Tag Archives: tech

JD.com CEO Richard Liu wasn’t charged in the US, but back in China people are still weighing his case

Hong Kong (CNN Business)Richard Liu won’t face sexual assault charges in the United States, but the tech billionaire is having to contend with a renewed bout of public scrutiny at home in China.

Liu’s case has gripped China, where billionaire company founders often enjoy celebrity status. Social media users have been sounding off in large numbers about the prosecutors’ announcement and Liu’s response.
The business leader, whose Chinese name is Liu Qiangdong, said in a statement that the prosecutors’ decision “proves I broke no law.” He went on to apologize for his “interactions” with the young woman who accused him of rape, saying his actions had hurt his family and his wife.
    Many users said that while Liu, 45, may not have been charged, he still deserves censure for cheating on his wife, Zhang Zetian.
    “Liu Qiangdong is not guilty, that is the legal judgment. But there is morality behind the law. As a public figure, he should have higher requirements for his words and deeds,” said a widely shared post by China Women’s News, the news outlet of a women’s rights organization backed by the ruling Chinese Communist Party.
    Zhang, 25, is a popular figure in China. Before she met Liu, she gained internet fame when a picture of her holding a cup of milk tea went viral, earning her the nickname “Sister Milk Tea.” Zhang could not be reached for comment.

    Fellow tech entrepreneur calls actions ‘harmless’

    People argued on Weibo, a Twitter-like Chinese social media platform, over what the outcome of the months-long investigation by police and prosecutors meant for Liu.
    Some users suggested his reputation has been irreparably damaged. But there were others who defended him, including one fellow tech entrepreneur.
    “It wasn’t sexual assault, just extramarital sex, harmless to shareholders and employees,” wrote Li Guoqing, a co-founder of online book seller Dangdang.com.
    “It wasn’t an extramarital affair, just sex, low impact to his wife,” he added in a post that drew criticism from other users.
    Dangdang quickly distanced itself from Li’s comments, posting a statement on its official Weibo account saying that he plays no meaningful role in the company’s management. Dangdang was acquired by a subsidiary of Chinese conglomerate HNA in April.
    Liu said in his statement that he feels “deep regret and remorse” and that he hopes his wife “can accept my sincere apology.”
    “I will continue to try in every possible way to repair the impact on my family and to fulfill my responsibility as a husband,” he added.

    Battered JD shares rebound

    The allegations against Liu have weighed on his company’s share price for months.
    JD.com’s Nasdaq-listed stock closed up about 6% on Friday after prosecutors declined to press charges, but it’s still down more than 30% since his arrest. Like many other Chinese stocks, it has come under pressure from concerns about the country’s economic slowdown and trade war with the United States.
    Liu’s case was particularly significant for JD because of the power he wields as its founder. He holds a large majority of the company’s voting rights, giving him control over key decisions.
    The CEO was in Minneapolis in August because he was enrolled in a doctorate program in business administration at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management. His accuser, a Chinese woman, was studying at the university.
    The Minnesota prosecutors said they found “profound evidentiary problems” that would have made it hard to build a criminal case against Liu.
    The Chinese executive maintains that the sex with the young woman was consensual. The student, who was 21 years old at the time of the alleged assault, said Liu raped her at her off-campus apartment after a group dinner. Liu was arrested the same night, but police let him go the following day without charging him or asking for bail.
      He quickly returned to China after his release, where millions of Weibo users were sharing the police mugshot of him dressed in an orange prison jumpsuit.
      The young woman’s lawyer said she plans to pursue a civil lawsuit against Liu.

      Read more: https://www.cnn.com/2018/12/24/tech/richard-liu-qiangdong-jd/index.html

      UK police given new powers to seize and search misbehaving drones


      Keep those pesky drones away from the airport.
      Image: Getty Images/EyeEm

      Remember the enormous, pre-Christmas chaos those drone sightings caused at London’s Gatwick Airport last month?

      The ones that put the whole airport on lockdown, delayed roughly 1,000 flights and prompted a lengthy police investigation?

      Well, it looks like people have had enough of it. In a tweet on Tuesday morning, the UK government’s Department for Transport announced the introduction of new powers for police to seize and search suspicious drones, as well as new airport exclusion zones and safety measures.

      You can read the full announcement, which comes following a 5000-people strong consultation, on the government’s website. They’ve summarised the key points as follows:

      – police to be given additional powers to land, seize and search drones

      – government to work on expanded use of technology to detect and repel drones in sites like airports and prisons

      – exclusion zone extended around airports where drones are banned from flying

      – from November 2019 drone operators will be required by law to register

      “There is no question but that lessons have to be learned from what happened at Gatwick,” Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said in a statement on Monday. “Passengers have to be able to travel without fear of their trips being disrupted by malicious drone use.

      “Airports must be prepared to deal with incidents of this type, and the police need the proper powers to deal with drone offences.”

      Read more: https://mashable.com/article/drone-police-powers-uk/

      A group of conservative Facebook employees complain about ‘intolerant’ culture


      Facebook faces a conservative insurgency within its ranks.
      Image: Kim Kulish/Corbis via Getty Images

      At Facebook, some employees have joined an online group to complain about what they say are the company’s left-leaning politics, reports the New York Times

      It’s named FB’ers for Political Diversity, and was created by Brian Amerige, a senior engineer at the social media giant.

      Amerige wrote a post called “We Have a Problem With Political Diversity” on Facebook’s internal message board, which was shared with the Times.

      “We are a political monoculture that’s intolerant of different views,” reads the post. “We claim to welcome all perspectives, but are quick to attack — often in mobs — anyone who presents a view that appears to be in opposition to left-leaning ideology.”

      The Times said around 100 Facebook employees have joined the group, according to “two people who viewed the group’s page and who were not authorized to speak publicly.” The company has more than 25,000 employees. 

      The group says its aim is to “create a space for ideological diversity” within the company, but the post has also received criticism. One engineer told the Times that several employees have complained to their managers about the post. 

      Google faced a similar problem when former engineer, James Damore, sent around a memo arguing that the lack of diversity in tech was due to women being biologically inferior to men. As you might expect, it didn’t go over so well, and Damore was fired shortly after the memo was sent. He is now part of a class-action lawsuit against the company. 

      Despite claims from people like Donald Trump that Silicon Valley is suppressing conservative voices, right-wing viewpoints from sites like Breitbart have largely flourished on the network. According to a 2017 analysis by social media monitoring company NewsWhip, liberal publishers only see half the engagement of conservative pages.

      Facebook has also been accused of letting hate speech — especially from those on the alt-right — flourish on the site, something it’s still figuring out how to deal with.

      Read more: https://mashable.com/article/facebook-conservative-political-diversity/

      Alibaba Singles Day sales top $30 billion

      Hong Kong (CNN Business)Alibaba smashed its record for the online retail blitz known as Singles Day.

      The shopping extravanganza regularly racks up bigger sales than Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined.But this year’s Singles Day comes as Alibaba’s (BABA) growth is coming under pressure from China’s slowing economy, new rivals in the e-commerce industry and the trade war with the United States.
      The final tally on Alibaba platforms rang in at $30,802,477,608, an increase of about 27% over last year’s total at current exchange rates. That’s less spectacular than the 40% growth recorded in 2017.
        A slowdown was expected “given that they have had exponential growth in the past,” Xiaofeng Wang, an analyst with research firm Forrester, said ahead of the event. “As the festival matures and becomes more established, we can expect the growth rate to slow down.”
        Singles Day is an informal holiday in China celebrating people not in relationships. Its date — November 11, or 11/11— is meant to symbolize singletons.
        Alibaba started offering Singles Day discounts in 2009 and has since turned the day into a 24-hour bonanza of online shopping in China.
        Other Chinese e-commerce platforms like JD.com and regular brick-and-mortar stores also take part, and the event is starting to gain traction outside China. Alibaba’s Southeast Asia subsidiary Lazada will offer Singles Day discounts in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam.
        But the Singles Day event in China is by far the splashiest.
        International companies flock to Alibaba’scelebrity-studded live telecast and its various online platforms, eager to hawk everything from liquor to sports cars.
        Imported goods make up a significant amount of sales. A recent survey from research firm Oliver Wyman found that 57% of consumers expect to buy overseas goods during the event.
        Japan, the United States and South Korea were the top three countries from which Singles Day shoppers bought products this year.
        The United States remained in the No. 2 spot despite the trade war that broke out between the Trump administration and Beijing this year. Alibaba Executive Chairman Jack Ma said in September that the conflict with China’s largest trade partner is hurting the company’s business.
          But on Singles Day, Alibaba executives played down concerns about the heavy tariffs that the two countries have imposed on each other, emphasizing that the company will continue to benefit from China’s growing middle class.
          “That trend is not going to stop, trade war or no trade war,” Alibaba Executive Vice Chairman Joe Tsai said in a company blog post.

          Read more: https://www.cnn.com/2018/11/10/tech/alibaba-singles-day/index.html

          The Weather Channels New Green Screen Tech is Impressive

          As hurricane season begins, the Weather Channel debuted a new green screen technology that uses Unreal Engine—a video game development tool used to render graphics in real-time.

          According to Motherboard:

          The presentation was created as a partnership between The Weather Channel and The Future Group, a Norwegian company that struck a deal last year with the makers of Unreal Engine—Epic Games—to use the tech in TV broadcasts. The project is designed to bring mixed reality and augmented reality to live productions.

          While the premise for graphics wasn’t terribly groundbreaking (many would say it’s common sense to evacuate areas where the water level is near the height of a basketball net), its potential moving forward is intriguing and certainly makes for more compelling television.

          Read more: https://twistedsifter.com/videos/weather-channel-green-screen-hurricane-flooding-demo/

          An all-female armed unit is making sure poachers stay away from one of Africas largest elephant populations


          Over 200 wildlife species are being illegal sold via Facebook groups in Thailand. The slow loris, pictured above, is among the most commonly advertised for sale.
          Image: Getty Images/500px Plus

          A wildlife trafficking watchdog is calling out Facebook for hundreds of listings of animals in Thailand.

          TRAFFIC, a wildlife trade monitoring organization, is releasing a report today detailing a multiyear investigation that monitored Facebook groups that facilitated the sale of wildlife. The listings included live and dead animals, as well as animal body parts according to the BBC.

          Of the over 1,500 animal listings discovered by TRAFFIC, more than half of the animals offered up for trade are protected under Thailand’s Wild Animal Reservation and Protection Act. Some of the listed animals, such as the Helmeted Hornbill and the Siamese crocodile are a critically endangered species. In the case of a species like the Helmeted Hornbill and the Siamese crocodile, TRAFFIC says its critically endangered status meant that even a single creature removed from the wild would be detrimental for the species’ survival.

          In total, the group found listings for 200 species. Listings included animals native to Thailand, like the Asiatic black bear, as well as species not native to the country like the Eurasian otter and the black spotted turtle, all of which are barred from international trade.

          The listings were all uncovered by TRAFFIC during a single month in 2016. They were discovered across 12 different animal trade Facebook groups the organization was monitoring. While two Facebook groups have since shut down, TRAFFIC revisited the remaining groups to analyze in 2018. The organization found that total membership across the groups had grown. In 2016, total membership of all the animal trade Facebook groups monitored by TRAFFIC was 106,111. Now, two years later, the groups boast a total of 203,445 members.

          Facebook policy prohibits the sale of any animals — domesticated pets, livestock, or otherwise. In a statement to the BBC, a Facebook spokesperson said “Facebook does not allow the sale or trade of endangered species or their parts, and we remove this material as soon as we are aware of it. We are committed to working with Traffic and law enforcement authorities to help tackle the illegal online trade of wildlife in Thailand.”

          As Gizmodo points out, Facebook provided a similar statement to the BBC two years ago when TRAFFIC released a report on the same types of illegal wildlife sales Facebook groups operating in Malaysia.

          Earlier this year, it was reported that a complaint was filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission by the National Whistleblower Center on behalf of an informant over advertising that was being displayed on Facebook groups engaging in the illegal wildlife trade. The complaint accused Facebook of monetizing groups selling rhino horn, elephant ivory, and other threatened animal body parts.

          Mashable has reached out to Facebook for comment and will update this story when we hear back.

          Read more: https://mashable.com/article/illegal-animal-trade-facebook-thailand/

          Russia’s biggest gun maker thinks its electric car is a Tesla killer. HAHAHA!


          Can the modern but retro Kalashnikov CV-1 take on Tesla?
          Image: Kalashnikov

          Russia’s biggest gun manufacturer is looking to take on Tesla with its new electric concept car.

          Kalashnikov, maker of the AK-47 assault weapon, has gone retro with its new “supercar,” the CV-1, unveiled at a Russian defense show near Moscow Thursday.

          According to media outlets reporting at a press event at the expo, a Kalashnikov media rep said the car will “let us stand in the ranks of global electric car producers such as Tesla.”

          It certainly looks retro, with the design and body of an old-school IZh 21252 “Kombi” car — the Kombi came from a Soviet era car maker from the 1970s. It’s a bold design decision, a vintage throwback akin to the Fujifilm Instax camera.

          The CV-1 supercar has a rather old-fashioned design.

          Image: Kalashnikov

          Aside from making guns, Kalashnikov had previously built electric motorcycles and electric “Ovum” vehicles that were used at the World Cup in Russia this summer. The electric motorcycles had been used last year for police patrolling roads. But mostly the company builds weapons. And the occasional salt-and-pepper shaker.

          So, will the company’s CV-1 “supercar” stand up to Tesla’s electric empire?

          A limited number of Tesla vehicles have been sold in Russia in the past few years.

          Kalashnikov didn’t give any pricing details for the potential vehicle, but the specs that the company provided didn’t exactly stack up with Tesla.

          Tesla’s electric vehicles boast much more impressive stats. The CV-1 claims to have about a 200-mile range and go from 0 to 60 mph in 6 seconds. Tesla’s newest affordable sedan, the Model 3, has a 220-mile range and a long-range battery that reaches 310 miles. The Model 3 can reach 60 mph in 3.5 seconds.

          If the concept car isn’t that impressive to you, check out the gun maker’s walking robot named Igoryok, also unveiled at the defense show this week. 

          Read more: https://mashable.com/2018/08/23/kalashnikov-electric-car-cv1-tesla-russia/

          Allegedly adorable surveillance bot Kuri to be discontinued


          Always watching.
          Image: Howard cao/Mayfield Robotics

          Kuri just wanted to watch your children play. 

          The roving surveillance bot, unveiled last year at CES, was billed as the first home robot that could actually catch on with consumers around the country. What with its unassuming — even “cute” — design and ability to autonomously decide to film people and pets in your home, Kuri represented a stark departure from the blind robo-murder dogs we have all grown to regard with caution. 

          Alas, nothing gold can stay: Mayfield Robotics, Kuri’s manufacturer and part of the Bosch Startup Platform, announced today that things weren’t looking so hot for the 14-pound robot. 

          “Sadly, our Kuri manufacturing will cease, and the Kuri robots that have been made will not ship to customers,” the manufacturer said in a company press release. “All pre-order deposits will be refunded to our customers.”

          This is a shocking turnabout for Kuri, which was initially hailed by a prominent tech blog as possibly one day “[replacing] your little brother as the cutest member of your family.” 

          So what went wrong? Are people just not interested in having a camera equipped, four-microphone stocked, mini robot following them around their homes, recording their every move?

          Goodbye.

          Image: MAYFIELD ROBOTICS

          Definitely not, insists Mayfield Robotics. You see, it’s not that people prefer jogging death-bots, it’s that there was a problem with, uh, “business fit.” Yeah, business fit, that sounds right. 

          “From the beginning, we have been constantly looking for the best paths to achieve scale and continue to advance our innovative technology,” the press release continued. “Typically, startups in the Bosch Startup Platform are integrated into existing Bosch business units, but after extensive review, there was not a business fit within Bosch to support and scale our business.” 

          So there you have it. In the end, Kuri’s stated cause of death wasn’t a lack of consumer interest or a failure to get the tech right. Instead, the ignoble end of a rather ignoble creature was the inability to figure out how to wrap the product into the larger business conglomerate that is Bosch. 

          Maybe Kuri’s designers should have also made it combat-ready? There will alway be a market for that

          Read more: https://mashable.com/2018/07/25/kuri-robot-discontinued/

          Amazon wants to turn small businesses into delivery companies


          Time to learn logistics for your business.
          Image: amazon

          Are you an entrepreneur who specializes in selling handcrafted soaps and artisanal candles? Are you an entrepreneur who doesn’t specialize in anything at all? Congratulations, you’re pre-qualified to be America’s next shipping magnate. 

          At least, that’s what Amazon wants you to believe.

          Amid soaring sales, the Seattle-based e-commerce giant launched the Amazon Delivery Service Partner program this week to convince you— yes, you— to get delivering packages.

          The new program goes a huge step beyond the gig economy side-hustle that is Amazon Flex. The Amazon Delivery Service Partner program wants entrepreneurs to start your very own package delivery business — even if those entrepreneurs have no prior experience with shipping logistics.. 

          A brochure about the new program details everything that interested would-be shipping magnates will need to launch their delivery business, and that means purchasing vans, handheld devices, uniforms, car insurance, fuel cards, and hiring drivers. 

          The strategy appears to be Amazon’s latest attempt to solve its so-called “last-mile” problem with ensuring that everything customers order online gets to their front doors. Fast. And because the company takes its two-day delivery promise seriously, it seems willing to enlist just about anyone to help it reach its goal with lures of six-figure bumps to their bottom lines.

          Amazon says “successful owners” can earn $300,000 in annual profit running a 40-vehicle delivery fleet. Never run a delivery fleet? Not to worry: Amazon will provide “technology and operational support.” That means that even if you have to build up (and pay for) your own delivery fleet, Amazon assures deals on Amazon-branded vehicles, uniforms, gas, insurance plans, and other things you’ll need to run your own service.

          While it’s unclear whether you’ll be able to add a cool 300 grand to your profits, at least you’ll be able to add another line to your extensive resume: expert delivery driver. The hustle is real.

          Read more: https://mashable.com/2018/06/28/amazon-delivery-service-partner/

          Facebook uncovers another coordinated plot and proves it will always be a target


          Never gonna give you up.
          Image: SAUL LOEB/getty

          Here we go again.

          Facebook on Tuesday announced that it had once again detected and removed a coordinated group of so-called “inauthentic” accounts working to influence the U.S. political landscape. Despite the lessons learned from the disastrous Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, these unnamed actors managed to use the social media platform to organize real-world events and gain hundreds of thousands of followers. 

          And while Facebook has kicked the 32 suspicious pages and accounts off both Facebook and Instagram, this isn’t the end. More likely, the problem will never completely fade. Regardless of the effort put forth by Menlo Park engineers and security researchers, Facebook — with its 2 billion monthly users and powerful micro-targeting tools — will forever be too tempting of a target for those looking to, say, sway an election. 

          Facebook appears to be one of best tools ever created for influencing people on a mass scale. This fact is lost neither on Madison Avenue nor Savushkina Street.

          While the details of this latest influence campaign are still murky, Facebook seems to have learned a few things over the course of the last two years. Perhaps most importantly, it’s learned to take its responsibilities seriously. 

          “We face determined, well-funded adversaries who will never give up and are constantly changing tactics,” reads the company’s blog post on the latest findings. “It’s an arms race, and we need to constantly improve, too. It’s why we’re investing heavily in more people and better technology to prevent bad actors misusing Facebook — as well as working much more closely with law enforcement and other tech companies to better understand the threats we face.”

          A so-called inauthentic post.

          Image: facebook

          The company stopped short of saying that the Russian Internet Research Agency was behind this latest campaign. But as Facebook’s head of cybersecurity policy Nathaniel Gleicher explained, it looks like the group is. 

          “As we’ve told law enforcement and Congress, we still don’t have firm evidence to say with certainty who’s behind this effort,” wrote Gleicher. “Some of the activity is consistent with what we saw from the IRA before and after the 2016 elections.”

          And yes, a sampling of the now-banned Pages reveals a pattern we’re all now very much familiar with: encouraging division and attempting to incite real-world action

          A Facebook event co-organized by, Resisters, one of the now-banned Pages.

          Image: facebook

          The most popular of the now-banned Pages include Aztlan Warriors, Black Elevation, Mindful Being, and Resisters. According to Facebook, “more than 290,000 accounts followed at least one of these [suspect] Pages.”

          From the limited selection of content released by Facebook, these groups worked to generate discussion around hot-button issues such as opposing Donald Trump, colonialism, and black power. The more controversy, and subsequent shares, the better. The Black Lives Matter movement was likewise abused by Russian actors in 2016.   

          The investigation — and effort to pinpoint who is behind the removed content — is ongoing. If and when it completes, that investigation will in all likelihood be replaced by another. It’s cheap and relatively easy to reach scores of people on Facebook. That’s the point, after all, and no bad actor is going to suddenly forget it.

          The Silicon Valley darling will never stop being a target for those who wish to manipulate people. It’s a reality we’re all just going to have to get used to. Facebook, which takes every opportunity it can to remind you that it’s “investing heavily” in combating this form of abuse, already has.  

          Read more: https://mashable.com/2018/07/31/facebook-political-influence-campaign/