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Facebook Work From Home Employees to Face Salary Cuts Based on Their Cost of Living

Image for Representation

Image for Representation

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that Facebook employees who choose to relocate from Silicon Valley may see a change in their salaries.

  • IANS
  • Last Updated: May 22, 2020, 11:31 AM IST

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has laid out a detailed remote-working plan to make half of his 50,000-strong workforce work from home by 2030, and employees who move to cheaper areas will face pay cuts as salaries are based on the cost of living in each location. In a virtual town hall meeting with his employees, Zuckerberg said that Facebook employees who choose to relocate from the Silicon Valley may see a change in their salaries. “That means if you live in a location where the cost of living is dramatically lower, or the cost of labor is lower, then salaries do tend to be somewhat lower in those places,” said Zuckerberg.

Zuckerberg told staff on Thursday that they would need to move back to their homes by January 1, or tell the company where they are choosing to live instead so Facebook can adjust salaries, which he said was necessary for tax and accounting purposes, reports NBC News. “We’ll adjust salary to your location at that point. There’ll be severe ramifications for people who are not honest about this,” he added. According to him, about half of Facebook employees would work from home five to 10 years from now.

“We are going to be the most forward-leaning company on remote work at our scale, with a thoughtful and responsible plan for how to do this. We’re going to do it in a measured way over time,” said Zuckerberg. As of 2018, the median employee compensation at Facebook was more than $240,000 a year.

According to Market Watch, the median home price in Menlo Park, California, where Facebook has its headquarters, is $2.4 million, while the median home price in the wider Bay Area was $928,000 last year. In an internal Facebook survey, about 45 percent employees were “pretty confident” that they would move to another place if they had that opportunity, with an additional 30 percent saying they “might” move.

Nearly 60 percent said they’d prefer to move to a smaller city or town. “When you limit hiring to people who either live in a small number of big cities or are willing to move there, that cuts out a lot of people who live in different communities, different backgrounds or may have different perspectives,” said Zuckerberg. The company has said workers will be able to work from home at least through the end of the year.




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Unlock iPhone With Face Mask Seamlessly After New Update: iOS 13.5 Release Imminent

A user attempts to unlock his smartphone on the road by using facial recognition. (Photo: Getty Images)

A user attempts to unlock his smartphone on the road by using facial recognition. (Photo: Getty Images)

iOS 13.5 update is now in final developer testing stage, and will also bring Apple’s Exposure Notification API for Covid-19 contact tracing apps.

  • News18.com
  • Last Updated: May 19, 2020, 7:26 AM IST
  • Edited by: Shouvik Das

iOS 13.5 update for iPhones is reportedly set to to roll out for all users soon, bringing a much needed update that makes it easier for iPhone users to unlock their devices while wearing masks. The update takes into account the prevailing healthcare regulations across the world, which suggests individuals to wear masks at all times in public. Alongside the update to Face ID to accommodate masks on faces, Apple’s iOS 13.5 update will also bring the Exposure Notification API, which Apple built in collaboration with Google to enable seamless integration of Covid-19 contact tracing apps by national or regional healthcare departments.

According to 9to5Mac, the iOS 13.5 release notes state that iPhone users looking to unlock their devices while wearing a face mask will automatically see the numeric passcode field presented to them as soon as they turn on the iPhone display and attempt to unlock the device. This small but crucial enhancement may significantly help ease the ordeal for users, who are now stuck at either needing to remove their masks in order to unlock their iPhones, or wait for repeated failed face recognition attempts to register, before the passcode field turns up automatically. The update may be of significant help to healthcare professionals, for whom repeatedly removing their face masks or waiting too long to be able to unlock their devices can be a major deterrent.

Furthermore, the iOS 13.5 update also brings to devices the Exposure Notification API, developed jointly with Google in order to enable cross-platform Covid-19 contact tracing. While the update is being rolled out worldwide, what remains to be seen here is how this update reflects in Aarogya Setu, India’s official Covid-19 contact tracing smartphone application. While the API will be introduced in all iPhones, contact tracing app developers will be required to enable the use of the API by the respective apps, in order for them to come into effect. Apple and Google’s contact tracing API has paid heed to privacy debates around contact tracing, and it now remains to be seen as to how this update reflects upon all the existing contact tracing apps across the world.

Other aspects of the iOS 13.5 update include minor fixes to FaceTime group video calls, a black screen issue in some video streaming apps (names of apps unspecified) and a bug in the slide-out menu that appears when you try to share a file from your iPhone. With the iOS 13.5 GM (golden master) version of the update out for developers already, it now remains to be seen as to how soon can Apple push this update as a fully prepared stable build to all users.




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Google Accused of Biases in its Online Advertisement Network, May Face Fines

Image for Representation.

Image for Representation.

The case, if filed, would be the first major US antitrust action against a tech giant since the Bill Clinton administration’s pursuit of Microsoft in the 1990s

  • IANS
  • Last Updated: May 16, 2020, 4:28 PM IST

The US government is reportedly preparing to sue Google for its anti-market ad practices where it allegedly monopolized online ads. The Justice Department and a group of state attorneys general are likely to file antitrust lawsuits against Alphabet-owned Google, according to a Wall Street Journal report on Friday that cited people familiar with the matter.

The Justice Department is moving toward bringing a case as soon as this summer. “Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican is likely to file a case, probably in the fall,” according to the report.

On a call with the media, Paxton said the primary focus of the investigation was the broad reach of Google’s online advertising network. “We think Google has 7,000 data points on just about every human being alive. They control the buy-side (of online advertising), the sell-side and the market which we are concerned gives them way too much power,” Paxton was quoted as saying.

In a statement to The Verge, Google said: “We continue to engage with the ongoing investigations led by the Department of Justice and Attorney General Paxton and we don’t have any updates or comments on speculation”. Google has turned over more than 100,000 documents to investigators as part of the ongoing anti-trust probe.

The case, if filed, would be the first major US antitrust action against a tech giant since the Bill Clinton administration’s pursuit of Microsoft in the 1990s. In September last year, Attorneys General of 50 US states, led by Texas, announced a probe into Google’s anti-trust practices, focusing on whether the tech giant is overly dominant in the online advertising market and in internet searches.

“This is a company that dominates all aspects of advertising on the internet, as they dominate the buyer, seller and auction site,” said Paxton. “If advertising costs are higher, advertisers pay more, and ultimately that’s passed on to consumers” he added.

The European Union’s antitrust regulators last year fined Google 1.49 billion euros ($1.7 billion) for abusing its dominance in the online search market by blocking rivals. In 2013, Google said it would change some practices after it agreed to a settlement with the US Federal Trade Commission. The FTC had been concerned that some of Google’s business practices could stifle competition.

In 2010, the company received an anti-trust complaint from the European Commission regarding the ranking of shopping search results and ads, which resulted in Google being fined $2.7 billion in 2017.



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Exclusive | Overpriced N95 Face Masks That You Bought on Shopping Sites Could Be Fake

With the outbreak of Covid-19 in India, ensued a maddening rush to local medical shops among all of us to buy face masks — an act that even India’s most hideously polluted cities failed to make us do. Without absolute clarity from government and healthcare bodies, and a roving round of misinformation circulating social media services, N95 face masks saw a massive surge in demand — particularly through March and early April. This caused face mask stocks to clear out in almost all local stores. As a result, since many of us resorted to buying our face masks from online e-commerce stores, it now comes to light that numerous sellers on e-commerce shopping websites listed counterfeit N95 face masks. What more, many of these masks were being sold at heavily inflated prices, and in worst case scenarios, the face masks were both fake and highly priced.

Dhirendra Singh, founder-director of Brand Protectors India, undertook an investigation into the sale of fake N95 masks at inflated prices across e-commerce stores in India, which included Flipkart, Snapdeal and ShopClues. The issue was two-part — one, the authenticity of the masks, and two, the heavily inflated prices that they were sold at for the interim period.

Fake, overpriced masks

Speaking to News18, Singh said, “Each of these masks were being sold by opportune sellers at a heavily inflated price point. For example, 3M’s N95 masks were listed in online medical shops such as Apollo Pharmacy at about Rs 150. The same were being sold across sites such as Flipkart, Snapdeal and ShopClues at significantly higher prices, marking up to 9x inflation in the prices of these masks.” Singh, whose organisation works closely with brands to identify counterfeits in the market, stated that both 3M and Honeywell individually confirmed that the said N95 masks found on e-commerce platforms were indeed fake.

Fake products ecomm image 1

The 3M particulate respirator 8210 on HealthKlin (left), and the same product sold at a heavily inflated price on Snapdeal (right).

In screenshots shared by Singh with News18, one particular variant — the 3M Particulate Respirator 8210, was found on online medical products retailer HealthKlin for Rs 93, and on Snapdeal for Rs 1,299. This marks for a ~14x inflation in the price of one mask. Of the four instances of significant price inflation of masks on Snapdeal shared by Singh, a company spokesperson verified with News18 that three of the four products were indeed listed on the platform at the inflated prices, and have been taken down already.

Further interesting points to note were the branding of these products. On Flipkart, the 3M N95 masks were custom-branded by sellers such as Glasszone and Friendskart, neither of which are verified resellers of 3M’s own products. The same were reflected in user reviews of the products as well, which stated that the products were merely “pieces of cloth with clips attached”. (See cover)

In some cases, the products showed price inflation of close to 14x the original cost.

Singh further said, “Within some time of writing about this on social platforms, these products were made unavailable on the said e-commerce platforms.” A search on Flipkart for these masks returned zero results, which is what makes matters more curious. In-demand products on e-commerce platforms are typically shown as ‘out of stock’ when they run out, and are removed only when either the product receives several complaints citing it as counterfeit. A product, as revealed by a Snapdeal executive, can also be removed when multiple complaints are registered against a seller.

What the platforms say

While it is impossible for an e-commerce platform to individually verify each and every product sold through them, it is important to note that as ‘intermediaries’, e-commerce services do have a certain level of accountability for the authenticity of popular products being sold through them.

A Flipkart spokesperson said in a statement to News18, “We have immediately communicated the government decision and needed compliance to our sellers with an advice to take necessary actions. We have additionally put in place technology solutions to maintain checks and balances to ensure the same. Should there be an instance where the sellers breach these directives, we have provisions in place for delisting as applicable.”

Fake products ecomm image 2

A ‘Glasszone’ 3M face mask listed on Flipkart before April 15, 2020 (left); as of today, April 28, the seller is no longer listed on the site (right).

Glasszone, one of the alleged sellers that peddled the fake masks on Flipkart, appears to have been banned already, while Friendskart, the other seller, do not list masks under their list of products any longer. The latter has a history of being on Flipkart for over three years, but sports a measly rating of 2.6 for the products that it sells.

A Snapdeal spokesperson told News18, “Snapdeal is a pure-play market place and acts as an intermediary. Sellers are required to strictly comply with all applicable laws and the terms of use. If found to be in violation of law or in breach of any of the terms of use, Snapdeal removes the listings or delists and blacklists the seller from the platform depending on the severity and frequency of such delinquent actions of the seller.”

Citing their seller verification procedure, he further added, “Snapdeal verifies the authenticity of the seller on the basis of GSTIN No. and maintains records of all transactions. Snapdeal offers information relating to its platform users with law enforcement agencies that may be specifically required by them lawfully.”

A ShopClues spokesperson failed to comment on the matter at the time of publishing of the report.

As of now, the alleged counterfeit masks appear to be either out of stock or removed from Flipkart and Snapdeal, although ShopClues still appears to be heavily inflating the price of a 3M 9004 mask and claiming to offer its buyers a hefty, 75 percent discount.

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Google, Facebook Likely to Face Revenue Slump As COVID-19 Weakens Demand For Digital Ads

Image for Representation.

Image for Representation.

With consumers mostly at home and unemployment soaring, advertisers are slashing promotional spending in some cases, all the way to zero.

  • PTI
  • Last Updated: April 28, 2020, 4:22 PM IST

Demand for digital advertising is shriveling after a decade of explosive growth amid the pandemic-fueled downturn. That could complicate things for Google and Facebook, who for the first time may have to contend with revenues that are actually shrinking.

With consumers mostly at home and unemployment soaring, advertisers are slashing promotional spending in some cases, all the way to zero. For Google and Facebook, who together account for 70% of the U.S. market for digital ads, that so far has translated into tighter restraints on spending without the layoffs, pay cuts and furloughs that publishers and other industries have already imposed.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai has already told employees the company will curtail its hiring for the rest of the year and is considering deep cuts in its own marketing budget through 2020, according to internal communications obtained by CNBC that Google confirmed. Facebook warned last month that its business was already being squeezed by the advertising downturn, although it didn’t provide details. In countries hard-hit by the pandemic, it said messaging traffic was up 50% while voice and video calling had doubled, but added that it doesn’t make money on many of those services and that ad business had “weakened” in those regions.

So far, however, it’s not clear how badly the tech giants might be hit. Some of the early clues are expected this week when Google’s corporate parent, Alphabet, and Facebook report their first-quarter financial results. But those results will only give a hint of the impact, given that the pandemic didn’t start to zap the global economy and ad budgets until late February.

That’s one reason analysts polled by FactSet are still predicting a 13% increase in Alphabet’s revenue from the same time last year and a 16% revenue increase in revenue for Facebook. The real test will come in the current April-June quarter, where analysts currently project roughly flat revenue for both companies. That could prove optimistic, though, given that airlines, hotels and other travel-related businesses typically spend heavily on marketing campaigns during the spring and summer.

With most travel frozen by the pandemic, Google and Facebook are likely to see huge sales declines unless the threat of COVID-19 subsides, said Edward Jones analyst David Heger. The good news for Google and Facebook is that digital ad spending can ramp back up as quickly as it declines since it doesn’t require the upfront planning necessary with traditional media.

That means companies might boost digital campaigns at the first sign of recovery, said Tony DiResta, a Washington, D.C., attorney who helps small and large companies promote their brands. Google, at least, has already been through this once as a public company. In the second quarter of 2009 during the Great Recession, its revenue growth slowed dramatically to just 3%, prompting it to reduce its workforce by about 400 employees during that year the only time the company has pared its payroll in its 21-year history.

Since then, Alphabet has added nearly 100,000 employees in a relentless expansion built upon Google’s Android mobile-phone software and other products it continued to develop during the previous downturn. This recession may look quite different. Google, Facebook, and the overall digital market are far larger than they were back then and potentially less nimble.

The digital industry has posted double-digit annual growth for a decade and was on track to hit about $125 billion in 2019 revenue, based on information compiled by the Interactive Advertising Bureau, which hasn’t released final numbers for the year.

For 2020, Magna Research predicts that digital-ad sales growth will slow to 4%, but said revenues won’t shrink despite the tough times. Overall ad sales could fall by 3%, according to Magna, with a flurry of political spending this fall during the U.S. presidential election expected to ease the recession’s blow.

Some analysts believe the current downturn could leave the tech duopoly in an even stronger position once the global economy recovers. Both Google and Facebook have enormous cash reserves $120 billion for Alphabet, $55 billion for Facebook they can use to acquire other potentially attractive services that can’t survive the recession on their own, often for cheap.

Both Google and Facebook are in a good position,” said eMarketer analyst Nicole Perrin. One sign of that buy-low strategy: Facebook last week invested $5.7 billion in India telecom giant Jio. The commitment underscored its resolve to expand into one of the world’s fastest-growing internet markets.

Meanwhile, social distancing and stay-at-home orders appear to have overridden privacy concerns about the companies’ services, which sparked a backlash over the way they vacuum up vast amounts of personal information. Both companies reporting rising usage. “It’s like moths being drawn to a flame,” Heger said. People can’t seem to resist them.

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IT Giant Cognizant Hit by 'Maze' Ransomware, Certain Clients Face Service Issues

File photo of a Cognizant office.

File photo of a Cognizant office.

According to cybersecurity firm McAfee, hackers who deploy Maze threaten to release information on the internet if the targeted companies fail to pay.

  • Reuters
  • Last Updated: April 19, 2020, 11:40 PM IST

Cognizant Technology Solutions Corp on Saturday said it was hit by a “Maze” ransomware cyberattack, resulting in service disruptions for some of its clients. The information technology services provider said it was taking steps to contain the incident, with the help of cyber defense companies, and has also engaged with law enforcement authorities.

Ransomware is a type of malicious program used by hackers to take control of files in an infected system and then demand hefty payments to recover them. According to cybersecurity firm McAfee, hackers who deploy Maze threaten to release information on the internet if the targeted companies fail to pay.

“We are in ongoing communication with our clients and have provided them with indicators of compromise and other technical information of a defensive nature,” Cognizant added. It did not respond to a request from Reuters for further comments on the incident.

The Maze operators denied responsibility for the cyber attack, according to the security website BleepingComputer. However, the report added that Maze is likely not discussing it to avoid complications at this early stage. Insurer Chubb Ltd in March was hit by a computer security incident that may have involved unauthorized access to data held by an outside service provider. A group that deploys the Maze ransomware claimed to have locked up devices on Chubb’s network during March, according to BleepingComputer.

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Helmets with IR Cameras, Face Recognition: Dubai Police Fights Covid-19 in Sci-Fi Style

An image of a smart helmet equipped with infrared thermal camera and facial recognition tech, in use by Dubai Police. (Image: Dubai Police/Instagram)

An image of a smart helmet equipped with infrared thermal camera and facial recognition tech, in use by Dubai Police. (Image: Dubai Police/Instagram)

In what appears to be gadgets straight out of Batman’s arsenal, Dubai Police’s smart helmets are helping them to scan faces and enforce quarantine.

  • PTI
  • Last Updated: April 14, 2020, 8:09 PM IST

Dubai police officials are using smart helmets fitted with an infra-red camera and other Artificial Intelligence technologies to detect high body temperature of public transport users amid the coronavirus outbreak in the Gulf country, according to a media report on Tuesday. The smart helmets equipped with infrared temperature detectors take a few seconds to accurately scan people’s temperature.

The helmets are also equipped with face recognition technology and car number reading technology, the Khaleej Times reported. The UAE is the first country in the region to use this technology. Deputy Chief of Police and Public Security Lt Gen Dahi Khalfan Tamim praised the Dubai Police for using the smart helmet as part of modern technologies in securing the transport sector, the paper said.

Brigadier General Obaid Al Hathboor, Director of Transportation Security Department, Dubai Police, said that smart helmets scan the temperature of public transport users and measure the audience temperature with high efficiency, in addition to the presence of artificial intelligence technologies such as face recognition technology and car number reading technology.

“This step is in line with the administration’s strategy to secure the transportation security sector in accordance with the best international standards and practices to counter the spread of coronavirus,” he said. The UAE Ministry of Health and Prevention on Monday announced 398 new cases of coronavirus, taking the total number of confirmed cases to 4,521. So far 25 people have died due to the virus in the country.

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Coronavirus Outbreak: Amazon Does Not Want Sellers to Increase Prices of Face Masks

Tech giant Amazon is warning third-party sellers on its marketplace to refrain from charging exorbitant pricing for face masks amid the deadly novel coronavirus outbreak that is spreading globally. Amazon has alerted merchants about face masks that are “not in compliance” with its pricing policies, according to an email provided by the tech major.

One consultant who works with Amazon sellers said that listings for overpriced face masks had been deleted from the site. The topic “coronavirus and price gouging” has also been hotly debated among the users on Amazon’s official selling forum over the past week, the Wired reported on Tuesday. Meanwhile, the US Federal health officials have issued a grim warning about a “bad” spread of coronavirus and asked the nation to prepare for drastic actions like cancelling meetings as the disease was spreading its tentacle far beyond China.

The coronavirus outbreak has already handed a blow to the tech industry. The Mobile World Congress 2020 in Barcelona had to be cancelled after the disease spread. The coronavirus death toll in mainland China has increased to 2,663 with 77,658 confirmed cases, health authorities said on Tuesday. The National Health Commission said that it has received reports of 508 new cases and 71 deaths on Monday from 31 provincial-level regions of mainland China.

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Latest Windows 10 Update Improves Accuracy of Windows Hello Face Authentication

The new update will also deal with an issue causing a grey box to appear when you search within Control Panel and File Explorer.

Latest Windows 10 Update Improves Accuracy of Windows Hello Face Authentication
Image for Representation

Microsoft has released a new update with version number KB4532695, which applies to Windows 10, version 1903, Windows Server version 1903, Windows 10, version 1909, Windows Server version 1909. According to Microsoft, Windows 10, versions 1903 and 1909 have a common core operating system and an identical set of system files. The new update will improve the accuracy of Windows Hello face authentication and will also help fix several bugs.

The new update will also deal with an issue causing a grey box to appear when you search within the Control Panel and File Explorer. Besides, it will help solve the problem of incorrect indicators for offline and online files. It will prevent File Explorer’s search bar from receiving user input and it will also handle the issue that sometimes caused an error when a user unplugged a USB Type-C hub or flash drive.

Microsoft has recommended installing the latest servicing stack update (SSU) for the operating system before putting in the latest cumulative update (LCU). SSU upgrades the reliability of the update process to mitigate potential issues while installing the LCU. Users can update the new feature through Windows Update. To do so, users have need to go to the Settings option and then navigate to the Update and Security option. Under Update and Security, head to Windows Update. Users will get the link to download and install the update in the Optional Updates section.


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Huawei Set to Face 'Strict' 5G Rules in Europe, States EU Official

Huawei has been facing stiff opposition from USA, which is urging its allies to not conduct business with the Chinese electronics and technology behemoth

Representative image of Huawei's logo, in front of one of its facilities. (Photo: Reuters)
Representative image of Huawei’s logo, in front of one of its facilities. (Photo: Reuters)
The EU will not ban Chinese telecom giant Huawei or any other company in Europe, a top official said on Tuesday, despite intense pressure from Washington to shun the firm over spying fears. The European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, will officially unveil recommendations to member states on Wednesday, but commissioner Thierry Breton told MEPs that Brussels will choose tight scrutiny over any blanket ban.

“It is not a question of discrimination, it is a question of laying down rules. They will be strict, they will be demanding and of course we will welcome in Europe all operators who are willing to apply them,” he said. The EU, while never explicitly naming the Chinese giant, is struggling to find a middle way to balance Huawei’s huge dominance in the 5G sector with security concerns pressed by Washington.

The proposal is part of a so-called “toolbox” of recommendations that will guide the EU’s 27 post-Brexit member states as they build crucial 5G networks. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is also expected on Tuesday to risk Washington’s anger with a similar decision to trust strict rules instead of a ban on Huawei. A ban on Huawei would ultimately be up to an individual member state, but the commission’s middle road recommendation gives cover to European capitals to resist pleas from Washington.

Huawei is one of the world’s leading network technology suppliers, and one of the few — along with European telecom companies Nokia and Ericsson — capable of building 5G networks. The United States sees the company as a potential threat to cybersecurity and fears it would facilitate cyber espionage by the Chinese government, to which it is said to have close links.