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Facebook ‘exploited’ Australian kids for advertisers

Facebook monitored the posts of Australian children and used algorithms to identify and exploit them by allowing advertisers to target them during their "most vulnerable moments", media reported, evoking criticism against the social media giant.

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May 02, 2017: Facebook monitored the posts of Australian children and used algorithms to identify and exploit them by allowing advertisers to target them during their “most vulnerable moments”, media reported, evoking criticism against the social media giant. A confidential 23-page Facebook document prepared by company’s two top Australian executives outlines how the social network can target “moments when young people need a confidence boost” in pinpoint detail, The Australian reported on Sunday.

Facebook collected the information on a person’s moods including feeling “worthless”, “overwhelmed” and “nervous” and then, it divulged the same to advertisers who use it to target them. Facebook admitted it was wrong to target the children and apologised.  “We have opened an investigation to understand the process failure and improve our oversight. We will undertake disciplinary and other processes as appropriate,” a Facebook spokeswoman told The Australian.

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“While the data on which this research is based was aggregated and presented consistent with applicable privacy and legal protections, including the removal of any personally identifiable information, our internal process sets a standard higher than required by law,” she added. Facebook’s tactic violates the Australian Code for Advertising and Marketing Communications to Children guidelines.

The revelation also points towards the how Facebook can be used for covert surveillance which most of the social networking sites claim to be fighting against. There have been rumours about Facebook’s advertising sales methods but there was no proof until now that could corroborate that. “The document is an insight on how Facebook gathers psychological insights on 6.4 million ‘high schoolers’, ‘tertiary students’ and ‘young Australians, New Zealanders… in the workforce’ to sell targeted advertising,” the report noted. IANS

 

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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