Relatives of Palestinian Attack Victims Sue Facebook for $1 Billion in US

Relatives of Palestinian Attack Victims Sue Facebook for $1 Billion in US

A group of Israelis and Americans filed a lawsuit on Monday seeking $1 billion in damages from Facebook Inc. for allegedly facilitating deadly Palestinian militant attacks on their loved ones.

The plaintiffs, relatives of four Israeli-US dual nationals and one visiting US citizen who died in attacks in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem or the occupied West Bank between 2014 and 2016, accused Facebook of helping Hamas militants operate.

The lawsuit, filed in US District Court for the Southern District of New York, argued that Facebook “knowingly provided material support and resources to Hamas … facilitat(ing) this terrorist group’s ability to communicate, recruit members, plan and carry out attacks, and strike fear in its enemies”.

The social media giant did not respond directly to the lawsuit but said it stood by its regulations for preventing abusive content and a company representative in Israel said the company wanted “people to feel safe” when using Facebook.

“There is no place for content encouraging violence, direct threats, terrorism or hate speech on Facebook. We have a set of Community Standards … and we urge people to use our reporting tools if they find content that they believe violates our standards so we can investigate and take swift action.”

The private lawsuit follows censure from Israel’s security minister over what he deemed Facebook’s reluctance to help track potential Palestinian militants and curb incitement to violence. In response, Facebook defended its regulations against online abuse.

Hamas formally claimed responsibility for one of the attacks cited in the lawsuit. The plaintiffs’ Israeli lawyer, Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, said they had expert assessments linking Hamas to the other attacks.

Hamas is designated a terrorist organisation by the United States. The lawsuit was brought under the 1992 Anti-Terrorism Act that prohibits American businesses from providing any material support, including services, to designated terrorist groups and their leaders.

Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesman in Gaza, called the lawsuit an Israeli attempt to blackmail Facebook and accused Israel of trying to turn the social network into a spy tool against Palestinians.

He said some Israeli politicians and soldiers had “expressed pride at the killing of Palestinians” on Facebook and other social media. “The real test for the owners of Facebook is to reject this (Israeli) pressure,” Abu Zuhri said.

Darshan-Leitner, of the Shurat HaDin-Israel Law Centre, filed a class action suit in October for an injunction against Facebook to stop carrying alleged Palestinian incitement. She said proceedings were still under way in that case.

Google Self-Driving Car Project Names General Counsel as Scrutiny Rises

Google Self-Driving Car Project Names General Counsel as Scrutiny Rises

Alphabet Inc’s Google self-driving car project said on Monday it appointed its first general counsel, as US regulators increase their scrutiny of autonomous vehicles.

Google has logged more than 1.7 million miles (2.7 million km) of autonomous driving in testing in Texas, California, Arizona and Washington state. It has said it has no timetable for making self-driving vehicles available to the public.

But a number of crashes involving the vehicles has caught the attention of regulators.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said in March it was collecting information after a Google self-driving car struck a municipal bus in California in a minor crash. But it did not open a formal probe.

The agency has opened a formal investigation into the May 7 death of a Tesla Motors Model S driver in a Florida crash who was operating in “Autopilot” mode.

US regulators are working on guidelines for such vehicles. They were supposed to be unveiled by July 14, but US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx told reporters last month they might not be released until later this summer.

Google named Ken Vosen as the top lawyer for its self-driving car project. He was most recently chief legal officer at The Climate Corporation, an environmental analysis firm and a unit of Monsanto Co. He was also previously counsel at O’Melveny & Myers LLP. His hiring was reported earlier by Re/Code.

The move could be a sign that Google is preparing to make its self-driving car unit a separate company. The programme is now part of its X research laboratory unit.

“The self-driving car project is in the middle of graduating from X and this is sort of a gradual process,” Astro Teller, who heads the X programme, told NBC News in April.

Google also said it hired Tim Papandreou to work on partnerships. He previously worked at the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s Office of Innovation.

In May, Google and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV said they had agreed to work together to build a fleet of 100 self-driving minivans, marking the first time a Silicon Valley firm had teamed up with a traditional carmaker to develop an autonomous vehicle.

In March, Reuters reported Google’s self-driving car team was expanding and hiring more people with automotive industry expertise, underscoring the company’s determination to move the division past the experimental stage.

Twitter Increases Gif Image Size Limit to 15MB

Twitter Increases Gif Image Size Limit to 15MB

  • Twitter now supports gif images up to 15MB in size
  • Mobile apps still adhere to 5MB size limit for gif images
  • It is unclear if Twitter will bring the new size limit to its apps

Don’t we all just love to post hilarious Simpsons gif images as replies to our friends or famous celebrities on Twitter? Of course we do. As it turns out, now we can do it in even better quality and longer durations, as Twitter has decided to increase the gif image size limit to 15MB.

Notably, the increase in gif image size limit applies to only the Web interface of Twitter. The mobile apps and TweetDeck still adhere to the previous limit of 5MB – it is unclear if Twitter intends to extend the increased limit to these platforms and third-party services.

Social networking websites seem to have realised the importance of these gif images, those embeddable moving images that are widely used as reaction posts or memes. Gif images are used to share very short-duration video clips (often with captions) and have been brought into the mainstream by websites such as 9Gag. The primary advantage gif images have over videos is that they allow you to make and share animations with much more ease, and in most cases are smaller in weight.

Although these might not seem like big advantages, gif images have proved to be game-changers with most users viewing the content on their mobiles and more importantly, on a data connection at most times.

In countries like India where connectivity is an issue, watching videos on data connection is still not as smooth an experience as one would wish. Also, because of limited attention span and time-availability, people are increasingly interested in just the best bits of an event, movie or TV shows that can be easily made available with gif images.

Foxconn, Tencent-Backed Automaker to Release Self-Driving Electric Car by 2020

Foxconn, Tencent-Backed Automaker to Release Self-Driving Electric Car by 2020

An automotive venture backed by China tech giant Tencentaims to launch an electric self-driving car before 2020, entering a crowded field dominated by US-based Tesla Motors, the chief executive told Reuters on Tuesday.

Future Mobility, backed by Tencent and Hon Hai Precision Industries, is one of an expanding field of China-backed ventures that aim to take on Tesla Motors Inc as green energy car sales boom in China.

Although the venture seeks to produce premium cars like Tesla, it will attempt a different strategy from the US-based company that began with relatively limited production and focuses on a single model at a time, CEO Carsten Breitfeld said in an interview.

“Right from the beginning we define the platform, right from the beginning we define the production process to be mass production and right from the beginning we think of more than one model, a family of models, defined from this platform,” Breitfeld said.

Future Mobility also stands out for poaching its leadership away from big-name tech and autos companies.

Breitfeld formerly led the BMW i series electric car division and brought the core team with him to the new venture, with others joining from Tesla, Alphabet’s Google and Daimler’s Mercedes.

Future Mobility is in the midst of closing its Series A round of funding, which also includes dealership chain China Harmony New Energy Auto, Breitfeld said.

He declined to give financial terms of the first round or name other potential investors that the company is in talks with.