Facebook Journalism Project and ICFJ launch fund to support Lebanon’s news industry

ICFJ and Facebook will award $150,000 in emergency relief funds to Beirut-based news organizations. (AP)
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Updated 13 August 2020

Facebook Journalism Project and ICFJ launch fund to support Lebanon’s news industry

  • The new program will support local media outlets

The Facebook Journalism Project, in collaboration with the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ), has announced that it will invest $300,000 in a program that aims to support the stabilization and recovery needs of journalists and news organizations in Lebanon affected by the Beirut explosion.

The new program called “Supporting Beirut: Response and Recovery Fund” will assist in supporting local media outlets that have suffered damage to infrastructure and resources.

ICFJ and Facebook will award $150,000 in emergency relief funds to Beirut-based news organizations and journalists directly impacted by the blast and in need of urgent financial support.

The first phase of this program will involve identifying Lebanese news organizations and journalists who require financial support. These journalists and news organizations will then be able to apply for immediate emergency relief grants. ICFJ will award grants to select Beirut-based news organizations and journalists who meet a set criteria.

“Our hearts go out to the people of Lebanon and everyone affected by this immeasurable tragedy,” said Mohamed Omar, news partnerships manager, Middle East and North Africa, at Facebook. “We’ve been getting regular updates from our contacts in Beirut; the damage to the city’s infrastructure, including its many newsrooms, is enormous. In spite of these devastating circumstances, the news industry is working hard, under extraordinary conditions, to keep people informed and updated,” he said.

“We applaud their efforts and are continuously working with our partners to both understand their needs and support them the best we can,” he added.

ICFJ, a non-profit organization focused on raising the quality of journalism worldwide, will mobilize its local networks to implement a two-phase response and recovery initiative for the Beirut crisis.

Sharon Moshavi, ICFJ’s senior vice president for new initiatives, said: “People turn to local journalists for critical information on how to keep their friends, families and communities safe. As the impact of the devastating explosion continues to unfold in Beirut, ICFJ is prepared to work with the Facebook Journalism Project to provide tailored support to Lebanese journalists and news organizations that are providing critical information to a nation in crisis.”

The Facebook Journalism Project and ICFJ will offer additional, deeper support to select Beirut-based news organizations during phase two, depending on the longer-term impacts of the crisis.

Earlier this week, Facebook announced that it would donate more than $2.1 million to local hospitals, medical institutions and NGOs to support relief and recovery efforts, $1 million of which has been matched by its community as part of a Facebook fundraiser.
 


Twitter ties 130 accounts trying to disrupt first Trump-Biden debate to Iran

Updated 01 October 2020

Twitter ties 130 accounts trying to disrupt first Trump-Biden debate to Iran

  • Says it was able to identify the threats based on information from the FBI

RIYADH: Twitter on Thursday said it has expunged more than a hundred accounts that tried to interfere with the public debate between US President Donald Trump and his Democratic challenger Joe Biden on Tuesday night.

"Based on intel provided by the @FBI, last night we removed approximately 130 accounts that appeared to originate in Iran. They were attempting to disrupt the public conversation during the first 2020 US Presidential Debate," the American social networking service said in a statement.

 

"We identified these accounts quickly, removed them from Twitter, and shared full details with our peers, as standard. They had very low engagement and did not make an impact on the public conversation. Our capacity and speed continue to grow, and we'll remain vigilant," it said.

"As standard, the accounts and their content will be published in full once our investigation is complete. We’re providing this notice to keep people updated in real time about our actions. We wish to thank the @FBI for their assistance," Twitter said.

Iran and China are suspected of trying to interfere in the forthcoming US election to help Biden win, while Russia is said to have continued supporting Trump.

 

Weighing in, Twitter users took sides, with some slamming Iran and others blaming the social networking site for favoring the US president.

 

"Those activities against the American people were directed by (Iranian supreme leader) Ali Khamenei who has multiple accounts on Twitter. Perhaps Khamenei shouldn't have Twitter accounts to promote his malicious activities," tweeted Sam Kermani. @CTGR8

"Iran must be a lot worse then China, Russia, lots of other country's and even a ton of organizations in the United States with not getting caught doing that sort of stuff," added @mike10dude.

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Alfredo Montanez (@Deadpool650) said Twitter should also "remove Trump's tweets when he posts fake information about voting information and Covid19 instead of just putting a label on it."

"Thank you. Would you mind banning the account of our biggest threat to democracy, Donald Trump?" chimed in Helen Armstrong (@HelenArmstrong5).