Facebook to Keep Wraps on Political Ads Data Despite Researchers’ Demands

Facebook said it would not disclose information about political campaign advertising or related data such as how many users click on ads and if advertising messages are consistent across demographics, despite arguments from political scientists who want the data for research.

Details such as the frequency of ads, how much money was spent on them, where they were seen, what the messages were and how many people were reached would remain confidential under the company’s corporate policy, which is the same for political advertising as for commercial customers.

“Advertisers consider their ad creatives and their ad targeting strategy to be competitively sensitive and confidential,” Rob Sherman, Facebook’s deputy chief privacy officer, said in an interview on Wednesday, when asked about political ads.

“In many cases, they’ll ask us, as a condition of running ads on Facebook, not to disclose those details about how they’re running campaigns on our service,” he said. “From our perspective, it’s confidential information of these advertisers.”

Sherman said it would not make an exception for political advertising. “We try to have consistent policies across the board, so that we’re imposing similar requirements on everybody.”

Academics who study political campaigns worldwide said this kind of information fosters accountability by analyzing how candidates compete for votes and whether election systems live up to expectations of fairness. Transparency can also deter fraudulent ads, they said.

“We don’t have the capacity right now to track it, and nobody does, as far as we can tell,” said Bowdoin College professor Michael Franz, a co-director of the Wesleyan Media Project, which catalogs political ads on traditional television but has no means of doing so on Facebook.

Television has been the backbone of political advertising for decades, and local US broadcasters are required to disclose a wealth of details about the cost and schedules of ads. The ads can be seen by anyone with a television provided they are aired in their markets.

Facebook to Keep Wraps on Political Ads Data Despite Researchers' Demands

Online advertising, though, often targets narrow, more carefully constructed audiences, so for example an ad could be directed only to Democrats under 25 years of age.

Thousands of variations of online ads can be directed at select groups and the targeting can be extreme. Academics argue this is where the process can become very opaque.

“Candidates can speak out of both sides of their mouths,” said Daniel Kreiss, a communications professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “Having some kind of digital repository of ads that are purchased during a particular cycle and linked to a particular source is a good, democratic thing for the public.”

No such repository exists, and the quandary for researchers is expected to worsen as more politicians use digital advertising because of its relatively low cost and opportunities for target marketing.


According to US President Donald Trump’s campaign, $70 million was spent for its ads on Facebook, more than on any other digital platform including Google, and Trump has credited Facebook with helping him defeat Democrat Hillary Clinton last November.

Advertising on Facebook also figured prominently in recent elections in the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, researchers said.

Britain is investigating how candidates use data to target voters.

Facebook ads generally disappear with the scroll of a thumb on a smartphone, and they have no permanent links. Advocates for transparency call them “dark ads.” Facebook calls them “unpublished posts.”

Researchers said that disclosure reports from the US Federal Election Commission are unhelpful because they show what campaigns pay to intermediaries, not to internet platforms.

The role of advertising online is as important to study as the effect of so-called “fake news,” which has received more attention than ads, scholars said.

“The holy grail, I think, of political analysis for the 2016 election is to figure out which communications from which entities had an effect on which jurisdictions in the United States,” said Nathan Persily, a Stanford University professor who writes about elections.

Facebook has such information and should make it available for study, Persily said.

Facebook’s Sherman said the company was open to hearing research proposals, but he doubted much could be achieved.

“Even if we were able to be more transparent in this area, it would only be a very small piece of an overall story,” he said.


Apple’s Internal Briefing on Product Secrecy Leaked, Employees Urged to ‘Keep Mouth Shut’

A fresh report claims to shed light on Apple’s increased efforts in keeping product secrecy and preventing leaks before launches. Apple is said to have been hosting internal briefings within the campus among employees educating them about the importance of product privacy, measures it is taking to ensure less leaks pour out, and urging them “to keep their mouth shut.”

Months before the launch, Apple leaks, particularly about the iPhone, start pouring in giving journalists and rival companies a lot to write about and tinker with. These briefings are aimed at highlighting all the efforts Apple is doing to curb that, and The Outline has got hold of a recording from the inside of one such meeting giving us all the scoop that was discussed. The internal briefing titled “Stopping Leakers – Keeping Confidential at Apple” was reportedly led by Director of Global Security David Rice, Director of Worldwide Investigations Lee Freedman, and Jenny Hubert from the Global Security team.

Apple's Internal Briefing on Product Secrecy Leaked, Employees Urged to 'Keep Mouth Shut'

The recording from the meeting reveals that Apple has sourced a security team comprised of investigators that have backgrounds in the NSA, FBI, the Secret Service, and the military to counter these leaks and minimise them as much as possible. The new Product Security Team scouts all factory workers in the supply chain to minimise leaks as much as possible.

In the briefing, Rice however claims that, in 2016, there were more leaks coming from its employees on campus than the supply chain. “Last year was the first year that Apple [campuses] leaked more than the supply chain. More stuff came out of Apple [campuses] last year than all of our supply chain combined,” Rice told the room.

Apple’s marketing VP Greg Joswiak also spoke at the briefing, “This has become a big deal for Tim. Matter of fact, it should be important to literally everybody at Apple that we can’t tolerate this any longer. I have faith deep in my soul that if we hire smart people they’re going to think about this, they’re going to understand this, and ultimately they’re going to do the right thing, and that’s to keep their mouth shut.”

Rice further stresses on all the ways the security team is trying to reduce these leaks, including thorough checks at factories. The most valuable part leaked is the housing or enclosure of the iPhone or MacBook giving away the design of the product before launch. “We had 8,000 enclosures stolen a long time ago by women putting it in the underwire of their bra,” he says. “They’re going to great lengths to steal this stuff. But it’s not just enclosures. It’s also anything that reveals product prior to announce.”

Lastly, Rice ends the briefing asking all the employees to work in the ‘Adult Zone’. “When I call it the Adult Zone, I really mean that. One thing you have to recognise — I hope you recognise — is that Apple gives you an extraordinary amount of power,” he says.

The entire excerpt from the internal briefing has been published by The Outline.


7 Things To Keep In Mind While Financing Your Education

If you’re an aspiring graduate, or an experienced professional enrolling into a professional MBA program or higher studies, chances are you might need to fund your university education. It also might be one of the biggest financial decisions you make that will impact your earnings potential and financial goals in the long-term.

While securing educational loans has become pretty commonplace with all major financial institutions following standard practices in granting these loans, here are some tips to keep in mind before you sign up for one.


Finding funds

In India, most major financial institutions — from public banks to private institutions including NBFCs such as Credai — offer student loans. As per government mandate, banks can disburse up to Rs 4 lakhs without requiring collateral; anything above that amount typically requires a co-applicant and proof of security that will form the collateral backing the loan. Banks typically lend up to Rs 10 lakh for higher studies at Indian institutes and up to Rs 20 lakh for programs abroad.

You may also need to pay your bank 5 per cent of your loan amount in the form of margin money for domestic programs, and up to 15 per cent for studies abroad that typically require higher loan amounts.

While most banks follow a standard interest rates offering 1.35 to 3 percentage points above the Marginal Cost of Funds based Lending Rate (MCLR), some banks can give out cheaper interest rates depending on specific criteria. For instance, State Bank of India (SBI) has recently launched an 8.5 per cent interest rate on education loans for certain business schools such as Indian Institute of Management (IIM)-Ahmedabad and Indian School of Business-Hyderabad.

Unconventional avenues

There are also a number of emerging fin-tech players that have also begun offering loans to students with less onerous requirements than traditional banks. For example, P2P lending platform, Faircent.com, has teamed up with Bangalore-based micro-lending startups to offer student loans that require only part of the collateral. Another fin-tech startup Quiklo provides loans and financing to students to help them purchase study accessories including phones and laptops. Quiklo says its education finance platform will lend to students who have been declined loans in the past.

Govt push

To facilitate student loans, the Indian government’s Vidya Lakshmi Portal also provides a platform where people can apply and compare educational loans from different institutions. The website connects students with multiple banks, providing updates on the loan process and links to other government financial aid and scholarships. Of course, approaching your existing financial institution where you or your family already have a banking relationship, could make the process faster.

Use a loan calculator

It’s a good idea to use an online loan calculator to estimate how your repayment plan will look like along with details on expected EMIs. Most loans have a 5-7 year repayment period, but larger loans can offer longer repayment periods, depending on your financial institution. These loan calculators can also help assess the eligibility criteria for these loans.

Avoid the debt trap

Experts recommend paying down your student debt early before the interest rates compound prolonging your loan repayment. There are reports of some banks slapping interest rates even on the moratorium period– the grace period during which a loan does not become due which is usually six months after getting employment or one year after completing a course. Always factor in any processing fees or hidden penalties such as prepayment penalties or higher interest rates while signing up for loans that could compound overtime and eat away at your hard earned income.

Tax benefits

You can claim deductions on your annual taxes if you’re paying down student debt under the Section 80E of the I-T Act. These benefits will bring down your tax liability so it’s important to keep track of the necessary paperwork to claim these tax breaks on the interest payments. These tax deductions can be claimed by individuals as well as family members who are funding the education of their children or spouse.

Ask your employer

If you’re an experienced professional pursuing a part-time program, or taking a study leave, some employers can fund part of your higher studies. It’s a good idea to check with your employer on their employee education and training benefits programs before applying for expensive bank loans.

Keep your child safe near water

According to statistics, drowning is one of the major causes of accidental death in children. A little lazing around in a mini bathtub may sound tempting, but not many parents realise that if necessary precaution is not taken, the results could be grievous. Apart from the ultimate life threat, young ones also risk sustaining injuries when diving from a height or contacting contagious diseases due to the bacteria in water. So, parents must be very aware while letting their kids near water bodies. Here are some tips to keep in mind…
Studies show that kids aged between one and four are less likely to drown if they have had formal training (Thinkstock)
Know potential threats
It’s not just swimming pools or beaches where you must be cautious. Even bathtubs at home, ditches and drum filled with water can be hazardous. Keep the cans covered and empty water if you are not using them. They are a breeding ground for mosquitoes and flies.

Ensure an adult is always around
Children shouldn’t be allowed near water bodies without supervision. “There’s a reason why beaches and swimming pools where adults practise are equipped with lifeguards — to help in case of emergency. So, make sure that either you or an adult — your spouse, family members or your kid’s friends’ parents — is always present at an arm’s length away from the child,” says physical education trainer Mathew Moses. He adds, “In swimming jargon, this is called touch supervision.” Have family and friends on standby, and tell them how to react in case of an emergency. Write out all the important phone numbers as well. And when you are watching the kids, do only that. Don’t get distracted by the smartphone.

Learn first aid
Knowing life-saving techniques like CPR is always important. Life coach Shekhar Kekan says, “When you see someone is drowning or choking in the water, follow the four-step rule — reach to them using towel, rod or by lying down flat near the water body, throw a safety ring around them, swim to reach them or get a rescue boat if need be. Once you get them out of danger, pump their stomach to get the excess water out of their body. Knowing how to react in case someone has a heart attack or is choking is also important. However, remember that the first instinct of anyone who is drowning is to catch hold of whatever or whoever is near them.”

Set firm rules
Radhika Kanwalkar, a housewife and mother of a two-year-old son, says, “Before we took him to the beach, we had ingrained in his mind the following rules — don’t run near water, don’t push others into the water, and never go out of our sight. When you are strict with rules, there is little chance of accidents.”

Use life jackets
Life-saving jackets are not replaceable with inflatable toys. Yes, they provide support for your child to stay afloat, but they stand the risk of getting deflated. Moses says, “If you are going to the pool, ask the authorities for life jackets. I would suggest, invest in one, because most beaches in our country don’t have such facilities. If your little one is using floaties or inflatable toys, he/she can easily slip off them. Life jackets in the right size will not come off once they wear it. Also, remove all the toys from the pool when not needed, because they can tempt kids to jump into the pool.”

Familiarise kids with the surroundings
When you take children to the beach, for a boat ride or to the pool, show them around first and make them familiar with the new surroundings. Ravi Raghav, a marketing manager, says, “The first thing that I did when I took my four-year-old daughter for swimming lessons was to teach her the layout of the pool. I told her where the deep and shallow ends were. Even if she was under the care of the coach, I wanted her to know the risks.” Shekhar adds, “Another important lesson that parents can impart to kids while teaching them how to be safe near water is to show them the importance of teamwork. Tell them how they can keep a watch on each other and always be on the lookout of those who need help.”

Did you know?
Studies show that kids aged between one and four are less likely to drown if they have had formal training. Children who are exposed to water from a younger age become more comfortable around it.

15 Iftar meals that keep you satiated and healthy

1. A healthy Ramzan!

Ramadan is a beautiful month that teaches you the best lesson of life-a balance between abstinence and indulgence. Fasting through the day without a single drop of water and then thanking Allah and breaking the bread is the lovely tradition that makes this holy month special. But with increase in lifestyle diseases in the past decade, it is important to eat healthy after a day long fast. Nutritionists suggest that the Iftaar should be a healthy mix of greens, proteins and carbs so that you remain satiated for long and also your body gets the required amount of nutrition for proper recovery. Here is a list of recipes that will keep you filled through the day and also prevent adding those unwanted kilos.

2. Steamed Fish in Banana Leaves

Steamed Fish in Banana Leaves is a South Indian recipe made using pomfret fish, banana leaves, coconut and lemon juice. It is easy-to-make, delicious and perfect for occasions like birthdays, anniversaries and parties. This delicious seafood recipe is sure to be loved by all fish lovers. Apart from being tasty, it is packed with nutritional values too. This fish recipe uses coconut which adds a unique taste and aroma to the dish. The strong flavour of garlic is sure to enhance the overall taste. Make sure that the fish is marinated properly so that the flavours are well absorbed. You can prepare this easy recipe on occasions like family get-togethers, pot lucks or even kitty parties.

3. Grilled Lamb Cutlets

Grilled Lamb Cutlet is a North Indian recipe made with lamb, thyme leaves and garam masala powder. This appetizer recipe is ideal to serve on occasions like dinners. If you love lamb meat, but want to cut down on calories, this super easy recipe is a must try for you. You can serve it in parties as a starter or pack it in lunch boxes. Kids in the family are going to love this delicious cutlet.

4. Grilled Fish with Saute Veggies

Grilled Fish with Saute Veggies is a Continental recipe made from grilled fish and beans served with saute vegetables like asparagus, carrot and tomatoes. It is easy-to-make, delicious and perfect for occasions like birthdays, anniversaries and parties.

5. Tandoori Coconut Chicken

Tandoori Coconut Chicken is an interesting appetizer recipe made using chicken breast, lime juice, coconut cream and a lot of spices. Easy-to-make, this flavorful and delicious chicken recipe can be had in lunch/dinner.

6. Garlic Grilled Lemon Chicken

Garlic Grilled Lemon Chicken is originally a Thai recipe that you can tweak as per your taste. The tang of lemon gives this chicken recipe a unique taste. Do try out this healthy recipe. It is particularly a must try for those who love chicken and want to make it in a healthy way. Pair it with the drink of your choice and enjoy!

7. Fish Iranian

Iranian Fish is a low-calorie preparation that you can try guilt-free. This fish recipe uses very few ingredients that are easily available in your kitchen. Since the fish is grilled and not deep fried or sauteed, it uses very little amount of fat. Fish being rich in Omega 3 fatty acids is one of the healthiest forms of animal protein. Rich in minerals and vitamins, you can happily have fish daily if you cook it the healthy way. In this quick recipe, boneless pieces of fish or fish fillets are marinated in cheese, salt, pepper, thymol seeds and are then grilled on low flame till a fine crust develops. You must use vegetable oil in this recipe so that the basic taste of fish is not dominated. Try out this delectable snack recipe as a starter in home parties or as a side dish with a continental meal.

8. Fish Fillets

Fish Fillets is a quick recipe that can be made in minutes. On days you have a visitor, try out this easy recipe that requires very little preparation. Fish being rich in omega 3 fatty acids and essential oils, vitamins, minerals and protein, this recipe is a must try for all those who are on a low-calorie diet. Made with basic spices, this recipe retains the original taste of the fish that otherwise gets camouflaged in the deluge of spices. You can try this delectable recipe at home on weekends, as a light weekday dinner accompaniment and as a starter or side dish in parties and celebrations.

9. Baked Fish Cakes

A great appetizer recipe, Baked Fish Cake s are made from fish fillets and prawns. This dish has an amazing flavour of Thai red curry, Thai soy sauce and coconut milk, and is one of those easy recipes that you can prepare at home. You can freeze them and use them as and when required. Rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, these cakes are out of the world and a must try for those who love seafood.

10. Egg Salad Sandwich

There can be nothing more filling than an egg sandwich. A right combination of carbs, greens and protein, this is the best thing to have on a busy day. This easy sandwich will keep you satiated for long and will also bring down your cravings. Pair it with the drink and dip of your choice and you are sorted for the day. Rich in nutrition, Egg Salad Sandwich is also an ideal lunch box recipe for kids. They are sure to love it if you pack this scrumptious dish with French Fries.

11. Eggs Florentine

Eggs Florentine is a perfect combination of healthy ingredients. Made with eggs and spinach, it is an ideal breakfast that one can have. This easy recipe makes for a healthy snack as well. Cooking this egg recipe takes a little time but it is worth the effort. This recipe uses canned spinach, but you can replace it with fresh spinach leaves, which of course is a better option.

12. Chicken with Sweet Potatoes and Cauliflower

This delicious chicken dish only calls for what’s easily available at the neighbourhood grocery store. So, you can actually prepare a gourmet dish by putting in very little efforts! Chicken with Sweet Potatoes and Cauliflower is a power packed preparation and a must have for those who are looking for healthy food. You can make this recipe with uniquely combined ingredients on special occasions and on days you want to display your culinary skills. A wholesome preparation, this delectable chicken recipe is a must try for those who believe in healthy eating. Ideal to be packed in lunch boxes, kids in the family are going to love this amazing dish. So, don’t miss out. Try NOW!

13. Shredded Chicken Salad

Looking for a low carb salad which is satiating too? This Shredded Chicken Salad is the perfect thing to have when you are on a diet. Rich in lean protein, vitamin and minerals, this chicken salad is a complete meal in itself and a must try for those who are looking for a healthy recipe. This easy chicken recipe can be made in minutes and is ideal not just for breakfast, but also as lunch or dinner. Try it on days you feel to tired to cook an elaborate meal or on days you are inviting guests for lunch or dinner.

14. Chicken Salad

Most people say that healthy food is not tasty but Chicken salad serves both the purposes. It is extremely tasty and healthy as well. Perfect for a game night or kitty parties, this Chicken Salad is an easy and quick recipe and can be prepared in just few minutes. The best part of this recipe is that you can add ingredients to suit your taste and preference. Few might like to add some dry fruits to this salad and other would prefer adding few vegetables. The choice is yours! Make it look interesting by garnishing with cherry tomatoes or make use of simple egg slices or mint and fresh coriander, this recipe will win all your matches of culinary skills. You do not need to be a cooking expert to prepare this salad and is something you can depend on for your daily diet too.

15. Chicken Ishtu

Chicken Ishtu (or also known as Chicken Ishtoo) is a quick and easy-to-make tasty chicken side dish. Typically served with naans or parathas, it also tastes well with biryani or pulao. The Kerala style Chicken Ishtu uses coconut milk while this version is more popular in North India.

16. Achari Fish Tikka

Achari Fish Tikka is a North Indian recipe made using fish fillets, pickled chillies and yogurt. This snack recipe goes well on occasions like kitty parties and anniversaries. Try this delicious yet easy appetizer recipe!

5 ways to keep learning till 90!

In her TED talk, Barbara Oakley, professor of engineering at Oakland University, talked about “learning how to learn without procrastinating”. Here’s how to go about it.
  • Unearth your hidden potentials:Use mental powers to discover your hidden potential. Says Oakley, “I was a linguist who hated math and science; I had no talent for either topic. Yet, I’m now a professor of engineering. Musicians can become medical doctors. High school dropouts can become college graduates and business executives. People are realising that life-long learning is key not only to career success, but also to a happier and healthier life.”

5 ways to keep learning till 90

  • Have a brain that wants to keep learning: Firstly, start playing action-style video games. Neuroscientific research has shown that these types of games improve the function of key “focusing” areas of the brain, as well as vision. Exercise! Exercise helps promote growth of new neurons, which helps you learn better. Present yourself with new experiences. “Try a different route to work. Variety can help your new neurons to survive, thrive, and make new connections. Start learning a foreign language. You’ll directly boost the areas of the brain that are often most affected by ageing,” says Oakley.
  • Make learning a fun experience, and reward yourself: When you “reward” yourself, it helps the brain to rearrange and understand the material that’s been learned.
  • Learning till 90: No matter what your age, new neurons are born every day in your hippocampus. Developing a learning lifestyle helps those new neurons to survive, which allows you to maintain mental sharpness. If you want to have a sharp mind until age 90 and beyond, just keep learning.
  • Be persistent: Persistence is key. Don’t ever give up too easy.