Displaying items by tag: Facebook

Irish capital is Europe’s data hub

Written on Thursday, 24 January 2019 12:28

A new industrial revolution is underway in the heart of the Irish capital as clusters of warehouses housing vast quantities of data continue to emerge.

Dublin has really embraced technology in an effort to boost its flagging and shrinking economy following the global crash in 2008. Internet behemoths such as Facebook, Apple and Google all have their European HQ’s in Dublin and the city has become the continent’s No.1 data hub.

A familiar term within the ICT ecosystem is that ‘data is the new oil’ and will fuel the global economy. Those sentiments were echoed by Brian Roe, Commercial Director of Serve-Centric, which is a data center company.

Roe said, “Data is the new oil, definitely.  These powerhouse developments provide 24/7/365 access to the massive data, processing power and storage that digital services around Europe require. People are saying, ‘Well everything is going to come from the cloud’.  Well where's the cloud? The cloud is data centers."

Ireland’s industry lobby group Host has said the new phenomenon has become the unlikely engine room for everything from video streaming to phone apps and social media.    

In addition to this, progressive government incentives, a highly-skilled workforce and high connectivity to Europe and America are helping attract data center construction investment which is expected to reach nine billion euros ($10 billion) by 2021.

The sector employs 5,700 people in full-time equivalent roles including 1,800 as data center operators, according to a report produced for Ireland's investment agency. Many of Ireland’s brightest young talent were forced to emigrate after the recession, but many are no returning to avail of the exciting new opportunities presented by Dublin’s transformation into a tech hub.    

Data has become a hot topic in Europe following the introduction of GDPR. Enterprises have been forced to examine their data harvesting and storage practices in a more forensic manner. Consumers have also now been awakened to the dangers of providing their data online following the high-profile Cambridge Analytica and Facebook scandal which emerged last year. 

Amazon Web Services (AWS) -- which provides cloud services for hire -- is a particular concern for Paul O' Neill, a researcher based at Dublin City University. "The ethical implications of hosting AWS data centers in Ireland are potentially vast," he said.

AWS, which has announced plans to expand its Dublin operations, sells controversial facial recognition technology to US police.

"These corporations are or have been involved in many of the dominant controversies and debates of our contemporary networked era including privacy, data breaches and surveillance.”

Published in Infrastructure

Facebook accused of breaking law in Vietnam

Written on Thursday, 10 January 2019 13:08

Vietnam has accused Facebook of breaching a new cybersecurity law by failing to take down anti-government content from its pages and advertising illegal products such as weapons and counterfeit goods.

The law – which came into place on January 1st - requires internet companies to remove "toxic content" and hand over user data when requested by authorities.

A report broadcast on Vietnam Television said that the Ministry of Information and Communications had sent several letters and emails to the company requesting the removals of pages calling for anti-government activities, but that the social media giant had delayed and failed to remove the pages from its site 

Vietnam also accused the company of hosting advertisements for illegal products such as counterfeit money, fake goods, weapons and fireworks.

Facebook claim that the information did not violate community standards, and remains transparent about the content restrictions they make pursuant with local law.

"We have a clear process for governments to report illegal content to us, and we review all these requests against our terms of service and local law," a spokeswoman from Facebook said.

The consequences for violating the law are expected to be laid out in a decree which has yet to be made public and Facebook are the first reprimand since the controversial bill came into place days ago.

Vietnam has said the bill is designed to improve cybersecurity in the country, but has drawn widespread criticism from the US, the EU and web freedom groups. Critics have said the new legislation is a means to control online expression – similar to China’s strict censorship laws.  

As all independent press and public protests are banned, social media is a crucial platform for activists in communist Vietnam, with over 53 million Facebook user profiles. However, reports in recent months suggest that Facebook posts have disappeared and accounts been blocked.

Published in Apps

Facebook faces lawsuit over data leak scandal

Written on Thursday, 20 December 2018 10:15

A DC attorney general has announced that he will file a lawsuit against Facebook over the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

Attorney General Karl Racine said the social media giant had “failed to protect the privacy of its users and deceived them,” after the data of tens of millions of its users were leaked to third-parties.

The suit alleges the company violated the Consumer Protection Procedures Act through its lax privacy standards, and that it misrepresented third-party developers’ ability to obtain data. The office intends to seek civil penalties if proven in court.

After the scandal emerged in March, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified before Congress and answered questions from the Senate commerce and judiciary committees on privacy, data mining, regulations and Cambridge Analytica. The political consultancy had gathered names, “likes” and other data from more than 87 million Facebook users without their permission or knowledge.

Facebook was fined £500,000 by the UK's data protection watchdog for its role in the scandal.

“Facebook failed to protect the privacy of its users and deceived them” about who had access to their data and how it was used,” Attorney General Karl Racine said in a statement. “Facebook put users at risk of manipulation by allowing companies like Cambridge Analytica and other third-party applications to collect personal data without users’ permission. Today’s lawsuit is about making Facebook live up to its promise to protect its users’ privacy.”

The lawsuit is the latest blow for the social media giant in recent weeks. A report in the New York Times revealed that Facebook had allowed ‘partner’ companies such as Netflix, Spotify and the Royal Bank of Canada the ability to read, write and delete users’ private messages.

On the stock exchange, Facebook had fallen by 7.3%, with Loup Venture founder Gene Munster advising against the buying of its stocks, quoting that the social media behemoth’s ‘best days are behind it’.

Published in Apps

Facebook’s new app will cover news across 400 US cities

Written on Thursday, 29 November 2018 12:27

Facebook has announced it is expanding its local news alert to 400 US cities, and is testing the feature in Australia. “Today In” includes previews that link to news websites and relevant government pages about top headlines, current discussions, weather and more. A separate section within the app will allow users to receive local updates.

A decline in the number of local news organizations is said to have inspired Facebook’s “Today In” section. It is understood the social network will monitor the app in a bid to remove fake news and biased sensationalism.

"Earlier this year, we started testing Today In after we did research in which over 50 percent of people told us they wanted to see more local news and community information on Facebook -- more than any other type of content we asked about," said product manager Andrea Watson Strong in a blog post.

"The research showed that people wanted both what might be traditionally understood as local news -- breaking news or information about past events like city council meetings, crime reports and weather updates -- as well as community information that could help them make plans, like bus schedules, road closures and restaurant openings.

The app will also feature a First Responder page which could be used to inform citizens in emergencies such as floods or hurricanes. 

"People tell us it is important to receive timely, local updates in situations that directly affect them or that require them to take action, such as major road closures, blackouts or natural disasters," Strong said.

Published in Apps

Facebook under fire from former colleague

Written on Thursday, 29 November 2018 12:10

A former strategic partner manager at Facebook has shared a public memo about Facebook’s failings in regards to their black workforce and users. In a post to his personal profile during his last week at the company, Mark Luckie openly criticised the Californian social network, claiming they have a ‘black people problem’.

 Luckie, who is black, felt he had to resign from his position as he had ‘lost the will and the desire’ to advocate on behalf of Facebook, and felt his authenticity whilst at the company was compromised. He believes the multi-billion dollar service does not hire enough workers from ethnic minorities and carelessly removes positive content from the black community despite adhering to its terms and conditions.   

Luckie states he was one of only a small number of black people at Facebook and is cynical about his inclusion in that he was only hired as a bid for the company to appear diverse. "Facebook's disenfranchisement of black people on the platform mirrors the marginalization of its black employees," He states, “We need black employees, women, and people of colour to feel good about working at this company.”

He shared a personal account, in which a fellow colleague he would pass in the corridor would clutch at his wallet, suggesting that he felt Luckie would steal from him.  He noted that whilst the number of black and Hispanic workforce had increased from 2% to 4% from 2016, he alleges that colleagues would often remark, ‘I didn’t know black people worked at Facebook.’

Luckie also asks that Facebook must do more to provide a ‘safe haven’ for the black community, who - as one of the most engaged demographic - rely on the social media platform heavily to be heard.  He reports that positive material posted is being wrongly interpreted as ‘hate speech’ and reported; despite it not violating any of Facebook policies.  He claims Facebook is removing content and suspending accounts without properly investigating, and that underrepresented voices will be deterred from sharing content on its platform.

Published in Apps

Facebook embroiled in new data sharing claims

Written on Thursday, 14 June 2018 09:10

Beleaguered social media behemoth Facebook has been subjected to further scrutiny over its data sharing policies following a report by the Wall Street Journal.  The WSJ has claimed that Facebook offered deeper access to user records in a series of customized data sharing deals.

According to the report in the New York-based publication the Silicon Valley based social networking firm struck agreements, known internally as whitelists with a small group of companies which allowed access to users’ data which included connections, phone numbers and a metric that measures the closeness of a user with other users in its network.

When quizzed about these agreements and whitelists by The Wall Street Journal, Facebook acknowledged the deals which included agreements with enterprises such as the Royal Bank of Canada and Japanese car manufacturer Nissan, among others.

It was further alleged that the access was offered to companies which advertise on the social network or were valuable for other reasons, the newspaper said. In addition to this, it was further disclosed that Facebook continued to offer such access for periods lasting weeks and months after declaring it had cut off access to third party developers in 2015.

Company officials told WSJ Facebook struck the deals to improve user experience, test new features and allow certain partners to wind down existing data sharing projects. The latest revelation is the latest in a string of publicly damaging setbacks for the company, which faced fierce criticism in recent months over its data sharing activities.

Last week, Facebook’s data sharing practices with 60 device makers, including China-headquartered vendors, was flagged by a US politician. The company is also attempting to deal with the fallout of revelations in March that it shared data of 87 million users with Cambridge Analytica. It was also announced last week that Instagram had overtaken Facebook amongst teenagers and young adults.

Published in Apps

Huawei denies collecting data from Facebook users

Written on Thursday, 07 June 2018 08:39

Chinese telecommunications vendor Huawei has vehemently denied that it collected data from Facebook users after the Silicon Valley social media colossus confirmed that it granted the Chinese smartphone manufacturer with access to user information.

Huawei has been deemed a threat to national security in the United States by a number of leading US intelligence officials and Republican congressman. The Chinese vendor has been subjected to intense scrutiny over the last few months, and this latest revelation by Facebook will only serve to heighten concerns over national security.

Facebook confirmed that Huawei along with several other companies was allowed to access Facebook data to get the world’s leading social network to perform on its smartphones. Following a fierce backlash in the US congress, Facebook mobile partnerships leader Francisco Varela has leapt to the defense of Huawei, saying that the information utilized by the Chinese vendor was stored on the device and not on Huawei’s servers.

Varela said, “Facebook along with many other US tech companies have worked with them and other Chinese manufacturers to integrate their services onto these phones. 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.”

A spokesperson for Huawei told AFP that it cooperated with Facebook as part of a concerted effort to improve user services, and strongly denied it collected or stored the data of users. In addition to this, it also rubbished claims it had any links to the Chinese government and dismissed fears in the US over national security.

The spokesperson said, “Like all leading smartphone providers, Huawei worked with Facebook to make Facebook's services more convenient for users. Huawei has never collected or stored any Facebook user data. Our infrastructure and computing products are used in 170 countries and we’ve worked hard to become a trusted ICT provider for our customers.”

US Senator Mark Warner, who is also vice-chairman of the senate select committee on intelligence, expressed his concern regarding the revelations by Facebook that Huawei had access to users’ data.

Warner said, “Concerns about Huawei aren't new. 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. 

Published in Telecom Vendors

Hong Kong-Americas (HKA) submarine cable contract signed

Written on Sunday, 11 February 2018 11:53

The Hong Kong-Americas (HKA) consortium and Alcatel Submarine Networks (ASN) have signed a turnkey contract for the deployment of the Hong Kong-Americas (HKA) submarine cable network, which will span more than 13,000 kilometers.

This new open cable system will increase connectivity between Hong Kong and the US and will reinforce Hong Kong’s role as a key communications hub in the Asia-Pacific region. The HKA consortium includes China Telecom, China Unicom, Facebook, Tata Communications, and Telstra as the major parties.

The HKA system will feature six fiber pairs and will connect Chung Hom Kok in Hong Kong to Hermosa Beach in California; additional connectivity options may be exercised in future. Its open design will deliver significant cost benefits as well as enhanced bandwidth availability for telecommunications services and content-based services between Asia and North America. Target completion date for the HKA System is in the year 2020. 

Chung Hom Kok Cable Landing Station is located at Chung Hom Kok in the central island of Hong Kong and is the southernmost cable landing station in Hong Kong. Three cables of the C2C Network land at the Chung Hom Kok Cable Landing Station. In addition, the Southeast Asia Japan cable system lands at this station. The station is owned by Pacnet (Telstra) with Pacnet and China telecom Global providing backhaul.

Leveraging its state-of-the-art subsea technology, the ASN solution will deliver greater diversity of connections, enhanced reliability and network efficiency, as well as enabling optimal connectivity between major data centers in Asia and the USA.
The solution includes ASN's submarine WSS ROADM units, the latest generation of repeaters and will offer high performance and powering resilience, enabling over 80Tb/s transmission capacity. In addition, it is also compatible with future generations of submarine line terminal equipped with Probabilistic Shaping technology.

Philippe Piron, President of Alcatel Submarine Netwoks, said: "We are proud to work with the HKA consortium on this project, which incorporates several innovations from ASN and will be based on the latest high-performance submarine line design. The trust placed upon us by the HKA consortium validates our position as a key player for submarine network infrastructures in the Asia-Pacific region and the reinforcement of our local presence.”

Piron added: “It also provides a strong platform to further demonstrate our commitment in project management and in the development of local relationships to support operators and content providers for their network and capacity expansion strategies."

Telstra said it would invest in a half fiber pair on the Hong Kong Americas (HKA) cable. Telstra said it would also purchase capacity equivalent to 6 terabits per second on the Pacific Light Cable Network (PLCN), which like HKA will stretch from Hong Kong to the west coast of the US. Google and Facebook are also backing the PLCN.

The PLCN will have a total capacity of around 120 terabits per second and include 12,800 kilometers of fiber. The cables will offer lower latency than the Asia-America Gateway (AAG), which connects South-East Asia to the west coast of the US via Guam and Hawaii.

“Together with the current AAG cable on which Telstra carries the most traffic today, these two investments will provide us with increased capacity across the important Hong Kong to US route, one of the fastest growing routes in the world for capacity demand,” Telstra’s group managing director of global services and international, David Burns, said in a statement.

Published in Infrastructure

PLDT, NTT Communications, PCCW Global, SoftBank, Facebook and Amazon have selected TE SubCom to install a high-capacity transpacific cable system scheduled to launch in 2020. TE SubCom, a TE Connectivity Ltd. Company, is an industry pioneer in undersea communications technology.

“The demand for bandwidth in the Pacific region continues to grow at a remarkable rate, and is accompanied by the rise of capacity-dependent applications like live video, augmented and virtual reality, and 4k/8k video,” said Koji Ishii of SoftBank, co-chairperson of JUPITER consortium.

The JUPITER cable system will connect the following locations: Maruyama, Japan; Shima, Japan; Los Angeles, California; and Daet, Camarines Norte, Philippines. The new transpacific route will provide greater diversity of connections and enhanced reliability for customers, as well as optimal connectivity to data centers on the West Coast of the United States.

“JUPITER will provide the necessary diversity of connections and the highest capacity available to meet the needs of the evolving marketplace,” Ishii added. “TE SubCom has a proven record of success in the design and implementation of innovative, scalable and robust transoceanic cable systems, making the company the most reliable choice for the JUPITER supply partner.”

Sanjay Chowbey, president of TE SubCom, said submarine cables continue to have a critical impact on the global economy, as well as cultural, educational and medical advancement around the world.

“It is our privilege to help facilitate the growth of global connectivity and provide reliable, high-capacity and low-latency transmission to regions where bandwidth is at a premium,” Chowbey said. “We look forward to the next phases of what will be a high quality and industry leading system implementation.” 

Published in Infrastructure

Facebook boosts presence in Middle East and North Africa

Written on Tuesday, 31 October 2017 11:10

Completing five years in the Middle East and North Africa, Facebook opened the doors to its brand new regional headquarters in Dubai on Oct. 27. The 20,000-square-foot space features an open office concept, and showcases regional cultural inspirations through the various designs and artistic cues.

Since launching a local presence in the region in 2012, Facebook has been embraced by users, growing to 164 million monthly active people. With over 60 employees, mostly from the Arab region, Facebook’s office in Dubai acts as a hub.

Over the past five years, Facebook has grown its MENA user base by 264 percent, and now looks to galvanize the digital transformation in the Arab World, collaborating with users and partners to create products and solutions relevant to the region.

The new office houses a strong, purpose-built team, with strong regional experience, that reflects the brand’s mission to give people the power to build communities and bring the world closer together.

Working with companies across a multitude of industries including travel and tourism, finance, media, automotive, FMCG, retail, telecom and start-ups, Facebook has driven both awareness and consideration for global and local brands in the region. Complementing this is the company’s mobile-first strategy as over 156 million users access Facebook on mobile devices every month in MENA.

“This region has embarked on a path of growth and transformation and we aim to be part of it. Our new headquarters is a truly inspiring space, and brings to life the dynamism, creativity and innovative culture of Facebook while reflecting the communities around us,” said Jonathan Labin, Managing Director, Middle East, North Africa and Pakistan at Facebook.

“With its strong business ecosystems, regional connectivity, and access to the best global talent, Dubai and the UAE remain the right place for us to call home in the region,” Labin added. “We are only 1 percent finished in our journey here, and we are excited about what lies ahead in this young, connected, and mobile-first region.”

Facebook’s strong connection to the region is reflected in the Arabic themes used in the new office design, not just limited to quirky meeting room names such as ‘Hommous’, but also with commissioned pieces that blend modern and traditional styles from Emirati artist Eman Al Hashemi, making her the first artist from the Arab world to join Facebook’s Global Artist in Residence program.

Other things to look out for in the office include a maternity room for mothers who choose to bring their children to work, a treadmill desk, and an interfaith room. The office also features an in-house library with a cross-section of publications from global authors. 

Designed by INC Group and JLL MENA, the office includes a bright open floor area to encourage collaboration, a mother’s room, an interfaith room, a majlis, with recreational and quiet rooms. The office also features a private terrace with views of the iconic Palm Jumeirah.

Employees have access to a gaming section or can take selfies in a custom-built Instagram anti-gravity room. For those looking for quiet time, the space features ‘acoustic sofas’ as a quieter location for work as well as meeting rooms that reflect the regional culture and sense of humor, including ‘Three Men and a Habibi’, ‘Shawarma’, and ‘Gone with the Sandstorm’.

Expanding their presence in the region, Facebook aims to build on its work with local and regional Arab content creators like The Saudi Reporters, as well as further create opportunities for entrepreneurs by working directly with businesses to develop bespoke strategies that supports their growth.

The next few years will also see Facebook sustaining the momentum of its global #SheMeansBusiness program, launched earlier this year, in partnership with Emirates Foundation, Sheraa Sharjah and Ahead of the Curve in Egypt which aims to train and inspire women entrepreneurs in the region, and use Facebook and Instagram as platforms to reach and grow their audiences.

Published in Apps
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