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.”


Vox Cinemas brings popcorn and superheroes to 80 screens across Saudi Arabia

Updated 19 June 2018
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Vox Cinemas brings popcorn and superheroes to 80 screens across Saudi Arabia

  • Majid Al Futtaim (MAF), the Dubai-based operator of malls and leisure facilities, is preparing a big roll-out of new cinema screens in the Kingdom
  • Cameron Mitchell, the chief executive of MAF Cinemas, revealed the plans in an interview with Arab News

DUBAI: Majid Al Futtaim (MAF), the Dubai-based operator of malls and leisure facilities, is preparing a big roll-out of new cinema screens in the Kingdom.
Following the first film viewing for nearly four decades in April and the opening of four Vox screens in Riyadh Park Mall, MAF is on the verge of a more ambitious initiative to create 80 screens in the Kingdom by the first quarter of next year.
Cameron Mitchell, the chief executive of MAF Cinemas, revealed the plans in an interview with Arab News.
“By the spring of 2019 we will have invested $100 million in cinema in Saudi Arabia, and by the end of next year we expect to have 200 screens. It is one of the fastest programs of openings anywhere in the world. There’s a lot happening very quickly,” he said.
The latest initiative is part of MAF’s $550 million strategy for cinemas in the Kingdom, and will see screens in Riyadh, Jeddah, in the Eastern Province and eventually many other smaller cities. Mitchell, who has been working in cinema in the region for the past 12 years, said the Saudi Arabian market is potentially huge.
“Saudi Arabia has such a young population and a big demand for entertainment, so the potential is enormous. For example, in Australia the average per capita number of cinema visits is five times a year. Even if every Saudi visits a cinema just once a year, that’s 30 million new visits per year,” he said.
MAF is planning to open 600 screens in Saudi Arabia by 2030, but Mitchell said that could be a “conservative” target. Cinemas in the Kingdom will eventually account for 50 percent of MAF’s regional cinema business, he estimated.
Mitchell said that MAF’s experience so far in Saudi Arabia had been very good. “We think we know what will appeal to Saudi audiences. Black Panther was the first, and the reception was fantastic. Movies such as the Avenger series, Ferdinand, Jurassic Park, X-Men all play well there.The big blockbusters go down really well, but there will also be Arabic films, and Hindi films at other times. Jurassic Park was a real hit — it was the first time some Saudis had ever seen a 3D dinosaur on a big screen,” he added.
The four screens in Riyadh are divided into “family” and “bachelor” venues, and films are chosen to be suitable for the particular audience. “Aside from the segregation of bachelors and families, it’s no different from Dubai. Perhaps over time, that segregation will change too,” Mitchell said.
The reintroduction of cinema has gone very smoothly, he said. “There have been no real challenges regarding content. We’ve been working closely with the censors, but there have been no problems so far.
“We’ve learned a lot from how the UAE censors films, and advances in technology allow us to do it in a more subtle way, for instance zooming in on one subject in a controversial scene. We can avoid (bits) ... rather than cutting the whole scene.
“Areas to avoid are pretty obvious — religion and nudity, and we don’t really show films that have that kind of content anyway. It is mainly action films and family films. We will have lots of screens, so we can match whatever the demand is and the law allows,” he said.
MAF wants to make cinema one of the main forms of entertainment in the Kingdom as it goes through Vision 2030 transformation plans aimed at diversifying the economy and allowing a more liberal lifestyle.
“It is not just about a movie. We want it to be the favorite form of all-round entertainment, and so far it has been a great success. We’ve been selling tickets a couple of days in advance. There have been multiple sold-out sessions, and we’ve had a lot of positive feedback on the popcorn and the nachos,” he said.
One of the biggest cinema hubs will be in the Mall of Saudi, which MAF is planning in the Saudi capital, complete with an indoor ski slope.
“Our cinemas win awards for being among the best in the world, quite an achievement for a Middle East company. The Mall of Saudi will be an entertainment hub, equipped for gaming as well,” Mitchell said. Other new screens will be located in existing malls but there will also be some standalone venues.
“We’re spending a lot of money to develop cinemas quickly, so returns will be consistent with what we normally get from cinemas,” he said.
Mitchell said MAF was open to discussions with existing developers, and would be interested in projects in places such as King Abdullah Economic City and Qiddiya, the huge leisure complex planned outside Riyadh.
“We like to see ourselves as the local developer. Of course, there is competition, but we always build the best in the region, and we run the best malls in the region too. We don’t do cheap, we do best in class and we won’t cut corners,” he said.
MAF plans to employ 3,000 mostly Saudi staff in its cinema business, and wants to recruit a Saudi to run the distribution business in which it partners with 20th Century Fox.
The boost to KSA cinema entertainment is also expected to have a big effect on film-making in the region, Mitchell said.
“We’re looking for some big Saudi film premieres in the autumn. I was at the Cannes Film Festival recently, marketing the product and looking at how we can support the film industry in Saudi Arabia.
“Regionally, there is not a lot of locally made content, but we expect a lot more in years to come. We want local content and we see lots of Saudi films in coming years. We will work with the government to help that along. Cinema in Saudi Arabia is a government-backed and endorsed initiative as part of 2030,” he said.