Twitter to introduce new controls for ad placements

Twitter earns nearly 90 percent of its revenue from selling digital ads. (AFP/File)
Twitter earns nearly 90 percent of its revenue from selling digital ads. (AFP/File)
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Updated 09 December 2022

Twitter to introduce new controls for ad placements

Twitter to introduce new controls for ad placements
  • Companies will have the option to prevent their ads appearing under certain tweets
  • Move hopes to reassure advertisers following rise in hate speech

LONDON: Twitter Inc. will roll out new controls as soon as next week to let companies prevent their ads from appearing above or below tweets containing certain keywords, the social media platform told advertisers in an email on Thursday.
The new controls are part of Twitter’s effort to reassure and lure back advertisers that have pulled ads off the platform since it was purchased in October by billionaire Elon Musk, amid reports from civil rights groups that hate speech has risen since the acquisition and after several banned or suspended accounts were reinstated.
Twitter earns nearly 90 percent of its revenue from selling digital ads. Musk recently attributed a “massive drop in revenue” to civil rights organizations that have pressured brands to pause their Twitter ads.
In a call on Thursday with an advertising industry group, a Twitter representative said the platform was considering bringing its content moderators, many of whom are contracted through third-party vendors, in-house, according to a source familiar with the remarks.
The Twitter representative said bringing content moderators in-house would allow the platform to invest more in moderation for non-English languages, according to the source.
The comments come after Twitter’s new head of trust and safety, Ella Irwin, told Reuters that the platform would lean more heavily on automated content moderation. Irwin also said that Twitter’s recent layoffs, which cut 50 percent of staff, did not significantly hurt its moderation team and those working on critical areas like child safety.
The email to advertisers on Thursday, which was reviewed by Reuters, said a revamped version of Twitter’s subscription service called Twitter Blue would begin rolling out on Friday.
The subscription will allow accounts to receive a verified check mark. Accounts for individuals will get a blue check, while gold and gray check marks will denote business and government accounts, according to the email.
The subscription price will be $7 per month on the web and $11 per month on Apple devices, the email said.
Twitter also told advertisers that it removed ads from profiles mentioned in a Washington Post article on Tuesday, which reported that ads had appeared on the Twitter accounts of white nationalists.
Snap Inc, which owns photo messaging app Snapchat, has paused its advertising on Twitter while it investigates the issue, a spokesperson told Reuters.
The accounts were not part of “amnesty reinstatements,” Twitter’s email said, referring to Musk’s tweet last month that Twitter would reinstate suspended accounts that have not broken the law.
“We will not be reinstating bad actors, spam accounts and users that engaged in criminal/illegal activity,” Twitter’s note to advertisers said.
Twitter, which has lost many members of its communications team, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


Spotify launches ‘Women of Iran’ playlist

Spotify launches ‘Women of Iran’ playlist
Updated 11 sec ago

Spotify launches ‘Women of Iran’ playlist

Spotify launches ‘Women of Iran’ playlist
  • Compilation celebrates Persian music history and amplifies female voices

LONDON: Spotify has launched a new playlist called “Women of Iran,” voicing its support for females protesting in the country.

Curated by Iranian American Leila Kashfi, DSP’s associate manager, artist partnerships, the playlist aims to amplify the voices of Iranian girls and women and their global allies, according to reports.

“For decades, the Islamic Republic has forced Iranians to suppress the beauty of Persian culture — a culture founded thousands of years ago in music, dance, romance, & tolerance,” Kashfi wrote on Instagram.

“The (Islamic Republic) targets artists because music fuels revolution.”

The compilation reflects core characteristics of Iran’s culture and celebrates the country’s past and contemporary music history, including songs specifically about the current protests.

“Women of Iran” includes songs by iconic Iranian singers, including Googoosh, Mahasti and Hayedeh, alongside artists Shervin Hajipour and Toomaj Salehi, who were both arrested and imprisoned after sharing music in support of the fight against the Islamic Republic’s injustices.

Hajipour, who received a whopping 95,000 submissions for The Grammys’ new best song for social change award, was released following international pressure back in October.

As a part of the playlist launch, Spotify is utilizing its video story feature that provides a platform for the Iranian creative community to speak on topics including culture, art and freedom of expression.

The algorithm-driven 50-song custom selection pulls from over 100 Iranian songs and will include five songs pinned to every user’s playlist, including Hajipour’s “Baraye” and Salehi’s “Soorakh Moosh.”

The other three are “Dobareh,” a collective song led by iconic artist Googoosh, “Soroode Zan” from popular singer Mehdi Yarrahi, and a song that translates to “Freedom Anthem” by a collective calling themselves Ethnic Musicians.

The playlist also includes diasporic Iranian artists, including Rana Mansour, Snoh Aalegra, and Iranian-Dutch singer Sevdaliza, who has released a number of songs in support of the ongoing revolution in Iran.


ChatGPT maker fields tool for spotting AI-written text

ChatGPT maker fields tool for spotting AI-written text
Updated 01 February 2023

ChatGPT maker fields tool for spotting AI-written text

ChatGPT maker fields tool for spotting AI-written text
  • But the company said the detection tool is still "imperfect"

SAN FRANCISCO: Creators of a ChatGPT bot causing a stir for its ability to mimic human writing on Tuesday released a tool designed to detect when written works are authored by artificial intelligence.
The announcement came amid intense debate at schools and universities in the United States and around the world over concerns that the software can be used to assist students with assignments and help them cheat during exams.
US-based OpenAI said in a blog post Tuesday that its detection tool has been trained “to distinguish between text written by a human and text written by AIs from a variety of providers.”
The bot from OpenAI, which recently received a massive cash injection from Microsoft, responds to simple prompts with reams of text inspired by data gathered on the Internet.
OpenAI cautioned that its tool can make mistakes, particularly with texts containing fewer than 1,000 characters.
“While it is impossible to reliably detect all AI-written text, we believe good classifiers can inform mitigations for false claims that AI-generated text was written by a human,” OpenAI said in the post.
“For example, running automated misinformation campaigns, using AI tools for academic dishonesty, and positioning an AI chatbot as a human.”
A top French university last week forbade students from using ChatGPT to complete assignments, in the first such ban at a college in the country.
The decision came shortly after word that ChatGPT had passed exams at a US law school after writing essays on topics ranging from constitutional law to taxation.
ChatGPT still makes factual mistakes, but education facilities have rushed to ban the AI tool.
“We recognize that identifying AI-written text has been an important point of discussion among educators, and equally important is recognizing the limits and impacts of AI generated text classifiers in the classroom,” OpenAI said in the post.
“We are engaging with educators in the US to learn what they are seeing in their classrooms and to discuss ChatGPT’s capabilities and limitations.”
Officials in New York and other jurisdictions have forbidden its use in schools.
A group of Australian universities have said they would change exam formats to banish AI tools and regard them as cheating.
OpenAI said it recommends using the classifier only with English text as it performs worse in other languages.


Tech giants in Europe could pay for 5G, fiber networks under fresh EU plans

Tech giants in Europe could pay for 5G, fiber networks under fresh EU plans
Updated 31 January 2023

Tech giants in Europe could pay for 5G, fiber networks under fresh EU plans

Tech giants in Europe could pay for 5G, fiber networks under fresh EU plans
  • Proposal aims to offset costs of data-heavy companies including Google, Netflix
  • But ‘fair share’ vision could threaten net neutrality, civil society groups warn

LONDON: ‘Data-heavy’ tech companies in Europe recording high levels of internet data traffic could be required to contribute to telecom infrastructure costs under new EU plans, sources said on Monday.

Under the proposal, companies including Netflix and Google will be required “to help pay for the next generation of internet infrastructure” across the continent.

The initiative to charge companies over their bandwidth usage — data transfer measured in bits per second — is part of the “fair share” vision being pursued by the EU.

“Fair share,” also known as the sender-pays principle, is based on the argument advanced by leading European telecom carriers that online platforms fail to contribute to network expenses while benefiting from the digital economy.

A draft document suggested that tech firms might contribute to a fund to offset the costs of building 5G mobile networks and fiber infrastructure, as well as take part in the creation of a mandatory system of direct payments to telecom operators.

The European Commission, which is developing the proposal with industry players, is reportedly floating a “threshold” proposal that would help identify companies that generate large amounts of data traffic, similar to the concept of “gatekeeper” companies introduced as part of the Digital Markets Act.

According to a European Telecommunications Network Operators’ Association study, a small number of internet companies — including Google, Apple, Meta, Microsoft and Netflix — account for more than 56 percent of global data traffic.

The proposal to force tech giants to contribute to telecom costs was first brought forward in May 2022 but was met with skepticism by some members of the EC, who called for broad consultations with relevant stakeholders.

Tech companies and civil society organizations have also expressed alarm about the move, warning that it might jeopardize net neutrality, which promotes the democratization of the internet and freedom for individual users.

EC President Ursula von der Leyen said in December that the EU “intends to launch a thorough discussion on the future of Europe’s connectivity infrastructure,” adding: “The amount of data exchanged and harvested is larger than ever and will increase.”

EU lawmakers are aiming to move ahead of the curve with legislation focusing on the growth of the data-intensive metaverse and virtual worlds.


SRMG Academy launches registration for journalism boot camp

SRMG Academy launches registration for journalism boot camp
Updated 01 February 2023

SRMG Academy launches registration for journalism boot camp

SRMG Academy launches registration for journalism boot camp
  • Classes start on April 30 in Riyadh and run for six months
  • The program features lectures by a group of SRMG journalists

RIYADH: SRMG Academy has announced that registration for its signature journalism boot camp is now open until Feb. 18, 2023.

The six-month program, which kicks off in Riyadh on April 30, seeks to discover new media talents and develop emerging journalists in Saudi Arabia and beyond.

The SRMG Academy Boot Camp offers 20 participants hands-on classroom training and the opportunity for work experience at SRMG’s most prominent publications.

The rigorous program is led by world-class Arab and international journalists who have experience in regional and global news organizations. It will also feature lectures by a selection of SRMG’s leading journalists.

“I can’t think of a better gateway to begin a career in journalism in Saudi Arabia and the Arab world than taking part in this unique program,” said SRMG Academy Managing Director Alaa Shahine Salha.

“Each day, the training will offer new challenges to the participants,” he added. “They will be presented with real-life situations that are faced by journalists and the students will have to make quick decisions…about how to address them.”

The first edition of the program is open to residents of Saudi Arabia who are recent university graduates or have a maximum of two years of work experience.

The best-performing trainees will receive job offers from SRMG publications. The selection will be based on a combination of talent and the needs of the business.

Launched in December last year, the SRMG Academy is the editorial training arm of the Saudi Research and Media Group, which owns more than 30 leading publications and platforms across the Middle East and North Africa region, including Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper, Asharq News and Independent Arabia.

The SRMG Academy Boot Camp is designed to offer participants a gateway to building a career in the industry by equipping them with the skills needed in today’s media world. The course will include fundamental skills, such as writing, editing and beat reporting, in addition to different story formats, such as mobile journalism, podcasting and broadcast journalism.


Advisory firm Salient launches in Saudi Arabia

Advisory firm Salient launches in Saudi Arabia
Updated 01 February 2023

Advisory firm Salient launches in Saudi Arabia

Advisory firm Salient launches in Saudi Arabia
  • Industry veterans behind company hail Kingdom’s ‘leading role on global stage’

LONDON: Newly formed communications advisory firm Salient has launched in Saudi Arabia.

The company was launched by industry veterans Andrew Bone and Sean Trainor. Salient specializes in corporate reputation and organizational culture management.

“Saudi Arabia is the most exciting market globally for communications professionals,” said Abdullah Al-Muzaini, co-founder and non-executive chairman.

“Salient is committed to building local capacity to enhance the reputation of leading organizations and increasing familiarity and favorability toward the Kingdom.”

Headquartered in Riyadh, Salient combines global expertise and local insights to build the reputations of organizations in the region.

The two veterans behind Salient said that the company will provide communication expertise to corporates operating across a wide range of industries, and will support organizations in the country as the Kingdom continues to implement its far-reaching Vision 2030 national transformation program.

“Guided by Vision 2030, the pace of change is accelerating every day as Saudi Arabia takes a leading role on the global stage,” Trainor said.

“The communication challenges and opportunities are unprecedented, and Salient is committed and well positioned to support the country in this dynamic marketplace.”

Bone said that Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 is an ambitious project “the likes of which has never been witnessed before worldwide.”

He added: “Collectively we have been working at the center of government in Saudi Arabia for more than a decade helping the nation to tell its compelling story.”

The company aims to support a new generation of Saudi industry leaders by blending global talent and local professionalism, the pair said.

“Our fresh, innovative approach to communication is the perfect learning environment for nurturing Saudi talent to become global communication consultants,” Salient general manager Osamah Alqusayer said.

“Blending the best of global talent with smart, inquisitive young Saudis is an attractive proposition for organizations looking for standout communications with impact.”