Russia tells Google not to advertise ‘illegal’ events

Police detain a man during a protest in Moscow, Russia, Saturday, Aug. 10, 2019. (AP)
Updated 13 August 2019

Russia tells Google not to advertise ‘illegal’ events

  • Russia has adopted a series of measures to increase control over the Internet in recent years

MOSCOW: Russian MPs will hold a special session next week to discuss alleged “meddling” by foreign powers after huge protests in Moscow, following a government warning to YouTube.
Russia’s state communications watchdog has also asked Google to stop advertising “illegal mass events” on its YouTube video platform.
The speaker of the lower house State Duma, Vyacheslav Volodin, said “facts of meddling in domestic issues in our country” would be debated on Aug. 19.
Russia has accused foreign governments and media of backing the demonstrations, which have seen tens of thousands rally in recent weeks demanding free local elections.
On Sunday, the government’s internet watchdog Roskomnadzor accused Google of “advertising unsanctioned mass actions” on YouTube. The watchdog pointed to “various structures with YouTube channels” disseminating information about unsanctioned protests.
It said the channels use “advertising instruments” such as “push notifications” to “disrupt elections” and warned Google that Moscow will view inaction on its part as “meddling in Russia’s sovereign elections.”
The rallies, some unsanctioned, have rocked Moscow for the past month, with the largest on Saturday drawing up to 60,000 people. Protesters are outraged over the exclusion of opposition candidates from Moscow city hall elections next month.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Russia’s state communications watchdog said digital channels use ‘advertising instruments’ such as ‘push notifications’ to ‘disrupt elections.’

• It warned Google that Moscow will view inaction on its part as ‘meddling in Russia’s sovereign elections.’

• Opposition rallies, some unsanctioned, have rocked Moscow for the past month, with the largest on Saturday drawing up to 60,000 people.

Hundreds of protesters have been arrested including chief Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, whose team runs a YouTube channel and operated a live feed from the protests.
Roskomnadzor has a fraught relationship with global internet platforms and social networks, but its attempts to control them have not been very successful. Although the Telegram messaging service is formally banned, it is still available in the country. Navalny’s ally Lyubov Sobol, whose petition to run in the election was rejected, called Roskomnadzor’s demands “comical.”
YouTube notifications are alerts sent to users subscribed to a particular channel about new videos.
Russian senator Andrei Klimov on Monday said senators will be also calling in envoys of countries which “attempted to meddle in Russia’s domestic affairs,” news agency Tass reported.
Last week Moscow summoned a representative of the US Embassy, saying a “demonstration alert” it sent with details of the protest amounted to “an attempt to intervene” in Russian affairs.
Moscow also criticized German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle for what it said were calls to take part in the rally.


Is Trump’s love affair with Fox News fading?

Updated 19 August 2019

Is Trump’s love affair with Fox News fading?

  • Trump appears to be tilting his media gaze toward a more right-wing rival, cable outfit OANN
  • Since March Trump has tweeted links to OANN stories or shared his appreciation of the network 13 times

WASHINGTON: Last month after Donald Trump watched Fox News lob what he called “softball questions” at a Democratic lawmaker, the US president delivered a crisp smackdown of his favorite network: “Fox sure ain’t what it used to be.”
After years of often fawning coverage by Fox, particularly from its pro-Trump anchors like Sean Hannity, the commander in chief appears to be tilting his media gaze toward a younger, more right-wing rival, cable outfit One America News Network (OANN).
The small upstart broadcaster was launched only recently, in 2013, by technology millionaire Robert Herring, who sought a more conservative alternative to mainstream media behemoths like CNN.
Today it seeks to outfox Fox by drawing extra attention from Trump, who has been voicing his displeasure with the ratings leader over everything from presidential polling to its hosting of Democratic candidate town halls.
Last week in a tweet to his 63 million followers, the president managed to disparage Fox and his mainstream news foil CNN, while heaping praise on the new object of his media affection.
“Watching Fake News CNN is better than watching Shepard Smith, the lowest rated show on @FoxNews. Actually, whenever possible, I turn to @OANN!” Trump posted.
Since March he has tweeted links to OANN stories or shared his appreciation of the network 13 times.
The relationship has been years in the making. In 2015 Trump was interviewed by Sarah Palin, the Republican vice presidential nominee in 2008, when she guest-hosted OANN’s show “On Point.”
At his first press conference as president-elect, in January 2017, Trump took a question from an OANN reporter. OANN was then called on dozens of times at the daily briefings in Trump’s first 100 days in office.
During his June 2018 press conference in Singapore, following the summit with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, Trump took a question from OANN White House correspondent Emerald Robinson, but not before gushing about her network.
“Thank you for the nice way you treat us. We appreciate it,” he said. “Really, it’s very good. It’s really beautiful what you do.”
The San Diego-based operation describes itself as “straight news, no opinion.” But the pro-Trump agenda is crystal clear, more than a dozen current and former employees told The Washington Post in 2017.
Herring himself, in his pinned tweet, describes OANN as “the president’s favorite new outlet.”
When Fox cut away from broadcasting a Trump rally in New Hampshire on Thursday, Herring tweeted, “We will never cut away!“

Purveyor of conspiracy theories
OANN has faced accusations of promoting conspiracy theories and peddling Kremlin propaganda.
“Yeah, we like Russia here,” a staffer assigned to brief new OANN producer Ernest Champell told him, according to The Daily Beast. Champell left, disillusioned, four months later.
“The network has a history of race-baiting and presenting anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant and anti-abortion reporting,” according to Media Matters, a progressive nonprofit group that says its mission is “analyzing and correcting conservative misinformation.”
While OANN’s influence in the White House may far outweigh its position in the news media landscape, Trump clearly retains an affinity for several people in the Fox organization.
The show “Fox & Friends” remains his go-to morning program; Trump has phoned in on numerous occasions as president.
Perhaps that is why Democratic longshot contender Julian Castro purchased ad time during “Fox & Friends” this week, airing a spot in which he directly addresses Trump and blames him for inspiring the El Paso shooter who massacred 22 people early this month.

Trump jealous
Sean Hannity, the network’s popular anchor, appeared alongside Trump at a campaign rally ahead of the 2018 mid-terms.
But friction emerged this week when Hannity expressed support for CNN anchor Chris Cuomo after a video of Cuomo in a heated argument at a New York bar went viral.
It was a sharp contrast to Trump, who tweeted that Cuomo — the brother of New York’s Democratic governor Andrew Cuomo — was “nuts” and showed a “total loss of control” in the incident.
The president expressed frustration when Fox aired multiple town halls in recent months featuring Democrats who are trying to unseat him in 2020, including South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, currently fifth in major polling.
“Hard to believe that @FoxNews is wasting airtime on Mayor Pete,” Trump tweeted in May. “Fox is moving more and more to the losing (wrong) side in covering the Dems.”
Fox News presidential polling is also a concern for Trump, whose job approval rating in the network’s mid-August poll dipped substantially, to 43 percent, while his disapproval rating spiked to 56 percent, its highest since October 2017.
In head-to-head matchups, the poll shows Trump losing to major Democratic candidates, including to frontrunner Joe Biden by 12 percentage points and to liberal Bernie Sanders by nine.
Fox polls “have always been terrible to me,” he tweeted in late July.