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Winners of our first Facebook Online Hackathon announced

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Expanding on our annual Developer Circles Community Challenge and the in-person hackathons we held across North America last year, we were excited to launch our brand new Facebook Online Hackathon series for global developers earlier this month.

We know that building opportunities like hackathons are a great way for aspiring and experienced innovators to develop new skills, grow their networks and ship breakthrough solutions – whether they’re creating their first-ever coding project to showcase in a job interview, or bringing that advanced engineering idea to life.

We also know that providing special access to product resources, mentoring and trouble-shooting helps set developers up for success when applying new technologies to solve challenges. That’s why we’re committed to supporting the journey and experience of all developers on our platform.

For our first hackathon in this new series, we opened up three tech tracks for participants – Artificial Intelligence (AI), Augmented Reality (AR) and Messaging – and offered up to $21,000 in cash prizes, as well as the opportunity to join us at our annual developer conference, F8 2021.

Given the many social issues currently arising around coronavirus (COVID-19), we were also inspired to see developers ship a range of projects aimed at addressing some of the challenges being experienced as a result of this global pandemic.

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Our winners

Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Creating intuitive solutions using PyTorch

First place ($3,000 + an invitation, flights and accommodation for F8 2021):
Torch Drowsiness Monitor
A drowsiness and attention monitor for driving featuring PyTorch’s Computer Vision

Second place ($2,500):
PneumoScan
A radiology tool built on PyTorch supporting the COVID-19 pandemic

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Third place ($1,500):
hep-recommender
An AI-based system for recommending scientific articles

Augmented Reality (AR)
Building immersive solutions using Spark AR’s World Effects

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First place ($3,000 + an invitation, flights and accommodation for F8 2021):
Rabbit Coder
An AR solution teaching programming concepts in the form of a puzzle

Second place ($2,500):
COVID-19 Coronavirus
An educational AR experience on the virus, its impact, and prevention measures

Third place ($1,500):
RollercoastAR
A gaming experience enabling users to customize and create an AR roller-coaster simulator

Messaging
Empowering conversations using Messenger

First place ($3,000 + an invitation, flights and accommodation for F8 2021):
ReWise: AI-powered revision bot
An interactive Messenger bot to help students revise their coursework

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Second place ($2,500):
Sign Language Dictionary Bot
A Messenger bot enabling users to upload to sign language videos for dictionary definitions

Third place ($1,500):
MathPhysy
An online tutoring service for maths and physics delivered through Messenger

Congratulations to these inspiring innovators and thank you to everyone who participated!

New hackathons coming soon

Remember, this is just the beginning. Keep an eye out for the next online hackathon in our series by signing up for our Facebook for Developers email newsletter.

For those keen to continue building, I also wanted to let you know about another special hackathon announced yesterday.

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#BuildforCOVID19 Global Online Hackathon

We’ve seen time and time again that our developer ecosystem is passionate and purposeful about leveraging technology to deliver software that builds community and solves real-world problems.

As we all consider the timely and meaningful action we can take to tackle issues related to COVID-19, there’s never been a better time for our community to ideate and innovate together.

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I’d therefore like to take this opportunity to encourage as many of you as possible to join the new #BuildforCOVID19 Global Online Hackathon that is being supported by Facebook alongside other companies and platforms in the tech industry, as well as partners including the World Health Organization and the Chan Zuckerberg Biohub.

Submissions for the hackathon officially open on Thursday March 26; however you are welcome to register now to start brainstorming.

Thank you again to all of our hackathon participants around the world!

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Together we can achieve more.

Facebook Developers

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Facebook-Meta Earns the ‘Worst Company of 2021’ Title in This Survey

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Facebook has had its share of controversies this year. The company was under more scrutiny after whistleblower Frances Haugen leaked a series of internal documents.

Facebook parent Meta has been named the Worst Company of the Year (2021) by Yahoo Finance respondents. According to the publication, an “open-ended” survey was published on Yahoo Finance on December 4 and 5, where 1,541 respondents participated. Facebook received 8 percent of the write-in vote, but respondents were seemingly mad about the Robinhood trading app as well. Electric truck startup Nikola, which was named last year’s worst company by the same publication also faced respondents ire.

Yahoo Finance notes, “Facebook has had its share of controversies this year.” Starting in January, Meta-owned WhatsApp got caught up in a huge controversy after the messaging app announced a new privacy policy (Terms of Service). WhatsApp said it would collect user information and share it with third-party apps for a better user experience. However, the app gave users no choice but later made modifications to the policy under pressure. Similarly, the company was under more scrutiny after whistleblower and former Facebook employee Frances Haugen leaked a series of internal documents showing the company’s problematic practices. It was revealed that Meta-owned Instagram had a negative impact on teenage girls, but the company did almost nothing to rectify the problem.

Yahoo Finance even highlights, “At the same time, some critics, including conservatives, say Facebook over-policed the platform’s speech and stifled their voices.” Critics also blame Facebook and other social media platforms for not curbing hate speech that led to Capitol Building riots.

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However, around 30 percent of Yahoo Finance readers said that Facebook or Meta could redeem itself. One respondent suggested that the company could issue a formal apology for negligence and donate a sizable amount of its profits to a foundation to help reverse its harm.

On the other hand, respondents chose Microsoft as the Company of the Year (2021). The Satya Nadella-led company touched the trillion-mark this year and introduced notable upgrades. The most notable is the Windows 11 OS update that succeeds Windows 10.

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Facebook pays 1.7 Cr fine to Russia after failing to delete content Moscow deems illegal

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In the latest legal tussle with Russia over controversial social media regulation laws, Facebook paid 17 million roubles (Rs 1.7 Crore) for failing to remove content deemed illegal by Moscow. With a threat of potential larger fines looming, Facebook parent company Meta, owned by Mark Zuckerberg, is scheduled to face court next week over repeated violations of Russian legislation on content, Interfax News Agency reported. As per the latest updates, the social media giant could be fined a percentage of its annual revenue.

In October, Moscow sent state bailiffs to enforce the collection of 17 million roubles. Meanwhile, as per Interfax report citing a federal bailiffs’ database, on Sunday, there were more enforcement proceedings against the company. Apart from the popular social media app, Telegram has also paid 15 million roubles in fines for failing to comply with the Russian social media legislations that came into force in 2016.

Facebook pays $53k to Russia for refusing controversial social media laws

It is pertinent to mention that Facebook has locked horns with Moscow earlier in November, resulting in it paying 4 million roubles ($53,000) over its refusal to adhere to Russian data localisation laws, the Moscow Times reported. The Moscow court on November 25 had said that Facebook paid the fine levied in February, following which all proceedings against the US-based social media giant. The payment comes against the litigation filed against the company in 2018, alongside Twitter. The tech companies were also forced to pay an additional 3000 rubles ($40) for failing to comply with user data sharing rules as per the law. The Russian authorities have also previously blocked LinkedIn, owned by Microsoft, for failing to abide by the laws.

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Russian social media laws

As per Moscow Times, under the Russian social media regulation laws, all foreign technology companies are required to store data related to Russian customers and users on servers located in Russia. Additionally, the Russian tech companies will also have to share encryption data with the federal authorities as well as record user calls, messages and civil society group conversation records. The apparatus is said to be a severe breach of privacy rights and unfettered back-door access to personal data that could be used to harass Kremlin critics.

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Facebook Messenger Is Launching a Split Payments Feature for Users to Quickly Share Expenses

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Facebook Messenger Is Launching a Split Payments Feature for Users to Quickly Share Expenses

Meta has announced the arrival of a new Split Payments feature in Facebook Messenger. This feature, as the name suggests, will let you calculate and split expenses with others right from Facebook Messenger. This feature essentially looks to bring an easier method to share the cost of bills and expenses — for example, splitting a dinner bill with friends. Using this new Split Payment feature, Facebook Messenger users will be able to split bills evenly or modify the contribution for each individual, including their own.

The company took to its blog post to announce the new Split Payment feature in Facebook Messenger. 9to5Mac reports that this new bill splitting feature is still in beta and will be exclusive to US users at first. The rollout will begin early next week. As mentioned, it will help users share the cost of bills, expenses, and payments. This feature is especially useful for those who share an apartment and need to split the monthly rent and other expenses with their mates. It could also come handy at a group dinner with many people.

With Split Payments, users can add the number of people the expense needs to be divided with and, by default, the amount entered will be divided in equal parts. A user can also modify each person’s contribution including their own. To use Split Payments, click the Get Started button in a group chat or the Payments Hub in Messenger. Users can modify the contribution in the Split Payments option and send a notification to all the users who need to make payments. After entering a personalised message and confirming your Facebook Pay details, the request will be sent and viewable in the group chat thread.

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Once someone has made the payment, you can mark their transaction as ‘completed’. The Split Payment feature will automatically take into account your share as well and calculate the amount owed accordingly.


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Tasneem Akolawala is a Senior Reporter for Gadgets 360. Her reporting expertise encompasses smartphones, wearables, apps, social media, and the overall tech industry. She reports out of Mumbai, and also writes about the ups and downs in the Indian telecom sector. Tasneem can be reached on Twitter at @MuteRiot, and leads, tips, and releases can be sent to tasneema@ndtv.com.

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