Google Deploys 10,000 Staff To Police YouTube

Google is to deploy a staff of 10,000 to hunt down extremist content on its YouTube platform following recent criticism, the video-sharing site’s chief executive told Britain’s Daily Telegraph Tuesday.

Susan Wojcicki admitted in the broadsheet that “bad actors” had used the website to “mislead, manipulate, harass or even harm.”

British Prime Minister Theresa May has put pressure on internet giants to root out online radical material following a spate of terror attacks, while YouTube last week pulled 150,000 videos of children after lewd comments about them were posted by viewers.

Wojcicki claimed that her company had developed “computer-learning” technology to identify extremist videos, and that it could also be used to identify content that risked children’s safety.

“We will continue the growth of our teams, with the goal of bringing the total number of people across Google working to address content that might violate our policies to over 10,000 in 2018.”

Last week’s move to take down suspect content came after a British newspaper reported that ads for big-name brands were displayed alongside videos of children or teens which, while innocent on their own, drew viewer comments that seemed paedophilic in nature.

Media reports indicate the situation made advertisers skittish, with some halting YouTube advertising.

AFP

Google Tracks Your Every Move, Even When You Disable Devices

A Quartz investigation has reported Google admitting to collecting Android users’ locations even when devices are disabled.

Since the beginning of 2017, Android phones have been collecting the addresses of nearby cellular towers and sending the data to Google’s system, according to a Google spokesperson.

Therefore Google has access to data about individuals’ locations and movements, even when their phones are turned off or disconnected from the Internet, which violates the privacy of smartphone users.

The spokesperson said the collected data was never used or stored and promised that by the end of November, Android phones would no longer send cellular tower location data to Google.

“It seems quite intrusive for Google to be collecting such information that is only relevant to carrier networks when there are no SIM card or enabled services,’’ Matthew Hickey, a security expert and researcher, told media in London.

 

 

Google Celebrates Late Chinua Achebe’s 87th Birthday

Google honored Late Chinua Achebe on what would have been his 87th birthday with a Google doodle. Doodles are changes made to the Google logo to celebrate holidays, anniversaries, and the lives of famous artists, pioneers, and scientists.

Achebe is considered as one of the greatest writers in Africa in his generation. His best-known novel Things Fall Apart is one of the most read books in the world and has been translated into more than 50 languages, with over 10 million copies sold, according to The Economist.

The book told of Achebe’s Igbo earliest encounter with British colonizers in the 1800s — the first time the story of European colonialism had been told from an African viewpoint to an international audience. He later turned his sights on the devastation wrought to Nigeria and Africa by military coups and entrenched dictatorship.

Anthills of the Savannah, published in 1987, is set after a coup in a fictional African country, where power has corrupted and state brutality silenced all but the most courageous. His other novels include No Longer at EaseArrow of God and A Man of the People. He also published collections of short stories, children books poems and influential essays Achebe won The Man Booker International Prize in 2007 and the Commonwealth poetry prize for his collection Christmas in Biafra.

In 1990, a car accident confined him to a wheelchair. This forced his move to the United States, where he said he could get best medical attention.

“I need to know that if I went to a pharmacist, the medicine there would be the drug that the bottle says it is,” he said in 2007.

Before his death on March 21, 2013, at the age of 82, Achebe rejected Nigerian national honours twice — first in 2004, and later in 2011.

“For some time now I have watched events in Nigeria with alarm and dismay,” Achebe wrote in 2004.

“I have watched particularly the chaos in my own state of Anambra where a small clique of renegades, openly boasting its connections in high places, seems determined to turn my homeland into a bankrupt and lawless fiefdom.

I am appalled by the brazenness of this clique and the silence, if not connivance, of the presidency … Nigeria’s condition today under your watch is, however, too dangerous for silence. I must register my disappointment and protest by declining to accept the high honour awarded me in the 2004 honours list.”

 

Google Introduces Health Knowledge Panel

Internet search engine, Google, on Monday, announced the launch of its health knowledge panels in Nigeria.

Google Vice President of Product Management, Mrs Tamar Yehoshua, made this known in a statement in Lagos.

Yehoshua stated that the health knowledge panels would appear at the top of any health-related search result.

According to her, it will provide a snapshot of the condition, symptoms and treatment of more than 800 commonly searched health conditions.

She added that “Google is where most people turn to when they have health questions. In fact, one out of 20 Google searches is for health-related information.

“With this in mind, Google developed its health knowledge panel, which is now available in 20 countries in Africa, including Nigeria.

“The health knowledge panels are available on both mobile and desktop, and cover over 800 health conditions created to display facts for health problems and symptoms based on peoples’ search interests.

“Nigerians are turning to Google Search to find answers to a variety of topics ranging from health, finance, as well as entertainment, sports and other issues of national interest.

“In fact, Search growth in Nigeria has been accelerating and has been recently outpacing the global growth average, proof that Google Search has become an important information destination for the people,” she said.

“We collaborated with a team of medical experts from institutions such as University of Ibadan and Mayo Clinic in the U.S.

“The collaboration is to ensure that gathered facts represent real-life clinical knowledge from health institutions and experts around the world.”

Yehoshua said Google had earlier announced plans to launch a number of new features like health searches and Google posts.

Others are sports searches for users of Google search in Nigeria at the “Google for Nigeria conference in July.”

She noted that though the health card feature was intended for informational purposes only, users were advised to consult a medical professional regarding actual health concerns.

The World’s Most Valuable Resource Is No Longer Oil, But Data

A new commodity spawns a lucrative, fast-growing industry, prompting antitrust regulators to step in to restrain those who control its flow. A century ago, the resource in question was oil. Now similar concerns are being raised by the giants that deal in data, the oil of the digital era. These titans—Alphabet (Google’s parent company), Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft—look unstoppable. They are the five most valuable listed firms in the world. Their profits are surging: they collectively racked up over $25bn in net profit in the first quarter of 2017. Amazon captures half of all dollars spent online in America. Google and Facebook accounted for almost all the revenue growth in digital advertising in America last year.

Such dominance has prompted calls for the tech giants to be broken up, as Standard Oil was in the early 20th century. This newspaper has argued against such drastic action in the past. Size alone is not a crime. The giants’ success has benefited consumers. Few want to live without Google’s search engine, Amazon’s one-day delivery or Facebook’s newsfeed. Nor do these firms raise the alarm when standard antitrust tests are applied. Far from gouging consumers, many of their services are free (users pay, in effect, by handing over yet more data). Take account of offline rivals, and their market shares look less worrying. And the emergence of upstarts like Snapchat suggests that new entrants can still make waves.

But there is cause for concern. Internet companies’ control of data gives them enormous power. Old ways of thinking about competition, devised in the era of oil, look outdated in what has come to be called the “data economy” (see Briefing). A new approach is needed.

Quantity has a quality all its own

What has changed? Smartphones and the internet have made data abundant, ubiquitous and far more valuable. Whether you are going for a run, watching TV or even just sitting in traffic, virtually every activity creates a digital trace—more raw material for the data distilleries. As devices from watches to cars connect to the internet, the volume is increasing: some estimate that a self-driving car will generate 100 gigabytes per second. Meanwhile, artificial-intelligence (AI) techniques such as machine learning extract more value from data. Algorithms can predict when a customer is ready to buy, a jet-engine needs servicing or a person is at risk of a disease. Industrial giants such as GE and Siemens now sell themselves as data firms.

This abundance of data changes the nature of competition. Technology giants have always benefited from network effects: the more users Facebook signs up, the more attractive signing up becomes for others. With data there are extra network effects. By collecting more data, a firm has more scope to improve its products, which attracts more users, generating even more data, and so on. The more data Tesla gathers from its self-driving cars, the better it can make them at driving themselves—part of the reason the firm, which sold only 25,000 cars in the first quarter, is now worth more than GM, which sold 2.3m. Vast pools of data can thus act as protective moats.

Access to data also protects companies from rivals in another way. The case for being sanguine about competition in the tech industry rests on the potential for incumbents to be blindsided by a startup in a garage or an unexpected technological shift. But both are less likely in the data age. The giants’ surveillance systems span the entire economy: Google can see what people search for, Facebook what they share, Amazon what they buy. They own app stores and operating systems, and rent out computing power to startups. They have a “God’s eye view” of activities in their own markets and beyond. They can see when a new product or service gains traction, allowing them to copy it or simply buy the upstart before it becomes too great a threat. Many think Facebook’s $22bn purchase in 2014 of WhatsApp, a messaging app with fewer than 60 employees, falls into this category of “shoot-out acquisitions” that eliminate potential rivals. By providing barriers to entry and early-warning systems, data can stifle competition.

Who ya gonna call, trustbusters?

The nature of data makes the antitrust remedies of the past less useful. Breaking up a firm like Google into five Googlets would not stop network effects from reasserting themselves: in time, one of them would become dominant again. A radical rethink is required—and as the outlines of a new approach start to become apparent, two ideas stand out.

The first is that antitrust authorities need to move from the industrial era into the 21st century. When considering a merger, for example, they have traditionally used size to determine when to intervene. They now need to take into account the extent of firms’ data assets when assessing the impact of deals. The purchase price could also be a signal that an incumbent is buying a nascent threat. On these measures, Facebook’s willingness to pay so much for WhatsApp, which had no revenue to speak of, would have raised red flags. Trustbusters must also become more data-savvy in their analysis of market dynamics, for example by using simulations to hunt for algorithms colluding over prices or to determine how best to promote competition (see Free exchange).

The second principle is to loosen the grip that providers of online services have over data and give more control to those who supply them. More transparency would help: companies could be forced to reveal to consumers what information they hold and how much money they make from it. Governments could encourage the emergence of new services by opening up more of their own data vaults or managing crucial parts of the data economy as public infrastructure, as India does with its digital-identity system, Aadhaar. They could also mandate the sharing of certain kinds of data, with users’ consent—an approach Europe is taking in financial services by requiring banks to make customers’ data accessible to third parties.

Rebooting antitrust for the information age will not be easy. It will entail new risks: more data sharing, for instance, could threaten privacy. But if governments don’t want a data economy dominated by a few giants, they will need to act soon.

Source: The Economist

FaceBook, Google Lose $123m to Scammer

The Court of Appeal of Lithuania has decided to extradite to the United States a Lithuanian scam artist identified as Evaldas Rimasauskas, who conned $123 million out of FaceBook and Google by sending fake emails.

“Assumption that the damage was done to the companies registered in the United States became the ground for the extradition of Rimasauskas,” the court said in a press release on Friday.

The decision to extradite the scammer was irrevocable, the court said.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York accused Rimasauskas of wire transfer fraud, aggravated identity theft and money laundering, news agency Elta reported.

It is alleged that Rimasauskas took part in the scam using e-mail correspondence and posed as an Asian computer hardware manufacturer to persuade Google and FaceBook to accept fraudulent invoices and transfer funds to the company established under the same name in Latvia.

The funds were transferred to the latter company’s accounts in banks in Cyprus and Latvia.

The court underlined it has not been assessing the circumstances of the crime and the proof of guilt as it “should trust the information provided by the judicial authority of the country which applied for the extradition.”

Rimasauskas is suspected to have conned 23 million dollars from Google and 100 million dollars from FaceBook.

He was detained in Lithuania on March 16. On April 18, the Prosecutor General’s Office of Lithuania received the U.S. Justice Department’s request to extradite the suspect.

Rimasauskas has denied the charges.

Meanwhile, the attorney of Rimasauskas claimed that the investigation of the suspected crime must take place in Lithuania as the allegedly criminal actions were carried out within the country, local media reported.

Lithuania has a bilateral extradition agreement with the United States and this case “meets all the criteria”, the chairman of the court underlined.

Google To Train 10 Million Africans

Google global Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Sundar Pichai, disclosed at the Google for Nigerian event in lagos, that aside from the special provision of mobile developer training to 100,000 Africans to develop world-class apps, Google, has mapped out plans to get 10 million people in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) trained, and have access to Information and Communications Technology (ICT) facilities in the next five years.

Pichai further said the firm’s charitable arm, Google.org, is committing $20 million over the next five years to nonprofits that are working to improve lives across Africa.

“We’re giving $2.5 million in initial grants to the non-profit arms of African start-ups, Gidi Mobile, and Siyavula, to provide free access to learning for 400,000 low-income students in South Africa and Nigeria. The grantees will also develop new digital learning materials that will be free for anyone to use.

“We also want to invite nonprofits from across the continent to share their ideas for how they could impact their community and beyond. So we’re launching a Google.org Impact Challenge in Africa in 2018 to award $5million in grants. Any eligible non-profit in Africa can apply, and anyone will be able to help select the best ideas by voting online,” Pichai stated.

The Google CEO said the ICT firm wants to do more to support African entrepreneurs in building successful technology companies and products.

According to him, based on Google’s global Launch-pad Accelerator programme, this initiative will provide more than $3million in equity-free funding, mentorship, working space and access to expert advisers to more than 60 African start-ups over three years. Intensive three-month programs, held twice per year, will run out of a new Google Launchpad Space in Lagos—the programme’s first location outside of the United States.

“For people to take advantage of digital opportunities, acquiring the right skills and tools is only part of the equation. Online products and services—including ours—also need to work better in Africa. Today, we’re sharing news about how we’re making YouTube, Search and Maps more useful and relevant for Nigerian users,” he stated.

He revealed that Lagos is now on Street View in Google Maps. Also, the firm has improved its address search experience in Lagos, by adding thousands of new addresses and streets, outlines of more than a million buildings in commercial and residential areas, and more than 100,000 additional Nigerian small businesses on Google Maps.

“Today we’re launching Lagos on Street View, with 10,000 kilometres of imagery, including the most important historic roads in the city. You can virtually drive along the Carter Bridge to the National Stadium, or across the Eko Bridge, down to the Marina—all on your smartphone.”

Meanwhile, the Federal Government said it will avail itself of the opportunity being provided by global organisations like Google, to train the teaming technology savvy youths in various ICT capacity development deployed by Google. This, it said, will further open up the accessibility of turning around the nation’s economy and making ICT the main stay.

Communications Minister, Adebayo Shittu, in a goodwill message at the event, said Nigeria as a nation has so much more to learn and gain from the digital revolution being championed by Google.

The minister commending the commitment of Google Nigeria to implementing ambitious reforms and bringing about macroeconomic stability in the context of the country’s ongoing Smart Digital Nigeria transition process, saying such efforts are bearing tangible results, and have laid the foundation for a credible path to fiscal sustainability and collaboration.

He added that Google, being one of the tech giants in computing and the web has been at the centre of this digital penetration, with the popularity of its open platforms, powering lots of smartphones with android and other digital tools.

“A lot has changed in Nigeria since the huge wave of Internet and mobile adoption globally. Today, access to smart phones and the web is growing. Indeed, there are about 149 million mobile subscribers and 97 million internet users, 76 per cent of them can access the internet on their phones.

“The growth in adoption of these trends amongst Nigerians presents huge opportunities for businesses which is important for Government’s ambition on economic diversification. However, only a small number of Individuals and enterprises are currently taking full advantage of new digital opportunities available,” Shittu stated.