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If the Cobrapost investigation which revealed that several Bollywood celebrities were willing to pass views of political parties as personal opinion for money shook your conscience, but there is not much that you could do to restrict them from doing so because the relevant Indian law is silent on this matter.
The investigation revealed that more than 30 Indian film and TV industry actors/artistes agreed to spread the propaganda of political parties through their social media accounts for money.
“Taking money for tweeting on behalf of political parties is definitely unethical, but it is not illegal. The Information Technology Act, 2000 is completely silent on this,” Pavan Duggal, one of the nation’s top cyber law experts, told IANS.
What the investigation unearthed was just the tip of the iceberg. The rise in popularity of social media platforms actually opened up a relatively new advertising economy driven by “influencer marketing”.
Marketing firm Mediakix estimated that influencer marketing on Instagram alone could reach $2 billion by the end of this year from $1 billion in 2017.
While Instagram has over a billion monthly active users globally, its parent company Facebook has over 2.3 billion monthly active users and over 16 million people log in to Twitter every day. WhatsApp is another powerful platform which has over 200 million users in India.
The kind of reach that these social media platforms have can offer some idea about how big the influencer marketing business could be. Important here to mention is that it is not just celebrities who are the stars in this game.
While celebrities with huge following running into millions on social media are known as macro influencers, even some people with small number of followers can earn big sum of money as influencers. They are known as micro influencers.
With a wide array of social media analytics tool available online it is not even difficult to spot the right influencers for their advertising programmes.
“In the starting, celebrities were used as influencers for brand endorsement and marketing purposes, however, after social media, now everyone is a celebrity and everything is business including politics,” social media expert Anoop Mishra said.
In countries like the US, it is mandatory to put proper disclosure on paid posts. But only a few follow the rules.
In India, due to lack of user awareness, it is even more difficult distinguish between a paid post and personal opinion.
With the elections coming, political parties are not complaining much. A top WhatsApp executive recently even warned political parties against abusing its platform.
“More than 10,000 official WhatsApp groups have been created by a leading political party to slam its rivals on social media,” Mishra said.
“Political discourse is going to be impacted by social media influencers. There is no two opinion about it,” Duggal said, adding that the consequences of this can be very serious as social media platforms are being used to create a highly-polarised atmosphere in the country.
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Just as social media companies have come up with transparency rules for political ads, they should have similar features for influencers so that people can distinguish between commercial space and personal space.
“Manipulation of social media platform for personal gain must be brought under the ambit of law without putting barriers on free speech,” Duggal added. (IANS)
By- Tejas Maheta
Free VPNs tend to get a bad rap (and often for good reasons, which we'll discuss in a second). Still, there are some safe and free VPN services recommended by expats - just click the link for some solid options. Next, scroll on to see how you can put them to good use while you're abroad.
Privacy and Security (to a Certain Degree)
One of the main purposes of a VPN is to encrypt your network traffic – garble it, basically – to keep it safe from:
- ISPs that want to sell your browsing and location data for a profit
- Hackers and script kiddies lurking at every corner public hotspot
- Government surveillance agencies spying on their own citizens
Even free VPNs can do as much, as long as you go with a trustworthy provider such as those linked at the start.
On top of that, VPNs hide your real life location by masking your IP address and assigning a new one based on the server you connect to. Useful in case some cyberstalkers or trolls lure you into clicking on IP-grabbing links or scripts to determine your location. Unfortunately, it's not as effective against GPS tracking (though there are some paid VPNs out there that can spoof GPS).
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Unblock Some Websites While Abroad
While not as versatile as a subscription-based VPN, free VPNs still have some unblocking ability that can be useful to an expat. For instance, you can access your home banking or investment accounts, which in most cases block foreign traffic. Understandably so, since a lot of cyber attacks tend to be linked to international hacker networks.
Using a VPN also allows you to access small news sites from back home, who simply don't find it worth it to comply with GDPR regulations in the EU. Alternatively, you can set your virtual location outside the EU to get around all those annoying cookie consent pop-ups. Funny little side effect, but it can definitely save you some grey hairs while browsing.
Finally, free VPNs can unblock some content such as region-locked music videos, or age-restricted YouTube videos in the EU without having to give up your ID or credit card information to Google. You won't have much luck using free VPNs on content platforms like Netflix, though. Those of you looking to bypass geo-restrictions on streaming sites are better off using a sub-based VPN.
One of the main purposes of a VPN is to encrypt your network traffic.Wikipedia
Bypass Firewalls and Censorship
VPNs sure seem like a master thief's skeleton key, don't they? So many Internet barriers out there, all of them nullified with the help of a single tool. And yes, they can easily get around firewalls as well.
For the most part, you'll be using a VPN to unblock social media and other "distractions" at work or at school. Believe it or not, airport and hotel Wi-Fi can be pretty restrictive too. Thankfully, VPNs make short work of their firewall rules.
And while not as effective as a paid option, free VPNs can also help during Internet blackouts caused by government censorship. Look no further than the recent Hong Kong protests, the frequent social media shutdowns in Turkey, and similar cases worldwide. All of these have one thing in common: free VPN usage shot up immensely as people sought ways to contact their loved ones or post their outrage online.
Why the Negative View of Free VPNs?
You've seen all the great things you can accomplish with a free VPN. So why all the bad press about them? Well, here are some fairly valid concerns that apply to a decent chunk of free providers:
- They sell user data – after all, they need to pay for operational costs somehow. It just so happens that advertisers find your browsing habits highly valuable.
- Several free VPNs based in Hong Kong breached their "no-logs" policies and ended up leaking 1.2 TB of user data online. This isn't an uncommon occurrence, considering the data harvesting practices of most free VPNs.
- They can infect your device with malware that can extract sensitive info or otherwise cause damage. In one major case, user devices were hijacked into a botnet and used in a large scale denial-of-service attack.
Other criticisms are directed at their data caps, slow performance, the small number of overcrowded servers, and the bandwidth throttling. Add to that the fact that they don't unblock region-specific Netflix libraries or other streaming sites, and you can see why people aren't too thrilled about them.
Still, if you're not looking for anything fancy, a free VPN should tide you over until you can fit an actual subscription into your budget. Just stick to the trusty VPNs we've linked to in the beginning.
Disclaimer: (This article is sponsored and include some commercial links)
The Cupertino-based tech giant Apple has started rolling out iOS 12.5.5 to older models of the iPhone and iPad. "This update provides important security updates and is recommended for all users," Apple said in the release notes for iOS 12.5.5.
The update is available for the iPad Air, the iPad mini 2, and iPad mini 3, as well as the 6th gen iPod touch, iPhone 5s, iPhone 6, and iPhone 6 Plus. All of these devices were dropped from support with iOS 13. The iOS 12.5.5 update addresses issues related to maliciously crafted PDFs, web content, and apps.
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Apple had previously rolled out iOS 12.5.4 in June with security fixes for WebKit vulnerabilities and other issues. Apple has also started seeded the first betas of iOS 15.1 as well as iPadOS 15.1. After removing SharePlay in iOS 15 beta 2, Apple has re-enabled the feature in the iOS 15.1, iPadOS 15.1, and tvOS 15.1 betas. Apple decided to pull SharePlay from the iOS 15 launch because it was not properly functioning and was still riddled with issues.
It adds features to the Health app like support for storing health-related data for Covid-19 immunisations and test results. With the latest iOS 15.1 Beta, one can now add vaccination cards to the Apple Wallet application. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: Apple, iPhone, iPad, iOS, update
The National Basketball Association (NBA) and Lakme Fashion Week, announced a collaboration to celebrate "NBA 75" the leagues landmark 75th Anniversary Season in 2021-22. As part of the collaboration, the NBA and Lakme Fashion Week will offer fashion designers from across India the opportunity to submit designs for an "NBA 75" collection. Select designs will be evaluated by a panel comprised of fashion designers, industry experts and local influencers, with the winning designer announced at the upcoming October edition of Lakme Fashion Week.
The winner will then be mentored by a leading fashion expert and will work alongside the NBA on a capsule collection to commemorate NBA 75. The NBA 75 range, which will include jerseys, t-shirts, headwear, sweatpants, hoodies, jackets and other apparel, will be unveiled at Lakme Fashion Week in March 2022.
"We are excited to collaborate with Lakme Fashion Week and offer Indian designers the chance to express their vision in celebration of NBA 75," said NBA Asia Executive Vice President & Managing Director Scott Levy. "The NBA and its players are synonymous with fashion and culture, and this friendly competition will showcase the talent and passion that Indian designers have for basketball and the NBA during our landmark 75th Anniversary Season." The collection will be available for purchase after the event on the NBAStore.in and at select retail destinations. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: NBA, Lakme, beauty, basketball, Lakme fashion week