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tl;dr Facebook let Reliance-backed firm post surrogate ads favouring BJP, Navi Tech files for IPO, Google-Facebook secret deal to come under scrutiny, and more

Facebook let Reliance-backed firm post surrogate ads favouring BJP

In the run-up to the 2019 Parliamentary Elections,  Facebook allowed a subsidiary of Jio Platforms called NEWJ to disguise surrogate ads as “news content” in an effort to boost the BJP’s social media campaigns, according to an investigative report published on Al Jazeera. Jio Platforms Ltd, India’s largest telecom and internet conglomerate is owned by billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Group.

  • This finding was revealed due to combined efforts from The Reporters’ Collective (TRC), a non-profit media organisation based in India, and ad. watch, a research project studying political ads on social media.
  • The two organisations studied 5,36,070 political ads placed on Facebook and Instagram from February 2019 through November 2020, to determine the influence of Facebook’s political advertising policies on elections in India.
  • The analysis showed that over the course of 22 months, Facebook’s advertising platform “systematically undercut the political competition in the world’s largest electoral democracy, giving an unfair advantage to the BJP over its competitors.”
  • Despite it being banned under Indian law, NEWJ published surrogate ads favouring the BJP on Facebook by exploiting the loophole that the ECI did not “extend this ban to digital platforms like FB.”

Navi Technologies files draft papers for ₹3,350 cr IPO

Navi Technologies, helmed by Sachin Bansal, has filed preliminary paperwork with SEBI to raise Rs 3,350 crores through an Initial Public Offering (IPO). According to the Draft Red Herring Prospectus (DRHP), the planned IPO would be entirely through a new issue of equity shares, with no offer-for-sale (OFS). Bansal, the co-founder of Flipkart, has spent roughly Rs 4,000 crore in Navi thus far and would not dilute his share in the IPO.

Paytm shares slip by 13% after RBI ban

Paytm’s shares dropped 13% on March 14, days after the RBI barred the Paytm Payments Bank from onboarding any new clients due to “material supervisory concerns” in the bank, according to Reuters.

Paytm CEO was detained and released on bail in rash driving case

Paytm founder and CEO Vijay Shekhar Sharma was detained and released by the Delhi Police on February 22 for allegedly slamming a Jaguar Land Rover into the vehicle of Benita Mary Jaiker, DCP (South district), as stated by The Indian Express.

RBI lifts curbs on HDFC’s digital programmes

The RBI has relaxed limits on HDFC Bank’s business-generating operations under the Digital 2.0 initiative. Due to an increase in the number of disruptions to the bank’s internet banking, mobile banking, and payment utilities, the central bank had ordered HDFC to temporarily cease any digital launches in December 2020. The RBI partly removed the prohibition on HDFC Bank in August 2021, enabling it to issue new credit cards.

EU, UK order probe into secret deal between Google and Facebook

Parallel antitrust investigations against Google and Facebook’s online display ad businesses were launched on March 11 by the EU and UK. The two investigations are centered on claims of collusion between Google and Facebook (aka Meta) through an internal agreement known as “Jedi Blue” that was signed in September 2018 and is suspected of undercutting a rival ad system (header bidding) in favour of Google’s Open Bidding system.

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Cyber attack against Ubisoft temporarily disrupts games, services

Ubisoft, a French video game firm, has revealed that a cyber security breach caused various games, systems, and services to be temporarily unavailable. The issue was discovered after Nvidia, a graphics chip manufacturer, and Samsung, a South Korean conglomerate, experienced a data breach earlier this month. According to The Verge, hackers claimed responsibility for the Ubisoft incident in a Telegram channel operated by LAPSUS$.

Committee set up by EU to investigate the use of Pegasus

The European Parliament voted on March 10 to establish a new “inquiry committee” to look into claims that 27 European member states obtained and exploited the potent Pegasus mobile spyware. The committee will examine the use of Pegasus and other surveillance technologies.

Russian government looks to label Meta an ‘extremist’ organisation

According to Tass, Russia’s Prosecutor General’s Office has formally requested that Meta be designated as an extremist group under Russian law, with all of its operations prohibited in Russia, reported Tass on March 11th. Tass also said the Prosecutor General has requested an inquiry into Meta’s possible violations of laws against “terrorist propaganda” and “inciting hatred.”

Nokia in talks to replace Huawei gear in Vodafone Idea’s India network

Nokia is in discussions to replace Huawei 4G radio equipment in portions of Vodafone Idea’s telecom network in India, in one of the biggest swap transactions for the Finnish business, sources told Reuters. Following security concerns, Indian telecom carriers have started reducing their dependence on Huawei.

Byju’s raises $800 million in latest funding round

Byju Raveendran, the co-founder and CEO of Byju, has raised $800 million in the company’s latest funding round, contributing $400 million of his share as of March 11. Vitruvian Partners, Sumeru Ventures, and BlackRock also invested in this funding, bringing the company’s worth to over $22 billion, up from $18 billion previously. This comes after Byju’s is expected to apply for an initial public offering (IPO).

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