Wednesday, January 23, 2019
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Facebook ends initiative to provide wireless internet via drones

The move comes as the social media platform announced it has deleted over 583 million fake accounts in three months.

Facebook has cancelled its Project Aquila, a programme to develop drones to deliver high-speed internet to remote areas currently not connected to the internet.

According to Facebook, which started its development on the high-altitude platform station (HAPS) technology in 2014, many other companies have started to develop similar technologies, which have led to Facebook deciding not to continue the project.

Since the start of the programme, Facebook has been working on technology and policy to help the four billion people currently not connected to the internet gain access. 

READ MORE: Facebook's Zuckerberg grilled by EU Parliament over data scandal

Facebook wanted to do this by flying drones over remote areas currently lacking in internet infrastructure.

Those drones were to use beam down high-speed wireless internet connections while using solar power to stay airborne for extended amounts of time.

Facebook will continue to work on the technology, but it will no longer build the drones themselves, instead, working with partners to improve the technology.

"Going forward, we'll continue to work with partners like Airbus on HAPS connectivity generally, and on the other technologies needed to make this system work, like flight control computers and high-density batteries," a statement on its website said.

The social media company said it will also continue working with legislators to improve policy regarding HAPS technologies.

The Aquila programme had mixed results so far, with setting records regarding air-to-ground internet technologies, but also sustaining heavy damage on one of the test drones while trying to land it.

Fake accounts

The announcement came as Facebook made an announcement regarding its deletion of fake accounts and pages during the first quarter of 2018.

In the first three months, more than 583 million fake accounts were deleted from the social network.

Additionally, more 837 million pieces of spam and 2.5 million pieces of hate speech were also deleted.

"There is no place on Facebook for this kind of behaviour - and we're investing heavily in both people and technology to keep bad content off our services," the company wrote in a blog post.

In the last two years, Facebook has come under increased scrutiny for its role in several global events.

According to the US government, social media was used by Russian government agents to sow discord in the run-up to the 2016 presidential elections.

Facebook has also been accused of being one of the main platforms used in Myanmar to spread false information and hate speech during the ethnic cleansing of the majority-Muslim Rohingya.

As a result, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has promised to crack down on hate speech, fake accounts and advertisements used for malicious goals.

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