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Facebook messenger to disturb your private Chats with Video Ads

Monitoring Desk

Taking advantage of the most number of subscribers, Facebook is trying to make Facebook messenger more annoying by experimenting with new things. Ok, somehow we digested the unnecessary changes but this time it’s more than enough. Now Facebook Messenger Will Disturb your Private Chats with Auto-Playing Video Ads.

Now Facebook will bring auto-playing video ads to users’ messenger’s inboxes. This feature will be launched by the end of this week.

Previously ads used to show up in videos but were limited to static, News Feed-style ads, not the more intrusive auto-playing videos.

Messenger team said that these ads will not be annoying. The said that:

“Top priority for us is user experience,” So we don’t know yet [if these will work]. However, signs until now, when we tested basic ads, didn’t show any changes in how people used the platform or how many messages they send.”

When asked about auto-playing videos in messenger, a Facebook spokesperson said:

“As we shared with advertisers at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, we are now expanding the availability of video ads to Messenger. We will be rolling out video ads gradually and thoughtfully. People that use Messenger are our top priority and they will remain in control of their experience.”

However, according to me this decision of including auto-play video in messenger chat is a very bad idea as no one wants to get disturbed while talking to someone, be it call or random chat. I can also foresee that Facebook will come into major criticism after launching this.


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iphones will be spared from China tarrifs, Trump informed CEO

Monitoring Desk

WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump told Apple Inc Chief Executive Tim Cook that the U.S. government would not levy tariffs on iPhones assembled in China, the New York Times reported on Monday, citing a source familiar with the negotiations.

The newspaper reported that Cook travelled to the White House last month to warn Trump of the potentially adverse effects of Trump’s trade policies on Apple in China but did not specify precisely when Trump made the commitment to Cook. Apple and the White House were not immediately available for comment.

A list of tariffs proposed in April largely excluded consumer electronics. But last week, Trump unveiled a revised list that included several categories of chips, raising fears that tariffs could impact the U.S. technology sector.


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Checkr creates severe agony for Uber drivers

F.P Report
New York: Checkr, a company used by Uber for doing background checks of its drivers has created severe mental agony for Uber drivers by providing back ground information on many drivers which is not accurate.
Several drivers who have been working for Uber since many years have complained to Uber that they have received an email from Checkr containing report about their back ground checks but the things mentioned in the report such as their driving license being suspended or being involved in misdemeanor was not accurate.
 One driver who wished not to be named said that he received an email from Checkr with the subject  “pre adverse action notice” which made him stop his car on the side of a road and talk to Uber and figure out what was going on. He further said that he did not get any satisfactory answer from Uber except that Uber told him that he should talk to Checkr. The driver said that he then called Checkr and waited for an hour for somebody to come on line but nobody answered his phone.
Another driver while taking to The Frotier Post said that the back ground report provided to him by Checkr was absolutely incorrect and the case number mentioned in his report was not his and that he had to provide copy of the distcit court to Uber to make them understand that it was not him who was convicted of felony, as mentioned in the report of Checkr.
Another Uber driver  while talking to this scribe said that Checkr has caused so much mental agony to Uber drivers that they are once again thinking about leaving the company and joining other driving platforms. He said that Uber uses its drivers like tissue papers, once they are used they are thrown in trash.
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Google offers $550 million for China’s second-largest e-commerce player

Monitoring Desk

BEIJING: Tech giant Google said Monday it will invest more than half a billion dollars in China’s second-largest e-commerce player,

As part of a strategic partnership, Google will put $550 million in cash into, the companies said in a statement. In return, Google will receive more than 27 million newly issued Class A ordinary shares at an issue price of $20.29 per share.

That’s equivalent to $40.58 per American depository share based on the volume-weighted average trading price over the prior 10 trading days. listed American depository shares in its group company on the Nasdaq in 2014.

The two tech companies said they would work together to develop retail infrastructure that can better personalize the shopping experience and reduce friction in a number of markets, including Southeast Asia.

For its part, said it planned to make a selection of items available for sale in places like the U.S. and Europe through Google Shopping — a service that lets users search for products on e-commerce websites and compare prices between different sellers.

When retailers partner with Google, it gives their products visibility and makes it convenient for consumers to purchase them online. For the tech giant, its shopping service is important in helping to win back product searches from Amazon and to stay relevant in the voice-powered future of e-commerce.

The partnership would open a channel for to sell to consumers outside China, especially at a time when trade tensions between Beijing and Washington are high. Founder and CEO Richard Liu told CNBC recently that a trade war would be “horrible” and it would end up hurting a lot of American brands. He also said current uncertainty gave the company pause over its U.S. expansion plans.

The Chinese e-commerce company competes aggressively with Jack Ma’s Alibaba in China’s massive e-commerce market. Both companies have invested significantly in technology, retail and logistics to win over consumers.

For example, had been testing out drone delivery services to reach China’s rural consumers while keeping the logistics cost relatively low.

The e-commerce player also has the backing of another major Alibaba rival — Chinese tech giant Tencent, which is involved in business areas including social networks, digital payments and gaming. It also operates China’s largest social messaging platform, WeChat.’s partnership with Tencent allows the e-commerce company to sell directly to consumers through the WeChat app.

At the same time, also teamed up with U.S. retail giant Walmart in the grocery business. Reports said Walmart opened a small high-tech supermarket in China where consumers can use smartphones to pay for items that are mostly available on its virtual store on online platform JD Daojia, an affiliate of


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Young people preferring WhattsApp over Facebook for news

Monitoring Desk

WASHINGTON: The use of social media networks such as Facebook to consume news has started to fall in the United States as many young people turn toward messaging apps such as Facebook-owned WhatsApp to discuss events, the Reuters Institute found.

Usage of Facebook, the world’s largest social network, for news is down 9 percentage points from 2017 in the United States and down 20 points for younger audiences, according to the Reuters Institute survey of 74,000 people in 37 markets.

“The use of social media for news has started to fall in a number of key markets after years of continuous growth,” Nic Newman, research associate at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, said in the Digital News Report.

“We continue to see a rise in the use of messaging apps for news as consumers look for more private (and less confrontational) spaces to communicate,” Newman said.

The research lays bare the volatility of consumer tastes as the news industry tries to grapple with the impact of the internet and smartphones that have transformed both the way people consume news and the way media companies make money.

The YouGov polling for the Reuters Institute was conducted mostly before Facebook, facing criticism for algorithms that may have prioritized misleading news, adjusted the filters on its News Feed in January.

Facebook and Twitter are still used by many users to discover news but the discussion then takes place on messaging apps such as WhatsApp, often because people feel less vulnerable discussing events on such apps.

“Social media is like wearing a mask,” an unidentified UK female respondent from the 30-45 age group was quoted as saying. “When I am in my messaging groups with my friends, the mask comes off and I feel like I can truly be myself.”

WhatsApp, founded in 2009 and bought by Facebook in 2014 for $19 billion in cash and stock, is more popular than Twitter in importance for news in many countries, the report said.

Some respondents still found news on Facebook but then posted items on a WhatsApp group for discussion with a closer set of friends.

WhatsApp and Instagram, also a unit of Facebook, have taken off in Latin America and Asia while Snapchat has made progress in Europe and the United States, the survey noted of regional news sharing differences.

Fewer than half of people surveyed across the world said they trusted the media most of the time, though in the United States just 34 percent said they trusted most news, most of the time, down 4 points.

In the United States, local television news and the Wall Street Journal were the most trusted news brands while in the United Kingdom it was BBC news and ITV news.

Fox News and Breitbart were trusted more by those on the right of the political spectrum in the United States while those on the left trusted CNN more.

News brands with a broadcasting background and a long heritage tended to be trusted most, with popular newspapers and digital-born brands trusted less. Public broadcasters scored well.

The so called “Trump Bump” increase in subscriptions to news media has been maintained though more than two-thirds of respondents were unaware of problems in the news industry and thought most media were making a profit from digital news.

“The verdict is clear: people find that some news is worth paying for, but much of it is not,” said Rasmus Kleis Nielsen, director of research at the Reuters Institute.

“The challenge for publishers now is to ensure that the journalism they produce is truly distinct, relevant and valuable, and then effectively promoting it to convince people to donate or subscribe.”

The Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism is a research center at the University of Oxford that tracks media trends. Thomson Reuters Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Thomson Reuters, funds the Reuters Institute.




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New BlackBerry phone to revive grey brand

Monitoring Desk

There’s a new BlackBerry smartphone, the latest effort to revive the once-dominant brand.

The BlackBerry Key2 was unveiled Thursday in New York by TCL Communication, the Chinese manufacturer which took over the rights to the smartphone brand from the Canadian tech firm in 2016.

The new device, which includes a physical keyboard under a 4.5 inch screen and runs the Android operating system updates the first BlackBerry Key released last year.

It will be sold this month starting at $649 or 649 euros, according to the company.

“Although there are many different smartphones for consumers to choose from today, most tend to offer very similar experiences without much distinction from one to the next,” said Alain Lejeune, head of TCL’s BlackBerry Mobile division.

“With the introduction of BlackBerry Key2, we’ve created a distinct smartphonethat captures all the traits that have made BlackBerry smartphones iconic, while introducing new innovations and experiences that not only make this one of the best devices for security and privacy, but also the most advanced BlackBerrysmartphone ever.”

BlackBerry’s share of the global smartphone market has fallen to virtually zero from a peak of more than half a decade ago.

The dominance of Apple’s iOS and Android-powered handsets prompted the Canada-based firm to abandon the market to concentrate on software and services.

Under the agreement between the two firms, Canada’s BlackBerry will remain in control of software and security on smartphones, while TCL will produce handsets powered by Google Android software, abandoning the former BlackBerry OS software.

TCL also produces smartphones under the Alcatel brand. 

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Forza Horizon-4: Microsoft announces for Xbox One and PC

Monitoring Desk

WASHINGTON: Forza Horizon 4, the imaginatively named sequel to 2016’s Forza Horizon 3 — has officially been announced for both the Xbox One and PC onstage at Microsoft’s E3 presentation.

In keeping with the tick-tock cadence of the mainstream, ultra-realistic Forza Motorsport titles and the more laid-back Forza Horizon series, Forza Horizon 4 is an arcade racer. Instead of worrying about giving the most authentic driving experience possible, returning Forza Horizon developer Playground Games puts players behind the wheel of a plethora of vehicles and gives them free rein to drive, drift, and explore both the cities and countryside of Britain in dozens of ludicrously fast and expensive cars.

New in Forza Horizon 4 is dynamic seasons, which will change throughout the corse of gameplay and dramatically effect how the world looks and how cars will drive. Forza Horizon 4 also features a shared open world, where the other cars that players encounter are actually other players, who’ll you’ll be able to race against and with in real time.

Additionally, Forza Horizon 4 is optimized for the Xbox One X’s 4K firepower, which if the earlier games in the series are anything to go by, means that it should look pretty great when it’s released.

Subscribers to Microsoft’s monthly Xbox Game Pass subscription will also get access to Forza Horizon 4 at no additional cost when it launches on October 2nd.


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Kingdom Hearts-III to be release in January 2019  

Monitoring Desk

NEW York: Square Enix just announced Kingdom Hearts III’s release date, because why not? The long-awaited action-roleplaying game will be out on January 29, 2019, the publisher says.

Technically this is a delay—Square had previously said Kingdom Hearts III would be out in 2018—but at least there’s a firm date now? And at least they announced the news in the middle of the night on the weekend of E3, two days before their own press conference.

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ZTE apologizes after paying disastrous price

SHENZHEN (Reuters): The chairman of ZTE Corp apologized to staff and customers on Friday after the Chinese technology firm agreed to pay a $1 billion fine to the United States to end a supplier ban that has crippled its business.

The deal allows China’s second-largest telecoms equipment firm to restart operations, reaffirm supplier relationships and rebuild trust with global clients, as it works to move on from an episode which it said threatened its very existence.

But industry experts estimate it would take at least a month for ZTE to ship phones again after the ban is lifted, while employees fear job cuts, wage reductions and a potential loss of customers, as the firm is set to reshuffle senior management.

The company agreed on Thursday to pay the fine and overhaul its leadership to lift the ban which has been in place since April. The ban, which traces back to a breach of a US embargo on trade with Iran, had prevented ZTE from buying the US components it heavily relies on to make smartphones and other devices. The case has become highly politicized and a key focus of whipsawing talks as Washington and Beijing look to avert a trade war.

In a memo sent to staff on Friday, ZTE Chairman Yin Yimin apologized to employees, clients, shareholders and business partners and said the firm would look to learn from its errors and hold those responsible accountable, a member of staff told Reuters.

“This issue reflects problems that exist with our firm’s compliance culture and at management level,” Yin wrote, according to the staffer, adding the incident was caused by the mistakes of a few ZTE leaders and employees. “The activation of the denial order has caused huge losses for the company. The firm has paid a disastrous price.” ZTE did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

“Paying the fine is no problem, the real difficulty lies ahead and getting future business, especially overseas. Market confidence is lost,” another employee told Reuters. The person added that staff feared there would be pay cuts and possible job losses. “Bonuses are bound to be affected.”

Under the deal, ZTE will change its board and management within 30 days, pay a $1 billion fine and put an additional $400 million in escrow. The deal also includes a new 10-year ban that is suspended unless there are future violations.

A third member of staff said all ZTE employees were being called to have group meetings to “deeply reflect” on the case, including attending compliance training and writing up reports.

The management shake-up would also likely create instability – at least in the short-term.

“If so many bosses are gone at the same time, what would the succession process be like? There’s going to be lots of internal power struggles to come,” the third employee said.

The employees declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of the matter.

ZTE pleaded guilty last year to conspiring to evade US embargoes by buying US components, incorporating them into ZTE equipment and illegally shipping them to Iran. The new sanction in April was because the firm breached terms of an agreement about disciplining executives responsible for the original violations.

Analysts said the fine – after a $1.2 billion settlement last year – would be a heavy burden, but not crippling for the company. “ZTE can financially handle it,” said brokerage Jefferies in a report late on Thursday.

The Shenzhen-listed firm had close to 30 billion yuan ($4.7 billion) of cash and short-term investment as at the end of March. Net profit last year was around $795 million.

“We do not believe ZTE will need to immediately raise any debt or equity financing to fund the cash penalty,” said Jefferies.

At ZTE’s headquarters in Shenzhen, most employees Reuters spoke to were reticent to comment on the US deal.

One office worker, who only gave his surname Liu, said he was not worried about the firm making major staff cuts or failing. “I’m not planning on looking for a new job.”

As a smartphone seller, ZTE was ranked the fourth-biggest in the United States in the first quarter of the year with an 11.4 percent market share, but has since seen sales of its handsets suspended.

“It will be very difficult for ZTE to keep its position as the fourth-biggest smartphone vendor in the US for 2018” considering damage to the brand, said Shanghai-based analyst Mo Jia at technology researcher Canalys.





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China’s Huawei denies collecting Facebook user data

Monitoring Desk

BEIJING: Huawei has denied collecting data from Facebook users after the social media giant confirmed that the Chinese phone maker deemed a national security threat by the US was among companies given access to user information.

Huawei was able to access Facebook data to get the leading social network to perform on its smartphones, the California-based company said.

“Facebook along with many other US tech companies have worked with them and other Chinese manufacturers to integrate their services onto these phones,” Facebook mobile partnerships leader Francisco Varela said in a statement on Tuesday.

“Given the interest from Congress, we wanted to make clear that all the information from these integrations with Huawei was stored on the device, not on Huawei’s servers.”

Before now-ubiquitous apps standardised the social media experience on smartphones, some 60 device makers including Amazon, Apple and Blackberry worked with Facebook to adapt interfaces for its website to their own phones, the social network said.

Facebook, which has been blocked in China since 2009, also had data-access deals with Chinese companies Lenovo, OPPO and TCL, according to Varela.

“Facebook’s integrations with Huawei, Lenovo, OPPO and TCL were controlled from the get-go,” Varela said.

Huawei said its cooperation with Facebook was to improve user services and denied collecting or storing user data.

“Like all leading smartphone providers, Huawei worked with Facebook to make Facebook’s services more convenient for users,” Huawei told AFP, adding that it “has never collected or stored any Facebook user data”.

Huawei has long disputed any links to the Chinese government, noting that its infrastructure and computing products are used in 170 countries.

“Concerns about Huawei aren’t new,” US Senator Mark Warner, vice chairman of the senate select committee on intelligence, said Tuesday.

“I look forward to learning more about how Facebook ensured that information about their users was not sent to Chinese servers.”

Contracts with phone makers placed tight limits on what could be done with data, and “approved experiences” were reviewed by engineers and managers before being deployed, according to the social network.

Facebook said it does not know of any privacy abuse by phone makers who years ago were able to gain access to personal data on users and their friends.

Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said she would not comment on cooperation between companies because she was unaware of the details.

“But I hope that the US can provide a fair, transparent, open and friendly environment for the investments and business activities of Chinese companies,” Hua told a regular press briefing in Beijing on Wednesday.

Read also: Huawei, Samsung neck and neck in foldable smartphone race

– Done with deals –

Facebook is winding up the interface arrangements with device makers as the company’s smartphone apps now dominate the service. The integration partnership with Huawei will terminate by the end of this week, according to the social network.

Facebook said it “disagreed” with the conclusions of a New York Times report that found that the device makers could access information on users’ friends without their explicit consent.

But the report raised concerns that massive databases on users and their friends — including personal data and photographs — could be in the hands of device makers.

Huawei maintains that its products “meet the highest standards of security, privacy and engineering in every country we operate” and that “no government has ever asked us to compromise the security or integrity of any of our networks or devices”.

The social network came under attack early this year over British political consultant Cambridge Analytica’s harvesting of personal data on 87 million Facebook users and their friends.

Cambridge Analytica obtained the data without Facebook’s permission and used it to help the election campaign of US President Donald Trump.

In April, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg apologized in Congress over the Cambridge Analytica fiasco, amid rising calls for more regulation of the company.