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5 Ways Facebook Shared Your Data

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Facebook, in a quest to bind other corners of the web to its social network, shared data with several major websites in a program called “instant personalization.” These partners, which included Microsoft’s Bing search engine and Rotten Tomatoes, the movie and television review site, got access to users’ names, gender, profile photos and any other information they had made public.

Beginning in 2010, if people visited one of those partner sites while logged in to Facebook, a blue bar on the screen would let them know the site was receiving their Facebook data to personalize what they saw. For example, people might see what movies their friends liked, or get tailored search results based on preferences gleaned from Facebook.

Facebook eventually wound down instant personalization, but it continued to allow some sites, including Bing and Rotten Tomatoes, access to much of the same data they had been getting for the discontinued feature.

The internal documents shed light on a Facebook feature called “People You May Know,” a friend-suggestion tool that has long confused and unsettled users.

Gizmodo and other outlets have reported that the tool has recommended connections between patients of the same psychiatrist, estranged family members and people who had simply been in the same location, prompting suspicions that the company was closely tracking users’ whereabouts, listening to their conversations and more.

In some deals, Facebook shared information with other companies and in turn received people’s contact details — data Facebook used to develop complex friend network models and suggest more connections, the documents show. The partners that fed information to the tool included Amazon, Yahoo and the Chinese company Huawei.

The Times, one of nine media companies named in the documents, developed a social-sharing application called TimesPeople in 2008.

The tool incorporated Facebook friend lists and allowed people to share articles and make recommendations to other readers. The feature was shut down in 2011, but The Times continued to have access to friend lists until 2017. The Times spokeswoman said they were unaware of the continued access and were not receiving any data for the feature from Facebook.

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More groups join in support of women in STEM program at Carleton

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OTTAWA — Major companies and government partners are lending their support to Carleton University’s newly established Women in Engineering and Information Technology Program.

The list of supporters includes Mississauga-based construction company EllisDon.

The latest to announce their support for the program also include BlackBerry QNX, CIRA (Canadian Internet Registration Authority), Ericsson, Nokia, Solace, Trend Micro, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, CGI, Gastops, Leonardo DRS, Lockheed Martin Canada, Amdocs and Ross.

The program is officially set to launch this September.

It is being led by Carleton’s Faculty of Engineering and Design with the goal of establishing meaningful partnerships in support of women in STEM.  

The program will host events for women students to build relationships with industry and government partners, create mentorship opportunities, as well as establish a special fund to support allies at Carleton in meeting equity, diversity and inclusion goals.

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VR tech to revolutionize commercial driver training

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Serious Labs seems to have found a way from tragedy to triumph? The Edmonton-based firm designs and manufactures virtual reality simulators to standardize training programs for operators of heavy equipment such as aerial lifts, cranes, forklifts, and commercial trucks. These simulators enable operators to acquire and practice operational skills for the job safety and efficiency in a risk-free virtual environment so they can work more safely and efficiently.

The 2018 Humboldt bus catastrophe sent shock waves across the industry. The tragedy highlighted the need for standardized commercial driver training and testing. It also contributed to the acceleration of the federal government implementing a Mandatory Entry-Level Training (MELT) program for Class 1 & 2 drivers currently being adopted across Canada. MELT is a much more rigorous standard that promotes safety and in-depth practice for new drivers.

Enter Serious Labs. By proposing to harness the power of virtual reality (VR), Serious Labs has earned considerable funding to develop a VR commercial truck driving simulator.

The Government of Alberta has awarded $1 million, and Emissions Reduction Alberta (ERA) is contributing an additional $2 million for the simulator development. Commercial deployment is estimated to begin in 2024, with the simulator to be made available across Canada and the United States, and with the Alberta Motor Transport Association (AMTA) helping to provide simulator tests to certify that driver trainees have attained the appropriate standard. West Tech Report recently took the opportunity to chat with Serious Labs CEO, Jim Colvin, about the environmental and labour benefits of VR Driver Training, as well as the unique way that Colvin went from angel investor to CEO of the company.

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Next-Gen Tech Company Pops on New Cover Detection Test

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While the world comes out of the initial stages of the pandemic, COVID-19 will be continue to be a threat for some time to come. Companies, such as Zen Graphene, are working on ways to detect the virus and its variants and are on the forefronts of technology.

Nanotechnology firm ZEN Graphene Solutions Ltd. (TSX-Venture:ZEN) (OTCPK:ZENYF), is working to develop technology to help detect the COVID-19 virus and its variants. The firm signed an exclusive agreement with McMaster University to be the global commercializing partner for a newly developed aptamer-based, SARS-CoV-2 rapid detection technology.

This patent-pending technology uses clinical samples from patients and was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. The test is considered extremely accurate, scalable, saliva-based, affordable, and provides results in under 10 minutes.

Shares were trading up over 5% to $3.07 in early afternoon trade.

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