Khaled Almaeena honored at Arab News International Media Gala

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Veteran Saudi journalist Khaled Almaeena
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Guests take a look at Arab News souvenir edition.
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Guests take a look at Arab News souvenir edition.
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Guests take a look at Arab News souvenir edition.
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Guests take a look at Arab News souvenir edition.
Updated 20 April 2019
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Khaled Almaeena honored at Arab News International Media Gala

  • Almaeena received a lifetime achievement award
  • He has held a broad range of positions in Saudi media for almost 30 years

DUBAI: Veteran Saudi journalist Khaled Almaeena received a lifetime achievement award on Tuesday at the second International Media Gala (IMG), organized by Arab News in Dubai.
The event coincided with the first day of the Arab Media Forum.
Khaled Almaeena served as editor in chief of Arab News twice — between 1982 and 1993, and again between 1998 and 2011 — and in November 2016 was given the honorary title of “editor emeritus.”
He has held a broad range of positions in Saudi media for almost 30 years, including the editorship of Saudi Gazette newspaper, CEO of a PR company, TV anchor, talk show host and radio announcer. Early on in his career, Almaeena held a series of senior positions at Saudi Arabian Airlines (Saudia).
Arab News’ current Editor in Chief Faisal J. Abbas presented the award on behalf of SRMG Chairman Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan to Almaeena in recognition of his achievements in the field of media.
It is the second such award to be delivered, with Othman Al-Omeir — former editor in chief of the Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper and founder of Elaph, the Arab world’s first online newspaper — being honored at the event a year ago.
Khaled Almaeena, 63, was dubbed the “People’s Editor” during his tenure at Arab News.
Under Almaeena’s watch, the paper developed strong ties with its readers, sometimes fighting causes on their behalf — including cases where people were wrongly sent to jail.
“It was a 24-hour job,” the former editor said in an interview last year. “People would come to my house, saying that their sponsor hadn’t paid their money (or) the police had done this or that.”
Almaeena is now managing partner of Quartz, a communications company, and a director at Abeer Medical Group.


Facebook still auto-generating Daesh, Al-Qaeda pages

Updated 19 September 2019

Facebook still auto-generating Daesh, Al-Qaeda pages

  • Facebook has been working to limit the spread of extremist material on its service, so far with mixed success
  • But as the report shows, plenty of material gets through the cracks — and gets auto-generated

WASHINGTON: In the face of criticism that Facebook is not doing enough to combat extremist messaging, the company likes to say that its automated systems remove the vast majority of prohibited content glorifying the Daesh group and Al-Qaeda before it’s reported.
But a whistleblower’s complaint shows that Facebook itself has inadvertently provided the two extremist groups with a networking and recruitment tool by producing dozens of pages in their names.
The social networking company appears to have made little progress on the issue in the four months since The Associated Press detailed how pages that Facebook auto-generates for businesses are aiding Middle East extremists and white supremacists in the United States.
On Wednesday, US senators on the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation questioned representatives from social media companies, including Monika Bickert, who heads Facebook’s efforts to stem extremist messaging. Bickert did not address Facebook’s auto-generation during the hearing, but faced some skepticism that the company’s efforts were effectively countering extremists.
The new details come from an update of a complaint to the Securities and Exchange Commission that the National Whistleblower Center plans to file this week. The filing obtained by the AP identifies almost 200 auto-generated pages — some for businesses, others for schools or other categories — that directly reference the Daesh group and dozens more representing Al-Qaeda and other known groups. One page listed as a “political ideology” is titled “I love Islamic state.” It features an IS logo inside the outlines of Facebook’s famous thumbs-up icon.
In response to a request for comment, a Facebook spokesperson told the AP: “Our priority is detecting and removing content posted by people that violates our policy against dangerous individuals and organizations to stay ahead of bad actors. Auto-generated pages are not like normal Facebook pages as people can’t comment or post on them and we remove any that violate our policies. While we cannot catch every one, we remain vigilant in this effort.”

“Yet those very same algorithms are auto-generating pages with titles like ‘I Love Islamic State,’ which are ideal for terrorists to use for networking and recruiting.”

John Kostyack, executive director of the National Whistleblower Center

Facebook has a number of functions that auto-generate pages from content posted by users. The updated complaint scrutinizes one function that is meant to help business networking. It scrapes employment information from users’ pages to create pages for businesses. In this case, it may be helping the extremist groups because it allows users to like the pages, potentially providing a list of sympathizers for recruiters.
The new filing also found that users’ pages promoting extremist groups remain easy to find with simple searches using their names. They uncovered one page for “Mohammed Atta” with an iconic photo of one of the Al-Qaeda adherents, who was a hijacker in the Sept. 11 attacks. The page lists the user’s work as “Al Qaidah” and education as “University Master Bin Laden” and “School Terrorist Afghanistan.”
Facebook has been working to limit the spread of extremist material on its service, so far with mixed success. In March, it expanded its definition of prohibited content to include US white nationalist and white separatist material as well as that from international extremist groups. It says it has banned 200 white supremacist organizations and 26 million pieces of content related to global extremist groups like IS and Al-Qaeda.
It also expanded its definition of terrorism to include not just acts of violence intended to achieve a political or ideological aim, but also attempts at violence, especially when aimed at civilians with the intent to coerce and intimidate. It’s unclear, though, how well enforcement works if the company is still having trouble ridding its platform of well-known extremist organizations’ supporters.
But as the report shows, plenty of material gets through the cracks — and gets auto-generated.
The AP story in May highlighted the auto-generation problem, but the new content identified in the report suggests that Facebook has not solved it.
The report also says that researchers found that many of the pages referenced in the AP report were removed more than six weeks later on June 25, the day before Bickert was questioned for another congressional hearing.
The issue was flagged in the initial SEC complaint filed by the center’s executive director, John Kostyack, which alleges the social media company has exaggerated its success combatting extremist messaging.
“Facebook would like us to believe that its magical algorithms are somehow scrubbing its website of extremist content,” Kostyack said. “Yet those very same algorithms are auto-generating pages with titles like ‘I Love Islamic State,’ which are ideal for terrorists to use for networking and recruiting.”