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Over 200 black bears killed in US

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Miami: More than 200 black bears were killed in the first day of an authorised hunt in Florida, a state where hunting the animals was banned for 21 years, officials said.

A total of 207 bears were killed on Saturday, the first day of the seven-day season, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, or FWC, said on Sunday.

Hunters killed nearly two-thirds of the maximum of 320 black bears authorised by the FWC for the entire state of Florida in just one day.

The limits were reached in two of the four districts approved for hunting in the first day of the hunt and no more bears would be allowed to be killed in those areas.

Hunting will continue on Sunday in the southern and northern parts of the state.

Environmentalists and animal rights groups oppose the planned hunt, which the FWC justified on the grounds that black bears had become a nuisance in many areas, attacking people and pets, and scavenging for food around homes.

The FWC said hunting would be allowed for at least two days, with officials evaluating the results on the third day before deciding whether to continue or call off the one-week hunt.

Officials estimate that about 3,100 bears live in Florida, with the animals moving into areas where they did not have a presence in the past.

Some 1,900 hunters obtained permits from the FWC, raising concerns among environmentalists that the hunt would get out of control.

The permits, which allow hunters to kill only one bear, cost just $100 for Florida residents and $300 for non-residents.

The hunt will stabilise Florida’s bear population, which was nearly wiped out in the 20th century and has recovered from about 300 animals in 1974 to 3,100 today, making the big predators a conservation success story, the FWC said.

Conservation groups and animal rights organisations criticised the hunt but were unable to keep the 1994 ban on bear hunting in place.

(IANS)

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Facebook Urges US Police to Stop Using Fake Accounts

When law enforcement has a written policy of engaging in fake/impersonator law enforcement accounts in violation of Facebook's policies, the social network should add a notification to the agency's page to inform users of the law enforcement policy

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This photograph taken on May 16, 2018, shows a figurine standing in front of the logo of social network Facebook on a cracked screen of a smartphone in Paris. VOA

Facebook should take new steps, including issuance of alerts to users, to address the proliferation of fake accounts operated by law enforcement agencies in the US, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a digital civil liberties not-for-profit organisation.

A report in the Guardian earlier revealed that the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice) violated Facebook’s guidelines by creating fake profiles on its platform tied to the University of Farmington — a sham institution that left many students, most of them Indians, in detention.

Facebook’s policy prohibits all users, including government agencies, from making fake accounts. But despite this, law enforcement agencies created fake accounts to spy on users, EFF said.

Police departments in Ohio, New York, Georgia and Nebraska said they had policies allowing investigators to use aliases and undercover profiles on social media, the Guardian reported on Monday.

“Facebook’s practice of taking down these accounts when they learn about them from the press (or from EFF) is insufficient to deter what we believe is a much larger iceberg beneath the surface,” EFF’s Senior Investigative Researcher Dave Maass wrote in a blogpost.

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Facebook’s founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks at the Viva Tech start-up and technology summit in Paris, France, May 24, 2018. VOA

“We often only discover the existence of law enforcement fake profiles months, if not years, after an investigation has concluded,” Maass said.

In addition to suspending fake accounts, Facebook should publish data on the number of fake/impersonator law enforcement accounts identified, what agencies they belonged to, and what action was taken, EFF said.

According to EFF, when a fake/impersonator account is identified, Facebook should alert the users and groups that interacted with the account whether directly or indirectly.

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Facebook should further amend its “Amended Terms for Federal, State and Local Governments in the United States” to make it explicitly clear that, by agreeing to the terms, the agency was agreeing not to operate fake/impersonator profiles on the platform, Maass said.

When law enforcement has a written policy of engaging in fake/impersonator law enforcement accounts in violation of Facebook’s policies, the social network should add a notification to the agency’s page to inform users of the law enforcement policy, Maass said. (IANS)

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