Drop in user time for Facebook

Caption: It was observed users tend to spend less time on Facebook feed
Facebook tend to be slightly worried as the company sees drop in the users time spend online. It had announced major changes in January to be made on the news feed, but saw less user time even before that. In the last three months roughly 50 million hours a day was observed to be cut down by the users on the social media. For example, fewer viral videos were shown up on feeds.
Mark Zuckerberg went on record to say that, Facebook encourages personal interaction by helping people connect which is more important and is not much bothered about its drop of users online. “We can make sure the service is good for people’s well being and society overall” he added. The decline in users was recorded a little more than two minutes on an average basis, for 1.4 billion daily users.
Facebook’s largest advertising revenue is from US and Canada, and the very same countries saw the drop in daily users by nearly 7,00,000 to 184 million in a quarter. Zuckerberg says that Facebook users often stick around an ad if they show interest in one particular type.

Zomato shuts services in four cities

Zomato, the leading online restaurant discovery and food-ordering app has announced the shutdown of its services in four cities; Coimbatore, Indore, Kochi and Lucknow.

These cities bring a combined order of less than 2% to the food-ordering app service’s total order volume. The latest shutdown has now brought the number of cities that the app caters to 11 from 14 since its launch. The reason for the shutdown has been cited to be financial and cost-cutting.

Zomato’s co-founder, Pankaj Chaddah said, “The shutting down of business in Coimbatore, Indore, Kochi and Lucknow is due to the small size of the market is in these cities. We will re-launch our services when these cities grow with time. Meanwhile, we continue to offer our best content to foodies”.

Despite the various marketing efforts as well as TV ads, Zomato did not get the required increase in volume in these cities. These cities are as of now not ready for the online food-based app services and Zomato will resume services once the time is right.

The leading food based online app service had laid off about 300 employees in the United States last October. These strategies are being employed due to cost reasons. Zomato lists about 75,000 restaurants in India and is partners with Delhivery and Grab to offer delivery services.


Source: Hindustan Times

ISRO’s commercial arm website restored

New Delhi: Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) commercial arm’s website, Antrix, was apparently hacked on Sunday by Chinese hackers. The homepage that was defaced has been restored and is working now.

Known as the marketing wing of ISRO, Antrix promotes and commercialises technical consultancy services, space products, and looks after the transfer of technologies developed by the space agency of the Indian government.

This incident happened two days after ISRO launched five British satellites from its Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle. The launch is said to be the heaviest commercial launch, from Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh.

According to the PRO of ISRO, there was some problem with the homepage of the Antrix website. The homepage was replaced ‘with parts of an article talking about 300 kids from Cape Town getting American Major League jerseys at cheap prices from China’, as per a Business Standard report.

Image Courtesy: NDTV
Image Courtesy: NDTV

Barring the home page, other pages of the website stayed unharmed and were running. For over 10 minutes, the hacked content remained online.

However, ISRO officials denied that there was a breach in security. According to an ISRO official, “The matter has been taken up senior officials of Antrix and there will be an inquiry to find out who is behind the hacking.”

Read more at: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Website-of-Isros-commercial-arm-Antrix-hacked/articleshow/48041483.cms

Targetting the New-Age Jholawallas

The internet and social media have given a voice to the hitherto passive audience. But the consequences seem to have turned bitter for journalists. The jholawallas, who have been bashed by politicians and celebrities before, are now the victims of online abuse.

“Sir, is there any sense of regret about what happened in 2002,” asked Headlines Today reporter Javed Ansari to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi at the India Today Conclave 2013. The CM, as always replied saying that he has already answered this question several times in the past and doesn’t want to repeat. Ansari asked him to answer one last time, supported by Group Editor Arun Poorie but got a similar response from Modi. “A few days later, Ansari received a hate mail which said that, ‘we have a group ready to rape your daughter.’ Lucky Ansari that he doesn’t have a daughter,” says Ramesh Menon, author and veteran journalist, who has also worked with the India Today magazine.

Freelance journalist Neha Dixit was called a prostitute when she wrote an article against a right wing political party
Freelance journalist Neha Dixit was called a prostitute when she wrote an article against a right wing political party

Freelance journalist Neha Dixit’s article against a right wing political party in India got her instant flak. “I was called a prostitute, they said I should be working in a dance bar and some also threatened to beat me, it was like a whole slander campaign against me,” says Dixit.

“My page was bombed with hate mail. It was abuse I had never thought possible,” says Shoma Nandi, freelance journalist in an interview to the Times of India. She had published an article on her blog on a right wing Politian for which, “people started calling me all sorts of names. These abusers were predominantly male,” Nandi adds.

With more and more people taking to the internet to voice their opinions, online abuse has been on a rise in India. Victim to the barrage of abuse are journalists who often talk about a toxic online environment where reader and viewers abuse and personally attack scribes. Anyone who has scanned the firstpost.com, timesofindia or open magazine websites will know that a significant amount of comments are filled with personal abuse, especially on political stories. The comments board becomes a free-for-all table for different political parties to hurl invectives at each other and the writer.

“Right wingers have organised systems for threatening journalists online,” says Dixit who also feels that these groups scan and hunt the journalists down to harass them further. “I have seen people stand outside my house and shout all sorts of names,” adds Dixit.

Celebrity journalists are also being engulfed in a tirade of threats and abuses online.  CNN-IBN anchor Sagarika Ghose, who also writes

Journalist Sagarika Ghose decided to limit her views on Twitter
Journalist Sagarika Ghose decided to limit her views on Twitter

columns in leading newspapers, is regularly threatened with gangrape and stripping on social media website Twitter. What’s worse is her teenage daughter’s name and class details are tweeted too. In an interview to BBC News, Ghose says, “It was very disturbing. I didn’t know what to do. So for a few days I had her picked up and dropped off to school in our car and not via public transport, because I was really scared.”

Ghose, who has more than 177,000 followers on Twitter also says that most of the comments are sexist and foul-mouthed abuse which directly targets her gender identity. Since most of the women on the internet are liberal and secular, the abusers are right wing nationalists who get ‘angry when a woman speaks her mind.’

“They have even coined a term for us – ‘sickular’,” says Ghose.

Dixit also feels that the minute these abusers see an independent woman asserting her views online, they get threatened and feel uncomfortable in their patriarchal set-up. “It all comes from this deep-rooted mindset where a woman doesn’t have the rights to assert her views or sexuality.”

A recent draft study by the Internet Democracy Project titled, ‘An exploratory study of women and verbal online abuse in India’ found that gender-based abuse, harassment, and stereotyping women are as much a part of the online world as the real world. “The idea is to silence women,” says Anja Kovacs, director of IDP in an interview to The Times of India. “The sexual abuse that men receive is also directed at the women in their lives – mother, sister, wife,” Kovacs adds.

When he was working for rediff.com, Ramesh Menon was not allowed to read comments on his stories on the LTTE. “When I asked them why, they said the comments are targeted at your family, even your mother,” says Menon, who’s currently working on a book on Narendra Modi. “My son is really worried considering the threats and flak that I will receive because of this book but this is nothing new in a journalist’s life. Earlier it used to be through postcards, now it has become more direct and immediate because it’s online. A journalist has to just learn to deal with it,” he says.

In her article, ‘We hear no evil, see no evil: Why abusing journalists is futile?’ on Firstpost, Lakshmi Chaudry writes, “Journalists are no longer ensconced in newsrooms and TV studios, buffered from their audience’s feedback. Anyone who can’t handle the public scrutiny and yes, the inevitable abuse, shouldn’t be in the media business today. This isn’t to say that journalists have to welcome personal attacks, but we have to learn to deal with it.”

But not every journalist is ready to take it easy. Shoma Nandi was rankled by the experience, enough to put her off blogging for some time. She is also doubly careful before she keys her opinions. “I won’t say I was scared but yes I was unsettled. When you get rape threats online for voicing your opinions, you know something is wrong with the world,” she says.

In her article, Chaudry also emphasises on the ‘democratic participation’, which allows the audience to hold the reporters, editors or anchors instantly accountable because of the internet. The victim-complex that a journalist faces also discourages self-reflection, “which we in the Indian media need to engage in more than ever,” she writes. If not able to control who speaks online, media still has the option to decide which voices should be heard by restraining, blocking people or straight, deleting the abusive comments. In many of the websites, each comment is moderated before published. Twitter also has the option of the ‘report abuse’ button which aims to crack on social media abuse.

But in most cases, the barrage of abuse is aimed only to hurt and humiliate the writer and not build an argument around the article. As Dixit says, “I was reading a review of Madras Café on firstpost and found that most of the comments were targeted at the journalist. It proves that abuse is not restricted to any issue in particular but just attacking the individual.” The volume of these invectives may even blur the 5% of arguments on the article and in the end the journalist may become too indifferent to even scroll through the maa-behen gaalis.