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Facebook is changing its name to Meta as it focuses on the virtual world

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Facebook changed its corporate name to Meta on Thursday, moving aggressively to distance itself from a social-media business embroiled in crisis and rebrand itself as a forward-looking creator of a new digital world known as the Metaverse.

In a 75-minute online presentation, CEO Mark Zuckerberg urged users to adjust their thinking about the company, which he said had outgrown its ubiquitous and problematic social media app — a platform that will continue to be known as Facebook. Instead, he said, the company plans to focus on what Zuckerberg described as the next wave of computing: a virtual universe where people will roam freely as avatars, attending virtual business meetings, shopping in virtual stores and socializing at virtual get-togethers.

“From now on, we’re going to be the metaverse first. Not Facebook first,” Zuckerberg said at Connect, the company’s annual event focused on virtual and augmented reality. “Facebook is one of the most-used products in the world. But increasingly, it doesn’t encompass everything that we do. Right now, our brand is so tightly linked to one product that it can’t possibly represent everything we are doing.”

The revelations by whistleblower Frances Haugen represent arguably the most profound challenge yet to Zuckerberg and his company, which ranks as the largest social media platform in the world. Critics swiftly criticized the move, comparing it to the crisis strategy employed by tobacco company Phillip Morris when it became clear that the company had long known that cigarettes damage human health.

Zuckerberg said the rebrand would heed the “lessons” of the past, noting in a blog post that privacy and safety would be built into the new generation of products “from Day One” — a clear nod to Facebook’s record of eroding trust. In his keynote address, he also nodded to Facebook’s problems, saying, “The last few years have been humbling for me and my company in a lot of ways.”

Also, read Facebook has not yet announced a decision on whether the former president will be restored to its platforms.

But Facebook’s trust deficit is real. The crisis brought on by the Facebook Papers, which were provided to Congress and the Securities and Exchange Commission in response to a whistleblower lawsuit, follows other scandals in recent years, such as Russian disinformation surrounding the 2016 presidential election and the Cambridge Analytica crisis that highlighted the improper sharing of personal data.

One of the major allegations of the Facebook Papers is that the company built and deployed social media technology without having a grasp of its harmful effects. Critics fear the same problems would plague the metaverse — only the stakes could be higher, as Zuckerberg pitched that people would essentially live part of their lives in his virtual world.

He sought to offset potential criticism by saying in his presentation that the next generation of Internet services would be built with greater “humility and openness,” and take the “lessons” of the past into account. But critics and some former insiders questioned that commitment.

“I was thinking during the keynote, who will be the cops in the metaverse?” said Katie Harbath, founder and CEO of consultancy Anchor Change and former Facebook public policy director. “The first few years may seem great because not that many people are on the service, but the more that come on, the more bad actors. And then the company plays catch-up.”


For the time being, Facebook’s name change seems aspirational. A company that Zuckerberg launched from a college dorm room 17 years ago has become a conglomerate encompassing WhatsApp, Instagram, Messenger and a nascent payments and hardware business, leading some experts and insiders to say that the company was long overdue for a name change.

But virtually all of Facebook’s revenue — $29 billion in the third quarter — comes from online advertising produced by the core blue Facebook app, meaning that any transition to virtual reality focused on the sale of hardware would take enormous investment and many years.

“While the name change indicates a larger vision, that transformation is not yet a reality and will be a years-long investment,” eMarketer analyst Audrey Schomer said in an email.

Zuckerberg and Facebook have acknowledged that. Zuckerberg said in his keynote that the process to become a metaverse company would take a “decade” and that his goal was for it to “reach a billion people” over that time. On Monday, the company said its investments in the metaverse — which include a commitment to hiring 10,000 new people in hardware jobs — will shave $10 billion off its 2021 profits.

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Farmers on the verge of East Cost fever get reprieve

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A chance discovery in Kenya could give relief to millions of farmers. Who have been losing their cattle to East Coast fever.

Researchers at International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) in Kenya and Roslin Institute at the University of Edinburgh.

In Scotland have identified a genetic marker. That predicts whether an individual cow is likely to survive infection with East Coast fever.

PLOS Genetics

In its findings published last week in PLOS Genetics, the team says the allele (the variant of a given gene).

They identified is not necessarily the specific gene that limits the growth. Of the animal’s cells when they are infected by the parasite. Protecting them from the illness.

“For breeding, it doesn’t actually matter,” says Roslin’s David Wragg. “You just need a way of saying, ‘This animal is a good one to breed from’. Because its offspring are likely to survive the disease.”

Tests showed

“Tests showed the marker does this very well. With only one out of 20 animals with two copies of the allele succumbing to the disease.”

The scientists said further research to pin down the exact gene(s) responsible. And their mechanism of action will enable scientists to edit the DNA. Of cattle to make them disease tolerant.

This new information presents an opportunity. To craft breeding programmes that could develop cattle strains. With resilience against the disease.

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Even though

Even though a vaccine for East Coast fever exists. And usually gives cattle lifelong immunity, making it is a “complex affair”.

That involves making a kind of ‘tick smoothie’. By crushing up hundreds of thousands of infected ticks in an industrial blender.

Which is time-consuming, is expensive costing up to 20 times more than other common livestock vaccines and can cause disease if mishandled.

Manufacturing and distribution issues

“There are a lot of manufacturing and distribution issues. Associated with this vaccine. It is a difficult vaccine to produce.

It is difficult and expensive to store and to deliver. And it must be administered by a skilled person,” Vish Nene, co-leader of the ILRI Animal and Human Health Programme said.

The other option is regularly dipping animals in acaricides. Pesticides that kill ticks. But this is also labor-intensive, polluting.

To control this disease

“We are struggling to control this disease,” says Phil Toye, principal scientist in animal health at ILRI.

“If the cattle are susceptible, without treatment, you can lose 100 percent of your herd in two or three weeks.”

Read more at https://thebigissue.co.ke

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Business

A Kenyan Firm Sues Facebook Over Bad Working Conditions

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A former moderator contracted by Facebook owner Meta Platforms Inc filed a lawsuit on Tuesday, claiming poor working conditions for contracted content moderators. The claim violates the Kenyan constitution.

Also, the petition filed against Meta’s local outsourcing company Sama, alleges that workers moderating Facebook posts in Kenya have been subjected to unbearable working conditions. The said conditions include union-busting, irregular pay, violations of workers’ privacy and dignity, and inadequate mental health support.

The group through one representative filed a lawsuit seeking financial compensation. Also, an order that outsourced moderators have the same health care and pay scale as Meta employees. The group equally wants unionization rights to be protected, and an independent human rights audit of the office.

“We take our responsibility to the people who review content for Meta seriously and require our partners to provide industry-leading pay, benefits and support. We also encourage content reviewers to raise issues when they become aware of them and regularly conduct independent audits to ensure our partners are meeting the high standards we expect.” said A Meta spokesperson.

Sama refused to issue comments before seeing the lawsuit happens. However, it had previously rejected claims that the recruitment process was opaque, that its employees were unfairly paid, or that its mental health benefits were inadequate.

“This could have ripple effects. Facebook is going to have to reveal a lot about how they run their moderation operation,” said Odanga Madung, a fellow at the Mozilla Foundation.

Facebook content moderation

Thousands of moderators review social media posts globally. This is a way that regulates posts that could depict violence, nudity, racism, or other offensive content.

Many work for third-party contractors rather than tech companies.

Initially, Meta had already faced scrutiny over the working conditions of its content moderators.

Last year, a California judge approved an $85 million settlement between Facebook and more than 10,000 content moderators.

The workers had accused the company of failing to protect them from psychological injuries resulting from their exposure to graphic and violent imagery.

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However, Meta dismissed the claims, stating it contracted a third party vendor to employ the moderators. Nevertheless, it pledged to offer safer working environments.

The Kenyan lawsuit was filed on behalf of Daniel Motaung from South Africa, recruited in 2019 to work for Sama in Nairobi.

Disturbing video contents

Motaung claims he was not given details about the nature of the work reviewing Facebook posts before his arrival.

The first video Motaung moderated was a beheading. The disturbing content piled up, but Motaung says his pay and mental health support were insufficient.

“I have been diagnosed with severe PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder),” Motaung told said. “I am living …a horror movie.”

According to Motaung’s lawyers, Meta and Sama created a dangerous and degrading working environment. The workers were not given the same protections as employees in other countries.

“If in Dublin, people can’t look at harmful content for two hours, that should be the rule everywhere,” Motaung’s lawyer Mercy Mutemi said. “If they need to have a psychologist on call that should apply everywhere.”

After a short stay at Sama, Motaung tried to mobilise union formation, so as to advocate for the company’s roughly 200 workers in Nairobi. However, he was soon fired.

Motaung and his lawyers believe he was fired due to unionization attempt.

An investigation published by Time magazine in February was the first to reveal Motaung’s experience.

The company has not yet commented on Motaung’s claims.

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Business

Investment In Data Cables Set To Hit KSh10Billion

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TheBigIssue

Telecom providers and technology companies are set to Investment almost $10 billion in submarine cables over the next two years. The firms seek to increase capacity for global data traffic that has highly increased the recent.

According to TeleGeography, a telecommunications market research and consulting firm, the last five years experienced large growth in fibre cabling and other telecommunication related works.

The data shows 1,306 landings and 486 cable systems globally, worth $12 billion was added in that period.

Remarkable cables include the African submarine cable consortium project 2Africa. The project will extend 45,000KM and link 33 African countries, the Middle East, and Europe.

Telkom Kenya partnered with Pakistan and East Africa Connecting Europe (PEACE) Cable Company to acquire a new submarine cable in Mombasa.

This happened in March 2022.

The 15,000KM cable connecting Africa, Asia and Europe will provide high speed and capacity, hence quality improvement. Also, low-latency routes across the connectivity route will be achieved.

Other cables terminated in Kenya include The East African Marine Systems (TEAMS), Seacom, the East Africa Submarine Cable System (EASSy) and the Lower Indian Ocean Network II (LION II).

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There exist hundreds of thousands of miles of these cables worldwide. However, investment is set to continue across all global routes.

New subsea cable spending exceeded $2.2 billion between 2016 to 2018. Nevertheless, the trend started to fluctuate in 2019.

Projected expansion

From 2022-2024, the planned new cable investment could exceed $10 billion. This will be a new record.

The projected expansion will be will largely depend on demand and supply forces in the telecommunication sector.

TeleGeography research director, Alan Mauldin said that 80% of international bandwidth from African countries connects to facilities in Europe. Therefore, Europe remains the dominant location for traffic exchange out of the continent.

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