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Facebook Brings AI-powered Video Chat Speakers

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was summoned to a hearing in US Congress in April to explain the firm's privacy policies

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LinkedIn faced probe for Facebook ads targeting 18 mn non-members. Pixabay

Social media giant Facebook has unveiled a pair of artificial intelligence-powered smart video chat devices, Portal and Portal +, which are designed to connect people and feel like being in the same room.

Facebook on Monday said the new video communication speakers with tablet-size screens for the home can dramatically change the way people keep in touch and their built-in AI technology makes video calling easier and more like hanging out, Xinhua reported.

 The debut of the Facebook-brand-bearing electronic gadgets represents the social network’s first bold entry into the fray in a competition of consumer hardware with other internet giants such as Amazon and Google, which launched their smart speakers years ago.

The Portal, which is equipped with a 10-inch 1280×800 display, can let users video chat with their families and friends over Facebook Messenger, while the Portal + has a 15-inch 1920×1080 pivoting display.

Facebook said the two speakers are powered by AI as well as smart camera and sound technology that let users have a better, more convenience and hands-free experience. The speaker’s Smart Camera can sense the movement and action, and automatically pans and zooms to keep everyone in view.

Facebook
Facebook, social media. Pixabay

While the two Facebook-branded hardware makes consumers’ home smarter and better connected with family members, there is growing concern about user privacy that could arise from internet-related technology, especially after Facebook has been questioned about its privacy policy since a data breach scandal earlier this year.

Facebook has been extensively challenged about its security measures in protecting users’ sensitive data since a British data mining firm Cambridge Analytica was accused of illegally accessing the data of 87 million Facebook users without their knowledge.

Also Read- Microsoft Cannot Recover Files Deleted by Windows 10 Update

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was summoned to a hearing in US Congress in April to explain the firm’s privacy policies.

Last month, Facebook reported vulnerabilities in its account login mechanism that could affect more than 90 million users, who risked having their private information including names and passwords accessed by hackers. (IANS)

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Facebook Asked to Take Down Auto-Generated Al-Qaida Pages

Facebook likes to say that its automated systems remove the vast majority of prohibited content glorifying the Islamic State group and al-Qaida before it's reported

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facebook, Al-qaida, terror, islamic state, pages
Monika Bickert, head of global policy management at Facebook, joined at right by Nick Pickles, public policy director for Twitter, testifies before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, Sept. 18, 2019. VOA

In the face of criticism that Facebook is not doing enough to combat extremist messaging, the company likes to say that its automated systems remove the vast majority of prohibited content glorifying the Islamic State group and al-Qaida before it’s reported.

But a whistleblower’s complaint shows that Facebook itself has inadvertently provided the two extremist groups with a networking and recruitment tool by producing dozens of pages in their names.

The social networking company appears to have made little progress on the issue in the four months since The Associated Press detailed how pages that Facebook auto-generates for businesses are aiding Middle East extremists and white supremacists in the United States.

On Wednesday, U.S. senators on the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation will be questioning representatives from social media companies, including Monika Bickert, who heads Facebooks efforts to stem extremist messaging.

The new details come from an update of a complaint to the Securities and Exchange Commission that the National Whistleblower Center plans to file this week. The filing obtained by the AP identifies almost 200 auto-generated pages, some for businesses, others for schools or other categories, that directly reference the Islamic State group and dozens more representing al-Qaida and other known groups. One page listed as a “political ideology” is titled “I love Islamic state.” It features an IS logo inside the outlines of Facebook’s famous thumbs-up icon.

facebook, Al-qaida, terror, islamic state, pages
Facebook auto-generating Al-Qaida, terror group, pages. Pixabay

In response to a request for comment, a Facebook spokesperson told the AP: “Our priority is detecting and removing content posted by people that violates our policy against dangerous individuals and organizations to stay ahead of bad actors. Auto-generated pages are not like normal Facebook pages as people can’t comment or post on them and we remove any that violate our policies. While we cannot catch every one, we remain vigilant in this effort.”

Facebook has a number of functions that auto-generate pages from content posted by users. The updated complaint scrutinizes one function that is meant to help business networking. It scrapes employment information from users’ pages to create pages for businesses. In this case, it may be helping the extremist groups because it allows users to like the pages, potentially providing a list of sympathizers for recruiters.

The new filing also found that users’ pages promoting extremist groups remain easy to find with simple searches using their names. They uncovered one page for “Mohammed Atta” with an iconic photo of one of the al-Qaida adherents, who was a hijacker in the Sept. 11 attacks. The page lists the user’s work as “Al Qaidah” and education as “University Master Bin Laden” and “School Terrorist Afghanistan.”

Facebook has been working to limit the spread of extremist material on its service, so far with mixed success. In March, it expanded its definition of prohibited content to include U.S. white nationalist and white separatist material as well as that from international extremist groups. It says it has banned 200 white supremacist organizations and 26 million pieces of content related to global extremist groups like IS and al-Qaida.

facebook, Al-qaida, terror, islamic state, pages
An Islamic State flag is captured in this photo illustration. VOA

It also expanded its definition of terrorism to include not just acts of violence attended to achieve a political or ideological aim, but also attempts at violence, especially when aimed at civilians with the intent to coerce and intimidate. It’s unclear, though, how well enforcement works if the company is still having trouble ridding its platform of well-known extremist organizations’ supporters.

But as the report shows, plenty of material gets through the cracks and gets auto-generated.

The AP story in May highlighted the auto-generation problem, but the new content identified in the report suggests that Facebook has not solved it.

ALSO READ: U.S. Media Industry Going Through A Bad Phase

The report also says that researchers found that many of the pages referenced in the AP report were removed more than six weeks later on June 25, the day before Bickert was questioned for another congressional hearing.

The issue was flagged in the initial SEC complaint filed by the center’s executive director, John Kostyack, that alleges the social media company has exaggerated its success combatting extremist messaging.

“Facebook would like us to believe that its magical algorithms are somehow scrubbing its website of extremist content,” Kostyack said. “Yet those very same algorithms are auto-generating pages with titles like `I Love Islamic State,’ which are ideal for terrorists to use for networking and recruiting.” (VOA)