Beheading video outrage prompts Danish crackdown on illegal Facebook posts

Beheading video outrage prompts Danish crackdown on illegal Facebook posts
Louisa Vesterager Jespersen’s mother and sister have been bombarded on social media by video footage of her execution. (In Memory of Louisa Vesterager Jespersen)
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Updated 10 January 2022

Beheading video outrage prompts Danish crackdown on illegal Facebook posts

Beheading video outrage prompts Danish crackdown on illegal Facebook posts
  • Family of a woman beheaded in Morocco said they have been repeatedly harassed online with footage of the killing
  • France and Germany already require social media companies to remove illegal content within a day

LONDON: Authorities in Denmark are moving ahead with plans to force Facebook and other social media companies to remove illegal posts within 24 hours, after it emerged that the grieving relatives of a victim of terrorism were repeatedly sent videos of her execution.

Danish backpacker Louisa Vesterager Jespersen was beheaded by Daesh-aligned terrorists in Morocco in 2018. There was a public outcry in her home country when it was revealed that her mother and sister have been bombarded on social media by video footage of the decapitation, often uploaded by anonymous accounts.

This has put ministers under pressure to take action to reign in the platforms, and plans were recently announced for a crack down on sites that fail to take swift action to remove illegal content.

The move to introduce strict time limits within which content such as video footage of beheadings must be removed would follow in the footsteps of other European countries. Germany, for example requires platforms to remove “clearly illegal” content within 24 hours of posting or risk a €50 million ($57 million) fine. France requires an even faster response, giving companies just one hour to remove extremely offensive content such as terrorist propaganda or images of child abuse.

Danish politicians are likely to vote on the proposals next month. They were prompted by the broadcast on Danish television of a documentary that revealed the online abuse Jespersen’s family has suffered.

The 24-year-old was traveling through Morocco’s Atlas mountains with Norwegian friend Maren Ueland, 28, when they disappeared in 2018. They were captured and killed by extremists who had pledged allegiance to Daesh. The three men involved were caught, convicted and sentenced to death in Morocco.

Within days of Jespersen’s death, her mother Helle Petersen was sent footage of the execution. She told Danmarks Radio that she had been pestered with footage of her daughter’s execution ever since. She said she has reported each instance to the police but authorities have still not identified a culprit.

Simon Kollerup, 35, the Danish trade minister responsible for internet regulation, said that Facebook’s “hopeless” response to the harassment of Jespersen’s family underscored the need for more stringent EU rules governing social media.

Martin Ruby, 48, Facebook’s head of public policy for the Nordic and Benelux regions, said he was sorry “if we made the wrong calls in this case” but added that the platform had done its best to delete the execution videos.


Facebook’s Zuckerberg targeted in US privacy lawsuit

Facebook Chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg. (AFP)
Facebook Chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg. (AFP)
Updated 5 sec ago

Facebook’s Zuckerberg targeted in US privacy lawsuit

Facebook Chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg. (AFP)
  • “Zuckerberg is not just a figurehead at Facebook; he is personally involved in nearly every decision the company makes,” Washington Attorney General Karl Racine wrote in the suit

WASHINGTON: Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg was named personally in a Washington lawsuit Monday alleging he played a direct role in decisions that set the stage for the Cambridge Analytica privacy scandal.
The US capital’s attorney general argues that Zuckerberg was closely involved in conceiving the framework that allowed the Britain-based consulting firm to harvest over 70 million US Facebook users data
A whistleblower revealed in 2018 that Cambridge Analytica went on to use that data for political purposes, including trying to rally support for Donald Trump.
“Zuckerberg is not just a figurehead at Facebook; he is personally involved in nearly every decision the company makes,” Washington Attorney General Karl Racine wrote in the suit.
He added that Zuckerberg’s control is baked into the structure of the company, where the founder and CEO holds a majority of voting shares.
Racine’s office sued Facebook over its data privacy practices in 2018 as part of a case that is ongoing.
Facebook’s parent company Meta did not immediately respond to the new lawsuit’s allegations, but spokesman Andy Stone noted on Twitter that a judge had previously rejected Racine’s bid to add Zuckerberg as a defendant in the privacy case.
US authorities imposed what they described as a “historic” $5 billion fine on Facebook in the wake of the scandal, and also required Facebook to ramp up privacy protections, provide detailed quarterly reports on compliance with the deal, and have an independent oversight board.
Since the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke, Facebook has removed access to its data from thousands of apps suspected of abusing it, restricted the amount of information available to developers in general, and made it easier for users to calibrate restrictions on personal data sharing.


Sky News Arabia launches new Arabic-language digital platform

Sky News Arabia launches new Arabic-language digital platform
Updated 23 May 2022

Sky News Arabia launches new Arabic-language digital platform

Sky News Arabia launches new Arabic-language digital platform
  • SNABusiness.com will cover business and economic news and analysis

ABU DHABI: Sky News Arabia has launched a new Arabic-language digital platform SNABusiness.com, featuring breaking news, economic analysis and in-depth reporting.

The launch of the platform is in response to “consumer demand for objective and actionable economic intelligence and insights,” according to a company statement.

“The launch of SNAbusiness.com reflects Sky News Arabia’s commitment to provide our audiences with the economic news and analysis they need,” said Youssef Tsouri, head of news at Sky News Arabia.

He added: “We are witnessing an increasing demand for business news at a time when the whole world is in greater need of this genre of information.”

The digital publication will cover all topics relating to business and economy across industries including financial technology, energy and oil, tourism, real estate, agriculture and other sectors.

The website’s content will include diverse content types including reports, videos and exclusive interviews. SNABusiness.com aims to present complex data in an easy-to-understand manner through charts, infographics and digital videos.

Tsouri said: “Our aim is to provide fast and accurate reporting to our viewers and deliver our brand promise to be ‘your reliable source of economic information’.”


Disneyland’s new advert calls Arab audiences to Paris this summer

Disneyland’s new advert calls Arab audiences to Paris this summer
Updated 23 May 2022

Disneyland’s new advert calls Arab audiences to Paris this summer

Disneyland’s new advert calls Arab audiences to Paris this summer

DUBAI: Leading entertainment resort Disneyland Paris has released its first advert specifically for Arab audiences featuring Dubai-based influencer Sara Karrit.

Airing in the UAE and KSA, the advert is produced by Dubai-based local agency ArabyAds, and features Karrit sharing her dream of visiting Disneyland with her son on the occasion of the destination’s 30th anniversary.

Samira Tachfint, sales and marketing director at Disneyland Paris told Arab News: “Arab audiences, especially those based in the GCC, have always been a major part of our international audience base.

“There is a strong appetite among Emirati/GCC families for Disney destinations and at Disneyland Paris they have access to the ultimate magical experience just 6 hours away by air.”

A large number of Arab families visit every year, particularly during summer, said Tachfint. “Our bespoke luxury offerings and our ever-evolving entertainment encourage repeat visits.”

Disneyland Paris’ 30th-anniversary celebrations include Premier Access Ultimate, a digital service being launched this summer that will provide guests with one-time expedited access to 12 of the most popular attractions, in addition to new shows and experiences.

Tachfint said: “As we mark our 30th anniversary, we produced this ad to celebrate the connection we have forged with our GCC visitors over the past three decades. The ad, produced completely in the GCC and starring local talent, showcases how the magic of Disneyland Paris is alive for different generations and genders.”

Disneyland Paris is the most visited tourist destination in Europe — ahead of the Louvre and Eiffel Tower combined — with more than 16 million annual visitors, according to the company.


Netflix launches new collection and features on Global Accessibility Awareness Day

Netflix launches new collection and features on Global Accessibility Awareness Day
Updated 23 May 2022

Netflix launches new collection and features on Global Accessibility Awareness Day

Netflix launches new collection and features on Global Accessibility Awareness Day
  • “Celebrating Disability with Dimension” collection features 50+ shows and films about people with disabilities

DUBAI: Netflix is marking Global Accessibility Awareness Day (May 19) by launching a new collection, “Celebrating Disability with Dimension” that features over 50 shows and movies highlighting characters and stories about people living with disabilities.

The collection includes shows such as “Raising Dion,” “Special,” and “Atypical” and movies that include “The Fundamentals of Caring” and “Feel the Beat.”

“How we access stories has changed a lot,” said Heather Dowdy, Netflix’s director of product accessibility, in a blog post.

“Whether it’s video conference calls, texting, or the flashing doorbell, nowadays technology can build bridges to access for many people living with disabilities.”

Netflix is therefore expanding its language availability of Audio Descriptions (AD) and Subtitles for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (SDH). These features will be made available across more of the streaming giant’s catalog in languages including Spanish, Portuguese, and French.

“For decades, your access to entertainment was determined by where you lived and what language you spoke, meaning that until recently people who needed AD or SDH could only enjoy a story if it was made in their local language,” said Dowdy.

“By increasing our SDH and AD language availability to over 20 languages, we hope to give all of our members the ability to see their lives reflected on screen, no matter where you’re from, what language you speak, or what abilities you have.”

Netflix will also display badges for shows and films that have AD and SDH on web and iOS, as well as host accessibility screenings in select countries around the world.

“With over 1 billion people living with disabilities globally, the opportunity to tell more inclusive stories and bond within our communities over storytelling is tremendous,” said Dowdy.


Saudi Arabia’s largest theater chain launches Muvi Studios

Saudi Arabia’s largest theater chain launches Muvi Studios
Updated 23 May 2022

Saudi Arabia’s largest theater chain launches Muvi Studios

Saudi Arabia’s largest theater chain launches Muvi Studios

LONDON: Saudi Arabia’s leading theater operator Muvi Cinemas launched Muvi Studios on Monday, and appointed Saudi film industry pioneer Faisal Baltyuor as its CEO.

Muvi Studios will focus on developing both Saudi and Egyptian films for the Saudi public, concentrating on films for the big screen. 

Muvi Cinema announced this step as part of Saudi Arabia’s efforts to build a stronger film industry since theaters reopened in 2018.

“I have been collaborating with Muvi Cinemas in various ways since it launched three years ago,” Baltyuor said. “Its growth in Saudi Arabia has been extraordinary. It has captured the imagination of the nation with 46 percent box office market share tapping into the pent-up demand for a globally inspired theater experience, complemented by local execution.

“Now, through the creation of Muvi Studios, we are intent on producing world class Arabic movies to entertain audiences in the Middle East and around the world,” he added.

“At the same time, this is another exciting development for the rapidly expanding Saudi film production sector, as the country evolves rapidly into a vibrant society.”

Formerly CEO of the Saudi Film Council, Baltyour also previously led an initiative with the Ministry of Culture to develop the Saudi film industry before founding the largest specialized Saudi film distribution company, CineWaves Film, in 2020. 

He is a board member of Manga Productions and holds several other roles in the Saudi film industry.

“The Middle East region, and especially Saudi Arabia, is witnessing a renaissance of its movie industry and we are excited to have Faisal onboard to lead the company into this new venture to develop Saudi and regional film content to the big screen,” Muvi Cinemas’ chief executive, Adon Quinn, said.  

“The cash we’re investing in Muvi Studios will be used to produce a slate of top-quality Arabic movies and we aim to release a minimum of three films within the next 12 months.”

Since its launch in February 2019, Muvi Cinemas has expanded to 22 locations across the Kingdom, operating 205 screens featuring the latest movie experiences, including Samsung Onyx, 4DX, ScreenX, Dolby Cinema and Xperience powered by CGS technology.