Study finds social media platforms failed to remove nearly 90 percent of Islamophobic content

A study by the Center for Countering Digital Hate found that some of the widely shared social media posts contained dehumanizing content about Muslims and Islam.
A study by the Center for Countering Digital Hate found that some of the widely shared social media posts contained dehumanizing content about Muslims and Islam.
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Updated 28 April 2022

Study finds social media platforms failed to remove nearly 90 percent of Islamophobic content

Study finds social media platforms failed to remove nearly 90 percent of Islamophobic content
  • The research, led by the Center for Countering Digital Hate, looked at more than 530 posts, viewed 25 million times, that contained dehumanizing content about Muslims and Islam.
  • Much of the hateful content we uncovered was blatant and easy to find, with even overtly Islamophobic hashtags circulating openly,’ said the chief executive of the CCDH

LONDON: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and TikTok failed to remove nearly 90 percent of anti-Muslim and Islamophobic content on their platforms, according to new research published on Thursday.

The study, led by the Center for Countering Digital Hate, looked at more than 530 posts, viewed 25 million times, that contained dehumanizing content about Muslims and Islam.

“Much of the hateful content we uncovered was blatant and easy to find, with even overtly Islamophobic hashtags circulating openly and hundreds of thousands of users belonging to groups dedicated to preaching anti-Muslim hatred,” said Imran Ahmed, the chief executive of the CCDH.

ALSO READ: 15 years on, has Twitter done more harm than good in the Middle East? 

The messages were not limited to offensive opinions but also included caricatures, false claims and conspiracy theories. Some Instagram posts, for example, depicted Muslims as pigs and called for their expulsion from Europe.

Another social media post likened Islam to a cancer that should be “treated with radiation” and was accompanied by an image of an atomic blast. Messages on Twitter suggested that Muslim migration was part of a plot to change the politics of other countries. Many of the posts were accompanied by offensive hashtags such as #deathtoislam, #islamiscancer and #raghead.

ALSO READ: Social media platforms doing little to combat online hate speech in the Arab world: Experts 

The CCDH said that most of the hateful posts and Islamophobic content it monitored for the study was reported by users to the platforms’ community standards watchdogs. However, few were removed. Facebook, for example, took action on only seven out of 125 reported posts; Instagram on 32 out of 227 posts; TikTok on 18 out 50 posts; Twitter on three out of 105 posts; and YouTube failed to do anything about any of 23 videos it received complaints about.

Researchers also found that Facebook was being used by Islamophobic groups with names such as “Islam means Terrorism,” “Stop Islamization of America” and “Boycott Halal Certification in Australia.” Many of the groups, based predominantly in the UK, US and Australia, have thousands of members.

“Fight Against Liberalism, Socialism and Islam,” for example, has almost 5,000 members. The group is run by South African lawyer Mark Taitz. It claims that “moderate Islam does not exist and too many people fail to understand this,” and encourages Facebook users to “join our group to learn about Islam and the atrocities it is committing in ‘God’s name.’”

In response to the study, Twitter said it “does not tolerate the abuse or harassment of people on the basis of religion” and highlighted the automated system it uses to flag content that violates its policies. It did not address any of the specific findings of the report but the company did admit that it “knows there is still work to be done.”

ALSO READ: Facebook accused of promoting hate speech in India 

This is not the first time that social media platforms have been criticized over their responses to hate speech and offensive content. In December, for example, a report by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, a think tank that tracks online extremism, found that Facebook failed to remove extremist content. A new tool introduced the platform in November even tagged photos of beheadings and violent hate speech by Daesh and the Taliban as “insightful” and “engaging.”


Turkey blocks access to Deutsche Welle and Voice of America

Turkey blocks access to Deutsche Welle and Voice of America
Updated 01 July 2022

Turkey blocks access to Deutsche Welle and Voice of America

Turkey blocks access to Deutsche Welle and Voice of America
  • An Ankara court ruled to restrict access to their websites late Thursday
  • Deutsche Welle said it did not comply with the licensing requirement because it “would have allowed the Turkish government to censor editorial content”

ISTANBUL: Turkey’s media watchdog has banned access to the Turkish services of US public service broadcaster Voice of America and German broadcaster Deutsche Welle, prompting complaints of censorship.
The Supreme Board of Radio and Television enforced a February warning to the two companies which air Turkish-language television content online to apply for a broadcast license or be blocked. An Ankara court ruled to restrict access to their websites late Thursday.
Neither website was available in Turkey on Friday. Deutsche Welle is German taxpayer-funded and Voice of America is funded by the US government through the US Agency for Global Media.
In a statement, Deutsche Welle said it did not comply with the licensing requirement because it “would have allowed the Turkish government to censor editorial content.”
Director general Peter Limbourg said this was explained in detail to the Turkish radio and TV board, abbreviated as RTUK.
“For example, media licensed in Turkey are required to delete online content that RTUK interprets as inappropriate. This is simply unacceptable for an independent broadcaster. DW will take legal action against the blocking that has now taken place,” Limbourg said.
The German government said it took note of the reports “with regret.”
“Our concern about the state of freedom of opinion and the press in Turkey continues,” government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit said, adding that Germany is in a “regular, critical exchange” with Turkey on the issue.
Asked whether the German government can intervene in this case, Hebestreit noted that Deutsche Welle has said it plans to take legal action “and we have to wait for that.”
RTUK dismissed any criticism in a statement on its website Friday, saying that “no one needs to have uncertainties on the freedom of expression or press, worry unnecessarily or incriminate our Supreme Board that is doing its duties based on legal grounds.”
The RTUK statement added that had the media organizations “acted in line with regulations,” there wouldn’t have been access bans. It also promised to request from the court that the restrictions be revoked if the websites launch companies in Turkey and get licensed.
But Ilhan Tasci, a RTUK member from Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party, said he opposed the move to block the two foreign broadcasters. “Here is press freedom and advanced democracy,” he tweeted sarcastically.
The RTUK board is dominated by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling party and its nationalist allies, and regularly fines critical broadcasters.
Thursday’s move is based on an August 2019 regulation that says the RTUK would give 72-hour advance notice to unlicensed online media regarding when they had to apply and pay three months of licensing fees. Failure to do so could result in legal action against a media organization’s executives and access restrictions.
In February, RTUK said it identified three websites without broadcast licenses, which also included the Turkish services of Euronews. But Euronews said it argued that it did not broadcast live in Turkish or air visual bulletins and was therefore exempt from the licensing requirements.
The Journalists’ Union of Turkey called the decision censorship. “Give up on trying to ban everything you don’t like, this society wants freedom,” it tweeted.
Voice of America noted in February that while licensing for TV and radio broadcasts is a norm because broadcast airwaves are finite resources, the Internet does not have limited bandwidth. “The only possible purpose of a licensing requirement for Internet distribution is enabling censorship,” VOA said in a statement then.
State Department spokesman Ned Price tweeted when the licensing regulation emerged in February that the US was concerned with RTUK’s “decision to expand government control over free press outlets.”
In response, Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Tanju Bilgic noted that the US required Turkey’s state English-language broadcaster, TRT World, to register as a foreign agent under a law intended for lobbyists and public relations firms working for foreign governments. TRT said it was newsgathering and reporting like any other international media but had to register as a foreign agent in 2020.
“TRT abides by relevant regulations for its activities in the US Is that censorship? We expect the same from @VoATurkish and others,” Bilgic tweeted.
Turkey was rated “Not Free” for 2021 on the Freedom of the Net index by Freedom House. Hundreds of thousands of domains and web addresses have been blocked.
Reporters Without Borders ranked Turkey at 149 out of 180 countries in its World Press Freedom Index, saying “all possible means are used to undermine critics,” including stripping journalists of press cards, online censorship, lawsuits and arrests.


Amazon to allow Prime users to unsubscribe in two clicks after EU complaints

Amazon to allow Prime users to unsubscribe in two clicks after EU complaints
Updated 01 July 2022

Amazon to allow Prime users to unsubscribe in two clicks after EU complaints

Amazon to allow Prime users to unsubscribe in two clicks after EU complaints

BRUSSELS: US online retail giant Amazon has made it easier for users to cancel their subscriptions to its fast shipping club Prime with just two clicks, following complaints from consumer groups, the European Commission said on Friday.
European Consumer Organization (BEUC), the Norwegian Consumer Council and the Transatlantic Consumer Dialogue took their grievances to the EU executive in April last year.
They said users had to go through numerous hurdles such as complicated navigation menus, skewed wording and confusing choices, to unsubscribe from Amazon Prime.
The company will now allow users to unsubscribe from Amazon Prime with two clicks via a prominent and clear ‘cancel button’, the Commission said.
The changes will apply to all EU websites and for desktop devices, mobiles and tablets with immediate effect.
“Consumers must be able to exercise their rights without any pressure from platforms. One thing is clear: manipulative design or ‘dark patterns’ must be banned,” Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders said in a statement.


Media watchdog sounds alarm over Burkina journalist

Media watchdog sounds alarm over Burkina journalist
Updated 01 July 2022

Media watchdog sounds alarm over Burkina journalist

Media watchdog sounds alarm over Burkina journalist
  • Media watchdog calls on authorities in Burkina Faso to act after one of the country’s most prominent journalists received death threats
  • Thousands of people have been killed and nearly two million displaced in the past seven years

OUAGADOUGOU: The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has called on authorities in Burkina Faso to act after one of the country’s most prominent journalists received death threats.
Ahmed Newton Barry, a former TV president and ex-editor of L’Evenement newspaper who now works as a current affairs commentator, was targeted in an audio clip circulating among WhatsApp groups, the watchdog said late Thursday.
The speaker in the clip identifies Barry by name, describes him as a “terrorist” and says a hundred people would assault his home.
“We are going to set fire to it and then destroy everything and collect the rubble that is piled up and leave the ground vacant,” the clip says, according to the CPJ.
Barry told the CPJ the threat may be related to comments he made on a TV program in which he described the Malian government as working with Russian mercenaries.
Angela Quintal, CPJ’s Africa program coordinator in Johannesburg, urged the authorities to carry out a thorough investigation and ensure Barry’s safety.
“The security of journalists in Burkina Faso is tenuous enough without their having to worry about a mob being provoked to attack their homes,” she said.
Local press associations have also condemned the threats and urged the country’s junta-dominated authorities to investigate.
One of the world’s poorest countries, Burkina Faso is in the grip of a nearly seven-year-old crisis sparked by jihadist raiders crossing from neighboring Mali.
Thousands of people have been killed and nearly two million displaced.


Serie A reaches TV rights deal with Abu Dhabi Media

Serie A reaches TV rights deal with Abu Dhabi Media
Updated 01 July 2022

Serie A reaches TV rights deal with Abu Dhabi Media

Serie A reaches TV rights deal with Abu Dhabi Media
  • For the next three seasons, Abu Dhabi Media, an Emirati public body, has been awarded the rights for a minimum total amount of $79 million
  • In the absence of a satisfactory offer in its call for tenders last year, the Italian League had developed its own Youtube channel in Arabic

ROME: Serie A on Thursday accepted the offer of TV platform Abu Dhabi Media to broadcast the Italian league in the Middle East and North Africa after more than a year without a broadcaster in this region.
For the next three seasons, Abu Dhabi Media, an Emirati public body, has been awarded the rights for a minimum total amount of $79 million, the Italian League announced.
To this guaranteed minimum income may be added any additional revenue linked to the number of subscribers that Italian football will generate on the platform, a spokesperson for Serie A told AFP.
In the absence of a satisfactory offer in its call for tenders last year, the Italian League had developed its own Youtube channel in Arabic to offer matches free of charge.


Twitter launches branded likes in Saudi Arabia

Twitter launches branded likes in Saudi Arabia
Updated 30 June 2022

Twitter launches branded likes in Saudi Arabia

Twitter launches branded likes in Saudi Arabia
  • Custom animation encourages users to like, unlike and relike a tweet

DUBAI: Twitter is rolling out its new “branded likes” feature across the US, Britain, Japan and Saudi Arabia.

Branded likes are essentially custom animations for the like button on a tweet that brands can pay for.

 

 

The feature is available as an add-on to Twitter’s Timeline Takeover offering, which ensures a brand’s ad is the first ad to appear when someone opens Twitter for the first time on a given day.

Advertisers can select a hashtag — and up to 10 translations of that hashtag. Twitter then works with its creative partner Bare Tree Media for the US, Britain and Saudi Arabia to create custom artwork for the campaign.

When a user taps the like button on any tweet containing the pre-selected hashtag, the custom branded like animation will appear.

Branded likes have been in testing for nearly two years with testers including brands such as Disney, Paramount Pictures, Tesco, NASA and the NBA.

 

 

 

https://twitter.com/disneyplus/status/1289092933598081025?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw 

 

Disney+ was the first brand to pay for the feature as part of the beta test, reported AdAge. The streaming platform used it to promote the premiere of “Black Is King,” Beyoncé’s highly anticipated visual album inspired by “The Lion King.”

The tweet has over 113,000 likes and more than 10,000 retweets. 

 

 

During testing, branded likes generated a positive impact when paired with the Timeline Takeover feature, resulting in a 277 percent lift in recall, and 202 percent lift in purchase and consideration intent.

Branded likes are well received by consumers too, with two-thirds of people finding them “appealing,” according to Twitter Insiders research.

It is unclear at this time when the branded likes feature will launch in other countries.