 popular smartphone apps for Android smartphones as well as the Apple iPhone. The notification issued by The Ministry of Information Technology of the Government of India derived powers under the section 69A of the Information Technology Act read with the relevant provisions of the Information Technology (Procedure and Safeguards for Blocking of Access of Information by Public) Rules 2009 citing the concerns about the security, integrity and defense of India. The apps that now stand banned in India, across the Google Android ecosystem and the Apple iPhone as well as the iPad platforms now include TikTok, Shareit, WeChat, Helo, Likee, UC News, Bigo Live, UC Browser, ES File Explorer and Mi Community. As we do a status check this morning on some of the popular apps in this list, we notice that some are available on the Google Play Store for Android phones and the App Store for the Apple iPhone, yet some app listings have been removed.
A quick search for the incredibly popular TikTok on the Google Play Store for Android and the Apple App Store for the iPhone doesn’t reveal favorable results for fans and users. The app, developed by Chinese tech company ByteDance, has been taken down, for the time being on the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store. Incidentally, another social media app Helo is also presently unavailable on the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store.
TikTok has been taken down, for the time being on the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store
It is expected that while app listings for all 59 apps on the list issued by the Government of India will be taken down from the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store at some point. For the millions of users who may also have these installed on their Android phones and iPhones, there will be checks at the Internet service provider (ISP) and mobile service provider stage to ensure that traffic to and from these apps is blocked on the network, thereby rendering them in-operational. It is expected that all mobile service providers will block these apps on the 3G/4G networks while all broadband companies will enable these filters on wired and wireless broadband options.
The purge on the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store may take some time though. As of the time of writing this, apps including Likee, Vigo Video, WeChat, CamScanner and UC Browser are still available for download on both Android and iOS platforms.
This announcement on the ban on 59 popular smartphone apps, owned by Chinese tech companies, comes at a time when tensions between India and China are at an all-time high, after the military skirmishes earlier this month. There have been suspicions that the apps developed and or owned by Chinese companies and developers collect user data from their phones without their permissions and transmit it back to the owners.
or the millions of users who may also have these installed on their Android phones and iPhones, there will be checks at the Internet service provider (ISP) and mobile service provider stage to ensure that traffic to and from these apps is blocked on the network
“The Ministry of Information Technology has received many complaints from various sources including several reports about misuse of some mobile apps available on Android and iOS platforms for stealing and surreptitiously transmitting users’ data in an unauthorized manner to servers which have locations outside India. The compilation of these data, its mining and profiling by elements hostile to national security and defence of India, which ultimately impinges upon the sovereignty and integrity of India, is a matter of very deep and immediate concern which requires emergency measures,” says the Ministry of Electronics and IT in an official statement.
This move could also have a cascading effect, as more countries could end up banning these apps in the coming days. There has been a global conversation over the past few months about the possible backdoors in Chinese company Huawei’s 5G mobile network infrastructure allowing the company or even the Chinese government to snoop in on user data. Many countries have either banned Huawei’s 5G network hardware altogether or are reluctant to use it.
This ban on popular Chinese-owned apps, including social networks such as TikTok, could have a longer-term impact on the company valuations as well, after a large chunk of their user base has been effectively shut out. At this time, it is not clear how long the ban will be in place but there are multiple recommendations in place on how to block these potentially malicious apps from being used on internet networks within India.
This announcement on the ban on 59 popular smartphone apps, owned by Chinese tech companies, comes at a time when tensions between India and China are at an all-time high
Over the past few days, one big name advertiser after another has come out and confirmed that they will no longer be giving Facebook any advertisements. At least for the time being. That potentially means millions in advertising revenue lost for the social media company. This comes as part of the Stop Hate For Profit campaign in an attempt to protest Facebook’s perceived failure at controlling, curbing and eliminating hate speech on the social platforms that it owns, including Facebook and Instagram. At this time, Ben & Jerry’s, Starbucks, Coca Cola, Unilever, Diageo, Honda, Levi’s, Mozilla, Pepsi, The North Face, The Hershey Company, Viber and Verizon are just some of the global brands on a revolt list that is growing by the day.
The Stop Hate For Profit campaign was set up after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis while in police custody, something that was captured on video. Facebook had probably seen this revolt coming, but the measures Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook announced, clearly aren’t enough. At the time, Facebook had said that it would prohibit any and all hate speech in advertisements on the platform and also restrict posts that protects vulnerable groups from attacks on social media, such as immigrants. Facebook also said they would label posts that violate its content moderation policies—yet these posts would remain visible on the network.
Facebook had clocked $17.7 billion in advertising revenue in the previous quarter
The Stop Hate For Profit isn’t at best pleased. “Faced with this tidal wave, Mark Zuckerberg responded today with a small number of small changes. He stated that Facebook would apply their hate policy to ads as if it was some new revelation, while not addressing hate more broadly in groups and posts. Voter misinformation may be a bit harder to spread the day of the election (but still will run rampant the rest of the time). And posts that call for violence will still be allowed if they come from someone “newsworthy” but they will now be labeled. None of this will be vetted or verified – or make a dent in the problem on the largest social media platform on the plane,” they say in an official statement. The organizers also point to how Facebook named Breitbart News a “trusted news source” and made The Daily Caller a “fact checker” despite both publications having records of working with known white nationalists.
Ben & Jerry’s, Starbucks, Coca Cola, Unilever, Diageo, Honda, Levi’s, Mozilla, Pepsi, The North Face, The Hershey Company, Viber and Verizon are just some of the global brands on a revolt list that is growing by the day
This circles us back to the whole issue of what really is freedom of speech and what really is public interest. A few weeks ago, Twitter tried to take the high ground by labeling some posts by US President Donald Trump for misinformation. Yet, for a social network to take high ground by saying they have suddenly started to pretend to put their house in order, is a bit rich.
The advertiser revolt is hurting Facebook a lot as far as the money bit is concerned. At the end of trading on Friday, Facebook stocks were down 8%. When markets reopen Monday, the shares are expected to trade at $212.50, down from $235 on Thursday. Estimates are that it has wiped out around $56 billion from Facebook’s market value. Facebook had clocked $17.7 billion in advertising revenue in the previous quarter.
The revolt against Facebook is also dragging other social media platforms, including Twitter, Snap, TikTok and YouTube, into the debate. It is absolutely not to say that these social media platforms are immune to criticism, because they must take their own share of the blame for letting hate speech flourish on their networks—Twitter allowing tweets that bordered on hate speech from politicians, for years, is an example.
A few weeks ago, Twitter tried to take the high ground by labeling some posts by US President Donald Trump for misinformation
The latest to join the advertiser revolt is Starbucks, which makes its reasons for pulling all the advertisements and the millions that go with it, from Facebook and in fact, all social media platforms. “We believe in bringing communities together, both in person and online, and we stand against hate speech. We believe more must be done to create welcoming and inclusive online communities, and we believe both business leaders and policy makers need to come together to affect real change,” they say. “We will pause advertising on all social media platforms while we continue discussions internally, with our media partners and with civil rights organizations in the effort to stop the spread of hate speech,” says Starbucks.
Unilever spent around $42.4 million advertising on Facebook just in the US last year
One of the largest advertisers on the planet, Unilever has also confirmed that it will not give any advertising to social media networks. “We have taken the decision to stop advertising on @Facebook, @Instagram & @Twitter in the US. The polarized atmosphere places an increased responsibility on brands to build a trusted & safe digital ecosystem. Our action starts now until the end of 2020,” they say. Unilever’s brands include Dove, Lifebuoy, Lipton, Lux, Rexona, Blueair, Pond’s, Pears, Wall’s, Tresemme and more. Unilever spent around $42.4 million advertising on Facebook just in the US last year, according to the advertising analytics platform Pathmatics.
“There is no place for racism in the world and there is no place for racism on social media. The Coca-Cola Company will pause paid advertising on all social media platforms globally for at least 30 days. We will take this time to reassess our advertising policies to determine whether revisions are needed. We also expect greater accountability and transparency from our social media partners,” says James Quincey, Chairman and CEO of The Coca-Cola Company. Coca-Cola spent $22.1 million on Facebook ads last year and more than $18 million on Twitter, according to data by Pathmatics.
Coca-Cola spent $22.1 million on Facebook ads last year and more than $18 million on Twitter
British multinational beverage alcohol company Diageo has also confirmed that from 1 July, they will pause all paid advertising globally on major social media platforms. “We will continue to discuss with media partners how they will deal with unacceptable content,” they say.
It is still early days of the revolt. Expect more companies to join in, but for social media companies, the real impact will be felt on the financials and the balance sheets in the coming months. A single advertiser pulling back may not have made a lot of difference, but this movement can put pressure on social media giants to finally clean up their platforms.
The revolt against Facebook is also dragging other social media platforms, including Twitter, Snap, TikTok and YouTube, into the debate