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Health Expert Frown at Facebook’s Messenger Kids App 

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Towards the ending of last year, Facebook launched a version of its messenger app that was aimed at kids from 6-12 years. Child development advocates are now calling on Facebook to discontinue its this app.

On Tuesday, over a dozen organizations and about 100 health experts sent letters to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg saying the new chat app may likely stand as a barrier to a child’s healthy development. The effort is led by the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC), an advocacy organization working to combat exploitative marketing to children. Other groups who signed the letter include the ACLU of Massachusetts, Media Education Foundation, Defending the Early Years and Parent Coalition for Student Privacy.

Part from the letter read; “Raising children in our new digital age is difficult enough,”. “We ask that you do not use Facebook’s enormous reach and influence to make it even harder.” The experts argue that younger children are not ready to have social media accounts.

“They are not old enough to navigate the complexities of online relationships, which often Lead to misunderstandings and conflicts even among more mature users,” according to the letter.

In addition, the organizations said the age group in question don’t have a fully developed understanding of privacy, such as what content is appropriate to share with friends or who has access to their conversations, photos and videos.

Facebook said it took steps to address concerns, such as working with a committee of about a dozen experts and more than 250 online safety organizations to develop the app. It also met with parents across the U.S. to hear the major concerns about their kids using technology. The company also put in safeguards for cyberbullying, such as the ability to flag inappropriate content and block users. The app does not include ads. However, even those steps are not enough to quell those experts’ fears.

“Even if these safeguards are effective, the app’s overall impact on families and society is likely to be negative, normalizing social media use among young children and creating peer pressure for kids to sign up for their first account,” the letter said. A Facebook spokeswoman told CNN Tech the company has no plans to shut down the Messenger Kids app. “Messenger Kids is a messaging app that helps parents and children to chat in a safer way, with parents always in control of their child’s contacts and interactions,” Facebook said in a response to the letter. “We continue to be focused on making Messenger Kids be the best experience it can be for families.”

Kristelle Lavallee, content strategist at the Center on Media and Child Health at Boston Children’s Hospital and a member of Facebook’s Advisory Committee which helped develop Messenger Kids, said the letter highlights an “alarmist” perspective and shows a lack of understanding of the app. “The whole idea of this tool is that parents are in control and can help scaffold their child’s learning,” said Lavallee.

“Facebook needs to make sure it’s doing the due diligence of educating parents how to use Messenger Kids safely and effectively with their children.” The letter does not acknowledge the parental controls Facebook put into place. Parents must set up a child’s Messenger Kids account and approve with whom they can communicate.

Facebook said it plans to add more parental controls, such as a tool that could prevent kids from using the app during bedtime or while doing homework. The company also said it is looking for new ways to educate parents about how to best use the app.

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NITDA boss commends AfriOne, promises FG support

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The Director-General, National Information Technology Developmental Agency (NITDA), Isa Ibrahim Pantami has commended AfriOne for its innovation and contribution to technology development in Nigeria.

“I commend you for all that you are doing and I want to use this opportunity to thank you for investing in Nigeria,” Patanmi said during a supervision visit to AfriOne headquarters in Lagos.

“In 2017 through N-Power, you have the highest number of bought product across the country, meaning our citizens are inclined with your brand,” he added

The NITDA boss also said the organisation’s capacity to produce 200000 phones and tablets monthly and its last year sales of over 63000 products has impressed him beyond expectations.

Pantanmi urged AfriOne to consider exportation of hardwares to other countries which will influence Nigeria’s economic growth.

While responding Lekan Akinjide, AfriOne’s director of strategy and government relations, said that the phone manufacturing company has started working towards exporting it products to other countries.

“We have targeted Benin republic, we have a good relationship with their ministry of trade and industry,” Akinjide said.

“We are looking at setting up a second production company in Botswana like the one we have here in Lagos” he added.

Akinjide also mentioned that AfriOne has created job opportunities for many Nigerians and has provided training programme for students of Lagos State polytechnic (Laspotech).

He, however, called on the federal government to consider investing in the growth of the local manufacturing technology company by buying their products for official use.

“We know that the federal entities are spending about $83000 on buying gadgets for ministries and agencies. if they should turn around and say locals should meet the 10 percent of that money it will also influence our country’s economic growth.”

Pantami said the federal government will consider it and he promised they will do their best to promote the local manufacturing company.

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Nigerians spend over four hours on the Internet daily

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On a daily basis, Nigerians spend about four hours and five minutes on the Internet browsing.

Nigeria, which has 105 million Internet users, is third in Africa, after South Africa, and Egypt, whose Internet users spend eight hours and 32 minutes, and eight hours, 10 minutes respectively.

According to a January 2018 survey conducted by Hootsuite, a social media marketing and management dashboard firm, based in Vancouver, BC, Canada, unveiled at the World Economic Forum and made available yesterday, Nigeria is rated above Kenya (3h 50m); Ghana (3h 46m), and Morocco (2h 53m).

Thailand Internet users, according to the survey lead the world with nine hours 38 minutes, followed by the Philippines, nine hours 29 minutes; Brazil is third with nine hours 14 minutes.

Interestingly, the USA is ranked 20th with six hours 30 minutes; Canada is 24th with five hours and 59 minutes, and UK is 27th with five hours 15 minutes.

The study was silent about what a typical Nigerian and other Africans do on the net, because the thrust of the report, titled: ‘The digital south is rising rapidly – and China and India are leading the way’, actually revealed how the global digital economy is changing very fast, with China, and India appeared championing the new direction.

According to the study, the global digital economy crossed an important milestone recently: the number of Internet users in two countries — China, with just over 800 million users, and India, with 500 million users – surpassed the aggregate number of Internet users across 37 Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries combined.

The report noted that in both countries, users spend more time on the Internet than the worldwide average of 5.9 hours per day. They also have room to grow; China has just under 60 per cent of its population online, while India, with one of the lowest rates of penetration in the world, has under 25 per cent of its population online.

While it’s tempting to group China and India together as a block of emerging digital markets, they offer several important distinctions, especially for international entities and countries looking to invest.

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Google Boosts Fight Against Piracy

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Google said Wednesday it is making strides in helping internet users legitimately get songs, films and apps while choking off revenue to websites with stolen digital content.

A 64-page report released by Google claimed progress in the war on piracy, but also noted a new battlefront in the form of “add-on” software that can be installed on legitimate open-source media players such as the Kodi box to illicitly stream copyrighted content.

“Combating illegal streaming on open-source media players like the Kodi box shows both the challenge and the importance of a balanced approach in the fight against piracy,” Google said in the report.

“Pirates have created add-ons to enable Kodi boxes to access infringing works.”

Set-top boxes with suspicious add-ons are removed from Google Shopping, while apps with pre-installed “Kodi add-ons” giving access to pirate sites are removed from the Play Store, according to the internet firm.

The report cited a 2018 global study released by The Institute for Information Law that found the percentage of internet users who engage in piracy has been falling, while spending on legal content is rising.

“Successfully decreasing incidents of copyright infringement has required providing more and better legitimate alternatives to infringing content, as well as more effective tools for combating piracy,” Google said.

Google boasted that it has been generating more money for those who create or own digital content while strengthening its arsenal and efforts to fight piracy.

A YouTube “Content ID” tool creates digital fingerprints of sorts of copyrighted content and then automatically detects it online, allowing owners to have it removed or monetized.

Stopping ‘rogue’ operators 

Websites involved in piracy are “demoted” in search results and cut off from Google’s online ad platform, according to the report.

“One of the most effective ways to combat rogue sites that specialize in online piracy is to cut off their money supply,” Google said.

Since 2012, Google has terminated more than 13,000 AdSense accounts and ejected more than 100,000 sites from its AdSense program for violations of policy on copyrighted material, according to the report.

Meanwhile, a “Google Play” online shop for digital content bans apps that “infringe copyright, encourage illegal streaming, or attempt to deceive users by impersonating other apps.”

Google also told of taking aim at copyright-infringing ads with “considerable” resources. The California-based tech giant said that last year it rejected more than 10 million ads suspected of infringing copyrights or linking to websites that did.

According to the report, Google-owned YouTube paid more than $1.8 billion to the music industry from October 2017 to September 2018.

Digital video revenues are expected to soar from $64 billion last year to $119 billion by the year 2022, while global music streaming revenues more than doubled from 2015 to 2017, according to the report.

AFP

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TECNO next Camon smartphone to have 4 cameras with AI-capability [Sneak peek]

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Artificial intelligence is steadily making its way onto our smartphones and may be a key feature in the next one year.

Many devices released in the past few months, from the new Google’s Pixel phones to Apple’s recent releases have included AI-focused hardware and software. These phones use AI in all sorts of clever ways, from imaging and photography, to power efficiency and security.

Those who have not been in the AI game are expected to soon introduce smartphones with special functions and if rumour flying around turns out to be true, Africa’s number one mobile phone brand TECNO Mobile might be preparing to release its first AI-powered smartphone into the market.

While no much details have been so far revealed about the upcoming smartphone with AI-capability, there are indications that the said smartphone will come from the Camon Series and will be available in two variants just like the Camon X/X Pro. Both devices will feature one of a kind AI-Beautification, AI-HDR, AI-Bokeh, AI-Selfie.

The Camon line of devices are primarily focused on photography, though we were not privy to the full specs of both devices, the leaked images we got is pointing in the direction of four cameras, Dual 16-Megapixels at the back and 25-Megapixels + 5-megapixels AI-powered front cameras that will come with the ability to capture clear selfie.

Also, With the integrated AI-algorithm, the cameras will be able to recognize up to 250 different kinds of faces, scenes, Food, nature and animal.

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