Rogue employee behind Trump Twitter outage draws praises and contempt

The mastheads of US President Donald Trump's Twitter accounts.
Updated 03 November 2017
0

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.”


Arabic cinema wins over movie-goers

Updated 17 September 2018
0

Arabic cinema wins over movie-goers

  • Oscar-nominated Saudi Arabian director Haifaa Al-Mansour premiered her short film set in Riyadh, ‘The Wedding Singer’s Daughter,’ at the Venice Film Festival
  • Earlier in the year Ziad Doueiri was the first Lebanese film director to be nominated for an Oscar with his film ‘The Insult’

LONDON: Arabic cinema has increasingly captured the imagination of movie-lovers around the world this year, with Arab film-makers winning award nominations and securing high-profile screenings at major film festivals.
This month the Oscar-nominated Saudi Arabian director Haifaa Al-Mansour premiered her short film set in Riyadh, “The Wedding Singer’s Daughter,” at the Venice Film Festival. Al-Mansour previously wrote and directed the film “Wadjda,” which was the first foreign-language Oscar entry from Saudi Arabia in 2014.
Earlier in the year Ziad Doueiri was the first Lebanese film director to be nominated for an Oscar with his film “The Insult.”
“Arab cinema’s profile has been on the rise. There are several different Arab movies being shown at Venice (film festival) this year,” said Joseph Fahim, an Egyptian film critic and the curator of this year’s London-based Safar Film Festival, which runs on Sept. 13-18.
Daniel Gorman, the director of London’s biannual Shubbak festival, which showcases mainly contemporary Arabic culture, art and film, said he that has seen the appeal of Arabic film grow in the UK.
“There is a huge interest and appetite for creative work coming from across the Arab world and there is strong interest in the UK to hear the voices of people from across the region, in an area that is generally represented in headlines in newspapers. Film is an excellent way of doing that,” he said.
Festivals have played a vital role in boosting awareness of Arab film, he said.
“(They) are able to bring new audiences to new work as they bring this concentrated moment of activity. A festival tends to have a bit more reach in terms of media coverage and audience awareness.
“(It) brings people along to something which they might not go to as a one-off screening,” Gorman said, explaining how the Shubbak festival also works with local schools and community groups to increase access to Arabic film and art.
This year’s Safar film festival — which is in its fourth year and organized by the Arab British Center — has focused on the theme of literature and film in the Arab world.
Fahim has created a program that includes movies dating back to the 1960s that have been buried deep in their respective country’s archives, as well as new films that have not been screened in London yet.
One of the films included is the Tunisian “In the Land of Tararanni,” originally released in 1973 and based on a collection of short stories by Ali Dougai.
It was one of the more tricky recordings to track down, said Nadia El-Sebai, executive director at the Arab British Center.
“There are films in this program that audiences will have no idea how many people it took to get that film,” she said, explaining the lengthy negotiations with ministries of culture, national archives and old friends and contacts to track down the much sought-after recordings.
There were other movies they had to give up on ever finding, including those lost in Syria or Iraq, or old versions of films that have not yet been digitised by national archives, she said.
More recent festival entries include this year’s Egyptian film “Poisonous Roses,” adapted from a 1990s cult novel, as well as the European premiere of the work of an Iraqi filmmaker — “Stories of Passers Through” — which traces the stories of Iraqis exiled from their country during the Saddam Hussein regime.
The literary theme of this year’s festival was chosen as a reaction to the growing popularity of contemporary Arab cinema, with the event’s organizers wanting to delve into the history of Arabic film.
“We are delighted by the increasing access to Arabic cinema. There are more films plugged into the London film festival this year. We have other other festivals — the Shubbak festival (in London), and the Liverpool Arab Arts Festival,” said El-Sebai.
“For this year’s edition we thought we would like to take the opportunity to go a little deeper into the history and heritage of Arabic cinema, and the industry,” she said.
“Safar is taking place just before London Film Festival (LFF), which was another motivation for us to look at something a bit different as we are definitely going to see really amazing contemporary films at the London Film Festival,” she said.
The LFF — which begins on Oct. 10 — is set to feature work by Syrian filmmaker Soudade Kaadan as well as the Saudi Arabian director Mahmoud Sabbagh’s latest dark comedy “Amra and the Second Marriage,” among other Arab productions.
Fahim was also keen to use the Safar event as a way of bringing audiences’ attention to a broader range of Arabic movies, highlighting the heritage of the film industry.
“It is reminding people that Arab cinema did not spring out today — there is a long history,” he said, adding that he wanted to question audience expectations.
“There have been a flood of amazing images from Arab cinema being displayed at festivals and most critics had no idea what they were. The more I spoke to people, the more I realized that there is a certain expectation of what Arab movies should be,” he said.
“We wanted to challenge what people expect from Arab cinema … I am tired of seeing Lawrence of Arabia a gazillion times on the big screen,” he said.
He said the selected films in the festival will hopefully challenge preconceptions. He referred to the inclusion of the 1964 Egyptian film — “The Search” — based on the writer Naguib Mahfouz’s novel. “It is a crime noir. It is essentially an existential noir and I don’t think many people will expect to see that,” he said.
Arabic cinema, however, needs to be better promoted, he said, noting a dearth of adequate film critics.
“At the big festivals it sometimes feels like Arab cinema is the bottom priority for critics,” he said.
“We need more perceptive writing. I could name you on one hand the film critics who know their stuff. That needs to change. Maybe we need to have more different voices. Film criticism is still being dominated by white male writers — although it has been developing — but that is still the norm,” he said.