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Instagram ousting fake followers from accounts

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Instagram ousting fake followers from accounts

Instagram on Monday said it is booting fake followers, likes, and comments generated by applications tailored to make accounts appear more popular than they actually are.

The crackdown comes as Instagram parent Facebook strives to assure people that the leading social network and its services can be trusted.

“Recently, we’ve seen accounts use third-party apps to artificially grow their audience,” Instagram said in a blog post.

“Starting today, we will begin removing inauthentic likes, follows and comments from accounts that use third-party apps to boost their popularity.”

Instagram is using self-improving software programs to help identify accounts that use such apps and purge products of inauthentic activity, which violates terms of service at the service.

Instagram said it would notify users about removed likes, follows, or comments.

People who unknowingly linked to an offending app need only change passwords to sever connections, according to the photo and video sharing social network.

Instagram users who continue to use such third-party apps possibly seeing their “experience impacted,” but the service did not specify in what ways.

The announcement comes amid growing concerns about Facebook’s efforts to curb misinformation and manipulation.

Facebook has faced renewed criticism following a New York Times investigation suggesting it ignored warnings about Russian influence campaigns on its platform and then used a consulting firm to discredit critics of the social network.

Twitter has made similar efforts to root out inauthentic accounts, resulting in declines in the number of followers for some users.

AFP

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ICT / e-World

YouTube superstar banned for life from Fortnite for cheating

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A YouTube gamer with more than two million subscribers has been banned from playing Fortnite for life after being found cheating in a game.

FaZe Jarvis, part of the eSports group FaZe Clan, used “aimbots” during a public online match which he was streaming for a YouTube video.

Fortnite maker Epic Games handed him an immediate lifetime ban as punishment, reports Sky News.

He is also banned from attending Fortnite events or creating content around the game.

Jarvis, 17, posted a tearful apology video to his YouTube channel, saying “it didn’t even cross my mind to think that I could be banned for life”.

“This was a huge mistake and was completely wrong on my end,” he said.

Fortnite Battle Royale is a shooter game where users play as a superhero avatar and compete against each other to be the last one standing on a dystopian island.

Aimbots can be used to automatically focus weapons on opponents, making it easier to get kills.

Jarvis, who has more than two million subscribers on his YouTube channel, was not playing competitively when he used the aimbots in the Solos battle royale mode and openly said he was using cheat software in the video.

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Glo records 2m new customers, regains 2nd position

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Glo records 2m new customers, regains 2nd position

National telecommunications operator, Globacom, has emerged the preferred network for 2 million new subscribers in Nigeria in September, the largest in the industry, according to latest statistics released by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).

In the report for September, 2019, Globacom added a record 1,945,846 new subscribers. With the addition, the company’s subscriber base leapt from 47,265,628 in August to 49,211,474, the second largest customer base in the industry.

Airtel, which had briefly occupied the second position in the industry, now has a subscriber base of 48,909,678 at the end of September, after adding 987,787 new customers, representing 50% of Globacom’s new addition within the period under review.  Its figure at the end of the preceding month of August was 47,921,891.  It is now the third largest operator in the country.

The NCC statistics showed that it was only Globacom and Airtel that added new subscribers to their networks, as MTN and 9mobile recorded a decline in active subscriptions for the month.

According to telecom industry sources, Globacom’s record performance in September was buoyed by improved service delivery following continuous upgrade of its infrastructure.

Although MTN remained the largest mobile operator in Nigeria, it lost 379,795 subscribers in the month under review. This brought its total subscriptions down to 65,328,104 from the 65,707,899 it recorded in August.

The fourth mobile operator, 9mobile, lost 268,159 subscribers in September, going down from 15,602,255 in August to 15,334,096 in September.

According to the industry regulator, the number of active mobile users in the country rose from 176.6 million recorded in August to 178.9 million in September.

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Ex-Apple executive joins startup aimed at banishing smartphone cables

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Ex-Apple executive joins startup aimed at banishing smartphone cables

For over 14 years at Apple Inc , Rubén Caballero had to include a cable with every iPhone design whose wireless engineering he oversaw, from the first prototypes in 2005 to iPhone 11 models on shelves now.

Now, as chief wireless strategist for Silicon Valley startup Keyssa Inc, Caballero hopes to cut the cord for good – for all smartphones. His new position has not been previously reported.

Every iPhone since the first released in 2007 has come with a cable as a failsafe way to transfer data, as has virtually every other brand of phone, reports Reuters.

Keyssa wants to end that with its chip that can transfer data nearly as fast as a wire by placing two devices next to each other. Early customer LG Electronics Inc uses the chip to connect the second screen of its LG V50 smart phone.

Wireless charging has taken hold in phones, but wireless data connections like Bluetooth and Wi-Fi remain too finicky to discard cables altogether.

Keyssa has raised more than $100 million from the venture groups at Intel Corp, Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, Foxconn parent Hon Hai Precision Industry Co Ltd and a fund run by Tony Fadell, another former Apple executive who helped create the iPod and then hired Caballero for the original iPhone team.

“Every single consumer product would love to solve the external connector,” Caballero, who left Apple earlier this year, said in an interview at Keyssa’s headquarters in Campbell, California.

Caballero, a retired Canadian Air Force captain who favors all-black attire, also has his eyes on the inside of phones. There, cables cause engineering headaches.

Camera modules connect to main circuit boards with a thin cables. Bend them enough and they break, creating an unintentional “beautiful antenna” that interferes with cellular data connections, Caballero said.

With Keyssa’s chips, camera modules could touch the circuit board to transmit data wirelessly. The chips use high frequencies that cause no interference inside the phone or with nearby devices.

“What’s beautiful about this is the frequency,” Caballero said. “It just fixes a lot of problems.”

Aside from phones, Keyssa is testing chips with video display makers and at least one maker of lidar sensors, the electronic eyes of self-driving cars.

“Ruben is a powerhouse when it comes to commercializing great technology,” Fadell told Reuters.

Caballero brings with him experience overseeing more than 1,000 Apple wireless engineers in a department with a budget of $600 million for testing equipment alone.

Before joining Apple, Caballero worked at two startups and relished the frenzied pace there and during his early days at Apple working with Fadell.

When Fadell brought him to Apple in 2005, Caballero asked where all the test equipment and labs were for the group.

“He said, ‘We don’t have anything, but we’ll get it done,'” Caballero said. “You know when has something in his eyes – you can see the vision. After that, I was hooked. I used to sleep under my desk. When you have that passion, it’s incredible. And I feel it here.”

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China to launch 5G services Friday

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China to launch 5G services Friday

China’s three state telecoms on Thursday announced the roll-out 5G mobile phone services, marking a key step in Beijing’s ambitions to become a technology superpower at a time when it remains locked in trade tensions with Washington.

China Mobile’s, China Unicom and China Telecom’s said on their websites and online stores that 5G plans, which start from as low as 128 yuan a month, will be available from Friday, allowing Chinese consumers nationwide to use the ultra-fast mobile internet service, reports Reuters.

Beijing had originally said it would launch the ultra-fast mobile internet service, which promises to support new features such as autonomous driving, early next year. But it accelerated its plans as tensions with the United States, especially over its boycott of telecoms giant Huawei Technologies, heated up.

“China will have the largest commercial operating 5G network in the world on Friday, and the scale of its network and the price of its 5G services will have a pivotal impact throughout the supply chain,” Bernstein said in a report this week.

Authorities have said that they plan to install over 50,000 5G base stations across 50 Chinese cities in the country by the end of this year, and that big cities, including Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Hangzhou, are already covered by the 5G network.

Chinese companies from Xiaomi to Huawei have also unveiled new products in anticipation of the 5G roll out, with Huawei saying that it anticipates to start seeing a revenue uplift from the sector next year.

Smartphone marker Xiaomi said earlier this month that it plans to launch more than 10 5G phones next year and that there was a fear in the industry that consumers would stop buying 4G models.

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MTN makes N460bn revenue as subscribers hit 61.6m

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MTN makes N460bn revenue as subscribers hit 61.6m

MTN Nigeria on Wednesday, released its quarter three results for the nine months ended September 30, 2019, where it recorded increased Earnings Before Interest, Tax, Depreciation and Amortisation (EBITDA) by 39.3 per cent to N460.1 billion and an increased subscriber number by 0.1 million to reach 61.6 million subscribers on its network.

The report also showed increased active data subscribers by 1.6 million to reach 22.3 million active data users on its network.

According to the Q3 financial report, the telecoms company’s service revenue, however, increased by 12.1 per cent to N854.9 billion, even though EBITDA grew by 39.3 per cent to N460.1 billion. The EBITDA margin increased to 53.7 per cent, while earnings per share rose by 29 per cent to N7.29k, with increased capital expenditure (Capex) by 39.5% to N154.1 billion.

MTN Nigeria CEO, Ferdi Moolman, while analysing the Q3 financial results, said the bottom-line remained strong with growth of 24.0 per cent and 28.9 per cent respectively in profit before and after tax.

According to Moolman: “Our company’s performance is very encouraging, demonstrating the resilience of our business despite a challenging operating environment. We sustained double-digit growth in service revenue led by growth in voice and data revenue.

“We recorded 61.6 million subscribers, representing a 0.1 million increase QoQ. We were required to undertake a SIM re-registration process, which resulted in a disconnection of around 0.6 million active subscribers, limiting base growth.

“During the quarter, we focused on the end-to-end optimisation and repositioning of our data offerings. We made significant investments in accelerating 4G network expansion; and leveraging 800MHz spectrum activated in Q2 2019, we launched enhanced 4G+ services in Lagos, Abuja, and Port-Harcourt.

“We also changed our pricing strategy, placing us in an even stronger competitive position going forward. As a result, we have begun to see promising results with active data subscriber net additions of 1.6 million and 4G population coverage at over 35% in 64 cities. Data traffic volume also increased by over 68 per cent, while data revenue rose by 34.9 per cent year on year.”

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ICT / e-World

Samsung Elec shows off new design for square-folding phone

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Samsung Elec shows off new design for square-folding phone

Samsung Electronics Co Ltd has unveiled a new design for a smartphone that folds into a square, racing ahead in folding devices after it launched its first model in September.

The South Korean tech giant teased youtu.be/AZDl_SP-w9E the new concept on Tuesday at the Samsung Developer Conference 2019 in the United States, reports Reuters.

“The amazing thing with the foldable technology is that it can also become more compact like this,” said Sally Hyesoon Jeong, head of Framework R&D Group at Samsung’s mobile communications, showing the mock-up on a screen behind her.

“Incredible, right?” Jeong said, followed by applause from the floor.

The world’s largest smartphone maker is powering ahead with the launch of 5G phones and $2,000 foldable handsets as it battles rivals Apple Inc and Huawei Technologies Co Ltd in an increasingly saturated market.

Its new design enables the device to fold in half horizontally.

“This brand new form factor we are now exploring not only easily fits in your pocket but it also changes the way you use the phone,” Jeong said.

China’s Huawei started taking orders last week in China for its eagerly awaited foldable smartphone, hoping to make up for weak overseas sales amid U.S. trade sanctions.

Samsung did not provide details about when the square-folding phone would be launched.

“While we can’t comment on future products, Samsung is committed to pioneering the foldable category, including investing in the development of new form factors,” Samsung said in a statement to Reuters.

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Facebook probe by US states expands to 47 attorneys general

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Facebook probe by US states expands to 47 attorneys general

A New York-led probe into allegations that Facebook Inc put consumer data at risk and pushed up advertising rates has expanded to include attorneys general from 47 U.S. states and territories, New York Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement on Tuesday.

The investigation of Facebook announced in September had included Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee and the District of Columbia. It now includes most U.S. states as well as the U.S. territory of Guam, reports Reuters.

Facebook shares closed down 3.9% at $182.34 on Tuesday.

The statement provided a list of states involved in the probe and added that other states “cannot confirm their participation in pending investigations.” California, the largest state by population, was not on the list.

Some states, particularly New York and Nebraska, have raised concerns that Facebook and other big tech companies engage in anti-competitive practices, expose consumer data to potential data theft and push up advertising prices.

Facebook said that its users had multiple choices for the services that the company provides.

“We understand that if we stop innovating, people can easily leave our platform. This underscores the competition we face,” said Will Castleberry, vice president, state and local policy, at Facebook. “We will work constructively with state attorneys general and we welcome a conversation with policymakers about the competitive environment in which we operate.”

Facebook also faces probes by the U.S. Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission, as well as the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee.

The Facebook investigations are part of a larger landscape of probes of big tech firms.

Reuters and others reported in June that the Justice Department and FTC had divided responsibility for the companies being investigated, with the Justice Department taking on Alphabet Inc’s Google and Apple Inc while the FTC looked into Facebook and Amazon.com Inc.

The Justice Department later said it was opening a probe of online platforms, which would include Facebook.

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ICT / e-World

Facebook probe by US states expands to 47 attorneys general

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Facebook probe by US states expands to 47 attorneys general

A New York-led probe into allegations that Facebook Inc put consumer data at risk and pushed up advertising rates has expanded to include attorneys general from 47 U.S. states and territories, New York Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement on Tuesday.

The investigation of Facebook announced in September had included Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee and the District of Columbia. It now includes most U.S. states as well as the U.S. territory of Guam, reports Reuters.

Facebook shares closed down 3.9% at $182.34 on Tuesday.

The statement provided a list of states involved in the probe and added that other states “cannot confirm their participation in pending investigations.” California, the largest state by population, was not on the list.

Some states, particularly New York and Nebraska, have raised concerns that Facebook and other big tech companies engage in anti-competitive practices, expose consumer data to potential data theft and push up advertising prices.

Facebook said that its users had multiple choices for the services that the company provides.

“We understand that if we stop innovating, people can easily leave our platform. This underscores the competition we face,” said Will Castleberry, vice president, state and local policy, at Facebook. “We will work constructively with state attorneys general and we welcome a conversation with policymakers about the competitive environment in which we operate.”

Facebook also faces probes by the U.S. Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission, as well as the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee.

The Facebook investigations are part of a larger landscape of probes of big tech firms.

Reuters and others reported in June that the Justice Department and FTC had divided responsibility for the companies being investigated, with the Justice Department taking on Alphabet Inc’s Google and Apple Inc while the FTC looked into Facebook and Amazon.com Inc.

The Justice Department later said it was opening a probe of online platforms, which would include Facebook.

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ICT / e-World

Mark Zuckerberg on billionaires: ‘No one deserves to have that much money’

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Mark Zuckerberg on billionaires: ‘No one deserves to have that much money’

Mark Zuckerberg, the fifth richest person in the world with many billions of dollars to his name, said he “understands” where Bernie Sanders is coming from when the Democratic presidential candidate says billionaires shouldn’t exist.

“I don’t know if I have an exact threshold on what amount of money someone should have, but on some level no one deserves to have that much money,” the Facebook (FB) CEO said during a town hall event at the company’s headquarters on Thursday in response to an employee question about Sanders’ comments.

Zuckerberg currently has a net worth of nearly $70 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. He has previously pledged to give away 99% of his Facebook shares.

“I think if you do something that’s good, you get rewarded, but I do think some of the wealth that can be accumulated is unreasonable,” he said at the event.

In an unusual move, Zuckerberg decided to livestream the company event after audio from internal meetings conducted in July was leaked and published earlier this week. (He said Thursday that the company believes an intern shared the audio recording.)

“Our internal Q&As at Facebook are one of my favorite traditions, and after the transcript of one of them was published online earlier this week, I thought it would be good to show everyone what these Q&As are like,” Zuckerberg wrote in a post on his personal Facebook page on Thursday minutes before a broadcast of the town hall event began.

In the leaked audio, obtained by tech site The Verge, Zuckerberg comments on another presidential candidate — Sen. Elizabeth Warren — and admits to employees that the prospect of her as president could “suck” for Facebook, given her promises to break up tech companies.

On Thursday, Zuckerberg was asked how he could stay impartial on presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren following his past statements about her.

“Let’s try not to antagonize her further,” Zuckerberg said of Warren on Thursday. He added: “I would rather have someone get elected, even if I disagree with them on everything, which I don’t even think is the case here, than not give them the ability to say what they think.”

Warren released an aggressive plan earlier this year to break up tech giants like Facebook, Amazon (AMZN)and Google (GOOG), reports CNN.

“You have someone like Elizabeth Warren who thinks that the right answer is to break up the companies,” Zuckerberg said in a meeting with Facebook employees this summer, according to the leaked audio. “If she gets elected president, then I would bet that we will have a legal challenge, and I would bet that we will win the legal challenge. And does that still suck for us? Yeah.”

“But look,” he continued, “at the end of the day, if someone’s going to try to threaten something that existential, you go to the mat and you fight.”

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FBI Director: Facebook could become platform of ‘child pornographers’

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FBI Director: Facebook could become platform of ‘child pornographers’

FBI Director Christopher Wray said on Friday that Facebook Inc’s proposal to encrypt its popular messaging program would turn the platform into a “dream come true for predators and child pornographers.”

Wray, who was one of several top Justice Department officials on Friday to address a crowd of law enforcement and child protection officials in Washington, said that Facebook’s (FB.O) plan would produce “a lawless space created not by the American people or their representatives but by the owners of one big company.”

Facebook intends to add encryption of wide swathes of communications on its platform.

His speech ratchets up the pressure on Facebook as the U.S. and allied governments renew their push to weaken the digital protections around the billions of messages people exchange each day.

Wray steered clear of making any specific proposal, saying that “companies themselves are best placed” to offer a way for law enforcement to get around encryption.

“We’re going to lose the ability to find those kids who need to be rescued,” Wray said. “We’re going to lose the ability to find the bad guys.”

The Justice Department’s No. 2 official, who spoke after Wray, took a swipe at Apple Inc, which already uses end-to-end encryption on its messenger, saying the company reported only 43 tips to law enforcement last year about child exploitation.

Facebook, by contrast, reported globally 16 million child-exploitation tips, a number that he said could drop by as much as 70 percent if Facebook encrypts its messaging program the way Apple has done.

“Are we to assume that Apple magically ran platforms free of child exploitation?” Deputy Attorney General Jeff Rosen asked. “Or is it that companies with end-to-end encryption cannot see harmful illicit activity that was occurring on these platforms and they choose to avert their eyes by deploying end-to-end encryption?”

The Justice Department event is part of a renewed push by the American, Australian, and British governments to force tech companies to help them circumvent the encryption that helps keeps digital communications secure.

Debates over encryption have been rumbling for more than 25 years, but officials’ anxiety has increased as major tech companies move toward automatically encrypting the messages on their platforms and the data held on phones, reports Reuters.

In the past, officials have cited the threat of terrorism to buttress their campaigns again encryption. But as Islamic State and other extremist groups fade from the headlines, governments are trying a different tack, invoking the threat of child abuse to argue for “lawful access” to these devices.

Facebook’s privacy-focused move, announced by founder and Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg this year, is causing particular consternation because the platform is the source of millions of tips to authorities about child abuse images every year.

Zuckerberg, speaking on the company’s weekly internal Q&A livestream on Thursday, defended the decision, saying he was “optimistic” Facebook would be able to identify predators even in encrypted systems by using the same tools it uses to fight election interference.

Many people have applauded Facebook’s push for privacy and security. Academics, experts, and privacy groups have long worried that circumventing the protections around private communications would open dangerous vulnerabilities that could make the entire internet less safe, and leave billions of users exposed to abusive surveillance.

Attorney General William Barr, who also spoke at Friday’s event, said the Justice Department “would like to engage with the private sector in exploring solutions,” but he warned that time is running out because the deployment of “warrant-proof encryption has accelerated.”

“The status quo is exceptionally dangerous, unacceptable, and only getting worse,” he said.

Daniel Castro, the Vice President of the Washington-based Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, said in an interview ahead of Wray’s speech that government officials were framing the conversation around protecting children because it’s emotionally powerful.

“In the past they’ve really focused on terrorism,” he said. “They’ve really switched angles on that.”

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