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Social Media Companies Accelerating To Remove Online Hate Speech

A law providing for hefty fines for social media companies if they do not remove

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Facebook faces $1.63 bn in EU fine over fresh data breach. VOA
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Social media companies Facebook, Twitter and Google’s YouTube have greatly accelerated their removals of online hate speech, reviewing over two thirds of complaints within 24 hours, new EU figures show.

The European Union has piled pressure on social media firms to increase their efforts to fight the proliferation of extremist content and hate speech on their platforms, even threatening them with legislation.

Microsoft, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube signed a code of conduct with the EU in May 2016 to review most complaints within a 24-hour timeframe.

The companies managed to meet that target in 81 percent of cases, EU figures seen by Reuters show, compared with 51 percent in May 2017 when the European Commission last monitored their compliance with the code of conduct.

EU Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova has said previously she does not want to see a removal rate of 100 percent as that could impinge on free speech. She has also said she is not in favor of legislating as Germany has done.

Social Media Companies Accelerating To Remove Online Hate Speech
Social Media Companies Accelerating To Remove Online Hate Speech, VOA

A law providing for hefty fines for social media companies if they do not remove hate speech quickly enough went into force in Germany this year.

“I do not hide that I am not in favor of hard regulation because the freedom of speech for me is almost absolute,” Jourova told reporters in December.

“In case of doubt it should remain online because freedom of expression is [in a] privileged position.”

Of the hate speech flagged to the companies, almost half of it was found on Facebook, the figures show, while 24 percent was on YouTube and 26 percent on Twitter.

The most common ground for hatred identified by the Commission was ethnic origins, followed by anti-Muslim hatred and xenophobia, including expressions of hatred against migrants and refugees.

Following pressure from several European governments, social media companies stepped up their efforts to tackle extremist content online, including through the use of artificial intelligence.

The Twitter app is seen on a mobile phone in Philadelphia, April 26, 2017
The Twitter app is seen on a mobile phone in Philadelphia, April 26, 2017, VOA

Also read: Social media use may affect teenagers’ real life relationship

The Commission will likely issue a recommendation, a soft law instrument, on how companies should take down extremist content related to militant groups at the end of February, an official said, as it is less nuanced than hate speech and needs to be taken offline more quickly. (VOA)

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Google Holds on a Project To Build Glucose-Sensing Contact Lens

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Google halts project to build glucose-sensing contact lens. Pixabay

Google’s parent company Alphabet has put on hold a project to build glucose-sensing contact lens for people living with diabetes due to unsatisfactory results from clinical work.

The aim of the project was to turn contact lens into a cutting-edge medical device that could measure blood glucose levels through detection of glucose level in tears.

For the project Google’s health-tech arm Verily entered into a partnership with Alcon, Novartis’ eye-care division, in 2014.

“Our clinical work on the glucose-sensing lens demonstrated that there was insufficient consistency in our measurements of the correlation between tear glucose and blood glucose concentrations to support the requirements of a medical device,” Brian Otis, Chief Technical Officer at Verily, wrote in a blog post on Friday.

In part, this was associated with the challenges of obtaining reliable tear glucose readings in the complex on-eye environment.

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

“For example, we found that interference from biomolecules in tears resulted in challenges in obtaining accurate glucose readings from the small quantities of glucose in the tear film.

“In addition, our clinical studies have demonstrated challenges in achieving the steady state conditions necessary for reliable tear glucose readings,” Otis added.

Also Read- Microsoft Turns Off Ads in Windows 10 Email App

The Google health-tech arm will continue to work on a smart accommodating contact lens for presbyopia and a smart intraocular lens for improving sight following cataract surgery, Otis said.

Besides Google, several other technology companies have also launched their healthcare initiatives, including Apple which introduced heart-monitoring features in the Apple Watch. (IANS)