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In Pakistan, man jailed for 13 years over ‘Facebook hate speech’

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Lahore: In a shocking case, a man in Pakistan has been sent to prison for 13 years by an anti-terrorism court for allegedly posting ‘sectarian hate speech’ on Facebook, a move that drew flak from rights activist.

32-year-old Saqlain Haidar, a Shia Muslim and an hotelier in the city of Chiniot in Pakistani Punjab was also fined Rs 250, 000 for “posting hateful material against companions of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)”, an official of the Counter Terrorism Department said while requesting anonymity, The Express Tribune reported.

Confirming the incident, local counter-terrorism official Abdul Majeed said, “The convict was arrested on October 27 after locals complained about him and he was charged for spreading sectarian hatred under various clauses of the anti-terrorism act.”

Bytes for All, a human rights group, expressed its deep concern over Haidar’s case.

“We are extremely concerned that an anti-terrorism court has been used to hear a case apparently related to online speech rather than to any violent activities.”

Ironically, banned terrorist groups like the Taliban and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi continue to spread hatred on social media without any fear.

It was the first time someone was convicted for posting ‘sectarian material’ on Facebook, but that blasphemy charges were often brought against social media users, Bytes for All added.

(With inputs from agencies)

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Blind Facebook employee is developing tech for sightless

At Facebook, he works on features to help people with disabilities use the platform.

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A visually impaired Facebook employee is developing technology to make Facebook more fun for the sightless. Pixabay
A visually impaired Facebook employee is developing technology to make Facebook more fun for the sightless. Pixabay
  • A blind Facebook employee is developing AI to make social network for sightless fun
  • He is developing AI which will verbalise images and videos
  • This technology will enable alt-text for images and videos

A blind Facebook employee is developing a technology that will use Artificial Intelligence (AI) to verbalise the content of an image or video and enable the visually impaired to “see” and determine appropriate content for people and advertisers.

Facebook engineer Matt King is leading a project that is making solutions for visually impaired people on the platform that could eventually be used to identify images and videos that violate Facebook’s terms of use or that advertisers want to avoid.

Also Read : Facebook might bring Stories on desktop 

This feature will verbalise images and videos for the visually impaired. Image Source: Reuters
This feature will verbalise images and videos for the visually impaired. Image Source: Reuters

“More than two billion photos are shared across Facebook every single day. That’s a situation where a machine-based solution adds a lot more value than a human-based solution ever could,” CNBC quoted King as saying late on Saturday.

King, who was born with a degenerative eye disease called retinitis pigmentosa, lost his vision by the time he got his degree and started working at IBM with the tech giant’s accessibility projects.

He worked on a screen reader to help visually impaired people “see” what is on their screens either through audio cues or a braille device. IBM eventually developed the first screen reader for a graphical interface.

He worked with the accessibility team till Facebook hired him from IBM in 2015.

The man behind this development is Matt King.
The man behind this development is Matt King.

At Facebook, he works on features to help people with disabilities use the platform, like adding captions to videos or coming up with ways to navigate the site using only audio cues.

“Anybody who has any kind of disability can benefit from Facebook. They can develop beneficial connections and understand their disability doesn’t have to define them, to limit them,” King said.

Also Read : Facebook Profit Escalates with No Major Impact from Russia and it’s Advertisements

One of his main projects is “automated alt-text,” which describes audibly what is in Facebook images.

When automated alt-text was launched in April 2016, it was only available in five languages on the iOS app. Today it is available in over 29 languages on Facebook on the web, iOS and Android.

Facebook is available in more than 29 languages across the world. Pixabay
Facebook is available in more than 29 languages across the world. Pixabay

“The things people post most frequently kind of has a limited vocabulary associated with it,” the Facebook engineer said.

“It makes it possible for us to have one of those situations where if you can tackle 20 per cent of the solution, it tackles 80 per cent of the problem. It’s getting that last 20 per cent which is a lot of work, but we’re getting there,” he said.

In December 2017, Facebook pushed an automatic alt-text update that used facial recognition to help visually impaired people find out who is in photos. IANS