#MeToo media coverage portrays accusers as sympathetic: Study

Agencies
September 8,2019

Washington D.C., Sept 8: The #MeToo movement that gained momentum last year, encouraging women to speak out their stories of sexual harassment, is believed to portray the accusers as sympathetic and paint men more powerful, finds a study.

The study conducted at the Carnegie Mellon University shows analysis of #MeToo media coverage, which presents accusers as sympathetic, but with less power and agency than their alleged perpetrators.

The paper was presented by graduate student Anjalie Field in Florence, Italy, last month at the Association of Computational Linguistics conference.

Yulia Tsvetkov, assistant professor in the School of Computer Science's Language Technologies Institute, said: "The goal of the movement is to empower women but according to our computational analysis that's not what's happening in news stories."

Tsvetkov's research team used natural language processing (NLP) techniques to analyse online media coverage of #MeToo narratives that included 27,602 articles in 1,576 outlets. They also looked at how different media outlets portrayed perpetrators and considered the role of third-party actors in news stories.

"Bias can be unconscious, veiled and hidden in a seemingly positive narrative," said Tsvetkov. "Such subtle forms of biased language can be much harder to detect and to date, we have no systematic way of identifying them automatically. The goal of our research was to provide tools to analyse such biased framing."

Their work draws insights from social psychology research and looks at the dynamics of power, agency, and sentiment, which is a measurement of sympathy.
"We were inspired by previous work that looked at the meaning of verbs in individual sentences," Tsvetkov said, adding that "our analysis incorporates context." This method allowed her team to consider much longer chunks of text, and to analyse narrative.

The research team developed ways to generate scores for words in context and mapped out the power, sentiment, and agency of each actor within a news story.

Their results show that the media consistently presents men as powerful, even after sexual harassment allegations.

Tsvetkov said this threatens to undermine the goals of the #MeToo movement, which is often characterised as "empowerment through empathy."

The team's analysis also showed that the people portrayed with the most positive sentiment in #MeToo stories were those not directly involved with allegations, like activists, journalists, or celebrities commenting on the movement, such as Oprah Winfrey.

This study proposes different methods for measuring power, agency and sentiment, and analyses the portrayals of characters in movie plots, as well as prominent members of society in general newspaper articles.

One of the consistent trends detected is that women are portrayed as less powerful than men. This was evident in an analysis of the 2016 Forbes list of most powerful people. In news stories from myriad outlets about women and men who ranked similarly, men were consistently described as being more powerful.

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85-year-old Shantabai Pawar displays `lathi-kathi' skills on Pune streets, video goes viral

Agencies
July 24,2020

Pune, Jul 24: Agile and dexterous, 85-year-old Shantabai Pawar wields sticks with absolute ease as she displays 'lathi-kathi' on the streets of Pune.

A video of her, displaying her skills in the Indian martial art form for livelihood, has gone viral on social media.

Pawar told media persons that she learnt the art form when she was only eight and has been practising it since then. The ancient martial art s believed to be linked to Dombari community, a nomadic tribe in Maharashtra.

"I have been pursuing the art of lathi-kathi since I was eight. I have never left it. It is part of me and it is an honour to practice it. My father taught me this. He taught me to work hard," Pawar told media persons.

In the video, the sari-clad octogenarian takes a warrior-like stride and effortlessly rotates a stick several times in a second in her hand and around her head and then does it with two sticks together with a smile on her face. She also tosses a stick in the air and catches it with ease.

The assembled gathering is impressed and enthused.

"People come and say, 'Well done Daadi!' I practice it to earn money for my children and grandchildren," she said.

Pawar leaves her home in the morning in the conditions created by coronavirus and performs the art form on roads and streets.

"I go to various areas to perform the art form and people give money," she said.

The artiste also uses thali and stick to gather the attention of people as most of them are indoors due to conditions created by COVID-19.

Senior citizens have been advised against venturing out due to their greater susceptibility to coronavirus but Pawar said she is not afraid to step out.

"People do advise me to not go out due to fear of COVID-19 but I am not scared. Whenever I step out, I pray to my God and he has kept me safe so far," she said.

Aishwarya Kale, a dancer and the person who uploaded the video on social media, said that it is "only an artist who can understand what help another artist needs".

"I was in that area shopping for some items and it was then I saw her performing and thought that I should film her and upload her video on social media. But I never thought that the video would go viral and she would receive financial help not just from people in the country but overseas as well," Kale told media persons.

"She is now getting honour for her craft that she couldn't get in the last 85 years. I feel good that through my small video, her art form has become viral," she added. 

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Home-made face masks may need at least two layers to stop Covid-19 spread: Study

News Network
July 24,2020

Melbourne, Jul 24: Home-made cloth face masks may need a minimum of two layers, and preferably three, to prevent the dispersal of viral droplets associated with Covid-19, according to a study.

Researchers, including those from the University of New South Wales in Australia, noted that viral droplets are generated by those infected with the novel coronavirus when they cough, sneeze, or speak.

As face masks have been proven to protect healthy people from inhaling infectious droplets as well as reducing the spread from those who are already infected, several types of material have been suggested for these, but based on little or no evidence of how well they work, the scientists said.

In the current study, published in the journal Thorax, the researchers compared the effectiveness of single and double-layer cloth face coverings with a surgical face mask (Bao Thach) at reducing droplet spread.

They said the single layer covering was made from a folded piece of cotton T shirt and hair ties, and the double layer covering was made using the sew method described by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The scientists used a tailored LED lighting system and a high-speed camera to film the dispersal of airborne droplets produced by a healthy person with no respiratory infection, during speaking, coughing, and sneezing while wearing each type of mask.

Their analysis showed that the surgical face mask was the most effective at reducing airborne droplet dispersal, although even a single layer cloth face covering reduced the droplet spread from speaking.

But the study noted that a double layer covering was better than a single layer in reducing the droplet spread from coughing and sneezing.

According to the researchers, the effectiveness of cloth face masks is dependent on the number of layers of the covering, the type of material used, design, fit as well as the frequency of washing.

Based on their observations, they said a home made cloth mask with at least two layers is preferable to a single layer mask.

"Guidelines on home-made cloth masks should stipulate multiple layers," the scientists said, adding that there is a need for more research to inform safer cloth mask design.

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How bitcoin investors in India are being scammed by fake crypto wallets

Agencies
August 11,2020

With the Supreme Court striking down the restrictions on cryptocurrency trade in India in March this year, there has been a surge in Indians investing in Bitcoin and with this, cybercriminals have started mobile-based fake Blockchain-based crypto wallets to lure and con the rich and the wealthy in the country. These Blockchain-based wallets offer handsome discounts, before conning people of their hard-earned Bitcoin/cash and then going incommunicado, according to industry watchers.

"I have seen so many wealthy Indian falling into the trap of such fake cryptocurrency wallets in the recent past. One gentleman just came to me who lost $50,000 (over Rs 37 lakh) while dealing with one such fake platform," Manan Shah, Founder and CEO, Avalance Global Solutions, told IANS.

One Indian businessman lost a whopping Rs 28 crore in such crypto wallet scam, Shah informed.

A single Bitcoin currently costs $11,000 (over Rs 8 lakh) and Indians are now investing in crores aiming for higher returns.

The modus operandi of such fake wallets is simple. They target people via sending them messages on various social media groups, asking them to sell and buy Bitcoin via their apps.

The scamsters trick them to buy and sell Bitcoin via wallets and offer them trade opportunities with other app users across the world. Once they receive Bitcoin into their systems, they disappear and stop communication altogether.

Most of these transactions are happening via Swift Global Pay (SGP), Insta Global Pay (IGP) and International Global Pay wallets, informed Shah.

Go to the popular question-and-answer website Quora and you will know more about SGP.

"I do not see any genuineness in this wallet. I purchased virtual cards by paying Rs 3.70 kakh on SGP. It was delivered online on 15th July. Till now it is not accepted anywhere online. SGP site chat no response," posted a user that goes with the name Kumar Chvks, Managing Director with an Indian firm.

"Email no response. So only the figures are shown on Dashboard. I tried to withdraw my money in the BTC PayPal and bank. None came till now. It is a clear cheating. Expected to be a scam of 7000 Cr to my estimation," he further posted.

According to Sumit Gupta, Co-founder and CEO, CoinDCX which is India's largest and safest cryptocurrency exchange, as Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies continue to mature and increase in popularity, they expect more cryptocurrency scam apps to appear and other fraudulent activities emerging.

"Scammers and hackers are getting more sophisticated in their techniques. When installing apps, it is important to stick to some basic security principles, especially when virtual currencies are at stake, Gupta told IANS.

The global cryptocurrency market was valued at $856.36 billion in 2018 and is projected to display robust growth represented by a CAGR of 11.9% during 2019-2024.

According to Gupta, users should only trust cryptocurrency-related and other finance apps if they are linked from the official website of the service, and never enter sensitive information such as log-in credentials and account details into online forms unless they are fully certain of its security and legitimacy.

"Do your due diligence on the app on the number of downloads, ratings on the App Store, recommendations from legitimate publications, etc. before downloading. In addition, users should keep their devices updated, and use reputable mobile security solutions to identify, block, and remove threats from their devices," he advised.

If something seems too good to be true, there is a high possibility that it is a scam and users should avoid it unless verified by a trusted party.

Bitcoin currency holds the major share in the market today, owing to the growing awareness among the Indian investors, coupled with availability of larger returns that is proliferating the market growth.

Moreover, growing usage of alternative currencies such as Ethereum, Ripple and Bitcoin Cash due to their captivating features and models has been major factors backing the growth in the industry.

CoinDCX has employed the best-in-industry security measures, and has partnered with leading security and compliance providers such as BitGo, providing secure custodianship and multisignature bitcoin wallet service, as well as Onfido, providing fully automated KYC identification that is seamless, protected, and secure.

"CoinDCX's resilient security protocols including geographically distributed cold wallets, withdrawal confirmations, and 2-Factor Authentication, ensure that users' funds are fully-protected at all times as well," Gupta informed.

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