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Facebook-owner Meta releases first human rights report

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  • Facebook has accusations of turning blind eye to online abuses.
  • Rights groups have raised alarms about anti-Muslim hate speech stoking tensions.
  • Report also outlines Meta’s COVID-19 response.

Facebook owner Meta released its first annual human rights report on Thursday, following years of accusations that it turned a blind eye to online abuses that fueled real-world violence in places like India and Myanmar.

The report, which covers due diligence performed in 2020 and 2021, includes a summary of a controversial human rights impact assessment of India that Meta commissioned law firm Foley Hoag to conduct.

Human rights groups including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have demanded the release of the India assessment in full, accusing Meta of stalling in a joint letter sent in January.

In its summary, Meta said the law firm had noted the potential for “salient human rights risks” involving Meta’s platforms, including “advocacy of hatred that incites hostility, discrimination, or violence.”

The assessment, it added, did not probe “accusations of bias in content moderation.”

Ratik Asokan, a representative from India Civil Watch International who participated in the assessment and later organized the joint letter, told Reuters the summary struck him as an attempt by Meta to “whitewash” the firm’s findings.

“It’s as clear evidence as you can get that they’re very uncomfortable with the information that’s in that report,” he said. “At least show the courage to release the executive summary so we can see what the independent law firm has said.”

Human Rights Watch researcher Deborah Brown likewise called the summary “selective” and said it “brings us no closer” to understanding the company’s role in the spread of hate speech in India or commitments it will make to address the issue.

Rights groups for years have raised alarms about anti-Muslim hate speech stoking tensions in India, Meta’s largest market globally by number of users.

Meta’s top public policy executive in India stepped down in 2020 following a Wall Street Journal report that she opposed applying the company’s rules to Hindu nationalist figures flagged internally for promoting violence.

In its report, Meta said it was studying the India recommendations, but did not commit to implementing them as it did with other rights assessments.

Asked about the difference, Meta Human Rights Director Miranda Sissons pointed to United Nations guidelines cautioning against risks to “affected stakeholders, personnel or to legitimate requirements of commercial confidentiality.”

“The format of the reporting can be influenced by a variety of factors, including security reasons,” Sissons told Reuters.

Sissons, who joined Meta in 2019, said her team is now comprised of eight people, while about 100 others work on human rights with related teams.

In addition to country-level assessments, the report outlined her team’s work on Meta’s COVID-19 response and Ray-Ban Stories smart glasses, which involved flagging possible privacy risks and effects on vulnerable groups.

Sissons said analysis of augmented and virtual reality technologies, which Meta has prioritized with its bet on the “metaverse,” is largely taking place this year and would be discussed in subsequent reports.

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TikTok plans to introduce an image search capability in order to directly compete with Google.

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TikTok, a Chinese short video platform, is now conducting a trial of a novel functionality that enables users to capture or submit images in order to discover comparable products within the TikTok Shop, as reported by TechCrunch.

TikTok, the current leader in social media, is now aiming to enter Google’s domain in the field of search, indicating a direct competition against Google’s control in visual search.

The functionality, originally observed by user Jonah Manzano, is presently accessible to users residing in the United States and Southeast Asia. Users that have access to the feature will see a camera symbol that is integrated.
This feature allows users to effortlessly search for products by capturing or uploading photographs, eliminating the requirement for written descriptions.

For example, if you are eating at a restaurant and like the dish that is presented on a certain plate, you can take a fast photo using the TikTok app to discover comparable goods that you can buy.

Similarly, if you come across an expensive item while shopping online, you can save its image and use TikTok’s image search feature to locate similar, more affordable options.

Although TikTok Shop has previously utilized conventional search methods, this new advancement represents a notable deviation by harnessing the capabilities of visual search, similar to Google Lens.

TikTok’s decision is a calculated maneuver aimed at not only attracting users’ interest in finding new products but also promoting sales within its e-commerce network.

This development is not only a criticism of Google or Amazon; it is a more extensive effort to rival other participants in the field of visual search and e-commerce, such as Klarna and rising businesses like Cherry.

TikTok’s shift towards e-commerce is apparent in its recent announcement that TikTok Shop accommodates more than 15 million vendors worldwide, including a significant presence in the United States.

The company has made significant investments in platform safety, dedicating more than $400 million and establishing a staff of 7,500 personnel to guarantee the integrity of TikTok Shop.

TikTok continues to pursue its e-commerce goals, while encountering regulatory obstacles, especially in the United States.

TikTok’s momentum remains unaffected by President Biden’s recent measure, which indicates a possible prohibition if ByteDance does not divest the platform.

However, the corporation regards e-commerce as a strategic source of income and a method to maintain consumer involvement within its ecosystem.

TikTok is continuously expanding and improving its TikTok Shop to encourage more user interaction and spending. This will help establish TikTok as a strong competitor in the e-commerce industry.
in the search bar of TikTok Shop.

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Pakistan experiences substantial expansion in the information technology sector.

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Pakistan experienced significant development in the exports of its IT sector, reaching a total of $2.283 billion, as stated in a recent Economic Survey Report.

The increase in exports emphasized the rising global demand for IT services from Pakistan and the sector’s impact on the national economy.

The survey demonstrated that IT freelancers contributed $35 million in remittances, highlighting their significance in the IT industry.

The study data indicates a significant rise in the number of broadband and telecom customers nationwide, with broadband users reaching 135 million and telecom users growing to 194 million.

Earlier this week, the federal government has suggested a substantial 357 percent rise in the budget for the IT sector for the fiscal year 2024-25.

As to reliable sources, the Ministry of IT has been granted a budget of Rs 27.43 billion in the development budget, out of which Rs 6.28 billion has been allotted for the implementation of 15 new projects.

The government has additionally suggested allotting Rs 21.15 billion for projects that are currently in progress, as well as Rs 3.5 billion for the Digital Economy initiative.

Additional noteworthy allocations consist of Rs 1 billion for fostering innovation in the IT sector, Rs 50 million for the digitalization of the national assembly, and Rs 300 million for the implementation of smart office projects in government ministries.

The government has additionally suggested investing Rs 9.92 billion for the Islamabad Technology Development Park and Rs 6.78 billion for the creation of an IT park in Karachi. The budget additionally comprises a proposition for an allocation of Rs 1 billion for the Cybersecurity Fund for the Digital Pakistan initiative.

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The government will set up a firewall to monitor social media.

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In order to regulate “unwanted messages” on social media, the Pakistani government has chosen to establish a firewall.

It’s been discovered that the internet service providers have accepted the government’s request to put in a firewall.

“Deep packet inspection” is a unique characteristic that it will have.

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