San Francisco, May 24 (AP/UNB) — Facebook removed more than 3 billion fake accounts from October to March, twice as many as the previous six months, the company said Thursday.
Nearly all of them were caught before they had a chance to become "active" users of the social network.
In a new report, Facebook said it saw a "steep increase" in the creation of abusive, fake accounts. While most of these fake accounts were blocked "within minutes" of their creation, the use of computers to generate millions of accounts at a time meant not only that Facebook caught more of the fake accounts, but that more of them slipped through.
As a result, the company estimates that 5% of its 2.4 billion monthly active users are fake accounts, or about 119 million. This is up from an estimated 3% to 4% in the previous six-month report.
The increase shows the challenges Facebook faces in removing accounts created by computers to spread spam, fake news and other objectionable material. Even as Facebook's detection tools get better, so do the efforts by the creators of these fake accounts.
The new numbers come as the company grapples with challenge after challenge, ranging from fake news to Facebook's role in elections interference, hate speech and incitement to violence in the U.S., Myanmar, India and elsewhere.
Facebook also said Thursday that it removed 7.3 million posts, photos and other material because it violated its rules against hate speech. That's up from 5.4 million in the prior six months.
The company said it found more than 65 percent of hate speech on its own, before people reported it, during the first three months of 2019. That's an improvement from 52 percent in the third quarter of 2018.
Facebook is under growing pressure to combat hate on its platform, as material continues to slip through even with recent bans of popular extremist figures such as Alex Jones and Louis Farrakhan.
Facebook employs thousands of people to review posts, photos, comments and videos for violations. Some things are also detected without humans, using artificial intelligence. Both humans and AI make mistakes and Facebook has been accused of political bias as well as ham-fisted removals of posts discussing — rather than promoting — racism.
A thorny issue for Facebook is its lack of procedures for authenticating the identities of those setting up accounts. Only in instances where a user has been booted off the service and won an appeal to be reinstated does it ask to see ID documents.
While some have argued for stricter authentication on social media services, the issue is thorny. People including U.N. free expression rapporteur David Kaye say it's important to allow pseudonymous speech online for human rights activists and others whose lives could otherwise be endangered.
Dipayan Ghosh, a former Facebook employee and White House tech policy adviser who is currently a Harvard fellow, said absent greater transparency from Facebook there is no way of knowing whether its improved automated detection is doing a better job of containing the disinformation problem.
"We lack public transparency into the scale of disinformation operations on Facebook in the first place," he said.
And even if just 5 million accounts escaped through the cracks, Ghosh added, how much hate speech and disinformation are they spreading through bots "that subvert the democratic process by injecting chaos into our political discourse?"
"The only way to address this problem in the long term is for government to intervene and compel transparency into these platform operations and privacy for the end consumer," he said.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has called for government regulation to decide what should be considered harmful content and on other issues. But at least in the U.S., government regulation of speech could run into First Amendment hurdles.
And what regulation might look like — and whether the companies, lawmakers, privacy and free speech advocates and others will agree on what it should look like — is not clear.
Of the 3.4 billion accounts removed in the six-month period, 1.2 billion came during the fourth quarter of 2018 and 2.2 billion during the first quarter of this year. More than 99 percent of these were disabled before someone reported them to the company. In the April-September period last year, Facebook blocked 1.5 billion accounts.
Facebook attributed the spike in the removed accounts to "automated attacks by bad actors who attempt to create large volumes of accounts at one time." The company declined to say where these attacks originated, only that they were from different parts of the world.
Starting with this report, Facebook is disclosing how it deals with the sale of "regulated goods" — that is, drugs and firearms. Facebook prohibits the purchase, sale or gifting of firearms, as well as drugs including marijuana, which is legal in some states and countries. The company said it "took action" on 1.5 million cases involving drugs and 1.4 million involving firearms. This generally means removing the material from Facebook but can also involve suspending users or adding warning screens to videos showing objectionable content.
Dhaka, May 23 (UNB)- Huawei Technologies (Bangladesh) Ltd. has donated necessary equipment to PFDA-Vocational Training Center for special children.
Zhang Zhengjun, CEO, Huawei Technologies (Bangladesh) Ltd. handed over these equipment to the school authority at a program arranged by the authority on Thursday.
Social Welfare Minister Nuruzzaman Ahmed, MP, as the chief guest, inaugurated the ceremony in the presence of Sajida Rahman Danny, Chairman of PFDA-Vocational Training Center and Huawei officials.
Through this event Huawei handed over Ultra Sound therapy (UST), Ultra red radiation (IRR), Short wave diathermy (SWD), Short wave diathermy (SWD), Electrical muscle stimulator (EMS), Traction machine (Pelvic and cervical traction) with bed and other equipment to PFDA-Vocational Training Center.
This equipment will help this institute as well as the students to take immediate physical aids in emergencies. Students will get necessary physiotherapy for their wellbeing. CCTV cameras will help the teachers as well as authority to understand not only the behavioral pattern students but also find the root cause of any sudden behavior of them. In parallel these equipment will help to avoid any kind of potential risk as well.
“To help the special children, both public and private organizations should work hand in hand. And Huawei and PFDA-Vocational Training Center today are setting a great example with that inspiration,” said the minister.
May 22 (AP/UNB) -The United States is delaying some restrictions on U.S. technology sales to Chinese tech powerhouse Huawei in what it calls an effort to ease the blow on Huawei smartphone owners and smaller U.S. telecoms providers that rely on its networking equipment.
The Trump administration insists the sanctions are unrelated to its escalating trade war with China, and many analysts see it as aimed at pressuring U.S. allies in Europe to accede to Washington's entreaties to exclude Huawei equipment from their next-generation wireless networks, known as 5G.
The U.S. government on Monday amended last week's order restricting all technology sales to Huawei, the world's biggest maker of mobile network gear and the No. 2 smartphone brand. It granted a temporary, 90-day exemption, but only for existing hardware and software.
It also said that grace period could be renewed.
Shares in tech companies rose Tuesday after some news organizations erroneously reported that the amended order amounted to a blanket reprieve for Huawei.
"It's just housekeeping. It's not a capitulation. It's a very pragmatic solution to avoid unintended consequences to third parties," said Kevin Wolf, who oversaw a related case involving China's No. 2 telecoms supplier ZTE as assistant secretary of commerce for export administration under President Barack Obama.
The U.S. claims Huawei is a cybersecurity risk and has targeted it against the backdrop of a wider battle with China over economic and technological pre-eminence that has included tariffs on billions worth of trade and limits on business. U.S. officials say Huawei is legally beholden to China's repressive rulers but have provided no evidence that it has intentionally allowed its equipment to be used for espionage.
Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei sought to put a brave face on the situation, saying Tuesday that the company has "supply backups" if it loses access to American components. Huawei Technologies Ltd. relies on Google's Android operating system and U.S. components suppliers for its smartphones.
"I should say this impact will be very big, but Google is an extremely good company," Ren Zhengfei told Chinese reporters. "We are discussing emergency relief measures," he added, without giving details.
Industry analysts say Huawei might struggle to compete if it cannot line up replacements for Google services that run afoul of the U.S. curbs.
Google says its basic services still will work on existing Huawei smartphones. However, the company would be barred from transferring hardware or software directly to Huawei. That would affect maps or other services that require the American company's support.
In Brussels, a senior Huawei European representative lashed out at the U.S. sanctions.
"This is dangerous. Now it is happening to Huawei. Tomorrow it can happen to any other international company," Abraham Liu, Huawei chief representative to the European Union's institutions, told reporters.
China's government repeated its promise to defend Chinese companies abroad but gave no details of what Beijing might do.
The 90-day grace period announced Monday by Washington exempts from U.S. licensing requirements any technology needed to maintain and support existing networking equipment and smartphones. It also authorizes U.S. providers to alert Huawei to security vulnerabilities and engage the Chinese company in research on standards for next-generation 5G wireless networks.
"This license will allow operations to continue for existing Huawei mobile phone users and rural broadband networks," Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said in a statement.
But still in place are requirements that government licenses be obtained for any sales to Huawei unrelated to existing equipment.
The Commerce Department said the grace period would allow rural U.S. telecom operators that depend on Huawei equipment for "critical services" time to make other arrangements. Companies that supply software — such as Google for Huawei's Android smartphones — can continue to provide updates.
Britain's cybersecurity agency issued guidance saying the temporary reprieve means "people should be able to update their handsets as normal."
In a report, the global risk assessment firm Eurasia Group said that if the sanction process helps persuade European network carriers to also shun Huawei equipment, a full ban on purchases of U.S. technology products and services could be avoided.
The move to delay the restrictions on Huawei may follow a familiar script with the Trump administration, which in its attempt to change the U.S.'s trade relations with major economies like China and Europe has often announced restrictions or tariffs only to delay their implementation. That increases pressure on the other side but also gives them an incentive to negotiate.
It hasn't always worked. The U.S. has announced new tariffs on European and Chinese goods several times, only to see them retaliate with tariffs on U.S. goods. That has raised the stakes in the trade wars, hurting global commerce and economic growth.
As China looks to respond to President Donald Trump's move against Huawei, Apple makes a prominent potential target for retaliation.
Apple is Huawei's main American rival in smartphones and its iPhones are assembled in China. The country is also Apple's No. 2 market after the United States.
Attacking Apple might be politically awkward for Chinese leaders who have accused Washington of mistreating Huawei. Business groups say Chinese officials are trying to reassure American companies they are welcome despite the tariffs war.
But regulators have an array of tools including tax and safety inspections that can hamper a company with no official acknowledgement it is targeted.
Huawei's U.S. sales collapsed in 2012 after a congressional panel told phone carriers to avoid the company and its smaller Chinese competitor, ZTE Corp., as security threats.
Despite that, Huawei's sales elsewhere have grown rapidly. The company reported earlier its global sales rose 19.5% last year over 2017 to 721.2 billion ($105.2 billion).
Huawei smartphone shipments rose 50 percent over a year earlier in the first three months of 2019 to 59.1 million, while the global industry's total fell 6.6%, according to IDC. Shipments by Samsung and No. 3 Apple declined.
May 21 (AP/UNB) -Huawei could quickly lose its grip on the No. 2 ranking in worldwide cellphone sales after Google announced it would comply with U.S. government restrictions meant to punish the Chinese tech powerhouse.
The Trump administration's move, which effectively bars U.S. firms from selling components and software to Huawei, ups the ante in a trade war between Washington and Beijing that partly reflects a struggle for global economic and technological dominance.
Google said it would continue to support existing Huawei smartphones but future devices will not have its flagship apps and services, including maps, Gmail and search. Only basic services would be available for future versions of the Android operating system on Huawei's smartphones.
Though the U.S. Commerce Department grants exceptions, the ban announced last week on all purchases of U.S. technology is thus apt to badly hurt Huawei, analysts say.
Washington claims Huawei poses a national security threat, and its placement on the so-called Entity List by the Trump administration last week is widely seen as intended to persuade resistant U.S. allies in Europe to exclude Huawei equipment from their next-generation wireless networks, known as 5G.
"This is major crisis for Huawei. Instead of being the world's largest handset manufacturer this year, it will struggle to stay two, but probably fall behind," analyst Roger Entner said. "How competitive is a smartphone without the most well-known and popular apps?"
Huawei will likely use its own, stripped-down version of Android, whose basic code is provided free of charge by Google. But the Mountain View, California, company said Huawei would not be authorized to use other Google software and services if the sanctions go forward as announced.
Google could seek exemptions, but would not comment on whether it planned to do so.
Entner, founder of Recon Analytics, said Google itself won't feel a large direct impact, "as consumers will shift to other Android devices. The biggest concern is not to be caught in the crossfire of two governments."
Gartner analyst Tuong Nguyen said 48% of Huawei's phone shipments last year were outside of China and the company will need to scramble not to lose market share.
Samsung led global smartphone sales in the first quarter of this year with a 23.1% share. Huawei was second with 19%, followed by Apple at 11.7%, according to IDC.
Huawei's smartphone sales in the U.S. are tiny — and the Chinese company's footprint in telecommunications networks is limited to smaller wireless and internet providers— so any impact on U.S. consumers of a Google services cutoff would be slight.
Hardware suppliers led by Qualcomm, Broadcom and Intel would also be forced to halt shipments to Huawei under the Commerce Department rule, which requires all U.S. technology sales to the company to obtain U.S. government approval unless exceptions are made.
The Commerce Department on Monday announced a 90-day grace period this week. In a report, the global risk assessment outfit Eurasia Group said that if the sanction process helps persuade European carriers to shun Huawei equipment, a full ban on purchases of U.S. technology products and services could be avoided.
Google, a unit of Alphabet Inc., said in a statement late Sunday that it was complying with and "reviewing the implications" of the requirement for export licenses for technology sales to Huawei, which took effect Thursday. "For users of our services, Google Play and the security protections from Google Play Protect will continue to function on existing Huawei devices," it added.
The U.S. government says Chinese suppliers including Huawei and its smaller rival, ZTE Corp., pose an espionage threat because they are beholden to China's ruling Communist Party. But American officials have presented no evidence of any Huawei equipment serving as intentional conduits for espionage by Beijing.
Huawei, headquartered in the southern city of Shenzhen near Hong Kong, reported earlier that its worldwide sales rose 19.5% last year over 2017 to 721.2 billion ($105.2 billion). Profit rose 25.1% to 59.3 billion yuan ($8.6 billion).
Huawei smartphone shipments rose 50% in the first three months of 2019 to 59.1 million, compared with a year earlier, while the global industry's total fell 6.6%, according to IDC. Shipments from Samsung and Apple both declined.
Huawei defended itself Monday as "one of Android's key global partners." The company said it helped to develop a system that "benefited both users and the industry."
"We will continue to build a safe and sustainable software ecosystem, in order to provide the best experience for all users globally," the company said.
A foreign ministry spokesman, Lu Kang, said China will "monitor the development of the situation" but gave no indication how Beijing might respond.
The U.S. order took effect Thursday and requires government approval for all purchases of American microchips, software and other components globally by Huawei and 68 affiliated businesses. Huawei says that amounted to $11 billion in goods last year.
That could certainly create some collateral damage for U.S. companies.
The California chipmaker Xilinx Inc. tumbled 4% Monday. David Wong, an analyst with Nomura, said Xilinx has benefited from demand in next-generation, 5G technologies and "action against a major maker of communications infrastructure equipment like Huawei likely poses risk for Xilinx."
Beijing, May 20 (AP/UNB) — Google is assuring users of Huawei smartphones the American company's basic services will work on them following U.S. government restrictions on doing business with the Chinese tech giant.
Google, a unit of Alphabet Inc., said Monday it is complying with and "reviewing the implications" of the requirement for export licenses for technology sales to Huawei Technologies Ltd.
Last week's order follows U.S. government accusations that Huawei, the biggest maker of network gear for phone companies and the No. 2 global smartphone brand, is a security risk.
"We assure you while we are complying with all US gov't requirements, services like Google Play & security from Google Play Protect will keep functioning on your existing Huawei device," Google said on Twitter.
Huawei said it had no immediate comment. The company denies it facilitates Chinese spying.
Huawei, which uses Google's Android operating system, is the No. 2 global smartphone brand by number of handsets sold, behind South Korea's Samsung Electronics.
Google allows smartphone manufacturers to use Android and its basic services for free. Industry analysts say that means they would not be affected by curbs on sales or business interaction.
Transfer of hardware, software or services to Huawei or technical interaction with the Chinese company would be restricted by the U.S. order last week. It took effect Thursday and requires government approval for all purchases of American microchips, software and other components globally by Huawei and 68 affiliated businesses. Huawei says that amounted to $11 billion in goods last year.
The U.S. government says Chinese suppliers including Huawei and its smaller rival, ZTE Corp., pose an espionage threat because they are legally beholden to China's ruling Communist Party. But American officials have presented no evidence of any Huawei equipment serving as intentional conduits for espionage by Beijing.