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Google to ban political advertising ahead of Philippine election



(Last Updated On: December 1, 2021)

Alphabet Inc’s (GOOGL.O) Google said on Wednesday it will ban political advertising on its platform in the run-up to Philippine elections in May next year to choose a successor to President Rodrigo Duterte.

The move comes amid pressure on social media platforms over their handling of political advertising during the U.S. presidential election in 2020, Reuters reported.

Social media platforms have become political battlegrounds in the Southeast Asian nation, with studies showing Filipinos top the rankings globally for time spent on social media.

Election advertisements that promote or oppose any political party or the candidacy of any person or party for public office, would not be allowed to run between February 8 to May 9, next year, Google said in an update to its political content policy.

The dates cover the period of campaigning in the Philippines up to election day on May 9.

Google said notifications would be sent to affected advertisers about the policy update.

Google has banned political advertising on its platform before, including in Canada’s federal election in 2019 and before an election in Singapore in 2020.

Social media platforms like Facebook have helped strengthen Duterte’s support base, with analysts regarding them as instrumental in his election victory in 2016.

The Philippines will choose a successor to Duterte, who under the constitution is not allowed to seek another term, but will be standing for a senator’s seat.

Science & Technology

Twitter bans account linked to Iranian leader over Trump threat



(Last Updated On: January 16, 2022)

Twitter said Saturday it had permanently suspended an account linked to Iran’s supreme leader that posted a video calling for revenge for a top general’s assassination against former US president Donald Trump.

“The account referenced has been permanently suspended for violating our ban evasion policy,” a Twitter spokesperson told AFP.

The account, @KhameneiSite, this week posted an animated video showing an unmanned aircraft targeting Trump, who ordered a drone strike in Baghdad two years ago that killed top Iranian commander General Qassem Soleimani, AFP reported.

Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s main accounts in various languages remain active. Last year, another similar account was suspended by Twitter over a post also appearing to reference revenge against Trump.

The recent video, titled “Revenge is Definite”, was also posted on Khamenei’s official website.

According to Twitter, the company’s top priority is keeping people safe and protecting the health of the conversation on the platform, AFP reported.

The social media giant says it has clear policies around abusive behavior and will take action when violations are identified.

As head of the Quds Force, the foreign operations arm of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, Soleimani was the architect of its strategy in the Middle East.

He and his Iraqi lieutenant were killed by a US drone strike outside Baghdad airport on January 3, 2020.

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Science & Technology

Google buys London site for $1 billion



(Last Updated On: January 14, 2022)

Tech giant Google has spent $1 billion to buy a central London building where it is currently a tenant, showing its confidence in the future of the office as a place to work, the company said on Friday.

Google, which employs 6,400 people in Britain, plans a multi-million pound refurbishment of its offices within the Central Saint Giles development it is buying, close to Covent Garden in central London, Reuters reported.

“We have been privileged to operate in the UK for nearly 20 years, and our purchase of the Central Saint Giles development refects our continued commitment to the country’s growth and success,” said Ruth Porat, CFO of Google’s parent company Alphabet.

According to Reuters Google plans to refit the building so it is adapted for in-person teamwork and has meeting rooms for hybrid working, as well as creating more space for individuals.

The new refurbishment will also feature outdoor covered working spaces to enable work in the fresh air, the company said.

The building had been owned by a joint venture between Legal & General Investment Management Real Assets and Mitsubishi Estate London Limited, Reuters reported.

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Over 70 new technologies to be applied in Beijing Winter Olympics



(Last Updated On: January 9, 2022)

Beijing has tested more than 200 new technologies for the Winter Olympics and will apply more than 70 of them during competitions, local authorities said on Friday.

The over 200 technologies, involving information engineering and software engineering, public safety, high-definition videos, 5G and new energy and other fields, can be used for more than 60 purposes such as security and epidemic prevention, Reuters reported.

Among them, more than 20 technologies are outstanding in terms of technological advancement and application. For example, the Winter Olympics will adopt an aerosol detection system for the novel coronavirus in public spaces.

“It can monitor and rapidly detect the virus in the air inside a venue and send early warnings with detection sensitivity three times higher than that of traditional methods. This technology has been tested and verified at the National Speed Skating Oval and the Ice Cube,” said Wang Jianxin, level-two counsel of the Beijing Municipal Science and Technology Commission, at a press conference of the Beijing Municipal People’s Congress.

According to the report focusing on venue construction, venue operation, transportation and logistics, the city has promoted research on green and low-carbon technologies to help achieve the goal of a green and low-carbon Winter Olympics.

“We have established a smart integrated digital twin management platform by carrying out research on green and smart stadium construction and low-energy operation technology, and applied the technology to the construction of the National Speed Skating Oval, which is also known as the ‘Ice Ribbon’. The technology helped save two months and nearly 3,000 tons of steel in the construction of the main structure. The precise environmental control platform built at the National Winter Sports Training Center has become the ‘general energy manager’ of the venue with the daily energy consumption down more than 10 percent,” said Wang.

To ensure the smooth operation of the Winter Olympics, Beijing researched on a number of technological applications focused on the food, engineering construction, and operation support.

In addition, it has also promoted the application of new technologies such as artificial intelligence, high-definition display, and virtual reality in event reporting and broadcasting to enhance the experience of audience.

“Our technical solution of cloud broadcasting has been verified many times in testing events. During the competitions, we will make ‘bullet time’ videos for the OBS (Olympic Broadcasting Services) and the video service system of the Beijing Winter Olympics press conference. In addition, we have also developed a virtual tour guide system based on 3D space reconstruction technology, which offers fresh experiences to athletes and spectators with scene display and VR tour guide functions,” said Wang.

At present, the 3G, 4G, and 5G network signal testing of the four competition venues in Zhangjiakou, another host city of the Beijing Winter Olympics, has been completed, improving the real-time download speed to 1.7 Gbps and the upload speed 300 Mbps.

By setting up a large number of multi-band and multi-form 5G base stations, the communication support team achieved full signal coverage of the tracks, indoor and temporary construction areas of the venues, and used technical equipment resistant to snow, cold, and strong winds to fully meet the communication requirements of the Winter Olympics, Reuters reported.

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