Posts Tagged ‘Facebook’

Pakistan Election: Shahbaz Sharif calls Imran Khan’s recent public meetings ‘a total failure’ — Khan is only a ‘Facebook leader’

July 21, 2018

PESHAWAR: Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz president Shahbaz Sharif on Friday termed Imran Khan’s recent public meetings ‘a total failure’ and said PML-N workers were fully charged to run the election campaign of their candidates against all odds.

Image result for Shahbaz Sharif, Pakistan election, photos

Shahbaz Sharif

He said Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chief Imran Khan was busy levelling baseless allegations and using derogatory language against other parties. People were no more willing to attend Mr Khan’s public meetings, said Mr Shahbaz while addressing a press conference after visiting Bilour House where he offered condolences to the Bilour family over the death of Awami National Party (ANP) candidate Haroon Bilour in a recent blast.

PTI will use any strategy to defeat PML-N, win the elections: Imran on ‘electables’, seat adjustments

The PML-N president said his rivals were eating cakes and pastries while his party candidates were being pressured to switch loyalties due to National Accountability Bureau (NAB) cases. He said PML-N leaders were attending courts as his party was being pushed to the wall while others were running election campaigns.

He alleged that the Punjab government was following instructions of the PTI. It mishandled peaceful PML-N workers on July 13, booked them in terrorism cases for holding rallies to welcome their leader Nawaz Sharif, he said.

The former chief minister of Punjab said Nawaz Sharif knew he would be sent behind bars yet he returned to Pakistan leaving his ailing wife in a serious condition in a London hospital. This proved he did not want to flee as he faced all the cases instituted against him, said Mr Shahbaz, claiming that the entire world also witnessed the ‘mammoth rally’ to welcome the former premier.

He alleged that TV channels under Pakistan Electro­nic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) pressure did not give proper coverage to the rally. While the PML-N supremo was not even allowed to meet his ailing mother, PML-N workers remained peaceful, he said. Yet they were booked in cases, he said, adding that the party wrote a letter to the Election Commission of Pakistan and the caretaker prime minister to take notice of the cases but they remained silent spectators.

Mr Shahbaz said in order to ensure free, fair elections, measures must be taken to bring all stakeholders on the same page and stop all tactics for pre-poll rigging.

He said India had developed its institutions yet it was afraid of Pakistan because of its nuclear capability. He said if voted to power again, the PML-N would initiate mega development schemes on the pattern of Malaysia and Turkey to overcome poverty and unemployment.

He said that his party would win the elections and make Pakistan a ‘real’ welfare Islamic state. Paying tribute to the people in general and law enforcers in particular for rendering matchless sacrifices in the fight against terrorism, he pledged that his party would continue the efforts for durable peace and development.

Mr Shahbaz said Mr Khan, who had been condemning the PML-N government’s projects, later attempted to replicate them in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa but failed.

Imran dubbed as Facebook leader

Later addressing a public meeting in connection with his election campaign in NA-3 (Swat-II) constituency, Mr Shahbaz said Mr Khan took Rs300 billion foreign loans but failed to spend it on Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s development, adds Our Correspondent from Swat.

Mr Shahbaz said the PTI government embezzled the funds in the name of Billion Trees Tsunami and other projects such as the construction of 350 dams.

The PML-N provincial president Amir Muqam dubbed Mr Khan as ‘Facebook leader’.

Published in Dawn, July 21st, 2018

For more live updates, follow Dawn.com’s official news Instagram account@dawn.today

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WhatsApp limits forwarding in India after mob lynchings

July 20, 2018

WhatsApp announced limits on Friday on the forwarding of messages by its 200 million Indian users in an effort to stop a spate of horrific lynchings and to assuage government threats of legal action in its biggest market.

More than 20 people have been butchered by crazed mobs in the past two months across India after being accused of child kidnapping and other crimes in viral messages circulated wildly on WhatsApp.

Late Thursday, India’s government, scrambling to find a response, threatened to take WhatsApp to court, saying the “medium” for spreading malicious rumours “cannot evade responsibility and accountability”.

“If (WhatsApp) remain mute spectators they are liable to be treated as abettors and thereafter face consequent legal action,” the information technology ministry said.

The Facebook-owned firm responded on Friday with an announcement it will test limiting the ability to forward messages and cap at five the number of contacts or groups that messages can be forwarded to.

It addition, it said it will remove the “quick forward button” next to media messages, making sending on messages more cumbersome.

An Indian newspaper vendor reading a newspaper with a full back page advertisement from WhatsApp intended to counter fake information
WhatsApp published full-page advertisements in leading Indian newspapers

“We believe that these changes — which we’ll continue to evaluate — will help keep WhatsApp the way it was designed to be: a private messaging app,” a statement said.

Worldwide, the company will limit the number of forwards to 20 other groups, a spokesman said.

Under pressure from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government, the firm had already announced new features to help users identify messages that have been forwarded.

It bought full-page adverts in Indian newspapers with tips on how to spot misinformation.

Read: When a text can trigger a lynching: WhatsApp struggles with incendiary messages in India

The ministry also called on WhatsApp to enable the “traceability” of messages when an official request is made.

But the platform on Friday said its messages would stay “end-to-end encrypted”.

Chocolates to kids

Lynchings are nothing new in India, but the spread of smartphones — there are a billion plus handsets, and data is cheap — to even the most remote corners has enabled rumours to be shared at lightning speed.

In India, people forward on WhatsApp more messages, photos, and videos, than any other country in the world, the company says.

Gopal Chandra Das, father of lynching victim Nilotpal Das, with a picture of his son at his residence in Guwahati, the capital city of Assam, pictured on July 9. ─ AFP
Gopal Chandra Das, father of lynching victim Nilotpal Das, with a picture of his son at his residence in Guwahati, the capital city of Assam, pictured on July 9. ─ AFP

The latest incident last Friday saw a 27-year-old software engineer beaten to death by a crowd of more than 2,000 people in the southern state of Karnataka after he and his friends offered chocolates to local children.

Fatal attacks have also been carried out on Muslims by “cow protection” groups roaming highways and inspecting livestock trucks. Cows are sacred to the majority Hindu community.

Indian authorities have launched awareness campaigns and patrols and imposed internet blackouts in some areas but the impact has been limited.

One official “rumour buster” was himself beaten to death in the north-east in June.

In China WhatsApp is subject to major disruption, prompting people to use the homegrown WeChat. But elsewhere in Asia and beyond, WhatsApp and other tech firms have come under fire for the spread of “fake news”.

Major media organisations, often in partnership with big technology and social media corporations, have stepped up fact-checking and other steps to support credible journalism.

Internet firms, after initial reluctance to define themselves as “media”, have stepped up efforts to identify false news and to “curate” stories from “trusted” news sources.

In Pakistan, WhatsApp this week began a week-long publicity campaign offering tips to spot fake news ahead of elections on July 25.

In India, the firm is in discussions with the government on how to tackle spam messages ahead of upcoming elections and bringing in a fake news verification model similar to one used recently in Mexico, the Economic Times reported on Friday.

This week, the Supreme Court told the government to enact new legislation. Commentator and former magazine editor Paranjoy Guha Thakurta told AFP that just criticising WhatsApp was insufficient.

“You can shoot the messenger but the primary responsibility lies with the government to take action against the perpetrators,” he told AFP.

For more live updates, follow Dawn.com’s official news Instagram account@dawn.today

https://www.dawn.com/news/1421344/whatsapp-limits-forwarding-in-india-after-mob-lynchings

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‘Fake news often goes viral’: WhatsApp ads warn India after mob lynchings
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https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jul/13/fake-news-whatsapp-ads-india-mob-lynchings

Donald Trump Should Start a National Cybersecurity Defense Effort

July 20, 2018

Donald Trump should use his executive powers as President of the United States to solve one of the most vexing problems of modern government: unauthorized cyber intrusion, theft, hacking and service disruption.

The U.S. government and the American people have long been the victims of cyberattacks.

During the Obama Administration, cyber attacks and loss of government data became commonplace. While Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, used a computer without any government security features in her home for virtually all her State Department email and business. Huma Abedin copied many of the emails which ended up on Anthony Weiner’s laptop.

The fact that the FBI under James Comey and Peter Strzok failed to hand down an indictment does not mean that Mrs. Clinton, or anyone else, didn’t commit a crime. Clinton and her staff certainly violate statutes with regard to the handling of classified information. The lackluster cybersecurity measures of the DNC and the Clinton campaign have caused America an undue amount of anguish and division ever since.

For no reason.

This does not mean that Republicans are OK on cybersecurity. They aren’t.

Every corner of the U.S. government needs more attention on cybersecurity.

We can’t allow Vladimir Putin to be our guardian.

Trump needs to look at the big picture.

The president can easily get started by naming a Blue Ribbon panel of experts from the technology sector like Apple CEO Tim Cook and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg to pay pay back the United States of America for their riches by helping to make the U.S. the most cyber-secure nation in the world.

Maybe the retired Mr. John Brennan and James Clapper can contribute some expertise.

The United States should be the world leader in cybersecurity; ready, willing and able to defend itself at all times and to help friends and allies around the world.

Commentary
By John Francis Carey
Peace and Freedom

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FILE PHOTO: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) speaks during a press conference on the Trump Administration’s tax cuts at the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center in Washington, U.S., on June 22, 2018. REUTERS/Toya Sarno Jordan/File Photo

Did Hillary’s email security negligence as U.S. Secretary of State invite Russian cyber meddling?

Hillary Clinton speaking during a campaign event in Columbus, Ohio, on Monday.

Personal, not secure, “home-brew” email server? Poster child for bad cyber security/National security.

Hillary Clinton was exonerated for mishandling classified email by:

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Vladimir Putin in Moscow in December. Credit Pool photo by Alexei Druzhinin

 

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Ten Years of Russian Cyber Attacks on Other Nations

http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/hacking-in-america/timeline-ten-years-russian-cyber-attacks-other-nations-n697111

President Barack Obama announced the lifting of economic sanctions on Iran, a prisoner swap and the $1.7 billion settlement with Iran in the Cabinet Room of the White House on Jan. 17.
President Barack Obama  PHOTO: JIM LO SCALZO/EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

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John Emerson, Washington's man in Berlin, to meet with Guido Westerwelle, German foreign minister, over claims Angela Merkel's phone was tapped by US

Chancellor Merkel called President Obama demanding answers after reports emerged that the US may have been monitoring her phone Photo: YVES HERMAN/REUTERS
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James Clapper talking to a group of people
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U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power speaks at the Center for American Progress’ 2014 Making Progress Policy Conference in Washington November 19, 2014.  Credit: Reuters/Gary Cameron

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Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Barack Obama at a joint news conference in Washington, D.C. on Sept. 25.
Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Barack Obama at a joint news conference in Washington, D.C. on Sept. 25. Photo: Pete Marovich/Bloomberg News
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WhatsApp curbs India service after lynchings

July 20, 2018

WhatsApp announced curbs on its service in India on Friday in an effort to stop a spate of horrific lynchings and to assuage government threats of legal action in its biggest market.

More than 20 people have been killed by mobs in the past two months across the country after being accused of child kidnapping and other crimes in viral messages circulated on WhatsApp.

The Facebook-owned firm said on Friday that in India it will test limiting the ability of users to forward messages, and will also experiment with a lower limit of five chats at once.

Image may contain: phone

It addition, it said it will “remove the quick forward button next to media messages,” a statement said.

“We believe that these changes – which we’ll continue to evaluate – will help keep WhatsApp the way it was designed to be: a private messaging app,” it added.

Under pressure from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government, the firm had already announced new features to help users identify messages that have been forwarded.

WhatsApp had also bought full-page adverts in Indian newspapers with tips on how to spot misinformation.

But in a strongly worded statement released late Thursday, India’s information technology ministry said the action taken was not enough.

“Rampant circulation of irresponsible messages in large volumes on their platform have not been addressed adequately by WhatsApp,” the ministry said.

“When rumours and fake news get propagated by mischief-mongers, the medium used for such propagation cannot evade responsibility and accountability,” it said.

“If (WhatsApp) remain mute spectators they are liable to be treated as abettors and thereafter face consequent legal action.”

AFP

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‘Fake news often goes viral’: WhatsApp ads warn India after mob lynchings
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https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jul/13/fake-news-whatsapp-ads-india-mob-lynchings

Facebook’s Zuckerberg says he won’t remove Holocaust denial posts

July 19, 2018

Founder of social media giant says those denying Holocaust may be doing so unintentionally and should not be removed, drawing condemnation from ADL; later clarifies remarks

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg meets with a group of entrepreneurs and innovators during a round-table discussion at Cortex Innovation Community technology hub in St. Louis,  November 9, 2017. (Jeff Roberson/AFP)

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg meets with a group of entrepreneurs and innovators during a round-table discussion at Cortex Innovation Community technology hub in St. Louis, November 9, 2017. (Jeff Roberson/AFP)

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg appeared to defend Holocaust deniers on Wednesday, suggesting that online hate speech disclaiming the genocide of six million Jews is misguided rather than a matter of ill-intent.

Zuckerberg later clarified his comments, saying he never intended to defend Holocaust denial.

Noting his Jewish heritage to the Recode tech news site, Zuckerberg defended the social media giant’s refusal to remove various offensive content. Instances of Holocaust denial are “deeply offensive,” he opined.

“But at the end of the day, I don’t believe that our platform should take that down because I think there are things that different people get wrong. I don’t think that they’re intentionally getting it wrong,” he continued, before the interviewer interjected to disagree.

“It’s hard to impugn intent and to understand the intent,” said Zuckerberg. “I just think, as abhorrent as some of those examples are, I think the reality is also that I get things wrong when I speak publicly. I’m sure you do. I’m sure a lot of leaders and public figures we respect do too, and I just don’t think that it is the right thing to say, ‘We’re going to take someone off the platform if they get things wrong, even multiple times.’”

The Facebook head said the social network drew a line at calls for violence.

“What we will do is we’ll say, ‘Okay, you have your page, and if you’re not trying to organize harm against someone, or attacking someone, then you can put up that content on your page, even if people might disagree with it or find it offensive,’” he said.

His comments were swiftly condemned by the Anti-Defamation League.

“Holocaust denial is a willful, deliberate and longstanding deception tactic by anti-Semites that is incontrovertibly hateful, hurtful, and threatening to Jews,” Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO and national director of the ADL, said in a statement.

“Facebook has a moral and ethical obligation not to allow its dissemination. ADL will continue to challenge Facebook on this position and call on them to regard Holocaust denial as a violation of their community guidelines,” added Greenblatt.

Zuckerberg later emailed Recode to say he had never meant to defend Holocaust denial.

“I personally find Holocaust denial deeply offensive, and I absolutely didn’t intend to defend the intent of people who deny that,” he said. “Our goal with fake news is not to prevent anyone from saying something untrue — but to stop fake news and misinformation spreading across our services.”

In September 2017, Facebook came under fire after investigative reports in ProPublica and Slate showed that advertisers were able to specifically target anti-Semitic or prejudiced social media users with their ads.

ProPublica reported that “the world’s largest social network enabled advertisers to direct their pitches to the news feeds of almost 2,300 people who expressed interest in the topics of ‘Jew hater,’ ‘How to burn Jews,’ or, ‘History of why Jews ruin the world.’”

Although the category was too small on its own, when adding other categories, such as the far-right, ultra-nationalist National Democratic Party of Germany, ProPublica was able to purchase ads targeting the 2,274 people who listed “Jew hater” in the “education” or “work” sections of their Facebook profiles. The ads were approved within 15 minutes.

The website also found that 3,194 Facebook users listed their employer as “German Schutzstaffel” — the German SS — and another 2,449 who said they worked for “Nazi Party.”

Facebook later intervened, but according to Slate, it was still possible to purchase ads targeting anti-Muslim and white nationalist users.

Zuckerberg’s remarks come amid mounting condemnation and calls for scrutiny of Facebook over a massive privacy breach.

In the worst ever public relations disaster for the social media giant, Facebook has admitted that up to 87 million users may have had their data hijacked by British consultancy firm Cambridge Analytica, which was working for US President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign.

Cambridge Analytica, which also had meetings with the Leave.EU campaign ahead of Britain’s EU referendum in 2016, denies the accusations and has filed for bankruptcy in the United States and Britain.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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Facebook to remove violence-inciting misinformation from site

July 19, 2018
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A protester holds a placard during a demonstration against the mob lynchings in the India

Facebook told the New York Times on Wednesday that it will soon begin extracting misinformation circulating on the social media platform that is inciting existing tensions into physical violence globally.

The details: Facebook has been under scrutiny for being used to propagate false information and hateful rhetoric which can lead to deadly violence in countries like IndiaSri Lanka and Myanmar. The company has already been working with local civil groups to identify false information for removal. However, other social platforms Facebook owns such as Instagram and WhatsApp, won’t adopt the policy, even though they are also being used to circulate false news, the Times notes.

https://www.axios.com/facebook-plans-to-remove-misinformation-inciting-violence–1a73a25b-62ca-4b19-a08d-b5ec57da82d2.html

Image result for WhatsApp, on iPhone, photos

New York Times

The policy expands Facebook’s rules about what type of false information it will remove, and is largely a response to episodes in Sri Lanka, Myanmar and India in which rumors that spread on Facebook led to real-world attacks on ethnic minorities.

“We have identified that there is a type of misinformation that is shared in certain countries that can incite underlying tensions and lead to physical harm offline,” said Tessa Lyons, a Facebook product manager. “We have a broader responsibility to not just reduce that type of content but remove it.”

Facebook has been roundly criticized over the way its platform has been used to spread hate speech and false information that prompted violence. The company has struggled to balance its belief in free speech with those concerns, particularly in countries where access to the internet is relatively new and there are limited mainstream news sources to counter social media rumors.

NYT:https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/18/technology/facebook-to-remove-misinformation-that-leads-to-violence.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=first-column-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news

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‘Fake news often goes viral’: WhatsApp ads warn India after mob lynchings
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https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jul/13/fake-news-whatsapp-ads-india-mob-lynchings

Anti-Semitic online harassment in Germany on the rise, study finds

July 19, 2018

When Yorai Feinberg first opened his restaurant in Berlin, he felt welcome. But lately the Israeli has increasingly been the recipient of hate mail. A new study has found that hate in Germany has become more radical.

    
Yorai Feinberg (picture-alliance/dpa/J. Carstensen)

Yorai Feinberg has gotten used to hearing from “Ludwig Fischer.” Every few days the Berlin restaurant owner receives emails from a man who writes under the pseudonym of one of Hitler’s most notorious SA henchmen. He calls Feinberg a “filthy rat,” says the Holocaust is just a “scam” and rants that all Jews will land in the gas chamber.

Feinberg has collected some 60 pages of hate mail from Ludwig Fischer alone. “I don’t take it so personally anymore. I don’t take it too seriously,” says Feinberg.

Threshold getting lower

The Israeli says that when he came to Berlin six years ago, he felt at home right away: “I was immediately welcomed in Berlin.” Feinberg lived in Vienna before moving to Berlin, where he says the mood toward Jews and Israelis was less relaxed than in Germany. But he adds: “Things have gotten a bit worse meanwhile.”

The last few months have seen several high-profile attacks on Jews in Germany. Just last week a Jewish-American professor was attacked by a young German of Palestinian descent in the city of Bonn. In April, an attack on a yarmulke-wearing man in Berlin made international headlines.

Read moreGerman Jewish groups say NGOs must fight anti-Semitism if they want public funds

But it is online where attacks and insults are most frequently directed toward Jews and Israelis. That is according to a new study conducted by the Technical University of Berlin (TU Berlin), in which researchers studied 300,000 mostly anonymous texts. Most came from social media sites. The conclusion: Not only are more hateful comments directed at Jews, they are also becoming more radical.

“The threshold is sinking,” says Monika Schwarz-Friesel, who heads the TU Berlin institute for language and communication. “People use the anonymity of the internet to disseminate anti-Semitic comments.”

Anti-Semitism from the heart of society

Feinberg had his first encounter with anti-Semitism in Germany’s capital on the street. In December of 2017, a man berated him for several minutes in front of his restaurant. Feinberg recorded the incident and put it online. He says he received a lot of support from across the country. Nevertheless, he has also received an increasing amount of hate mail. “The problem is not a few evil individuals,” he says, “but all of those who agree with them.”

Read more‘Solidarity Hoodie’ challenges anti-Semitism

The TU Berlin study backs up that statement. “Anti-Semitism doesn’t only come from right-wing extremists or the populist scene,” says Schwarz-Friesel. She notes that left-leaning and liberal people as well as Muslims drew her attention with their anti-Semitic comments. “Everyday anti-Semitism rooted in the heart of society is the most dangerous,” in Schwarz-Friesel’s estimation. Radical statements are often brushed off as crazy, but when educated segments of society express anti-Semitic sentiment it is much more likely to gain acceptance, she says.

Old prejudices

“We were shocked to see that prejudices against Jews had changed so little over the last hundred years,” says Schwarz-Friesel, adding that Jews are still seen as the “scourge of the world,” a race that must be eradicated.

The arguments of today’s anti-Semites differ little from people with similar prejudices in the sixteenth century. One slight change, however, is that today’s anti-Semitism is often mixed with criticism of the state of Israel.

Read moreSeparating anti-Semitism from criticism of Israel

Most of the hate mail directed at Feinberg comes from the far-right. Pseudonyms like Ludwig Fischer point to a particular bent and the texts themselves tend to suggest a certain ideological template. Writers often deny the Holocaust, claiming that concentration camps never existed and that the Jews themselves that were responsible for the mass murder that took place during the Second World War, not the Nazis.

“The atmosphere in Germany has become more extreme overall, in every direction,” says Feinberg “Those on the right are getting more extreme and the left has also grown more extreme as a result.”

No perpetrator punished

Nevertheless, Feinberg is fighting the hate, but it isn’t always easy. When he shared the first hate mail he received from Ludwig Fischer on Facebook, it was immediately taken down and his account was blocked. The social media network’s censorship algorithms seemingly do not differentiate between the threatening and the threatened. Feinberg says he also feels abandoned by the justice system: “None of the attackers have been punished yet. I have experienced a number of extreme cases where I think the person issuing the attacks deserves to be punished for their actions.”

“If this trend continues, anti-Semitism will become more normal in real life, not just online,” says Schwarz-Friesel, explaining that today, the internet and reality are more intertwined than ever.

Still, Feinberg is hopeful that the situation will improve: “I am not going to leave Germany just because of a tiny and insignificant part of society.”

https://www.dw.com/en/anti-semitic-online-harassment-in-germany-on-the-rise-study-finds/a-44738878

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What EU’s record fine will mean for Google

July 18, 2018

US tech company must pay a €4.3bn penalty but also overhaul its Android model

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Android over money

By Rochelle Toplensky in Brussels

The EU has fined Google a record €4.3bn for imposing anti-competitive terms on companies using the Android mobile operating system, the second time Brussels has penalised the US tech company for abusing its market dominance.

Beyond the financial cost, the European Commission’s antitrust decision has significant implications for Google’s business operations as the company must now overhaul one of the most important computing platforms of the smartphone era.

Antitrust decisions come in two parts. First, EU officials must prove the company is dominant in relevant markets — which they did for Google in general search, licensed mobile operating systems and app stores. (Apple, which does not license its iOS operating system and App Store to rivals, was not considered a competitor to Android.)

Then it must be established that the company unlawfully exploited its strength to stymie competition. The commission found that restrictive terms required makers of Android phones to install Google products as a condition of using Play, the Android app store. Other conditions prevented manufacturers from selling phones that use other operating systems, and paid phonemakers to exclusively pre-install Google search. Google denies wrongdoing.

Why is the case important to Google?

Since its launch in 2007, Android has helped Google preserve its pre-eminence as consumers moved from desktop computers to mobile devices. More than half of worldwide internet traffic is now on mobile devices, 80 per cent of which run on Android, providing a showcase for Google services and mobile apps.

Google gives away Android and keeps it updated for free, covering its costs with the revenues made from people using its services. Licences for the official version of Android are conditional on devicemakers following certain rules.

As a result of the EU decision, Google will be expected to revise the terms of service that made this model viable, notably the guaranteed distribution of Google products. Such changes would leave Google with less control, potentially opening up opportunities for rivals.

How has Google responded?

Google rejects the commission’s case on three main grounds. It argues that the refusal of EU investigators to accept that Android competes with Apple’s iOS system misconstrues the market.

The company also says the commission fails to acknowledge how easy it is for users to switch. Even if apps are pre-installed, Google argues that consumers can easily “swipe away” the Google products and download something else.

And it thinks the commission is underestimating the importance of rules for developers and users. App developers rely on a degree of consistency to distribute products. Making Android more open, in other words, could degrade the user experience.

What triggered the investigation?

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Microsoft, Oracle and Nokia were among 14 companies that complained to the EU in April 2013, claiming Google unfairly supported Android and its mobile services by offering cut-price licensing and exclusivity deals. The commission began an investigation, sending formal charges to Google in 2016.

Brussels launched two other investigations into the tech company. The first, concluded last summer, resulted in a €2.4bn fine for illegally favouring its shopping service over rivals. Google has appealed against the decision. The remaining probe relates to how the company prevented websites that use its search bar and ads from also showing competing ads.

What happens next?

Google will pay the fine and has 90 days to decide how to change its Android contracts to remove illegal provisions. The commission will ultimately review whether the company’s solution complies with its ruling.

If the changes fall short, Google’s parent company Alphabet could be liable for further fines of up to 5 per cent of daily revenues, which would be roughly $12m a day. Google is expected to appeal against the decision in court.

It is too early to tell how Android will change in Europe, or beyond. Google might start to charge a licence fee to cover its software costs and device suppliers might be given more freedom to develop their own version of Android. Google could even mimic Apple and keep Android for use only in its own Pixel phones. Any changes are unlikely to be noticed by users for many months.

https://www.ft.com/content/60502464-8a57-11e8-bf9e-8771d5404543

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Google to Be Fined Record $5 Billion by EU Over Android

July 18, 2018

Google will be fined about 4.3 billion euros ($5 billion) by the European Union over apps for Android mobile devices, setting a record for antitrust penalties, according to a person familiar with the EU decision.

The penalty — the same amount the Netherlands contributes to the EU budget every year — is due to be announced by EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager at 1 p.m. in Brussels.

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The EU’s decision would bring the running total of Google fines to 6.7 billion euros after last year’s penalty over shopping-search services. It could soon be followed by more fines from a probe into online advertising contracts.

Google has built a massive business of banner and videos ads, thanks largely to its central role on Android devices. Google will account for a third of all global mobile ads in 2018, according to research firm eMarketer, giving the company around $40 billion in sales outside the U.S. Google risks losing that traction if it is forced to surrender its real estate on millions of Android phones.

QuickTake: Why Google Is Again in the EU’s Antitrust Crosshairs

Google Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai had a call with EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager late Tuesday for a so-called state of play meeting, a usual step to alert companies of an impending penalty, according to one of the people, who asked not to be named because the discussion is private. The probe targets Google’s contracts with smartphone manufacturers and telecoms operators.

The European Commission exceeds last year’s then-record 2.4 billion-euro penalty following an investigation into Google’s shopping-search service. Google owner Alphabet Inc. and the commission both declined to comment on the Android fines.

Despite being a record fine, Alphabet generated about the same amount of money every 16 days in 2017, based on the company’s reported annual revenue of $110.9 billion for the year.

Alphabet shares were down 1.2 percent in pre-market trading in New York on Wednesday.

EU Attack on Android Boosts Rivals in the Battle of the Apps

Levies are based on revenue in the market being probed and can’t exceed 10 percent of a company’s global annual revenue. Google raked in around 25 billion euros in digital advertising in Europe in 2017, equity research firm Pivotal Research estimates.

More significant than a blockbuster fine could be an accompanying order freeing up phone manufacturers to choose non-Google apps to install on Android phones. That would yield crucial real estate for app developers given that about 80 percent of smart mobile devices use Android.

EU officials have been investigating Google contracts that require manufacturers of Android phones to take Google’s search and browser apps and other Google services when they want to license the Play app store.

The EU is also targeting Google’s payments to telecoms operators and manufacturers who exclusively install Google search on devices and contracts that prevent handset makers selling phones using other versions of Android.

Google has a market share of more than 90 percent for general Internet search, licensed smart mobile operating systems and app stores for Android software, the EU said in 2016.

— With assistance by Stephanie Bodoni, and Natalia Drozdiak

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Google braces for huge EU fine over Android

July 18, 2018

Google prepared Wednesday to be hit with huge EU fine for freezing out rivals of its Android mobile phone system in a ruling that could spark new tensions between Brussels and Washington.

EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager spoke by telephone with Google chief Sundar Pichai on Tuesday night to tell him about the decision in advance, a source close to the matter told AFP.

Vestager is expected to announce that Google abused its dominant position in the market by making tie-ups with phone makers like South Korea’s Samsung and China’s Huawei.

Two European sources told AFP the fine would be “several billion euros” without giving further details. EU rules say Google could be fined up to 10 percent of parent company Alphabet’s annual revenue, which hit $110.9 billion in 2017.

“The fine is based on the length of the infraction, but also on whether antitrust authorities believe there was an intention to commit the offence, and whether they excluded competitors or not,” said another source close to the matter.

The Android pavilion at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona.

The European Commission, the 28-nation EU’s executive arm, refused to comment.

The long-awaited decision comes as fears of a transatlantic trade war mount due to President Donald Trump’s shock decision to impose tariffs on European steel and aluminium exports.

Denmark’s Vestager has targeted a series of Silicon Valley giants in her four years as the 28-nation European Union’s antitrust chief, winning praise in Europe but angering Washington.

The case against Android is the most significant of three complaints by the EU against the search titan, which has already been hit with a record-breaking 2.4-billion-euro fine in a Google shopping case.

Brussels has repeatedly targeted Google over the past decade amid concerns about the Silicon Valley giant’s dominance of internet search across Europe, where it commands about 90 percent of the market.

– ‘Financial incentives’ –

In the Android file, the European Commission has accused Google of requiring mobile manufacturers such as Samsung and Huawei to pre-install its search engine and Google Chrome browser on phones, and to set Google Search as the default, as a condition of licensing some Google apps.

Google Search and Chrome are as a result pre-installed on the “significant majority” of devices sold in the EU, the commission says.

The complaint formally lodged in April also accuses Google of preventing manufacturers from selling smartphones that run on rival operating systems based on the Android open source code.

Google also gave “financial incentives” to manufacturers and mobile network operators if they pre-installed Google Search on their devices, the commission said.

Vestager’s other scalps include Amazon and Apple.

The EU’s biggest ever punishment targeted Apple in 2016 when it ordered the iconic maker of iPhones and iPads to pay Ireland 13 billion euros ($16 billion) in back taxes that it had avoided by a tax deal with Dublin.

The EU has also taken on Facebook over privacy issues after it admitted that millions of users may have had their data hijacked by British consultancy firm Cambridge Analytica, which was working for Trump’s 2016 election campaign.

The Google decision comes just one week before European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker is due to travel to the United States for crucial talks with Trump on the tariffs dispute and other issues.

Transatlantic tensions are also high after Trump berated NATO allies over defence spending at a summit last week, over his summit with Russian leader Vladimir Putin, and over the US president’s pull-out from the Iran nuclear agreement and Paris climate deal.

AFP

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