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Efforts of Google And Facebook to Tackle Dark Ads on Ireland’s Referendum Not Successful

Yet screenshots sent to TRI from voters in Ireland after that announcement showed ads continuing to appear on Google's platform.

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Tweeters unable to automatically save tweets to facebook. Pixabay
Tweeters unable to automatically save tweets to facebook. Pixabay
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Attempts by Facebook and Google to tackle “dark ads” and foreign interference in the run-up to Ireland’s referendum on abortion have not been entirely successful, data from a transparency group seen by CNN has shown.

Ireland’s abortion laws — some of the most restrictive in the developed world — are enshrined in the eighth amendment to the country’s constitution, which places an unborn child’s right to life on equal footing with that of the mother.

On May 25, Ireland will vote to repeal or retain the amendment.

The Transparent Referendum Initiative (TRI), a volunteer organisation set up to monitor social-media posts about the referendum has collected ads from 180 Facebook groups targeting the Irish voters.

Facebook announced it would ban all ads from foreign groups on May 8, and said: “We understand the sensitivity of this campaign and will be working hard to ensure neutrality at all stages.

“We are an open platform for people to express ideas and views on both sides of a debate. Our goal is simple: to help ensure a free, fair and transparent vote on this important issue.”

Attempts by Facebook and Google to tackle "dark ads" and foreign interference in the run-up to Ireland's referendum on abortion have not been entirely successful, data from a transparency group seen by CNN has shown.
Google an Facebook are fighting dark ads relating to Ireland’s Referendum. IANS

But the TRI data shows that out of around 200 new ads related to the vote since that announcement, at least 31 per cent have been administered at least in part by page managers outside Ireland, CNN reported.

Google also announced it would not accept any political ads on any side of the campaign last week. “Following our update around election integrity efforts globally, we have decided to pause all ads related to the Irish referendum on the Eighth Amendment,” a statement read.

Yet screenshots sent to TRI from voters in Ireland after that announcement showed ads continuing to appear on Google’s platform.

One week after Google said it would “pause all ads related to the Irish referendum on the Eighth Amendment”, some ads were still appearing in those searches.

 

Google said they had “taken action” after being showed this ad.

Irish law bans foreign citizens and groups from making donations to campaign groups and prohibits political ads on television or radio broadcasts during campaigns, CNN said.

The ad bans do not extend online or on social, meaning anyone is open to buying an ad on platforms like Facebook or Google. (IANS)

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Students Get Amazon Alexa – Electronic Voice-Controlled Assistants in University Campus Housing

It is a good idea for students to get as much experience as possible with the voice assistants to improve their development skills and prepare for future jobs.

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The Alexa Echo Dot devices include the official Saint Louis University logo and are equipped with specific skills to provide information on local events and campus life. VOA
The Alexa Echo Dot devices include the official Saint Louis University logo and are equipped with specific skills to provide information on local events and campus life. VOA

One American university is putting Amazon-electronic voice-controlled assistants in every student housing room on campus.

Saint Louis University recently announced it will equip every student living space with Amazon’s Alexa system. The school in St. Louis, Missouri, will place about 2,300 Echo Dot “smart” devices in all student dorms and other university housing.

Officials said the university will be the first in the world to put the devices in every student living space. The devices and the Alexa service are being provided at no costs to students.

The Amazon Echo is a speaker with the ability to listen and “talk” to users and can perform some operations. The Alexa assistant competes with similar systems made by Google and Apple.

Devices linked to the systems have become increasingly popular in homes in recent years. They can be used for things like looking up information, playing music, ordering food or buying things on the internet. The devices can also complete actions in the home. These include turning lights on and off, and controlling systems for heating and cooling and security.

Amazon calls these different tasks Alexa can perform “skills.”

Amazon said in a website post that Saint Louis University chose the Alexa system after carrying out a test program. The program involved the Echo Dot and a device from a competing company. It said the students had a better reaction to the Alexa system.

The Echo Dots will include a special skill developed especially for Saint Louis University. It will provide information and answer questions about local school activities and campus life.

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In this March 2, 2016, file photo, David Limp, Amazon Senior Vice President of Devices, pushes down on an Echo Dot in San Francisco. VOA

Next year, the university plans to add more personalized skills, such as providing information about classes and grades.

The university said it did not increase student tuition to pay for the project. Instead, officials said, it was financed through the school’s general fund, as well as partnerships with Amazon and n-Powered. The company, based in Los Angeles, California, helped develop the parts of the system that are related to Saint Louis University.

David Hakanson is Saint Louis University’s vice president and chief information officer. In announcing the project, he said it will fit well with students who are “highly driven to achieve success in and out of the classroom.”

He added: “Every minute we can save our students from having to search for the information they need online is another minute that they can spend focused on what matters most: their education.”

While the devices are being placed in every university housing space, students do not have to use them. For those wishing not to take part, the school suggests students just remove the devices from their rooms and put them away in a safe place.

Other universities have also experimented with voice-controlled assistants in student living areas.

A year ago, Arizona State University announced a program that provided Echo Dot devices to a special housing area for engineering students. In the program, all engineering students moving into the special housing community were given the choice of receiving an Echo Dot if they wanted one.

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Bhavik Patel, a mechanical engineering senior and peer mentor at Arizona State’s community housing center Tooker House, demonstrates use of an Amazon Echo Dot while working on formulas. VOA

As is the case at Saint Louis University, Arizona State students are able to use the system to get the latest information on university programs and events. However, the Arizona students also have the chance to sign up for classes that teach subjects related specifically to creating new uses for Alexa devices.

Octavio Heredia is a director with Arizona State’s Fulton Schools of Engineering. He said he thinks it is a good idea for students to get as much experience as possible with the voice assistants to improve their development skills and prepare for future jobs.

Also Read: Google Releases ‘Go Edition of Android 9 Pie’

“Once they are familiar with the devices, they are going to want to further develop their own skills and begin integrating that technology – the hardware and the skills – into other projects,” he said. (VOA)