Twitter crashes during Ron DeSantis US presidential run announcement

“Failure to Launch,” “Crashed” and #DeSaster were among the trending Twitter topics in the US during the chat session. (AFP/File)
“Failure to Launch,” “Crashed” and #DeSaster were among the trending Twitter topics in the US during the chat session. (AFP/File)
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Updated 25 May 2023
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Twitter crashes during Ron DeSantis US presidential run announcement

Twitter crashes during Ron DeSantis US presidential run announcement
  • Florida Governor used Twitter Spaces to announce presidential candidacy
  • Glitches were attributed to high traffic, software bugs

LONDON: Twitter crashed repeatedly on Wednesday during a highly anticipated live audio chat between Elon Musk, Twitter’s owner, and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, hampering the politician’s announcement he is running for the Republican presidential nomination.
Since Musk took over the social media platform in October, he has laid off thousands of employees including many engineers who were responsible for fixing software bugs.
Current and former Twitter employees previously told Reuters the steep layoffs would put the platform at risk of crashing during times of high traffic.
“We’ve got so many people here that I think we are kind of melting the servers, which is a good sign,” said David Sacks, a venture capitalist and close friend of Musk, while attempting to start the event on Wednesday.
Musk attributed the problems to the number of listeners and his large Twitter following.
About 678,000 people tuned in to listen as Twitter suffered repeated crashes.
The Spaces session eventually resumed, reaching about 304,000 listeners.
About 3 million people listened to Musk’s interview with the BBC on Twitter Spaces last month.
“Failure to Launch,” “Crashed” and #DeSaster were among the trending Twitter topics in the US during the chat session.
Twitter outages have been more numerous under Musk’s ownership. In March, thousands of users reported problems accessing links posted on the platform.
Internet observatory NetBlocks said the March incident was Twitter’s sixth
major outage
since the year began, compared with three in the same period last year.
In between crashes on Wednesday, US President Joe Biden poked fun at the shaky rollout of DeSantis’ presidential bid by tweeting out a fundraising appeal: “This link works.”


StarzPlay reveals most-watched content in Saudi Arabia

StarzPlay reveals most-watched content in Saudi Arabia
Updated 22 September 2023
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StarzPlay reveals most-watched content in Saudi Arabia

StarzPlay reveals most-watched content in Saudi Arabia
  • Viewers in the Kingdom account for 30% of the service’s sports audience, 45% of its entertainment audience, and 50% of those who watch StarzPlay Originals
  • Number of people in the country watching Arabic content has doubled since February, after addition of Arabic Originals and content from Egyptian streaming service Watch It

DUBAI: Football, StarzPlay Originals and Turkish programs are among the most-watched content on StarzPlay in Saudi Arabia, according to newly released statistics from the streaming service.

Audiences in the Kingdom are clearly big sports fans, with Saudi viewers accounting for 30 percent of the StarzPlay Sports audience. In addition to football, Ultimate Fighting Championship and rugby are among the most popular sports, the viewing figures reveal.

“The appeal of sports in Saudi (Arabia) has been truly remarkable for us and it’s fantastic that we can appeal to such a diverse range of sports enthusiasts with our wide array of sports programming, spanning football, rugby, cricket and more,” said Tony Saab, senior vice president of content and programming.

The figures also reveal that viewers in Saudi Arabia make up 45 percent of StarzPlay’s audience for entertainment programming, with the streaming service’s Originals, Turkish and Arabic titles, and comedy boxsets racking up the most views.

Arabic Originals such as the films “Harley,” “Big Lie” and “Wala Ghalta,” and TV series “Kaboos” and “The Chamber” are particularly popular among Saudis, who represent about half of the total audience for Originals content.

The number of users in the Kingdom that watch Arabic content has doubled since February, following the launch of Arabic Original titles and the addition of content from Egyptian video-on-demand service Watch It, StarzPlay said.

The popularity of Originals “underlines the importance of our commitment to consistently delivering high-quality content for our audiences and we remain dedicated to bringing the finest entertainment to our Saudi viewers,” said Saab.

“Saudi Arabia is one of our key markets and we are delighted to witness the ongoing expansion in viewership.”

The statistics also reveal that the majority of Saudi StarzPlay viewers use their TVs or mobile phones to stream content, and three times as many people use iOS devices compared with those powered by Android.


Morocco says the 2 French journalists it expelled did not seek accreditation

Morocco says the 2 French journalists it expelled did not seek accreditation
Updated 22 September 2023
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Morocco says the 2 French journalists it expelled did not seek accreditation

Morocco says the 2 French journalists it expelled did not seek accreditation
  • Expulsion row has revived tensions between Rabat and Paris
  • Both journalists entered the country as tourists, says govt spokesman

PARIS: Two French journalists have been expelled from Morocco this week in a move denounced by media outlets and press freedom advocates.

Staff reporter Quentin Müller and freelancer photojournalist Thérèse Di Campo, who work for the weekly Marianne magazine, said on Wednesday that they were taken by force from their Casablanca hotel room by 10 plainclothes police officers and put on the first flight to Paris.
Both Müller and Stéphane Aubouard, an editor at Marianne, said the expulsions were politically motivated in response to critical reporting.
Morocco denied the charge and said their removal was about procedure, not politics. However, media activists framed it as the latest action taken by Moroccan authorities against journalists.
In a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, Müller linked their expulsions to broader concerns about retaliation against journalists in Morocco.
In a subsequent op-ed, Aubouard said the two went to Morocco following this month’s devastating earthquake that killed nearly 3,000 people. He said the expulsions “confirm the difficulty that foreign and local journalists have working in the country.”
Morocco has garnered some international condemnation in recent years for what many see as its efforts to infringe on press freedoms. At least three Moroccan journalists who have reported critically on government actions are in prison, convicted of crimes unrelated to journalism.
The Committee to Protect Journalists and Reporters Without Borders both denounced the expulsions on X, with the latter describing them as a “brutal and inadmissible attack on press freedom.”
Moroccan government spokesperson Mustapha Baitas said on Thursday the expulsions were a matter of procedure, not politics. He said that neither journalist had sought accreditation, which is required by journalists under Moroccan law.
Baitas said Müller and Di Campo entered the country as tourists. “They neither requested accreditation nor declared their intent to engage in journalistic activities,” he told reporters at a news conference in Rabat on Thursday.
“Our nation firmly upholds the values of freedom and transparency and is committed to enabling all journalists to perform their duties with absolute freedom,” he added.
The expulsions come amid broader criticism of French media in Morocco.
In a separate development Wednesday, Morocco’s National Press Board published a formal complaint to France’s Council for Journalistic Ethics and Mediation against two media outlets, the satiric weekly Charlie Hebdo and the daily Libération, saying their reporting had violated ethical norms and spread fake news while attacking Morocco and its institutions for their earthquake response.
Tensions have spiked lately between Morocco and France, with Rabat recalling the kingdom’s ambassador to France at the start of the year, without sending a replacement.
After the earthquake, France was not among the four countries chosen by Morocco for search-and-rescue assistance — a move scrutinized in both French and international media. French President Emmanuel Macron in a video on social media later appealed for an end to controversies that “divide and complicate” things at “such a tragic moment.”
The kingdom’s Interior Ministry had cautioned that an overflow of poorly coordinated aid “would be counterproductive” and said it planned to accept assistance later.


Spotify highlights rising talents by naming Zena Emad as September’s EQUAL Arabia Ambassador

Spotify highlights rising talents by naming Zena Emad as September’s EQUAL Arabia Ambassador
Updated 21 September 2023
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Spotify highlights rising talents by naming Zena Emad as September’s EQUAL Arabia Ambassador

Spotify highlights rising talents by naming Zena Emad as September’s EQUAL Arabia Ambassador
  • Digital music service celebrated the Saudi talent ahead of the Kingdom’s National Day

LONDON: Spotify announced Saudi songstress Zena Emad as its EQUAL Arabia Ambassador for September. 

As an extension of Spotify’s global Women in Music Program, EQUAL Arabia is devoted to elevating the narratives of Arab women artists by offering support on and beyond the platform.

“I can’t express how thrilled I am to join the Spotify family,” said Emad in a statement.

“I’m incredibly proud and amazed by the number of people who enjoy hearing my voice, and even more delighted that Spotify will be the platform connecting me to my fans and admirers.”

Emad was picked for the cover of the EQUAL Arabia playlist for the month of September, and her recent hit, “Habeetah,” can be found on the EQUAL Arabia playlist and the global EQUAL playlist.

She is also celebrated on Spotify’s billboard in Times Square, New York City, ahead of Saudi National Day.   

With songs like “Land of Heroes,” “Habeetah,” and “Ya Awali,” Emad has become a standout figure in the Saudi music scene, blending pop with global rhythms to gain a significant following.

“I also want to speak about the wonderful opportunity my beloved country has given me as a young Saudi woman with big ambitions, helping me fulfill my dreams and aspirations,” Emad added.

“I look forward to more support and anticipation from the audience, as the best is yet to come.”


BBC Cairo staff reaches agreement on wages and benefits after multiple strikes

BBC Cairo staff reaches agreement on wages and benefits after multiple strikes
Updated 21 September 2023
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BBC Cairo staff reaches agreement on wages and benefits after multiple strikes

BBC Cairo staff reaches agreement on wages and benefits after multiple strikes
  • Agreement has been reached over salaries, transportation allowance, and health insurance
  • BBC Cairo’s staff staged a series of strikes to protest discriminatory behavior by London management

LONDON: In a negotiation process, BBC’s London management has agreed to ensure higher salaries and essential benefits to its staff at the Cairo office.

The agreement was reached after a series of protests started in June 2023 against discriminatory behavior in BBC’s financial policies.

The head of the Egyptian Journalist Syndicate, Khaled El-Balshy, present in the negotiation process, confirmed to Ahram Online that “the new regulations would provide compensation increases ranging from 75 to 142 percent for entry-level positions, as well as equal transportation allowances for all employees and double allowances for night shift workers.”

Under the agreement, “each employee’s BBC-sponsored health insurance will be increased to cover an extra family member,” noted Khaled El-Balshy.

In addition, BBC management decided to reconsider its “volatile markets” policy to tackle economic recessions in nations where it operates.

According to the syndicate, the review will be finished by December 2023, but it will be implemented in BBC Cairo with immediate effect.

BBC News operates in 58 locations across 44 countries and adjusts salaries accordingly to account for inflation.

Egypt is in the grip of a financial crisis, with around one-third of its 109 million population living in destitution.

According to data from the state-run Central Agency for Mobilization and Statistics, the annual inflation rate hit 36.8 percent in June, up from 33.7 percent in the last few months.

BBC Cairo staff began a gradual strike that started in June this year, followed by a three-day strike in July and a 10-day strike in August 2023.


French journalist arrested over document leaks of alleged France-Egypt spy operation

French journalist arrested over document leaks of alleged France-Egypt spy operation
Updated 21 September 2023
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French journalist arrested over document leaks of alleged France-Egypt spy operation

French journalist arrested over document leaks of alleged France-Egypt spy operation
  • Report found that French intelligence information had been hijacked by Egypt to target smugglers
  • Ariane Lavrilleux was released on Wednesday after public outcry

LONDON:  French journalist Ariane Lavrilleux was arrested and her home searched earlier this week for reporting on the alleged hijack of French intelligence information by Egypt two years ago, according to Disclose and Lavrilleux’s lawyer.

Investigative website Disclose published a series of articles authored by the Lavrilleux in November 2021 based on hundreds of secret documents.

It said they showed how information from a French counter-intelligence operation in Egypt intended to track jihadist militants, codenamed “Sirli,” was used by the Egyptian state for “a campaign of arbitrary killings” against smugglers operating along the Libyan border.

Lavrilleux, an investigative reporter working in the Middle East and based in Cairo, was released Wednesday evening after nearly two days in police custody.

Virginie Marquet, the lawyer for Lavrilleux and Disclose, condemned the arrest saying the published information is of public interest and “a new, unacceptable attack on the confidentiality of sources.”

Marquet said: “I am appalled and worried about the escalation in attacks on the freedom to inform and the coercive measures taken against the Disclose journalist. This search risks seriously undermining the confidentiality of journalists’ sources.”

Rights groups denounced the arrest and called for the investigation against her to be dropped, saying that questioning “reporters about their confidential sources places them under unwarranted pressure and could have a chilling effect on defense reporting.”

The initial Disclose articles said French forces were complicit in at least 19 bombings against smugglers between 2016 and 2018 in the region.

The documents showed there were warnings from officials within the French government, but the operation was not called into question, Disclose said.

Its publication prompted France’s armed forces minister to call for an investigation for “violation of national defense secrecy,” and a case was opened in July 2022 by the Paris prosecutor’s office that was then placed in the hands of France’s domestic intelligence agency, DGSI.

With AFP