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Facebook’s Helicopter Drone Project Got Grounded: Report

Facebook began Aquila project in 2014. In 2017, the solar-powered drone successfully completed the second full-scale test flight

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Facebook announces hiring of human rights director. Pixabay
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Facebook discontinued last year a small helicopter drone project that could temporarily replace cellular services in emergency situations, The Verge reported.

The project was discontinued a few months after being shown off at the F8 developer conference in May of 2017, said the report on Monday.

“Tether-tenna was a proof of concept project we were evaluating when we discussed it at F8 in early 2017,” a spokesperson for Facebook was quoted as saying.

The idea was to send a helicopter equipped with telecommunications equipment hundreds of metres up in the air to be able to tether to fiber and power lines in places where wireless capacity was compromised due to disaster or other factors.

“It wasn’t something we pursued further as we chose to focus our efforts on continued development and advancement of our Terragraph, millimeter-wave, and HAPS (high altitude platform station) programmes,” the Facebook spokesperson added.

Representational image.
The project was discontinued a few months after being shown off at the F8 developer conference in May of 2017, said the report on Monday. Pixabay

The Tether-tenna is, however, not the only aerial Internet project that Facebook has abandoned in recent times.

In June this year, Facebook announced it decided to abandon its plan to develop high-flying solar-powered drones called Aquila that was aimed to deliver Internet to nearly four billion people in remote parts of the world.

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A high altitude platform station (HAPS) system, Aquila’s mission, according to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, was to connect the world and help people who do not have online access all the opportunities of the Internet.

Facebook began Aquila project in 2014. In 2017, the solar-powered drone successfully completed the second full-scale test flight.

Tether-tenna was a much smaller scale idea compared to Aquila. (IANS)

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Job Seeking Women Sue Facebook For Posting Job Ads Just For Men

It's important to note that online platforms like Facebook are generally not liable for content published by others

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Facebook faces lawsuit for hiding job ads from women. Pixabay

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is suing Facebook on behalf of three women job seekers who accused the social media giant of posting ads that are shown only to men.

The ACLU, along with the Communications Workers of America and the employment law firm Outten & Golden LLP, on Tuesday filed charges with the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against Facebook.

The women job seekers accused Facebook for targeting ads for jobs in male-dominated fields to younger male Facebook users only — excluding all women and non-binary individuals, as well as older male users.

“The case is brought on behalf of three job seekers and the Communications Workers of America, on behalf of a proposed class of millions of job applicants. It alleges that these job advertising practices violate federal civil rights laws prohibiting sex and age discrimination in employment,” Galen Sherwin from ACLU Women’s Rights Project wrote in a blog post.

Facebook requires users to identify their sex in the binary categories of male or female in order to even open an account.

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Facebook, social media. Pixabay

“While users can later change their sex designation and select from among a few dozen options to describe their gender identity, Facebook still requires users to choose gendered pronouns (male, female, or neutral), which it then offers to advertisers for purposes of gender-based ad targeting.

“Facebook delivers the ad accordingly, including a notice that the user is seeing the ad because of their sex,” the ACLU said.

The lawsuit claimed that Facebook let 10 employers, including a police department, to run advertisements excluding women and nonbinary users.

Facebook responded to the allegations, saying there is no place for discrimination on Facebook.

“It’s strictly prohibited in our policies, and over the past year, we’ve strengthened our systems to further protect against misuse,” Download reported, quoting a Facebook spokesperson.

Facebook is “reviewing the complaint and look forward to defending our practices,” the spokesperson added.

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Facebook App on a smartphone device. (VOA)

According to the ACLU, Facebook also offers advertisers the ability to use what it calls “Lookalike Targeting,” which allows advertisers to target customers with traits similar to those of their customer base.

It’s important to note that online platforms like Facebook are generally not liable for content published by others.

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“But in this case, Facebook is doing much more than merely publishing content created by others. It has built the architecture for this discriminatory marketing framework, enabled and encouraged advertisers to use it, and delivered the gender-based ads according to employers’ sex-based preferences,” the ACLU emphasised.

Facebook must change its platform to prevent advertisers from exploiting user data for discriminatory purposes, and ensure once and for all that all users, regardless of gender, race, age, or other protected status, are given a fair shake, said the ACLU. (IANS)