Russia fines Google for not deleting banned content

Russia fines Google for not deleting banned content
A Moscow court on Tuesday fined Alphabet Inc's Google a total of $142,877 for violating Russian rules on banned content. (Shutterstock)
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Updated 17 August 2021

Russia fines Google for not deleting banned content

Russia fines Google for not deleting banned content
  • The penalty comes amid a wider stand-off between Russia and Big Tech companies
  • Russia has routinely fined social media giants for failing to remove prohibited content

MOSCOW: A Moscow court on Tuesday fined Alphabet Inc’s Google a total of 10.5 million roubles ($142,877) for violating Russian rules on banned content.
The penalty comes amid a wider stand-off between Russia and Big Tech companies.
Russia has routinely fined social media giants for failing to remove prohibited content and is seeking to compel foreign technology companies to open offices in the country.
Moscow’s Tagansky District Court said Google had been handed three administrative fines of 4 million roubles, 1.5 million roubles and 5 million roubles respectively.
A spokesperson for Google confirmed the first two fines, but gave no additional comment. Google faces an additional two cases in the Moscow court later on Tuesday, the court’s press office said.
Russia has hit Google with a series of small fines in the past year, for reasons ranging from not deleting content Moscow deems illegal to failing to localize user data.
Google is also the subject of a Moscow court order obliging it to unblock the YouTube account of Tsargrad TV, a Christian Orthodox channel owned by Konstantin Malofeev, who is under US and EU financial sanctions.
An appeal hearing is scheduled for Sept. 20. Tsargrad TV on Monday said it had abandoned talks with Google, which owns YouTube, and accused the US company of dragging its feet in negotiations.
($1 = 73.4900 roubles)


Publicis Groupe employees can work from anywhere in world for limited time

Publicis Groupe employees can work from anywhere in world for limited time
Updated 1 min 8 sec ago

Publicis Groupe employees can work from anywhere in world for limited time

Publicis Groupe employees can work from anywhere in world for limited time
  • Advertising giant introduces ‘Work Your World’ experience for staff

PARIS: Publicis Groupe has announced a new global employee program called “Work Your World.”

Launching in January 2022, the program will allow Publicis Groupe employees to work from any country where the company is present, for up to six weeks a year.

The move comes after nearly two years of organizations adopting different work models as the pandemic led to many employees working from home and continuing to do so after restrictions were eased.

“We have been working hard on how to turn the hybrid world into new opportunities for everyone at Publicis, and make the future of work more creative and more daring,” said Arthur Sadoun, global chairman and CEO of Publicis Groupe.

The new work model is possible, in part, via Marcel, the company’s internal artificial intelligence platform that connects all its global employees. Through Marcel’s landing page, employees will be able to browse different destinations in more 100 countries; see live health and travel updates on different locations; find accommodation through “Home Swap” — essentially an “Airbnb” for Publicis employees — and access a 24-hour contact center.

“Our people have been incredibly resourceful despite the limitations of the pandemic. They deserve to work for a company as resourceful as they are. ‘Work Your World’ can help every Publicis employee “work their world” in a bigger, better and brighter way thanks to our scale, diversity and Marcel,” said Carla Serrano, global chief strategy officer of Publicis Groupe. 

The company will release more details about the program later this month.


INTERVIEW: ‘Female creators in MENA are incredibly passionate’

INTERVIEW: ‘Female creators in MENA are incredibly passionate’
Updated 9 min 58 sec ago

INTERVIEW: ‘Female creators in MENA are incredibly passionate’

INTERVIEW: ‘Female creators in MENA are incredibly passionate’
  • Hala Ajil, partner manager at YouTube MENA talks women-led content creators on YouTube

DUBAI: Earlier this year, in October, YouTube relaunched YouTube Batala, a channel by YouTube in the Middle East and North Africa region dedicated to spotlighting the next generation of Arabic-speaking women creators.

YouTube Batala better serves as a hub than a channel itself consisting of over 250 women-led channels from across the region. It features a collection of playlists, categorized by genre, with each playlist containing various creators.

The playlists span genres from beauty and fashion to music and gaming. In fact, gaming has been one of the most important genres in terms of its growth among female audiences as well as content creation.

In 2016-17, when YouTube first launched the Batala project and other women-focused events and initiatives, there were only five women-led channels with more than 1 million subscribers. Today, there are more than 150 women-led channels, with more than 1 million subscribers in the MENA region.

Arab News spoke to Hala Ajil, partner manager at YouTube MENA to learn more about the relaunch of Batala and the growth of female content creators on the platform.

Why was Batala discontinued and relaunched?

The Batala program started in 2017 but was never discontinued. Since 2017, we have been hosting creator events in order to help educate, empower and inspire Arabic-speaking female content creators everywhere. Earlier this year, I was proud to see us relaunch the hub arm of the program, which is effectively a YouTube channel that acts as an index to all great women creators who are part of the program.

(Batala was first launched in 2017 when YouTube held the first-ever female event in Saudi Arabia and launched the Batala hub, which was dedicated to showcasing the diversity of female talent in the region.)

Can you tell us about YouTube's initiatives in empowering female creators?

Over the years, Batala underwent several shape-shifts. We ran two #AnaBatala workshops: in 2018, we ran one in Dubai based on #IamRemarkable with the goal of empowering underrepresented groups, by helping them focus on what made them ‘remarkable’ and another one in 2019 in Cairo during our YouTube pop-up event. COVID-19 prevented us from holding any in-person workshops in 2020 and 2021, so we decided to revamp Batala and hold a three-week virtual Batala workshop and re-launch the hub (this year).

Can you give us some insight into male vs female creators on the platform?

Female content isn’t easy to find in general, and although there’s still a large gap between male and female content creators on the platform, we’re seeing huge amounts of growth in female content. We’re working on several initiatives — Batala being the main one — to help bridge that gap.

YouTube Batala’s star creators. (Supplied)

How have female creators in the region evolved on the platform?

Certain nuances in the region can challenge women on the platform, and prevent them from creating content, but that’s how passion projects are born. Today, the female creator community is incredibly diverse, with women leading channels across all kinds of genres, from lifestyle and fashion to horror stories and book reviews. One of the things we’re proudest of is how passionate these women are, and that’s one of the main reasons we launched Batala: to celebrate and grow this dynamic community of creative storytellers.

What are the content trends you see among female creators?

Female-led content was typically the content you’d find on most social platforms, such as ‘beauty’ and ‘lifestyle’ content. However, over the years, we’ve seen their content mature and develop; we’re now seeing women delve into the vlogging world, where they create challenges and pranks, travel the world, and collaborate with other creators. We’ve recently seen them start to focus on ‘gaming’ content; more and more females are becoming gamers or at least gaming on the side.

How do female creators in the region differ from ones in Western markets?

Female creators in MENA are incredibly passionate. They want to be heard, and they’ll work hard to ensure they are. These women come from a range of different backgrounds and subcultures; some are still students, others are mothers, and most of them have to juggle several jobs at the same time.

This doesn’t stop them from doing what they love and sharing their world with their audience, as their channels are a window into their world.

What do brands need to know about working with female creators?

Content creators are essentially storytellers; their ability to connect with audiences through opinions, ideas, and events that they are passionate about is what makes them such a powerful force that brands can harness.

The most successful brand and creator collaborations are often the ones where the creator gets to test the product beforehand and genuinely ends up falling in love with it. That way, the product placement can seamlessly fit into the creator’s channel without looking like an advert.

A good example of this is Azza Zarour’s collaboration with Lancome. Lancome wanted to raise awareness about its range of skincare products. Instead of just creating a video talking about the products, Azza worked with Lancome to make a video with her husband, where he chooses her skincare (a common trend on YouTube). The video was authentic, and had a similar look and feel to the rest of the videos on her channel, which is what made it a success.


CPJ condemns Iraqi journalist’s arrest

n the 2021 World Press Freedom Index, Iraq ranked 163rd out of 180 countries. (File/AFP)
n the 2021 World Press Freedom Index, Iraq ranked 163rd out of 180 countries. (File/AFP)
Updated 31 min 1 sec ago

CPJ condemns Iraqi journalist’s arrest

n the 2021 World Press Freedom Index, Iraq ranked 163rd out of 180 countries. (File/AFP)
  • The Committee to Protect Journalists condemned the arrest of Iraqi reporter Hamid Majed and urged Iraqi police to release him immediately

LONDON: The New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists on Thursday condemned the arrest of Iraqi reporter Hamid Majed and urged Iraqi police to release him immediately. 

Hamid Majed, a reporter for Al-Ahd TV, was called to the Anbar Crime Directorate in the city of Habbaniyah on Wednesday to discuss an “important topic” over coffee. Once Majed arrived, however, police officers arrested him. 

“Luring a journalist to a police station to arrest him is not only shameful practice, but an abuse of police power,” said CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa representative Ignacio Miguel Delgado. 

“We call on Iraqi authorities to release Hamid Majed immediately and allow journalists to do their work freely and without fear of retaliation.”

Director of public relations at Al-Ahd TV, Reda Al-Akaili, said that Majed’s arrest is likely related to his reporting on the deteriorating conditions and public services in Anbar province in Iraq.

His reporting “has angered the relevant authorities and officials in Anbar province and prompted them to arrest Majed and prevent him from performing his duties,” Al-Akaili said.

In the 2021 World Press Freedom Index, Iraq ranked 163rd out of 180 countries. Since the 2019 anti-government protests, Iraqi journalists have increasingly been targeted for covering protests, investigating corruption, and reporting the demands of demonstrators. 


OSN to launch first Moonbug Kids channel in MENA

OSN to launch first Moonbug Kids channel in MENA
Updated 39 min 55 sec ago

OSN to launch first Moonbug Kids channel in MENA

OSN to launch first Moonbug Kids channel in MENA
  • OSN partners with Moonbug Entertainment to launch the first linear Moonbug Kids channel in MENA

DUBAI: Moonbug Entertainment Ltd. and Orbit Showtime Network have announced a partnership, which will see the launch of the first Moonbug Kids linear channel in the Middle East and North Africa region.

Launching on Dec. 12, the new channel will bring Moonbug’s full collection of kids’ entertainment and educational programs to families in the region for the first time. The slate of shows that will be aired includes “Cocomelon,” “Blippi,” “Morphle,” and “Little Baby Bum,” among others.

The linear channel will provide over 175 hours of content with a supporting content package available on the OSN Streaming app. All content on the streaming app will be available in English and dubbed in Arabic and French.

“We are excited to be the exclusive home to the first-ever Moonbug Kids linear channel in MENA. It will be a safe, curated but most importantly, an entertaining place for kids, especially preschoolers,” said Nick Forward, chief digital and content officer at OSN.

The partnership with OSN is in line with Moonbug’s global expansion plans. Earlier this year, the kids’ entertainment company partnered with television network Cignal to launch a dedicated Moonbug Kids channel in the Philippines. The company said in a statement that there would be more launches from single show packages on third-party outlets to branded channel blocks as well as 24/7 linear channels.

“Launching a new linear channel in this region forms a key part of our mission at Moonbug, to create and distribute inspiring and engaging stories to expand kids’ worlds and minds,” said Nicolas Eglau, managing director for the Europe, Middle East and Africa and Asia-Pacific regions at Moonbug.


Google disrupts cybercrime web infecting 1 million devices

 People are silhouetted as they pose with laptops in front of a screen projected with a Google logo, in this picture illustration taken in Zenica. (REUTERS file photo)
People are silhouetted as they pose with laptops in front of a screen projected with a Google logo, in this picture illustration taken in Zenica. (REUTERS file photo)
Updated 08 December 2021

Google disrupts cybercrime web infecting 1 million devices

 People are silhouetted as they pose with laptops in front of a screen projected with a Google logo, in this picture illustration taken in Zenica. (REUTERS file photo)
  • Google said the network includes about one million Windows-using devices worldwide for crimes that include stealing users’ credentials, and has targeted victims from the United States, India, Brazil and southeast Asia

WASHINGTON: Google said Tuesday it has moved to shut down a network of about one million hijacked electronic devices used worldwide to commit online crimes, while also suing Russia-based hackers the tech giant claimed were responsible.
The so-called botnet of infected devices, which was also used to surreptitiously mine bitcoin, was cut off at least for now from the people wielding it on the Internet.
“The operators of Glupteba are likely to attempt to regain control of the botnet using a backup command and control mechanism,” wrote Shane Huntley and Luca Nagy from Google’s threat analysis group.
Large technology companies like Google and Microsoft are increasingly pulled into the battle against cybercrime, which is conducted via their products thus giving them unique understanding of and access to the threats.
Google said the network includes about one million Windows-using devices worldwide for crimes that include stealing users’ credentials, and has targeted victims from the United States, India, Brazil and southeast Asia.
The company also filed a lawsuit in a New York federal court against Dmitry Starovikov and Alexander Filippov seeking an injunction to block them from wrongdoing on its platforms.
Cybersecurity experts first noticed Glupteba in 2011, which spreads by masquerading as free, downloadable software, videos or movies that people unwittingly download onto their devices.
However, unlike conventional botnets that rely on predetermined channels to ensure their survival, Glupteba is programmed to find a replacement server in order to keep operating even after being attacked, says Google’s lawsuit.
Because the botnet web combines the power of some one million devices it possesses unusual power that could be used for large-scale ransomware or other attacks.
To maintain that network, the organization “uses Google advertisements to post job openings for the websites” carrying out the illegal work.
The hackers also used Google’s own services to distribute the malware — the Internet giant took down some 63 million Google Docs and terminated over 1,100 Google accounts used to spread Glupteba.
The botnets can “recover more quickly from disruptions, making them that much harder to shutdown. We are working closely with industry and government as we combat this type of behavior,” Google said in a blog post.