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Google Shuts Down Google Plus

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Google Plus, Google’s social networking arm, is going to be shut down moments after the company announced a major data breach happened, wherein the private information of around 500,000 users was made public over a period of three years, ranging approximately from March 2015 to March 2018. What is really surprising about this data reveal is that when the breach happened last spring, Google decided to cover up the issue, rather than address it like the mature company it was expected to be.

The glitch happened when Google allowed close to 500 external apps (438 apps, to be precise,) to obtain users’ full names, email addresses, occupations, relationship statuses, genders and ages, even for accounts which were made private. While these tools require the permission of the users for access, the information is more often than not made publicly available to these apps through third party users. Google said it could not identify the users whose data was leaked and therefore, it did not want to send out a mass memo regarding the issue.

Post the reveal of the data breach, Google said it did release an internal memo about the bug, but did not tell its users because it wanted to avoid dealing with the immediate regulations that would have been certainly imposed. Incidentally, this was when Facebook was in the spotlight for the Cambridge Analytica scam and if Google came under the radar for this, the repercussions would be massive, to say the least.

Repenting its decision to not do anything about the breach earlier, Google has finally decided to do something now. Not only is Google going to shut down Google Plus, its initiative, Project Strobe, is going to conduct a root and branch initiative of the third party developer access to Google accounts and Android data.

After this breach was brought to the public’s notice, Google has now decided to shut down Google Plus for a period of 10 months. However, people will still be able to use this networking platform for enterprise purposes and not for personal purposes. To improve the experience of the users using the G Suite, Google is going to notify customers the moment a data breach happens. Further initiatives on how Google is going to protect users’ data are going to be announced soon.

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Facebook Reveals Details Of Its Cryptocurrency Libra

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On the 18th of June, Facebook revealed details of its brand new cryptocurrency called Libra.  An alternative to cash, this cryptocoin can be used to buy things or send money to people with close to no fees.  The cryptocurrency is going to be launched by an association called The Libra Association, which consists of a group of companies interested in getting Libra out into the world.

You can use Libra to buy or cash out your Libra at local stores like grocery stores and through third party wallet apps.  To make using Libra an easier task, Facebook owned Calibra Wallet will be built into WhatsApp and Messenger, thereby simplifying transaction processes.  Although certain countries have banned the use of cryptocurrencies, Facebook is trying to break new ground with the launch of Libra.

While Facebook is launching Libra, the social media giant is not going to be in complete control of the cryptocoin.  The coin will be controlled by a consortium consisting of its founding members, Visa, Uber and Andreessen Horowitz. The three companies have invested at least $ 10 million each into the creation of this cryptocurrency.

Customers interested in holding or transferring the newly acquired token will be given multiple options to do what they wish.  To further simplify matters, Facebook will let customers access transactions through this cryptocurrency via a special app designed for iOS and Android.

To protect the identity of its users while making transactions through the new app, Facebook won’t require you to share personal details.  “The advent of the internet and mobile broadband has empowered billions of people globally to have access to the world’s knowledge and information, high fidelity communication, and a wide range of lowercost, more convenient services,” the Libra Association said in a paper announcing the cryptocurrency.

Libra will be made available to the world during the first half of 2020.  As of now, Facebook is focusing on building relationships in international waters.

Stay tuned for more updates.

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Facebook Invests In Indian Startup Meesho

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On the 13th of June, social media giant Facebook announced, it invested an undisclosed amount in Indian startup Meesho.

A Bengaluru based startup, Meesho works with resellers and emerging brands using social media.  This is the first time Facebook invested in a startup based in India. Through this investment, Facebook aims to increase its commitment to the Country’s vibrant internet ecosystem.

“Facebook is an ally for India’s economic growth and social development. We are excited about India and its rapidly rising Internet ecosystem. With this investment in Meesho, we want to fuel a business model that can result in rapid job creation and the rise of a female entrepreneurial class in India,” Ajit Mohan, the Managing Director of Facebook India, said in a statement.

It was two primary factors which made Facebook invest in Meesho.  The first reason was how the startup is growing outside the Tier II and III cities, where new users are present.  The second reason is, Meesho has a larger user base, 80 % of which are women.

So far, Meesho has raised $ 50 million from a Series C funding round in November last year.  According to industry reports, the startup helps people using its service earn close to Rs. 25,000 every month!  With WhatsApp playing a crucial role in the app’s growth, it comes as an added blessing that Facebook invested in this particular startup.

Through investments like these, Facebook is capitalizing on the social media boom happening in India.

Stay tuned for more updates.

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Uber Partners With Bajaj Auto

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On the 13th of June, cab aggregator service Uber announced the launch of quadricycles, a new way of transport for its users.  Launched in partnership with Bajaj Autos, this new service is known as Bajaj Qute and will be available as a part of a new category on the Uber app, UberXS.

The new category was launched only in India-South Asia region.  Bajaj Qute is now available on the roads of Bengaluru, Karnataka.  The app will let users book UberXS from the 13th of June in places like Indiranagar, Koramangala, HSR Layout and parts of Outer Ring Road.

As per reports from Uber, the Qute will come in two versions: CNG and petrol.  All the vehicles coming as a part of UberXS rides will be powered by the CNG fuel option, which is aimed at reducing pollution.  Furthermore, this service provides a mileage of 43km/kg and will be extremely affordable.

The Qute automobiles was first launched in February this year by Bajaj Auto.  From the moment it launched, the service was well received in places across South India.  Coming in the form of a four seater with one seat for the driver, the Bajaj Qute is aimed at reducing the pollution in an already polluted world.  With a turning radius of 3.5 meters, this service has already made Uber quite popular.

Speaking about the partnership, Samardeep Subandh, Senior VP, Bajaj Auto, said: “Bajaj Qute is the first quadricycle in India. It will prove to be an ideal solution for the mobility challenges of congestion and pollution arising from rapid urbanisation. Launched in both CNG and Petrol variant, the Qute is powered by a lightweight 216 CC four-valve water-cooled DTSi engine with closed loop fuel injection system resulting in higher fuel efficiency.”

This is not the first time Uber formed a partnership like this.  Previously, the cab service Company also partnered with Yulu in Bengaluru to provide e bikes for people travelling short distances.

The new service is going to be available all over India soon as Uber is rolling out this service in phases.

Stay tuned for more updates.

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