Turkish female-only news site fights ‘terror propaganda’ ban

Jin News Agency logo. (Screengrab)
Updated 03 March 2018
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Turkish female-only news site fights ‘terror propaganda’ ban

DIYARBAKIR, Turkey: A news website in the Kurdish-majority Turkish city of Diyarbakir, staffed only by women, has been repeatedly shut down by the authorities over alleged terror propaganda but it is refusing to give up the fight to publish.
Jin News Agency, from the Kurdish word for woman “Jin,” focuses on Kurdish and women’s issues and publishes in Kurdish, Turkish, Arabic and English.
Written for women, it is run by a female-only team from the accountant to the photographer, and editors to camerawomen.
The agency, set up in 2012, has come under pressure from the Turkish authorities who have closed it twice and shut off access to the agency seven times.
Turkish authorities accuse the agency of making “terror propaganda” for the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has waged an insurgency against Turkey since 1984.
The PKK is proscribed as a terror group by Ankara and its Western allies and since the breakdown of a cease-fire in 2015 Turkey has launched a relentless crackdown against the group.
The crackdown has been wide, with media seen as sympathetic to the PKK finding themselves in the crosshairs of the authorities.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has argued there is no difference between a “terrorist holding a gun or a bomb or those who use their pen to serve their aims.”
Turkey stepped up the campaign after the failed July 2016 coup attempt, with dozens of media outlets accused of links to putschists and the PKK closed down.
There are currently six legal cases against Jin News Agency accusing it of “terror propaganda.”
Its website is blocked in Turkey.
The agency rejects the accusations and says that the issue is one of press freedom.
It is continuing to publish news but the articles can only be read on social media and accessible via Virtual Private Networks (VPN).
Camerawoman Beritan Elyakut, based in Diyarbakir and working for the agency for five years, complained the website was unable to “reach the outside world.”
“What else can we do?” she added as she filmed a story ahead of International Women’s Day on March 8, saying the website used six different domain names “but closures continued uninterrupted.”
The latest website domain, jinnews7.com, was blocked in Turkey on February 22 after AFP spoke to Elyakut.
The website, funded by subsriptions, tackles topics that are off limits for Turkish media, including the fate of Abdullah Ocalan the PKK leader jailed for life by Turkey for terror offenses.
It has offered its critical take on Turkey’s offensive against Kurdish militia in Syria and has also written about the disappearance in Iraq last year of two Turkish agents.
Critics say that the government has widened the definition of “terror propaganda” to an absurd width. But officials insist the measures are needed with the country fighting multiple terror groups.
After the the news site was shut down the first time, the women journalists renamed the agency “Sujin” meaning “packing needle” in Kurdish.
But in August 2017, Sujin was shut down by another emergency decree and they then renamed themselves Jin News.
While it once had 60 journalists in text, photo and video working for the agency across the country including Istanbul, Ankara and the Aegean city of Izmir, this has now fallen to 25. Eight women work in the Diyarbakir office but most work from home.
“Women are persecuted, and as a women’s news agency we must show this,” said Safiye Alagas, a photographer who has been working with the agency for six years, adding that it had “become a target” as a result.


Bug may have exposed photos from 7M Facebook users

Updated 15 December 2018
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Bug may have exposed photos from 7M Facebook users

  • Facebook disclosed a photo glitch, saying it allowed some 1,500 software apps to access private photos for 12 days ending Sept. 25.
  • An Irish regulator said it was investigating Facebook following the company's disclosure that a bug may has exposed millions of private photos, the latest in a series of privacy glitches

NEW YORK: Facebook’s privacy controls have broken down yet again, this time through a software flaw affecting nearly 7 million users who had photos exposed to a much wider audience than intended.
The bug disclosed Friday gave hundreds of apps unauthorized access to photos that could in theory include images that would embarrass some of the affected users. They also included photos people may have uploaded but hadn’t yet posted, perhaps because they had changed their mind.
It’s not yet known whether anyone actually saw the photos, but the revelation of the now-fixed problem served as another reminder of just how much data Facebook has on its 2.27 billion users, as well has how frequently these slip-ups are recurring.
The bug is the latest in a series of privacy lapses that continue to crop up, despite Facebook’s repeated pledges to batten down its hatches and do a better job preventing unauthorized access to the pictures, thoughts and other personal information its users intend so share only with friends and family.
In general, when people grant permission for a third-party app to access their photos, they are sharing all the photos on their Facebook page, regardless of privacy settings meant to limit a photo to small circles such as family. The bug potentially gave developers access to even more photos, such as those shared on separate Marketplace and Facebook Stories features, as well as photos that weren’t actually posted.
Facebook said the users’ photos may have been exposed for 12 days in September. The company said the bug has been fixed.
The company declined to say how many of the affected users are from Europe, where stricter privacy laws took effect in May and could subject companies to fines. Facebook said it has notified the Irish Data Protection Commission of the breach.
The problem comes in a year fraught with privacy scandals and other problems for the world’s biggest social network.
Revelations that the data-mining firm Cambridge Analytica improperly accessed data from as many as 87 million users led to congressional hearings and changes in what sorts of data Facebook lets outside developers access. In June, a bug affecting privacy settings led some users to post publicly by default regardless of their previous settings. This bug affected as many as 14 million users over several days in May.
With each breakdown, Facebook risks losing credibility with both its audience and the advertisers whose spending generates most of the company’s revenue.
“It’s like they keep getting these chinks in the armor that is causing this trust deficit,” said Michael Priem, CEO of Modern Impact, which places ads for a variety of major brands.
Although Facebook doesn’t appear to be losing a lot of users, Priem said some advertisers have been seeing data indicating that people are spending less time on the social network. That’s raising concerns about whether the privacy breakdowns and problems with misinformation being spread on the services are taking a toll.
But it’s difficult to know how much Facebook’s recent wave of headaches has been affecting the service because its growth, particularly among younger people, had been slowing even before the problems began to crop up, said Nate Elliott, an analyst with the research firm Nineteen Insights.
Advertisers are unlikely to curtail their spending significantly as long as Facebook is able to maintain the current size of its audience, Elliott said. So far there has been little evidence a significant percentage of the users are worried enough about privacy to get off the service.
“Even if people don’t trust Facebook, as long as the value that the service provides is worth more than the cost of the privacy violations, then that may be a trade-off most people are willing to make,” Elliott said.
On Thursday, to counter the bad rap it’s gotten around privacy, Facebook hosted a one-day “pop-up” to talk to users about their settings and whatever else may be on their mind. Chief Privacy Officer Erin Egan gave Facebook’s work on privacy a “B” when asked by a reporter for a grade. By 2019, she said she hopes the improvements will result in an “A.”
Privacy experts might call it grade inflation. In any case, the company has its work cut out before it makes the top grade. The company has had to increase how much it spends on privacy and security, which put a dent in its bottom line and in August contributed to a stock price plunge.