The Internet - The first Worldwide Tool of Unification ("The End of History")

" ... Now I give you something that few think about: What do you think the Internet is all about, historically? Citizens of all the countries on Earth can talk to one another without electronic borders. The young people of those nations can all see each other, talk to each other, and express opinions. No matter what the country does to suppress it, they're doing it anyway. They are putting together a network of consciousness, of oneness, a multicultural consciousness. It's here to stay. It's part of the new energy. The young people know it and are leading the way.... "

" ... I gave you a prophecy more than 10 years ago. I told you there would come a day when everyone could talk to everyone and, therefore, there could be no conspiracy. For conspiracy depends on separation and secrecy - something hiding in the dark that only a few know about. Seen the news lately? What is happening? Could it be that there is a new paradigm happening that seems to go against history?... " Read More …. "The End of History"- Nov 20, 2010 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll)

"Recalibration of Free Choice"– Mar 3, 2012 (Kryon Channelling by Lee Carroll) - (Subjects: (Old) Souls, Midpoint on 21-12-2012, Shift of Human Consciousness, Black & White vs. Color, 1 - Spirituality (Religions) shifting, Loose a Pope “soon”, 2 - Humans will change react to drama, 3 - Civilizations/Population on Earth, 4 - Alternate energy sources (Geothermal, Tidal (Paddle wheels), Wind), 5 – Financials Institutes/concepts will change (Integrity – Ethical) , 6 - News/Media/TV to change, 7 – Big Pharmaceutical company will collapse “soon”, (Keep people sick), (Integrity – Ethical) 8 – Wars will be over on Earth, Global Unity, … etc.) - (Text version)

“…5 - Integrity That May Surprise…

Have you seen innovation and invention in the past decade that required thinking out of the box of an old reality? Indeed, you have. I can't tell you what's coming, because you haven't thought of it yet! But the potentials of it are looming large. Let me give you an example, Let us say that 20 years ago, you predicted that there would be something called the Internet on a device you don't really have yet using technology that you can't imagine. You will have full libraries, buildings filled with books, in your hand - a worldwide encyclopedia of everything knowable, with the ability to look it up instantly! Not only that, but that look-up service isn't going to cost a penny! You can call friends and see them on a video screen, and it won't cost a penny! No matter how long you use this service and to what depth you use it, the service itself will be free.

Now, anyone listening to you back then would perhaps have said, "Even if we can believe the technological part, which we think is impossible, everything costs something. There has to be a charge for it! Otherwise, how would they stay in business?" The answer is this: With new invention comes new paradigms of business. You don't know what you don't know, so don't decide in advance what you think is coming based on an old energy world. ..."
(Subjects: Who/What is Kryon ?, Egypt Uprising, Iran/Persia Uprising, Peace in Middle East without Israel actively involved, Muhammad, "Conceptual" Youth Revolution, "Conceptual" Managed Business, Internet, Social Media, News Media, Google, Bankers, Global Unity,..... etc.)



Etiquette mavens say the book on manners must be rewritten, literally, to take into
account new technologies and social media (AFP Photo/Ed Jones)

A 2012 survey by Intel found that in several countries, a majority said they were put
off by "oversharing" of pictures and personal information on the
internet and smartphones (AFP Photo/Nicolas Asfouri)

German anti-hate speech group counters Facebook trolls

German anti-hate speech group counters Facebook trolls
Logo No Hate Speech Movement

Bundestag passes law to fine social media companies for not deleting hate speech

Honouring computing’s 1843 visionary, Lady Ada Lovelace. (Design of doodle by Kevin Laughlin)

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Google enters battle for cloud gaming market

Yahoo – AFP, Glenn CHAPMAN, November 17, 2019

Head of Stadia Games and Entertainment Jade Raymond speaks during the
annual Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, California on
March 19, 2019 (AFP Photo/Josh Edelson)

San Francisco (AFP) - Ever-expanding Google becomes a gaming company Tuesday with the launch of its Stadia cloud service that lets people play console-quality video games on a web browser or smartphone.

The internet giant hopes to break into the global video game industry expected to top $150 billion this year, with cloud technology that could broaden audiences attracted by rich new features as well as ease of access with no more need for consoles.

But analysts say Stadia's outlook is uncertain as its faces rivals such as PlayStation Now in an emerging and highly-competitive market.

Stadia plays into a trend in which content -- ranging from blockbuster films to work projects -- lives in the cloud and is accessible from any device.

"All of these new services are merely pointing out that we don't need sophisticated hardware in the home to access entertainment," said Wedbush Securities equity research managing director Michael Pachter.

Google last month sold out of "Founder's Edition" kits, which are priced at $129.

Each kit contains a Stadia controller and a pendant-shaped Chromecast Ultra wireless connection device that plugs into television sets.

Stadia games are playable using Google Chrome web browser software on computers.

It also works with Google-made Pixel smartphones from the second-generation onward, and on televisions.

Stadia Pro subscriptions, priced at $10 a month in the US, will be available in 14 countries in North America and Europe.

A visitor plays the cloud-based game "Doom" at the Google Stadia booth during 
Gamescom in Cologne, Germany, on August 21, 2019 (AFP Photo/Ina FASSBENDER)

All in the game

But analysts say Stadia could wind up as another "bet" that Google walks away from if it fails to live up to expectations.

"Stadia will live or die by its content," said Ovum senior analyst George Jijiashvili.

"The announced 12 launch titles are underwhelming."

Subscribers will be able to buy games that will be hosted at Google data-centers, but some free games will be available to subscribers, starting with "Destiny 2: The Collection."

Stadia on smartphones will work with WiFi connections rather than rely on mobile telecom services.

Being able to play without lags or interruptions is paramount to gamers, and flawed internet connections could cause frustration. Internet speed will also determine how rich in-game graphics can be.

Some promised features such as integration with YouTube will not be in place at launch.

"Stadia appears to be rushed out the door before fully ready and, worryingly, Google is risking falling short on its promises," Jijiashvili said.

"These shortcomings however would be easily overlooked if Google can deliver a very reliable and high-quality game streaming service."

Google appears committed to doing just that, according to Ubisoft senior vice president of partnerships Chris Early.

The French video game giant has been working with Google and its games are among titles coming to the service.

Stadia Pro subscriptions, priced at $10 a month in the US, will be available 
in 14 countries in North America and Europe (AFP Photo/Ina FASSBENDER)

"From what I have seen, their plans are too deep; they are too good, and they are too invested," Early said. "They are not calling it quits any time soon."

He expects a long launch period during which Google will beef up Stadia.

"If there is a one-day problem at launch, it isn't the end of the world; it isn't even close," he said, stressing the potential for Stadia to let people play without investing in consoles.

But Pachter questioned whether subscriptions were the right approach.

"The right model is pay as you go or pay for the game and play unlimited without a subscription," Pachter said.

"Amazon will try one of those and will win the streaming wars."

Amazon has game studios but no online game service.

Battle brewing

US technology veteran Microsoft has been testing a Project xCloud online game platform.

"Next year, we'll bring Project xCloud to Windows PCs, and are collaborating with a broad set of partners to make game streaming available on other devices as well," Microsoft corporate vice president Kareem Choudhry said in an online post.

Sony Interactive Entertainment last month slashed the price of its PlayStation Now cloud video game service by about half in the US to $10 monthly.

Japan-based Sony also boosted the library of games that PlayStation Now users can access through its consoles or on personal computers powered by Windows software.

Sony and Microsoft are also poised to release new-generation video game consoles next year.

"While we expect dedicated consoles to eventually lose relevance in the face of cloud gaming services, there's no guarantee that it will be Google's service –- rather than Sony and Microsoft's -– that catalyzes this trend," said Ovum senior analyst Matthew Bailey.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Facebook nixes billions of fake accounts

Yahoo – AFP, Glenn CHAPMAN, November 13, 2019

Facebook said it took down some 5.4 billion fake accounts in 2019, in a sign of an
ongoing battle against manipulation and misinformation (AFP Photo/Josh Edelson)

San Francisco (AFP) - Facebook on Wednesday said it has taken down some 5.4 billion fake accounts this year in a sign of the persistent battle on social media against manipulation and misinformation.

Amid growing efforts to create fraudulent accounts, Facebook said it has stepped up its defenses and often removes the accounts within minutes of being created.

"We have improved our ability to detect and block attempts to create fake, abusive accounts," the internet firm said in its latest transparency report.

"We can estimate that every day, we prevent millions of attempts to create fake accounts using these detection systems."

Facebook believes that fake accounts -- where someone pretends to be a person or entity which does not exist -- represented about five percent of its worldwide active users during the second and third quarters of this year.

The social network has invested heavily in finding and taking down accounts crafted to deceive people about where information is originating, particular when spread as part of coordinated campaigns with political or social agendas.

The detailed report also showed that government demands for user information hit a new high led by the US.

Overall request by governments for Facebook user data rose 16 percent to 128,617 in the first half of this year.

"Of the total volume, the US continues to submit the largest number of requests, followed by India, the UK, Germany and France," the report stated.

Facebook received 50,741 requests from the US for information regarding 82,461 accounts, with roughly two-thirds of those done in a way prohibiting the social network from letting users know about inquiries, the report showed.

"We always scrutinize every government request we receive for account data to make sure it is legally valid," Facebook deputy general counsel Chris Sonderby said in an online post about the latest figures.

"This is true no matter which government makes the request."

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the leading social network remains committed 
to rooting out fraudulent accounts that may be used to manipulate or deceive users 
(AFP Photo/Drew Angerer)

Curbing the disturbing

In a detailed transparency report that, for the first time, included photo and video-oriented social network Instagram, Facebook also highlighted progress tackling terror, hate, suicide, child porn, and drug related posts.

"While we are pleased with this progress, these technologies are not perfect and we know that mistakes can still happen," Facebook said.

"That’s why we continue to invest in systems that enable us to improve our accuracy in removing content that violates our policies while safeguarding content that discusses or condemns hate speech."

In a conference call discussing the report, Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg and other executives stressed how combining company resources allowed it to better tackle unwanted content and activity at both Instagram and the leading social network.

Zuckerberg has responded to political rhetoric calling for the breakup of Facebook,in part, by arguing that such a move would actually make it harder to fight problems such as malicious content or activities.

"This is something we invest billions of dollars into every year," Zuckerberg said of the battle to keep Facebook safe and secure for users.

"That certainly weighs on profits, but there is no question it is the right thing to do."

Zuckerberg renewed his call for regulation that called for all internet firms to openly disclose details about the efficiency of efforts to stop the spread of harmful content on their platforms.

"If we can't understand the true prevalence of harmful content across systems, we can't stop it," Zuckerberg said.

While fielding questions, Zuckerberg confirmed Facebook is looking at ways it might modify its controversial policy of allowing political ads that include proven lies.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Dutch media mogul wins case against fake bitcoin ad and Facebook

DutchNews, November 12, 2019

Photo: Depositphotos.com

Facebook has been ordered by a Dutch court to tackle fraudulent advertising for bitcoin which uses Dutch celebrities without their permission to promote crypto currencies. 

The case was brought by media tycoon John de Mol, with the backing of other television personalities such as Eva Jinek and Jort Kelder, whose faces were also used to promote fake bitcoin sales. 

More than 150 Dutch nationals were persuaded by the adverts to buy bitcoins and other crypto currency, losing a total €1.7m in the process. 

Judges in Amsterdam have now ruled Facebook cannot hide behind its role as a ‘neutral’ platform, and say they will fine it up to €1.1m unless the company takes action. 

‘The company, which has adverts as its primary source of earnings, takes too active a role [to be neutral],’ the court said in a press statement. ‘Facebook not only sets the prices, but has an active policy about which adverts appear on Facebook and Instagram.’ 

Cost 

The cost of filtering out fake ads is not a reason not to take action, the court said, and the fact that ads featuring De Mol have now largely gone shows that it can be done. ‘Facebook’s responsibility for its own advertising platform is too big and fake adverts have too much impact,’ the court said. 

Facebook has also been ordered to make the names of people behind the fake adverts known to De Mol’s lawyers. 

‘I hope this ruling will lead Facebook to take steps as quickly as possible so that innocent people can no longer be conned by fake bitcoin adverts,’ De Mol said in a statement. ‘My legal advisors and I will be following Facebook closely to see if it does take the necessary steps.’

Monday, November 11, 2019

Apple Card probed for alleged gender discrimination

Yahoo – AFP, November 10, 2019

Apple began offering the Apple Card credit card, issued by Goldman Sachs,
in March 2019 (AFP Photo/Josh Edelson)

San Francisco (AFP) - A New York financial regulator said Saturday it is investigating claims of gender discrimination by the new credit card from tech giant Apple and its issuer Goldman Sachs, after a cardholder's tweet about his wife's credit limit went viral.

American businessman David Heinemeier Hansson had tweeted on Thursday that the Apple Card is a "fucking sexist program."

He said the card's "black box" algorithm had given him 20 times the credit limit of his wife, even though they file joint tax returns and she has a higher credit score.

Hansson tweeted a series of messages recounting fruitless chats with Apple customer service agents, who were unable to explain the disparity but blamed it on the algorithm that determines an applicant's credit-worthiness.

A "black box" algorithm refers to artificial intelligence systems whose decisions cannot be explained.

In March, Apple started offering the Apple Card, issued by banking giant Goldman Sachs.

New York state regulators will "be conducting an investigation to determine whether New York law was violated and ensure all consumers are treated equally regardless of sex," said a spokesman for Linda Lacewell, the superintendent of the New York Department of Financial Services.

"Any algorithm, that intentionally or not results in discriminatory treatment of women or any other protected class of people violates New York law."

Said Goldman spokesman Andrew Williams: "Our credit decisions are based on a customer's creditworthiness and not on factors like gender, race, age, sexual orientation or any other basis prohibited by law."

Russian e-commerce booms despite economic doldrums

Yahoo – AFP, Andrea PALASCIANO, November 10, 2019

Online retailer Ozon handles over 100,000 packages a day at one of its
 logistics centre in the town of Tver (AFP Photo/Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV)

Moscow (AFP) - Moscow photographer Galina Goryushina says that online shopping has changed her life.

"I've got more time for myself," said the 30-year-old freelancer.

"I don't have to haul heavy shopping bags. And I don't waste money on silly knick-knacks laid out on the store shelves," said Goryushina.

The young woman began shopping online a decade ago when she could not find clothes she liked in Russia and now makes most of her purchases online.

Russia may be a latecomer to the world of online shopping but e-commerce is experiencing explosive growth in the country despite a stagnant economy weighed down by Western sanctions.

Russia's economic growth stood at just 0.7 percent in the first six months of 2019.

Over the same period, the Russian e-commerce market has expanded by 26 percent to 725 billion rubles ($11.3 billion), according to a study by Data Insight, a Russian-based research agency.

The sector is developing rapidly despite numerous logistical challenges in the world's largest country including an often unreliable postal service.

Long distances and low population density make e-commerce an appealing -- and sometimes even the only -- option in Russia.

Even in affluent Moscow, where shopping malls offer a huge variety of consumer goods, many prefer to shop online to avoid the ubiquitous traffic jams.

'Transformative for the country'

One of Russia's biggest online retailers, Ozon, began as an online bookstore -- much like the global giant Amazon -- and later expanded into other types of merchandise.

On a recent tour of Ozon's offices in Moscow's business district, chief executive Alexander Shulgin said the potential for growth in Russia was enormous.

"I am absolutely confident that e-commerce will be absolutely huge in Russia, it's transformative for the country," he said, pointing to Russia's high internet penetration, with 95 million online users.

In the first six months of this year, the number of online orders went up by 44 percent reaching 191 million.

Together with Russia's biggest e-commerce site, Wildberries, and the online pharmacy Apteka.ru, the top trio's business has grown by 107 percent compared to the first half of last year.

Shulgin said that online shopping offered Russians living in remote locations access to millions of products at affordable prices.

"It's just phenomenal how e-commerce improves quality of life for people in small villages and towns," he added.

Besides its huge size, Russia's harsh climate is also seen as a boon for the business.

"When there is rain or snow or it's cold outside, people prefer to shop online, so (Russia) is an ideal country," he said.

Shulgin said the e-commerce market was fragmented and accounted for just 6 percent of total retail.

"So the opportunity for growth is huge," he added.

In a logistics centre in the town of Tver, located around 180 kilometres (111 miles) northwest of Moscow, Ozon employees are busy pushing carts around aisles as they prepare to ship goods to customers across Russia.

"The centre handles over 100,000 packages a day and around 2,000 people work here on a daily basis," said Ivan Popov, deputy logistics manager at Ozon.

In the cities, the company relies on couriers, automated pick-up lockers and drop-off locations.

To ship the packages to remote locations, Ozon has partnered up with the Russian Post.

"They have a branch in every possible location, ideal for smaller villages, they can deliver anywhere," said Shulgin.

Self-made woman billionaire

Ozon's competitor Wildberries has also been growing at breakneck speed in recent years, making its founder one of the country's richest women.

This year its founder, Tatyana Bakalchuk, a 44-year-old mother of four, became the second female billionaire in Russia, according to Forbes.

Bakalchuk, a former English teacher, founded the company in 2004, at the age of 28, in her Moscow apartment while on maternity leave.

She came up with an e-commerce business idea after trying to shop at traditional stores with a newborn.

Initially focusing on shoes and clothing, her business has now expanded into food, books, electronics and health products, offering 15,000 brands.

In March, it became the third most visited e-commerce fashion website in the world, trailing behind H&M and Macy's, according to a study by SEMrush marketing analytics firm.

Already present in ex-Soviet Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Armenia, Wildberries is now aiming for Central Europe and is building a logistics centre in Slovakia.


Friday, November 8, 2019

Hashtag Saudi Arabia: Chasing critics on Twitter

Yahoo – AFP, November 7, 2019

Wednesday's indictments of three people in the United States for spying on Twitter
 users critical of the Saudi royal family are the latest in a spate of allegations against
the kingdom, which has long sought to stamp out online dissent (AFP Photo/Alastair Pike)

Dubai (AFP) - The US Justice Department has charged three people, including two Saudis, with spying on Twitter users critical of the kingdom's royal family.

The trio worked to unmask the ownership details behind dissident Twitter accounts on behalf of someone prosecutors designated "Royal Family Member-1", which The Washington Post reported was Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom’s de facto ruler.

Here is a look at how Saudi Arabia has cracked down on dissent and criticism on social media.

'Lord of the flies'

Saud al-Qahtani, the royal court's media czar and a close confidant of Prince Mohammed, has long elicited fear in the kingdom, earning nicknames such as "troll master", "Mr Hashtag" and "lord of the flies" for managing an electronic army to intimidate critics of the kingdom.

Qahtani was sacked over his suspected role in the murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi last year. He has not appeared in public since the murder and his whereabouts are unknown.

Last year, The New York Times reported that Qahtani spearheaded an official Saudi effort to harass and silence the kingdom's critics on Twitter by using troll farms.

Qahtani also "tried to buy tools that would let him ban Twitter accounts" of critics, according to a Bellingcat investigation.

In September, Twitter said it shut down thousands of accounts worldwide for spreading misinformation, including some artificially amplifying pro-Saudi messaging as part of a regional propaganda war.

It also shut down Qahtani's account, which had some 1.3 million followers.

Aggressive diplomacy

Saudi Arabia has also deployed Twitter to go after governments critical of Saudi Arabia, including rival Qatar which has faced a Riyadh-led economic boycott since June 2017.

A bitter row erupted with Ottawa last year after an Arabic language tweet on August 5 from the Canadian embassy in Riyadh -- calling for the "immediate release" of activists jailed in the kingdom -- infuriated the Saudi government.

Saudi Arabia subsequently expelled Canada's ambassador and froze all new trade, in a clearly combative approach to international censure.

Multiple Western officials said Canada was asked to delete that tweet, which in Arabic is seen to have the potential to go viral in the kingdom, an absolute monarchy known for its tightly controlled public messaging.

While the message was also tweeted in English, a Western official said the Arabic version was interpreted locally as an attempt to "communicate directly" with Saudi people -- a serious infraction in the eyes of the kingdom.

Staying out of trouble

Saudi Arabia has more than 11 million Twitter users, according to marketing and research firm Talkwalker.

Around 70 percent of the country’s 34 million people are "active social media users", Talkwalker says.

But the crackdown on dissidents has prompted many Saudis to shut down their Twitter accounts -- including those engaged constructively in critiquing Prince Mohammed's reforms.

Growing nationalism also appears to be causing alarm.

In a televised debate last year, Shura Council member Abdallah al-Fawzan said Saudis had the right to brand someone a "traitor" if that person fails to defend the country or chooses to remain silent.

Saudi economist Essam al-Zamil was targeted by authorities last year after he tweeted criticism of the government’s planned public listing of state oil giant Aramco.

Zamil, "who had called into question Saudi projections of revenue from the Aramco initial public offering", is on trial for alleged membership of the Muslim Brotherhood, according to Human Rights Watch.


Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Shorter hours boost sales in overworked Japan: Microsoft

Yahoo – AFP, November 5, 2019

Microsoft Japan study finds four-day working weeks and other reforms
both boost sales and cut costs (AFP Photo/SAM YEH)

Tokyo (AFP) - In a country notorious for overwork, Microsoft Japan trialled a radical idea: working less. And it found that four-day weeks and other reforms both boosted sales and cut costs.

The Japanese unit of the US IT giant closed its offices every Friday in August, giving all 2,300 full-time workers special leave.

It also restricted meetings to a maximum of 30 minutes, and encouraged online chats as an alternative to face-to-face communications.

The number of participants at meetings was limited to a five, and workers were also encouraged to use online communication instead of emails, it said.

The results were positive, with sales per employee rising almost 40 percent in August from a year earlier, electricity consumption down by a quarter and paper usage being cut in half.

The firm said the trial showed "employees want to have a variety of ways of working" and that adopting the model more broadly could boost efficiency.

It plans to launch a similar programme this winter -- but won't offer special leave.

Instead, employees will be encouraged to use their existing holiday days, it said.

The programme comes as Japan's government pushes for more "flexible work styles," urging business to accept telecommuting, different part-time schedules and off-peak commuting.

The effort is part of an attempt to address the issue of "karoshi" -- death from overwork -- and to encourage overworked and overburdened couples to have children in a country that is struggling with a shrinking population.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

New Facebook logo arrives as its 'family' grows

Yahoo – AFP, November 4, 2019

The move aims to highlight the Facebook "brand" which operates a range of apps and
services including messaging, photo-sharing, virtual reality and is developing wallets
for digital currency.

Facebook on Monday unveiled a new logo to represent the Silicon Valley company, distinct from its core social network.

The move aims to highlight the Facebook "brand" which operates a range of apps and services including messaging, photo-sharing, virtual reality and is developing wallets for digital currency.

The new branding, basically the company name in crisp lettering, will be stamped on its "family" of offerings including WhatsApp, Messenger, Instagram, Oculus, Workplace, Portal and Calibra, according to chief marketing officer Antonio Lucio.

"Today, we're updating our company branding to be clearer about the products that come from Facebook," Lucio said.

"We're introducing a new company logo and further distinguishing the Facebook company from the Facebook app, which will keep its own branding."

The new corporate logo "is a way to better communicate our ownership structure to the people and businesses who use our services to connect," Lucio added.

The move comes with Facebook under intense scrutiny from regulators around the world over how it polices content on its platforms, and with some politicians and activists seeking a breakup of Silicon Valley giants.

Since its start as a social networking application 15 years ago, Facebook has acquired Oculus virtual reality gear company as well as Instagram image-based social network. It has also launched Portal smart screens as well as a Workplace social network tailored for workplace productivity.

Its messaging applications WhatsApp and Messenger are each used by more than a billion people.

Facebook established a Calibra as a digital wallet for use with the proposed cryptocurrency Libra, which has been facing criticism from regulators and lawmakers in various countries.

Monday, November 4, 2019

Huawei pushes 5G in SEAsia, brushing off 'tech war' with US

Yahoo – AFP, November 3, 2019

Huawei has emerged as a key protagonist in the wider US-China trade war that
has seen tit-for-tat tariffs imposed on hundreds of billions of dollars worth
of goods (AFP Photo/STEFAN WERMUTH)

Chinese phone giant Huawei said Sunday it was ready to roll out 5G infrastructure across Southeast Asia, dismissing US warnings its tech could be used to hoover up data for Beijing.

The firm has emerged as a key protagonist in the wider US-China trade war that has seen tit-for-tat tariffs imposed on hundreds of billions of dollars worth of goods.

President Donald Trump's administration has warned Huawei's equipment could allow China to spy on other countries and has effectively blocked American companies from selling US technology to the firm.

But the company has repeatedly denied the accusations, saying it is the victim of tech envy.

Thailand and the Philippines have shrugged off the cybersecurity warnings in a rush to exploit the ultra-fast 5G network promised by the China's biggest smartphone maker, while Vietnam has edged away from Huawei.

"China and the US now is in the trade war and also there is some kind of technology war (which) Huawei is very focused on at the moment," said Huawei vice-president Edward Zhou at the Association of Southeast Asian (ASEAN) summit on Sunday.

"We are here to support the ASEAN (in) the development for the 5G."

Encompassing hundreds of millions of people, the 10-member bloc wants the next-level technology to help businesses, infrastructure and transport compete globally.

Host country Thailand has welcomed Huawei with open arms, allowing it to set up a test bed at a major university near the Thai capital.

A Huawei spokesperson previously told AFP it had invested $5 billion in the trials and has been invited to conduct similar tests in other Southeast Asian markets.

Elsewhere the Philippines' Globe Telecom said this summer it was launching Southeast Asia's first 5G broadband service using Huawei technology.

Both Thailand and the Philippines are historic US allies and some see the tangle over 5G as a challenge of influence between the two powers.

But not all countries have been eager to sign up.

Vietnam has quietly sided with the US on the issue, shunning the Chinese firm in favour of alternative providers for 5G technology, including Ericsson and Nokia.

The country's military-owned telecoms giant Viettel hopes to be the first to roll out 5G in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, and has said it plans to to do so without Huawei, citing security concerns.

Zhou reiterated past statements by the company brushing aside the US claims.

"There is not any cybersecurity issues for us. There is no evidence for the US to say that," he said.

Friday, November 1, 2019

Twitter to ban political ads worldwide on its platform

Yahoo – AFP, Rob Lever, October 31, 2019

Twitter CEO and co-founder Jack Dorsey announced the short message platform
would bar all political ads as part of an effort to curb misinformation (AFP Photo/
Prakash SINGH)

Washington (AFP) - Twitter will stop accepting political advertising globally on its platform, the company said, responding to growing concerns over misinformation from politicians on social media.

Chief executive Jack Dorsey tweeted that while internet advertising "is incredibly powerful and very effective for commercial advertisers, that power brings significant risks to politics, where it can be used to influence votes to affect the lives of millions."

But Social media behemoth Facebook looks unlikely to follow Twitter's lead, with CEO Mark Zuckerberg holding to his line that he would let political figures speak freely, and count on voters to judge truthfulness.

"In a democracy, I don't think it's right for private companies to censor politicians or the news," Zuckerberg said in an earnings call with analysts, the transcript of which he posted on Facebook.

Dorsey said Twitter's new policy, details of which will be unveiled next month and enforced from November 22, would ban ads on political issues as well as from candidates.

"We considered stopping only candidate ads, but issue ads present a way to circumvent," he said.

"Additionally, it isn't fair for everyone but candidates to buy ads for issues they want to push. So we're stopping these too."

Dorsey said the company took the action to head off potential problems from "machine learning-based optimization of messaging and micro-targeting, unchecked misleading information, and deep fakes."

Twitter's move comes in contrast to Facebook's policy that allows political speech and ads to run without fact-checking.

Zuckerberg has said political advertising is not a major source of revenue but he believes it is important to allow everyone a "voice," and banning political ads would favor incumbents.

Ads were important to candidates and groups the media wouldn't cover, he said. And it would be hard to know where to draw the line, he said: "Would we really block ads for important political issues like climate change or women's empowerment?"

Dorsey said he disagreed with Zuckerberg's assessment.

"We have witnessed many social movements reach massive scale without any political advertising. I trust this will only grow," he added.

"This is the right thing to do for democracy in America and all over the world," 2016 US Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton tweeted.

Twitter's chief financial officer Ned Segal said the move would have little financial impact.

"Since we are getting questions: This decision was based on principle, not money," he said. "As context, we've disclosed that political ad spend for the 2018 US midterms was (less than) $3M."

Twitter's new policy barring political advertising is in contrast to the stand from 
Facebook, whose CEO Mark Zuckerberg has vowed to allow all users a "voice" 
(AFP Photo/MANDEL NGAN)

The Trump conundrum

Social media platforms have been challenged by President Donald Trump's campaign and its use of ads that contain claims critics say have been debunked by independent fact-checkers.

"Twitter just walked away from hundreds of millions of dollars of potential revenue, a very dumb decision for their stockholders," Trump 2020 campaign manager Brad Parscale said.

"Will Twitter also be stopping ads from biased liberal media outlets who will now run unchecked as they buy obvious political content meant to attack Republicans?"

Democrats have stepped up pressure on Facebook to remove political ads, and a group of employees has also called for stronger efforts by the social network to clamp down on "civic misinformation" from politicians.

Other initial reactions to the Twitter announcement was positive.

"Until privately-owned social media platforms can develop and consistently enforce standards to prevent demonstrably inaccurate information in political advertising, this is the right move," said Michelle Amazeen, a Boston University professor specializing in political communication.

Nina Jankowicz, a Wilson Center fellow specializing in disinformation, also welcomed the decision.

"It's great that this move has been made globally and not just within the United States," she said.

"Too often these companies operate in a cloud of willful ignorance about the effects their products have outside our borders."

Jankowicz said the decision could level the playing field by preventing wealthier candidates and groups dominating the social conversation.

"Paid speech essentially quashes some groups' ability to speak out and be heard because they can't compete with the reach that their richer counterparts pay for," she said.

More cautiously, eMarketer senior analyst Jasmine Enberg said it remained unclear how much impact the change would have, given that political advertising is not a major part of Twitter's core business.

"And given the nature of the platform, people, publishers and politicians will still use Twitter to discuss politics organically, meaning that it won't fully solve the problem of misinformation," Enberg said.

Syracuse University professor Jennifer Grygiel also was skeptical, noting in a tweet: "Twitter has promised lots of things in the past that they haven't delivered on.

"We have to wait and see how effective the new political policy will be."