WhatsApp to clamp down on ‘sinister’ messages in India

India is WhatsApp’s biggest market with more than 200 million users. (Reuters)
Updated 21 August 2018
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WhatsApp to clamp down on ‘sinister’ messages in India

NEW DELHI: Facebook-owned WhatsApp assured the Indian government on Tuesday that it would develop tools to combat the problem of fake messages, the country’s information technology minister said.
India has stepped up efforts to crack down on mass message forward after it found that people were using platforms such as WhatsApp to stoke public anger. False messages circulated on WhatsApp have led to a series of mob beatings across the country this year.
WhatsApp chief executive officer Chris Daniels met India’s IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on Tuesday, assuring the government of a solution.
Prasad told reporters he had asked WhatsApp to develop a detailed mechanism to trace the origin of any such “sinister” messages.
“It does not need rocket science to locate a message,” Prasad said after his meeting, adding that WhatsApp had said it was working with law enforcement agencies to develop its systems.
A Facebook spokeswoman in India did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
India is WhatsApp’s biggest market with more than 200 million users and one where it says people forward more messages, photographs and videos than any other country.
There are also concerns that supporters of political parties could use social media platforms such as WhatsApp to spread false messages in the run-up to India’s national elections in 2019.
Following calls from the government to stem the platform’s misuse, WhatsApp has moved to deter mass message forward and launched an advertising campaign to educate consumers.
In July, WhatsApp said message forward will be limited to five chats at a time, whether among individuals or groups, and said it will remove the quick forward button placed next to media messages.


Google staff discussed ways to fight Trump travel ban: WSJ

A Google logo in an office building in Zurich September 5, 2018. (REUTERS)
Updated 36 min 35 sec ago
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Google staff discussed ways to fight Trump travel ban: WSJ

  • An email from an employee of the Search Product Marketing division referred to brainstorming inside Google over how to respond to ban

WASHINGTON: Google employees discussed how to counter President Donald Trump’s 2017 travel ban by modifying search functions to help people contribute to immigration advocacy groups and contact lawmakers, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday.
They began the email discussion two days after Trump signed the first version of his travel ban targeting people from seven mainly Muslim countries, the paper reported.
Staff discussed how to tweak search functions and work against “islamophobic, algorithmically biased results from search terms ‘Islam’, ‘Muslim’, ‘Iran’, etc.,” the Journal reported.
They looked at similar measures for the search terms ‘Mexico’, ‘Hispanic’, ‘Latino’, etc.”
An email from an employee of the Search Product Marketing division referred to brainstorming inside Google over how to respond to ban.
Trump’s controversial measure was challenged in court and underwent several iterations before ultimately being upheld by the US Supreme Court.
The report is certain to anger Trump, who has accused Google of blocking conservative viewpoints in its search results.
Google told the Journal that none of the ideas discussed were ever implemented.
“Google has never manipulated its search results or modified any of its products to promote a particular political ideology — not in the current campaign season, not during the 2016 election, and not in the aftermath of President Trump’s executive order on immigration,” it said in a statement.
“Our processes and policies would not have allowed for any manipulation of search results to promote political ideologies,” it added.
Google was among 100 tech companies that filed a friend-of-the-court brief in February 2017 challenging the travel ban as harmful to US “business, innovation and growth.”