Facebook to apply state media labels on Russian, Chinese outlets

Facebook has stepped up its cybersecurity defenses and imposed greater transparency requirements for pages and ads on its platforms. (AFP)
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Updated 05 June 2020

Facebook to apply state media labels on Russian, Chinese outlets

  • Facebook will not label any US-based news organizations
  • Social media giant said even US government-run outlets have editorial independence

SAN FRANCISCO: Facebook will start labeling Russian, Chinese and other state-controlled media organizations, and later this summer will block any ads from such outlets that target US users, it said on Thursday.
The world’s biggest social network will apply the label to Russia’s Sputnik, Iran’s Press TV and China’s Xinhua News, according to a partial list Facebook provided. The company will apply the label to about 200 pages at the outset.
Facebook will not label any US-based news organizations, as it determined that even US government-run outlets have editorial independence, Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook’s head of cybersecurity policy, said in an interview.
Facebook, which has acknowledged its failure to stop Russian use of its platforms to interfere in the 2016 US presidential election, has since stepped up its defenses and imposed greater transparency requirements for pages and ads on its platforms.
The company announced plans last year to create a state media label, but is introducing it amid criticism over its hands-off treatment of misleading and racially charged posts by US President Donald Trump.
The new measure comes just months ahead of the November US presidential election.
Under the move, Facebook will not use the label for media outlets affiliated with individual political figures or parties, which Gleicher said could push “boundaries that are very, very slippery.”
“What we want to do here is start with the most critical case,” he said.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters during a daily briefing in Beijing on Friday that social media companies should not selectively create obstacles for media agencies.
“We hope that the relevant social media platform can put aside the ideological bias and hold an open and accepting attitude toward each country’s media role,” he said.
Facebook is not the first company to take such action.
YouTube, owned by Alphabet Inc’s Google, in 2018 started identifying video channels that predominantly carry news items and are funded by governments. But critics charge YouTube has failed to label some state news outlets, allowing them to earn ad revenue from videos with misinformation and propaganda.
In a blog post, Facebook said its label would appear on pages globally, as well as on News Feed posts within the United States.
Facebook also said it would ban US-targeted ads from state-controlled entities “out of an abundance of caution” ahead of the November presidential election. Elsewhere, the ads will receive a label.


Egyptian icon Bahiga Hafez gets Google Doodle tribute

Updated 04 August 2020

Egyptian icon Bahiga Hafez gets Google Doodle tribute

  • Hafez was widely known for her extensive contribution in the early days of Egyptian cinema
  • Her work has “helped pave the way for the start of what is widely considered Egyptian cinema’s golden age in the 1940s”

DUBAI: Google honored one of Egypt’s cinema icons Bahiga Hafez with a doodle on Tuesday, in what would have been the star’s 112th birthday.

The doodle, which shows a young Hafez with a pearl-embellished head dress, was illustrated by Cairo-based artist Marian El-Reweny.

Hafez was widely known for her extensive contribution in the early days of Egyptian cinema – both as an on-screen talent and behind the scenes where she would work as a producer, director, editor, costume designer or composer.

The Alexandria-born pioneering icon earned a degree in music composition in Paris in 1930. She moved back to Egypt to work with record companies until she was cast as the female lead in the silent film “Zeinab” for her debut onscreen performance.

Hafez and her husband, Mahmoud Hamdi, established Fanar Film Company two years later, which further demonstrated her talent in filmmaking. The company released “Al-Dahaya” in 1932, and Hafez played a crucial role in its production.

The groundbreaking star went on to produce more films, and her work has “helped pave the way for the start of what is widely considered Egyptian cinema’s golden age in the 1940s,” Google said.

She died in Cairo in December 1983 at the age of 75.