Dozens of Palestinian journalists say blocked by WhatsApp

The Arab Center for the Development of Social Media said the blocking of WhatsApp accounts was not an isolated incident. (File/AFP)
The Arab Center for the Development of Social Media said the blocking of WhatsApp accounts was not an isolated incident. (File/AFP)
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Updated 25 May 2021

Dozens of Palestinian journalists say blocked by WhatsApp

The Arab Center for the Development of Social Media said the blocking of WhatsApp accounts was not an isolated incident. (File/AFP)
  • Journalists, in Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank as well as Gaza, said their accounts had also been blocked
  • The Arab Center for the Development of Social Media said the blocking of WhatsApp accounts was not an isolated incident

GAZA CITY, Palestinian Territories: Messaging app WhatsApp has blocked the accounts of dozens of Palestinian journalists following this month’s fighting between Israel and Gaza’s Islamist rulers Hamas, reporters said.
Shortly after a cease-fire went into effect at 2:00 am on Friday (2300 GMT Thursday) ending 11 days of deadly conflict, two journalists in AFP’s Gaza City bureau received notices from WhatsApp in Arabic informing them their accounts had been blocked.
Other journalists, in Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank as well as Gaza, said their accounts had also been blocked.
A crew from Qatar-based satellite news channel Al Jazeera said their accounts had later been restored after they lodged complaints with WhatsApp owner Facebook.
The vice president of the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate, Tahseen Al-Astall, said “around 100 journalists” in Gaza had seen their accounts blocked.
As a necessary part of reporting on both sides of the conflict, Gaza journalists receive Hamas statements, including via WhatsApp, even though the Palestinian militant group has been blacklisted by the European Union and the United States, accused of belonging to “groups and entities involved in terrorist acts.”
The Arab Center for the Development of Social Media said the blocking of WhatsApp accounts was not an isolated incident.
In a new report, the group, based in Israel’s third city Haifa, documented 500 cases in which Palestinian “digital rights” had been violated between May 6 and May 19.
“Content and accounts were removed, reduced and restricted, hashtags were hidden, and archived content deleted,” the report said.
Some “50 percent of these reports were about Instagram, 35 percent Facebook, 11 percent Twitter and 1 percent Tik Tok.
“Companies did not provide an explanation for the deletion or suspension in the majority of their responses to users,” the report said.
“However, the reasons presented to users included hate speech, violation of community standards, requesting proof of identity among others.”
We have seen an “escalation against digital rights of Palestinians” in recent weeks, 7amleh campaigner Mona Shtaya told AFP.
Social media remains an important tool for Palestinians, many of whom believe traditional media coverage does not sufficiently capture the reality of the crisis.
Tensions came to a boil earlier this month over the looming expulsions of Palestinian families from their homes in the occupied east Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah to make way for Israeli settlers.
Israeli air strikes and artillery fire on Gaza killed 253 Palestinians, including 66 children, and wounded over 1,900 people in 11 days of conflict from May 10, the health ministry in Gaza says.
Rocket and other fire from Gaza claimed 12 lives in Israel, including one child and an Arab-Israeli teenager, an Israeli soldier, one Indian and two Thais, medics say. Some 357 people in Israel have been wounded.


Rotana signs media partnership deal with Sawt Beirut International, Lebanon’s LBC

Rotana signs media partnership deal with Sawt Beirut International, Lebanon’s LBC
Updated 01 August 2021

Rotana signs media partnership deal with Sawt Beirut International, Lebanon’s LBC

Rotana signs media partnership deal with Sawt Beirut International, Lebanon’s LBC
  • The agreement was signed by Abdullah Al-Shabana, head of the TV sector at Rotana Channels Group, and Jerry Maher, executive director of Sawt Beirut International
  • Maher said the partnership is an opportunity to promote free media in the Arab world

LONDON: Rotana Channels Group on Sunday penned a strategic media partnership with Lebanese channel LBC and Sawt Beirut International, which broadcasts online a wide range of Lebanese programs specializing in arts, music and entertainment.
The agreement was signed by Abdullah Al-Shabana, head of the TV sector at Rotana Channels Group, and Jerry Maher, executive director of Sawt Beirut International.
The partnership includes broadcasting Sawt Beirut International talk shows, entertainment, youth and medical programs on LBC, as well as new programs that will be launched soon. Maher said the partnership is an opportunity to promote free media in the Arab world.
The Rotana radio and TV network provides entertainment, artistic and cultural content for Arab audiences.


YouTube suspends Sky News Australia channel over COVID-19 ‘misinformation’

YouTube suspends Sky News Australia channel over COVID-19 ‘misinformation’
Updated 01 August 2021

YouTube suspends Sky News Australia channel over COVID-19 ‘misinformation’

YouTube suspends Sky News Australia channel over COVID-19 ‘misinformation’
  • Move comes after a review of posts uploaded by the Rupert Murdoch-owned TV channel
  • With 1.86 million YouTube subscribers, the channel has a conservative following well beyond Australia

SYDNEY: YouTube said Sunday it had barred Sky News Australia from uploading new content for one week, citing concerns about COVID-19 misinformation.
The move comes after a review of posts uploaded by the Rupert Murdoch-owned TV channel, which has a substantial online presence.
“We have clear and established COVID-19 medical misinformation policies... to prevent the spread of COVID-19 misinformation that could cause real-world harm,” a YouTube statement said.
With 1.86 million YouTube subscribers, the channel — which is owned by a subsidiary of Murdoch’s News Corp. — has a conservative following well beyond Australia.
Its posts, including some questioning whether there is a pandemic and the efficacy of vaccines, are widely shared on social media forums around the world that spread virus and vaccine misinformation.
The last YouTube upload, from three days ago, features a host claiming that lockdowns have failed and criticizing state authorities for extending Sydney’s current stay-at-home orders.
Sky News confirmed the temporary ban and a spokesperson said “we support broad discussion and debate on a wide range of topics and perspectives which is vital to any democracy.”
“We take our commitment to meeting editorial and community expectations seriously.”
YouTube has a “three strikes” policy on violations, with the first resulting in a one-week suspension, a second strike within 90 days producing a two-week ban, while a third means permanent removal from the platform.
Former US president Donald Trump was temporarily banned under the policy.
YouTube is owned by Google parent company Alphabet.


SRMG hosts US delegation, discusses media issues

SRMG’s chairman of the board of directors, Abdulrahman Ibrahim Al-Ruwaita, received the delegation. (Supplied)
SRMG’s chairman of the board of directors, Abdulrahman Ibrahim Al-Ruwaita, received the delegation. (Supplied)
Updated 30 July 2021

SRMG hosts US delegation, discusses media issues

SRMG’s chairman of the board of directors, Abdulrahman Ibrahim Al-Ruwaita, received the delegation. (Supplied)
  • The meeting included an introduction about SRMG’s work, its new identity and future plans, and the leading role it plays in the Arab media

RIYADH: The Saudi Research and Media Group (SRMG) recently hosted an American delegation from the Middle East Institute headed by president Dr. Paul Salem.

SRMG’s chairman of the board of directors, Abdulrahman Ibrahim Al-Ruwaita, received the delegation in the presence of a number of the group’s leaders and some editors-in-chief of the group’s publications and platforms.

The meeting, which included elite members of the institute’s board of directors, experts, consultants and former US ambassadors, was an opportunity to discuss international media issues and the future of media.

The meeting included an introduction about SRMG’s work, its new identity and future plans, and the leading role it plays in the Arab media.

Topics related to developments in research, studies, publishing, content and technical progress in the media sector were also discussed.

 


Global advertising agency expands roles of 3 regional leaders

Alex Lubar (L), president of McCann Worldgroup APAC - Ghassan Harfouche, group chief executive officer of the Middle East Communications Network - Ji Watson, chief financial officer of McCann Worldgroup APAC. (Supplied)
Alex Lubar (L), president of McCann Worldgroup APAC - Ghassan Harfouche, group chief executive officer of the Middle East Communications Network - Ji Watson, chief financial officer of McCann Worldgroup APAC. (Supplied)
Updated 30 July 2021

Global advertising agency expands roles of 3 regional leaders

Alex Lubar (L), president of McCann Worldgroup APAC - Ghassan Harfouche, group chief executive officer of the Middle East Communications Network - Ji Watson, chief financial officer of McCann Worldgroup APAC. (Supplied)
  • McCann Worldgroup trio Ghassan Harfouche, Alex Lubar, Ji Watson will take on additional responsibilities across markets

DUBAI: Global advertising agency network McCann has expanded the roles of three of its top regional leaders.

Additional responsibilities have been given to Ghassan Harfouche, group chief executive officer of the Middle East Communications Network (MCN), Alex Lubar, president of McCann Worldgroup Asia Pacific (APAC), and Ji Watson, chief financial officer of McCann Worldgroup APAC and representative director of McCann Worldgroup Japan.

Bill Kolb, chairman and CEO of McCann Worldgroup, said: “Alex, Ghassan, and Ji have each demonstrated an impressive ability to drive client growth and create effective marketing solutions before and even during the difficult period of the (coronavirus disease) COVID-19 pandemic.”

The network has added APAC to the remit of Harfouche at MCN, McCann Worldgroup’s and Interpublic Group’s partner network in the Middle East, North Africa, and Turkey (MENAT), and he will now also serve as president of McCann Worldgroup APAC.

Harfouche, who joined MCN in 2011, leads a network in the MENAT region that encompasses 14 different Interpublic Group advertising, media, and PR agency brands in 15 cities across 13 countries.

Prasoon Joshi, the current chairman in APAC, and CEO and chief creative officer of McCann Worldgroup India, will continue in his roles. Harfouche and Joshi will work together on leadership tasks while continuing to provide vision and direction to the company.

Lubar has been named president of the McCann advertising agency network in North America.

He first joined McCann in New York in 2012 and two years later was promoted to global chief marketing officer, overseeing all integrated new business activity for McCann Worldgroup. He moved to Singapore two years ago to assume his current leadership position.

In his new role, Lubar will drive creativity, growth, and further integration across all McCann brand agencies leading a region that has been highly recognized for its business and creative achievements.

Meanwhile, Watson will take over as CEO of McCann Worldgroup Japan while retaining her other existing roles.

Watson has nearly 30 years of marketing industry experience. She spent the first 20 years of her career in senior management roles on the client side, working for Turner Broadcasting, Coca-Cola, and Samsung. She moved to the agency side with global roles at Ogilvy for seven years before joining McCann APAC in 2016.

“APAC is a region of enormous significance for us as it encompasses the second and third-largest advertising markets (China and Japan). Greater connectivity between the regions will lead to increased opportunities. We have some of our best talent in the network focused on APAC and I’m excited to see what the future holds,” Kolb added.


Facebook, Twitter shut down hate preacher Anjem Choudary’s accounts

Facebook, Twitter shut down hate preacher Anjem Choudary’s accounts
Updated 30 July 2021

Facebook, Twitter shut down hate preacher Anjem Choudary’s accounts

Facebook, Twitter shut down hate preacher Anjem Choudary’s accounts
  • Move came 5 days after he created them
  • Choudary, featured in Arab News’ Preachers of Hate series, is linked to known terrorists 

LONDON: Notorious British hate preacher Anjem Choudary, 54, has had his Facebook and Twitter accounts shut down just five days after he joined the social networks.

Twitter said Choudary’s page was “permanently suspended for violating the rules” of its violent organizations policy.

Choudary, who is featured in Arab News’ Preachers of Hate series, recently had his ban on public speaking lifted. The ban had been imposed on him as one of the conditions of his early release from prison.

He was sentenced to five and a half years behind bars in 2016 for inviting support for Daesh, but served just half that time. 

The rest of the sentence was spent outside prison but under strict license conditions, including curbs to his internet and phone usage, a ban on public speaking, and a ban on contacting certain people without approval.

Those conditions came to an end on July 18 and he was legally allowed to set up an online presence, though the social networks have no obligation to allow him on their platforms.

Before he was jailed, Choudary earned notoriety as an outspoken extremist with a significant following.

Among his followers was the killer of British soldier Lee Rigby, who was beheaded in a London street, and Siddhartha Dhar, who joined Daesh in 2014 reportedly as an “executioner.”