Arab News launches Pakistan edition as part of global expansion

South Asia Bureau Chief Baker Atyani (Left) and Arab News Editor-in-Chief Faisal J. Abbas (Right). (AN Photo)
Updated 08 February 2018

Arab News launches Pakistan edition as part of global expansion

ISLAMABAD: Arab News, the Middle East’s leading English-language daily, today announces the launch of a Pakistan online edition, as part of the newspaper’s ongoing global and digital expansion.
The service — available in English at www.arabnews.pk — covers news and views from Pakistan and the wider region, with a particular focus on Islamabad’s ties with Saudi Arabia and the Arab world.
It is updated daily by a multimedia news-gathering team led by the award-winning journalist Baker Atyani, head of Arab News’ Southeast Asia bureau.
The www.arabnews.pk site is the first of a series of country-specific online editions that the newspaper is planning to launch, and is part of the brand’s “more digital, more global” strategy which was announced last year.

Faisal J. Abbas, Editor-in-Chief of Arab News, said that the new service aims to develop “a two-way conversation with an extremely important target market for us,” citing the strategic significance of Pakistan and the historic ties it shares with Saudi Arabia and the Middle East in general.
“Arab News is already a recognizable brand among many Pakistanis, given its deeply-rooted relationship with the huge expat community in Saudi Arabia, where our newspaper was founded in 1975,” he said.
“There are numerous shared ambitions, opportunities and areas of common interest between Pakistan and Arab countries — from religion and culture, to defense and trade ties. All of these areas will be covered extensively by our new dedicated digital service,” concluded Abbas.  
The Arab News Pakistan digital edition will have its base in Islamabad, and will managed by the newspaper’s Southeast Asia bureau chief Baker Atyani.
Atyani said that www.arabnews.pk would help throw light on a part of Asia which is not always well-understood by English-speaking audiences.
“It is an honor and a big responsibility to be handling this exciting project for Arab News,” said Atyani.
“It is a natural extension for an already influential brand into a geographic area which is extremely important and badly misunderstood.”
Arab News is part of the regional publishing giant Saudi Research and Marketing Group (SRMG). It has been the English newspaper of record for Saudi Arabia and the region for over 40 years.


Google says misinformation campaign used YouTube to target Hong Kong protests

Updated 23 August 2019

Google says misinformation campaign used YouTube to target Hong Kong protests

SAN FRANCISCO, US: Google on Thursday said it disabled a series of YouTube channels that appeared to be part of a coordinated influence campaign against pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.
The announcement by YouTube’s parent company came after Twitter and Facebook accused the Chinese government of backing a social media campaign to discredit Hong Kong’s protest movement and sow political discord in the city.
Google disabled 210 YouTube channels that it found behaved in a coordinated manner while uploading videos related to the Hong Kong protests, according to Shane Huntley of the company’s security threat analysis group.
“This discovery was consistent with recent observations and actions related to China announced by Facebook and Twitter,” Huntley said in an online post.
Twitter and Facebook announced this week that they suspended nearly 1,000 active accounts linked to a coordinated influence campaign. Twitter said it had shut down about 200,000 more before they could inflict any damage.
“These accounts were deliberately and specifically attempting to sow political discord in Hong Kong, including undermining the legitimacy and political positions of the protest movement on the ground,” Twitter said, referring to the active accounts it shut down.
Facebook said some of the posts from accounts it banned compared the protesters in Hong Kong with Daesh group militants, branded them “cockroaches” and alleged they planned to kill people using slingshots.
China has “taken a page from Russia’s playbook” as it uses social media platforms outside the country to wage a disinformation campaign against the protests, according to the non-profit Soufan Center for research, analysis, and strategic dialogue related to global security issues.
“Beijing has deployed a relentless disinformation campaign on Twitter and Facebook powered by unknown numbers of bots, trolls, and so-called ‘sock puppets,’” the center said on its website, referring to fake online identities created for deception.
“China’s behavior will likely grow more aggressive in both the physical and virtual realms, using on-the-ground actions to complement an intensifying cyber campaign characterized by disinformation, deflection, and obfuscation.”

Misused by autocratic regimes
While social media platforms have been tools for people to advocate for rights, justice or freedom in their countries, the services are being turned on them by oppressive governments, according to the Soufan Center.
“Autocratic governments are now using these same platforms to disparage demonstrators, divide protest movements, and confuse sympathetic onlookers,” the center said.
Hong Kong, a semi-autonomous southern Chinese city and one of the world’s most important financial hubs, is in the grip of an unprecedented political crisis that has seen millions of people take to the streets demanding greater freedoms.
China’s government has publicly largely left the city’s leaders and police force to try and resolve the crisis, but behind the scenes online, Beijing is seeking to sway public opinion about Hong Kong, according to Twitter and Facebook.
“We are disclosing a significant state-backed information operation focused on the situation in Hong Kong, specifically the protest movement and their calls for political change,” Twitter said.
It said it had pulled 936 accounts originating in China that were spreading disinformation.
Twitter and Facebook are banned in China, part of the government’s so-called “Great Firewall” of censorship.
Because of the bans, many of the fake accounts were accessed using “virtual private networks” that give a deceptive picture of the user’s location, Twitter said.
Facebook said it had acted on a tip from Twitter, removing seven pages, three groups and five Facebook accounts that had about 15,500 followers.
“Although the people behind this activity attempted to conceal their identities, our investigation found links to individuals associated with the Chinese government,” Facebook said.