Facebook Launches Online Civil Courage Initiative in the UK

Facebook Launches Online Civil Courage Initiative in the UK

Facebook is launching a UK programme to train and fund local organizations to combat extremist material online, as Internet companies attempt to clamp down on hate speech and violent content on their services.

Facebook, which outlined new efforts to remove extremist and terrorism content from its social media platform last week, will launch the Online Civil Courage Initiative in the UK on Friday, the company said in a statement.

The new initiative will train non-governmental organizations to help them monitor and respond to extremist content and create a dedicated support desk so they can communicate directly with Facebook, the company said.

“There is no place for hate or violence on Facebook,” said Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer. “We use technology like AI to find and remove terrorist propaganda, and we have teams of counterterrorism experts and reviewers around the world working to keep extremist content off our platform.”

The British government has stepped up attacks on Silicon Valley Internet companies for not acting quickly enough to take down extremist online propaganda and fostering “safe places” where extremists can breed following a string of attacks in recent months in London and Manchester.


Facebook, Alphabet Inc’s Google and Twitter have responded by saying they have made heavy investments and employed thousands of people to take down hate speech and violent content over the past two years. Security analysts say the efforts have dramatically reduced the use of these platforms for jihadist recruitment efforts, although more work needs to be done.

Prime Minister Theresa May has sought to enlist British public opinion to force the US Internet players to work more closely with the government rather than proposing new legislation or policies to assert greater control over the web.

Earlier this week, May urged fellow European Union leaders at a meeting in Brussels to join her in putting pressure on tech companies to ‘rid terrorist material from the internet in all our languages’.

She called for the Internet companies to shift from reactively removing content when they are notified of it, towards greater use of automatic detection and removal tools – and ultimately preventing it from appearing on their platforms in the first place.





Steam Summer Sale 2017: The Biggest Sales and Deals

Steam Summer Sale 2017: The Biggest Sales and Deals

The longest day of the year has come and gone – considered the first day of the summer for people in the Northern Hemisphere – and with that Steam’s annual summer sale is now upon us. Sure, for most of us in India it’s monsoon already, but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy the gifts that Steam bears.

On top of the discounts, Valve has added a mini-game of sorts, where you complete daily quests to fill a sticker book. If you manage to complete any of the 15 pages, that one will permanently stay unlocked on your account. Stickers can’t be traded, so you’ll have to do the quests to earn them.

If you don’t have an international credit/debit card, don’t worry. Steam brought in support for netbanking, digital wallets, and cash on delivery late last year, so there’s a ton of new ways to pay for your favourite games.

As has become the new norm, there’ll be no limited-time or flash sales during the Steam Summer Sale. Instead, games with discounts will stay that way throughout the sale period – June 22 to July 5 – and games that aren’t on discount won’t be receiving any discounts randomly. That’s good for players, since it gives you ample time to browse the store and find gems.

In any case, we’ve perused through the games on sale so you don’t have to bother looking. Here are the top deals during the Steam Summer Sale:

Big-name titles

Bayonetta – Rs. 498 (25 percent off)

Batman: The Telltale Series – Rs. 216 (65 percent off)

Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare – Rs. 2,149 (50 percent off)

Civilization VI – Rs. 1,499 (40 percent off)

Dark Souls III – Rs. 1,719 (60 percent off)

Dishonored 2 – Rs. 1,335 (50 percent off)

Doom – Rs. 1,000 (50 percent off)

F1 2016 – Rs. 353 (70 percent off)

Fallout 4 – Rs. 1,000 (50 percent off)

Final Fantasy VII – Rs. 204 (50 percent off)

Final Fantasy VIII – Rs. 204 (50 percent off)

Football Manager 2017 – Rs. 544 (66 percent off)

Grand Theft Auto V – Rs. 1,468 (50 percent off)

Mafia III – Rs. 617 (63 percent off)

Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor – Rs. 197 (80 percent off)

NBA 2K17 – Rs. 624 (75 percent off)


Nier: Automata – Rs. 1,399 (30 percent off)

Planet Coaster – Rs. 1,989 (33 percent off)

Prey – Rs. 2,639 (34 percent off)

Resident Evil 7 – Rs. 1,619 (40 percent off)

Rise of the Tomb Raider – Rs. 399 (60 percent off)

Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands – Rs. 2,344 (33 percent off)

Total War: Warhammer – Rs. 679 (66 percent off)

Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War III – Rs. 1,499 (25 percent off)

Watch Dogs 2 – Rs. 1,749 (50 percent off)

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt GOTY – Rs. 499 (50 percent off)

XCOM 2 – Rs. 989 (67 percent off)


Abzu – Rs. 169 (70 percent off)

Dead Cells – Rs. 466 (15 percent off)

Firewatch – Rs. 254 (55 percent off)

Hyper Light Drifter – Rs. 282 (50 percent off)

Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes – Rs. 158 (67 percent off)

Overcooked – Rs. 399 (50 percent off)

Superhot – Rs. 371 (40 percent off)

VA-11 Hall-A: Cyberpunk Bartender Action – Rs. 320 (33 percent off)

What Remains of Edith Finch – Rs. 423 (25 percent off)

What do you have on your eye on this summer? Leave them in the comments below.





Android O May Be Called ‘Oatmeal Cookie’, Internal Code Reveals

Android O May Be Called ‘Oatmeal Cookie’, Internal Code Reveals

Android O was unveiled in March this year, and Google highlighted many of its features at I/O in May later on. The new Android version is in its third developer preview, and the naming of ‘O’ is still a mystery. Google, like always, will release the name later this year, but predictions and leaks on what it could be, have already started to surface online.

Internal source code has revealed (first spotted by Myce) that Android O could be called the ‘Android Oatmeal Cookie’. Evidence was found in Android’s source code where mentions of ‘oc-dev’ have cropped up on several occasions. One of the most notable evidences is when the code states that Google Pixel is running on Android O Developer Preview or ‘oc-dev’. This ‘oc-dev’ codename could stand for oatmeal cookie. We make this presumption, as the word ‘oatmeal cookie’ cropped up at Google I/O as well, in one of the slide presentations in May.


While these pieces of evidence are strong, Google could name Android 8.0 something completely different. Android O is also largely rumoured to be called Android Oreo, and this could be highly possible if Google partners with the company to do a cross-promotion of sorts, something that we saw with Android KitKat.

The latest preview confirmed the Android version to be Android 8.0, something that was kept under wraps when Android O was first announced. The company dropped the first developer preview build of the next major Android release in March, and the second developer preview was out at I/O 2017 last month. The company released Developer Preview 3 with the final Android O APIs in early June. Google has said that there will be another released in July which will bring “near-final system images.” Google says that the latest preview build includes the latest version of the Android O platform with the final API level 26 and hundreds of bug fixes and optimisation.





Paytm Said to Seek RBI Licence to Start Money Market Fund

Paytm Said to Seek RBI Licence to Start Money Market Fund

Paytm has applied for a licence to set up a money market mutual fund that will enable the company to expand its financial offerings to consumers.

According to sources, Paytm has applied to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to start the fund in the coming months, a move that will enable the company to increase revenues from financial services.

When contacted, Paytm declined to comment.

The primary objective of a money market fund is to invest in short-term securities.

The Alibaba and SoftBank-backed company had, last month, started its payments bank operations in the country and aims to garner 500 million customers by 2020.

The company has earmarked an initial investment of Rs. 400 crores to build its banking network over two years.


Also, it launched ‘Digital Gold’ in April this year to allow its over 200 million users to buy and sell gold through its platform.

At the time of launch, Paytm founder and CEO Vijay Shekhar Sharma had said it was “the first step in Paytm’s journey in wealth management”.

Paytm seems to be drawing inspiration from its investor, Alipay that set up Yu’e Bao in 2013 that allows Alipay customers to convert the money in their accounts into units of a money market fund, offering them higher interest rates.

According to reports, Yu’e Bao had over $165 billion (roughly Rs. 1,06,565 crores) under management, making it one of the biggest money market funds in the world.




Facebook to Keep Wraps on Political Ads Data Despite Researchers’ Demands

Facebook to Keep Wraps on Political Ads Data Despite Researchers' Demands

Facebook said it would not disclose information about political campaign advertising or related data such as how many users click on ads and if advertising messages are consistent across demographics, despite arguments from political scientists who want the data for research.

Details such as the frequency of ads, how much money was spent on them, where they were seen, what the messages were and how many people were reached would remain confidential under the company’s corporate policy, which is the same for political advertising as for commercial customers.

“Advertisers consider their ad creatives and their ad targeting strategy to be competitively sensitive and confidential,” Rob Sherman, Facebook’s deputy chief privacy officer, said in an interview on Wednesday, when asked about political ads.

“In many cases, they’ll ask us, as a condition of running ads on Facebook, not to disclose those details about how they’re running campaigns on our service,” he said. “From our perspective, it’s confidential information of these advertisers.”

Sherman said it would not make an exception for political advertising. “We try to have consistent policies across the board, so that we’re imposing similar requirements on everybody.”

Academics who study political campaigns worldwide said this kind of information fosters accountability by analyzing how candidates compete for votes and whether election systems live up to expectations of fairness. Transparency can also deter fraudulent ads, they said.

“We don’t have the capacity right now to track it, and nobody does, as far as we can tell,” said Bowdoin College professor Michael Franz, a co-director of the Wesleyan Media Project, which catalogs political ads on traditional television but has no means of doing so on Facebook.

Television has been the backbone of political advertising for decades, and local US broadcasters are required to disclose a wealth of details about the cost and schedules of ads. The ads can be seen by anyone with a television provided they are aired in their markets.

Online advertising, though, often targets narrow, more carefully constructed audiences, so for example an ad could be directed only to Democrats under 25 years of age.

Thousands of variations of online ads can be directed at select groups and the targeting can be extreme. Academics argue this is where the process can become very opaque.

“Candidates can speak out of both sides of their mouths,” said Daniel Kreiss, a communications professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “Having some kind of digital repository of ads that are purchased during a particular cycle and linked to a particular source is a good, democratic thing for the public.”

No such repository exists, and the quandary for researchers is expected to worsen as more politicians use digital advertising because of its relatively low cost and opportunities for target marketing.


According to US President Donald Trump’s campaign, $70 million was spent for its ads on Facebook, more than on any other digital platform including Google, and Trump has credited Facebook with helping him defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton last November.

Advertising on Facebook also figured prominently in recent elections in the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, researchers said.

Britain is investigating how candidates use data to target voters.

Facebook ads generally disappear with the scroll of a thumb on a smartphone, and they have no permanent links. Advocates for transparency call them “dark ads.” Facebook calls them “unpublished posts.”

Researchers said that disclosure reports from the US Federal Election Commission are unhelpful because they show what campaigns pay to intermediaries, not to internet platforms.

The role of advertising online is as important to study as the effect of so-called “fake news,” which has received more attention than ads, scholars said.

“The holy grail, I think, of political analysis for the 2016 election is to figure out which communications from which entities had an effect on which jurisdictions in the United States,” said Nathan Persily, a Stanford University professor who writes about elections.

Facebook has such information and should make it available for study, Persily said.

Facebook’s Sherman said the company was open to hearing research proposals, but he doubted much could be achieved.

“Even if we were able to be more transparent in this area, it would only be a very small piece of an overall story,” he said.



Nintendo Switch Update Makes It Easier to Find Lost Joy-Con Controllers

Nintendo Switch Update Makes It Easier to Find Lost Joy-Con Controllers

Nintendo’s Switch console got a substantial software update that literally helps it keep its act together.

The portable console has detachable controllers – Joy-Cons – two adjectives that are essentially code for “easy to lose.” With the new Switch update, users will now be able to use the main console to make the controllers vibrate, letting you know where you left them after that last heated bout of MarioKart. Finding them could save you $80, after all.

The update also makes some additional adjustments to the console, including a smarter storage system that will sense when the console is out of room and will suggest which things you can delete to make the space for whatever you’re downloading.

On the social side of things, players will also be able to download their friends’ lists from Nintendo’s previous systems the Wii U and the Nintendo 3DS. More serious gamers will also be happy to hear they can now use the Switch’s Pro Controller, which looks more like a traditional game controller, while charging.

Of course, this doesn’t fix everything about the Switch. There are plenty of people, for example, who would like to see its battery life extended – or to see more games come to it. Neither of those is something a system software patch can fix.

But, as patches go, this is a pretty good one and can at least spare you a panicked moment or two.





CBI books IIT-Goa director for corruption during previous stint


The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) booked the director of the recently established Indian Institute of Technology-Goa on Wednesday for allegedly possessing assets disproportionate to his known sources of income.

Dr Barada Kanta Mishra has been accused of indulging in graft during his stint as the Institute of Minerals and Materials Technology (IMMT) director in Bhubaneswar between April 2006 and March 2017. He was booked under the Prevention of Corruption Act for allegedly possessing disproportionate assets to the tune of Rs 1.14 crore.

The renowned academician, known for his extensive studies in the fields of mineral processing and extractive metallurgy, graduated in metallurgical engineering from NIT Rourkela and obtained his PhD and post-doctoral degrees from the University of Utah. He has published over 200 journals, and holds claim over five US patents.

Besides serving as IMMT director between December 2005 and March 2017, Dr Mishra was the chairman of the Recruitment and Assessment Board from May 2015 to May 2016.

In its FIR, the CBI said Dr Mishra’s assets – movable and immovable – amounted to Rs 3.39 lakh in 2006. However, by 2016, it had allegedly risen to over Rs 2.19 crore. This was inclusive of his bank savings, properties and car.

The investigation agency further alleged that Dr Mishra had made over Rs 2.39 crore and spent nearly Rs 1.31 crore on “payment of margin amount for purchase of car, advance payment on purchase of flat, house loan repayment, educational expenditure of his children, and kitchen expenses” during this period. It observed that while the institute director’s actual savings should have been in the whereabouts of Rs 1 crore, it rose to as much as Rs 2.15 crore – showing a discrepancy of Rs 1.14 crore.




Marvel’s Kevin Feige is the internet’s latest sad boy thanks to Spider-Man

Last year, Ben Affleck was the internet’s sad boy.

The joke started when Yahoo! Movies asked Affleck and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice co-star, Henry Cavill, about the negative response the film received from critics. While Cavill began to answer, Affleck looked down and spaced-out, a look that many took to assume the actor was saddened by the question. It became a joke, with remixes of the video featuring Simon and Garfunkel’s “Sound of Silence” in the background. Affleck finally responded to the meme, telling the BBC it was a good lesson in not talking during interviews alongside Cavill.

“It taught me not to do interviews with Henry Cavill where I don’t say anything and they can lay Simon and Garfunkel tracks over it,” Affleck said. “That’s one thing I learned.”

Affleck’s sad boy phase slowly lost the internet’s interest — but was never truly forgotten. Now, however, the Batman v Superman actor has been replaced with another, superhero-adjacent figure: Kevin Feige, the head of Marvel Studios.

Like Affleck, Feige received the Simon and Garfunkel treatment following an interview with FilmStarts. In the interview, Spider-Man: Homecoming producer Amy Pascal spoke about how Tom Holland’s Peter Parker could appear in Venom and other stand-alone Spider-Man movies, essentially making those characters part of the MCU. Feige, who had just last week given a completely different answer, looked on with a blank expression on his face.

It didn’t take long for people to point out just how sad Feige looks in the interview — not unlike Affleck’s face in his own interview — and the various remixes and GIFs to start springing up.

Whether or not Feige was actually sad during that specific moment in the interview is, of course, unknown, but he does look confused at the very least. Again, that makes sense considering that Feige recently confirmed characters like Venom would have nothing to do with the MCU, despite Pascal’s confirmation that they would all exist in a similar world.

As of right now, the only character being shared by the two studios — according to their arrangement — is Spider-Man. Homecoming is a Sony movie that Marvel has complete creative control over. Future installments of Marvel films, including the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War, will star Spider-Man, but Sony won’t have any say in what the character does. There’s still no confirmation on if Holland’s Peter Parker will appear in future stand-alone movies, like Venom and Silver & Black, for Sony.




The Kojima Game That Made You Play In The Sun

Hideo Kojima is famous for being the driving force behind stuff like Metal Gear and Snatcher. But today, we’re going to talk about another of his games: Boktai, a quirky little Game Boy Advance title that asked the player to go outside and get some sun.

While that sounds…odd, it was for a very good reason: not only was Boktai the story of a vampire hunter who was more powerful during the daylight hours, but to ensure that these powers were properly timed, the game’s cartridge included a daylight sensor at the top.

The sensor is that little round thing, which would be able to detech sunlight since the GBA’s design meant the end of the cartridge was always protruding | Image: National Museum Of Play

When you first fire up the game, you get this helpful message:

You were then asked to input the time and your timezone, and Boktai would adjust to your location and match the daylight in the game accordingly (so if it was midday outside it’d be midday in the game).

“I wanted to create a game that involved sunlight, and with the Game Boy Advance you can carry it outside, and there are no other games that involve sunlight” Kojima, who designed the game, told IGN in an old TGS interview. “And I love the theme of Dracula and vampires, I’ve always wanted to come up with a game that players can fight vampires. It was a lot of different ideas that came together, and I thought, why don’t I create a game that involves fighting vampires with sunlight?”

Having come up with a game design idea, Kojima then had to find some hardware that could get the job done. “But I didn’t know if it was technically possible, and I didn’t know how much it would be if I could do this because it might be too expensive with the GBA ROM and having a specialized cartridge”, he explains of the solar sensor’s creation. “There’s a division within Konami that makes specialized toys that have odor sensors and humidity sensors, and they’re pretty cheap. And when I was creating Metal Gear Solid 2, I asked them if it was possible to come up with a solar sensor. And when I knew that it was possible, that’s when I said, ‘We’re going to do this.’”

Which sounds like a completely unique and fascinating way to design a video game, and it was! But the game’s quirks overestimated players’ willingness to tailor their playtime to the need to go outside and underestimated a fundamental hardware flaw: Boktai asked you to be outdoors, but the Game Boy Advance’s screen (the improved SP was available by now, but loads of people still had the older system) made playing outside a massive pain in the ass eyes.

When you did play outside, you could store sunlight in batteries, which would allow you to play for a certain amount of time in the dark. When they ran out, many situations could still be overcome by collecting in-game resources. Oh, and players soon found that you could sometimes get enough sunlight by sitting next to a window or on a porch if you had the right conditions.

But while you could postpone the fact, you couldn’t escape it: eventually you had to play this game outside, especially since it was a requirement for overcoming Boktai’s boss battles. And for many players this was just too much of a hassle.

Boktai reviewed fairly well, and while its annoyances have become more famous than the game itself, it did well enough that a sequel was released in 2004. The sequel made some changes to the basic formula—swapping out a gun for melee weapons—but not to the core one, as it still included a daylight sensor and still made you go outside at certain points. Kojima, who designed the first game, was not involved in Boktai 2’s development.

Boktai 2 didn’t do nearly as well in the West, and so when a third game was made in 2005 (again featuring a sunlight sensor in the cartridge, and again sans Kojima), it was released only in Japan.

When the craze surrounding Pokemon Go last year was at its peak, I sometimes thought of Boktai and how in 2003 its need for outdoors play was received by many as something between a joke and a chore. And sure, the main reasons for Pokemon Go’s success weren’t just its “go outside”design, but its GPS tracking and the fact it was based on a series that millions of people grew up with, and not a weird little video game made by Konami. But still…it’s worth wondering what could have become of Boktai if Kojima had come up with the idea now instead of 15 years ago…





This union minister was rusticated from SRCC


Vijay Goel, Union Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports is an alumni of Delhi University’s Shri Ram College of Commerce (SRCC). And he has quite an interesting college life. He shares some of the anecdotes with us.

Goel always wanted to lead the crowd and bring about a change. In the first year of college, he contested the students’ union election. “During my initial days of college, Arun Jaitley used to be the students’ union president. Then, I became the president of Delhi University Students’ Union in 1977 as a candidate of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, the same party to which Jaitley belonged. And Rajat Sharma was the general secretary,” says the BJP leader, who is a Shri Ram College of Commerce graduate.

Recalling the political scenario of his time, Goel says, “Bada jabardast mahaul hota tha us time. We used to hangout at the law faculty campus. Vo politics ka adda hota tha. Youth organisation ke log bhi vahi aate the. There was a lot of agitation and due to one of the demonstrations; I was rusticated from the college. We were demanding postponing of exams because of the tornado and it turned violent.”

Not may know that Goel was also a national level kho-kho player. “Apart from studies, I was good in sports as well. And I won almost all debate competitions,” he says. Interestingly, besides Goel, many generations of his family went to the same college. “My whole family is from SRCC. Right from my father to my brother to my kids, we are proud SRCC graduates,” says the minister, who is also known as a lover of verse and art.