Facebook, YouTube remove content backing Brazil attack

Supporters of Brazil's former President Jair Bolsonaro are pictured through a broken glass as they demonstrate against President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, outside Brazil’s National Congress in Brasilia, Brazil, January 8, 2023. (REUTERS)
Supporters of Brazil's former President Jair Bolsonaro are pictured through a broken glass as they demonstrate against President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, outside Brazil’s National Congress in Brasilia, Brazil, January 8, 2023. (REUTERS)
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Updated 10 January 2023
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Facebook, YouTube remove content backing Brazil attack

Facebook, YouTube remove content backing Brazil attack
  • Bolsonaro refused to concede defeat and some supporters have claimed the election was stolen, with people taking to social media and messaging platforms from Twitter, Telegram and TikTok to YouTube and Facebook, to organise protests

STOCKHOLM/LONDON: Facebook parent Meta and Google's video platform YouTube said on Monday they were removing content supporting or praising the weekend ransacking of Brazilian government buildings by anti-democratic demonstrators.
Tens of thousands of supporters of Brazil's far-right former President Jair Bolsonaro smashed presidential palace windows, flooded parts of Congress with a sprinkler system and ransacked rooms in the Supreme Court in a more than three hour attack.
"In advance of the election, we designated Brazil as a temporary high-risk location and have been removing content calling for people to take up arms or forcibly invade Congress, the Presidential palace and other federal buildings," a Meta spokesman said.
"We are also designating this as a violating event, which means we will remove content that supports or praises these actions," he said. "We are actively following the situation and will continue removing content that violates our policies."
Leftist President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva took office on Jan. 1 after defeating Bolsonaro in a runoff election in October, ending Brazil's most right-wing government in decades.
Bolsonaro refused to concede defeat and some supporters have claimed the election was stolen, with people taking to social media and messaging platforms from Twitter, Telegram and TikTok to YouTube and Facebook, to organise protests.
A spokesperson for YouTube told Reuters that the video-sharing company was "closely tracking" the situation in Brazil, where social media platforms have been ordered to block users accused of supporting the attack.
"Our Trust and Safety team is removing content that violates our Community Guidelines, including livestreams and videos inciting violence," the spokesperson said.
"In addition, our systems are prominently surfacing authoritative content on our homepage, at the top of search results, and in recommendations. We will remain vigilant as the situation continues to unfold."
'PROACTIVE MONITORING'
A representative for Telegram said the private messaging app was working with Brazil's government and fact checking groups to prevent the spread of content inciting violence.
"Telegram is a platform that supports the right to free speech and peaceful protest. Calls to violence, however, are explicitly forbidden on our platform," a spokesperson said.
"Our moderators use a combination of proactive monitoring in public-facing parts of our platform in addition to accepting user reports, in order to remove such content."
TikTok and Twitter did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Twitter's Brazil staff was severely cut in layoffs following Elon Musk's takeover in October, which included eight employees who oversaw trending topics and helped add context to tweets that had been labelled for misinformation, according to a source familiar with the matter.
Messages seen by Reuters throughout the week showed members of such groups organising meeting points in several cities around the country, from where chartered buses would leave for Brasilia, with the intention to occupy public buildings.
Social media companies were criticised for not doing enough when supporters of former U.S. President Donald Trump invaded the U.S. Capitol two years ago. Platforms like Facebook and Alphabet's YouTube have said they are working to remove misleading information about elections and voting.

 


Cosmetics brand Garnier partners with Snapchat to celebrate Saudi National Day

Cosmetics brand Garnier partners with Snapchat to celebrate Saudi National Day
Updated 23 September 2023
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Cosmetics brand Garnier partners with Snapchat to celebrate Saudi National Day

Cosmetics brand Garnier partners with Snapchat to celebrate Saudi National Day
  • Their environmental-themed campaign includes limited-edition Bitmoji merchandise and an augmented reality experience
  • Snapchat users can also design a tote bag and share it for a chance to influence the next Garnier tote design, which will be available at Panda stores

DUBAI: Cosmetics company Garnier is teaming up with Snapchat for new campaign, “Shop Greener Because Saudi Deserves Green,” to celebrate Saudi Arabia’s 93rd National Day on Sept. 23 and encourage people in the Kingdom to choose sustainable beauty products.

The campaign, which runs until Sept. 27, features two exclusive experiences for Snapchat users: limited-edition Bitmoji merchandise that can be unlocked by scanning a QR code on Snapchat, and an immersive augmented reality lens featuring a customizable tote bag.

According to a Snapchat report titled Augmentality Shift, 77 percent of consumers surveyed in the Kingdom agreed that they feel closer to brands or products that offer AR experiences.

“We take pride in collaborating with Garnier Green to help reduce environmental impact through the power of AR, and to raise awareness and catalyze change on environmental issues that can have an even bigger influence to champion real change,” said Mariam Koumaiha, brand strategist at Snap Inc. for the Middle East and North Africa region.

As part of the campaign, Snapchat users are invited to design a tote bag and share it for a chance to influence the next Garnier tote design, which will be available at Panda stores.

Users will also receive a complimentary tote bag with the purchase of any Garnier product, and receive a cashback of SR5 ($1.33) when they return with the reusable tote and buy Garnier products worth at least SR50.

“Garnier’s unwavering commitment to a greener and more sustainable Saudi Arabia has been our driving force for years,” said Ahmed Wagih, general manager of Garnier Middle East’s Consumer Product division.

“As we celebrate Saudi Arabia’s heritage, we also celebrate our shared responsibility towards a greener future.”

Snapchat said it has a monthly addressable audience of 22 million users in Saudi Arabia and reaches 90 percent of people in the country between the ages of 13 and 34.


Advanced Media to launch Arabic edition of CINE digital filmmaking workshops in Riyadh

Photo/Shutterstock
Photo/Shutterstock
Updated 22 September 2023
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Advanced Media to launch Arabic edition of CINE digital filmmaking workshops in Riyadh

Photo/Shutterstock
  • The event on Oct. 6-7 aims to give industry professionals, content creators and enthusiasts a chance to learn about the latest industry trends in digital cinema

LONDON: Advanced Media, a company that distributes video, photographic, broadcast and cinema equipment, will host an Arabic version of its biannual digital cinema community event, CINE, in Riyadh next month.

Titled CINESeason, the event on Oct. 6 and 7 aims to give industry professionals, content creators and enthusiasts a chance to learn about the latest industry trends in digital cinema. Organizers said the comprehensive program will teach participants about various aspects of cinematic filmmaking, including video acquisition, lighting for film and TV drama, shooting in high-resolution formats, workflow, and the post-production process.

Workshops will be led by leading industry experts in the region, they added, including cinematographer Fouad Aoun, editor Mostafa Salah, and renowned Egyptian director of photography Ayman Abou El-Makarem.

As the entertainment sector in Saudi Arabia has opened up in recent years as part of the Vision 2030 plan to develop and diversify the national economy, the country has emerged as a rapidly expanding market for filmmaking and content creation, which is driving demand for professional equipment and skilled operators.

Established in 2020 by UAE-based Advanced Media, CINESeason provides a unique opportunity for filmmakers in the Kingdom to gain hands-on experience with the latest equipment, and network with fellow professionals.

 

 


Iranian filmmakers protest official Oscar entry, call for new submission

Iranian filmmakers protest official Oscar entry, call for new submission
Updated 22 September 2023
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Iranian filmmakers protest official Oscar entry, call for new submission

Iranian filmmakers protest official Oscar entry, call for new submission
  • IIFMA said shortlist was not representative of Iran’s creative body of work
  • Iran selected Reza Mirkarimi’s “The Night Guardian” as country submission to the 96th Academy Awards

LONDON: Dissident Iranian filmmakers have protested the country’s official Oscars entry for 2024 and called on the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to consider an alternative film to represent Iran.

The Iranian government-controlled Farabi Cinema Foundation has selected Reza Mirkarimi’s “The Night Guardian” as Iran’s submission to the 96th Academy Awards.

However, the Iranian Independent Filmmaker Association has opposed the decision, arguing that Farabi maintains close ties with the Islamic Republic’s government and that “Iranian cinema’s representative at the Oscars” should not be announced by the state-controlled entity.

In a statement, the IIFMA accused the government of leveraging Farabi to put “terrifying pressure on Iranian artists” and that the Oscars entry shortlist is not reflective of the creative body of work this year by Iranian filmmakers.

It added that Farabi also excluded several Iranian films that were critically acclaimed internationally this year from consideration as Iran’s Oscars entry.

The IIFMA pointed out that Farabi admitted to working with Iranian intelligence agencies to choose the films for the shortlist, adding that the organization has been banned from several film festivals, such as Berlin and Cannes, because of its close ties to the regime.

The IIFMA was formed on the eve of the Berlin Film Festival last February, in the wake of the “Woman, Life, Freedom” protests, to represent filmmakers who are not affiliated with the Iranian government.

AMPAS has not yet commented on the IIFMA’s protest or on the calls for an alternative Oscars entry for Iran.

However, the academy has a history of supporting filmmakers working in repressive environments.

In 2021, exiled Iranian filmmaker Bahman Ghobadi wrote to it suggesting the creation of a special entry in the category representing exiled artists.


Tunisia frees cartoonist after his arrest over drawings mocking PM

Tunisia frees cartoonist after his arrest over drawings mocking PM
Updated 22 September 2023
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Tunisia frees cartoonist after his arrest over drawings mocking PM

Tunisia frees cartoonist after his arrest over drawings mocking PM
  • Tawfiq Omrane could face one year in prison if convicted

TUNIS: Tunisia’s public prosecutor on Friday released the cartoonist Tawfiq Omrane, after he was detained for hours over drawings mocking the prime minister, fueling concern among free speech advocates.
Omrane is well known for publishing satirical cartoons featuring President Kais Saied, who seized almost all powers two years ago after he shut down Tunisia’s elected parliament in a move that the opposition described as a coup.
“They interrogated me on suspicion of insulting the prime minister. They showed a drawing that they considered offensive,” Omrane told Diwan FM Tunisian radio.
Omrane pledged that he would continue his satirical drawings.
“The police interrogated him (Omrane) for hours without the presence of lawyers on suspicion of insulting through social networks ... over cartoons mocking the prime minister,” his lawyer, Anas Kadoussi, told Reuters. Kadoussi said the cartoonist could face one year in prison if convicted.
Interior Ministry officials declined to comment immediately.
Ahmed Hachani is the prime minister, appointed last month to replace Najla Bouden.
Many Tunisians see free speech as a principal reform won after the 2011 revolution that toppled dictatorial President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. Activists, journalists and politicians have warned this freedom is under threat.
“Omrane’s arrest reinforces authorities’ efforts to suppress critical voices of the president,” said Amira Mohamed, a senior official at the country’s Journalists’ Syndicate.
Kais Saied strongly criticized state TV in a speech this week, including the arrangement of headlines in a bulletin, in a move that the Journalists Syndicate said was “blatant interference.”
Saied rejects accusations of targeting freedoms and has said he will never be a dictator.
Police have detained more than 20 political figures this year, including opposition leader Rached Ghannouchi, head of the Ennahda party, accusing some of plotting against state security.


YouTube announces AI-powered tools to enhance content

YouTube announces AI-powered tools to enhance content
Updated 22 September 2023
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YouTube announces AI-powered tools to enhance content

YouTube announces AI-powered tools to enhance content
  • Dream Screen enables users to generate backgrounds and videos
  • YouTube Studio to use generative AI to help users produce ideas based on audience viewing habits

DUBAI: YouTube has unveiled several AI-powered tools, to be rolled out over the next year, to help creators enhance their content with videos or images.

The tools were showcased at the platform’s annual event “Made on YouTube” on Thursday.

“The creativity of content creators on YouTube across the Middle East and North Africa is truly inspiring and we’re excited to see how they will leverage YouTube’s new AI-powered features to continue pushing the boundaries of creative expression,” Tarek Amin, director of YouTube in MENA, told Arab News.

Since the launch of Shorts in 2020, the short-form content format has been capturing audiences’ attention, garnering over 70 billion daily views globally.

To make Shorts even more appealing for creators, YouTube announced the launch of Dream Screen, an experimental feature that allows creators to add AI-generated video or image backgrounds to their Shorts simply by typing an idea into a prompt.

“Given the mobile-first creator and audience for Shorts, it made sense for Dream Screen to start there,” a YouTube spokesperson told Arab News, adding that the feature would be developed further based on community feedback.

YouTube Studio will use generative AI to help creators brainstorm and come up with ideas based on audiences’ viewing habits and content interests. The insights will be personalized for each channel or creator, YouTube said.

The company has been testing early versions of AI-powered tools in YouTube Studio with creators, and more than 70 percent of those surveyed said it has helped them develop and test ideas for videos.

For now, the feature will be deployed experimentally in the US later this year, and will be expanded to other creators next year, the spokesperson said.

YouTube also launched YouTube Create, a production and editing mobile app for creators. Early tests were conducted in India and Singapore, and the app is currently in beta for creators in the US, UK, France, Germany, South Korea and Indonesia.

It is currently available only on Android devices but is expected to launch on iOS next year.

The company also announced other products and features including an AI-powered music recommendation system that will take a written description of a creator’s video and suggest which soundtrack matches best, as well as an AI dubbing feature that will allow creators to dub their videos into other languages.

The latter is powered by Aloud, which is part of Area 120, Google’s in-house incubator for experimental projects.

It currently supports dubbing from English to Portuguese and Spanish.

The YouTube spokesperson told Arab News: “Translation and transcription quality is different across languages; we will increase language coverage — including starting from a non-English source — as we gain higher confidence over the translation and transcription accuracy of the dubs.”