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Facebook: 5 new fact-checkers for India, Regulation in Germany, Canada and startup acquisition

Facebook adds five IFCN-certified fact-checkers in India, now in 6 languages 

Ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, Facebook has added 5 new third-party fact-checkers in India – India Today Group, Vishvas.news, Factly, Newsmobile, Fact Crescendo, the company said in a statement. The checkers are certified by Poynter Institute’s IFCN, and will expand the fact-checking team to 3 new languages.

If a fact-checker marks a story as false, this reduces the visibility of the story, the pages and domains that repeatedly share false news, so that their ability to monetize and advertise is removed, Facebook said. Facebook claims that it has been able to reduce the distribution of false stories by 80% through fact checkers.

If a fact-checker provides more information on a post, Facebook shows the articles below the original post. It also notifies users and Page admins when they share or have previously shared a post that has been marked false.

Facebook’s fact-checking initiative now has 7 fact-checkers across English and 5 Indian languages – Hindi, Bengali, Telugu, Malayalam and Marathi in India. Facebook’s oldest fact-checking partner is Mumbai-based BOOM Live. It entered into a partnership with Agence France-Presse in November last year.

German anti-trust regulator orders Facebook to stop combing data from different apps

Germany’s anti-trust regulator, the Federal Cartel Office, has ordered Facebook to stop combining user data from its various apps like WhatsApp and Instagram and other third-party apps without the voluntary consent of users, reports FastCompany.

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The order comes after a 3-year investigation by the FCO into how Facebook collects and combines data from people who use third-party apps, and how it tracks users via ‘like’ and ‘share’ buttons across websites, including users who do not have Facebook accounts.

“Facebook will no longer be allowed to force its users to agree to the practically unrestricted collection and assigning of non-Facebook data to their Facebook accounts,” FCO chief Andreas Mundt said. Facebook said it disagrees with the regulator’s findings, and has one month to appeal the decision.

Canada’s privacy commissioner probes if Facebook gave the Royal Bank of Canada access to private user data

Canada’s privacy watchdog is looking into whether Facebook gave the Royal Bank of Canada access to private information of users. The regulator is investigating complaints over the bank’s alleged role in receiving information from Facebook, Privacy Commissioner Daniel Therrien said, reports BloombergQuint.

The watchdog has received two complaints against Facebook for allegedly sharing users’ private messages with its ‘partners’. Between 2013-15, the RBC offered users a payments feature which allowed users to transfer money using Facebook. RBC was named in a New York Times report as one of the 150 companies which were given access to Facebook users’ personal data. Facebook then published a statement saying that its partnerships or features did not give companies access to information without the users’ consent. At the time, RBC said that it did not have access to users’ private messages.

Facebook acquires AI startup GrokStyle

Facebook has acquired a visual shopping and AI startup GrokStyle to boost its “AI capabilities”, reports Bloomberg. GrokStyle’s website said that it was “winding down” business and “moving on as a team”, but the company did not disclose joining Facebook.

GrokStyle’s technology was used on the Ikea mobile app, where users could take a picture of furniture they liked and use GrokStyle to find matches or similar products online for purchase. This technology could possibly apply to Facebook Marketplace, the section where users list items for sale and purchase.

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In 2018, Facebook acquired 4 startups, including those working on messaging and AI. Earlier in February, Facebook bought the team behind a blockchain technology company called Chainspace for an undisclosed sum.

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