South Africa attempts to curb unrest through social media tracing

Stores and warehouses in South Africa were hit by looters on July 13, for a fifth day running despite the troops President Cyril Ramaphosa deployed to try to quell unrest that has claimed 72 lives. (AFP)
Stores and warehouses in South Africa were hit by looters on July 13, for a fifth day running despite the troops President Cyril Ramaphosa deployed to try to quell unrest that has claimed 72 lives. (AFP)
Short Url
Updated 14 July 2021

South Africa attempts to curb unrest through social media tracing

Stores and warehouses in South Africa were hit by looters on July 13, for a fifth day running despite the troops President Cyril Ramaphosa deployed to try to quell unrest that has claimed 72 lives. (AFP)
  • Current President Cyril Ramaphosa described the situation in the country as the worst protests since the end of apartheid

LONDON: Following days of violent protests, the South African government has turned to tracing social media platforms for content that incites violence on Wednesday to crack down on demonstrators and spiralling unrest.

The government urged social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to trace and remove posts of those inciting violence and looting.

Prompted by the jailing of former President Jacob Zuka, protests erupted in the country last week as frustrations aggravated over poverty, corruption and inequality. Protests soon turned violent and left more than 72 people dead and a further 1,300 in prison. 

Current President Cyril Ramaphosa described the situation in the country as the worst protests since the end of apartheid.

According to the South African police minister, Bheki Cele, a group of ministers are “monitoring all social media platforms and we are tracking those who are sharing false information and calling for civil disobedience.”

Using social media platforms as means to contain violence is not new. In Cuba, a similar decision by the government restricted access to social media sites including Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Telegram as anti-government protests erupted. 

Countries across Africa, such as eSwatini, Senegal, Nigeria, Uganda, Niger, and the DRC, have increasingly been using tracking software, internet shutdowns and social media monitoring during protests and elections.

Africa Check, a fact-checking organization, indicated that some of the videos and pictures shared on social media to depict the South African protests are actually from other countries.

A similar phenomenon recently took place during May’s resurgence of the Palestine-Israel conflict, where social media platforms flagged several photos with a “media manipulation warning” and “false information” as those photos were depicting entirely different contexts.

One warning was on a video posted by a spokesperson for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu supposedly showing Hamas firing rockets towards Israel during the latest round of violence. The clip was in fact posted on YouTube in 2018 and the description said it was filmed in the Syrian city of Daraa.


Saudi Film Commission launches incentive program to boost local film and creative industry

Saudi Film Commission launches incentive program to boost local film and creative industry
Updated 29 sec ago

Saudi Film Commission launches incentive program to boost local film and creative industry

Saudi Film Commission launches incentive program to boost local film and creative industry
  • Incentive program will offer financial refunds of up to 40 percent for local and international producers shooting in the Kingdom
  • Saudi Film Commission CEO Abdullah Al Ayyaf: We are happy to welcome local, regional and international production companies to apply for the incentive program and produce in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

CANNES: The Saudi Film Commission has announced an incentive program offering financial refunds of up to 40 percent for local and international producers shooting in the Kingdom.

The program provides significant support to local, regional and international film producers for shows and movies shot in Saudi Arabia, thereby boosting the film and production industry and creative economy in the Kingdom.

The commission has called on both Saudi and international production companies that are planning to partially or fully shoot in Saudi Arabia to apply for the incentive program through the website www.film.sa.

They will then be able to benefit from the financial refunds of up to 40 percent of expenses eligible for incentives according to criteria that include cooperating with local staff and talents and highlighting geographical and cultural landmarks in the Kingdom.

Abdullah Al Ayyaf, CEO of the commission, said: “We are happy to welcome local, regional and international production companies to apply for the incentive program and produce in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”

He added that the Saudi film industry is growing as the Kingdom continues to “invest in developing the local efficiencies, infrastructure and regulations to ensure our ability to support all business sectors.”

Over the last 18 months, Saudi Arabia has hosted three major Hollywood productions: Ric Roman Waugh’s action thriller “Kandahar” filmed in AlUla; Rupert Wyatt’s historical epic “Desert Warrior” shot in Neom, and the Russo Brothers’ crime drama “Cherry” shot in AlUla and the capital Riyadh.

In the last year, eight local features have been produced and are now ready to be aired at leading film festivals, along with various documentaries, commercials and local productions including “Norah” written and directed by Tawfik Alzaidi and “Within Sand” directed by Moe Alatawi.
Both films were recipients of a fund award at the Saudi Film Commission’s Daw Film Competition, an initiative launched by Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Culture to support Saudi film production.

The announcement was made during the 2022 Cannes Film Festival.


Meta launches first Mideast Spark AR Challenge

Meta launches first Mideast Spark AR Challenge
Updated 22 min 46 sec ago

Meta launches first Mideast Spark AR Challenge

Meta launches first Mideast Spark AR Challenge
  • More than $50,000 in cash prizes on offer
  • Through the challenge, creators across the world will be among the first to experience the transformative potential of the metaverse

DUBAI: Meta, in collaboration with Coders HQ and the Museum of the Future, announced the launch of the first global Spark AR Challenge in the Middle East.
The challenge will be held under the theme of “Tomorrow Today — What will the next decade bring?” It encourages creators to visualize the impact of technology and innovation on future lifestyles, mobility, work and communication by designing augmented reality (AR) effects using Meta’s AR tool, Spark AR.
Fares Akkad, regional director for MENA, Meta, said: “As Meta builds for the metaverse, the developer and creator community will play a crucial role in bridging the gap between the physical, augmented and virtual worlds. Through the challenge, creators across the world will be among the first to experience the transformative potential of the metaverse.”
The program, which is running from May 23 to June 17, challenges participants to use AR to identify how modern technologies will improve wellbeing across various sectors.
The Spark AR challenge is supported by Coders HQ, which aims to empower programmers with digital skills and train them to use programming languages in line with the UAE’s national efforts.
Omar Sultan Al-Olama, UAE minister of state for artificial intelligence, digital economy and remote work applications, said: “The global Spark AR Challenge that has been organized for the first time in Middle East keeps pace with the rapid developments in the sectors that are related to human life and driven by modern technology, data and digital solutions.”
He added: “It contributes to simulating innovation, finding viable proactive solutions, and continuous improvement to build a digital economy based on knowledge and innovation.”
Emirates and Accenture have also partnered with the program. As part of the partnership, participants will be asked to create AR effects around “Mobility of Tomorrow” for Emirates and the “Opportunities of the Future” for Accenture.
Winners will get the chance to have their winning effects featured on Emirates’ and Accenture’s social media pages as well as a chance to win cash prizes amounting to more than $50,000.
Meta is also offering participants the chance to enhance their skills through workshops with two expert AR developers: Kym Fiala, a Spark AR network partner and co-founder of South Africa-based digital agency Pixel Chefs; and Balraj Bains, a creative designer, project manager and freelance AR creator based in the UK.


Metaverse-into-reality event Metacon to take place in Dubai this month

Metaverse-into-reality event Metacon to take place in Dubai this month
Each ticket comes with a Metacon One NFT Token. (Supplied)
Updated 26 May 2022

Metaverse-into-reality event Metacon to take place in Dubai this month

Metaverse-into-reality event Metacon to take place in Dubai this month
  • The event will feature 4 zones: MetaStage, MetaConnect, MetaArena and MetaSpaces

DUBAI: The first edition of Metacon, a one-of-a-kind “metaverse into reality” pop culture convention, is set to take place on May 28 and 29 in Dubai with tickets being sold as non-fungible tokens.

Each ticket comes with a Metacon One NFT Token, giving visitors always-on access to exclusive NFT drops, satellite events, networking sessions and more at Metacon and upcoming events.

The event aims to highlight the latest technologies in blockchain gaming and tech, eSports, NFTs, Web3, art, music and entertainment. Metacon will be divided into four zones: MetaStage, MetaConnect, MetaArena and MetaSpaces.

MetaStage will host sessions and panel discussions on the hottest topics about the metaverse; MetaConnect will feature workshops focused on practical and useful tips on kick-starting one’s blockchain journey; MetaSpaces will function as an exhibition zone, and MetaArena will be dedicated to eSports and blockchain gaming.  

The MetaStage will bring together speakers such as Dr. Marwan Al-Zarouni, member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Future Council and CEO of the Dubai Blockchain Centre, and Jason Brink, president of blockchain at Gala Games. The panels include topics like “Metaverse Real Estate versus Traditional Real Estate by Damac Properties,” “Ethereum Towers and Master Ventures,” “The Metaverse and How it Can Save our Climate Crisis,” and “Play-to-Earn: The Future of Gaming.”

The event will also host the Metavator Challenge, a pitch competition and the first-of-its-kind platform for innovators in the metaverse, NFT, gaming and Web3, with prizes including AED 75,000 ($20,400) in cash, NFTs, mentorship support and investor connections.

The MetaArena stage will see eight international guilds competing in the first-ever blockchain, multi-game eSports tournament featuring titles such as “Axie Infinity,” “Thetan Arena” and “Spider Tank” with a $50,000 cash prize pool.

Metacon is organized by OnChain Events, the brainchild of Abdelrahman Mohammed, one of the UAE’s eSports pioneers who currently sits on the advisory board for the Emirates eSports Federation; Kyle Chasse, a cryptocurrency industry veteran and technology entrepreneur, and Domain Entertainment, a pop culture consultancy firm created by the co-founders of events such as the Middle East Film and Comic Con and ANI:ME.

“We now see ourselves at the exact spot when we first came together in 2010, at a time when pop culture was only consumed by a small eager community that was excited to discover, learn and grow together,” said Somaya Soeryadiredja, managing partner of Domain Entertainment.

“A lot of heart and hard work went into building events into well-loved IPs in the region, and we hope to create the same love for the metaverse through Metacon,” she added.


e& launches region’s first telco NFT collection

e& launches region’s first telco NFT collection
Updated 26 May 2022

e& launches region’s first telco NFT collection

e& launches region’s first telco NFT collection
  • Inaugural set of non-fungible tokens to be “distributed selectively,” company says

DUBAI: e&, formerly Etisalat Group, has launched its first set of non-fungible tokens, marking the first time a technology and investment conglomerate in the Middle East has launched NFTs.

The inaugural set of NFTs will be “distributed selectively,” according to a company statement, and further updates are expected soon. The move follows the advancement of e&’s blockchain arm, which crossed 10 billion dirhams ($2.72 billion) in transactions last year.

“The digital transformation that we are experiencing on all fronts will accelerate our quest to innovate,” said Hatem Dowidar, the group CEO of e&.

“The metaverse is opening up several avenues for us to investigate the digital realm in ways that were unimaginable just a few years ago,” he added. “At this defining moment in our journey, we are proud to leverage our legacy in blockchain-enabled tech to launch pioneering NFTs that allow us and our customers to explore the limitless potential that the metaverse holds.”

The designs of the NFTs were sourced in the UAE as “we are keen to support the local development of new products, technologies and solutions,” Dowidar said.

NFTs have gained popularity as digital assets that transcend different sectors in recent years. They encompass a range of subjects from art to music, gaming and multimedia and are regularly bought online.

The NFT market was reported to be worth $41 billion in 2021, according to blockchain analytics firm Chainalysis.

Dowidar said: “We live in the renaissance of connectivity where we must capitalize on every opportunity that strengthens our continued leadership as the champion digital telco in a hyper-connected world.”


Meta announces update of its Privacy Policy and Terms of Service

Meta announces update of its Privacy Policy and Terms of Service
Updated 26 May 2022

Meta announces update of its Privacy Policy and Terms of Service

Meta announces update of its Privacy Policy and Terms of Service
  • privacy controls, allowing people to make informed decisions using those controls,” Sherman added.  Taking effect on July 26, Meta will start rolling out notifications from Thursday to let users know about the update
  • More information will be provided to users when Meta disables or terminates accounts that violate its community standards

LONDON: Meta announced on Thursday a redesign of its Privacy Policy and Terms of Service with the aim of making it easier and clearer for users to understand how Meta collects, uses and shares data. 

According to Rob Sherman, deputy chief privacy officer at Meta, the redesign allows users to learn more about Meta’s privacy rules and service terms in a more accessible way. 

While the text and design look different, the update does not change Meta’s privacy laws and practices regarding how the platform collects, uses or shares user data. 

“We rewrote the document bringing the language from a college level to secondary school comprehension,” explained Sherman. “To do that, we used shorter sentences, more plain language, and more embedded examples.

“We also redesigned it, making it easier to navigate with bold colors and design cues and breaking the text up with images and even some videos.

“The redesign is really all about making our existing practices easier to understand and navigate, including new privacy controls, allowing people to make informed decisions using those controls,” Sherman added. 

Taking effect on July 26, Meta will start rolling out notifications from Thursday to let users know about the update. 

According to a Meta blog post, the updated Meta Privacy Policy covers Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and other Meta Products but does not cover WhatsApp, Workplace, Free Basics and Messenger Kids.

 

The policy is also translated into over 60 languages, and users will be notified periodically of the update but are not required to take any action to continue using Meta products. 

In addition to the Privacy Policy update, Meta announced a similar update of its Terms of Service, allowing users to access this information in a more accessible and transparent way. 

For example, more information will be provided to users when Meta disables or terminates accounts that violate its community standards.