Berlin to evaluate online hate law amid Arabic police greeting Twitter storm

Berlin to evaluate online hate law amid Arabic police greeting Twitter storm
German Justice minister Heiko Maas fell victim to anti-hate speech rules he himself championed. Maas had in a 2010 tweet called Thilo Sarrazin, a politician who wrote a controversial book on Muslim immigrants, “an idiot.” The post was deleted after Twitter received several complaints, fueling a simmering row over the new regulation. (AFP)
Updated 09 January 2018

Berlin to evaluate online hate law amid Arabic police greeting Twitter storm

Berlin to evaluate online hate law amid Arabic police greeting Twitter storm

BERLIN: Germany signalled Monday it was open to amending a controversial law combatting online hate speech as the justice minister fell victim to the rules he himself championed.
The move came after Twitter deleted a post by Heiko Maas dating back to 2010 before he was appointed justice minister, in which he called a fellow politician “an idiot.”
The post was deleted after Twitter received several complaints, fueling a simmering row over the new regulation which critics say stifle freedom of speech.
Government spokesman Steffen Seibert said an evaluation would be carried out within six months to examine how well the new law was working.
“It’s best to conduct the evaluation with an open mind, and then we’ll see what experience can be drawn from it, what impact and then all that would be weighed up,” he told reporters.
Germany adopted the law, one of the toughest in the world, after a surge in racist and incendiary speech online, particularly after the arrival of more than one million asylum-seekers since 2015.
The legislation, which came into force on Jan. 1, requires social media giants to remove hate speech and other illegal content, or risk fines of up to €50 million ($57 million).
Companies such as Twitter and Facebook have 24 hours to remove posts that openly violate German law after they are flagged by users.
But critics said the law pushes social media companies into taking a pro-active stance in deleting potentially offensive posts, effectively handing them the power of censorship.
Parties including the AfD, the pro-business FDP, far-left Linke as well as Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Bavarian allies CSU are lining up to demand it be scrapped or amended.
The row returned to haunt the justice minister over the weekend when he found his tweet about Thilo Sarrazin, a politician who wrote a controversial book on Muslim immigrants, had been deleted.
Speaking to Bild on Monday, Maas said he “did not receive any information from Twitter about why the tweet was deleted,” admitting there are “things that I would no longer tweet today.”
Barely a week after coming into force, the new law has sparked intense debate as it snared high-profile individuals.
Far-right MP Beatrix von Storch became the first prominent politician to fall foul of the new rules with posts deleted from both Twitter and Facebook.
Von Storch, deputy leader of the anti-immigration AfD party’s parliamentary group, had criticized Cologne police for sending a New Year’s greeting in Arabic on Twitter.
“What the hell is going on with this country? Why is an official police site ... tweeting in Arabic?” she wrote. “Did you mean to placate the barbaric, Muslim, gang-raping hordes of men?”
Her colleague Jens Maier is facing a criminal complaint over a tweet that called Boris Becker’s son a “half-negro.”
The AfD capitalized on discontent against a mass influx of asylum seekers to Germany since 2015 to make the strongest showing for a far-right party in a national election in the post-war era.


Omnicom’s 180 agency launches in MENA

Omnicom’s 180 agency launches in MENA
Updated 18 January 2021

Omnicom’s 180 agency launches in MENA

Omnicom’s 180 agency launches in MENA
  • 180 launched its first office in Amsterdam nearly 20 years ago with a second one in Los Angeles

RIYADH: Omnicom agency 180 is expanding into the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region with offices in Dubai and Doha.

180 launched its first office in Amsterdam nearly 20 years ago with a second one in Los Angeles. Along with its MENA offices in the UAE and Qatar, the agency is now also setting up shop in New York as part of its expansion strategy.

The agency’s global operations are led by Amsterdam-based CEO Sander Volten, alongside Al Moseley, global chairman and chief creative officer, based in Los Angeles. 

“Since the founding of 180, the agency has always been hyper focused on bringing different and fresh perspectives to our clients and consumers,” said Volten.

“With its interconnected hubs across different continents, 180 provides a fresh new perspective, emanating from an ecosystem of expertise, international talent, and modern creative solutions powered by data, audience intelligence, and social to better serve clients and give their brands relevance on a global scale.” 

Youssef Chahine, general manager at 180’s sister agency TBWA\RAAD, will lead the operations of the MENA hub, although it is unclear as to whether he will maintain both roles.

“We intend to be a premium partner to the region’s most ambitious brands, ensuring they have access to transformative, world-class talent to help them lead on both a global and regional scale,” said Chahine.

The MENA team will work day-to-day with clients on the ground and will have access to the brand building, design, brand strategy, digital, and partnership experience of the 180 ecosystem in Los Angeles, New York, and Amsterdam.

Although 180 MENA is launching now, the agency has been working with regional clients such as Qatar Airways and Al Jazeera for nearly 10 years through its Amsterdam office.

Moseley said: “After a decade of experience in the region, we are excited about having a team on the ground. We think it’s fair to say that if there is one region on Earth that knows what it means to see the world as it could be, it’s the MENA region.”