Iranian officials bribing Instagram moderators to remove accounts hostile to regime: BBC

Iranian officials bribing Instagram moderators to remove accounts hostile to regime: BBC
Iranian intelligence officials are offering Instagram content moderators more than $10,000 to remove the accounts of journalists and activists hostile to the regime. (Shutterstock)
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Updated 27 May 2022

Iranian officials bribing Instagram moderators to remove accounts hostile to regime: BBC

Iranian officials bribing Instagram moderators to remove accounts hostile to regime: BBC
  • Among those targeted was Iranian American author and activist Masih Alinejad
  • Little coverage on state media was given to the protests, but social media was awash with reports of what was happening on the ground

LONDON: Iranian intelligence officials are offering Instagram content moderators more than $10,000 to remove the accounts of journalists and activists hostile to the regime, the BBC reported on Friday.
Among those targeted was Iranian American author and activist Masih Alinejad, with one former reviewer telling BBC Persia they were offered $10,700 to delete her account.
The content moderators were speaking after an outcry among Iranian Instagram users that posts about the recent wave of anti-government protests had been deleted.
Demonstrations were held in several provinces of Iran at the start of May after a government decision to cut subsidies to basic food items caused prices to soar, with the unrest quickly leading to protesters chanting slogans against Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and the country’s President Ebrahim Raisi.
Little coverage on state media was given to the protests, but social media was awash with reports of what was happening on the ground.
However, users noticed that as the unrest continued, videos started being removed, with one opposition activist, @1500tasvir, claiming in a tweet to have been informed by Instagram that their account was being limited to “protect our community.”
The former content moderator said: “I know reviewers who supported the Iranian regime and received instructions from Iran, they can independently delete a post that has been reported without facing any serious consequences.
“If an auditor realizes, at most your accuracy rate may drop by a percentage point or two.”
German-based technology company and Instagram’s moderator, Telus International, told the BBC that although it took the allegations very seriously and had launched an investigation, it also believed them to be false.
In a statement, the firm said: “Telus does not have, nor has it ever had, any ties to the Iranian government.
“Processes are in place to eliminate the ability of reviewers to insert personal or political opinions into their job. Our team members review a randomized set of content to determine if it violates our client’s policies, standards, and guidelines, removing any room for subjectivity.
“These decisions are frequently audited for accuracy and to uncover any potential biases. Additional reviews have been undertaken and have found no validity to these claims.”
Two further moderators interviewed by the BBC supported the assertion that “it was likely” some videos had been removed as they included chants of “death to Khamenei,” although one of the reviewers said the Iranians working for Telus were “decent people” who followed company guidelines.


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 13 sec ago

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 50 sec ago

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.


‘In Arab countries, being a journalist is a sedentary and urban profession,’ says TV5 editor-in-chief Slimane Zeghidour

‘In Arab countries, being a journalist is a sedentary and urban profession,’ says TV5 editor-in-chief Slimane Zeghidour
Updated 30 June 2022

‘In Arab countries, being a journalist is a sedentary and urban profession,’ says TV5 editor-in-chief Slimane Zeghidour

‘In Arab countries, being a journalist is a sedentary and urban profession,’ says TV5 editor-in-chief Slimane Zeghidour
  • Zeghidour laments the sorry state of journalism in the Arab world

RIYADH: Earlier this month, the French embassy in Saudi Arabia held a conference titled “France and the Arab World — From Charlemagne to the Fifth Republic” hosted by Slimane Zeghidour.

Zeghidour, an expert in regional affairs, is the editor-in-chief of French television network TV Monde, and a researcher at the French Institute of International and Strategic Research specializing in the Maghreb and Middle East region.

He spoke to Arab News en Francais during his visit to the Saudi capital, expressing his frustration with the lack of communication from the Kingdom and the state of journalism in the Arab world. 

Zeghidour’s first visit to Saudi Arabia was in 1987, 35 years ago, when he was visiting to write a book and a geopolitical essay.

A lot has changed since then. “Some transformations were unimaginable just five years ago,” he said. There are new events happening in the Kingdom, some rather “daring,” but “we (journalists) are not aware,” he added.

For example, Zeghidour learnt about a symposium on tolerance when it was already over.

Although TV5 Monde does not have a broadcast station in the Middle East, its channel Maghreb-Orient is dedicated to the region’s shows, movies and documentaries subtitled in Arabic. 

“It is through this pillar that we exist and try to exist in the Arab world,” Zeghidour said, drawing attention to countries such as Lebanon, Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia, where French is the unofficial primary language. 

A veteran reporter for 25 years, Zeghidour has covered the first and second Intifadas, as well as wars in Sudan, Iraq and Algeria, among others. Never has he seen an Arab reporter working for an Arab newspaper on-site. “The only Arab journalists or those of Arab-origins that I met, worked for The Guardian and The New York Times.”

Investigative journalism in the Arab world is a near fallacy, according to Zeghidour, who said: “We do not recognize the right of a journalist in asking questions, although that is what their job consists of. It (their job) is not to give answers. They must first ask the right questions.”

He added: “The press, the power and the authority of each country must evolve. This mutual development must generate mutual trust and respect.”

Moreover, he believes that “in Arab countries, being a journalist is a sedentary and urban profession.” Journalists usually get their information from their contacts and there is “no extensive work or in-depth investigation on the ground in the country or abroad,” he added.

It is imperative to train investigative journalists in the Arab world, who can tell stories — not just rehash stories from news wires.

“Even in the most important and oldest Arab newspapers, the articles are simply a synthesis of international stories, or reflections and digressions on current events,” Zeghidour said. “As long as this persists, the Arab public will seek information about themselves, their situation, their daily life and their country in the international press.”

It is partly why he is unsurprised that over half (61 percent) of Arab youth get their news from social media, according to the Arab Youth Survey 2021. He also attributes the popularity of social media as a source of news to the confirmation bias people have. 

“The result of this poll is not surprising since most people are only looking for information that supports their own beliefs,” he said. “It (social media) doesn’t teach them anything new; it only reinforces what they already know.”