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Google searches may be a predictor of domestic violence: Study

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Google searches are an effective tool to track and predict domestic violence, especially in times of crisis, such as the period that followed the Covid-19 outbreak, suggests a research.

When the Covid pandemic broke out and countries experienced a strict lockdown, news stories started reporting anecdotal evidence about women forced to live under the same roof with abusive partners.

A team of Italian researchers, including from Bocconi University in Milan, analysed the relations between Google searches for nine domestic violence-related keywords on one hand, and calls to the Italian domestic violence helpline 1522 and to the emergency number 112 in Lombardy.

The selected keywords were: 1522, abuse, home & abuse, home & rape, feminicide, rape, domestic violence, gender-based violence, and sexual violence.

The idea underlying the study is that the Internet — and Google in particular — may offer a medium to anonymously voice concerns about abusive partners and collect relevant information, the team wrote in the paper published in the European Journal of Population.

Calls to the helpline measure potential risk of experiencing domestic violence, while calls to the emergency number measure actual violence.

The frequency of queries for the keywords were consistently positively and significantly correlated with helpline calls across the whole investigated time period (2013-2020), with a time lag between search and call of around one week.

But their predictive power increased after the Covid-19 outbreak, when traditional help mechanisms became harder to reach.

The team also observed a worrying socio-economic divide.

“Forecasts proved more reliable among high socio-economic status populations because they are better than other socioeconomic strata at googling effectively in this context,” said Selin Koksal, a doctoral candidate in Public Policy at Bocconi.

“It may be the case that individuals with lower socio-economic status use dialect or less targeted keywords, which could prevent them from reaching accurate online resources for seeking help,” Koksal added.

The study advises policymakers to track domestic violence-related searches and to accordingly intensify their support activities, both reinforcing services where and when searches become more frequent and raising awareness through the media.

“They could also intervene in favour of disadvantaged people,” Koksal said, “by promoting internet literacy and, in the short run, convincing Google to show domestic violence support services among the top results, as it has done in the US.”

Business

Google Play introduces UPI Autopay payment in India

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Google announced on Tuesday that it is introducing UPI Autopay as a payment option for subscription-based purchases on Google Play in India.

Introduced under UPI 2.0 by NPCI (National Payments Corporation of India), UPI Autopay helps customers make recurring payments using any UPI application that supports the feature.

“With the introduction of UPI Autopay on the platform, we aim to extend the convenience of UPI to subscription-based purchases, helping many more people access helpful and delightful services – while enabling local developers to grow their subscription-based businesses on Google Play,” Saurabh Agarwal, Head of Google Play Retail & Payments Activation – India, Vietnam, Australia and New Zealand said in a statement.

Moreover, UPI Autopay makes setting up subscriptions easy.

Users need to simply tap on the payment method in the cart, select “Pay with UPI,” and then approve the purchase in their supported UPI app after selecting a subscription plan to purchase.

Google Play helps consumers transact safely and seamlessly in more than 170 markets, according to the report.

Also, the platform supports over 300 local payment methods in over 60 countries, removing complexities associated with finding and integrating local payments.

UPI is one such payment option, introduced on the Play Store in India in 2019.

In India, UPI has transformed the mobile payment framework, and on Google Play as well, many people are enjoying and using apps that take advantage of UPI-based transactions, the statement added.

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Business

Unfortunately, there is no choice: Musk on Twitter layoffs

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Elon Musk on Saturday said that there is no choice other than brutally firing half of Twitter’s workforce as the company is losing over $4 million a day.

After axing nearly 3,800 employees across the globe, including in India, the new Twitter CEO said that he has given three months of severance to everyone who has been asked to go.

“Regarding Twitter’s reduction in force, unfortunately there is no choice when the company is losing over $4M/day,” Musk tweeted.

“Everyone exited was offered 3 months of severance, which is 50 per cent more than legally required,” he added.

Musk has laid off people across the departments at Twitter, eliminating several teams across the globe.

He also said that Twitter has seen a massive drop in revenue as activist groups are putting undue pressure on its advertisers.

“Again, to be crystal clear, Twitter’s strong commitment to content moderation remains absolutely unchanged. In fact, we have actually seen hateful speech at times this week decline below our prior norms, contrary to what you may read in the press,” he posted.

“Twitter will not censor accurate information about anything,” said Musk.

On charging $8 for the Blue subscription service, he said: “Trash me all day, but it’ll cost $8.”

The company lost $270 million in the April-June period after revenue slipped 1 per cent to $1.18 billion, reflecting advertising industry headwinds.

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Business

Foreign tourists to Cambodia’s Angkor up 2,224%

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Cambodia’s famed Angkor Archaeological Park received 169,349 international tourists in the first 10 months of 2022, up 2,224 per cent compared to the same period last year, said an official report on Friday.

The park made $6.76 million in revenue from ticket sales during the January-October period this year, up 2,155 per cent year-on-year, the state-owned Angkor Enterprise’s report revealed.

Holidaymakers from 125 countries and regions visited the site during the period, Xinhua news agency quoted the report as saying.

Located in the Siem Reap province, the 401-square-km Angkor Archaeological Park, inscribed on the Unesco World Heritage List in 1992, is the most popular tourist destination in the Southeast Asian country.

The Park contains the remains of the different capitals of the Khmer Empire, from the 9th to the 15th century, including the famous Temple of Angkor Wat.

During the pre-Covidera, the Angkor park received up to 2.2 million international visitors in 2019, generating $99 million in revenue from ticket sales, the Angkor Enterprise said.

According to Prime Minister Hun Sen on Thursday, high vaccination rates have in part helped revive the kingdom’s tourism industry.

He said Covid-19 vaccines have built herd immunity in Cambodia that has allowed the country to reopen its borders with confidence since late 2021.

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