Tuesday September 17, 2019
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Facebook To Invest Over $300 mn to Support Local News

"This year, we'll commit over $20 million to continue our local 'Accelerator' programme in the US and to expand the model globally, including in Europe," said Brown

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Facebook
Facebook testing 'LOL' app to woo kids, experts wary. Pixabay

Facebook has announced to invest over $300 million over the next three years to support local news organisations.

In a blog post, Campbell Brown, Vice President, Global News Partnerships, said that Facebook wants to support local journalists and newsrooms with their news gathering needs in the immediate future and help these organisations build sustainable business models, through both its product and partnership work.

“We heard one consistent answer: people want more local news, and local newsrooms are looking for more support. That’s why today we’re announcing an expanded effort around local news in the years ahead,” Brown said late on Tuesday.

In 2018, Google also committed $300 million for over three years to strengthen quality journalism, support sustainable business models and empower newsrooms through technological innovation.

Facebook
Facebook, social media. Pixabay

It was also committing to spend $300 million over the next three years on its various journalism-related projects.

According to Facebook, it would invest $300 million in news programmes, partnerships and content.

Among the components is a Pulitzer Centre — a $5 million endowment gift to launch “Bringing Stories Home”, a gift that will provide local newsrooms across the US with reporting grants to foster coverage on topics that affect local communities.

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“Report for America” is a $2 million investment in the initiative to place 1,000 journalists in local newsrooms across America over the next five years.

“This year, we’ll commit over $20 million to continue our local ‘Accelerator’ programme in the US and to expand the model globally, including in Europe,” said Brown. (IANS)

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Facebook Offers Help To India On Fake News Traceability On WhatsApp

With India pressing for traceability of WhatsApp messages to check the spread of fake news, Nick Clegg, Facebook Vice President, Global Affairs and Communications, has offered alternative ways to help the country

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Fake, News, WhatsApp, Facebook, India
Over 300 million of the 550 million smartphone and broadband users in the country are low on literacy and digital literacy. Pixabay

With India pressing for traceability of WhatsApp messages to check the spread of fake news, Nick Clegg, Facebook Vice President, Global Affairs and Communications, has offered alternative ways to help the country, without any reference towards tracing the origin of the WhatsApp messages.

WhatsApp had categorically said in the past that the government’s demand to trace the origin of messages on its platform is not possible as it “undermines the privacy of the people”.

Clegg who was the UK’s former Deputy Prime Minister before joining Facebook, visited India last week and met several senior government officials, including IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad, and offered to assist law enforcement agencies in all possible ways like Artificial Intelligence-driven data analytics and access to “meta-data”.

“Facebook cares deeply about the safety of people in India and Nick’s meetings this week provided opportunities to discuss our commitment to supporting privacy and security in every app we provide and how we can continue to work productively with the government of India towards these shared goals,” a company spokesperson said in a statement.

Fake, News, WhatsApp, Facebook, India
When a message is sent from WhatsApp, the identity of the originator can also be revealed along with the message. Pixabay

Last December, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) proposed changes to Section 79 of the Information Technology (IT) Act, 2000.

The proposed regulations require a company to “enable tracing out of originators of information on its platform as required by legally authorised government agencies”.

The end-to-end encryption feature in WhatsApp makes it difficult for law enforcement authorities to find out the culprit behind a misinformation campaign.

The mobile messaging platform with over 400 million users has already called the proposed changes “overbroad”.

“Attributing messages on WhatsApp would undermine the end-to-end encryption, and its private nature, leading to possibilities of being misused,” a company spokesperson had earlier said.

WhatsApp’s parent company Facebook has over 300 million users in India.

WhatsApp in February stressed that some of the proposed government regulations for social media companies operating in India are threatening the very existence of the app in its current form.

“Of the proposed regulations, the one which concerns us the most is the emphasis on traceability of messages,” Carl Woog, WhatsApp’s Head of Communications, had told IANS.

Fake, News, WhatsApp, Facebook, India
The Facebook mobile app on an Android smartphone. Wikimedia Commons

Meanwhile, Facebook has filed a petition to transfer the case looking at enforcing traceability on WhatsApp to the Supreme Court. It is currently sub judice in the Madras High Court.

Tamil Nadu, however, is aiming to get Facebook’s transfer petition dismissed by the Supreme Court.

A professor at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Madras recently stressed that the issue can be easily resolved without diluting end-to-end encryption and affecting the privacy of users.

“If WhatsApp says it is not technically possible to show the originator of the message, I can show that it is possible,” said V. Kamakoti.

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When a message is sent from WhatsApp, the identity of the originator can also be revealed along with the message.

So the message and the identity of the creator can be seen only by the recipient.

“When that recipient forwards the message, his/her identity can be revealed to the next recipient,” he said, adding that as per the court ruling, those who forward a harmful message can also be held responsible in certain cases. (IANS)