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App Helps African Farmers Detect Crop Disease

A team of Cameroonian entrepreneurs has created a mobile application that helps the farmers detect crop disease.  The app also proposes treatments and offers prevention measures. In Binguela, Cameroon, Anne Nzouankeu has this report narrated by Moki Edwin Kindzeka.
 

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Leather Wallets, Loose Change Pose Danger for new Apple Card

Apple tried to make the new Apple-branded credit card attractive, copying the heft and sleekness of higher-end cards like the Chase Sapphire. But cardholders are discovering that with such a design, they’ll have to give it special care.Leather wallets and loose change pose danger for new Apple Card, for instance. In fact, Apple says its Apple Card shouldn’t come into contact with other credit cards for fear of scratching the titanium card’s white finish.Apple issued special instructions this week: Keep away from “hard surfaces or materials.” Your leather wallet or jeans pocket “might cause permanent discoloration.” Don’t let it touch another credit card or “potentially abrasive objects” like coins or keys.There’s also a two-step cleaning process involving microfiber cloths and isopropyl alcohol and a list of inappropriate cleaners.The Apple Card is designed primarily for iPhone use, though the company is offering a physical card for use in stores that don’t accept mobile payments. Customers typically get 2% cash back when using Apple’s app to pay. Industry experts say financial benefits of the card mirror many of those already out there for consumers.The card, announced in March in partnership with Goldman Sachs, started rolling out in the U.S. this month.

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Concerns Growing that China’s Influence Operations Getting Bolder

Nike Ching contributed to this report, which includes information from Reuters.Revelations that China has been using social media accounts to influence public opinion on continuing protests in Hong Kong are reinforcing warnings from U.S. intelligence that the battle for information dominance has been joined. Until now, much of the focus on been on Russia for its use of social media to meddle in a number of Western elections, including the 2016 U.S. presidential elections and, more recently, the 2018 congressional elections.But top U.S. intelligence officials have repeatedly warned Russia is not alone, and that other U.S adversaries would be using lessons from Moscow’s successes for their own purposes.No adversary, they said, posed a bigger threat than China.”The Chinese government uses all of the capabilities at their disposal to influence U.S. policies, spread propaganda, manipulate the media,” former Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said during a talk last September.Around the same time, President Donald Trump began calling out China for placing ads and stories critical of the U.S.-China trade talks in regional newspapers.China is actually placing propaganda ads in the Des Moines Register and other papers, made to look like news. That’s because we are beating them on Trade, opening markets, and the farmers will make a fortune when this is over! FILE – Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang speaks during a press briefing in Beijing, July 11, 2017, in this image made from video.U.S. reactionThere has also been little public reaction from U.S. officials, though many remain wary.”This is another element of their efforts to manipulate data,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Fox News on Monday, asked about China’s alleged activity on social media shortly after the news broke.Others have tried to frame the influence campaign as another attempt by Beijing to distract the world’s attention.”The Chinese government chooses to blame the United States rather than address its own governance failures in Hong Kong,” a senior administration official told VOA. “When a quarter of the population takes to the streets to voice their discontent, it’s not because they were tricked into doing it.”Yet there is concern among intelligence officials and analysts that this use of social media shows that the Chinese Communist party, which already controls the information environment inside of China, is moving ambitiously to control the narrative fed to the outside world.”This is a big deal because it’s the first time that we’ve had confirmation of anything like this from any Western social media platforms,” Matt Schrader, a China analyst at The Alliance for Securing Democracy at the German Marshall Fund, told VOA.”You have to start asking, is China looking beyond Hong Kong? Is it looking beyond Taiwan? Is it practicing these tactics to be able to influence people globally?”

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A Biometric ID: A Scan of the Iris or Fingerprint, to get Food, Medical Supplies

To get medical supplies or food, people in some places around the world are showing not a government ID but the iris in their eyes or their thumbprint. Deana Mitchell talked to one Silicon Valley company that is providing the new tech tools of identity.

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Twitter, Facebook Take Down Chinese Fake News Accounts

After Hong Kong saw one of its biggest protests yet over the weekend, a social media war has broken out between China and U.S. technology companies over how Chinese state-sponsored media is using social media to spread misinformation and false news about the protesters.  On Monday, Twitter and Facebook, which are both blocked in China but are freely available in Hong Kong, removed accounts they said originated in China that characterized the Hong Kong protesters as violent. Twitter said many of the accounts used virtual private networks, or VPNs, to access Twitter.Twitter said it took down more than 900 accounts that were “deliberately and specifically attempting to sow political discord in Hong Kong.” The company said it had evidence the accounts were part of “a coordinated state-backed operation.””All the accounts have been suspended for a range of violations of our platform manipulation policies,” Twitter said in the blog.Facebook said it had been tipped off by Twitter and had removed accounts and pages “associated with the Chinese government.”  The Hong Kong protests have shed light on the chasm between how news about Hong Kong is portrayed inside China and outside.FILE – The Twitter logo is displayed on a screen on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City.Silence, then social media campaignAt first, the Chinese government and state-sponsored media made rare mention of the protests over the past months. That switched in the past few weeks.Where much of the world saw Hong Kong protesters peacefully gathering over the weekend, the top trending item on Weibo, China’s version of Twitter, showed a Shanghai tourist allegedly beaten during the same protest, wrote the South China Morning Post. It had more than 500 million views.Meanwhile, the protest organizers have been using social media to spread the word of events, using encrypted sites such as Telegram as well as Twitter and Facebook.Banning state-sponsored advertisingTwitter also said it was banning state-sponsored media advertising on its platform after Chinese state media placed ads on Twitter. Buzzfeed News found 50 ads placed by Chinese state-run outfits on Twitter that portrayed protesters as violent and anti-China. One paid for tweet from China Daily showed a protester with a Molotov cocktail and a U.S. flag.  One observer in Hong Kong called on Twitter to stop accepting ads for state-sponsored media in China.As the social media battleground continues, all sides will likely keep changing tactics to keep the other side guessing. Already Twitter said it has seen new accounts created after it began suspending accounts. What’s certain is that as the social media battle continues, all sides will likely keep changing tactics to keep the other side guessing. 

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Facebook Rolls Out Tool to Block Off-Facebook Data Gathering

Soon, you could get fewer familiar ads following you around the internet — or at least on Facebook.Facebook is launching a long-promised tool that lets you block the social network from gathering information about you on outside websites and apps.The company said Tuesday that it is adding a section where you can see the activity that Facebook tracks outside its service via its “like” buttons and other means. You can choose to turn off the tracking; otherwise, tracking will continue the same way it has been.Formerly known as “clear history,” the tool will now go by the somewhat awkward name “off-Facebook activity.” The feature will be available in South Korea, Ireland and Spain on Tuesday, consistent with Facebook’s tendency to launch features in smaller markets first. The company did not give a timeline for when it might expand it to the U.S. and other countries, only that it will be in “coming months.”Blocking the tracking, which is on by default, could mean fewer ads that seem familiar — for example, for a pair of shoes you decided not to buy, or a nonprofit you donated money to. It won’t change the actual number of ads you’ll see on Facebook.Facebook faces increasing governmental scrutiny over its privacy practices, including a record $5 billion fine from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission for mishandling user data. Boosting its privacy protections could help the company pre-empt regulation and further punishment. But it’s a delicate dance, as Facebook still depends on highly targeted advertising for nearly all of its revenue.CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the “clear history” feature more than a year ago. The company said building it has been a complicated technical process, which is also the reason for the slow, gradual rollout. Facebook said it sought input from users, privacy experts and policymakers along the way, which led to some changes. For instance, users will be able to disconnect their activity from a specific websites or apps, or reconnect to a specific site while keeping other future tracking turned off.You’ll be able to access the feature by going to your Facebook settings and scrolling down to “your Facebook information.” The “off-Facebook activity” section will be there when it launches.The tool will let you delete your past browsing history from Facebook and prevent it from keeping track of your future clicks, taps and website visits going forward. Doing so means that Facebook won’t use information gleaned from apps and websites to target ads to you on Facebook, Instagram and Messenger. It also won’t use such information to show you posts that Facebook thinks you might like based on your offsite activity, such as news articles shared by your friends.“We do think this could have an impact on our revenue,” said Stephanie Max, product manager at Facebook, adding that this will depend on how people will use the tool. But she added that giving people “transparency and control” is important.Off-Facebook activity is one of many pieces of information that Facebook uses to target ads to people. The changes won’t affect how your actions on Facebook are used to show you ads. It also won’t change the metrics Facebook sends back to advertisers to tell them how well their ads work.

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As World Watches Hong Kong, Twitter and Facebook Take Down Accounts Associated with Chinese Government    

After Hong Kong saw one of its biggest protests yet over the weekend, a social media war has broken out between China and U.S. technology companies over how Chinese state-sponsored media is using social media to spread misinformation and false news about the protesters.  On Monday, Twitter and Facebook, which are both blocked in China but are freely available in Hong Kong, removed accounts they said originated in China that characterized the Hong Kong protesters as violent. Twitter said many of the accounts used virtual private networks, or VPNs, to access Twitter.Twitter said it took down more than 900 accounts that were “deliberately and specifically attempting to sow political discord in Hong Kong.” The company said it had evidence the accounts were part of “a coordinated state-backed operation.””All the accounts have been suspended for a range of violations of our platform manipulation policies,” Twitter said in the blog.Facebook said it had been tipped off by Twitter and had removed accounts and pages “associated with the Chinese government.”  The Hong Kong protests have shed light on the chasm between how news about Hong Kong is portrayed inside China and outside.FILE – The Twitter logo is displayed on a screen on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York City.Silence, then social media campaignAt first, the Chinese government and state-sponsored media made rare mention of the protests over the past months. That switched in the past few weeks.Where much of the world saw Hong Kong protesters peacefully gathering over the weekend, the top trending item on Weibo, China’s version of Twitter, showed a Shanghai tourist allegedly beaten during the same protest, wrote the South China Morning Post. It had more than 500 million views.Meanwhile, the protest organizers have been using social media to spread the word of events, using encrypted sites such as Telegram as well as Twitter and Facebook.Banning state-sponsored advertisingTwitter also said it was banning state-sponsored media advertising on its platform after Chinese state media placed ads on Twitter. Buzzfeed News found 50 ads placed by Chinese state-run outfits on Twitter that portrayed protesters as violent and anti-China. One paid for tweet from China Daily showed a protester with a Molotov cocktail and a U.S. flag.  One observer in Hong Kong called on Twitter to stop accepting ads for state-sponsored media in China.As the social media battleground continues, all sides will likely keep changing tactics to keep the other side guessing. Already Twitter said it has seen new accounts created after it began suspending accounts. What’s certain is that as the social media battle continues, all sides will likely keep changing tactics to keep the other side guessing.