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Facebook deleted almost 500 fake Russian pages and Instagram accounts for disinformation

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Facebook said on Thursday it has removed hundreds of pages, accounts and groups that were involved in coordinated inauthentic behavior on Facebook and Instagram.

The social network said it found two separate campaigns originating in Russia, with one active in multiple countries and the other specific to Ukraine.

“We didn’t find any links between these operations, but they used similar tactics by creating networks of accounts to mislead others about who they were and what they were doing,” the company said.

An example of a fake page.
Facebook

For the multi-country campaign, the company found some users were representing themselves as independent news sources, or even general interest pages about the weather, travel, sports, or politics in the Baltic region.

Some of those pages and accounts were run by employees of Russia’s state-owned news agency Sputnik, Facebook said.

“Despite their misrepresentations of their identities, we found that these Pages and accounts were linked to employees of Sputnik, a news agency based in Moscow, and that some of the Pages frequently posted about topics like anti-NATO sentiment, protest movements, and anti-corruption,” the company wrote.

The issue wasn’t necessarily the content, Facebook said, but the fact the people behind the pages didn’t disclose who they really were.

Facebook removed 289 pages and 75 accounts, which had racked up 790,000 followers collectively. The company said around $135,000 was spent on ads relating to the campaign, starting from January 2013.

The second, Ukraine-focused campaign saw a network of users originating in Russia but posing as Ukrainians. Facebook said it saw similarities with activity by the Internet Research Agency, Russia’s misinformation agency which was indicted in the US for allegedy meddling in the November midterms.

Facebook removed 26 pages, 77 accounts, four groups, and 41 Instagram accounts for this campaign.

The social network has been stepping up its efforts to fight misinformation spread on its platform via fake pages and accounts. The company came under fire from the US and other global governments for permitting foreign interference in elections, and has forged relationships with academia and factcheckers to try and clean up its act.

The company wrote: “Our security efforts are ongoing to help us stay a step ahead and uncover this kind of abuse, particularly in light of important political moments and elections in Europe this year. We are committed to making improvements and building stronger partnerships around the world to more effectively detect and stop this activity.”

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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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