Twitter faces new headache in India after police complaint over controversial map

Hindu group files case against Twitter over allegedly ‘distorted’ India map. (File/AFP)
Hindu group files case against Twitter over allegedly ‘distorted’ India map. (File/AFP)
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Updated 29 June 2021

Twitter faces new headache in India after police complaint over controversial map

Hindu group files case against Twitter over allegedly ‘distorted’ India map. (File/AFP)
  • Hindu hardline group files complaint against Twitter's country head over allegedly distorted India map.
  • The complaint accuses Twitter’s India boss and another company executive of breaching the country’s IT rules.

LUCKNOW: A Hindu hard-line group has filed a complaint with police against Twitter’s country head after politically sensitive regions were depicted outside a map of India on its website, kickstarting an investigation in a fresh headache for the US tech firm.
A map on Twitter’s careers page showed Jammu and Kashmir region, which is claimed by both India and Pakistan, as well as the Buddhist enclave of Ladakh outside India. That provoked an outcry on social media this week that comes amid strained relations between Twitter and New Delhi over the firm’s compliance with India’s new IT rules.
The complaint accuses Twitter’s India boss Manish Maheshwari and another company executive of breaching the country’s IT rules as well as laws designed to prevent enmity and hatred between classes.
“This has hurt my sentiments and those of the people of India,” Praveen Bhati, a leader of the group Bajrang Dal in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, said in the complaint which was reviewed by Reuters. He also called it an act of treason.
Twitter did not respond to a request for comment. As of Tuesday, the map was no long visible on its site.
Maheshwari was only this month summoned by police in Uttar Pradesh for failing to stop the spread of a video that allegedly incited religious discord. Maheshwari has won relief from a court in that case.
India’s technology minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has criticized Twitter for its failure to abide by new Indian rules and for denying him access to his Twitter account.
To comply with rules that came into effect in May, companies such as Twitter must appoint a chief compliance officer, a grievance officer and another executive who will liaise with law enforcement and the government on legal requests. LinkedIn job postings show the three positions are open at Twitter.
A senior government official has previously told Reuters that Twitter may no longer be eligible to seek liability exemptions as an intermediary or the host of user content in India due to its failure to comply with the new IT rules. Activists say, however, it is a matter for the courts to decide.
Last year, the head of an Indian parliamentary panel accused Twitter of disrespecting New Delhi’s sovereignty, after mapping data showed Indian-ruled territory as part of China in what the social media firm said was a quickly resolved mistake.
Growing tension with New Delhi has discouraged US big tech firms about prospects for their largest growth market, so much so that some are rethinking expansion plans.


Saudi companies among winners of KAUST ‘Shaping the Future of Media’ challenge

Saudi companies among winners of KAUST ‘Shaping the Future of  Media’ challenge
Updated 1 min 5 sec ago

Saudi companies among winners of KAUST ‘Shaping the Future of Media’ challenge

Saudi companies among winners of KAUST ‘Shaping the Future of  Media’ challenge
  • Held in partnership with Asbar World Forum, the grand prize for the competition was SR300,000 ($80,000)

The three winners of the “Shaping the Future of Media” challenge organized by the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology were announced on Thursday.

Held in partnership with Asbar World Forum, the competition, which had a grand prize of SR300,000 ($80,000), attracted the participation of regional and international companies specializing in innovation to solve the most pressing challenges facing media systems.

The British software company, Factmata, came first, using artificial intelligence to identify harmful content on the internet. Two Saudi companies, Gherbal and Sahafa, took second and the third places. Gherbal developed a tool to detect spam emails and eliminate wave interference to create a smooth experience in social networks. Sahafa created technology to assist journalists in developing high-quality content based on accurate information.

FASTFACTS

The British software company, Factmata, came first, using artificial intelligence to identify harmful content on the internet.

Two Saudi companies, Gherbal and Sahafa, took second and the third places. Gherbal developed a tool to detect spam emails and eliminate wave interference to create a smooth experience in social networks.

Sahafa created technology to assist journalists in developing high-quality content based on accurate information.

After the success of KAUST’s first challenge, “Innovation Awards for Hajj and Umrah Technologies,” in 2020, this year’s challenge attracted more than 700 innovators from 37 countries, including India, the US, UK, France, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia, 200 of them from the Kingdom.

The challenge is a platform to present innovative ideas and solutions which will support Vision 2030. 

The entries were selected after a comprehensive evaluation process by a committee of experts from the Kingdom and abroad, and will be turned into large investment projects to be adopted by entities specialized in providing support and guidance, such as Facebook, Google and Microsoft.

The three winners will be presented their prizes at the award ceremony held at the Four Seasons Hotel in Riyadh on Saturday, under the patronage of Prince Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Abdulaziz, acting governor of Riyadh.


Facebook rebrands as Meta to emphasize ‘metaverse’ vision

 Zuckerberg said the name “Facebook” just doesn’t encompass “everything we do” any more. (AFP)
Zuckerberg said the name “Facebook” just doesn’t encompass “everything we do” any more. (AFP)
Updated 28 October 2021

Facebook rebrands as Meta to emphasize ‘metaverse’ vision

 Zuckerberg said the name “Facebook” just doesn’t encompass “everything we do” any more. (AFP)
  • Skeptics point out that it also appears to be an attempt to change the subject from the Facebook Papers

OAKLAND, California: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said his company is rebranding itself as Meta in an effort to encompass its virtual-reality vision for the future, what Zuckerberg calls the “metaverse.”
Skeptics point out that it also appears to be an attempt to change the subject from the Facebook Papers, a leaked document trove that has revealed the ways Facebook ignored internal reports and warnings of the harms its social network created or magnified across the world.

Zuckerberg says he expects the metaverse to reach a billion people within the next decade. The metaverse, he says, will be a place people will be able to interact, work and create products and content in what he hopes will be a new ecosystem that creates “millions” of jobs for creators.
The announcement comes amid an existential crisis for Facebook. It faces legislative and regulatory scrutiny in many parts of the world following revelations in the Facebook Papers.
In explaining the rebrand, Zuckerberg said the name “Facebook” just doesn’t encompass “everything we do” any more. In addition to its primary social network, that now includes Instagram, Messenger, its Quest VR headset, its Horizon VR platform and more.

 


Netflix’s first Arabic reality series debuts next month

Netflix’s first Arabic reality series debuts next month
Updated 28 October 2021

Netflix’s first Arabic reality series debuts next month

Netflix’s first Arabic reality series debuts next month
  • ‘The Fastest,’ a six-part series about cars and the people that drive them, will debut on Nov. 23

DUBAI: “The Fastest,” Netflix’s first Arabic-language unscripted series, will debut on Nov. 23.

The first season will feature six episodes as participants customize and optimize their cars for drag races across different terrains in the Middle East, with the winning racer receiving a cash reward.

“‘The Fastest' is our first unscripted Arab Netflix series and it will deliver on the tenets of our content strategy with its authenticity, representation, and creativity,” said said Lucy Leveugle, Netflix’s director of nonfiction originals for Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

“We know that the Arab world has a particular love for fast cars and thrilling experiences, so ‘The Fastest’ will put the best of the best through their paces for fans from the Middle East and beyond.”

Featuring male and female drivers from different backgrounds across the region, the series is as much about the personal stories of the drivers as it is about racing.

“In a journey combining wild adventure with a human element, we will witness the inspirational stories of the drivers and what pushes them forward,” the streaming giant said in a statement.

Tarek Al-Harbi, the popular Saudi actor, comedian, and social media sensation, is the narrator of the show guiding viewers through the twists and turns.

 

 

“Our goal is to have a slate of content as diverse as our audience and we are excited to introduce a new content format for Netflix. We want to provide Arab storytellers with the tools they need to bring their vision to life, whether that’s scripted or unscripted,” added Leveugle.

The show is also a testament to Netflix’s commitment to the Arab world. Just this month, it launched a Palestinian Stories collection showcasing films from some of the Arab world’s finest filmmakers, and earlier this year it announced a new hardship fund, valued at $500,000, in collaboration with the Arab Fund for Arts & Culture to support those most affected by the coronavirus disease pandemic in the Arab region’s film and TV community.

It also has deals in place with Saudi Arabian production and financing group Telfaz11 to produce eight new films and with Saudi animation studio Myrkott to produce Saudi-focused shows and films along with a first-look option on the company’s upcoming projects.

“The Fastest” debuts on Nov. 23 and will be available in 190 countries around the world with 31 subtitles.


Results of WFA’s first diversity, equity and inclusion census released

Results of WFA’s first diversity, equity and inclusion census released
Updated 28 October 2021

Results of WFA’s first diversity, equity and inclusion census released

Results of WFA’s first diversity, equity and inclusion census released
  • Most common forms of discrimination globally were reported on the basis of age and family status

DUBAI: The initial results of the first census on diversity, equity and inclusion initiated by the World Federation of Advertisers to assess diversity challenges facing the marketing and advertising industry have been released.

Initial results identified key challenges around family status, age, and gender as well as ethnicity and disability.

It found clear gaps in lived experiences when these groups were compared to the industry average, both in individual markets and globally. For example, on Kantar’s Inclusion Index, which is generated by asking questions about people’s sense of belonging, the absence of discrimination, and the presence of negative behavior, men scored at 69 percent compared to women at 61 percent.
“This has been a Herculean but long-overdue effort. For the very first time, we hear and see the marketing industry in all its different facets and nuance,” said Stephan Loerke, CEO of the WFA.

Despite these serious concerns, the marketing sector still outperformed every other category analyzed by research partner Kantar, scoring an overall 64 percent on the index, ahead of the next highest sector, health and pharmaceuticals, on 60 percent.

The research effort was led by the WFA in close collaboration with agency associations including the European Association of Communication Agencies, Voxcomm, Cannes Lions, Advertising Week, The Effies, GlobalWebIndex, Campaign, the International Advertising Association and Kantar.

The most common forms of discrimination identified by the survey were family, status and age, with 27 percent agreeing that their company does not treat all employees fairly regardless of family status and 27 percent agreeing that their company does not treat all employees equally regardless of age. Thirty-six percent of respondents agreed that age can hinder one’s career, while 40 percent of women agreed that family status could hinder one’s career.

These statistics reflect a key finding from the census: Women’s experiences are notably poorer than men’s. There is also strong evidence of a gender pay gap in some markets. In the US and Canada, for example, the gap is worst among industry starters, with a 13 percent gap in the US and a 20 percent gap in Canada.

There were similar findings for ethnic minorities, who scored lower on key sentiments, such as “I feel like I belong at my company,” than ethnic majority groups in nearly all markets. In the US, 17 percent said they faced discrimination based on their racial background. In a number of markets, this was also reflected by a pay gap. However, in many markets surveyed, ethnic minorities or foreign nationals reported being paid more than the ethnic majority.

In an industry struggling to find the right talent, the lack of diversity and inclusion is of grave concern, with 17 percent saying they were likely to leave their current company as a result of the lack of inclusion and/or discrimination they had experienced. Fifteen percent said they would leave the industry entirely.

The Netherlands performed best as a country on this issue, with only 9 percent saying they would find new employment within the industry.

“There is a confidence and strong sense of belonging that rings true of the marketing industry,” said Loerke.

However, there are significant minorities in all countries saying they witness negative behaviors and discrimination on account of their age, family status, gender, ethnicity, race, disability, mental health and sexuality, he added.

“No company or industry can ignore this; a line has been drawn in the sand and we now know where progress must be made. The onus on us all now is to work together to make our industry fairer, more diverse and more inclusive — and to measure our common progress in a second wave in the spring of 2023,” he said.

The results are based on more than 10,000 responses from 27 markets around the world conducted from June to July 2021, with the online survey identifying not just the demographics of participants but also their sense of belonging, as well as experience of discrimination and demeaning behavior.

The full findings for each specific market will be shared later this year. The results will also feed into the work of the WFA Diversity and Inclusion Task Force as well as national action plans led by WFA national associations around the world.


Facebook, Google, Twitter face grilling by British lawmakers

Facebook, Google, Twitter face grilling by British lawmakers
Updated 28 October 2021

Facebook, Google, Twitter face grilling by British lawmakers

Facebook, Google, Twitter face grilling by British lawmakers
  • Governments on both sides of the Atlantic want tougher rules aimed at protecting social media users

LONDON: British lawmakers are set to grill Facebook and other tech giants Thursday over how they handle online safety as European efforts to regulate social media companies gain momentum.
Representatives from Facebook, Google, Twitter and TikTok will be questioned by members of a parliamentary committee scrutinizing the British government’s draft online safety legislation.
Governments on both sides of the Atlantic want tougher rules aimed at protecting social media users, especially younger ones, but the United Kingdom’s efforts are much further along. UK lawmakers are questioning researchers, journalists, tech executives and other experts for a report to the government on how to improve the final version of the online safety bill.
The hearing comes the same week YouTube, TikTok and Snapchat were questioned by a US Senate panel. They provided little firm commitment for US legislation bolstering protection of children from online harm, which lawmakers say ranges from eating disorders, sexually explicit content and material promoting addictive drugs.
Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen appeared before the UK committee this week, telling members that the company’s systems make online hate worse and that it has little incentive to fix the problem. She said time is running out to regulate social media companies that use artificial intelligence systems to determine what content people see.
Haugen was a Facebook data scientist who copied internal research documents and turned them over to the US Securities and Exchange Commission. They also were provided to a group of media outlets, including The Associated Press, which reported numerous stories about how Facebook prioritized profits over safety and hid its own research from investors and the public.
The UK’s online safety bill calls for a regulator to ensure tech companies comply with rules requiring them to remove dangerous or harmful content or face penalties worth up to 10 percent of annual global revenue. The European Union is working on similar digital rules.
British lawmakers are still grappling with thorny issues such as ensuring privacy and free speech and defining legal but harmful content, including online bullying and advocacy of self-harm.
They’re also trying to get a handle on misinformation that flourishes on social media.
Maria Ressa, a Filipino journalist who shared this year’s Nobel Peace Prize for her fight for freedom of expression under grave risks, acknowledged the challenge, telling the committee on Wednesday that a law to curb disinformation is needed.
“Regulation is our last hope,” Ressa said. “The problem is that you will be a model for everyone else around the the world, so you must be a gold standard, that’s tough.” At the same time, “doing nothing pushes the world closer to fascism,” she added.