Facebook has acquired Swedish mapping start-up, Mapillary, in another effort towards taking on tech giants, Apple and Google, at mapping the world at ground level. While the acquisition price was not disclosed, start-up tracker, Crunchbase revealed that the acquired company had successfully raised $24.5 million from investors within the last seven years.
Founded in Malmo, Sweden, in 2013, the company built a street-level imagery platform using photos uploaded by members of the public. The company then uses computer vision software to determine what exactly is in an image, like traffic signs, allowing map builders to incorporate this data in their own maps.
For Facebook, the company’s street-level data could further strengthen the accuracy of the maps it offers on its platforms.
Mapillary’s co-founder and CEO, Jan Erik Solem, explained that “From day one of Mapillary, we have been committed to building a global street-level imagery platform that allows everyone to get the imagery and data they need to make better maps. With tens of thousands of contributors to our platform and with maps being improved with Mapillary data every single day, we’re now taking the next big step on that journey.”
Apple and Google have invested heavily in street-level mapping over the last 10 years, but Facebook so far, has not built a name in mapping. Facebook had also earlier noted its use of a combination of machine learning, satellite imagery and partnerships with mapping communities to improve its maps.
Mapillary’s platform, which could not be used for commercial purposes previously, now has the option, making it even more relevant for users.
“Today, we’re excited to share that Mapillary has joined Facebook to be part of their open mapping efforts. Starting today, it will also be free to use for commercial users as well. While we previously needed to focus on commercialization to build and run the platform, joining Facebook moves Mapillary closer to the vision we’ve had from day one of offering a free service to anyone,” Solem added.
3 startups to get N3 million grant each in the COVID-19 virtual hackathon
The hackathon hopes to identify accessible and cost-effective E-Learning solutions for public schools.
The Nigerian Communications Commission has announced that 3 finalist startups will get a grant of N3 million each at the end of the COVID-19 virtual hackathon.
These three startups will be selected from submitted entries that meet all the criteria and provide adaptable digital solutions for addressing the present and future impacts of pandemic and epidemic diseases.
The solutions must be novel, clearly explained, with proof of concept
NCC announced this through a statement published on its Twitter handle.
The grant, it said, will enable the three startups with the most promising digital solutions to produce a prototype within 2 months of receipt.
According to the statement, submitted entries are expected to provide solutions in sectors such as health, digital communications, education, transportation.
For those in health, the solutions should find a way to empower frontline healthcare workers or prevent, trace, and contain the spread in Nigeria.
Solutions in digital communications are expected to aid the sustenance of economic activities and people-to-people communication while encouraging social distancing without compromising productivity.
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The hackathon also hopes to identify accessible and cost-effective E-Learning solutions for public schools, as well as improved safety measures in public transportation in Nigeria.
Interested tech hubs, startups and innovative digital SMEs can still submit entries on or before July 17, 2020.
Hushpuppi extradited to the United States
Hushpuppi and Woodberry were arrested along with ten other African suspects in an operation tagged “Fox Hunt 2”.
Alleged Nigerian fraudsters, Raymond Igbalode Abbas (Hushpuppi) and Olalekan Jacon Ponle (Woodberry) have been extradited to the United States, according to a statement by the Dubai police.
In an announcement on Thursday afternoon, the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Christopher Wray praised the “exceptional effort exerted by the United Arab Emirates”, in fighting transnational organized cybercrime including the arrest of Hushpuppi and Woodberry taken down in the operation Fox Hunt 2.
Director Wray also praised Dubai’s police for their cooperation in extraditing the “unwanted criminals”, who committed money-laundering and multiple cybercrimes to the United States”.
Hushpuppi and Woodberry were arrested along with ten other African suspects in the special operation “ Fox Hunt 2”.
The suspects are accused of committing crimes outside the UAE, including money-laundering, hacking, criminal impersonation, cyber fraud, banking fraud and identity theft.
The Dubai CID, Brigadier Jamal Salem Al Jallaf said incriminating documents were found of planned frauds worth a total of $435 Million.
Also seized in the arrest were $40.9 million in cash, 12 luxury cars valued at $6.8 million, 21 Computer Devices, 47 Smartphones, 15 memory sticks and five hard disks containing “119,580 fraud files as well as addresses of 1,926,400 victims.”
— Dubai Policeشرطة دبي (@DubaiPoliceHQ) July 2, 2020
Facebook bans racist ads, in response to ad boycotts by big brands
Nearly 100 brands resolved to pull their ads in support of the #StopHateForProfit movement.
Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, has announced a change in the company’s policies to now prohibit hate speech and racist content in its advertisement.
Speaking over the weekend, Zuckerberg explained that the new policy will ban advertisements “that claim people from a specific race, ethnicity, nationality, caste, gender, sexual orientation or immigration origin are a threat to the physical safety or health of anyone else”
Also, Facebook will do more to protect immigrants, migrants, refugees, and asylum-seekers from ads that suggest they are inferior to other groups of people or from ads that express contempt, dismissal or disgust directed at them.
In a Bloomberg interview, the CEO had noted that the company will ensure that Facebook remains a place where everyone can use their voice to discuss important issues, but that any attempt to incite violence, suppress voting, or discriminate a group of people, will be checked.
Why the policy change?
This change in policy comes after a weeklong tussle with advertisers with nearly 100 brands resolving to pull their ads from Facebook for the month of July or longer, as part of the #StopHateForProfit movement.
The movement is being backed by organizations such as the Anti-Defamation League, the NAACP, Sleeping Giants, Color of Change, Free Press and Common Sense.
We will join #StopHate4Profit and stop posting on @Facebook for the month of July. We are taking this action to protest the platform’s irresponsible propagation of hate speech, racism, and misleading voter information. We encourage clients and our own people to join us.
— Goodby Silverstein (@GSP) June 24, 2020
Although Zuckerberg made no mention of these boycotts, it would appear that this is a move to pacify advertisers, and prevent competitor platforms like Pinterest, Amazon and —- from swooping in to take advantage of the situation.
That movement protests “Facebook’s repeated failure to meaningfully address the vast proliferation of hate on its platforms.”
The brands boycotting the platform includes big spenders like Unilever, Coca-cola and Verizon, as well as some other smaller companies like Patagonia, REI, Lending Club and The North Face, according to a running list from Sleeping Giants.
It is not certain how much impact this would have on the company’s finances, given that Facebook has over 8 million advertisers on its platform, the bigger brands may soon influence more companies to join the movement.
The companies had explained during the week that Facebook was not the target of the movement but to drive home a message on the moderation of bigoted and prejudiced contents.
Remember that the #StopHateForProfit campaign is not about damaging Facebook’s bottom line, it’s about a broader reckoning around the platform’s lack of moderation of hate and disinformation.
Advertisers don’t want to sponsor violent, bigoted content or lies.
— Sleeping Giants (@slpng_giants) June 26, 2020
There is yet no hint as to whether the brands are pleased with Facebook’s new move, but it is clear that if the boycotts continue, the brands will likely shift their ad spending to other companies.
While announcing its decision to stop ads on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter in the U.S. for the rest of the year, Luis Di Como, EVP of Global Media, said in a statement;
“We are actively engaging with all digital platforms to make meaningful change and impact trust and transparency,” the statement said. “We have made substantial progress, and we acknowledge the efforts of our partners, but there is much more to be done, especially in the areas of divisiveness and hate speech during this polarized election period in the U.S.”
He added that the company will explore other media options for its ads in the U.S. in a bid to discourage “divisiveness and hate speech during this polarized election period in the U.S.”
According to marketing analytics firm Pathmatics, Unilever has spent more than $11.8 million in the U.S. this year on Facebook ads alone .
Coca-Cola CEO and Chairman, James Quincey, said in his statement that the company was not joining the official boycott like other big brands, but was only pausing ads on all social media platforms globally for the month of July.
“We will take this time to reassess our advertising policies to determine whether revisions are needed. We also expect greater accountability and transparency from our social media partners” he said.