Nigeria lifts its ban on Twitter after 7 months

The lifting of the ban, though a good thing, offers little hope. (File/AFP)
The lifting of the ban, though a good thing, offers little hope. (File/AFP)
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Updated 13 January 2022

Nigeria lifts its ban on Twitter after 7 months

The lifting of the ban, though a good thing, offers little hope. (File/AFP)
  • Twitter resumes its operations in Nigeria after a seven-month government ban
  • The ban was implemented immediately after Twitter deleted an inciting tweet by Nigerian President Buhari

ABUJA: The Nigerian government has lifted its ban on Twitter, seven months after the West African country’s more than 200 million people were shut out of the social media network.
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari directed that Twitter’s operations can resume on Thursday, according to the director-general of the country’s National Information Technology Development Agency. Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi said that was only after Twitter agreed to meet some conditions, including opening an office in Nigeria.
Nigeria suspended Twitter’s operation on June 4, citing “the persistent use of the platform for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence.” The action triggered criticisms as it came shortly after the social media network deleted a post by Buhari in which he threatened to treat separatists “in the language they will understand.”
This week’s action “is a deliberate attempt to recalibrate our relationship with Twitter to achieve the maximum mutual benefits for our nation without jeopardizing the justified interests of the company. Our engagement has been very respectful, cordial, and successful,” Abdullahi said in a statement.
A spokesperson for Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In addition to registering in Nigeria during the first quarter of 2022, Abdullahi said Twitter has also agreed to other conditions including appointing a designated country representative, complying with tax obligations and acting “with a respectful acknowledgement of Nigerian laws and the national culture and history on which such legislation has been built.”
The lifting of the ban, though a good thing, offers little hope because “whether the government likes it or not, one thing they have actually done is that they have gagged Nigerians,” said Idayat Hassan, who leads the West Africa-focused Center for Democracy and Development.
“They have violated the right to receive and impact information,” Hassan said, adding that the Nigerian government should instead prioritize “openness and effective information flow.”
There are no official estimates of the economic cost of Twitter’s shutdown in Africa’s most populous country since June 4 when it was announced, but NetBlocks, which estimates the cost of Internet shutdowns worldwide, said Nigeria could be losing N103.1 million ($251,000) in every hour of the blockade.
In the course of the shutdown, many young people have been finding a way around the ban by turning to virtual private network (VPN) apps, but corporate services — some of which the Nigerian economy relies on — have remained shut out.
Authorities have also set the ball rolling on regulating other social networks in the West African country. In August 2021, information minister Lai Mohammed told the government news agency that “we will not rest until we regulate the social media, otherwise, nobody will survive it.”
But the government’s claim it must regulate social networks to fight fake news has been repeatedly contested by many activists. While it is true that “the weaponization of information to spread fake news in Nigeria is quite high,” an emphasis on countering fake news just online is actually defeating the purpose because it is both online and offline in Nigeria,” said CDD director Hassan.


Al Arabiya crew caught in a Daesh ambush in Al-Hasakah

Al Arabiya crew caught in a Daesh ambush in Al-Hasakah
Updated 27 January 2022

Al Arabiya crew caught in a Daesh ambush in Al-Hasakah

Al Arabiya crew caught in a Daesh ambush in Al-Hasakah
  • “We have been caught in crossfire, Al Arabiya crew has been caught in crossfire after Daesh fighters moved in the vicinity of the prison.”

LONDON: The dramatic moment when an Al Arabiya TV crew was caught in a Daesh ambush on Thursday in the northwestern Syrian city of Al-Hasakah was captured live on air.

The channel broadcast the video of Daesh fighters firing on the news team, Kurdish, and US forces with footage showing members of the film crew taking refuge behind a car.

The news presenter is heard saying, “we have been caught in crossfire, Al Arabiya crew has been caught in crossfire after Daesh fighters moved in the vicinity of the prison.”

The incident came after Kurdish forces, backed by US-led anti-Daesh coalition forces, recaptured Ghwayran prison in Al-Hasakah after six days of fighting sparked by a Daesh attempt to free jailed fighters.

Al Arabiya footage shows Kurdish forces engage in a fierce gun battle with Daesh fighters in Al-Hasakah. (Al Arabiya)

The jail held about 3,500 Daesh prisoners when the initial attack was launched on Jan. 20 using explosive-laden vehicles driven by suicide bombers.

The prison break bid and the fighting that ensued immediately after resulted in the death of more than 200 people, including 124 Daesh militants, 50 Kurdish fighters, and seven civilians. More casualties were expected to be found as Kurdish forces gained access to all parts of the jail.

The heavy fighting saw Daesh fighters seize control of a north wing in the prison, using child inmates as human shields. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, at least 850 children and minors were caught in crossfire when Kurdish forces stormed the jail.

Ghwayran prison is one of the largest facilities where the Kurdish administration holds Daesh detainees.


Bloomberg announces 2022 Gender-Equality Index, names WPP for 4th consecutive year

Bloomberg announces 2022 Gender-Equality Index, names WPP for 4th consecutive year
Updated 27 January 2022

Bloomberg announces 2022 Gender-Equality Index, names WPP for 4th consecutive year

Bloomberg announces 2022 Gender-Equality Index, names WPP for 4th consecutive year
  • GEI tracks the performance of public companies committed to advancing gender equality in the workplace

DUBAI: Multinational advertising and communication group WPP has been named in the 2022 Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index (GEI) for the fourth consecutive year.

WPP CEO Mark Read said that the company is a “people business” and its “client work directly benefits from having diversity in our teams.”

He added: “We’re proud of our recognition in the Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index, which reflects our continued investment in our people and culture, and our progress in driving greater gender balance throughout the company.”

Peter T. Grauer, chairman of Bloomberg, said: “We are proud to recognize WPP and the other 417 companies included in the 2022 GEI for their commitment to transparency and setting a new standard in gender-related data reporting.”

The Index tracks the performance of public companies committed to advancing gender equality in the workplace, and helps bring transparency to gender-related practices and policies at publicly-listed companies around the world, increasing the environmental, social, governance (ESG) data available to investors.

This year, Bloomberg lost a total of 418 companies representing a combined market capitalization of $16 trillion from across 45 territories.

A record number of companies disclosed their data for this year’s GEI by using the GEI Framework, marking a 20 percent increase year-over-year.

The GEI Framework scores companies across five pillars: Female leadership and talent pipeline, equal pay and gender pay parity, inclusive culture, anti-sexual harassment policies, and pro-women brand. Bloomberg also requests information from other expanded areas to support the broader goal of providing more robust ESG data to investors.

“Even though the threshold for inclusion in the GEI has risen, the member list continues to grow. This is a testament that more companies are working to improve upon their gender-related metrics, fostering more opportunity for diverse talent to succeed in their organizations,” said Grauer.


Iran state TV shows dissidents’ images after apparent hack

Iran state TV shows dissidents’ images after apparent hack
Updated 27 January 2022

Iran state TV shows dissidents’ images after apparent hack

Iran state TV shows dissidents’ images after apparent hack
  • The hack represented a major breach of Iranian state television
  • For several seconds, graphics flashed on screen showing the leaders of the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq

DUBAI: Channels of Iran’s state television broadcast images Thursday showing the leaders of an exiled dissident group and a graphic demanding the country’s supreme leader be killed, an incident that state TV later described as a hack.
For several seconds, graphics flashed on screen showing the leaders of the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq and the name of a social media account, which claimed to be a group of hackers who broadcast the message honoring the dissidents.
The MEK, now largely based in Albania, did not immediately answer telephone calls seeking comment.
The hack represented a major breach of Iranian state television, long believed to controlled and operated by members of the Islamic Republic’s intelligence branches, particularly its hard-line Revolutionary Guard. Such an incident hasn’t happened for years.
Iran’s state TV acknowledged the breach as a “hack,” saying the case was “under investigation.”
A clip of the incident seen by the AP showed the faces of MEK leaders Massoud Rajavi and his wife, Maryam Rajavi, suddenly superimposed on the channel’s regular 3 p.m. news programming. A man’s voice chants, “Salute to Rajavi, death to (supreme leader) Khamenei.”
Then, a speech from Rajavi briefly plays over the images. He can be heard saying, “Today, we still honor the time that we declared death to the reactionary. We stood by it ...”
Massoud Rajavi hasn’t been seen publicly in nearly two decades and is presumed to have died. Maryam Rajavi now runs the MEK.
The MEK began as a socialist organization against the rule of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. It claimed and was suspected in a series of attacks against US officials in Iran in the 1970s, something the group now denies.
It supported the 1979 Islamic Revolution, but soon had a falling out with Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and turned against the clerical regime. It carried out a series of assassinations and bombings targeting the young Islamic Republic.
The MEK later fled into Iraq and backed dictator Saddam Hussein during his bloody eight-year war against Iran in the 1980s. That saw many oppose the group in Iran, though to this day it claims to operate a network inside of the country.


Advertising Business Group brings award-winning qualification programs to MENA region

Advertising Business Group brings award-winning qualification programs to MENA region
Updated 27 January 2022

Advertising Business Group brings award-winning qualification programs to MENA region

Advertising Business Group brings award-winning qualification programs to MENA region
  • Programs include the IPA’s Foundation Certificate and Excellence Diplomas in Brands and Business

DUBAI: The UAE-based Advertising Business Group has partnered with the UK-based Institute of Practitioners in Advertising to bring the latter’s training programs to the region.

The IPA’s professional development program has so far helped 30,870 delegates in 87 countries expand their understanding and skills related to advertising.

“As communication becomes increasingly globally interconnected, it is vital that learning and development is available to as many people as possible all over the world, so we can share expertise, language and experience to deliver better work for our clients and agencies,” said Louise Hinchliffe, the IPA’s associate director of professional development.

ABG members will get discounted access to a range of IPA qualifications, including the entry-level Foundation Certificate, and Excellence Diplomas in Brands and Business.

“Knowledge- and capability-building is a key pillar of the ABG, and we are committed to providing the MENA advertising and marketing industry with the latest resources and tools to create accountable and effective marketing,” said ABG chairman Sanjiv Kakkar, the executive vice-president of Unilever MENA, in a statement.

“This partnership will go a long way in helping strengthen talent, growing the industry and raising standards,” he added.

The two bodies are running an introductory workshop for ABG members on February 3, which will include a presentation from Sera Holland, author of “IPA Effectiveness Essentials” and co-chair of the IPA Excellence Diploma in Brands.


Spotify removing Neil Young’s music after his Joe Rogan ultimatum

Spotify removing Neil Young’s music after his Joe Rogan ultimatum
Updated 27 January 2022

Spotify removing Neil Young’s music after his Joe Rogan ultimatum

Spotify removing Neil Young’s music after his Joe Rogan ultimatum
  • ‘Spotify has become the home of life threatening COVID misinformation. Lies being sold for money’

Neil Young’s music is being removed from Spotify’s streaming service after the singer-songwriter objected to his songs playing on the same platform that offers Joe Rogan’s podcast, the company and the musician said on Wednesday.
Earlier this week, Young had released a letter addressed to his manager and record label, Warner Music Group , demanding that Spotify no longer carry his music because he said Rogan spreads misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines.
On Wednesday, the “Heart of Gold” and “Rocking In the Free World” singer thanked his record label for “standing with me in my decision to pull all my music from Spotify,” and he encouraged other musicians to do the same.
“Spotify has become the home of life threatening COVID misinformation,” he said on his website. “Lies being sold for money.”
The Swedish company said it worked to balance “both safety for listeners and freedom for creators” and had removed more than 20,000 podcast episodes related COVID-19 in accordance with its “detailed content policies.”
“We regret Neil’s decision to remove his music from Spotify, but hope to welcome him back soon,” Spotify said in a statement.
Rogan, 54, is the host of “The Joe Rogan Experience,” the top-rated podcast on Spotify, which holds exclusive rights to the program.
He has stirred controversy with his views on the pandemic, government mandates and vaccines to control the spread of the coronavirus.
Earlier this month, 270 scientists and medical professionals signed a letter urging Spotify to take action against Rogan, accusing him of spreading falsehoods on the podcast.
Young, 76, said Spotify accounted for 60 percent of the streaming of his music to listeners around the world. The removal is “a huge loss for my record company to absorb,” he said.