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Facebook set to beam free internet via satellite to Africans

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Ivorian youths look on November 19, 2009 at a cyber cafe in Abidjan at the country's Independent Electoral Commission website, featuring the provisional voter list for the long-awaited presidential election, initially due to take place on November 29. Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo said on October 30 that the vote would be delayed, citing problems with the voting lists. And the Independent Electoral Commission confirmed on November 11 that the vote would be delayed without giving a new date. AFP PHOTO/ SIA KAMBOU (Photo credit should read SIA KAMBOU/AFP/Getty Images)
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London/New York: Social networking site Facebook has announced a partnership with French satellite operator Eutelsat Communications to provide free high-speed internet to get more Africans online by next year.

Scheduled to be launched in 2016, the AMOS-6 satellite is configured with high gain spot beams covering large parts of west, east and southern Africa.

Under a multi-year agreement with global satellite communication company Spacecom, Facebook and Eutelsat will utilise the entire broadband payload on the AMOS-6 satellite and will build a dedicated system comprising satellite capacity, gateways and terminals, Eutelsat said in a statement on Monday.

In providing reach to large parts of Sub-Saharan Africa, Eutelsat and Facebook will each be equipped to pursue their ambition to accelerate data connectivity for the many users deprived of the economic and social benefits of the Internet.

“We are going to keep working to connect the entire world even if that means looking beyond our planet,” Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said in a blog post. The project is part of Facebook’s ambitious Internet.org project.

Using state-of-the-art satellite technology, Eutelsat and Facebook will each deploy internet services designed to relieve pent-up demand for connectivity from the many users in Africa beyond range of fixed and mobile terrestrial networks.

“Satellite networks are well suited to economically connecting people in low to medium density population areas and the high throughput satellite architecture of AMOS-6 is expected to contribute to additional gains in cost efficiency,” the statement read.

The capacity will enable Eutelsat to step up its broadband activity in Sub-Saharan Africa that was initiated using Ku-band satellites to serve professional users.

Two years ago, Facebook announced Internet.org, an effort to accelerate the rate of connectivity by addressing the physical, economic and social barriers that are keeping people from getting online.

For Facebook, this satellite system represents one of many technology investments to enable cost-effective broadband access to unconnected populations.

It plans to work with local partners across Africa to utilise satellite and terrestrial capacity to deliver services to rural areas.

“Facebook’s mission is to connect the world and we believe that satellites will play an important role in addressing the significant barriers that exist in connecting the people of Africa,” Chris Daniels, vice president of Internet.org, said in the statement.

“We are looking forward to partnering with Eutelsat on this project and investigating new ways to use satellites to connect people in the most remote areas of the world more efficiently,” he added.

According to Michel de Rosen, Eutelsat chairman and CEO, “Eutelsat’s strong track record in operating ‘High Throughput Satellite’ systems will ensure that we can deliver accessible and robust Internet solutions that get more users online and part of the Information Society.”

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Facebook Unveils Three-pronged Strategy to Fight Fake News

Apart from this, Facebook is also using machine learning to help its teams detect fraud and enforce its policies against spam

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Facebook Unveils Three-pronged Strategy to Fight Fake News
Facebook Unveils Three-pronged Strategy to Fight Fake News. Pixabay

To stop false news from spreading on its platform, Facebook has said it put in place a three-pronged strategy that constitutes removing accounts and content that violate its policies, reducing distribution of inauthentic content and informing people by giving them more context on the posts they see.

Another part of its strategy in some countries is partnering with third-party fact-checkers to review and rate the accuracy of articles and posts on Facebook, Tessa Lyons, a Facebook product manager on News Feed focused on false news, said in a statement on Thursday.

The social media giant is facing criticism for its role in enabling political manipulation in several countries around the world. It has also come under the scanner for allegedly fuelling ethnic conflicts owing to its failure stop the deluge of hate-filled posts against the disenfranchised Rohingya Muslim minority in Myanmar.

Representational image.
Representational image. Pixabay

“False news is bad for people and bad for Facebook. We’re making significant investments to stop it from spreading and to promote high-quality journalism and news literacy,” Lyons said.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Tuesday told the European Parliament leaders that the social networking giant is trying to plug loopholes across its services, including curbing fake news and political interference on its platform in the wake of upcoming elections globally, including in India.

Lyons said Facebook’s three-pronged strategy roots out the bad actors that frequently spread fake stories.

Also Read: Facebook Planning to Increase Their Capability Through Smartphones

“It dramatically decreases the reach of those stories. And it helps people stay informed without stifling public discourse,” Lyons added.

Although false news does not violate Facebook’s Community Standards, it often violates the social network’s polices in other categories, such as spam, hate speech or fake accounts, which it removes remove.

“For example, if we find a Facebook Page pretending to be run by Americans that’s actually operating out of Macedonia, that violates our requirement that people use their real identities and not impersonate others. So we’ll take down that whole Page, immediately eliminating any posts they made that might have been false,” Lyons explained.

Lyons said Facebook's three-pronged strategy roots out the bad actors that frequently spread fake stories.
Lyons said Facebook’s three-pronged strategy roots out the bad actors that frequently spread fake stories. Pixabay

Apart from this, Facebook is also using machine learning to help its teams detect fraud and enforce its policies against spam.

“We now block millions of fake accounts every day when they try to register,” Lyons added.

A lot of the misinformation that spreads on Facebook is financially motivated, much like email spam in the 90s, the social network said.

If spammers can get enough people to click on fake stories and visit their sites, they will make money off the ads they show.

Also Read: Facebook Lets Advertisers Target Users Based on Sensitive Interests

“We’re figuring out spammers’ common tactics and reducing the distribution of those kinds of stories in News Feed. We’ve started penalizing clickbait, links shared more frequently by spammers, and links to low-quality web pages, also known as ‘ad farms’,” Lyons said.

“We also take action against entire Pages and websites that repeatedly share false news, reducing their overall News Feed distribution,” Lyons said.

Facebook said it does not want to make money off of misinformation or help those who create it profit, and so such publishers are not allowed to run ads or use its monetisation features like Instant Articles. (IANS)