Facebook bug unblocks unwanted connections for a bit

In this March 29, 2018, file photo, the logo for Facebook appears on screens at the Nasdaq MarketSite in New York's Times Square. (AP)
Updated 03 July 2018
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Facebook bug unblocks unwanted connections for a bit

  • While someone who was unblocked could not see content shared with friends, they could have seen things posted to a wider audience
  • People affected by the bug will get notifications encouraging them to check their blocked lists

SAN FRANCISCO: Facebook on Monday said it is notifying more than 800,000 users that a software bug temporarily unblocked people at the social network and its Messenger service.
The glitch active between May 29 and June 5 has been fixed, according to Facebook, which has been striving to regain trust in the aftermath of a Cambridge Analytica data privacy scandal.
“We know that the ability to block someone is important,” Facebook chief privacy officer Erin Egan said in a blog post.
“We’d like to apologize and explain what happened.”
Blocking someone on Facebook prevents them from seeing posts in a blocker’s profile; connecting as a friend, or starting Messenger conversations.
Blocking someone also automatically “unfriends” the person.
“There are many reasons why people block another person on Facebook,” Egan said.
“Their relationship may have changed or they may want to take a break from someone posting content they find annoying.”
People are blocked for harsher reasons, such as harassment or bullying, Egan added.
The software bug did not restore any severed friend connections at the social network, but someone who was blocked could have been able to reach out to a blocker on Messenger, according to Facebook.
“While someone who was unblocked could not see content shared with friends, they could have seen things posted to a wider audience,” Egan said of the glitch.
The vast majority of the more than 800,000 people affected by the bug had only one person they had blocked be temporarily unblocked, according to Facebook.
People affected by the bug will get notifications encouraging them to check their blocked lists.
Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg earlier this year was grilled by the European Parliament and the US Congress about a massive breach of users’ personal data in the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
Facebook admitted that up to 87 million users may have had their data hijacked by British consultancy Cambridge Analytica, which worked for US President Donald Trump during his 2016 campaign.


Postman, shopper, builder: In Japan, there’s a robot for that

Updated 18 October 2018
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Postman, shopper, builder: In Japan, there’s a robot for that

  • CarriRo “is designed to roll along the pavements and direct itself via GPS to an address within a two-kilometer radius,” explained Chio Ishikawa, from Sumitomo Corp, which is promoting the robot
  • The lucky recipient of the package is sent a code to a smartphone allowing him or her to access CarriRo’s innards and retrieve whatever is inside — post, medicine or a take-away

TOKYO: Forget the flashy humanoids with their gymnastics skills: at the World Robot Summit in Tokyo, the focus was on down-to-earth robots that can deliver post, do the shopping and build a house.
Introducing CarriRo, a delivery robot shaped a bit like a toy London bus with bright, friendly “eyes” on its front that can zip around the streets delivering packages at 6km/h (4 miles per hour).
CarriRo “is designed to roll along the pavements and direct itself via GPS to an address within a two-kilometer radius,” explained Chio Ishikawa, from Sumitomo Corp, which is promoting the robot.
The lucky recipient of the package is sent a code to a smartphone allowing him or her to access CarriRo’s innards and retrieve whatever is inside — post, medicine or a take-away.
Services like this are especially needed in aging Japan. With nearly 28 percent of the population over 65, mobility is increasingly limited and the country is struggling for working-age employees.
Toyota’s HSR (Human Support Robot) may not be an oil painting to look at — standing a meter tall, it looks like a bin with arms — but it can provide vital help for the aged or handicapped at home.
Capable of handling and manoeuvring a variety of objects, it also provides a key interface with the outside world via its Internet-connected screen for a head.
Japan’s manpower shortage is felt especially keenly in the retail and construction sectors and firms at the summit were keen to demonstrate their latest solutions.
Omron showcased a robot that can be programmed to glide around a supermarket and place various items into a basket. Possibly useful for a lazy — or infirm — shopper but more likely to be put to use in a logistics warehouse.
Japan also has difficulty finding staff to stack shelves at its 55,000 convenience stores open 24/7 and here too, robots can fill the gap.
With buildings going up at breakneck pace as Tokyo prepares to welcome the world for the 2020 Olympics, there are construction sites all over the city but not always enough people to work them.
Enter HRP-5P. The snappily named, humanoid-shaped machine certainly has the look of a brawny builder, at 182cm tall and weighing in at 101 kilogrammes.
And HRP-5P is designed to carry out the same construction tasks that humans currently perform — even when left to its own devices.
HRP-5P “can use the same tools as a man, which is why we gave it the shape of a human — two legs, two arms and a head,” explained one of its creators, Kenji Kaneko from the National Advanced Industrial Science and Technology research facility.
Manufacturers were also promoting the latest in talking robots, which are becoming increasingly “intelligent” in their responses.
Sharp’s Robohon, a cute-as-pie humanoid robot standing only 20 centimeters tall, has been employed since last month to recount to tourists the history of the ancient Imperial capital of Kyoto — in English, Japanese or Chinese.
And very popular among Japanese visitors to the World Robot Summit was a robot replica of Tetsuko Kuroyanagi, one of the country’s top TV stars.
Created in collaboration with Japanese robotics master Hiroshi Ishiguro, the robot replicates the 85-year-old’s facial expressions almost perfectly but conversation with the machine hardly flows.
“The difficulty is being able to create fluid conversations with different people,” said Junji Tomita, engineer at telecoms giant NTT which is also involved in the project.
“The number of possible responses to an open question is so vast that it is very complicated,” admitted Tomita.