Facebook, Twitter, and Google Summoned to Congressional Panel on Russian Election Interference

Hearing is scheduled for Nov. 1.

Representatives of Facebook, Twitter and Google have been asked to appear on Nov. 1 at hearings on alleged Russian interference in U.S. politics called by the U.S. Senate and House Intelligence Committees, officials said.

Facebook and Twitter have already agreed to send representatives to the Senate committee hearing, a Congressional official said.

An official knowledgeable about House committee plans declined to disclosed whether the companies have agreed to send representatives to its hearing.

Sources said that Google had not yet notified the committees that it would send representatives to the hearings, though ultimately the company was likely to do so.

Tech

Google Also Found Russia-Backed Ads on YouTube and Gmail

Google has discovered that Russian operatives spent tens of thousands of dollars on ads on YouTube, Gmail, Google search, and other products, The Washington Post reported on Monday.

The ads do not appear to be from the same Kremlin-affiliated entity that bought ads on Facebook fb , which may indicate a broader Russian online disinformation effort, the paper reported. Google runs the world’s largest online advertising business and YouTube is the world’s largest online video site.

Google, owned by Alphabet googl , did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the story.

Google has downplayed the possibility of Russian influence on its platforms, but launched a probe into the matter, according to the Post. Both Twitter twtr and Facebook have said that Russia bought ads and had accounts on their platforms.

Meanwhile, Congress has started multiple investigations into the Russian interference in the 2016 election, with lawmakers on both political sides saying Russia intended to sow discord in the United States, spread propaganda, and sway the election to elect President Donald Trump.

Google officials are expected to testify publicly before both the House and Senate intelligence committees on Nov. 1 alongside Facebook and Twitter about Russian attempts to use their platforms to influence the election.

Tech

Famed Architect’s Lawsuit Against Google Just Got Much More Serious

Eli Attia alleges he wasn’t the only one mistreated by the search giant.

A long-running lawsuit filed against Google by a prominent architect has just gotten much broader.

Last week, the Superior Court of California granted a motion adding racketeering charges to the civil case being pursued against Google by Eli Attia, an expert in high-rise construction. Attia claims Google stole his idea for an innovative building design method – and now he wants to prove that it does the same thing frequently.

Attia’s suit was originally filed in 2014, four years after he began discussions with Google (prior to its reorganization as Alphabet) about developing software based on a set of concepts he called Engineered Architecture. Attia has said Engineered Architecture, broadly described as a modular approach to building, would revolutionize the design and construction of large buildings. Attia developed the concepts based on insights gleaned from his high-profile architecture career, and has called them his life’s work.

Google executives including Google X cofounder Astro Teller came to share his enthusiasm, and championed developing software based on Engineered Architecture as one of the company’s “moonshots.” But Attia claims the company later used his ideas without fulfilling an agreement to pay to license them.

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Attia’s suit names not just Google, but individual executives including founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin. It also names Flux Factory, the unit Attia’s suit alleges was spun off specifically to capitalize on his ideas.

Speaking to the San Jose Mercury News, Attia’s lawyer claims Google told Attia his project had been cancelled, “when in fact they were going full blast on it.” Flux Factory is now known as Flux, and touts itself as “the first company launched by Google X.”

Attia’s suit will now also seek to prove that his case is representative of a much broader pattern of behavior by Alphabet. According to court documents, the motion to add racketeering charges hinged on six similar incidents. Those incidents aren’t specified in the latest court proceedings, but Alphabet has faced a similar trade-secrets battle this summer over X’s Project Loon, which has already led to Loon being stripped of some patents.

The idea of racketeering charges entering the picture will surprise many who associate them with violent organized criminals. But under RICO statutes, civil racketeering suits can be brought by private litigants against organizations and individuals alleged to have engaged in ongoing misdeeds. The broader use of racketeering charges has slowly gained ground since the introduction of RICO laws in the 1960s, with some famous instances including suits against Major League Baseball and even the Los Angeles Police Department.

Tech

Facebook, Google, Twitter asked to testify on Russian meddling

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Executives from Facebook, Alphabet Inc’s Google and Twitter have been asked to testify to the U.S. Congress in coming weeks as lawmakers probe Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 U.S. election, committee sources said on Wednesday.

A Senate aide said executives from the three firms had been asked by the Senate Intelligence Committee to appear at a public hearing on Nov. 1.

The leaders of the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee said the panel would hold an open hearing next month with representatives from unnamed technology companies in an effort to “better understand how Russia used online tools and platforms to sow discord in and influence our election.”

Representatives for Facebook and Google confirmed they had received invitations from the Senate committee but did not say whether the companies would attend. Twitter did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The House panel did not immediately identify any companies, but a committee source said lawmakers expected to hear from the same three firms the Senate had asked to testify.

The requests are the latest move by congressional investigators to gain information from internet companies as they probe the extent of Moscow’s alleged efforts to disrupt last year’s U.S. election. Lawmakers in both parties have grown increasingly concerned that social networks may have played a key role in Russia’s influence operation.

Facebook revealed this month that suspected Russian trolls purchased more than $ 100,000 worth of divisive ads on its platform during the 2016 election cycle, a revelation that has prompted calls from some Democrats for new disclosure rules for online political ads.

On Wednesday, Trump attacked Facebook in a tweet and suggested the world’s largest social network had colluded with other media outlets that opposed him. The president has been skeptical of the conclusions of U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia interfered in the election and has denied his campaign colluded with Moscow.

The salvo prompted a lengthy rebuke from Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg, who said both Trump and liberals were upset about ideas and content on Facebook during the campaign.

“That’s what running a platform for all ideas looks like,” Zuckerberg wrote on his personal Facebook page.

Other internet firms besides Facebook are also facing rising scrutiny over how Russia may have leveraged their platforms. Twitter is expected to privately brief the Senate panel on Thursday.

Republican Senator James Lankford, who has received classified information about Russia’s interference as a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said on Wednesday that the country’s attempts to sow discord in U.S. domestic affairs had not abated.

Russian internet trolls over the weekend fueled the debate ignited by Trump over whether NFL players should have the right to kneel during the national anthem, Lankford said.

Also on Wednesday, the Daily Beast, citing unnamed sources, reported that a Facebook group named “United Muslims of America” was a fake account linked to the Russian government and that it was used to push false claims about U.S. politicians, including Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

The group bought Facebook ads to reach targeted audiences, promoting political rallies aimed at Muslims, the website reported.

The Senate and House intelligence committees are two of the main congressional panels probing allegations that Russia sought to interfere in the U.S. election to boost Trump’s chances at winning the White House, and possible collusion between Trump associates and Russia.

Reporting by Patricia Zengerle and Dustin Volz, additional reporting by Paresh Dave; Editing by Peter Cooney and Andrew Hay

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Tech

How Facebook, Google Handle Political Ads Will Inevitably Change, Marketers Say

Facebook and Alphabet’s Google have little choice but to rein in internet political ads in the face of growing U.S. government pressure, a panel of advertising consultants and executives said on Monday.

Speaking at a trade conference, the marketers seized on allegations that Russian operatives bought U.S. political ads on Facebook as evidence that the sector cannot go on being unregulated.

“I think there will be more scrutiny, and there better be more self-regulation. Otherwise, I think regulation will be coming,” Brent McGoldrick, a political ad consultant and a Republican, said at Advertising Week New York.

Last week, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg vowed to do more to deter governments from using Facebook to manipulate elections in other countries, after the company disclosed $ 100,000 in Russian ad purchases in the months before and after the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

The 3,000 ads included some that highlighted support for Democrat Hillary Clinton among Muslim women, as well as others that showed a deep understanding of U.S. social divides, the Washington Post reported on Monday.

Facebook shares ended down 4.5% on Monday, closing at $ 162.87, as some investors worried the tech sector had become too expensive.

Zuckerberg has also unveiled sweeping changes to how his company handles political ads, saying it would make them visible to all users regardless of whom the ads target.

Andrew Capone, senior vice president of NCC Media, a cable trade group, joked on Monday’s panel that during the 2016 election campaign, “Facebook took in over 300 million rubles – I’m sorry, dollars.”

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McGoldrick said on the panel: “If I were Facebook and Google and everyone else, I would be developing a code of conduct and a set of criteria. They may already exist, but obviously it’s not either robust enough or transparent enough.”

Google has said it has no evidence on its ad platform of a Russian propaganda campaign like the one Facebook found.

The two Silicon Valley firms are set to take a combined 63% of the U.S. market this year, according to research firm eMarketer.

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Though Facebook and Google have for years resisted regulation of political ads, congressional investigators and U.S. special counsel Robert Mueller have helped to change the situation, said Jefrey Pollock, president of public relations firm Global Strategy Group.

“Things change with a subpoena,” Pollock, a Democrat, said as part of the panel.

Tech

Google education guru: Classroom laptop bans make no sense

Google Chief Education Evangelist Jaime Casap’s oldest daughter scored a full ride to college on a swimming scholarship but she only lasted one semester out of frustration with the lack of technology at the school. She had been used to taking notes on her laptop in high school, for example, but was told she couldn’t bring her device into the college classroom. 

“I’ve been in education for 10 years and I remember talking to CIOs at universities saying technology is not a differentiator for their schools…that students don’t pick schools based on their technology,” says Casap, an adjunct lecturer in innovation at Arizona State University, where his daughter wound up attending and graduating from. “I can tell you that’s starting to change.”

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Google is giving a big boost to Gmail security

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Google is amping up security and protections for Gmail users, giving people a more noticeable warning if there’s a chance the government is trying to steal their password, giving warnings for dangerous links and proposing a more secure email-sending standard.

Google announced on its blog that it is expanding upon Safe Browsing to alert Gmail users about the possibility of suspicious government activity. Since 2012, Google has put a banner on top of users’ Gmail pages that had a warning about state-sponsored attackers if Google believed they were in danger, but starting today people will get a full-page warning about it — very hard to miss. Read more…

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Google is teasing Android users over the name of its newest OS

Android N_
Google definitely wins against Apple when it comes to naming versions of its operating systems. Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai hinted in December 2015 that the company might be turning to its users for help naming Android N and it looks like he wasn’t being flippant after all. As Android Police reports, a number of users have started getting questions in the Google Opinion Rewards app about food beginning with the letter N. Of course, polls on the app are anonymized and could very well be from anyone but it sounds a little too coincidental for me. The first question asks the user to name…

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Mark Zuckerberg congratulates Google for ‘historic milestone in AI research’

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on stage at the company's F8 developer conference in San Francisco, Calif., in October 2015.

Facebook cofounder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg today has some positive things to say about Google. The remarks come a few hours after Google’s AlphaGo artificial intelligence (AI) program beat Lee Sedol, a highly decorated player of the board game Go, in the third consecutive game of a five-game match in Sedol’s native South Korea.

Google competes with Facebook on some fronts, and both companies are at the forefront of AI research. In fact, the Facebook Artificial Intelligence Research (FAIR) group has been training its own AI software to play Go, but clearly it’s not at the same level as AlphaGo. Zuck’s praise for Google could be read as a challenge to Facebook researchers to step their game up.

FAIR head Yann LeCun today also offered congratulatory words to Google.

In January I asked Demis Hassabis, head of the Google DeepMind research group that’s behind AlphaGo, if there were any plans for AlphaGo to take on Facebook’s computer Go player. He said there were not. But maybe the companies could consider holding a match in the future, now that it’s clear that a machine can top a preeminent a top human Go player.

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Google launches its Keep note-taking app for iOS

google_keep_android

Google today launched Google Keep for iOS. You can download the new app now directly from Apple’s App Store.

We’re a bit surprised it took Google this long to debut an iOS app for its note-taking service. Google Keep first launched way back in March 2013 for Android and the Web, meaning the iOS version is showing up 30 months later. Google even brought Google Keep to Android Wear, its smartwatch platform, in June 2014.

Nonetheless, Google says the features Google Keep users have come to expect on Android and the Web are now available to iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch users. That means iOS users can search and filter notes by color and type (images, audio, and text), add labels, set time or location-based reminders, and share notes for basic real-time collaboration.

google_keep_ios

Here is the full feature list, from the iTunes description:

  • Capture, edit, share, and collaborate on your notes on any device, anywhere.
  • Add notes, lists, photos, and audio to Keep.
  • Organize your notes with labels and colors.
  • Set and forget. Get reminded about a note at the right time or place.
  • Record a voice memo and have it automatically transcribed.
  • Grab the text from an image to help you quickly find that note again through search.

This release isn’t going to convert Evernote or OneNote users, as both have iOS apps with plenty of features. If, however, you’re already using Google Keep on another one of your devices, being able to access your notes on your Apple gadget is a welcome addition. If you’re a Windows Phone user, we wouldn’t hold our breath until Google shows some interest in Windows 10.

While it appears this is a full-featured release, we have asked Google if there is anything missing from the iOS app that is currently available on Android and the Web. We will update you if we learn anything new.

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Google Play Services 8.1 SDK ships with new app invites, permissions, Player Stats API

Google Play Games' built-in developer analytics tools grew more robust today.

Google has rolled out a series of updates for Google Play and Android 6.0 Marshmallow today aimed at giving better support for developers. The company announced that Marshmallow now has a new permissions model aimed at improving the way app installs and updates are handled. Additionally, Google Play services 8.1 offers support runtime permissions, a new Play Games Player Stats API, and more.

Within Google’s newest mobile operating system version, a new app permissions model promises to let developers offer more control to the users. Not only can the app declare the permissions it’s going to need, but permissions will be divided into groups based on their functionality, making the organization easier. Marshmallow also includes limits on how permissioning is handled at install time — users won’t be prompted to grant permission to some apps because of the nature of these services, such as alarm clock or Internet apps.

Developers interested in tapping into the updated permission model can view more information here. Google cautions that during the preview period, not all of its core apps will have fully implemented this new model.

Besides Android 6.0 Marshmallow, Google Play services has received some updates. The completed rollout of version 8.1 now allows developers to customize the email invitation with a custom image and a call-to-action button. The idea is that by giving more control to developers, more engagement and conversions will happen.

Game developers will be interested in the new Play Games Player Stats API, which will let developers better tailor the user experience to specific segments of players. In an example, Google said that the most valuable players could be rewarded with a special welcome back message when returning to the game.

For those developers using Google Nearby, the company has added a feature that gives apps the ability to receive a callback when an active Nearby publish or subscribe expires. Google Nearby lets apps communicate with nearby devices, and traditionally it would hog up resources. But this update claims to improve accuracy and make it easy to enable apps across devices to talk to one another.

This is the first update to Google Play services since last month, when new APIs were made available that let developers utilize face detection, barcode recognition, and facilitated Nearby Messages.


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Google says its voice search system is now more accurate, especially in noisy places

Google voice search on the web.

If you’ve noticed Google doing a better job of understanding what you say using speech recognition on your smartphone lately, you’re not crazy. Google’s voice search has indeed become more accurate, thanks to advances in artificial intelligence, the tech company announced today.

“Today, we’re happy to announce we built even better neural network acoustic models using Connectionist Temporal Classification (CTC) and sequence discriminative training techniques,” Google Speech Team members Haşim Sak, Andrew Senior, Kanishka Rao, Françoise Beaufays and Johan Schalkwyk wrote in a blog post today. “These models are a special extension of recurrent neural networks (RNNs) that are more accurate, especially in noisy environments, and they are blazingly fast!”

The new models are working in the Google app for iOS and Android, as well as dictation on Android, which works inside of some third-party apps, the team members wrote.

From VentureBeat

Location, location, location — Not using geolocation to reach your mobile customers? Your competitors are. Find out what you’re missing.

Google has reported improvements in voice search not once but twice this year. Clearly the company has been investing in the underlying technology. RNNs are one increasingly popular approach to doing deep learning, a type of artificial intelligence, and Google is widely thought to have a deep bench in deep learning.

But Apple and Microsoft, among others, have also been working to improve their voice recognition capabilities. Meanwhile, Facebook is also doing more in the area, having acquired a speech recognition company, Wit.ai, some months ago.

Speech could become more important as an input to searching the Web in the years to come. Baidu’s Andrew Ng, who is known for his work on the so-called Google Brain, last year predicted that within five years “50 percent of queries will be on speech or images.”

“In addition to requiring much lower computational resources, the new models are more accurate, robust to noise, and faster to respond to voice search queries — so give it a try, and happy (voice) searching!” wrote Sak, Senior, Rao, Beaufays, and Schalkwyk.

Read the full blog post for more detail on how the team managed to get the new performance gains.

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Google brings note-taking app Keep to iPhone

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More than two years after launching Google Keep on Android, the company is finally bringing its note-taking app to iOS: Google rolled out a new version of Keep for iPhones and iPads Thursday.

Like the Android and web version of the app, Keep on iOS allows you to arrange your notes into a sticky-note-like interface. Notes are synced with your Google account so you can access them across devices.

Though not as full-featured as some competitors like Evernote, Google’s free app offers much more than Apple’s new Notes app. Recorded voice memos are automatically transcribed and you can share notes with people you know so others can collaborate on a checklist, for example. Read more…

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Google Keep finally arrives on iOS for all your note-taking needs

Google Keep iOS Social
Keep – Google’s simple note-taking app – is finally arriving on iOS. It’s the same set of features you’ve come to expect from the Android and Web versions. You can create colored notes and to-do lists, search for information by photo, audio, or text, or add labels to help keep things organized. You can also set reminders based on a time or location so you don’t forget an item from your next shopping list. Of course, it’s connected to the cloud, so your notes will be saved across all your devices, and collaborative functionality means you can share notes with others and work…

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Google Cloud servers?

Question by zaza: Google Cloud servers?
What do Cloud servers mean? I understand that they’re not like usual servers, but nothing in detail. I would be glad if you could explain this to me.

Best answer:

Answer by Scott
Web definitions

(Cloud Servers) Virtualized servers running Windows or Linux operating systems that are instantiated via a web interface or API. Cloud Servers behave in the same manner as physical ones and can be controlled at an administrator or root level, depending on the server type and Cloud Hosting provider.

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What type of transmission method does Google Docs use?

Question by julia!: What type of transmission method does Google Docs use?
Is “Cloud Computing” a method of transmission?

Best answer:

Answer by SF_Writer
No. Cloud computing means the software is online and not on your computer. I’m not sure of the transmission method, but I would assume it is some sort of secure http.

Know better? Leave your own answer in the comments!