Saudi crown prince tops Time Person of the Year readers’ poll

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, pictured here in November, is spearheading a raft of political and economic reforms in Saudi Arabia. (SPA)
Updated 06 December 2017
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Saudi crown prince tops Time Person of the Year readers’ poll

LONDON: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is leading Time magazine’s people’s poll for its “Person of the Year 2017” award.
The famous poll — which has been published on an annual basis for 90 years — awards a chosen person who has had “the most influence over the news in the last 12 months.”
By lunchtime on Monday, Crown Prince Mohammed had clinched 24 percent of the “people’s vote,” ahead of the magazine’s deadline for submissions by the end of Dec. 4. The official Time Person of the Year will be announced on Dec. 6.
Crown Prince Mohammed has racked up global headlines this year as he spearheads political and economic reform in Saudi Arabia.
Key reforms in Saudi Arabia have included the move to allow women to drive, plans to sell a stake in national oil giant Aramco, restricting the powers of the religious police and a clampdown on corruption that has seen many royals and business people detained.
By securing almost a quarter of the vote, Crown Prince Mohammed is currently 18 percentage points ahead of the nearest contender, the #MeToo campaign, which highlighted sexual harassment cases globally.
Time editors drew up the shortlist of 33 people from diverse fields of activities across the world.
Ultimately the magazine’s editors have the final say in who is deemed Person of the Year — but the reader plays an important role and provides editors with “a window into who the reader thinks most shaped 2017,” according to the magazine.
The Time Person of the Year award has previously honored luminaries including Yasser Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin (1993), Gandhi (1930) and Winston Churchill (1940, 1949).
It has also previously seen some controversial choices of winner, such as Joseph Stalin (1942) and Ayatollah Khomeini (1979).
Former US President Barack Obama, who has been included in the shortlist 11 times, is the person who has been cited most often, and was named Person of the Year in both 2008 and 2012.


Facebook says it was ‘too slow’ to fight hate speech in Myanmar

Updated 16 August 2018
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Facebook says it was ‘too slow’ to fight hate speech in Myanmar

YANGON: Facebook has been “too slow” to address hate speech in Myanmar and is acting to remedy the problem by hiring more Burmese speakers and investing in technology to identify problematic content, the company said in a statement on Thursday.
The acknowledgement came a day after a Reuters investigation showed why the company has failed to stem a wave of vitriolic posts about the minority Rohingya.
Some 700,000 Rohingya fled their homes last year after an army crackdown that the United States denounced as ethnic cleansing. The Rohingya now live in teeming refugee camps in Bangladesh.
“The ethnic violence in Myanmar is horrific and we have been too slow to prevent misinformation and hate speech on Facebook,” Facebook said.
The Reuters story revealed the social media giant for years dedicated scant resources to combating hate speech in Myanmar, which is a market it dominates and where there have been repeated eruptions of ethnic violence.
In early 2015, for instance, there were only two people at Facebook who could speak Burmese monitoring problematic posts.
In Thursday’s statement, posted online, Facebook said it was using tools to automatically detect hate speech and hiring more Burmese-language speakers to review posts, following up on a pledge made by founder Mark Zuckerberg to US senators in April.
The company said that it had over 60 “Myanmar language experts” in June and plans to have at least 100 by the end of the year.
Reuters found more than 1,000 examples of posts, comments, images and videos denigrating and attacking the Rohingya and other Muslims that were on the social media platform as of last week.
Some of the material, which included pornographic anti-Muslim images, has been up on Facebook for as long as six years.
There are numerous posts that call the Rohingya and other Muslims dogs and rapists, and urge they be exterminated.
Facebook currently doesn’t have a single employee in Myanmar, relying instead on an outsourced, secretive operation in Kuala Lumpur – called Project Honey Badger – to monitor hate speech and other problematic posts, the Reuters investigation showed.
Because Facebook’s systems struggle to interpret Burmese script, the company is heavily dependent on users reporting hate speech in Myanmar.
Researchers and human rights activists say they have been warning Facebook for years about how its platform was being used to spread hatred against the Rohingya and other Muslims in Myanmar.
In its statement on Thursday, Facebook said it had banned a number of Myanmar hate figures and organizations from the platform.