Facebook takes out ads to tout new EU data protection law

Facebook admitted earlier this month that up to 87 million users may have had their data hijacked by British consultancy Cambridge Analytica, which worked for US President Donald Trump during his 2016 campaign. (AFP)
Updated 16 April 2018
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Facebook takes out ads to tout new EU data protection law

BERLIN: Facebook took out full-page ads in European newspapers Monday to trumpet tough new EU legislation that promises “more data protection for you,” as the company seeks to win back trust following a damaging privacy scandal.
The new law, set to come into effect on May 25, aims to give users more control over how their personal information is stored and used online, with big fines for firms that break the rules.
“New EU legislation means more data protection for you,” the Silicon Valley giant said in the blue-and-white ad, which appeared in German dailies including Handelsblatt, Sueddeutsche Zeitung and the best-selling Bild.
It also appeared in Belgian newspapers, as well as in France’s Journal du dimanche (JDD) newspaper on Sunday.
Ahead of the introduction of the European Union’s so-called General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), Facebook said it would be asking users to check their privacy settings and tell the firm how “we may use your data.”
“You will also have the opportunity to access your data at any time, download it or delete it,” the ad went on.
Facebook admitted earlier this month that up to 87 million users may have had their data hijacked by British consultancy Cambridge Analytica, which worked for US President Donald Trump during his 2016 campaign.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who has repeatedly apologized for the massive data breach, last week told the US Congress that the more stringent EU rules could serve as a rough model globally.
Brussels has welcomed the unexpected spotlight on its upcoming legislation.
“I was really desperate about thinking how to make the best possible campaign for GDPR so now this is well done, so thank you Mr. Zuckerberg,” the EU’s justice and consumer affairs commissioner Vera Jourova said last Wednesday.
Under the new rules, companies will need explicit consent from users to share their data with third parties and people will have the right to know what information is stored about them and to ask for it to be deleted.
Breaches can lead to fines of up to four percent of a company’s global turnover.


Rewriting the future: Editor in Chief Faisal J. Abbas on Arab News’ new leaf

Updated 20 April 2018
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Rewriting the future: Editor in Chief Faisal J. Abbas on Arab News’ new leaf

  • As a journalist, I don’t think there is any place more interesting in the region than Saudi Arabia: Arab News Editor in Chief
  • Arab News will move away from being seen merely as a 'newspaper' to a whole array of new offerings

On April 1, a tweet went out from the Arab News account: “Arab News — as you know it — will no longer exist! #AprilFoolsDay #WhatChanged.” 

The message was a teaser building up to the  relaunch of the English-language daily following a comprehensive overhaul, described by Editor in Chief Faisal J. Abbas as “The biggest shake-up the paper has had throughout its 43-year history.”

On April 4, the relaunch issue hit the newsstands, with changes also reflected across the digital editions. While the new look and feel of the paper represent a bold departure, many of the shifts have materialized over the past year. In a wide-ranging interview with Communicate magazine, Abbas described the evolution of Arab News since he took the reins in September 2016. 

“We went back to our roots and took the paper back from being a local news outlet to its original positioning as the English voice of the region,” he told the magazine. 

To achieve this, Arab News, which is owned by the Saudi Research and Marketing Group (SRMG), has opened bureaus in London, Dubai and Pakistan and has hired some of the best industry talent, made significant changes to its workflow structure and rewritten its editorial policy.

The changes are all part of a future plan entitled Arab News 2020 to coincide with the paper’s 45th anniversary that year. Key to this is a “digital-first” philosophy which is incorporating more video and social media to serve the title’s expanding demographic in the online sphere, though with print revenues at 90 percent, it won’t be killing its print editions any time soon.  

Instead, the focus is on expansion. “We are moving away from being recognized as merely a “newspaper” to a whole array of digital offerings, events and tailored products,” Abbas said. Examples include the Arab News partnership with YouGov, producing material that “quickly became a reference for the region,” on major events, including polls on lifting the ban on female drivers in Saudi Arabia and a 2017 survey on British attitudes toward the Arab world — cited in the UK Parliament. 

The paper’s metamorphosis coincides neatly with the transformation taking place in Saudi Arabia as the country embraces an ambitious reform program as part of the Vision 2030 which, among other things, is redefining the local media industry. “As a journalist, I don’t think there is any place more interesting in the region than Saudi Arabia,” Abbas said. “We are very lucky to be at the heart of (the) change.”