Monday December 10, 2018
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Google Decides to Shut its Social Networking Site Google+

The Google+ vulnerability was discovered at a time that almost coincided with the notorious privacy leakage scandal of the world's largest social media network Facebook

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Google releases Chrome 71, takes aim at deceptive websites. Pixabay
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Internet giant Google has said it is shutting down the consumer version of its own social networking site Google+ due to low usage and a bug discovered in March last year that could leak the data of about half a million of its users.

“The consumer version of Google+ currently has low usage and engagement: 90 percent of Google+ user sessions are less than five seconds,” said Google, which is headquartered in Mountain View in northern California, Xinhua reported.

Google on Monday said it is going to close Google+ in the coming months seven years after it was launched as a social networking site of its own name brand.

The demise of Google+ also came as a result of a bug discovered last year but acknowledged for the first time by Google on Monday, and the flaw in one of its Google+ “People APIs” exposed some private user data to third-party developers, including such information as the occupations, genders, ages, and email addresses of many users.

“We discovered and immediately patched this bug in March 2018,” Google said, but the flaw, which has existed since 2015, could potentially affected up to 500,000 Google+ accounts.

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A Google logo is seen at the company’s headquarters in Mountain View, California, VOA

“Our analysis showed that up to 438 applications may have used this API,” Google said. However, “We found no evidence that any developer was aware of this bug, or abusing the API, and we found no evidence that any Profile data was misused.”

The Google+ vulnerability was discovered at a time that almost coincided with the notorious privacy leakage scandal of the world’s largest social media network Facebook, which has been widely criticized for its failure to protect its users’ private data.

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Facebook has been under heavy scrutiny about its privacy policy after a British data mining firm Cambridge Analytica was accused of illegally accessing the data of 87 million Facebook users without their knowledge.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was summoned to a hearing in US Congress in April this year to explain the firm’s security measures and how it handled users’ privacy. (IANS)

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Google Rolls Out Gender Specific Translation to Reduce Bias

Google said it is also thinking about how to address non-binary gender in translations, though it is not part of this initial launch

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Google starts rolling out gender specific translation to reduce bias. Pixabay

In a bid to reduce gender biases in its translation service, Google has started rolling out a feature that provides feminine and masculine translations for some gender-neutral words on the Google Translate website.

The feature is currently available only for a few languages, although Google plans to bring it to more languages soon.

So one can now translate single words from English to languages like French, Italian, Portuguese, or Spanish. As of now, translations for short phrases and sentences that mention a person in a gender-neutral way is available for the English and Turkish language pair.

“In the future, we plan to extend gender-specific translations to more languages, launch on other Translate surfaces like our iOS and Android apps, and address gender bias in features like query auto-complete,” James Kuczmarski, Product Manager, Google Translate, said in a blog post on Thursday.

Google Translate learns from hundreds of millions of already-translated examples from the web.

Historically, it has provided only one translation for a query, even if the translation could have either a feminine or masculine form.

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A Google logo is seen at the company’s headquarters in Mountain View, California, VOA

So when the model produced one translation, it inadvertently replicated gender biases that already existed.

For example, it would skew masculine for words like “strong” or “doctor,” and feminine for other words, like “nurse” or “beautiful.”

“Now you’ll get both a feminine and masculine translation for a single word – like ‘surgeon’ when translating from English into French, Italian, Portuguese or Spanish,” Kuczmarski said.

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“You’ll also get both translations when translating phrases and sentences from Turkish to English. For example, if you type ‘o bir doktor’ in Turkish, you’ll now get ‘she is a doctor’ and ‘he is a doctor’ as the gender-specific translations,” Kuczmarski said.

The new feature is part of Google’s efforts to promote fairness and reduce bias in Machine Learning.

Google said it is also thinking about how to address non-binary gender in translations, though it is not part of this initial launch. (IANS)