Sci-Tech

Facebook cracks down on bogus posts inciting violence

MENLO PARK, United States (AFP)–Facebook on Wednesday built on its campaign to prevent the platform from being used to spread dangerous misinformation, saying it will remove bogus posts likely to spark violence. The new tactic being spread through the global social network was tested in Sri Lanka, which was recently rocked by inter-religious over false information posted on the world’s leading online social network. “There are certain forms of misinformation that have contributed to physical […]

In China, yellow robots deliver snacks to your home

by Ludovic EHRET Agence France Presse BEIJING, China (AFP) — Along a quiet residential street on the outer edges of Beijing, a yellow and black cube about the size of a small washing machine trundles leisurely to its destination. This “little yellow horse” is an autonomous delivery robot, ferrying daily essentials like drinks, fruit, and snacks from the local store to the residents of the “Kafka” compound in the Chinese capital. Equipped with a GPS […]

First space tourist flights could come in 2019

by Ivan Couronne Agence France-Presse WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) — The two companies leading the pack in the pursuit of space tourism say they are just months away from their first out-of-this-world passenger flights — though neither has set a firm date. Virgin Galactic, founded by British billionaire Richard Branson, and Blue Origin, by Amazon creator Jeff Bezos, are racing to be the first to finish their tests — with both companies using radically different […]

Virtual whale ride helps ease fear of heights: study

PARIS, France (AFP) — People who had lived with a fear of heights for decades became less afraid after virtual reality (VR) therapy that saw them riding a flying whale, researchers said Thursday. A specialised team that included psychologists and IT experts put confirmed acrophobes through their paces in a series of life-like VR simulations, after which all reported “a reduction in fear”, they announced. VR-based treatments, the team concluded, “have the potential to greatly […]

Britain to fine Facebook over data breach

  LONDON, United Kingdom (AFP) — Britain’s data regulator has said it will fine Facebook half a million pounds ($660,000) for failing to protect users’ data, in an inquiry into whether personal information had been misused by campaigns on both sides of Britain’s 2016 EU referendum. An investigation by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has focused on the social media giant since earlier this year, when evidence emerged that an app had been used to […]

Facebook faces Australia data breach compensation claim

SYDNEY, Australia (AFP) — Facebook could face a hefty compensation bill in Australia after a leading litigation funder lodged a complaint with the country’s privacy regulator over users’ personal data shared with a British political consultancy. The social networking giant admitted in April the data of up to 87 million people worldwide — including more than 300,000 in Australia — was harvested by Cambridge Analytica. Under Australian law, all organisations must take “reasonable steps” to […]

Departing Apple engineer stole autonomous car tech: FBI

  SAN FRANCISCO,¬†United States (AFP) — An ex-Apple engineer on Monday was charged with stealing secrets from a hush-hush self-driving car technology project days before he quit to go to a Chinese startup. Xiaolang Zhang was in custody for stealing trade secrets from the Apple project, according to a copy of the criminal complaint posted online. The charge is punishable by 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. “Apple takes confidentiality and the protection […]

Wikipedia down in several countries in EU law protest

  MADRID, Spain (AFP) —¬†Wikipedia went down in at least three countries Wednesday in a protest at an upcoming European Parliament vote on a highly disputed law that could make online platforms legally liable for copyrighted material put on the web by users. In Spain, Italy, and Poland, an explanatory protest statement about the upcoming vote came up when the online encyclopedia was consulted. “The directive would threaten online freedom and would impose new filters, […]

US lets ZTE resume some activity

WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) – The United States has temporarily allowed Chinese telecoms company ZTE to resume some activities while it works to meet conditions set by Washington in a politically charged settlement reached last month. In a Federal Register notice released Tuesday, the Commerce Department gave ZTE until August 1 to continue supporting its existing US equipment and networks, lifting some restrictions put in place in April that had brought the company to the […]

Facebook responding to US regulators in data breach probe

SAN FRANCISCO (AFP) – Facebook acknowledged Tuesday it was facing multiple inquiries from US and British regulators about the major Cambridge Analytica user data scandal. The leading social network offered no details but its admission confirmed reports of a widening investigation into the misuse of private data by Facebook and its partners. “We are cooperating with officials in the US, UK and beyond,” a Facebook spokesman said in response to an AFP query. “We’ve provided […]

Dell becomes public company five years after buyout

SAN FRANCISCO, United States (AFP)–Dell, the onetime leader in personal computers and tech industry stalwart, said Monday it will become publicly traded five years after a contentious private equity buyout. The company announced a stock swap deal with its software subsidiary VMware that will result in a reorganized tech giant that returns to the stock market, with founder Michael Dell retaining control as chairman and chief executive. The move comes after a 2013 private equity […]

Facebook bug unblocks unwanted connections for a bit

  SAN FRANCISCO,¬†United States (AFP) — 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 […]