Vitriolic US campaign inspires viral videos

Updated 08 November 2016
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Vitriolic US campaign inspires viral videos

This US election has been noted for its especially bitter tone as fierce rivals Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump face off in the polls.
But for some this vitriolic campaign has been the inspiration for something else: Viral videos.
In one memorable YouTube clip, the two US election rivals are seen debating — except the audio has been switched to "I've Had The Time of My Life". The viral clip has already been viewed more than four million times. And one former Dubai expat has made his own US election-inspired video in a bid to promote a book published earlier this year.
Author Charlie Raymond — who wrote Hired, Fired, Fled, a humorous tale of his succession of 14 jobs in 15 years, including journalist roles in Dubai — made the hilarious video in London.
It shows a "parallel universe" in which Clinton and Trump, far from being bitter election rivals, are very much in love.
“There's been so much hate and vitriol in the US election campaign that I wanted to bring some levity,” Raymond tells Arab News.
“These two people are doing all they can to fight for their dream job, which is what my book Hired, Fired, Fled is all about, so there was an obvious tie-in. Fighting for your dream job is great and admirable, but sadly Trump and Clinton are going about it in a terrible way!”
The funny video, titled Love & Rage in the Race to the White House, shows Trump and Clinton sharing a plate of spaghetti, riding a tandem bike and taking selfies.
Raymond, a pen name, plays Trump — with an anonymous friend playing Clinton. Both wear masks portraying caricatures of the election rivals.
“People in London loved seeing these characters have some fun on their streets. We did get some comments shouted at us, such as, "I hate you both!" but in the most part people just wanted to take selfies with us,” Raymond said.
Raymond’s book, published in June, tells the story of his string of jobs across eight countries including the UAE. “It was an ideal place for me, as Dubai is full of opportunity. I didn't realize it until I'd left, but the best jobs I've ever had were working for media companies in Dubai, as the people, access, and variety were second to none. Maybe I'll return once more,” the author said.
The video to promote the book shows Clinton and Trump getting along — but in the final scenes the two are seen chasing each other around with baseball bats. Much more like, as the film suggests, the “reality” of the divisive election campaign.


Twitter warns global users their tweets violate Pakistani law

Updated 11 December 2018
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Twitter warns global users their tweets violate Pakistani law

  • Pakistan has previously threatened to block Twitter if the company did not remove content its government found offensive
  • Pakistan banned Facebook for hosting allegedly blasphemous content for two weeks in 2010 while YouTube was unavailable from 2012 to 2016 over an amateur film about the Prophet Muhammad that led to global riots

WASHINGTON: When Canadian columnist Anthony Furey received an email said to be from Twitter’s legal team telling him he may have broken a slew of Pakistani laws, his first instinct was to dismiss it as spam.
But after Googling the relevant sections of Pakistan’s penal code, the Toronto Sun op-ed editor was startled to learn he stood accused of insulting the Prophet Muhammad — a crime punishable by death in the Islamic republic — and Twitter later confirmed the correspondence was genuine.
His perceived offense was to post cartoons of the prophet several years ago.
Furey and two prominent critics of extremism in Islam say they are “shocked” to have received notices by the social media giant this past week over alleged violations of Islamabad’s laws, despite having no apparent connection to the South Asian country.
They say the notices amount to an effort to stifle their voices — a charge Twitter denies, arguing the notices came about as a result of “valid requests from an authorized entity,” understood to mean Pakistan, helped users “to take measures to protect their interests,” and the process is not unique to any one country.
But Furey is the third prominent user in the space of days to publicly complain about receiving a message linked to Pakistan.
The other two are Saudi-Canadian activist Ensaf Haidar and Imam Mohammad Tawhidi, a progressive Muslim scholar from Australia who was born in Iran.
Both are outspoken critics of religious extremism and have accused the social media giant of helping to silence progressive ideas within Islam.
Furey, who detailed his experience in a column for his newspaper on Saturday, told AFP: “I’m somewhat alarmed that Twitter would even allow a country to make a complaint like this, as it almost validates their absurd blasphemy laws.”
The tweet in question was a collage of cartoons of Mohammad that he posted four years ago.
“Looking back, I remember I did it right after there had been an Daesh-inspired attack in retaliation over the cartoons,” Furey wrote in his column, adding he had not posted similar material before or since.
Tawhidi meanwhile was sent a similar notice flagging a tweet that called on Australian police to investigate extremism in mosques following a deadly knife attack in Melbourne in November.
The scholar attached the legal notice sent to him by Twitter informing him of possible violations of Pakistani law, and tweeted: “I am not from Pakistan nor am I a Pakistani citizen.
“Pakistan has no authority over what I say. Get out of here.”
Reached for comment, a spokesperson for Twitter told AFP: “In our continuing effort to make our services available to people everywhere, if we receive a valid requests from an authorized entity, it may be necessary to withhold access to certain content in a particular country from time to time.”
The spokesperson added: “We notify users so that they have the opportunity to review the legal request, and the option to take measures to protect their interests.”
Pakistan has previously threatened to block Twitter if the company did not remove content its government found offensive.
It banned Facebook for hosting allegedly blasphemous content for two weeks in 2010 while YouTube was unavailable from 2012 to 2016 over an amateur film about the Prophet Muhammad that led to global riots.
Furey told AFP that although he was taken aback by the notice, “I’m at least glad they brought it to my attention that the Pakistan government has their eye on me.”
But he added: “One troubling consequence to all of this is that even people in countries without these blasphemy laws may start to self-censor for fear of the reach foreign governments will have over them in the online world.”