Facebook unveils its first smart glasses

The Ray-Ban stories glasses would be an “ads-free experience,” according to Facebook. (WSJ)
The Ray-Ban stories glasses would be an “ads-free experience,” according to Facebook. (WSJ)
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Updated 10 September 2021

Facebook unveils its first smart glasses

The Ray-Ban stories glasses would be an “ads-free experience,” according to Facebook. (WSJ)
  • Facebook launches its first smart glasses in partnership with Ray-Ban
  • The glasses allow wearers to listen to music, take calls or capture photos and short videos and share them across Facebook’s services using a companion app

LONDON: Facebook Inc. launched its first smart glasses on Thursday in a step toward its aim of offering true augmented-reality spectacles.
The glasses, which were created in partnership with Ray-Ban maker Essilor Luxottica, allow wearers to listen to music, take calls or capture photos and short videos and share them across Facebook’s services using a companion app. Facebook said the glasses line, called “Ray-Ban Stories,” would start at $299.
The social media giant, which reported revenue of about $86 billion in 2020, makes most of its money from advertising but has invested heavily in virtual and augmented reality, developing hardware such as its Oculus VR headsets and working on wristband technologies to support augmented reality glasses.
Facebook’s chief scientist said last year the company was five to 10 years away from being able to bring to market “true” AR glasses, which would superimpose virtual objects onto the wearer’s view of the real world.
Major tech firms including Amazon.com Inc, Alphabet Inc’s Google, Microsoft Corp, Apple Inc. and Snap Inc. have raced to develop various smart glasses products, but early offerings like Google Glass proved difficult to sell to consumers put off by high price points and design issues.
Snap, which unveiled its smart Spectacles in 2016, this year launched AR glasses but they are not for sale and are offered only to AR creators. Snap’s CEO, Evan Spiegel, said in 2019 that he expected it would be a decade before consumers widely adopted AR smart glasses.
Facebook’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, recently announced the company was setting up a team to work on building the metaverse, a shared virtual environment which it is betting will be the successor to the mobile Internet.
“We’ve believed for a long time that glasses are going to be an important part of building the next computing platform,” said Zuckerberg in a video posted on his Facebook page on Thursday.
Facebook, which has been criticized over its handling of user data, said it would not access the media used by its smart-glasses customers without their consent.
The company also said it would not use the content of the photos or videos captured using the glasses and stored in the Facebook View app for personalizing ads, and said the glasses would be an “ads-free experience.”
The glasses include an optional virtual assistant so photos and videos can be captured hands-free through voice commands. Facebook said an LED light on the glasses would show when the camera is on, to make other people aware when a wearer is taking a photo or video.
It published a guide outlining how to use the glasses responsibly, for example turning them off in private spaces like public bathrooms and not using them for illegal actions like harassment or capturing sensitive information such as PIN codes.


Facebook: Fake scientist used to spread anti-US propaganda

Facebook: Fake scientist used to spread anti-US propaganda
Updated 3 min 14 sec ago

Facebook: Fake scientist used to spread anti-US propaganda

Facebook: Fake scientist used to spread anti-US propaganda
  • Disinformation network with ties to China used hundreds of fake social media accounts to spread anti-US propaganda, Facebook said
  • China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has said in the past that the country’s government does not employ trickery on social media
A disinformation network with ties to China used hundreds of fake social media accounts — including one belonging to a fictitious Swiss biologist — to spread an unfounded claim that the US pressured scientists to blame China for the coronavirus, Facebook said Wednesday.
The company based in Menlo Park, California, did not directly attribute the network to the Chinese government. But it noted employees of Chinese state-run companies, and the country’s state-run media, worked to amplify the misleading claims, which were soon the subject of news headlines in China.
“In effect it worked like an online hall of mirrors, endlessly reflecting the original fake persona and its anti-US disinformation,” according to Ben Nimmo, who leads investigations into disinformation at Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram.
The operation began in July, when a Facebook account was created in the name of Wilson Edwards, a self-professed Swiss biologist. That same day, the account user claimed, without evidence, that US officials were using “enormous pressure and even intimidation” to get scientists to back calls for renewed investigations into the origin of the virus.
Within hours, hundreds of other accounts — some of which were created only that day — began liking, posting or linking to the post. Many of the accounts were later found to be fake, with some of the users posing as westerners and others using likely fabricated profile photos. Facebook said it found links between the accounts and a tech firm based in Chengdu, China, as well as to overseas employees of Chinese infrastructure companies.
Within a week of the initial post, large media outlets in China were reporting on the claims of US intimidation as if they had been made by a real scientist.
The operation was exposed when Swiss authorities announced in August that they had no record of any biologist with Edwards’ name. “If you exist, we would like to meet you!” the Swiss embassy in Beijing tweeted.
China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has said in the past that the country’s government does not employ trickery on social media. Efforts to contact the companies cited in the report weren’t immediately successful on Wednesday.
In all, Meta removed about 600 accounts on Facebook and Instagram that were linked to the network, Nimmo told reporters on a call Wednesday that touched on the company’s response to several disinformation networks around the world.
Facebook uncovered fake accounts affiliated with the network that had also waded into US politics last year, with some posting memes that both attacked and supported ex-President Donald Trump. One post on Instagram called him “the worst president ever!” The group behind the effort also created accounts on Twitter, which has since suspended the account supposedly created by Edwards.
Nimmo said the network was easily spotted by its clumsy tactics. Several of the fake accounts sent out identical posts at similar times — a clear indication of coordination. Another person apparently working for the network posted instructions for reposting the claim in what Facebook determined was likely a sloppy mistake.
China’s disinformation networks have consistently been haphazard, said Bret Schafer, who heads the information manipulation team at the Alliance for Securing Democracy, a non-partisan think tank in Washington.
The network unearthed by Facebook show that the Chinese are still working on their influence campaign strategy, unlike Russia, which has spent decades crafting disinformation campaigns that target unwitting Americans online and go undetected for years.
“It didn’t take long for this to be unraveled,” Schafer said. “The Chinese are still a bit sloppier with what they do. I can’t imagine the Russians doing something like this, where they just create a persona out of thin air.”

Hia Magazine unveils 'Hia Hub'

Hia Hub logo (Supplied)
Hia Hub logo (Supplied)
Updated 01 December 2021

Hia Magazine unveils 'Hia Hub'

Hia Hub logo (Supplied)

RIYADH, KSA: Driven by its ongoing commitment to excellence, authenticity, and women empowerment, Hia magazine today announced the launch of Hia Hub. A unique experience, Hia Hub will bring to life a series of art, culture, and creative activations, lectures, and exhibitions in Jax District - Riyadh, running from 5- 20 December 2021.

Hia Hub will house a series of exclusive events curated to provide an exceptional experience including:

“Waha” exhibition by Sarah Shakeel: Artist Sarah Shakeel creates a unique artistic experience at Hia Hub through her exhibition “Waha”. Showcasing her renowned style that combines reality with imagination, Shakeel will take guests to a desert scene sparkling with crystals, where a tent covered with Swarovski crystals will display the artist’s creations.

For full details and timings of the exhibition, please visit www.hiamag.com/hiahub

The Valentino Exhibition: A unique showcase presenting Valentino’s new Party Collection. The new collection celebrates the gradual return to life in preparation for the end of year holiday season. A fun collection displayed in a very chic home party setting, which will inspire visitors to rediscover the glamourous couture of these special occasions. Select numbers of fashion students will also be able to visit the Valentino exhibition at Hia Hub to experience the work of this leading fashion house up close.

Hia Hub Talks: Hia magazine has always been a source of inspiration for Arab women on issues of fashion, beauty and creativity. Hia Hub will provide a creative space where inspiring stories are shared, and pioneering dialogues and discussions on issues that resonate with the contemporary woman will take place. Talks will be hosted by regional and global female leaders in fashion, arts and culture, including CEOs of organizations like Threads Styling, Tasami and 500 Startups MENA. The stellar list of participants includes the international model Candice Swanepoel, who will share her thoughts on how core values of sustainability and community empowerment can create positive impact on the environment. Prior registration at www.hiamag.com/hiahub is required to attend all Talks.

Shows, workshops and masterclasses: Guests and visitors of Hia Hub will have a unique opportunity to explore the latest collections and offers, presented in partnership with international luxury brands. Visitors will also have the opportunity to attend exclusive masterclasses and workshops conducted by renowned experts in the design and beauty field, including international stylist Dani Michelle, who works with some of the biggest international stars such as Kendall Jenner and Kourtney Kardashian, and will provide an exclusive masterclass that can be pre-registered through hiamag.com/hiahub.

Another key participant in Hia Hub is Quormoz, a renowned Saudi design house which focuses on heritage and culture to showcase the best of local creative talent.

Mai Badr, Editor-in-chief of Hia magazine said: “The launch of Hia Hub asserts Hia magazine’s ongoing commitment to supporting creativity, art and culture and what these values represent for empowered women. We are immensely proud of our legacy and through Hia Hub we can provide an unparalleled platform to empower women in the region and build ambitious goals to inspire them, showcase their success stories and highlight their achievements.”

Hia Hub will take place in Jax District, D9, Diriyah, Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Visit www.hiamag.com/hiahub for more details and to register for events.


Fox News host criticized for comparing US chief medical adviser to Nazi doctor

Prominent Jewish groups and the Auschwitz Museum condemned Logan’s comments, describing them as “shameful.” (File/AFP)
Prominent Jewish groups and the Auschwitz Museum condemned Logan’s comments, describing them as “shameful.” (File/AFP)
Updated 01 December 2021

Fox News host criticized for comparing US chief medical adviser to Nazi doctor

Prominent Jewish groups and the Auschwitz Museum condemned Logan’s comments, describing them as “shameful.” (File/AFP)
  • Fox News host and commentator Lara Logan was on Tuesday criticized for comparing America’s chief medical adviser Anthony Fauci to Nazi doctor

LONDON: Fox News host and commentator Lara Logan was on Tuesday criticized for comparing America’s chief medical adviser Anthony Fauci to Nazi doctor Josef Mengele.

During “Fox News Primetime” on Monday the journalist said that people had told her that Fauci did not represent science but rather Mengele, who was known as the Angel of Death for the atrocities he committed while performing medical experiments at the Auschwitz death camp.

During the TV show, Logan said: “What you see on Dr. Fauci — this is what people say to me: That he doesn’t represent science to them. He represents Josef Mengele.

“Dr. Josef Mengele, the Nazi doctor who did experiments on Jews during the Second World War and in the concentration camps. And I am talking about people all around the world are saying this,” she added.

Prominent Jewish groups and the Auschwitz Museum condemned Logan’s comments, describing them as “shameful.”

Meanwhile, the American Jewish Committee called on Logan, 50, to apologize. On her comments it said: “Utterly shameful. Josef Mengele earned his nickname by performing deadly and inhumane medical experiments on prisoners of the Holocaust, including children.

“There is no comparing the hell these victims went through to public health measures. An apology is needed.”

Head of the Anti-Defamation League, Jonathan Greenblatt, said: “There’s absolutely no comparison between mask mandates, vaccine requirements, and other COVID-19 (coronavirus disease) mitigation efforts to what happened to Jews during the Holocaust.”


STARZPLAY hosts ‘House of Gucci’ UAE premiere

STARZPLAY hosts ‘House of Gucci’ UAE premiere
Updated 01 December 2021

STARZPLAY hosts ‘House of Gucci’ UAE premiere

STARZPLAY hosts ‘House of Gucci’ UAE premiere
  • The biographical drama will be available to stream on STARZPLAY after its theatrical release

DUBAI: STARZPLAY, in association with Gulf Films, hosted the UAE premiere of American biographical crime drama “House of Gucci” at the NOVO 7-Star cinema at IMG Worlds of Adventure in Dubai.

The premiere was the first look for select guests before the film’s official release in UAE cinemas. Following its theatrical release, the movie will be available to stream exclusively on STARZPLAY.

Currently, the platform is streaming a biographical documentary about the same story, “Lady Gucci,” via the Discovery+ add-on channel. In the 75-minute documentary, the former Mrs. Gucci, Patrizia Reggiani, tells her story in an exclusive interview.

The latest film “House of Gucci” has a star-studded cast featuring Lady Gaga, Adam Driver, Al Pacino, Salma Hayek, and Jared Leto and is directed by acclaimed director Ridley Scott, known for films such as “Blade Runner,” “Black Hawk Down,” and “The Martian.”

The move marks STARZPLAY’s dominance in the regional streaming market. This year alone, the platform has made deals that saw it enter the Asian market as well as strengthen its foothold in the Middle East through partnerships with Abu Dhabi Media and Turkish content companies.


Google to ban political advertising ahead of Philippine elections

Google to ban political advertising ahead of Philippine elections
Updated 01 December 2021

Google to ban political advertising ahead of Philippine elections

Google to ban political advertising ahead of Philippine elections
  • Move comes amid pressure on social media platforms over their handling of political advertising during the US presidential election in 2020

MANILA: Alphabet Inc’s Google said on Wednesday it will ban political advertising on its platform in the run-up to Philippine elections in May next year to choose a successor to President Rodrigo Duterte.
The move comes amid pressure on social media platforms over their handling of political advertising during the US presidential election in 2020.
Social media platforms have become political battlegrounds in the Southeast Asian nation, with studies showing Filipinos top the rankings globally for time spent on social media.
Election advertisements that promote or oppose any political party or the candidacy of any person or party for public office, would not be allowed to run between Feb. 8 to May 9, 2022, Google said in an update to its political content policy.
The dates cover the period of campaigning in the Philippines up to election day on May 9.
Google said notifications would be sent to affected advertisers about the policy update.
Google has banned political advertising on its platform before, including in Canada’s federal election in 2019 and before an election in Singapore in 2020.
Social media platforms like Facebook have helped strengthen Duterte’s support base, with analysts regarding them as instrumental in his election victory in 2016 and a rout by his allies in mid-term polls last year.
The Philippines will choose a successor to Duterte, who under the constitution is not allowed to seek another term, but will be standing for a senator’s seat.