Sawt Beirut International: Highlighting ‘Hezbollah’s crimes against Lebanon’

Sawt Beirut International: Highlighting ‘Hezbollah’s crimes against Lebanon’
Sawt Beirut International began operating in 2005 as a radio station and grew in popularity during the war between Israel and Hezbollah in July 2006. (Screengrab)
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Updated 17 August 2020

Sawt Beirut International: Highlighting ‘Hezbollah’s crimes against Lebanon’

Sawt Beirut International: Highlighting ‘Hezbollah’s crimes against Lebanon’
  • Sawt Beirut International has worked on reflecting Lebanese public anger toward the country’s political system

CAIRO: Sawt Beirut International is a Lebanese media outlet that has set itself a mission to fight corruption and hold accountable the country’s politicians, who are widely viewed as dishonest.

Over the years, it has worked on reflecting Lebanese public anger toward the country’s political system, which is rife with corruption.

The devastating explosion this month at the Port of Beirut, together with the ongoing economic crisis, have revealed deeply rooted problems within the political establishment.

Jerry Maher, founder of Sawt Beirut International, said the political system is responsible for the port explosion because politicians were aware of the existence of the explosive chemicals being stored there.

“Every single one of them must have known of the existence of these materials but took no action,” he told Arab News.

Hezbollah is most responsible because “these detonatable materials and weapons were headed to” the Iran-backed group, he said.

Sawt Beirut International is known for its anti-Hezbollah stance, which has put the outlet in the group’s crosshairs.

Hezbollah, which has both military and political influence throughout Lebanon, has threatened to kill some of the outlet’s staff over its coverage. 

Maher said Sawt Beirut International is fighting to highlight “Hezbollah’s crimes against Lebanon,” and will not just allow them to go unnoticed.

“We’re even against all politicians who came during the period 2005-2019 who we consider political partners in bolstering the presence of Hezbollah in Lebanese politics over the course of years,” he added.




A general view shows the damaged port area in the aftermath of a massive explosion in Beirut, Lebanon, August 17, 2020. (Reuters)

How it started 

With a team of more than 50 — including reporters, writers and editors — based in various parts of the world, Sawt Beirut International provides the latest news on Lebanon and global affairs.

The website is mainly based in Sweden, but has offices in Italy and France, and plans to open another in the UAE.

Sawt Beirut International began operating in 2005 as a radio station and grew in popularity during the war between Israel and Hezbollah in July 2006. 

At the time, the radio channel was transmitting news on Lebanon around the clock to its listeners, specifically those in the West. 

It employed highly experienced journalists who had previously worked for established channels such as Abu Dhabi TV and the Lebanese Future TV. 

More recently, Sawt Beirut International has worked on attracting Lebanese millennials living abroad and trying to get them more in touch with what is happening in their homeland.

Today it features a weekly political program called “Sawt El-Nas,” presented by veteran journalist Mario Aboud. The show hosts politicians to discuss serious issues affecting the nation.

More than 40 million viewers have watched the news videos and live broadcasts on its Facebook page during the past 28 days.

Sawt Beirut International is planning a new satirical program to poke fun at Lebanese politicians.

Maher said the website is self-funded, and is not funded by any international party or businesspeople.


WhatsApp delays data sharing change after backlash

WhatsApp delays data sharing change after backlash
Updated 15 January 2021

WhatsApp delays data sharing change after backlash

WhatsApp delays data sharing change after backlash
  • WhatsApp canceled its February 8 deadline for accepting the tweak to its terms of service
  • The platform said it would instead “go to people gradually to review the policy at their own pace before new business options are available on May 15”

SAN FRANCISCO: WhatsApp on Friday postponed a data-sharing change as users concerned about privacy fled the Facebook-owned messaging service and flocked to rivals Telegram and Signal.
The smartphone app, a huge hit across the world, canceled its February 8 deadline for accepting an update to its terms concerning sharing data with Facebook, saying it would use the pause to clear up misinformation around privacy and security.
"We've heard from so many people how much confusion there is around our recent update," WhatsApp said in a blog post.
"This update does not expand our ability to share data with Facebook."
It said it would instead "go to people gradually to review the policy at their own pace before new business options are available on May 15."
WhatsApp's new terms were unpopular among users outside Europe who do not accept that they were given a deadline to be cut off from the service.
The update concerns how merchants using WhatsApp to chat with customers can share data with Facebook, which could use the information for targeted ads, according to the social network.
"We can't see your private messages or hear your calls, and neither can Facebook," WhatsApp said in an earlier blog post.
"We don't keep logs of who everyone is messaging or calling. We can't see your shared location and neither can Facebook."
Location data along with message contents is encrypted end-to-end, according to WhatsApp.
"We're giving businesses the option to use secure hosting services from Facebook to manage WhatsApp chats with their customers, answer questions, and send helpful information like purchase receipts," WhatsApp said in a post.
"Whether you communicate with a business by phone, email, or WhatsApp, it can see what you're saying and may use that information for its own marketing purposes, which may include advertising on Facebook."
Encrypted messaging app Telegram has seen user ranks surge on the heels of the WhatsApp service terms announcement, said its Russia-born founder Pavel Durov.
Durov, 36, said on his Telegram channel this week that the app had over 500 million monthly active users in the first weeks of January and "25 million new users joined Telegram in the last 72 hours alone."
WhatsApp boasts more than two billion users.
"People no longer want to exchange their privacy for free services," Durov said without directly referring to the rival app.
Encrypted messaging app Signal has also seen a huge surge in demand, helped by a tweeted recommendation by billionaire tech entrepreneur Elon Musk.
In India, WhatsApp's biggest market with some 400 million users, the two apps gained around four million subscribers last week, financial daily Mint reported, citing data from research firm Sensor Tower.
WhatsApp has sought to reassure worried users in the South Asian country, running full-page adverts in Wednesday's newspapers, proclaiming that "respect for your privacy is coded into our DNA".
Telegram is a popular social media platform in a number of countries, particularly in the former Soviet Union and Iran, and is used both for private communications and sharing information and news.
Durov said Telegram has become a "refuge" for those seeking a private and secure communications platform and assured new users that his team "takes this responsibility very seriously."
Telegram was founded in 2013 by brothers Pavel and Nikolai Durov, who also founded Russia's social media network VKontakte.
Telegram refuses to cooperate with requests from authorities to hand over encryption keys, which resulted in its ban in several countries, including Russia.
Last year, Russia announced that it will lift its ban on the app after more than two years of unsuccessful attempts to block it.