Facebook non-partisan, politically neutral: India chief Ajit Mohan

Facebook India Head Ajit Mohan has defended the handling of alleged hate speeches by members of the ruling BJP, saying the platform has remained true to its design of being neutral and non-partisan and acted based on inputs from various teams.

In an interview with PTI, Mohan rejected charges of Facebook India’s decisions being influenced by political leanings of individuals, saying the process followed at the platform is designed to ensure no one person can influence outcomes, let alone take any unilateral decisions.

“The content policy of team that is at the centre of all the enforcement decisions (on hate speeches) is separate and independent in India from the public policy team (that handles government relations),” he said. “It’s designed for independence.”

And the content management team is guided by only community standards. “And enforcement of that has to be objective, has to be non-partisan and neutral. I think that goes to the heart of how the platform has been designed from day one,” he asserted.

Individuals can have “points of views” or “leanings”, the “system is designed to make sure no one person can influence the outcomes,” he said.

“And so the answer is yes,” he said replying to a question on whether Facebook is a non-partisan and politically neutral entity.

The comments come amid a political storm over a report published in the Wall Street Journal last month, alleging the social media giant ignored extremist posts by ruling Bharatiya Janata Party leaders to protect its business interests in India.

According to the report, Facebook deleted anti-Muslim posts by BJP’s Telangana MLA T Raja Singh and three other Hindu nationalists only after being questioned by the paper. Facebook’s head of public policy Ankhi Das, the report said citing company employees, had opposed the deletion of the posts despite being flagged internally as breaching standards.

Facebook earlier this month banned the 42-year-old Telangana MLA, categorising him as a “dangerous individual”.

Mohan said there are no limits to respectable standard for free speech within and outside the company.

While there are people from multiple political leanings and backgrounds in the company, Facebook values people of experience in government or in public service.

“But at the same time, I think it is important to call out to you that the content policy of a team that is at the centre of all of these enforcement decisions is separate and independent in India from the public policy team here. It’s designed for independence. So the public policy team that engages with government, for example, central and state governments, is a part of my team. That is separate from the content policy team which is part of the global team,” he said.

“So, I think the point is while people can have points of view, they can have leanings, the system is designed to make sure no one person can influence the outcomes, let alone have any unilateral decision making power on this aspect. The separation in India context tells you how design is meant for independence,” he said.

Mohan said the content moderation is largely done through automated systems and human reviewers.

In dealing with complex issues such as designating individuals, especially elected officials, the content policy team comes into play.

“The public policy team does seek inputs from multiple functions and disciplines and teams including public policy team in India. That is not interference. That is the process, that is being designed to have enough local context from the local team,” he said. “But finally the decision that is taken is not taken by the public policy team.”

“So you have the opportunity in certain cases like designation, from multiple local and international teams, to provide a point of view that is by design. But it is not for them to take any unilateral decision. That still goes through the content policy team,” he said.

Facebook has over 300 million users in India, while its associate WhatsApp is the leader in messaging with over 400 million users.

In April this year, Facebook invested USD 5.7 billion to buy a 9.9 per cent stake in Jio Platforms, the digital arm of energy-to-telecom conglomerate Reliance Industries Ltd owned by India’s richest man Mukesh Ambani.

Mohan said Facebook has an impartial approach to dealing with content and that this is governed strongly by its community standards. These policies are enforced globally without regard to anyone’s political position, party affiliation or religious and cultural beliefs, he emphasised.

“That is the basis and enforcement of that has to be objective, has to be non-partisan and neutral. I think that goes to the heart of how the platform has been designed from day one. It goes to the heart of something all of us embrace, that we have to be neutral, we have to be non-partisan,” he added.

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Kick Off Hispanic Heritage Month with An Education Twitter Chat:

Kick Off Hispanic Heritage Month with Education Twitter Chat:

ETHNIC STUDIES in Our Schools

by Melanie Mendez-Gonzales

In some school districts across the country, a debate on ethnic studies in high school is happening.

What is ethnic studies? It is the critical and interdisciplinary study of race, ethnicity, and indigeneity with a focus on the experiences and perspectives of people of color within and beyond the United States.

Advocates for ethnic studies believe that it will support academic success and bring an understanding between races. Opponents argue that ethnic studies are anti-American and teach divisiveness.

According to the National Education Agency, research finds that the overwhelming dominance of Euro-American perspectives leads many students to disengage from academic learning. In fact, a recent Stanford study shows the opposite effect that an ethnic studies course had on, particularly Hispanic male, students. Students in the study who took ethnic studies classes in a pilot program in San Francisco high schools increased attendance rates, improved their grades and even increased the number of earned course credits for graduation.

These courses allow students to connect to their own culture and see their home life inside their classrooms. That has a powerful impact. Some argue that ethnic studies could have a powerful impact on white students, too.

“Similar to students of color, white students have been miseducated about the roles of both whites and people of color throughout history,” Siobhan King Brooks, an assistant professor of African American studies at Cal State Fullerton said, and culturally relevant lessons allow white children to “not only learn about people of color, but also white people’s roles as oppressors and activists fighting for racial change. This is very important because often whites feel there is nothing [they] can do to change racism.” ()

Ethnic studies were born out of both educators’ and students’ desires to counterbalance inaccuracies and predominance of the Euro-American perspective found in U.S. schools’ curricula. However, the most recent rise of ethnic studies came out of the 2010 ban of a Mexican-American studies course in the Tucson United School District and the Arizona H.B. 2281. Mexican American studies has spread to high schools at a rate no one could have imagined before Arizona banned the class in 2010.*

Five California school districts, for example, has since made an ethnic-studies class a requirement, and 11 others offer it as an elective. Currently, California AB-2016, which would require the Instructional Quality Commission to develop, and for the state board to adopt, a model curriculum in ethnic studies for all districts to offer a course of study in ethnic studies, is sitting on Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk.

Albuquerque Public Schools will launch a new ethnic studies program for all 13 of its high schools beginning August 2017.

In Texas, there’s a different debate.

“The ban of Mexican American studies in Arizona opened our eyes to the discrimination,” Tony Diaz, El Librotraficante, says, “and how important it is to embrace our history and culture. We realized there was nothing to ban in Texas, so we needed to start one.”

Diaz and others began to demand that the Texas State Board of Education make Mexican-American studies a requirement in Texas schools. The result was an agreement from the SBOE to call for textbook proposals for the Mexican-American curricula that would be put in place in 2017 and until then, allow schools who wished to teach MexicanAmerican studies, to do so but without direction from the SBOE. Some Texas teachers have begun to implement Mexican-American studies in their classrooms.

The one textbook “Mexican American Heritage’ that was submitted for review has come under fire for what some have called ‘deeply flawed and a deeply offensive textbook’ that is filled with stereotypes. Protestors, including Diaz, will be in Austin, Texas to testify against the textbook at the SBOE hearing on Tuesday, September 13. A final vote on adoption is scheduled for November.

These are just some of the discussions happening today about ethnic studies courses in our schools.

Join our Twitter chat as we discuss more about ethnic studies in K – 12 education this Thursday, September 15. It is the beginning of Hispanic Heritage Month. Let’s have a real chat about what are Latino students are learning about their own heritage in schools.

LATISM Education Twitter Chat with Special Guest Tony Diaz

9 p.m. EST – 10 p.m. EST

TWITTER.COM/LATISM

Hashtags to follow: #LATISM #LATISMedu

Special Guest: @Librotraficante

Moderator: @LATISM

TonyDiazBio--element45Tony Diaz, El Librotraficante, founded Nuestra Palabra: Latino Writers Having Their Say in 1998.He is the leader of the Librotraficantes-champions of Freedom of Speech, Intellectual Freedom, and Performance Protest. He holds a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing, a black belt in Tae Kwon Do, and wrote the award winning novel THE AZTEC LOVE GOD. He also hosts the Nuestra Palabra Radio Program on 90.1 FM KPFT Houston, Texas.

He was recently named the Director of Intercultural Initiatives at Lone Star College-NH and will be starting their Mexican American Studies Program. Learn more about Tony Diaz at

###

Sources:

*

https://ethnicstudies.berkeley.edu/

NEA, The Academic and Social Value of Ethnic Studies: A Research Review

https://news.stanford.edu/2016/01/12/ethnic-studies-benefits-011216/

https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2016/03/the-ongoing-battle-over-ethnic-studies/472422/

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Soweto family calls for death penalty after murder of grandmother, grandchildren

As Women’s Month draws to a close, the spate of violence against women and children continues unabated and the latest casualties are a Soweto grandmother and her two grandchildren.

The bodies of Matsie Dhladhla, 58; Tebello Motshele, 10; and Botshelo Motshele, 14, were found in their Protea Glen home in Soweto on Monday. They had been stabbed to death.

Police confirmed that they were looking for Dhladhla’s ex-boyfriend in connection with the killings and said he was on the run.

They have appealed to the public for information.

News24 visited the family’s home on Wednesday and spoke to Dhladhla’s niece, Lerato Mokone, who said the killing hurt the family deeply.

According to Mokone, Dhladhla’s neighbour became suspicious after not seeing her for two days and called her daughter to check if everything was okay. When the daughter arrived on Monday, she discovered the three bodies.

“There was blood all over when their bodies were found,” she said, adding that the gate was locked.

The family had its suspicions about who the culprit was.

“We suspect it was Dhladhla’s lover because the person who did this locked the bodies inside the house and the gate before fleeing. We have learnt that my aunt had told neighbours that she was no longer in love with the suspect.

“The suspect is well-known in the taxi industry and justice needs to be served.”

They added that for justice to be served, the death penalty needed to return.

“Should he be arrested and received a life sentence, his life will continue. He will able to receive a meal, clothes and an opportunity to study in prison. We are calling on the president to bring back the death penalty to assist families of victims to get closure.

“Today, we and our children are no longer safe in this country. We are no longer enjoying this country because of this pandemic called gender-based violence that is winning daily by ending our lives,” said Mokone.

Gauteng police spokesperson Brigadier Mathapelo Peters said the three victims had injuries to their upper bodies.

“It is suspected that the perpetrator is the ex-boyfriend of the deceased woman and he is on the run,” said Peters.

News24 spoke to Tourism Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane at the family’s Soweto home. She had decided to visit the family to offer comfort and support. She grew up in the area herself.

She told News24 that she was alarmed by the escalating rate at which women and children were killed in South Africa.

“It is sad that during the month of August when we are celebrating Women’s Month, we are confronted with the brutality that women and children are facing. It is painful to have a woman and her two young children murdered in this horrifying way, allegedly by someone claiming to have loved her.

“I hope that law enforcement agencies will get the suspect and arrest him [so he can] face what he has done. I think he will give answers to the family and tell them why he did what he did because it is unjustifiable. I don’t know what type of a human being does this to a mother and her children.”

The minister called on society, including all men, to spare the lives of women and children.

“It is scary to all of us when we hear such news daily. It is scary, frightening and it is every woman’s fear. If you are a man, imagine if that is done to your mother and sister? We have been saying enough is enough and it is not [becoming] enough, and it continues.”

She said the fight to end the scourge was not the responsibility of the government alone.

“It is even difficult to police it because it happens behind closed doors. The rate at which women and children are killed in this country is not acceptable.

“We are calling on the police to at least, even if possible, when the victims are buried, that he is brought to book,” Kubayi-Ngubane said.

“The suspect is definitely known and somebody is with this wanted person. We are appealing to those who know where he is hiding to think about what the family is going through.

“If you know where he is, please contact the police. There is a woman and children who are dead and there is a family that is grieving. You can’t be quiet when you know where is. Please assist the police and come forward for the family to find closure,” said Kubayi-Ngubane.

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Facebook launches TikTok-like product inside Instagram – CNA

SAN FRANCISCO: Facebook rolled out its own version of social media rival TikTok in the United States and more than 50 other countries on Wednesday (Aug 5), embedding a new short-form video service called Reels as a feature within its popular Instagram app.

The debut comes days after Microsoft said it was in talks to acquire TikTok’s US operations from China’s ByteDance. ByteDance has agreed to divest parts of TikTok, sources have said, under pressure from the White House which has threatened to ban it and other Chinese-owned apps over data security concerns.

The launch of Reels escalates a bruising fight between Facebook and TikTok, with each casting the other as a threat. Both have been eager to attract American teenagers, many of whom have flocked to TikTok in the last two years.

Reels was first tested in Brazil in 2018 and then later in France, Germany and India, which was TikTok’s biggest market until the Indian government banned it last month following a border clash with China. Facebook also tried out a standalone app called Lasso which did not gain much traction.

Similar to TikTok, Reels users can record short mobile-friendly vertical videos, then add special effects and soundtracks pulled from a music library.

Those similarities led TikTok Chief Executive Kevin Mayer to call Reels a “copycat product” that could coast on Instagram’s enormous existing user base after “their other copycat Lasso failed quickly”.

Facebook faced similar charges at a congressional hearing on US tech companies’ alleged abuse of market power last week, with lawmakers suggesting the company has copied rivals like Snapchat for anti-competitive reasons.

Vishal Shah, Instagram’s vice president of product, acknowledged the similarities in a Tuesday video conference call with reporters and said that “inspiration for products comes from everywhere”, including Facebook’s teams and “the ecosystem more broadly”.

Instagram is not yet planning to offer advertising or other ways for users to make money through Reels, although it did recruit young online stars like dancer Merrick Hanna and musician Tiagz – who was recently signed by Sony/ATV after rising to fame via TikTok memes – to test the product ahead of launch.

The company paid the creators for production costs, Shah said.

Joe Gagliese, chief executive of influencer marketing agency Viral Nation, said Reels was poised to mimic Instagram’s success with Stories, a product modelled on Snapchat’s core offering.

“They’re a huge monstrous threat,” he said. “The current turmoil couldn’t be playing more into court to launch this thing.”

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PwC Forecasts Higher Inflation Rate For Nigeria

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Pricewaterhouse Coopers(PwC) Nigeria has said that Nigeria’s inflation rate is likely to continue its upward trend for some time to come.

The firm made the prediction in its latest, “Nigeria Economic Alert” obtained by New Telegraph yesterday. Nigeria’s inflation rate rose for a ninth consecutive month to hit 12.40 per cent in May 2020 and several analysts have forecast that the upward trend will continue for the month of June.

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NSCDC Nabs Susupected Rapist Of Three Month Old Bbay

#NSCDC #Rape #Crime

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