The “Contributor’s Story” series is intended to provide a face and voice to our major open source ccontributors and community members, an overview of the projects they are working on, and the successes and challenges contributors face when developing.
In this blog post, we will be talking to Sarthak Khattar, a Pysa contributor working on a Language Server VSCode extension through the Major League Hacking (MLH) Fellowship.
“I have always been fascinated by the world of open source as working on large collaborative projects is what I greatly enjoy…”
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your current experience in the MLH Fellowship.
I’m interested in security and am most comfortable with Python. I was introduced to MLH Fellowship by one of my friends who is also an open source enthusiast.
Where did you first learn about open source? How did you get started using/contributing?
I first became aware of open source when one of my friends became Google Code-In Finalists and encouraged me to learn more about open source and start contributing as well. However, it was not until October 2020 when I first started contributing via a project called IntelOwl. I started with the primary reason to gain experience for the MLH Fellowship.
Describe the project you are currently working on.
I’m currently working on Pysa, a static taint flow analysis tool built on top of Pyre, a Python typechecker. I’m working on creating a Language Server VSCode extension for Pysa to enable features like syntax highlighting, error checking etc. for .pysa files.
How did you initially go about tackling the issue?
Through the Fellowship, we were given an outline of what the process of development would look like by Graham, one of the maintainers of Pysa. We first created an initial template from the already existing extension for Pyre and proceeded to customize it for Pysa. We also updated several documentation points for setting up the development environment for everything.
What roadblocks or problems have you faced thus far in your contribution?
We ran into several build-from-source issues while setting up the development environment for Pysa. Many of the issues we faced were undocumented so finding their workarounds was tricky and time consuming. There were also some things in the workflow that were optimized for Facebook’s internal build system so finding an open source workaround to them took us some time as well.
What is the current status of development?
As of now, we have updated the documentation to include several issues we ran into while building Pyre from source and setting up the development environment. We have also established a base template for the Pysa extension and started working on adding Pysa specific features.
What have you learned about the project, development, or open source thus far?
More than anything else, I feel like I have learnt to use Version Control and virtual environments in Python a lot better than before. Working on Pysa has taught me how to create and manage VSCode extensions, what the Language Server Model is all about and how utilizing the power of Pyre’s type-checking and the concept of taint flow analysis tool like Pysa can be used to statically analysis code for potential vulnerabilities, thus, automating the process of securing code and making it safe for production.
What advice would you give future contributors to the open source project?
It’s a bit tricky to get acquainted with Pysa at first, but follow the updated docs to get set up. Don’t be afraid to make PRs related to small things like correcting documentation or finding a fix for a bug. The maintainers are very encouraging and helpful and opening issues and/or directly keeping in touch will help you get around any roadblocks you might face.
We’d like to thank Sarthak for their continuous contributions to the Facebook Open Source ecosystem. You can follow Sarthak’s work through GitHub.
Facebook-Meta Earns the ‘Worst Company of 2021’ Title in This Survey
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 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.
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.
Facebook pays 1.7 Cr fine to Russia after failing to delete content Moscow deems illegal
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.