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Facebook Identifies Russia-Linked Misinformation Campaign

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LONDON — Facebook said on Thursday that it had identified two disinformation campaigns originating from Russia — including one tied to an agency controlled by the Kremlin — that were targeted at users in Europe and Central Asia. The company said it deleted nearly 500 pages and accounts that had posted the misleading messages.

Facebook said one of the efforts misrepresented itself using independent news pages on topics like weather, travel and sports. The pages were discovered to be linked to employees at Sputnik, an agency controlled by the Russian government that was established to spread news and information sympathetic to Russia.

Facebook has been under pressure to more aggressively counter the spread of misinformation and manipulation of the social network that is aimed at stirring division and discord. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive officer, has said the company has made the detection of suspicious activity a top priority, but, on a sprawling platform of 2 billion users, disinformation campaigns can be hard to detect.

“We are constantly working to detect and stop this type of activity because we don’t want our services to be used to manipulate people,” Nathaniel Gleicher, head of cybersecurity policy at Facebook, said in a blog post.

On Thursday, Facebook said one of the campaigns was targeted at 13 countries in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Facebook deleted 289 pages and 75 accounts linked to that effort, which also spent about $135,000 on Facebook advertising from 2013 to this month.

About 790,000 users followed one or more of the pages, and up to 1,200 people expressed interest in attending one of the roughly 190 events organized by the fake pages. Facebook said it couldn’t say whether any of the events actually took place.

Facebook also identified a separate effort, discovered after a tip from United States law enforcement authorities, aimed at users in Ukraine.

The tactics used by those behind the Ukraine-targeted accounts were similar to the misinformation efforts conducted by Russia’s Internet Research Agency leading up to the recent midterm elections in the United States, Facebook said.

The effort included 107 Facebook pages, groups and accounts, as well as 41 Instagram accounts.

“The people behind this activity coordinated with one another and used fake accounts to misrepresent themselves, and that was the basis for our action,” Mr. Gleicher said of the shutdowns.

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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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