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YouTube took down 8M videos in 3 months, with machines doing most of the work

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To reassure advertisers and deter the interest of regulators, YouTube recently decided to begin posting a quarterly Community Guidelines Enforcement Report highlighting its efforts to purge the site of content that breaches its terms of service.

The first of these reports, posted on Monday, reveals that the Google-owned company wiped 8.3 million videos from its servers between October and December, 2017. YouTube said the majority of the videos were spam or contained sexual content. Others featured abusive, violent, or terrorist-related material.

The data, which doesn’t include content deleted for copyright or legal reasons, shows that YouTube’s automated tools are now doing most of the work, deleting the majority of the unsuitable videos. Interestingly, YouTube noted that of the 6.7 million videos pulled up by its machine-based technology, 76 percent were removed before they received a single view.

The report also highlighted how its technology is helping to speed up identification and removal of unsuitable content: “At the beginning of 2017, 8 percent of the videos flagged and removed for violent extremism were taken down with fewer than 10 views. We introduced machine-learning flagging in June 2017. Now more than half of the videos we remove for violent extremism have fewer than 10 views.”

Humans still play a role in keeping the service free of objectionable content. Just over a million of the deleted videos were flagged by a “trusted individual,” while “YouTube users” flagged another 0.4 million. A small number of videos were flagged by non-governmental organizations and government agencies. Flagged videos are not automatically deleted — some will be deemed OK by YouTube’s review system, while others will be slapped with an age-restriction notice.

YouTube also employs its own human reviewers who look at suspect content passed on by its machine-based system. The company is working to create a team of 10,000 reviewers by the end of 2018, and is also hiring full-time specialists with expertise in violent extremism, counterterrorism, and human rights. Regional expert teams are also being expanded, the company said.

The number of videos removed by YouTube in just three months may surprise some, though it’s also worth considering that the site has more than 400 hours of content uploaded each and every minute.

YouTube clearly still faces many challenges in cleaning up its service, but it insists it’s committed to ensuring it “remains a vibrant community with strong systems to remove violative content,” adding that future reports should demonstrate ongoing improvements regarding its procedures and technology for getting rid of unsuitable material.

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Somalia, Ethiopia to jointly invest in seaports

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Somalia and Ethiopia announced they were jointly investing in four seaports to attract foreign investment to their two countries, the latest move in a tussle for access to ports along one of the world’s most strategic waterways.

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After Somalia’s president Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo hosted Ethiopia’s prime minister Abiy Ahmed for a meeting at the presidential palace in Mogadishu, the two leaders issued a joint statement of pledges to cooperate on everything from the development of infrastructure including roads linking the two countries to expanding visa services to promote cultural exchanges. 

The statement did not elaborate on which ports the two countries would develop.

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Ethiopian Government states reason for airline privatisation.

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Ethiopia’s government has explained that privatisation of the national airline and state telecommunications company is being done to ease the shortage of foreign currency.

Ethiopia announced last week plans to open its state-run telecoms monopoly and state-owned Ethiopian Airlines to private domestic and foreign investment.



In an exclusive interview with state broadcaster, Fana BC, Dr. Yinager Desie, Commissioner of the Ethiopian National Planning Commission said lower export performance, failure of mega projects to commence production, high demand for imported goods and growing external debt burden have worsened the shortage of foreign currency.

Ethiopia requires more than $13 billion over the coming two years for oil importation, private investment, upgrading of existing projects and for repayment of external debt.

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South African telecommunications firms MTN Group and Vodacom Group have already expressed interest in taking up investment options in Ethiopia’s telecom sector as soon as it opens up.

Desie says the privatised enterprises would generate large amount of foreign currencies to tackle shortage.

The commission will therefore give priority to foreign companies in privatising the enterprises as government’s decision is targeted obtaining foreign currency.

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Uganda approves new coffee law.

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Uganda governing Cabinet has approved a new coffee law, which is expected to streamline mushrooming institutions and players in the sub-sector that contributes sh158b to the economy every month.

According to Col Shaban Bantariza, the deputy government spokesperson, the proposed new law will also repeal the existing legal framework that establishes the Uganda Coffee Development Authority (UCDA).

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“The National Coffee Bill intends to facilitate the development of a competitive, equitable and sustainable Coffee Industry by promoting Coffee research, good Coffee farming practices, domestic consumption of Coffee and adding value to Coffee,” Bantariza said on Tuesday morning.

Bantariza, who was speaking at the Uganda Media Centre, said during a Cabinet meeting on Monday, ministers also proposed the introduction of a coffee auction system, to ease trade in the sub-sector.

“The Bill will also provide for an authority to regulate all on-farm and off-farm activities in the coffee value chain,” he added.

The Government target on coffee production is to export 20 million bags by 2020.

Official figures from UDCA indicate that Uganda currently exports 401,930 bags to the international market annually.

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