Facebook Defends Hate-Post Rule in Merkel-Refugee Photo Suit

Facebook told a German court that it can’t monitor all of its customers’ posts for racist language in a dispute over whether the company has to block a photo showing chancellor Angela Merkel and a refugee that has been misused in several hate-speech postings.

Facebook Defends Hate-Post Rule in Merkel-Refugee Photo Suit

“There are billions of postings each day,” said Martin Munz, a Facebook lawyer. “You want us to employ a sort of wonder machine to detect each misuse. Such a machine doesn’t exist.”

Facebook was sued by Syrian refugee Anas Modamani, 19, who became famous after he took a picture of himself with Merkel. The photo later became an emblem of her refugee policies. Modamani appeared in a Wuerzburg court on Monday next to his attorney to argue Facebook must make sure the picture won’t be misused again by its users.

Modamani’s lawyer Chan-jo Jun told the court the picture was posted on timelines of numerous users who added libelous statements about his client, including falsely alleging he took part in terror attacks. The suit centers on a photomontage that claimed Modamani was responsible for the attempted murder of a homeless person. A ruling was scheduled for March 7.

Following the presidential election in November, Facebook came under pressure to do more to address the spread of articles with false information. CEO Mark Zuckerberg at first downplayed the company’s responsibility, before reversing himself and creating new policies to tackle the problem.

Lawyers for Facebook argued that the social network offers a tool that allows users to notify the company to remove illicit content.

While Facebook initially removed a post that was flagged as abusive, it didn’t do so with all pictures that were notified, Jun told the court. The company didn’t take any action to prevent the photo from being posted again or to detect other users who had shared or liked it, he said. The photo wasn’t actually deleted but could be retrieved in other parts of the world, he said. Jun also rejected the argument that there are just too many posts to keep track of.

“Volkswagen also can’t just say: ‘Well, sorry we build too many cars we can’t really make sure they’re all safe,”‘ Jun said. “If it’s about breasts or child pornography, Facebook is very well able to detect all pictures.”

The suit comes while European Union regulators and the German government are upping pressure on Facebook and other social networks to curb the spread of malicious posts. Merkel’s government is seeking legislation that would require Facebook and its peers to respond to complaints and delete such content within 24 hours or face fines.

Facebook rejected a suggestion by the court to settle by paying some damages but said it will consider the judges’ second settlement proposal to block the picture Europe-wide.

“This case raises a lot of complicated legal issues, so we need some time to deliberate,” Presiding Judge Volkmar Seipel said. “We also have the disadvantage that none of us three judges hearing this suit is on Facebook.”

LG G5 Design Tipped in Renders; Magic Slot and More Detailed in New Leaks

LG G5 Design Tipped in Renders; Magic Slot and More Detailed in New Leaks

LG’s upcoming G5 flagship will be unveiled on Sunday at an event in Barcelona and the company has already confirmed it will showcase a galore of devices at the launch. While confirming the launch event, LG Mobile on its Facebook page said, “Come meet the new friends on the playground. LG G5 Day.”

Now just a day before the launch, new details about the LG G5 smartphone’s various features including ‘Magic Slot’ apart from other devices such as a 360-degree camera have surfaced. The smartphone was also leaked in two press renders, where it is visible from both front and back.

Evan Blass of Venture Beat in a report has claimed that the LG G5 will not be the only “piece of hardware on stage” as the company will showcase plug-in modules and customised accessories for the handset. This also means that the LG G5 may be the South Korean company’s first attempt at modular handset.

According to Blass, the modules will be dubbed “G5 and Friends,” and will be available as hardware components as both attached and independent. The company is also expected to introduce a new app which will be able to control the modules known as the LG Friends Manager. It adds that LG plans to just showcase two modules which will compatible with the slot – a battery grip for photography and digital audio chip (DAC) for sound.


Blass also posted a leaked press render image (seen above) of the LG G5 on Twitter showing the front of the handset with “Always On” display. The tipster had previously shared another leaked image (seen on top) on Twitter that he deleted shortly after some backlash on the social network, but not before it was picked up by other sites. Both images show the the front and back of the smartphone, including a rear camera setup, and the presence of a round fingerprint sensor that’s placed on the rear – very similar to the Google Nexus 5X, also made by LG.

While it is not immediately evident, the bottom of the G5 appears to be detachable, and replaceable with new modules. This fact is further emphasised with the bottom part of the handset seen attached to a removable battery in a new leaked image. The leaked image (shared both on Weibo and by French mobile site Nowhereelse) is presumably of the retail box (seen below) of the LG G5 handset, alongside a tagline that said, “Life’s good when you play more.” The image also re-confirms the presence of Magic Slot, which is widely expected to be the bottom part of the handset.


Android Authority has posted separately posted a leaked image (seen below) claimed to show the LG Cam Plus which is said to serve multiple functions such as working like a shutter release, zoom and flash toggle through the hardware buttons. Additionally, the LG Cam Plus is said to pack an 1100mAh battery which will also complement the LG G5’s removable battery. The second module is said to be the DAC which has been developed in partnership with Bang & Olufsen Play (B&O Play). Notably, the company had recently confirmed that it teamed up with B&O Play to deliver “enhanced high-quality audio experience” in its upcoming LG G5 flagship smartphone. This also makes the South Korean tech giant first to offer Hi-Fi audio features co-designed by B&O Play. LG has also showcased the LG G5 Quick Cover ahead of the MWC 2016, while Qualcomm has confirmed the G5 will sport the top-end Snapdragon 820 SoC on board.


For several weeks, LG has been rumoured to be working on a ‘Magic Slot’ on its latest G5 flagship and Android Authority claims that the feature will actually allow accessories or modules to be inserted into the device via bottom part. In the leaked image, the bottom part of the alleged gold-coloured LG G5 is seen featuring a bump which is said to be an inserted module. The leaked image also purportedly shows a dual-camera setup on the handset alongside the fingerprint sensor.

The South Korean is also said to debut a 360-degree camera dubbed LG 360 Cam which will be a spherical camera and will be able to capture 360-degree shots as well as videos at 16-megapixel and QHD resolutions, respectively. Also expected to be showcased at the MWC event is the company’s LG 360 VR. Blass says that the VR headset from the company will feature nine-axis sensors and an 83-degree lens with its own LCD display. It adds that the LG 360 VR will be lighter than the competition including the Samsung Gear VR, HTC Vive, or the Oculus Rift. It suggests that LG’s VR headset should be compatible with YouTube’s 360-degree videos. Lastly, LG will also show a drone at the MWC 2016event. Called Rolling Bot, the drone is likely to be remotely controlled and is expected to be capable of turning on or off the smart appliances at home.

Apple Gains Silicon Valley’s Backing in Government Fight

Apple Gains Silicon Valley's Backing in Government Fight

Tim Cook has picked a fight with the US government and Silicon Valley is joining his side.

From Google to Facebook, the industry’s biggest names rallied around Apple’s chief executive officer after he vowed to resist a court order demanding it help unlock the iPhone of a shooter in a terrorist attack. Cook described the request as an “unprecedented step which threatens the security of our customers” and called for a public debate.

The escalation with the FBI, which has been pushing for access to mobile devices since Apple tightened its encryption in late 2014, galvanized the company’s US peers and forced them to choose between helping the government fight crime and protecting their customers’ privacy. The decision in the Apple case could apply to the broader tech industry and it may spur requests from China and other nations that want similar abilities to access users’ encrypted content.

Reform Government Surveillance, a group representing companies including Google, Facebook,Microsoft and Twitter, issued a statement on Wednesday reiterating that, while it’s “extremely important” to deter crime and terrorism, no company should be required to build backdoors to their own technology.

“This particular case is a tricky one for anybody to oppose a government’s request on because it deals with not just a suspected terrorist, but somebody who is very clearly guilty of a heinous act,” said Jan Dawson, an independent technology industry analyst. “It’s a really tough case for anyone to jump in on Apple’s side.”

Cook took his stand after the Federal Bureau of Investigation won a court order to make Apple help investigators unlock an iPhone used by Syed Rizwan Farook, one of the shooters in a deadly December 2 attack in San Bernardino, California.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai came to Cook’s defense, saying the government’s request could spur “a troubling precedent” in comments echoed by WhatsApp co-founder Jan Koum. Billionaire Mark Cuban said Cook deserved a “standing ovation” for his stand.

Google provides law enforcement access to data “based on valid legal orders, but that’s wholly different than requiring companies to enable hacking of customer devices and data,” Pichai wrote in a series of tweets. “Looking forward to a thoughtful and open discussion on this important issue.”

Ultimately, the matter needs to be decided by Congress, said Robert Cattanach, a lawyer at Dorsey & Whitney who practices in areas of regulatory litigation including cybersecurity.

“This is a classic legislative function, the courts aren’t really equipped to weigh the policies in the forum of a democratic society — what’s more important, protection against terrorists or protections against your privacy?” he said. “The tech industry sees this as the tip of the iceberg.”

Unlike the auto and financial industries, tech doesn’t have the same history of finding a common voice in Washington. Apple, for example, was well-known under co-founder Steve Jobs for choosing to stay on the sidelines on major issues in the nation’s capital.

That changed the past few years under Cook, who has boosted the company’s presence in Washington as its profile and expanding product lineup has attracted more government scrutiny. When President Barack Obama visited Silicon Valley last year for a summit on cyber-security, Cook advocated for protecting peoples’ privacy.

“While we believe the FBI’s intentions are good, it would be wrong for the government to force us to build a backdoor into our products,” Cook wrote Tuesday in a letter posted on the company’s website. “Ultimately, we fear that this demand would undermine the very freedoms and liberty our government is meant to protect.”

Even before the Apple legal fight, tech groups in Washington had been advocating for greater privacy protections.

Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks basketball team, said there was a risk this one order against Apple could lead to many more in the future.

“While the FBI is attempting to be very clear that this is a one off request, there is no chance that it is,” Cuban wrote on his blog. “There will be many government agencies that many times in the future, point to Apple’s compliance as a precedent. Once this happens, we all roll down that slippery slope of lost privacy together.”

Cook’s stance drew endorsements elsewhere in Silicon Valley on Wednesday.

“Silicon Valley stands with Apple,” Bret Taylor, co-founder of Quip and former chief technology officer of Facebook and co- creator of Google Maps, posted on Twitter. Steven Sinofsky, a former senior executive at Microsoft, on Twitter called for “broad support from full stack of technology companies.”

“Tim’s blog post today definitely has the tone of a Paul Revere rallying call,” said Garrett Johnson, co-founder of the Lincoln Initiative, a conservative-leaning group in Silicon Valley.

Facebook Messenger for Android Gets Multiple Account Support

Facebook Messenger for Android Gets Multiple Account Support

Facebook has redesigned its popular Messenger app so several people can use it on the same smartphone or tablet without relinquishing their privacy.

The update announced Friday initially will only be available on devices running on Android, the world’s most popular mobile operating system. Facebook didn’t set a timetable for making similar changes to its Messenger app for Apple Inc.’s iPhone and iPad.

The new feature will accommodate multiple accounts without allowing people sharing the more versatile app to get into each other’s queue of messages.

Facebook added the ability to switch accounts within the Messenger app after getting requests from people who share their smartphones and tablets with family and friends.

More than 800 million people currently use Messenger.

A recent report indicated that Facebook will soon be including paid advertisements in its Messenger app. Based off a a leaked document obtained by TechCrunch that the social media giant is purportedly being distributed, it appears Facebook is informing businesses they will soon be able to message customers directly via the Facebook messenger app starting Q2 of this year. However, the businesses will only able to message those customers who have voluntarily initiated the chat.

The document also notes that Facebook has quietly launched a URL short link fb.com/msg/ that opens a chat thread with the business. Facebook too has confirmed the existence of the URL, says the report.

“We don’t comment on rumour or speculation. That said, our aim with Messenger is to create a high quality, engaging experience for 800 million people around the world, and that includes ensuring people do not experience unwanted messages of any type.”said Facebook to TechCrunch regarding Messenger ads.

Facebook Rolls Out Suicide Prevention Tool to the UK

Facebook Rolls Out Suicide Prevention Tool to the UK

After a successful trial in the US and Australia, social media giant Facebook has rolled out its suicide prevention tool in Britain that allows users to notify it if a friend is in distress.

Created in consultation with British charity Samaritans, the tool will allow users to report content to Facebook or reach out to their friends.

“We worked with organisations including Samaritans to develop these tools, and one of the first things they told us was how much connecting with people who care can help those who are struggling to cope – whether offline or online,” said Julie De Bailliencourt, head of safety at Facebook.

Facebook and Samaritans have collaborated on a suicide prevention feature since 2011.

If a person on Facebook thinks a friend is in need of support, then they can use a form in Facebook’s Help Centre to flag their concern to Facebook or report their concern via the reporting links found across Facebook’s site.

Reports to Facebook are triaged and those reported that where someone may be at risk are prioritised.

“If someone is reported to us, as at risk of suicide, Facebook’s safety team will look at their account. If they consider that a person is at risk of immediate harm then we may, in very rare cases, alert local police,” Samaritans wrote on its website.

“If we don’t consider that someone is at immediate risk but is showing signs of distress then we will interrupt their Facebook experience. At this time we will send them a message to say that a friend has flagged that they may be in crisis and offer them information about how to get help via Samaritans,” it further added.

If you report worrying content, users will be sent a notification asking them whether they need support from a friend or helpline, and will be given tips and advice on how to deal with suicidal thoughts or thoughts of self harm.

“Those who report explicit threats of suicide will be given the number for emergency services, while less serious content will be flagged to Facebook,” the charity noted.

In 2014, the charity launched an initiative with Twitter which flagged “worrying tweets” to the service but was withdrawn later.

Opera Max Now Alerts You About the Background Data Consumption of Apps

Opera Max Now Alerts You About the Background Data Consumption of Apps

Facebook app was recently accused of eating up a huge chunk of Internet data, battery, and other resources on a user’s iPhone and Android smartphone. But it turns out, it is not the only app to exhibit such habits. A new study from Opera finds that many popular apps including WhatsApp account for a significant data drainage.

Opera also claims that a significant percent of all mobile-data usage is wasted in the background, and that its updated data saving app for Android – Opera Max – can now not only help set limits on the background data consumption of apps, but notify users with Smart Alerts about the data being consumed by individual apps – any app that consumes over 10MB per week. The Smart Alerts show up inside Opera Max as a card in the Data usage timeline, a card in App management, as well as in the OS notification bar.

opera_max_infographic.jpgOpera says that it has found 30 percent of all mobile-data usage is consumed by apps syncing in the background. The company adds thatFacebook Messenger,WhatsApp and Gmaildrain are among the apps that utilise a lot of data in the background. In fact, according to Opera’s finding, Facebook Messenger and Gmail account for 73 percent of the total usage happening in the background. Other apps that also sip a lot of Internet data in the background includeGoogle Drive andGoogle Hangouts.

Opera explains that apps sip Internet data in the background to keep their content updated, and fetch ads among other things. This happens by default. However, eating up unnecessary data, of course, means that your Internet bills are going to be more than what you have imagined.

“Most apps are made to give a great user experience, not to save data. If you fetch background data through your data plan, it’s like throwing away $1 out of every $3 you spend on your mobile data plan,” says Sergey Lossev, Product Manager at Opera Software. “Most people are not aware of this background data drain and may not have authorised it, nor do they know how to stop it from happening.” he added.

Facebook Live Video Rolling Out Globally; Messenger Tipped to Get Ads

Facebook Live Video Rolling Out Globally; Messenger Tipped to Get Ads

Facebook last month started rolling out its Live Video streaming feature to all iPhone users in the US region. The content sharing feature, which was previously limited to select users and celebrities, has now started rolling out to other countries as well. A separate report adds that Facebook might soon start injecting ads in to its standalone messaging app – Messenger.

As per user reports (via Engadget), users in the UK, Germany, Brazil, and South Africa have started seeing the new Live Video sharing feature in their Facebook apps following an in-app update. Users can check if they have the live streaming tool by tapping on the Update Status bar at the top of the News Feed and looking for the Live Video icon.

For now, only iOS users are able to view the icons. Android users are expected to receive the feature soon. The report adds that Facebook will take a couple of weeks to make the feature available to all iOS users.

Facebook Live Videos work in a similar fashion as Twitter’s Periscope. Users can start streaming a live video and the viewers can comment and like the stream. Facebook will also show the number of views on the live streaming video.

In a separate report, Facebook will soon be including paid advertisements in its Facebook Messenger app as per a leaked document obtained by TechCrunch. The social media giant has distributed a document to businesses suggesting that they will soon be able to message customers directly via the Facebook messenger app starting Q2 of this year. However, the businesses will only able to message those customers who have voluntarily initiated the chat.

The document also notes that Facebook has quietly launched a URL short link fb.com/msg/ that opens a chat thread with the business. Facebook too has confirmed the existence of the URL, says the report.

“We don’t comment on rumour or speculation. That said, our aim with Messenger is to create a high quality, engaging experience for 800 million people around the world, and that includes ensuring people do not experience unwanted messages of any type.”said Facebook to TechCrunch regarding Messenger ads.

Facebook Nude-Painting Case Can Face Trial in France

Facebook Nude-Painting Case Can Face Trial in France

If you post a 19th-century nude painting on Facebook, is it art or impermissible nudity? That question is now cleared for trial in France, after an appeals court there ruled that an aggrieved user can sue the social network over the issue.

Five years ago, Facebook suspended the account of Frederic Durand-Baissas, a 57-year-old Parisian teacher and art lover, without prior notice. That was the day he posted a photo of Gustave Courbet’s 1866 painting “The Origin of the World,” which depicts female genitalia.

Durand-Baissas wants his account reactivated and is asking for EUR 20,000 ($22,550) in damages. He said he’s “glad” he has been given the chance to get some sort of explanation from the powerful social network.

“This is a case of free speech and censorship on a social network,” Durand-Baissas told The Associated Press in a phone interview. “If (Facebook) can’t see the difference between an artistic masterpiece and a pornographic image, we in France (can).”

The case is an illustration of the tricky line social media sites walk globally when trying to police explicit content.

“It’s another hole in the fabric, at least in Europe, when it comes to users’ rights running counter to the way these companies operate in the U.S.,” said Steve Jones, a communications professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

“Social networks are going to have to be much more careful about how they interact with users and how they summarily make decisions about those users’ accounts,” he said.

Facebook has never provided any specific explanation for the suspended account.

“This case dates back more than five years and Facebook has evolved considerably since then,” spokeswoman Christine Chen said in an emailed response to a request for comment. “While we are disappointed by today’s ruling on jurisdiction, we remain confident that the court will find the underlying case itself to be without merit.”

The social network’s current “Community Standards” page, which Facebook revised in March 2015 to provide “more detail and clarity,” states: “We restrict the display of nudity because some audiences within our global community may be sensitive to this type of content – particularly because of their cultural background or age.”

But Facebook’s current policy – revised well after Durand-Baissas’ suspension – also now appears to allow postings such as a photo of the Courbet painting. Facebook’s standards page now explicitly states: “We also allow photographs of paintings, sculptures, and other art that depicts nude figures.”

Facebook’s nudity policy has not yet been aired in French court. So far, Facebook lawyers have argued that under its terms of service, lawsuits like the one filed by Durand-Baissas could only be heard by a specific court in California, where Facebook is headquartered. The social network also argued that French consumer-rights law doesn’t apply to its users in that country because its worldwide service is free.

The Paris appeals court dismissed those arguments. The ruling could set a legal precedent in France, where Facebook has more than 30 million regular users. It can be appealed to France’s highest court.

The appeals court said the small clause included in Facebook’s terms and conditions requiring any worldwide lawsuits to be heard by the Santa Clara court is “unfair” and excessive. In addition, the judges said the terms and conditions contract signed before creating a Facebook account does fall under consumer rights law in France.

“This is a great satisfaction and a great victory after five years of legal action,” lawyer Stephane Cottineau, who represents the teacher, told The Associated Press. He said it sends a message to all “web giants that they will have now to answer for their possible faults in French courts.”

“On one hand, Facebook shows a total permissiveness regarding violence and ideas conveyed on the social network. And on the other hand, (it) shows an extreme prudishness regarding the body and nudity,” he said.

The French government has lobbied Silicon Valley tech giants to take down violent extremist material, notably after deadly attacks in Paris last year.

Facebook has had a tough week in France.

France’s independent privacy watchdog said Facebook is breaching user privacy by tracking and using their personal data, and set a three-month limit ahead of eventual fines. And the government’s anti-fraud agency issued a formal notice giving the company two months to comply with French data protection laws or risk sanctions. It notably accused Facebook of removing content or information posted by users without consultation.

Facebook India MD Kirthiga Reddy Stepping Down

Facebook India MD Kirthiga Reddy Stepping Down

Facebook Inc’s India managing director, Kirthiga Reddy, said on Friday she is stepping down and returning to the United States to “explore new opportunities” at the company’s headquarters in Menlo Park, California.

Reddy, who joined Facebook in 2010 as its first employee in India, said in a Facebook post she would be relocating in the next 6-12 months.

Reddy is working closely with William Easton, MD of emerging markets (Asia Pacific), and Dan Neary, vice president of Asia Pacific, to search for her successor.

The move comes days after India introduced rules to prevent Internet service providers from having different pricing policies for accessing different parts of the Web, in a setback to Facebook’s plan to roll out a pared-back free Internet service.

The service, earlier known as internet.org, has also run into trouble in other countries that have accused Facebook of infringing the principle of net neutrality – the concept that all websites and data on the Internet be treated equally.

Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg was disappointed with the Indian ruling and said that the company was still “working to break down barriers to connectivity in India and around the world.”

“As she had planned for some time, Kirthiga Reddy is moving back to the US to work with the teams in Headquarters,” a Facebook spokesperson said. “During her time in India, Kirthiga was not involved in our Free Basic Services efforts.”

Facebook Offers Free Ads to Those Who Counter Terror Speech

Facebook Offers Free Ads to Those Who Counter Terror Speech: Report

Facebook has offered ad credits worth up to $1,000 (roughly Rs. 68,000) to users who helped the social media giant counter terrorist propaganda by posting anti-extremist and positive messages on its website, a media report said.

In an attempt to discredit extremist content with posts from its users, Facebook began combating terrorist propaganda online with its own form of “counter speech”.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum (WEF) recently, Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg expressed her support for campaigns that counter propaganda from terrorist groups like Islamic State (IS) with messages of tolerance and hope.

Sandberg also pointed to a case in which a Facebook page for a neo-Nazi group was flooded with “likes” and positive messages.

According to the journal, the social network has also collaborated with the US State Department to develop messaging from college students.

Together with the State Department, Facebook launched competitions in 45 college classes around the world. Those who participated in the competition were provided a budget of $2,000 (roughly Rs. 1,36,000) and $200 (roughly Rs. 13,600) in ad credits.

Last year, Facebook allowed former members of extremist groups to create fake accounts and engage with current members. The experiment delivered encouraging results.