Elton John quits Twitter

Supermodel Gigi Hadid, writer Shonda Rhimes and former White Stripes guitarist Jack White have all quit Twitter. (AFP/File)
Supermodel Gigi Hadid, writer Shonda Rhimes and former White Stripes guitarist Jack White have all quit Twitter. (AFP/File)
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Updated 10 December 2022
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Elton John quits Twitter

Elton John quits Twitter
  • British musician is latest celebrity to leave the social media platform amid misinformation concerns

LONDON: British musician Elton John quit Twitter on Friday, the latest high-profile celebrity to leave the social media platform following its acquisition by billionaire Elon Musk.
John, who is currently on his last-ever global tour, blamed Twitter’s recent policy change as a reason for quitting.
“All my life I’ve tried to use music to bring people together. Yet it saddens me to see how misinformation is now being used to divide our world,” John tweeted to his 1.1 million followers.
“I’ve decided to no longer use Twitter, given their recent change in policy which will allow misinformation to flourish unchecked.”
The 75-year-old activist and singer of hits such as “Tiny Dancer” and “Rocket Man” joins a long list of celebrities who have quit Twitter recently including supermodel Gigi Hadid, writer Shonda Rhimes and former White Stripes guitarist Jack White.
“I love your music. Hope you come back. Is there any misinformation in particular that you’re concerned about?” Musk said in a reply to John’s tweet on Friday.
Since the Tesla Inc. top boss took over Twitter in a $44 billion deal, a series of changes including charging users for a “blue tick,” the roll-back of a policy aimed at tackling misinformation related to COVID-19 and reinstating some previously suspended accounts, including that of former US President Donald Trump, has attracted widespread backlash.
Musk has also halved the company’s workforce and made deep cuts to its trust and safety team, which is responsible for preventing the spread of misinformation and harmful content.


The Mayman Show wins best podcast at WAN-IFRA Middle East Awards 2023

The Mayman Show wins best podcast at WAN-IFRA Middle East Awards 2023
Updated 05 December 2023
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The Mayman Show wins best podcast at WAN-IFRA Middle East Awards 2023

The Mayman Show wins best podcast at WAN-IFRA Middle East Awards 2023
  • ‘Personable and relatable’ show becomes first award-winning Arab News podcast

LONDON: The Mayman Show, the “personable podcast” by Arab News, has been honored as best podcast at this year’s WAN-IFRA Middle East Awards.

The show is known for its relatable conversations between the host and celebrity guests.

Hussam Al-Mayman, the host and producer, said: “I’m very proud to have The Mayman Show selected in the best podcast category. It has been a very interesting journey that has led me and the team here. We are navigating uncharted territory in terms of news content creation for the Middle East.”

Now in its fourth season, the program has featured an array of celebrities and prominent personalities from the Arab world and beyond, including Saudi Arabia’s first female Olympic sprinter Kariman Abuljadayel and hip-hop artist and actor Qusai Kheder.

Al-Mayman, a former professional in the Saudi communications and media industry and the youngest senior assignment producer for MBC News programs, said that the success of his program lay in building meaningful relationships with guests rather than striving to be the first or number one.

“I am proud to be focused on being the one and only Mayman Show and stay true to my authenticity and bring a personal piece, my guests and myself to every discussion,” he said.

“Thank you for the support, and what you see (or listen to) is what you get. What you haven’t seen is even better yet.”

This year’s WAN-IFRA Middle East Awards witnessed a record-breaking number of entries, marking it as the most competitive season in its history.

Since its digital transformation in 2016, Arab News has consistently led in innovation and expansion of its services. The publication’s transition to a digital-first, 24/7 platform with an award-winning design has garnered numerous design and excellence accolades, but the recognition for The Mayman Show marks a significant milestone as the first podcast award.

In 2023 alone, Arab News secured multiple visual storytelling awards in prestigious competitions, including the Society for News Design Awards, International Newspaper Design Competition, Indigo Awards, and European Newspaper Awards.

For more information about Arab News and its award-winning design, visit arabnews.com/greatesthits


CNN producer Ibrahim Dahman loses nine relatives in Israeli strike on Gaza

CNN producer Ibrahim Dahman loses nine relatives in Israeli strike on Gaza
Updated 05 December 2023
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CNN producer Ibrahim Dahman loses nine relatives in Israeli strike on Gaza

CNN producer Ibrahim Dahman loses nine relatives in Israeli strike on Gaza
  • Ibrahim Dahman earlier escaped to Egypt with his family

DUBAI: CNN producer Ibrahim Dahman lost nine relatives in an Israeli air strike in northern Gaza, CNN reported.

Dahman had escaped to Egypt with his family, but on Sunday heard news that at least nine family members were killed when the building they were living in Beit Lahia took a direct hit by an Israeli strike.

His uncle, and the uncle’s wife, daughter and two grandchildren, as well as his aunt, her husband and two children perished, while at least two other relatives are in critical condition and others are still buried under the rubble.

Dahman’s childhood home in Gaza City was also destroyed in a separate strike on an adjacent building the same day, CNN reported.

“I will never be able to forget every stone and corner of the house in which I was born and raised and in which my children were born,” Dahman said in the CNN report.

“They were extremely peaceful and simple people, and their entire lives were devoted solely to work and raising their sons and daughters. They have no affiliation with any organization or group… Pray to God to have mercy on them all.”

Dahman’s brother had earlier called to tell him that his home in Gaza City, where he was born and grew up, has been reduced to ruins by the Israeli bombardment.

He had just finished renovating the apartment months before the Hamas attack, and told CNN he had fond memories living there, including celebrating his sons’ birthdays with cake and candles surrounded by family.

“Unfortunately, I left all my memories, my belongings, and the gifts that my bosses sent me at work in this house, all of which were lost under the rubble now.”

Israel’s military resumed combat operations against Hamas in Gaza last week after accusing Hamas of violating a seven-day temporary truce by firing toward Israeli territory.

The seven-day pause, which began on Nov. 24 and was extended twice, had allowed for the exchange of dozens of hostages held in Gaza for hundreds of Palestinian prisoners and facilitated the entry of humanitarian aid into the shattered coastal strip.

Israel has sworn to annihilate the Palestinian militant group, which rules Gaza, in response to the Oct. 7 rampage when Hamas gunmen killed 1,200 people and took 240 hostages.


Haaretz exposes distortions of the truth by Israeli authorities about Hamas attacks

Haaretz exposes distortions of the truth by Israeli authorities about Hamas attacks
Updated 05 December 2023
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Haaretz exposes distortions of the truth by Israeli authorities about Hamas attacks

Haaretz exposes distortions of the truth by Israeli authorities about Hamas attacks
  • Investigation by the Israeli newspaper finds exaggerations and lies in some reports of incidents on Oct. 7 and accuses high-ranking officials of spreading misinformation
  • Distorted and inaccurate narratives ‘provide ammunition for those who deny the massacre’ and raise concerns about credibility of information from official sources, it warns

LONDON: A report in an Israeli newspaper has accused authorities in the country of spreading misinformation about the Oct. 7 attacks.

During its investigation, Haaretz found that some narratives propagated by Israeli officials concerning the actions of Hamas contained “significant exaggerations.”

Those who promoted distorted narratives included senior military officials, politicians and civil society activists, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office and wife, along with several ministries and government departments, according to the report, which was published on Sunday.

“Politicians, IDF (Israel Defense Forces) officers, Zaka (community emergency response teams) volunteers and many activists on social networks have been describing horror stories committed by Hamas terrorists since Oct. 7,” it said.

“Most of the time, these are real testimonies supported by a lot of evidence but … there have also been stories and descriptions that are not true and which, among other things, provide ammunition to the deniers of the massacre.”

Journalists Nir Hasson and Lisa Rozobsky, the writers of the report, debunked several claims, including a notorious allegation that Israeli soldiers had discovered the bodies of dozens of beheaded children, a narrative that circulated widely on social media. They highlighted ways in which the story had evolved to include claims that children’s bodies had been burned or hanged.

The report said that such alleged narratives, along with graphic images, were even shared by an Israeli government official on social media and mentioned by Netanyahu in his conversation with US President Joe Biden.

Another debunked story involved the alleged kidnapping by Hamas of a pregnant woman, who was said to have given birth while in captivity. The incident was mentioned in a letter sent by Doron Neuberger, Netanyahu’s wife, to US First Lady Jill Biden. Subsequent social media posts revealed that the woman, Natthawaree Mulkan, was not pregnant.

During their investigation, Hasson and Rozobsky provided several other examples of stories that had been debunked or were otherwise incorrect, but which had gained international traction.

During a donor conference in the US, for example, Eli Beer, the founder and president of emergency medical services organization United Hatzalah, propagated a fabricated story about a child burned to death inside an oven. The unsubstantiated story was subsequently reported by British newspaper the Daily Mail.

The report concluded with a warning about the consequences of such exaggerated or inaccurate stories, which “provide ammunition for those who deny the massacre” and raise significant concerns about the credibility of information from official sources.


Journalist death toll in Israel-Hamas conflicts reaches 63, media watchdog confirms

Journalist death toll in Israel-Hamas conflicts reaches 63, media watchdog confirms
Updated 05 December 2023
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Journalist death toll in Israel-Hamas conflicts reaches 63, media watchdog confirms

Journalist death toll in Israel-Hamas conflicts reaches 63, media watchdog confirms
  • Month of conflict represents deadliest for journalists since reports began 30 years ago
  • Israel authorities said they cannot guarantee safety of media workers in Gaza

LONDON: The toll on journalists amid the Israel-Hamas conflict has reached a grim milestone, with at least 63 media professionals confirmed dead, according to a report by the Committee to Protect Journalists on Monday.

The breakdown of casualties includes 56 Palestinian journalists, 4 Israeli journalists, and 3 Lebanese media workers, marking the deadliest month for journalists since the CPJ began documenting fatalities in 1992.

In addition, 11 journalists were also reported injured, 3 missing, and 19 arrested.

“As of December 4, CPJ’s investigations showed at least 63 journalists and media workers were among more than 16,000 killed since the war began on October 7,” CPJ wrote in a blog post.

It added: “This deadly toll is coupled with harassment, detentions, and other reporting obstructions in Gaza, the West Bank, Israel, and beyond.”

The organization has been investigating and independently verified all reports of journalists and media workers killed since Oct. 7.

CPJ said that it was also investigating unconfirmed reports of other journalists killed, missing, detained, hurt or threatened, and of damage to media offices and journalists’ homes.

Sherif Mansour, CPJ’s Middle East and North Africa program coordinator, said “that journalists are civilians doing important work during times of crisis and must not be targeted by warring parties.”

“Journalists across the region are making great sacrifices to cover this heart-breaking conflict. Those in Gaza, in particular, have paid, and continue to pay, an unprecedented toll and face exponential threats.”

Amid the escalating conflict, Israeli forces reported telling news agencies of their inability to ensure the safety of journalists working in Gaza, where the conflict resumed recently after a one-week truce.

Israel’s record on the protection of media workers has faced criticism, with calls for accountability directed at their leaders for not doing enough to prevent the targeting of journalists.

On Monday, Israeli tanks were reported to have opened fire on journalists and photographers in Gaza.

Palestinian journalist Motaz Azaiza shared the video of the incident in which he and a colleague are seen running from Israeli army projectiles fired from tanks and targeting civilians on the street, while wearing press vests.

On Sunday, Lama Al-Arian, a Beirut-based multi-Emmy-award-winning journalist, penned a poignant essay for The New York Times, recounting the loss of her friend Issam Abdallah near the Lebanese-Israeli border on Oct. 13.

She highlighted the conclusion drawn by Reporters Without Borders, stating that Issam Abdallah and the accompanying journalists were “explicitly targeted” in the attack originating from Israel.

Al-Arian underscored Israel’s persistent targeting of journalists, calling it a “deadly, decades-long pattern” for which there has been a lack of accountability for more than 22 years.


Leaders to address industry challenges at World Media Summit

Leaders to address industry challenges at World Media Summit
Updated 04 December 2023
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Leaders to address industry challenges at World Media Summit

Leaders to address industry challenges at World Media Summit
  • More than 450 representatives from 101 countries are attending the event, themed ‘Boosting global confidence, promoting media development’
  • Among notable Saudi guests were Dr. Fahd bin Hassan Al-Aqran, president of the Saudi Press Agency, and the Saudi consul general in Guangzhou, Dr. Abdullah bin Abiyah

LONDON: The opening ceremony of the fifth World Media Summit took place on Sunday in Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong province in southern China. 

Taking the theme “Boosting global confidence, promoting media development,” the event has gathered together more than 450 attendees from 101 countries, including representatives from 197 mainstream media outlets.

Participants discussed various topics including human development and security, emerging technological opportunities and challenges, the role of media and market in the modern era, and other areas of common concern. 

Among notable Saudi guests were Dr. Fahd bin Hassan Al-Aqran, president of the Saudi Press Agency, and the Saudi consul general in Guangzhou, Dr. Abdullah bin Abiyah.

At the summit, the executive chairman of the WMS and president of Xinhua News Agency, Fu Hua, urged media organizations to build consensus, boost confidence in development, and uphold objectivity and truth to enhance credibility. 

He also emphasized the need to deepen exchanges and collaboration, contributing to the creation of an open, clean and inclusive world characterized by lasting peace, universal security and shared prosperity.

The summit, organized jointly by Xinhua News Agency and the provincial governments of Guangdong and Yunnan, continues in Guangzhou and Kunming until Dec. 8.