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Grab launches GrabBayanihan initiative for frontliners

For medical frontliners who need a ride

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Grab is back again with its ride-sharing operations. As such, the company has introduced initiatives as part of its measures against COVID-19. Now, it is launching GrabBayanihan — an initiative exclusively for medical frontliners.

The initiative kicked-off last June 8. With GrabBayanihan, the company will deploy a specialized fleet composed of 400 volunteer drivers. These drivers will ferry one medical worker to and from their respective medical facilities at a time. Medical workers can take advantage of this exclusive service from 5 AM to 10 PM every day.

There are safety measures for both the driver and the passenger as well. Each car should have a non-permeable acetate barrier installed. After service hours, all cars will be required to undergo deep sanitation at designated hubs.

Regular Grab passengers won’t be able to book a car under GrabBayanihan. Every driver has undergone hygiene training as part of the initiative. Grab has provided each driver with personal protective equipment and medical insurance for their safety and well-being.

The company also assures that medical workers can enjoy subsidized fares and zero-surge rates through the initiative. Drivers, on the other hand, will receive guaranteed earnings for a minimum of eight hours on the service.

Grab also has introduced other measures as it resumes operations nationwide. Recently, it launched GrabProtect for drivers and passengers. It also introduced new payment options for its delivery service.

Apps

Instagram actively testing Reels to take on TikTok

Short 15-second videos

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Short videos under 15 seconds have gained massive popularity thanks to platforms like TikTok. Facebook-owned Instagram has been eyeing this space for a while and has reportedly expanded testing its Reels feature in India.

According to Business Insider, the Reels feature is being actively tested in India. This only after just a few days after TikTok was banned in the country.

The app will let the user record 15-second videos, add background soundtrack, as well as include a range of effects.

TikTok has come under immense pressure globally due to its poor data collection policies. The app was recently caught snooping around the user’s clipboard after Apple updated iOS’s privacy features. US lawmakers are worried about user data being collected.

However, Facebook itself is no saint when it comes to handling private user data. The company has a history of mishaps and the platform hasn’t learned anything from its mistakes.

The feature is currently active in Brazil and acts as an extension to Stories. You can find it in Instagram’s camera section, just beside the Boomerang and Super Zoom option.

The company had previously launched a separate app called Lasso. However, it was phased out and Reels was integrated into the Instagram app.

The sudden ban of TikTok has created a vacuum in India and it’s obvious Facebook wants to quickly bridge the gap by providing an alternate service.

Facebook and Instagram recently partnered with Saregama music label in India to provide access to a music library. The Indian government has also launched an app challenge that aims to encourage domestic developers and companies to take advantage of the recent ban.

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India launches app innovation challenge after Chinese apps ban

Encouraging local developers and building an ecosystem

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India’s Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology has announced a new program to encourage local developers and bridge the gap left behind by banned services like TikTok. It’s officially called “Aatma Nirbhar App Innovation Challenge” and was unveiled by India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi.

Atma Nitrbhar means “to be independent” or “self-sufficient” in one of India’s widely used languages, Hindi. A few days ago, the Indian government announced a blanket ban on a few listed Chinese apps. Within no time, they were off the Play Store and many services like TikTok and Mobile Legends voluntarily stopped service after the ban was announced.

The App Innovation Challenge includes the promotion of existing apps as well as the development of new apps. The program is split into two tracks. The first one includes already released apps that have the potential to scale and become world-class in their segment. The second track aims to identify companies as well as individuals who can build next-generation apps for the country.

Tthe government is looking for alternative apps of the ones that remain banned. Companies will have to submit their entries by July 18 and a jury for each of the tracks shall evaluate the entries.

The challenge is available in eight categories, ranging from office productivity or work from home solutions to news and games.

The government has allocated INR 20,00,000 (US$ 26,780), INR 15,00,000 (US$ 20,085), and INR 10,00,000 (US$ 13,390) for the first three winners, respectively. Adding to this, Each sub-category winner will also be rewarded.

India has suffered high casualties amid an ongoing border dispute with China. The Coronavirus pandemic has further fueled the anti-China sentiment and the Indian government is exploring options to reduce its trade deficit with the neighboring country.

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Facebook shared user data with at least 5000 developers

When will Facebook understand privacy?

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After the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook has become synonymous with privacy invasion. You’d ideally expect the social networking company to learn something and change how it operates to protect personal user data. However, the company is back to square one.

A blog post confirms that Facebook shared user data to thousands of developers and continued to receive updates to users’ non-public information.

According to internal policy, if you don’t use the service within a gap of 90 days, it’ll stop having access to your data and no updates will be sent forward. However, this wasn’t practically enforced and developers continued to have unprecedented access.

This is an extremely sensitive flaw since a similar modus operandi was leveraged to funnel data of 50 million users to Cambridge Analytica. Going by Facebook’s announcement, data here includes the user’s email addresses, birthdays, language, gender, and more.

VP of Platform Partnerships Konstantinos Papamiltiadis said that Facebook estimates 5,000 developers continued to receive user information after 90 days of inactivity.

The company hasn’t revealed the number of users affected. Facebook says the issue was fixed after it was discovered but did not state when it was found and how it went undetected for such a long time.

It’s common for people to use Facebook as a sign-in option on third-party apps or websites. These services fetch your details directly from Facebook after your consent. But, if you don’t use the third-party service actively, your data also shouldn’t be shared with it. However, the issue does not plague all Facebook Login apps.

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