Category: Electronic Product Reviews

Facebook Executive Sheryl Sandberg Calls Explosive NYT Report 'Simply Untrue'

Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg weighed in on the recent explosive New York Times article that reported the social network carried out a campaign to discredit those who criticized how it handled Russian interference and disinformation.

In a lengthy Facebook post published Thursday night, the “Lean In” author wrote that the Times’ “allegations saying I personally stood in the way are also just plain wrong.”

“On a number of issues ― including spotting and understanding the Russian interference we saw in the 2016 election ― Mark [Zuckerberg] and I have said many times we were too slow,” she wrote. “But to suggest that we weren’t interested in knowing the truth, or we wanted to hide what we knew, or that we tried to prevent investigations, is simply untrue.” 

Sandberg’s post comes after the company received a wave of backlash in the aftermath of the Times investigation, published Wednesday.

Many called out the social media giant for reportedly hiring Republican opposition research firm Definers Public Affairs to undermine and discredit anti-Facebook protesters and link them to figures such as Jewish billionaire philanthropist George Soros.

“Ms. Sandberg has overseen an aggressive lobbying campaign to combat Facebook’s critics, shift public anger toward rival companies and ward off damaging regulation,” the Times reported, singling out the executive. “Facebook employed a Republican opposition-research firm to discredit activist protesters, in part by linking them to the liberal financier George Soros. It also tapped its business relationships, lobbying a Jewish civil rights group to cast some criticism of the company as anti-Semitic.”

In her post, Sandberg said she didn’t know Facebook was working with Definers.

“At the time, they were trying to show that some of the activity against us that appeared to be grassroots also had major organizations behind them,” she wrote. “I did not know we hired them or about the work they were doing, but I should have. I have great respect for George Soros ― and the anti-Semitic conspiracy theories against him are abhorrent.”

Zuckerberg issued very similar comments earlier Thursday, claiming he didn’t know about Facebook’s hiring of the firm until the article was published.

“I’ve said many times before that we were too slow to spot Russian interference and we certainly stumbled along the way,” Zuckerberg said during a press conference, “but to suggest we weren’t interested in knowing the truth or wanted to hide what we knew or wanted to prevent investigations is simply untrue.”

The platform also issued a separate statement on its blog Wednesday, announcing that it had severed ties with Definers. 

“The New York Times is wrong to suggest that we ever asked Definers to pay for or write articles on Facebook’s behalf ― or to spread misinformation,” Facebook wrote. “Definers did encourage members of the press to look into the funding of ‘Freedom from Facebook,’ an anti-Facebook organization. The intention was to demonstrate that it was not simply a spontaneous grassroots campaign, as it claimed, but supported by a well-known critic of our company.

Facebook Reportedly Paid For Smear Campaign Against George Soros

In an effort to muffle criticism of how it handled Russian interference and disinformation, Facebook reportedly carried out a campaign to discredit dissenters which included targeted attacks on Jewish billionaire philanthropist George Soros

New York Times investigation, published Wednesday, delves into the social media giant’s handling of the controversy and chaos following the discovery of targeted disinformation campaigns. It reported that, facing increasing backlash in Washington, Facebook hired Definers Public Affairs, a Republican opposition research firm, to discredit anti-Facebook protesters by linking them to figures like Soros, a longtime critic of the social network. 

The Times reported that Facebook initially was working with Definers to monitor press coverage of the company, but then expanded its involvement with them in October 2017. The public relations firm then reportedly began promoting negative coverage of Facebook’s rivals, including Apple and Google. 

Definers also reportedly targeted Soros after anti-Facebook activists promoted what appeared to be anti-Semitic imagery during a congressional hearing. They sent a research document to reporters over the summer alleging that Soros was behind an anti-Facebook movement; his Open Society Foundations, for example, supported a group that his son founded as well as Color of Change, a group that belongs to an anti-Facebook advocacy group called Freedom From Facebook.

Facebook confirmed that Definers did urge some members of the media to examine the group’s funding, though fiercely rebutted any connection to anti-Semitism.  

“The intention was to demonstrate that it was not simply a spontaneous grassroots campaign, as it claimed, but supported by a well-known critic of our company,” according to a statement. “To suggest that this was an anti-Semitic attack is reprehensible and untrue.”

Tim Miller, a Definers official, expressed his disgust over his company’s actions being viewed as anti-Semitic, stating that the information sent to journalists was all based on public records.

“Im disgusted by the rise of anti-semitism including people who have falsely targeted Soros,” he tweeted Wednesday night. “It’s deeply deeply personal. I’ve continuously fought the alt-right & others who spread racist lies & hate & will keep doing so.”

A Facebook spokesperson also denied the accusations that the company played a direct role in Definers’ work, saying in a statement that “it is wrong to suggest that we have ever asked Definers to pay for or write articles on Facebook’s behalf, or communicate anything untrue.”

The company said it cut ties with Definers following the publication of the Times exposé and told HuffPost that top executives like Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg weren’t aware of Definers’ work for Facebook. 

Excoriated for not taking the fake news crisis seriously enough, Facebook continues to grapple with “coordinated inauthentic behavior.” Dozens of pages and accounts were taken down ahead of the midterm elections, though whether these efforts were sufficient remains unclear.


Nokia 3.1 Plus


The Nokia 3.1 Plus sits between the Redmi 6 and the Redmi 6 Pro with that Android One advantage. But how are the rest of the features on the smartphone? Read on to find out.

Nokia 3.1 Plus Rating 65100 Our Verdict

The Nokia 3.1 Plus is for you if you want a smartphone for around Rs 11,000 that’s great on build, design, and software. It’s not for you if you’re expecting outright performance or quick clicks from either of its cameras.

PROS Clean and classy body design Android One certified Long battery life CONS Colours on display are washed out Low 3GB RAM kills performance Poor camera performance Nokia 3.1 Plus: Detailed Review

Two years after the transfer of Nokia’s guardianship, the Finnish brand’s face and product line-up seem pretty sorted: Nokia has a long history and solid credibility in the Indian mobile phone market and now, it has an Android-based smartphone right from the Rs 5,000–Rs 8,000 price bracket all the way to the flagship-territory Rs 30,000–Rs 35,000 price bracket. Nokia’s cleaned itself up very well, I must admit.

The Nokia 3.1 Plus is an entry-level smartphone priced at Rs 11,499. It’s got decent figures on its spec sheet: an 18:9 6-inch display, a MediaTek Helio P22 chipset with 3GB of RAM, a 3,500mAh battery, and Android 8.1 Oreo courtesy of Google’s Android One programme. Does it all add up to a satisfactory smartphone experience though? Let’s find out.

Build and Design

According to Nokia, the 3.1 Plus uses a machined aluminium body. In the hands, the nice, smooth surface feels comfortable and grippy to hold. The four corners of the body are tastefully curved. At 8.19mm, the 3.1 Plus is slim enough to be shown off in college but at 180g, it’s a tad too heavy to be housed in the pockets of loose pyjamas. The Nokia branding is subtly embossed on the phone’s body. On the back, there are two camera sensors stacked vertically along with a single LED flash, bordered by a neat chrome ring. Below the cameras, there’s a tiny round fingerprint scanner, which works swiftly during screen unlocks. On the front, there’s a large, curved display that matches the shape of the phone’s body. 

Clean back panel on the Nokia 3.1 Plus

Looking around the sides of the phone, we see that the top side of the Nokia 3.1 Plus houses a 3.5mm audio jack for headsets and the secondary microphone. The left side holds nothing but the SIM card tray. The bottom contains a microUSB port with speaker grilles on either side of it. Sadly, only the right grille houses a speaker inside and the other is only a dummy. On the right side, we get the volume rocker and the power button. The buttons presses with enough feedback but more travel would have been appreciated. On the whole, the build and design of the

Acer Spin 3 (2018) review: Acer’s 2-in-1 has a great screen but not much else – CNET

In 2018, a thousand bucks will get you an excellent laptop. Cut that budget in half and you’ll need to make some compromises. And yet there are plenty of very solid options in the $500 range (roughly £380 or AU$700) — including several from Acer — that deliver a better overall value than the unexceptional Spin 3.  

Sarah Tew/CNET

Like every model in Acer’s series of Spin laptops, our $500 test unit has a 360-degree hinge that lets you tuck the keyboard behind the display, making the transformation from laptop to tablet. The Spin family comes in a wide (and confusing) array of size options and configurations that includes Chromebooks, Windows machines and even entry-level gaming models. Earlier this year, we reviewed the higher-end, all-metal 13.3-inch Acer Spin 5, which starts at $700 and found it to be a good value.

The less expensive Acer Spin 3 also looks good — but feels cheap. From a distance, it appears to be made of the same textured, brushed aluminum as the Spin 5, but a closer inspection reveals a plastic design. It’s just under 1 inch thick and weighs about 3.8 pounds — about average for a 14-inch laptop in this price range. The keyboard isn’t great — I found myself making more typos than usual — and the touchpad felt particularly flimsy, responding consistently only when I clicked the lower-right corner.

Sarah Tew/CNET

The Acer Spin 3’s 14-inch HD display is a highlight. It’s not the brightest screen, but the 1,900×1,080 resolution is crisp and the 16:9 aspect ratio is well-suited to watching videos and reading in portrait mode. And after working primarily on Macs for so many years, I am always impressed by the versatility of convertibles; it’s a joy to poke at the touchscreen in laptop and tablet mode. 

Amazon Announces New Headquarters In Virginia, New York City

SEATTLE ― Amazon today announced that it has selected New York City and Arlington, Virginia, as the locations for the company’s new headquarters.

Amazon will invest $5 billion and create more than 50,000 jobs across the two new headquarters locations, with more than 25,000 employees each in New York City and Arlington.

The new locations will join Seattle as the company’s three headquarters in North America. In addition, Amazon announced that it has selected Nashville for a new Center of Excellence for its Operations business, which is responsible for the company’s customer fulfillment, transportation, supply chain, and other similar activities. The Operations Center of Excellence in Nashville will create more than 5,000 jobs.

The new Washington, D.C. metro headquarters in Arlington will be located in National Landing, and the New York City headquarters will be located in the Long Island City neighborhood in Queens. Amazon’s investments in each new headquarters will spur the creation of tens of thousands of additional jobs in the surrounding communities. Hiring at both the new headquarters will begin in 2019. The Operations Center of Excellence will be located in downtown Nashville as part of a new development site just north of the Gulch, and hiring will also begin in 2019.

“We are excited to build new headquarters in New York City and Northern Virginia,” said Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon. “These two locations will allow us to attract world-class talent that will help us to continue inventing for customers for years to come. The team did a great job selecting these sites, and we look forward to becoming an even bigger part of these communities.”