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Social Circles Pose More Risks Online Than Strangers: Microsoft Study

In 2018, a new classification of perpetrators — colleagues and co-workers — accounted for nine per cent of people’s unpleasant interactions online

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While strangers pose the majority of threats online, a new study from tech giant Microsoft says people are now at more risk of being bullied, getting unwanted contact and receiving unwelcome sexual images and messages from immediate family and social circles. The study showed that more than 60 per cent of online risks were sourced from strangers and people whom respondents knew only online.

But, 28 per cent of online risks came from family and friends. The respondents who had met their abuser in real life were almost twice as likely to experience an online risk, said Jacqueline Beauchere, Microsoft Chief Online Safety Officer in a blog post. More disheartening were indications that people were targeted because of their personal characteristics, namely gender, age and physical appearance, Beauchere added.

The commonly experienced hoaxes, scams and fraud risk was led by false and misleading information. Fake news and internet hoaxes were the most common type, far outpacing fake anti-virus scams. Compared to data from 2017, negative experiences from family, friends and acquaintances were up by four per cent, seven per cent and two per cent, respectively.

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Microsoft says people are now at more risk of being bullied, getting unwanted contact and receiving unwelcome sexual images and messages from immediate family and social circles. (Wikimedia commons)

In 2018, a new classification of perpetrators — colleagues and co-workers — accounted for nine per cent of people’s unpleasant interactions online, Beauchere said. Bullying like name-calling, purposeful embarrassment topped the behavioural category, followed by repeated unwanted contact experienced by more than four in 10 respondents.

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In the sexual risk category, receipt of unwelcome sexual imagery and messages dominated, with nearly four in 10 experiencing repeated attempts to start a romantic relationship. The findings are based on attitudes and perceptions of teenagers and adults in 22 countries including India, Canada, France, South Africa, Turkey, the UK, the US and Vietnam, among others, about the online risks they face and how their interactions impact their lives. (IANS)

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Microsoft Employees Decry ‘996’ Chinese Work Culture

The Alibaba Founder Ma has suggested that people in China should work for 72 hours in a week or 12 hours a day for six days

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FILE - Microsoft Corp. signage is seen outside the Microsoft Visitor Center in Redmond, Washington, July 3, 2014. VOA

A group of Microsoft employees has come forward to support Chinese tech workers on the gruelling ‘996’ culture, writing a petition in defence of a trending GitHub repository that is being censored in China.

In a letter written on web-hosting service Github, owned by Microsoft, the employees have asked the company to keep the “996.ICU” GitHub repository uncensored, The Verge reported on Monday.

The repository “996.ICU” is a reference to the working hours that tech workers in China are protesting — 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., six days a week.

The ICU refers to employees who work under these grueling hours, eventually ending up in the Intensive Care Unit at hospitals.

“The “996.ICU” repository was established in March by Chinese tech workers who were protesting extreme overwork,” said the report.

The “996” philosophy has been endorsed by the tech billionaire and Alibaba Founder Jack Ma.

Several local Chinese browsers have already blocked access to 996.ICU, including Tencent, Alibaba, Xiaomi, and Qihoo 360.

Microsoft, that owns GitHub, has not blocked the repository till now.

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A man walks past a Microsoft sign set up for the Microsoft BUILD conference at Moscone Center in San Francisco, April 28, 2015. VOA

“We, the workers of Microsoft and GitHub, support the 996.ICU movement and stand in solidarity with tech workers in China. We know this is a problem that crosses national borders,” wrote employees in the petition.

“Another reason we must take a stand in solidarity with Chinese workers is that history tells us that multinational companies will pit workers against each other in a race to the bottom as they outsource jobs and take advantage of weak labour standards in the pursuit of profit,” they added.

Microsoft workers called on Chinese tech companies to comply with local labour laws, which limit their workers to 40 hours a week.

“We encourage Microsoft and GitHub to keep the 996.ICU GitHub repository uncensored and available to everyone,” they said.

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Since 996.ICU is hosted on GitHub, the repository can’t be blocked at a network level without blocking the entire site, which would be catastrophic to Chinese software developers.

“The ultimate decision of whether to risk China’s GitHub access falls to Microsoft, which so far hasn’t indicated a firm position on the protests,” the report added.

The Alibaba Founder Ma has suggested that people in China should work for 72 hours in a week or 12 hours a day for six days.

“If we find things we like, 996 is not a problem. If you don’t like (your work), every minute is torture,” he said in a blog post. (IANS)