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Face book publicisized a version of its Messenger application for children aimed at enabling kids fewer than 12 to connect with others under parental supervision.

Messenger Kids is being rolled out for Apple iOS mobile devices in the United States on a test basis as a standalone video chat and messaging app.

Product manager Loren Cheng said the social network leader is offering Messenger Kids because “there’s a need for a messaging app that lets kids connect with people they love but also has the level of control parents want.”

Face book said that the new app, with no ads or in-app purchases, is aimed at 6- to 12-year-olds. It enables parents to control the contact list and does not allow children to connect with anyone their parent does not approve.

The social media giant added it designed the app because many children are going online without safeguards.

A Face book statement said,

“Many of us at Face book are parents ourselves, and it seems we weren’t alone when we realized that our kids were getting online earlier and earlier”.

It cited a study showing that 93 percent of 6- to 12-year-olds in the US have access to tablets or smart phones, and two-thirds have a Smartphone or tablet of their own.

The company said,

“We want to help ensure the experiences our kids have when using technology are positive, safer, and age-appropriate, and we believe teaching kids how to use technology in positive ways will bring better experiences later as they grow”.

Facebook’s rules require that children be at least 13 to create an account, but many are believed to get around the restrictions.

Cheng said Facebook conducted its own research and worked with “over a dozen expert advisors” in building the app.

She added that data from children would not be used for ad profiles and that the application would be compliant with the Children’s Online Privacy and Protection Act (COPPA).

She said,

“We’ve worked extensively with parents and families to shape Messenger Kids and we’re looking forward to learning and listening as more children and families start to use the iOS preview.”

 

 

 

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Engadget first reported that Samsung has filed a patent application for a device that can read the palm of your hand.

The prototype technology wouldn't replace traditional biometric systems like fingerprints or face scanners, however, but would only help you get a hint in case you forgot a password.

Security questions normally handle this task, but someone who knows you might be able to circumvent the system and get ahold of your password.



A system like this, on the other hand, would look at the unique pattern the lines on your hand's palm form, and use them to show hints in the form of incomplete characters.

There is no mention of a depth system in Samsung's patent application, but it would be safe to assume that the company is looking at something more complex than a simple photograph — which could, of course, be spoofed with a simple picture.

This could potentially lead to a new, unique authentication system — granted that security and usability barriers are overcome — but there's no mention of anything beyond password hints in Samsung's filing.

A patent application doesn't mean that we will necessarily see the technology in use anytime soon (if at all). Companies such as Samsung and Apple often file patents as a marketing technique or simply to stop competitors working on certain ideas.

 

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Gluten-free diets are one of the few that doctors actually prescribe. So why are so many people following it? Peter Green, the director of Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University, explains the myths surrounding gluten-free diets. Following is a transcript of the video.

 

I’m Peter Green. I'm the director of the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University.

We’re not sure why a gluten-free diet has become so popular but of all the diets if you look at the diets such as veganism, organic food, low carb, South Beach Diet, paleo diet, etc they don't have the medical legitimacy that a gluten-free diet has.

A gluten-free diet is prescribed as a treatment for celiac disease.



 

Also, there’s a lot of mythology that's going on.

There are several books that tout that gluten is the source of all evil, causing autoimmunity, causing dementia and brain issues, and responsible for us being obese, big bellies, wheat bellies, and there's very little scientific evidence to support the benefit of a gluten-free diet in anything except celiac disease.

So, celiac disease is an autoimmune disease that occurs in genetically predisposed individuals that develop this immune response to gluten which is the term for the storage protein of wheat, rye, and barley and it's actually very common.

 

It occurs in about 1% of the population which makes it one of the most common autoimmune genetically-determined conditions but in this country, only about 20% of the individuals with celiac disease are actually diagnosed.

Now, in the time that celiac disease has been noted to increase, a gluten-free diet has become very popular.

 

More than twice that percentage, like 2-3% of the population is actually avoiding gluten and we not sure why that is.

The people who avoid gluten or PWAGs “people who avoid gluten”, we don’t know why they are doing that, so it's a very trendy diet, it's a popular diet.

 

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Facebook has announced that it will train and support over 50,000 students, small businesses and creative entrepreneurs across Nigeria in 2018.

Facebook’s Public Policy Director, Africa, Ms Ebele Okobi, during a news briefing on Wednesday in Lagos, said that the training would be through a series of digital skills, as well as long-term impact programmes.

Okobi said that the trainings and support was Facebook’s initiative in its ambition to drive innovation, skills development and economic impact in Nigeria. She said that the trainings and support was Facebook’s new nationwide initiative to further cement its commitment and investment in Nigeria, and across the continent.

According to her, Facebook would be incorporating a series of high profile partnerships, training programmes and a physical space that will serve as a centre for learning and skills development.

She said:

”This set of initiatives is aimed at helping to develop and nurture communities, including small businesses, the tech and start-up ecosystem, youths and creative. In Nigeria, more than 22 million people use Facebook every month and 87 per cent of SMEs say that when they hire, digital skills are more important than where an applicant went to school.

”This demonstrates that the power of digital skills to aid economic growth and development has never been more important. At Facebook, our mission is clear: To give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together.”

”Our investments and commitments announced in Lagos today further reflect our intent to partner with Nigeria’s policy makers and its vibrant tech and entrepreneurial eco-system to create economic opportunity and independence in Nigeria and across Africa.”

Okobi said that Facebook was committed to working with Nigerian small businesses, tech entrepreneurs and the next generation of leaders to better understand and utilise the power of digital tools for economic growth.

She said that Facebook would be launching a series of learning-based programmes facilitated by local training partners, to accomplish its mission. Okobi said that the learning-based programmes had been designed to provide skills that would lead to employment and support the growth of small businesses.

She said that the learning-based programmes include: Aspiring Entrepreneurs, Jobs for Youth, Boost your Business, Creative Entrepreneurship Training, and Online Safety + Digital Literacy Training in Schools and Universities.

According to her, Facebook undertook a detailed ‘Economic Impact Study’ to further understand how communities like small businesses and consumers in Nigeria use the platform, and the effectiveness of social media as a growth tool.

She said,

”Nearly 1 in 2 small businesses on Facebook say they built their business on the platform. Sixty-two per cent stated they have been able to use Facebook to help find employees for their business. Over half (58 per cent) of small businesses on the platform say they have been able to hire more employees due to growth since joining Facebook.”

Facebook has 1.37 billion daily active users on average worldwide and 7.2 million daily visitors from Nigeria.

Founded in 2004, Facebook’s mission is to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected. People use Facebook to stay connected with friends and family, to discover what is going on in the world, and to share and express what matters to them.

 

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World’s Popular Social Media, Twitter is changing its policy on “verified” accounts, reserving the right to remove the blue badges from users who disrupt the online platform’s terms of service.

The move came a week after Twitter launched a review of its policy following revelations that neo-Nazi and white supremacist leaders had received verification of their accounts.

The blue verification badge was created by Twitter to vouch for the genuineness of content from political leaders, celebrities and journalists, and to distinguish it from spoof or parody accounts.

But in its announcement Wednesday, Twitter Company said its process until now failed to take into account whether users promoted violence or hate speech or otherwise violated its terms of service.

A tweet from the company said,

“We’re working on a new authentication and verification program. In the meantime, we are not accepting any public submissions for verification and have introduced new guidelines for the program,”

“We are conducting an initial review of verified accounts and will remove verification from accounts whose behaviour does not fall within these new guidelines.”

One of those previously verified included Richard Spencer, a leader of the so-called “alt-right” movement encompassing white supremacists, neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan and the organizer of a white supremacist rally that erupted in deadly violence in Charlottesville, Virginia earlier this year.

He commented on the exclusion of his badge late Wednesday, tweeting “Verified no more! Is it not okay to be proudly White?”

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Microsoft’s online communication service Skype lost an appeal in Belgium after it failed to comply with a court request to share data from messages and calls.

The case bears similarities to the privacy dispute between the U.S. Justice Department and Microsoft over whether prosecutors should get access to emails stored on company servers overseas, which is now before the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Belgian judge at the Antwerp-based appeals court had asked Skype to share data on a suspect in an organized crime investigation on the basis that telecoms operators in the country are subject to such a requirement.

Skype said it was not a telecoms operator and did not have the technical capability to comply with the request.

Wednesday’s judgment, which confirmed the ruling of a lower court, said that Skype was “indisputably” a telecoms operator and that references in Belgian law to “telecommunication” included “electronic communication”.

The court also upheld the 30,000-euro ($36,000) fine and dismissed Skype’s argument that Luxembourg, where Skype and its servers are based, could block such co-operation, as the data the court was looking for originated in Belgium.

A spokesman for Microsoft said the company was considering further legal options.

The European Commission, the EU executive, is looking into rules for sharing digital evidence across borders, with a legislative proposal expected early next year.

 

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The newly discovered Earth sized planet, Ross 128 b is the second-closest found to our solar system, only 11 light-years away. And it could support life.

Announcements about exoplanets, those found outside our solar system, seem almost commonplace in this golden age of discovery for astronomers. So why is Ross 128 b unique, apart from its rather human-sounding name?

The planet is about the same size as Earth, and it may have a similar surface temperature, making it a temperate world that could support life. Every 9.9 days, it completes an orbit around its host star, Ross 128, which is what's known as a red dwarf star; they’re the coolest, faintest and most common stars found in the universe.

The astronomers don't yet know whether Ross 128 b is in the habitable zone of its star, but it's likely, given what they understand about red dwarfs and the planets that orbit them.

Ross 128 b is 20 times closer to its star than Earth is to the sun, but because the star is small, dim and cool, the planet would still be at a potentially comfortable temperature. The nature of the star is also why the planet is subjected to only 1.38 times the radiation that Earth receives from the sun, even though the planet and star are close together.

But the reason astronomers are excited about Ross 128 b is because the star is "quiet." Other red dwarfs, like Proxima Centauri -- the star that Proxima b orbits -- have a tendency to lash out at their planets with deadly flares of ultraviolet and X-ray radiation.

But Ross 128 doesn't seem to be doing this, so it's considered "quieter," which means the planet is a more comfortable place for life to form without being subjected to such violent episodes from time to time.

Proxima b is currently the closest exoplanet to our solar system ever discovered, at a distance of 4.2 light-years. Ross 128 b could change this, because the planet and its star are moving toward us.

"A detailed study investigated the movement of our stellar neighbor by combining data from the Hipparcos satellite and ground-bases velocimeters, They list all the close encounters with other stars, and because of the relative movements of stars and the Sun, it results that Ross 128 will be our closest star. I plan to continue searching for new worlds, especially around Ross 128 because it is likely that there are more planets," Astudillo-Defru said.

Astronomers estimate that in 79,000 years, Ross 128 b will be our exoplanet neighbor, even closer than Proxima b. That may sound like a long time, but in a universe that is billions of years old, it's merely a cosmic moment.

The astronomers believe that Ross 128 b is a good candidate for further study when the European Southern Observatory's Extremely Large Telescope can begin searching the atmospheres of exoplanets for biomarkers in 2025.

Newly discovered super-Earth may be the most exciting exoplanet.

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The World Internal Security and Police Index (WISPI) have released its ranking for the performance of police. The body tries to measures the ability of the police of different countries and other security providers to address internal security. Here are the best performing police in Africa.

The already-sullied reputation of some of Africa’s largest police forces is in for more beating. Of 127 countries measured in the 2016 World Internal Security and Police Index, Nigeria’s police force ranked as the worst, just below DR Congo, Kenya and Uganda to make up the bottom four.

 

Based on the recent release that involves 127 countries, the best police in the world is Singapore. The next five best countries are Finland, Denmark, Austria, and Germany.

 

The World Internal Security & Police Index (WISPI) is composed of many indicators and a wide range of qualitative and quantitative data intended to rank countries according to states of internal security.

 

The index also measures the ability of police institutions worldwide to render effective security services as well as measuring public's confidence in such services; rates on fear of crime; rates of crime victims and the indicators of police operations and activities.

 

The Index excludes countries currently suffering from civil conflict, as well as countries with insufficient data coverage.

 

Here are the Top Countries with the Best Six Police Force in Africa:


CountriesOverall ScoreCapacityProcessLegitimacyOutcomes
Botswana0.6850.9410.6560.7210.488
Rwanda0.6830.8760.610.7410.553
Algeria0.6230.9680.40.5660.647
Senegal0.5630.6550.3240.620.691
Tunisia0.5540.7550.3780.4470.688
Egypt0.5420.8910.3640.3430.658




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YouTube is expanding its takedown policy to cover even more content that includes “people and groups that have been designated as terrorist by the U.S. or British governments. This was reported by the Reuters after thousands of videos featuring slain extremist cleric Anwar al-Awlaki from its platform were removed.

The change will affect videos that don’t feature acts of violence or hateful speech and the move signals further efforts by the company to prevent the spread of extremist propaganda that could help radicalize viewers, as it comes under pressure from various governments to do so.

That’s a shift from the changes Google outlined in June, when it noted that videos containing inflammatory religious or supremacist content would appear behind an interstitial warning and wouldn’t be recommended to viewers or be eligible to be monetized through ads.

While Juniper Downs, YouTube’s global director of public policy, noted this week that such measures could make it more difficult for certain videos to gain an audience, I believe there’s greater merit in creating a space that’s free of extremist content and safer for people across the world to use.

As for the task of triaging the massive streams of video that are uploaded every minute to YouTube to flag questionable content: the company is already using AI to sniff this stuff out, and such systems will likely improve over time to further improve and automate the process.

Arguably, the most difficult part of cleaning up YouTube is deciding what should go, as opting for automated removal runs the risk of hiding content from people documenting related media. The Intercept noted earlier this month that YouTube’s AI took down videos and channels run by well-known organizations dedicated to covering the civil war in Syria, and other conflict areas.

It’s good to see YouTube take a harder stance against those who promote violence and hate, even if it means that the platform must exercise more editorial control over the content that’s published on its platform.

Attempting this issue won’t be easy, but it’s a challenge that YouTube will need to step up to if it wants to continue being the go-to source for video around the world. A nuanced approach with human intervention, backed by refined AI, could definitely help things along.

 

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Having received over 300 entries, the AppsAfrica.com Awards Winners 2017 were announced at a pan-African mobile and tech awards party at Shimmy Beach Club in Cape Town, South Africa last night.

The Awards supported by Boomplay MusicAfrica Tech Summit KigaliBaseboneBBM, Mobile Ecosystem Forum (MEF) and Mobile Monday South Africa (MOMO) celebrate the best in mobile. The finalists were judged by an independent panel of leading industry experts and the Award winning services were from Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Egypt and pan-African ventures.

 

Appsafrica.com Innovation Awards Winners 2017:

 

Best Social and Messaging Award – Flare

Enterprise Solution Award – What3Words

News and Entertainment Award – Bounce News

Educational Award- Snapplify

Fintech Award- Flutterwave

Social Impact Award – Vodacom e-School

Disruptive Innovation Award –What3Words

Best African App – Boomplay Music 

mCommerce –  Mazady

Changing Africa – Jumo

 

The AppsAfrica.com Awards were first organised three years ago to celebrate the best in mobile and tech across the continent and it is fantastic to see the growth each year, with entries from over 31 countries this year. Even more encouraging is how rapidly African start-ups are now scaling to compete with established corporate with winners from both shared Andrew Fassnidge founder of AppsAfrica.com.

Having picked up an AppsAfrica Award, this year’s winners will also be invited to exhibit at Africa Tech Summit Kigali Feb 14th and 15th 2018, connecting with tech leaders, MNO’s, banks, investors, governments and start-ups from across Africa for the two day Summit.

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