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Facebook acquires biometric ID verification startup

The startup offers an application programming interface (API) that helps verify government-issued identification cards

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Facebook has over 217 million monthly active users in India and 212 million of them are active on smartphones. Pixabay
Facebook has over 217 million monthly active users in India and 212 million of them are active on smartphones. Pixabay
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  • Facebook has acquired a biometric ID verification startup names ‘Confirm’
  • The current digital ID authentication software will wound down
  • This is no where related linking Facebook with Aadhaar

Facebook has acquired a biometric ID verification startup named Confirm that specialises in remotely verifying IDs like drivers licenses.

The startup offers an application programming interface (API) that helps verify government-issued identification cards.

“We’re excited to announce that we have agreed to be acquired by Facebook! This is the culmination of three years of hard work building technology that will keep people safe and secure online,” Confirm said in a statement on Wednesday.

ALSO READ: Facebook Profit Escalates with No Major Impact from Russia and it’s Advertisements

It has 2.1 billion monthly active users globally.. Pixabay
It has 2.1 billion monthly active users globally. Pixabay

The acquisition, for which financial details were not disclosed, is part of Facebooka’s effort to minimise the presence of fake profiles on its platform.

“We are excited to welcome the Confirm team to Facebook. Their technology and expertise will support our ongoing efforts to keep our community safe,” Facebook told TechCrunch.

“We’re ready to take the next step on our journey with Facebook. However, in the meantime this means all of our current digital ID authentication software offerings will be wound down,” Confirm said.

In India, Facebook has run a small test with users to enter their names as per their Aadhaar, to help them sign up to the social network with their real names and connect with friends and family.
In India, Facebook has run a small test with users to enter their names as per their Aadhaar, to help them sign up to the social network with their real names and connect with friends and family.

ALSO READ: Why Facebook blocking posts in India is necessary

“The test, which has now finished, merely includes additional language on the account sign-up page to explain that using their Aadhaar name will help family and friends recognise them,” Facebook said in a statement.

“We are not collecting Aadhaar data and do not require people to enter their Aadhaar name when they sign up to Facebook,” the company stressed. (IANS)

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Facebook Realizes Internet Can Harm Democracy

One of the most common criticisms of social media is that it creates echo chambers where people only see viewpoints they agree with -- further driving us apart

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In India, Facebook has run a small test with users to enter their names as per their Aadhaar, to help them sign up to the social network with their real names and connect with friends and family.
In India, Facebook has run a small test with users to enter their names as per their Aadhaar, to help them sign up to the social network with their real names and connect with friends and family.
  • Facebook can’t guarantee that social media is not harmful to democracy
  • Product Manager Samidh Chakrabarti said that he is not blind to the damage that the Internet can do to even a well-functioning democracy
  • Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has also pledged to “fix” Facebook in 2018 by reducing hateful content

Facebook, which is striving hard to make its platform sanitised from fake news and echo chambers, has realised that it can’t guarantee that social media is not harmful to democracy.

In a blog post, Product Manager Samidh Chakrabarti said on Tuesday that he is not blind to the damage that the Internet can do to even a well-functioning democracy.

“I wish I could guarantee that the positives are destined to outweigh the negatives, but I can’t,” Chakrabarti said.

ALSO READ: Why Facebook blocking posts in India is necessary

“That’s why we have a moral duty to understand how these technologies are being used and what can be done to make communities like Facebook as representative, civil and trustworthy as possible,” he added.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has also pledged to "fix" Facebook in 2018 by reducing hateful content and enhancing experience on his platform for over two billion users. Pixabay
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has also pledged to “fix” Facebook in 2018 by reducing hateful content and enhancing experience on his platform for over two billion users. Pixabay

“This is a new frontier and we don’t pretend to have all the answers. But I promise you that my team and many more here are dedicated to this pursuit,” said Chakrabarti who is responsible for politics and elections products globally.

The 2016 US presidential election brought to the fore the risks of foreign meddling, “fake news” and political polarisation.

“Around the US 2016 election, Russian entities set up and promoted fake Pages on Facebook to influence public sentiment — essentially using social media as an information weapon,” Chakrabarti noted.

Facebook discovered that these Russian actors created 80,000 posts that reached around 126 million people in the US over a two-year period.

“It’s abhorrent to us that a nation-state used our platform to wage a cyberwar intended to divide society. This was a new kind of threat that we couldn’t easily predict, but we should have done better,” the post further read.

The Russian interference worked in part by promoting inauthentic Pages, so “we’re working to make politics on Facebook more transparent”.

“We’re making it possible to visit an advertiser’s Page and see the ads they’re currently running. We’ll soon also require organisations running election-related ads to confirm their identities so we can show viewers of their ads who exactly paid for them,” Chakrabarti said.

ALSO READ: How Facebook is Helping Its Users Fight Identity Theft

“Finally, we’ll archive electoral ads and make them searchable to enhance accountability,” he added.

To make it easier to report false news, Facebook has taken steps in partnership with third-party fact checkers to rank these stories lower in News Feed. Pixabay
To make it easier to report false news, Facebook has taken steps in partnership with third-party fact checkers to rank these stories lower in News Feed. Pixabay

“Once our fact checking partners label a story as false, we’re able to reduce future impressions of the story on Facebook by 80 per cent,” Chakrabarti noted.

One of the most common criticisms of social media is that it creates echo chambers where people only see viewpoints they agree with — further driving us apart.

“A better approach might be to show people many views, not just the opposing side.

“We recently started testing this idea with a feature called Related Articles that shows people articles with a range of perspectives on the news,” Chakrabarti said. (IANS)