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Apple, Google, Microsoft coming together to make browsing the internet ‘better’

The teams behind the Google Chrome, Apple Safari, Mozilla Firefox and Microsoft Edge browsers have banded together to improve extensions, the add-ons you can download to customize the software. That should mean your extensions will work better and come with a better security foundation to protect you from malware. The teams unveiled a discussion and development forum at the World Wide Web Consortium, or W3C, dedicated to developing standards for extensions. The forum, the WebExtensions Community Group, gives engineers a place to build a unified and more secure core foundation for extensions.The group also hopes to make it easier for developers to write extensions because a shared standard will help bridge differences between browsers. Extensions are crucial to browsers on PCs. The bits of software can block ads, integrate with password managers, strip out code that tracks you on the internet and find coupons as you put items into your shopping cart.

Facebook’s new content moderation changes may impact relationship with Indian government

Social media giant Facebook has announced major changes in its content moderation policies, which could have far reaching repercussions for the company in India and may impact its relationship with the government, said cyber law experts. The global changes announced by Facebook imply that posts from politicians on the platform will no longer be exempt from the company’s policies that prevent regular users from engaging in harmful speech. These changes will be applicable in India as well and the update has gone into effect immediately, said a Facebook spokesperson. While responding to The Oversight Board’s recommendations in the case of former US president Donald Trump, whose accounts have been suspended for two years by Facebook, the company said it will no longer treat content posted by politicians as ‘inherently’ being of public interest or being newsworthy. This means such posts will be moderated like other users, though the company will provide a ‘newsworthiness exemption’ in ‘rare’ cases and will update users on these instances. The move marks a sharp departure from the company’s previous stance which exempted politicians from some of its moderation rules. In an interview given to CNBC last year, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg had said he does not think social networks should be fact checking what politicians post. The company said it would fully implement the Oversight Board’s recommendation of suspending the accounts of high government officials such as heads of state if their posts repeatedly posed a risk of harm.

Clubhouse to launch payments feature in India

Clubhouse, an invite-only audio chat app, will soon introduce payment features in India, allowing users to pay creators for the shows they host on the platform. The feature is already live in the United States. The year-old social media firm is also working towards complying with India’s new IT rules. “…right now our startup is it’s still small, staffing wise, right we’re just over a year old, and, and I don’t think the government has laid out all the details around how these laws will apply to companies at different stages, but our goal is to work to ensure that the platform is in line with the country’s laws and regulations. And so that’s absolutely on our radar and something we’ll be working towards,” said Rohan Seth, co-founder of Clubhouse. Clubhouse’s Android app, which was launched recently, has been downloaded more than one million times in India, according to data by app analytics platform Sensor Tower. Globally the figure stands at 2.6 million. “We launched payments for a few in the US and then scaled it up. We want to make sure the experience is good. India is going to be one of the few early markets to get it…right now, we want to make sure we cover compliance and users in India,” Seth said during a select clubhouse media briefing.

Facebook rolls out business messaging changes in e-commerce push

Facebook Inc is opening up ways for businesses to interact with customers on Instagram and WhatsApp, it said at its virtual developers conference ‘F8 Refresh.’ The world’s largest social network said it was rolling out tools so developers could build ways for businesses to message customers on Facebook-owned Instagram. Facebook said 90% of Instagram users follow at least one business. Facebook said its messaging app WhatsApp would support more types of messages, like letting businesses send alerts when an item is back in stock. It is also testing a separate way for people to opt into messaging with businesses through a ‘Login Connect’ feature. Facebook is focussing on expanding e-commerce, building augmented and virtual reality, and helping creators make money on its platforms, Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said after the company released its latest earnings report. Facebook also announced plans to launch new tools to allow researchers to analyse its data across public pages, groups and events.

India recorded around 365 million online gamers in 2020, reveals AIGF study

According to a report launched by The All India Gaming Federation, titled “Online Gaming is a Life Skill,” 76 percent of gamers believed that by regularly assessing the best way to win a game, they could develop strong analytical skills. India recorded about 365 million online gamers in the financial year 2020. This number was estimated to reach 510 million by fiscal year 2022. The report sought to understand which skills were considered ‘life skills’ by gamers, how gamers acquired such skills, whether the workplace effectively taught them such skills, and which of these skills could be learnt through gaming. It further stated that with 624 million internet users in India in January 2021, India is set to reach 1 billion internet users by the year 2025 and our country’s smartphone base is estimated to reach 820 million in the next two years. The report also revealed that more than half (57 per cent) felt that an individual could hone practical life skills with online games the same way they would through a whole day at the workplace — 57 percent men and 56 per cent women agreed with this sentiment. It also unpacked the essential life skills that online gamers said were key to gaming. Reflexes (65 per cent), and strategy and logic (68 per cent) were considered the top two skills, followed closely by determination (53 per cent) and understanding risk/return (52 per cent); 46 percent stated that memory was crucial. While 40 percent of men believe that more than half of online gaming skills are useful for real life experiences, the number drops to 34 per cent for women. The report found that 51 per cent of women believed that physical and mental skills like ‘memory’ and ‘reflexes’ were essential for online gamers (compared to 33 per cent men). More than two-thirds of men (67 per cent) felt that cognitive skills such as strategy, logic, understanding of risk and returns, and determination were prerequisites for online gamers (compared to 49 per cent of women). Gamers also revealed that they exhibited a more favourable attitude towards their online gaming teammates in comparison to their real-life work relationships. 56 per cent gamers said they were more likely to be honest with their gaming teammates than with their work colleagues (51 per cent). The difference was more pronounced among Gen Z (5 percent) versus those above the age of 45 (2 percent). A significant chunk of Gen Z (43 per cent) and millennials (41 per cent) believed that friendships/relationships made online between gamers could be as meaningful as real-life friendships.

Twitter Blue – Twitter’s first-ever subscription offering

Twitter will be rolling out its first version of subscription-based services ‘Twitter Blue’ in Australia and Canada. With this initial phase is to gain a deeper understanding of what will make the Twitter experience more customized, more expressive, and generally speaking more. Those who sign up for a Twitter Blue subscription will get a set of features and perks that include the following:

Bookmark Folders: Want an easy way to better organize your saved content? Bookmark Folders let you organize the Tweets you’ve saved by letting you manage content so when you need it, you can find it easily and efficiently.Undo Tweet: Typo? Forgot to tag someone? Preview and revise your Tweet before it goes live. With Undo Tweet, you can set a customizable timer of up to 30 seconds to click ‘Undo’ before the Tweet, reply, or thread you’ve sent posts to your timeline. Correct mistakes easily by previewing what your Tweet will look like before the world can see it.

Reader Mode: Reader Mode provides a more beautiful reading experience by getting rid of the noise. We are making it easier for you to keep up with long threads on Twitter by turning them into easy-to-read text so you can read all the latest content seamlessly. Subscribers will also get access to perks, such as customizable app icons for their device’s home screen and fun color themes for their Twitter app, and will have access to dedicated subscription customer support.

Byju’s, Google tie up to offer ‘learning solution’ for schools

India’s most-valued edtech startup and the world’s biggest search engine have come together to offer a “learning solution” for schools in the country, at a time when online education has boomed amid the pandemic. The Byju’s-Google tie-up brings together the simplicity, flexibility and security of Google Workspace for Education and Byju’s content pedagogy on the ‘Vidyartha’ platform to aid effective learning at school, according to a statement on Wednesday. This platform is available for free to participating educational institutions. “With a commitment to digital education, Google Workspace for Education will combine Byju’s unparalleled pedagogy to empower educators in their journey towards digital transformation,” the statement read. Built on the Vidyartha platform, the Byju’s-Google partnership will provide direct access to Byju’s maths and science pedagogy and visually-rich learning solutions, including chapter-wise slides, data banks, summary docs, handouts, tests, and readymade assignments. Geared to enable convenient learning, the platform also features Google Classroom, offering simplicity, along with a security experience for educators.

India projected to have 900 million active Internet users by 2025

India is projected to have 900 million active Internet users by 2025 as against around 622 million as of 2020, growing by 45% in the next five years, as per an Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI)-Kantar ICUBE 2020 report. The report underscored that even though the Internet penetration in urban areas is double that of rural, usership in rural areas has been clocking the fastest annual growth. While internet users grew by 4% in urban India–reaching 323 million users (67% of urban population) in 2020, digital adoption continues to be propelled by rural India–registering a 13% growth to 299 million internet users (31% of rural population) over the past year. Small towns account for two out of five active internet users, while the top nine metros account for 33% of the active internet users in urban India, it said. Of the 1433 million population in India, 622 million individuals are AUI, translating to about 43% of the total population (across urban and rural India). The findings suggested that there is a “huge headroom” for growth in the next few years, considering a sizable population still doesn’t access the internet actively in rural India.

Twitter has to comply with new IT rules for digital media

Twitter has to comply with the new Information Technology (IT) rules for digital media if they have not been stayed, the Delhi high court said on Monday. Justice Rekha Palli issued notice to the government and social media platform Twitter seeking their stand on a plea by a lawyer, Amit Acharya, claiming non-compliance of the rules by it. While the micro-blogging site claimed before the court that it has complied with the rules and appointed a resident grievance officer, the central government disputed the claim. In his plea, filed through advocate Akash Vajpai and Manish Kumar, Acharya said that he came to know about the alleged noncompliance when he tried to lodge a complaint against a couple of tweets.During the hearing, central government standing counsel Ripudaman Singh Bhardwaj told the court that Twitter has not complied with the rules. Acharya, in his plea, said that the new IT rules took effect from February 25 and the Centre had given three months to every social media intermediary, including Twitter, to comply with them. He contended that the three-month period got over on May 25, but no resident grievance officer was appointed by Twitter to deal with complaints regarding tweets on its platform.The petition has sought a direction to Twitter to appoint a resident grievance officer without further delay. It has also sought a direction to the Centre to ensure that the IT rules are complied with.Twitter had recently said it was committed to India as a vital market, but criticised the new IT rules and regulations, saying they “inhibit free, open public conversation”.In response, the government had said Twitter was levelling “baseless and false allegations” to defame India.The Centre alleged that Twitter refused to comply with new digital rules requiring identification of the originator of a flagged message and appointing grievance redressal officers and the purported commitment of the US-based firm to India not only sounds hollow but completely self-serving.



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