False news of the Vegas attack spread on Google, Facebook

Police form a perimeter around the road leading to the Mandalay Hotel (background) after a gunman killed at least 50 people and wounded more than 200 others when he opened fire on a country music concert in Las Vegas, Nevada on Monday. (AFP)
Updated 03 October 2017
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False news of the Vegas attack spread on Google, Facebook

MENLO PARK, California: False news that erroneously named a suspect in the deadly Las Vegas mass shooting on Sunday spread on Google and Facebook before the services removed the posts in question, the two companies acknowledged Monday.
Erroneous posts on both services — one highlighted by Google’s “Top Stories” search results, the other circulated by Facebook users — falsely identified the shooter as an apparently uninvolved person.
Las Vegas police say Stephen Craig Paddock, of Mesquite, Nevada, fired down on concertgoers from the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay casino hotel, killing at least 59 people and wounding more than 500 in the deadliest mass shooting in modern US history. Paddock killed himself as authorities closed in.
But a story by the pro-Trump political website “The Gateway Pundit” named a different person as the shooter, citing a Facebook page to claim the individual was “a far left loon” and “a Democrat who liked (MSNBC host) Rachel Maddow.” Posters on the anonymous, anarchic 4chan.org forum likewise trumpeted supposed findings that the same individual was both the shooter and a “social democrat.” BuzzFeed saved screenshots of the stories, which no longer turn up on either Gateway Pundit or 4chan.
Google said in a statement that it highlighted 4chan’s “Politically Incorrect” message board, where the incorrect posts appeared, for several hours before its search algorithm replaced it with more relevant results. The 4chan result only appeared if users entered the erroneous name as a query, Google said. The listing did not appear in Google News.
“This should not have appeared for any queries,” a Google spokesperson said, adding that the company would aim to prevent it from happening again.
Facebook said its security team removed Gateway Pundit results and other similar posts from its social network, some within minutes. But because that removal was “delayed,” the company said, images of the incorrect story were captured and circulated online.
“We are working to fix the issue that allowed this to happen in the first place and deeply regret the confusion this caused,” a Facebook spokesman said in a statement.
Both companies are under fire from lawmakers for promoting false stories in the lead-up to last year’s election, and have been invited to testify at a congressional investigation into Russian meddling in the race.


Ministry of Media rejects UEFA’s ‘irresponsible accusations’ of BeoutQ being based in Saudi Arabia

Updated 23 June 2018
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Ministry of Media rejects UEFA’s ‘irresponsible accusations’ of BeoutQ being based in Saudi Arabia

  • The Ministry of Media said it understands that BeoutQ’s set top boxes are available in many places, including Qatar and Eastern Europe. Moreover, UEFA’s irresponsible statement is contrary to what is occurring in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
  • The Ministry of Media was informed that beIN Sports was the source of UEFA’s reckless allegation. beIN Sports is a subsidiary of the Al Jazeera Media Network (Al Jazeera). KSA banned Al Jazeera’s broadcasts in KSA, beginning in June 2017.

JEDDAH: The Ministry of Media says it has become aware of irresponsible accusations made in a UEFA press release regarding an entity known as BeoutQ. UEFA baselessly claims that BeoutQ “is based in Saudi Arabia.”

The Ministry of Media unequivocally rejects this claim. The Ministry of Media said it understands that BeoutQ’s set top boxes are available in many places, including Qatar and Eastern Europe. Moreover, UEFA’s irresponsible statement is contrary to what is occurring in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA).

Through its Ministry of Commerce and Investment, KSA has relentlessly combatted BeoutQ’s activities within the country. For instance, the Ministry of Commerce has seized thousands of set-top boxes that would otherwise be used to violate intellectual property (IP) in KSA.

The Government of Saudi Arabia is and will remain devoted to protecting IP rights within the country. The Ministry of Media was informed that beIN Sports was the source of UEFA’s reckless allegation. beIN Sports is a subsidiary of the Al Jazeera Media Network (Al Jazeera). KSA banned Al Jazeera’s broadcasts in KSA, beginning in June 2017.

Al Jazeera is Qatar’s principal media arm for supporting terrorism and promoting instability in the region. Al Jazeera provides a media platform for terrorists to propagate their violent message. KSA has also banned broadcasts by beIN Sports in Saudi Arabia for the same reason.

Al Jazeera’s response to the ban was to escalate its campaign of defamation against KSA. While beIN Sports’s broadcasts, too, have long been used as vehicles for offensive anti-Saudi invective, beIN Sports has amplified its offensive propaganda during the World Cup 2018 — which is ironic because the World Cup is supposed to be a demonstration of how football can bring nations together in harmony.

During the World Cup, beIN has defamed the Saudi Football Federation, insulted Saudi Arabia and its fans and has politicized the World Cup platform in violation of all rules and codes of conduct. For these reasons Al Jazeera and its subsidiary beIN, will never broadcast in Saudi Arabia.

The Ministry of Media accordingly urges that responsible news organizations view the reckless press release by UEFA, as well as beIN Sports’ other unsubstantiated allegations, with suspicion.