Rogue employee behind Trump Twitter outage draws praises and contempt

The mastheads of US President Donald Trump's Twitter accounts.
Updated 03 November 2017
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Rogue employee behind Trump Twitter outage draws praises and contempt

WASHINGTON: A rogue Twitter employee managed to silence Donald Trump’s favorite communications tool for 11 minutes, drawing mocking praise from critics of the US president — but also warnings it could set a dangerous precedent.
Visitors to @realDonaldTrump around 7 p.m. (2300 GMT) on Thursday were greeted with the message “Sorry, that page doesn’t exist!“
Twitter initially said the account had been “inadvertently deactivated due to human error” but later indicated it was done intentionally by a departing worker on his or her final day.
“We are conducting a full internal review,” the company added.
Trump did not react on Twitter until nearly 12 hours later.
“My Twitter account was taken down for 11 minutes by a rogue employee. I guess the word must finally be getting out-and having an impact,” he tweeted. The social media platform lit up with reaction to the deactivation — with some calling the employee a “hero” and others expressing concerns.
Democratic Representative Ted Lieu, another prolific tweeter, wrote: “Dear Twitter employee who shut down Trump’s Twitter: You made America feel better for 11 minutes. DM me & I will buy you a Pizza Hut pizza.”
David Jolly, a former member of Congress,tweeted that the employee “could become a candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize.”
But the temporary disappearance of the account — and the glee this prompted among the president’s detractors — drew fire from others.
“Liberals were celebrating for the 15 minutes that Trump’s Twitter disappeared, proving once again they love censorship and hate free speech,” one popular tweet read.

'Worrisome'
Jennifer Grygiel, a Syracuse University professor who studies social media, said the deactivation is worrisome.
“This is no laughing matter,” she said.
“This is a serious issue and one of national security. This incident is a sign that Twitter does not have adequate safeguards in place for significant accounts.”
Grygiel wrote an essay earlier this year calling for “pre-moderation” of Trump’s account “to prevent an accidental war” which could be sparked by spoofing or disruption of the presidential account.
“We need to make sure that an intern cannot easily compromise that account,” she said.
Grygiel has said some accounts which could have “systemic” importance for national security or financial markets should be subject to human review with a delay of a few seconds.
If something false or incendiary is tweeted, there is no way to take it back, and this could lead to war or a shock to financial markets, Grygiel noted.
“It is shocking that some random Twitter employee could shut down the president’s account. What if they instead had tweeted fake messages?” Blake Hounshell, the editor-in-chief of Politico Magazine, wrote on Twitter.
He added: “Seriously, what if this person had tweeted about a fictional nuclear strike on North Korea?“
The president has 41.7 million followers on his personal Twitter account, which he uses to fire off controversial and attention-grabbing comments.
Trump has used the social media site to announce policy. He surprised Pentagon chiefs in July by tweeting that transgender people would be barred from serving “in any capacity” in the US military, a ban that has since been blocked by a US court.
Trump’s official White House account, @POTUS, which has 20.9 million followers, was apparently not affected by the outage.
After the account was restored Trump did not tweet about the vanishing act until early Friday, but wrote several posts on other topics.

'Hate speech' practitioner
Trump’s critics have on several occasions called for Twitter to shut down his account, arguing that his tweets may violate Twitter’s terms on hate speech or abuse.
Some said Trump’s tweeting about North Korea — including a comment where he said its leader “won’t be around much longer” violated Twitter’s terms of service banning threats of violence.
Twitter responded with a pledge to review its policy while noting that “newsworthiness” and public interest must be considered in deciding whether to take down a tweet.
Grygiel said it is problematic that the president is using a private entity to issue important statements on policy.
“There are communications risks with the president’s reliance on a public communications company,” she said, noting that Twitter has a right to ban Trump at any time.
“I would want to know that President Trump has a fallback way to issue a message if the tweets stop flowing.”


The Independent and SRMG announce major international expansion deal

Updated 19 July 2018
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The Independent and SRMG announce major international expansion deal

  • Four new websites will be created under The Independent branding
  • The sites will be operated by the Saudi Research and Marketing Group

LONDON: The UK and US-based online publisher The Independent and the Middle East media house, Saudi Research and Marketing Group (SRMG), have announced a new licensing deal that will see the creation of a series of new websites in four different languages.

The sites will offer news, insight and analysis on global affairs and local events, and will be published in Arabic, Urdu, Turkish and Persian.

In addition, each site will feature translated articles from independent.co.uk alongside content from teams of SRMG journalists based in London, Islamabad, Istanbul, and New York, as well as operations teams in Riyadh and Dubai.

The new sites – Independent Arabia, Independent Urdu, Independent Turkish, and Independent Persian – will be owned and operated by SRMG. And all editorial practices and output will conform to the standards, code of conduct and established ethos of The Independent.

The Independent – which started life as a national newspaper in the UK, has, over many decades, established a global reputation for respected independent coverage of the Middle East.

And now the brand has a recently strengthened its team. This new project is part of the strategic growth of the title, which has recently expanded its overseas reporting, with correspondents in Jerusalem, Delhi, Moscow and Istanbul.

Further roles in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington and Seattle are planned, as well as additional staff in the main London and New York newsrooms, enriching the title’s international footprint at a time when many news publishers around the world are cutting back.

Zach Leonard, Managing Director, Independent Digital News and Media, said: “The Independent is known and respected around the world for the quality of its journalism and the trust and authority it has earned through 31 years. As a fully digital publisher, our influence and reach have never been greater, with a loyal user and subscriber base and a total readership in excess of 100 million each month.

“This new chapter brings an opportunity to build on that heritage and increase our reach at a fascinating time of rapid change in the Middle East. We look forward to showcasing new ideas and provoking debate with new audiences across the region and beyond.”

The four new websites – independentarabia.com, independenturdu.com, independentturkish.com and independentpersian.com – will launch later this year. Social media accounts will be publicized as the services are launched. The Independent will continue to publish its own content, as it does now, in the English language.

By 2022, it is expected that two-thirds of the world’s population will be using smartphone technology. And much of this growth will take place outside of the more mature markets of the UK and Europe. For news publishers with a strong legacy and reputation for international reporting, this represents a huge opportunity.

Dr. Ghassan Alshibl, the Chairman of SRMG, said: “We deeply believe that SRMG, through this comprehensive partnership forged with The Independent, is growing the level of its international licensing businesses to a higher altitude. Our reach, with this multilingual project targeting hundreds of millions of readers around the world, will be farther, and our audiences will be enormously wider.

“As part of SRMG’s global business initiatives we began in 2006 with a number of the biggest publishers in the world, we have been demonstrating in all our partnerships, like today with IDNM, SRMG’s eagerness and commitment to grow and strengthen its content platforms to be distinctly competitive in the wider space of the global media industry based on the strong professional pillars of credibility, authenticity and knowledgeable authority of quality journalism.”