A doctor has been arrested after the death of a 12-year-old girl he had performed female genital mutilation (FGM) on.
Nada Hassan Abdel-Maqsoud bled to death at a private clinic in Manfalout, close to the city of Assiut, after her parents, uncle and aunt took her for the procedure.
Her parents and aunt were also arrested after reports of her death emerged.
The doctor, 70, carried out the procedure without anaesthesia, without a nurse present and without any qualifications as a surgeon, according to local prosecutors.
The surgeon, known only as “Ali AA” claimed the family brought the girl to him for “plastic surgery” on her genitals.
Family members reportedly admitted that they knew they were taking the child to undergo FGM, and that her mother and aunt had stayed in the room during the procedure.
FGM involves the removal of the clitoris and sometimes other external female genital organs. Tradition in some parts of rural Egypt demands that young women undergo FGM as a way of demonstrating sexual purity.
The police and officials carrying out investigations don’t care about domestic and sexual violence, including FGM
Egyptian authorities have struggled for years to eradicate the practice, despite a 2008 ban and new laws in 2016 criminalising parents and doctors who facilitate it. Under the new laws, anyone who performs FGM faces between three and 15 years in prison, while anyone accompanying girls or women to be cut faces up to three years in jail.
But campaigners warned at the time that the new laws were unlikely to combat the practice, given the lack of convictions of doctors and reliance on people to self-report. They also warned more girls could be taken to hospitals or other medical facilities to have the procedure, meaning that complications were less likely but so was public knowledge of the practice itself.
In 2013, 13-year-old Sohair al-Bata’a died as a result of FGM. Raslan Fadl was the first doctor to be convicted of FGM, serving three months of his sentence in a case considered a watershed in convincing Egyptian lawmakers to criminalise the practice.
Fadl was released after reconciling with the Bata’a family, a loophole in the law that campaigners say shields families and doctors from prosecution.
“FGM continues to occur because there is no desire from the political leadership to stop it. The state is tolerant of female genital mutilation despite the presence of law, and despite receiving funds and grants from abroad [to combat it],” said Reda El Danbouki, a lawyer and campaigner against FGM.
He said judges fail to apply the law because they “are affected by a culture which does not see FGM as a crime”.
He added: “The police and the officials carrying out investigations don’t care about domestic and sexual violence, including FGM.”
Danbouki criticised Egypt’s doctors’ syndicate for suspending convicted doctors rather than removing them permanently from the register.
According to Unicef, 87% of of females aged 15 to 49 have undergone FGM in Egypt. About 14% of girls under 14 have been cut.
An estimated 27.2 million Egyptian women and girls had been subjected to FGM in 2016, according to Unicef, out of a population of almost 100 million.
Rania Yehia, of Egypt’s National Council for Women, an initiative affiliated to the presidency, said that her organisation would continue to campaign to raise awareness.
Yehia maintained that the strength of tradition in rural Egypt makes the problem hard to combat, but blamed the persistence of the issue on external factors. “This habit comes from outside Egypt. It comes from elsewhere in the continent of Africa … not from north Africa,” she said.
Prophet Nigel Gaisie, made some shocking claims concerning the death of the basketball player Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna Bryant who died in an helicopter crash on their way to California in saturday.
While the man of God was preaching and prophesying to his congregations, he said he is capable of raising Kobe Bryant and his daughter from death
He however attached some conditions to this…. According to man of God, he can only do so if 10% of Kobe’s net worth is given to him
Prophet Nigel Maisie says as quoted belo
The Lord just took me into the spirit world, and I have seen a great man fall….This news will shake the entire world because of how great this man is. I see a lot of people on social media talking about the man for weeks to come and I see a lot of sad faces .”
“America will mourn this great man. The Lord then instructed me to announce to the family of this man, the American embassy in Ghana and the entire world that He the Lord has not sanctioned the death of this man
He again said to me, ‘Nigel, tell the family of this man and tell the entire world, should they agree to pay my tithes and offerings I will use you as a vessel to bring this man and his daughter back to life.’”
Prophet Nigel asserted that without the 10% offer, there was no way he could bring the man and his daughter back to life because that was the instruction given to him by God Himself.
“The man is worth 500 million dollars and should the family agree to give 10% of his income to me, I will bring them back to life. Thus sayeth the Lord! Without the money, I cannot bring him and the little girl back.”
Prophet Nigel Giasie after making these declarations asked his congregation to pray in tongues and thank the Lord for wanting to use him and their church for such a great miracle.
He went on to admonish the congregation to make sure the message reaches the American consulate in Ghana, the family of the late Kobe Bryant, and also warned his congregation not to doubt the words of Almighty Jehovah or else face some serious repercussions.
The post “I Can Raise Kobe bryant From Death If 10% Of His Net Worth Is Given To Me – Prophet Nigel Gaisie appeared first on Freebiesloaded.co.
It has been a long time coming, it has even been alluded to in some Sci-Fi series such as Incorporated, where in the near future a corporation runs a country and is also a state in its own right. With Facebook earlier in 2019 officially unveiling plans to launch Libra, its own (along with other corporate partners) digital currency, in 2020, it is almost safe to say that Mark Zuckerberg’s (despite being a public company, Facebook’s share structure and voting rights afford Zuckerberg a lot of control and power) social network is almost a country in its own right.
With approximately 2 billion monthly active users as reported at the end of 2018, even if you had to account for duplicate and fake accounts, it would still measure up as one of the largest populations any country has on the planet.
If you add WhatsApp, considering that the messaging app’s users will also be able to transact using Libra (once, or rather if, it eventually launches), with its reported 1,5 billion active users (although some are already Facebook users), you are looking at a size of a country like one we have never witnessed before.
Welcome to the .
Strong political opposition
It didn’t take long after the official announcement of Libra earlier in the year that three countries, France, England, and Germany, started displaying signs that they were feeling threatened by Facebook & Co.’s newly proposed digital currency. Specifically, France’s Finance Minister stated unequivocally that Libra cannot be a replacement for sovereign currencies.
So far, it has not been an easy ride for Libra since that official announcement earlier in 2019. What looked like a good list of partners has been reduced with several of its (Libra Association) member companies deciding to pull their membership and support for Facebook’s proposed digital currency. It all started with PayPal withdrawing from the Libra Association, this was then followed by Visa, Mastercard, eBay, Stripe and Mercado Pago who all announced that they will no longer be participating nor supporting Libra.
The withdrawals, which ended up leaving Libra without any major global payments companies as members, were politically motivated as the United States Senate sent a letter to the various Libra Association member organizations CEOs urging them “to proceed with caution until Facebook is able to provide real answers to you.”
Despite this strong political opposition to Libra by various countries and regulators, which has also seen Facebook being hauled before the USA’s policy makers to answer questions about the planned digital currency, I still think there is a high probability that not only will Libra launch in 2020, but it has better than average chances of gaining traction.
This is despite those involved in the Libra project at Facebook stating that there is no clear product roadmap nor a s et launch date.
However, important to note that Patrick Ellis, one of the board members of the Libra Association, confirmed to Reuters that Libra would launch during 2020, but couldn’t provide any indication of when or even the initial markets it would be launched in.
Before I elaborate on why I think it will succeed, what will it mean for your money to be controlled and managed by Facebook?
Your money in Facebook’s control
To further understand why some countries, including the USA, have been vocally opposing Libra in public, the letter that The United States House of Representatives Committee on Financial Services wrote to Mark Zuckerberg, Sheryl Sandberg (COO at Facebook), and David Marcus (CEO of Facebook subsidiary, Calibra), gives us a few hints in my opinion.
Firstly, as compared to say, Bitcoin, it is easier and possible to write to Facebook’s Zuckerberg and Sandberg regarding Libra compared to trying to write to Satoshi Nakamoto. In this case, there are real people and organizations that can be held accountable. Secondly, and as they allude to in the letter, the policy makers feel that Libra is a threat to the US Dollar and the country’s monetary policy, despite it being merely a stablecoin and not a cryptocurrency in the strictest of terms.
There’s also the matter that should Libra ever get into trouble (eg. not be able to guarantee customers withdrawals etc.), the US government in one way or another would need to step in to protect Americans as we’ve seen it do before with some of the country’s large banks (side note: this is exactly what Bitcoin avoids, but alas. A discussion for another day).
However, more importantly for us in Africa is, does Libra offer any of us any value?
Does it help us with anything we are struggling with currently?
Does it make life easier?
To use and transact in Libra, users will have to download and run the official wallet, Calibra (a subsidiary company of Facebook). From what I’ve seen and what has so far led me to say in its current form Libra will struggle to gain traction (unless they address the following two issues) is that to use Calibra one will require a bank account and a government issued ID.
It’s no secret that Africa has a high number of unbanked people mainly as a result of low income and unemployment. As such, it is mind boggling that a product punting financial inclusion would require users to first have a bank account before using it. However, it’s possible that this will change by the time Facebook launches the digital currency and wallet in 2020. If it doesn’t, it could prove to be a stumbling block for gaining traction especially across Africa.
The second issue, which also leads me to explaining why I think Libra will succeed, is around the requirement of government issued ID.
On the surface, in most countries in Africa at least, the requirement for a government issued ID could prove a real stumbling block to adoption. In many African countries, eg. Nigeria, there is no real organized government ID system. Immediately this makes it rather interesting how Facebook is going to verify identity in such cases.
However, Facebook and its Libra partners seem to already have thought of this and have a possible solution in mind. A solution which, once it can be implemented, will make a strong argument that Facebook is now essentially a country.
Facebook’s possible Trojan Horse
Earlier in 2019 when the noise around Libra was at its peak and being frustrated that no African policymakers we commenting on it or providing any clarification on how they view Facebook’s proposed digital currency that is mainly targeted a developing countries, I set out to read the Libra white paper for the third time. Somehow, I found something in the Libra white paper I had missed or wasn’t paying enough attention to previously.
Hidden (in plain sight) deep in the guts of a white paper light on details and heavy on marketing talk about financial inclusion and the world’s 2 billion without adequate financial services are two sentences that seem to be placed nonchalantly atop page 9 of the Libra white paper, yet they could have far reaching impact.
“An additional goal of the [Libra] association is to develop and promote an open identity standard. We believe that decentralized and portable digital identity is a prerequisite to financial inclusion and competition.”
This, the development of an open standard for digital IDs, as mentioned, could mean that Facebook already has a solution for part of this problem. The other part of this solution is that Facebook previously acquired a company that verifies government issued IDs in 2018. These two solutions combined could help onboard and verify people onto Libra and from there start issuing them with verified Facebook IDs.
Considering that Facebook, along with its subsidiary platforms like WhatsApp, Instagram, and Messenger, is home to over 2 billion people, could this be the new global ID standard that will surpass and be more trusted than government issued IDs?
Although I could not find any further details on the proposed Libra digital ID and Facebook have also refused to comment when I asked, in my opinion it has a far bigger impact than the proposed currency as, if adopted and rolled out successfully it solves one of the web’s biggest issues, trust. I can already envision how it fits in with some of its other acquisitions, for example, Facebook acquired a face recognition tool that it incorporated into its main Facebook platform that would identify faces in the photos you post automatically and suggest you tag them. This, could possibly be used outside of government issued IDs given the trove of (tagged) photos Facebook already has of billions of people around the world, to verify identity.
This to me is Facebook’s Trojan Horse with Libra a necessary part but of lesser significance than the ability for Facebook to be able to run a platform that can verify and vouch for the identity of billions of people independent from any government.
Managing the flow of money gives you some power. Handling trust and identities gives you control, and essentially, makes you a nation state.
A virtual nation state
As far as why I now think this completes the idea of Facebook becoming a country, it’s simply because of the leverage it will hold over some countries especially across the continent who not only do not have near as accurate data about their citizens like Facebook has, but are struggling to maintain the value and usefulness of their own sovereign currencies (e.g. Zimbabwe).
At the heart of it (Libra) people just want a quicker and cheaper way to transact and send money, and already in Africa, many are used to using mobile money for their daily living.
Apart from having such a huge virtual population, a currency, and possibly its own verifiable IDs for its citizens, Facebook also does not fall under any single country’s jurisdiction. For example, its US-based users are governed by a corporation registered in the USA, its users in the rest of the world are governed by a corporation registered in Ireland, while in China it works under different laws. This not only applies to laws but where it pays taxes too. So, as such, you cannot exactly call it a US company as it is not bound any single country’s laws and to make matters worse (or good if you’re Facebook) it is a virtual entity.
It really, in my view, has officially become the People’s Republic of Facebook (and like its namesake, it’s not a democracy 😊)
The official death toll from the Whakaari/White Island eruption has risen to 17 after a victim died in hospital on Sunday.
Deputy Commissioner John Tims confirmed the death on Monday morning.
He said the person died while in Middlemore Hospital on Sunday night, with police being advised shortly before 11pm.
The person’s death brings the official number of deceased to 17. Of the deaths, 16 died in New Zealand and one in Australia.
Whakaari/White Island erupted at 2.11pm on December 9.
The official toll, from the December 9 eruption, does not include two people still missing, presumed dead, in the waters around the island.
They are Kiwi tour guide Hayden Marshall-Inman, 40, and Australian teenager Winona Langford, 17.
Marshall-Inman was farewelled in a memorial in Whakatāne on Friday where he was remembered as a “superman”, a “hero” and, now, a “guardian of Whakaari”.
The search for the two missing was scaled back late last week when Police Deputy Commissioner Mike Clement admitted they’d so far been unsuccessful in their search.
The search was now being handled by Bay of Plenty police.
District commander Superintendent Andy McGregor said an extensive aerial search for further victims of the Whakaari/White Island eruption between the island and the mainland was conducted by Coastguard and police over the weekend.
No further items of significance were located, he said in a statement on Monday.
Police will review the search area to date and make a decision on further search activity, he said.
In a press conference on Thursday Clement described how much it hurt his staff that they hadn’t been able to return them.
The official toll does not include Winona Langford and Hayden Marshall-Inman who are still missing, presumed dead, in the waters around the island.
They are Kiwi tour guide Hayden Marshall-Inman, 40, and Australian tennager Winona Langford, 17.
“It hurts us and it hurts our people,” he said.
He also revealed that police divers at one stage were “within metres” of recovering Marshall-Inman’s body when it was believed to have been sighted in the water near Whakaari’s jetty on December 11.
“The reality was the conditions of the ocean meant they could not get close,” Clement said.
“The people on that day have thought long and hard about that. It’s what they come here to do. They’re disappointed. They backed themselves to retrieve a body and they missed out.”
Last week, Middlemore Hospital announced that more than 600 elective surgeries were set to be delayed as they dealt with the eruption’s aftermath.
Hayden Marshall-Inman’s brother, Mark Inman, spoke during Friday’s memorial.
In the first week following the eruption, the National Burns Service – hosted by south Auckland’s Middlemore, but including centres at Waikato, Hutt Valley and Christchurch hospitals – saw more burns than it typically would in a year.
On Friday John Cartwright, incident controller of Counties Manukau DHB’s incident management team, said the extent of burns the Whakaari patients experienced required many operating theatre hours, on multiple days, by large surgical and anaesthetic teams.
The nature of the burns suffered was complicated by the gasses and chemicals present in the eruption. That meant surgeries had to be carried out more rapidly than was the case for “thermal only” burns.
Waikato Hospital took in the largest load of patients, eight critically injured, on the evening of the disaster.
Last week trauma director Grant Christey said it appeared as masks protected the lungs of people caught in the eruption.
“We thought there would be a lot more lung injuries, as well, from inhalation,” Christey said.
“What we learned later, from the people who went out there, was most of [the tourists] had gas masks on,” he said. They put their gas masks firmly on their faces and closed their eyes and tried to get through it.”
Fábio Porchat, one of the main actors in ‘The First Temptation of Christ,’ says the controversial movie depicting Jesus Christ as “gay” was not to discourage people from believing in God.
The 45-minute special, made available by Netflix, an American streaming service, on December 3, has since generated backlashes from several quarters, with many condemning the movie.
Porchat, who is the co-founder of Porta dos Fundos, a Brazil-based YouTube comedy group, told that the movie was generally misconstrued.
“It doesn’t incite violence, we’re not saying people shouldn’t believe in God,” he said.
“They [Netflix] haven’t said anything to us like, ‘Maybe we should stop making the special available.’ They support freedom of speech.”
He also wondered why Christians have aimed attacks at them for producing the movie even when the gay community, which was the most affected in the movie, has been relatively quiet.
“We play at insinuating that Jesus has a new friend, and probably this new friend is gay, but they have just been having fun and a very good time in the desert for 40 days,” he said.
“If anybody should be angry with us, it should be the gay community because a gay character turns out to be the Devil. But the gay community loves us!
“The show is almost a Christian fairy tale: Jesus faces off bravely with the Devil and then chooses to follow God, accepting to be his son, Jesus Christ.
“A lot of people, when they see the show, say: “Oh that’s what they were talking about? Ok, that’s O.K., they’re just having fun, no problem at all.
“For some Catholics here in Brazil, it’s O.K. if Jesus is a bad guy, uses drugs: That’s no problem. The problem is he’s gay. No, he can’t be gay. And that’s interesting because Jesus is everything. God is black and white and gay and straight. God is everything. It’s more homophobic to be insulted by a gay Jesus than to make Jesus special.”
The actor went on to dismiss rumours that Porta dos Fundos only do satires about Christianity, stating the group covers Islam and other aspects.
“People say that we don’t make fun of Islam,” said Porchat.
“We do, we’ve satirized terrorists, for example. But they are trying to incite other people to violence, which for Catholics is a very un-Catholic thing to do.”
, general overseer of Omega Fire Ministries, had charged Christians to unsubscribe and delete their accounts on Netflix while nearly 2 million people , which calls for the special to be prohibited and pulled down from the streaming service.
Many Nigerian Christians have taken to Twitter to criticise Netflix over a new film which shows Jesus as being in a relationship.
The movie entitled ‘The First Temptation of Christ’ is a 46-minute comedy flick showing Jesus as a closeted homosexual.
‘The First Temptation of Christ’ which was released on Netflix on 3 December sees Jesus and a ‘friend’ named Orlando arriving at Mary and Joseph’s house for a birthday party.
Read Also: Court Sentences Two Men To 15 Years For Gay Sex In Zambia
The movie has sparked annoyance among Christians from all over the world including Nigeria — with millions around the world signing a petition for Netflix to bring it down and tender an apology to all Christians.
Taking twitter on Sunday, many Nigerians on the platform kicked against the movie, describing it as disrespectful.
See some reactions below
BREAKING:@netflix released a show depicting Jesus as GAY?!
Let’s make this CLEAR!
Jesus isn’t some “woke” culture experiment for you to convince young people that biblical teachings are “debatable”?!
Jesus is the SON OF GOD and died for our sins!
Show some RESPECT!!!
— Adetutu Balogun (Ezi Ada 1 of Diaspora) (@Tutsy22) December 15, 2019
First it was Lucifer, and now Gay Jesus. Y’all mofos have forgotten he died for our Goddamn sins? Huhh? That nigga above us deserve more than just our respect
Netflix are going nuts aswear
— Kobby. Founda (@Founda_) December 15, 2019
I doubt Jesus Christ is concerned on how they portray him. We are talking about the King of kings.
A lot of opinions from mere earthlings will not bother you when you’re the Lord of lords.
Jesus does not need me to fight his fight either.
— Olóyè (@OluniyiGates) December 15, 2019
Netflix releasing a Movie that portrayed Jesus as gay is far too reaching and disrespectful, it’s cool to be whatever you want, but don’t try and rub it on people’s faces, respect other people’s beliefs too.
Jesus was never gay, stop forcing it!!!
— Obi Of Onitsha (@cliqik) December 15, 2019
So @netflix wakes up to paint Jesus Christ as “drunk” and as “gay” in a new movie. This is NOT “woke”, this is insanity.
The disgusting thing about these insane liberals is their complete inability to know when to draw the line.
I hope they never make a movie with Allah as gay.
— OurFavOnlineDoctor (@DrOlufunmilayo) December 15, 2019
The post Nigerians React To Netflix Comedy Film, ‘Gay Jesus’ appeared first on Information Nigeria.
GOLDMAN Sachs Group Inc could end up paying less than US$2 billion (RM8.32 billion) to resolve US criminal and regulatory probes over its role in raising money for scandal-ridden Malaysian investment fund 1MDB, said three people familiar with the negotiations.
The Justice Department and other federal agencies, in internal discussions held in recent weeks, have weighed seeking penalties of between US$1.5 billion and US$2 billion, the people said. That’s less than what some analysts have signalled Goldman might have to pay. While a settlement could be announced as soon as next month, the terms could change before a deal is finalised, said the people who asked not to be named in discussing private negotiations.
The bulk of the penalties would be paid to the Justice Department. Attorney General William Barr has directly immersed himself in the case, according to another person familiar with the matter. Earlier this year, Barr obtained a waiver to let him oversee the investigation, even though his former law firm, Kirkland & Ellis LLP, is representing Goldman. It’s unclear whether the Justice Department is seeking a guilty plea from the bank.
A Justice Department spokesman declined to comment, as did spokesmen for the Federal Reserve and Securities and Exchange Commission, which have been pursuing civil investigations into Goldman. The bank reiterated its previous statements that it continues to cooperate with authorities.
Goldman Sachs shares climbed as much as 3.1 per cent on the discussions, the biggest intraday gain in almost two months. The bank’s stock is up 33 per cent this year.
Goldman’s involvement with 1MDB has triggered one of the biggest blows to its reputation in recent years, leading to a litany of investigations and embarrassing revelations of a former banker bribing government officials. The Wall Street firm has been eager to move past the scandal, and a US settlement of below US$2 billion would put it on track to avoid the worst-case scenario that some analysts pegged at as much as US$9 billion in global fines.
Goldman is separately negotiating a settlement with Malaysian authorities, who have in recent discussions floated much lower figures than their public stance of wanting to recover US$7.5 billion. Goldman is still privately seeking to reduce its sanctions, arguing that the crimes were committed by a rogue employee and that the bank wasn’t aware of the misconduct.
If it pays anywhere close to US$2 billion, Goldman would join other banks that have been subjected to massive US penalties this decade. In 2012, HSBC Holdings Plc set a new bar when it agreed to pay more than US$1.9 billion to settle allegations that it violated sanctions and enabled money laundering. BNP Paribas SA was then hit with the largest financial penalty ever in a US criminal case when it paid US$9 billion over sanctions violations.
In previous international corruption cases, the US has sometimes credited penalties paid to other countries for the same conduct. For example, a US$1.3 billion US settlement last year with Societe Generale SA included a credit of almost US$300 million that was paid to French authorities.
1MDB became the hub of a global corruption and embezzlement scandal in which a massive amount of cash was allegedly diverted to corrupt officials and financiers. Goldman helped the state investment fund raise cash, with the Wall Street bank making about US$600 million from US$6.5 billion in bond sales in 2012 and 2013.
Tim Leissner, a former senior Goldman banker in Southeast Asia, admitted last year to bribery and pleaded guilty to US charges that he conspired to launder money.
Money diverted from 1MDB was allegedly spent around the world, including on a super yacht, the Hollywood movie “The Wolf of Wall Street” and high-end real estate. Authorities in several countries have been working to recoup some of the missing billions and punish those involved.
There are signs that Goldman has made progress in its negotiations with US agencies and may also have a sense of how much it might pay to settle the investigations.
For instance, Goldman stopped buying back its stock in the third quarter as it began discussions with US authorities on 1MDB. Goldman later restarted its buybacks as talks with the government progressed and the firm added US$300 million to its estimate of possible legal losses, chief financial officer Stephen Scherr said on an October conference call with analysts and investors.
Goldman has previously blamed Leissner for concealing his wrongdoing from the firm’s compliance efforts. Leissner has countered that the bank’s culture of secrecy led him to bypass compliance. US authorities allege that in addition to Leissner, two other bankers were aware of the scheme, including one who went on to become the bank’s top dealmaker in the region.
Earlier this year, the Fed banned Leissner and his former deputy, Roger Ng, from the banking industry. Ng faces US accusations of money laundering and bribery, and also Malaysian charges of aiding the bank’s efforts to mislead investors. – Bloomberg
Chef Annabel Langbein is the latest target of an online scam, which has used the names and faces of at least half a dozen famous Kiwis.
Foreign scam artists have been exploiting Facebook’s lax policy on adverts for some time, in a bid to rip off New Zealanders.
Langbein said scammers had made fake news articles, which said she was quitting her job because of a new skincare company.
“It’s all fake. The very worst thing is that my followers and supporters are being conned and losing money and I am powerless to stop it,” she said on Instagram.
Facebook does not fact check the adverts it promotes, which has meant peddlers of fake news, conspiracies and scams have been able to reach users on the platform.
But a spokesman said it had removed and blocked pages that featured fake celebrity endorsements from New Zealanders.
“We do not allow these scams on our services and we take swift action to remove them as soon as we become aware. These scammers are well resourced and use sophisticated cloaking technology to mask content,” he said.
Tech companies such as Facebook and Google collect data about their users, including where they live and what their interests are. Companies, scam artists, governments and lobbyists can then pay the tech giants to target anyone in the world.
For more than a year, a group of scammers have been targeting New Zealand celebrities and forging endorsements for adverts such as skincare and bitcoin.
A Facebook spokesman said these scammers worked across the internet, but the company was investing in automated technology to better detect false news and endorsements. He said the company employed more than 35,000 people to work in its security team, which dealt with these issues.
” The damage and cost to our business far outweighs any ad spend or benefit as this kind of misleading content,” he said.
Annabel Langbein is warning her followers that scam artists are faking stories about her.
These scammers often create fake news websites, made to look like legitimate news sites such as the BBC, Stuff and NZ Herald, to publish fake stories about how one of the celebrities is “quitting their job” after discovering the wonders of a get rich quick scheme.
it was launching a reporting tool in New Zealand to combat these “celebrtiy-bait ads”.
The tool was first rolled out in the UK, after television presenter Martin Lewis launched legal action against Facebook when his name was used in a similar scam. He dropped the lawsuit when Facebook promised to dedicate resource to anti-scam initiatives.
Facebook’s director of product management, Rob Leathern, told Stuff last month that the company did take legal action to stop scam artists when their posts were reported.
“It’s kind of a cat and mouse game we’re constantly playing,” he said.
Facebook is asking Kiwis to report click bait advertisements on the platform.
The company has faced mounting pressure to stop the spread of fake news, scams and conspiracies.
Actor Sacha Baron Cohen made headlines last month, calling social media companies “a sewer of bigotry and vile conspiracy theories”.
“Zuckerberg said that social media companies should live up to their responsibilities,” he said.
“But he’s totally silent about what should happen when they don’t. By now, it’s pretty clear they cannot be trusted to regulate themselves.”
Facebook, however, has been clear that it would delete scam accounts and block their accounts once it was notified.
“Often, we’ll go beyond rejecting the ad; we’ll remove the ability of the accounts and people behind them to advertise with us in the future,” Leathern said.
Chef Nadia Lim, journalist John Campbell, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, broadcasters Mike Hosking and Hayley Holt have also been featured in similar scams.
Naples Senior Center members move to beat of a drum
Naples Daily News
Updated 8:00 AM EST Nov 26, 2019
Martha Davis arrives early for drum circle at Naples Senior Center, a giveaway she’s fond of the activity.
“It just makes you feel happy,” Davis, 82, said. “I know it’s healthy for us. (Afterward) I’m full of energy I didn’t have before.”
The 45-minute drum circle sessions began earlier this year as an experiment to see if it held any appeal to members. The center offers 40 different programs each week to keep seniors engaged and active.
Scheduled initially for once a month, attendance at the drum circle quickly mushroomed. The center’s purchase of eight drums didn’t suffice.
Now drum circle is twice a month. The center has purchased a dozen drums and counting.
Jim Sernovitz, 74, is a volunteer who leads drum circle. He wasn’t surprised how quickly it became popular with the seniors.
Drum instructor Jim Sernovitz, center, leads the drum circle, Thursday, Nov. 21, 2019, at the Naples Senior Center.
Jon Austria/Naples Daily News USA TODAY NETWORK – FLORIDA
“It helps everybody. With drums, you really don’t have to know a lot about music. In a group, it is so loud if you make a mistake, nobody knows.”
The drumming provides exercise through the hand movement, and the vibration can be a stress reliever.
“You feel good when you are done,” he said.
Jackie Faffer, the center’s president and CEO, said drum circle provides members with a connection to others and a sense of interpersonal support.
“This epitomizes the purpose of Naples Senior Center,” she said. “We are all about connecting, energizing and supporting all who participate in our programs. And, when you see the smiles on the faces of our drummers, you know we are also all about having a good time, too.”
Mary-Rina Longo, left, Terry Butts and Carolyn Mulligan participate in a drum circle class, Thursday, Nov. 21, 2019, at the Naples Senior Center.
Jon Austria/Naples Daily News USA TODAY NETWORK – FLORIDA
Sernovitz started a recent session with some warm up drumming before picking up the tempo. Most of the participants in a recent session were women, except for Art Sturm, 86. He started coming to drum circle three months ago.
“It kind of relaxes me,” Sturm said, adding that he likes it when Sernovitz picks up the pace.
Drum circle events are plentiful in Southwest Florida, with gatherings held in Cambier Park in Naples, at Shangri-La Springs in Bonita Springs and in Centennial Park in Fort Myers, according to a public Facebook page, Fort Myers Drum Circle.
Participants play drums in a drum circle class, Thursday, Nov. 21, 2019, at the Naples Senior Center.
Jon Austria/Naples Daily News USA TODAY NETWORK – FLORIDA
The Naples center purchased djembe drums, which hail from West Africa. The drum traditionally is carved from a single piece of African hardwood with animal skin as the drumhead, according to a detailed history on the website, drumconnection.com, and is affiliated with a drum circle program in Boston.
Numerous websites refer to health benefits of drum circles as a way to address stress, provide a sense of belonging and a connection to others. Drumming is a way to decrease anxiety and depression, and can improve motor skills and energy.
Terry Butts plays her drum during a drum circle class, Thursday, Nov. 21, 2019, at the Naples Senior Center.
Jon Austria/Naples Daily News USA TODAY NETWORK – FLORIDA
For Terry Butts, 89, the drum circle at the senior center doesn’t help with her essential tremor, a neurological condition that causes involuntary shaking, but it makes her feel good.
“I love it,” she said. “I like the rhythm. I like the camaraderie.”
The drum circle helps her forget that she’s got essential tremor.
“I don’t think about it, and the people here are nice,” she said.
Mary-Rina Longo participates in a drum circle class, Thursday, Nov. 21, 2019, at the Naples Senior Center.
Jon Austria/Naples Daily News USA TODAY NETWORK – FLORIDA
Naples Senior Center is located at 5025 Castello Drive.
For more information, go to naplesseniorcenter.org or call 239-325-4444.
The big tech companies have announced aggressive steps to keep trolls, bots and online fakery from marring another presidential election — from Facebook’s removal of billions of fake accounts to Twitter’s spurning of all political ads.
But it’s a never-ending game of whack-a-mole that’s only getting harder as we barrel toward the 2020 election. Disinformation peddlers are deploying new, more subversive techniques and American operatives have adopted some of the deceptive tactics Russians tapped in 2016. Now, tech companies face thorny and sometimes subjective choices about how to combat them — at times drawing flak from both Democrats and Republicans as a result.
This is our roundup of some of the evolving challenges Silicon Valley faces as it tries to counter online lies and bad actors heading into the 2020 election cycle:
1) American trolls may be a greater threat than Russians
Russia-backed trolls notoriously flooded social media with disinformation around the presidential election in 2016, in what Robert Mueller’s investigators described as a multimillion-dollar plot involving years of planning, hundreds of people and a wave of fake accounts posting news and ads on platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Google-owned YouTube.
This time around — as experts have warned — a growing share of the threat is likely to originate in America.
“It’s likely that there will be a high volume of misinformation and disinformation pegged to the 2020 election, with the majority of it being generated right here in the United States, as opposed to coming from overseas,” said Paul Barrett, deputy director of New York University’s Stern Center for Business and Human Rights.
Barrett, the author of a recent report on 2020 disinformation, noted that lies and misleading claims about 2020 candidates originating in the U.S. have already spread across social media. Those include manufactured sex scandals involving South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and a smear campaign calling Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) “not an American black” because of her multiracial heritage. (The latter claim got a boost on Twitter from Donald Trump Jr.)
Before last year’s midterm elections, Americans similarly amplified fake messages such as a “#nomenmidterms” hashtag that urged liberal men to stay home from the polls to make “a Woman’s Vote Worth more.” Twitter suspended at least one person — actor James Woods — for retweeting that message.
“A lot of the disinformation that we can identify tends to be domestic,” said Nahema Marchal, a researcher at the Oxford Internet Institute’s Computational Propaganda Project. “Just regular private citizens leveraging the Russian playbook, if you will, to create … a divisive narrative, or just mixing factual reality with made-up facts.”
Tech companies say they’ve broadened their fight against disinformation as a result. Facebook, for instance, announced in October that it had expanded its policies against “coordinated inauthentic behavior” to reflect a rise in disinformation campaigns run by non-state actors, domestic groups and companies. But people tracking the spread of fakery say it remains a problem, especially inside closed groups like those popular on Facebook.
2) And policing domestic content is tricky
U.S. law forbids foreigners from taking part in American political campaigns — a fact that made it easy for members of Congress to criticize Facebook for accepting rubles as payment for political ads in 2016.
But Americans are allowed, even encouraged, to partake in their own democracy — which makes things a lot more complicated when they use social media tools to try to skew the electoral process. For one thing, the companies face a technical challenge: Domestic meddling doesn’t leave obvious markers such as ads written in broken English and traced back to Russian internet addresses.
More fundamentally, there’s often no clear line between bad-faith meddling and dirty politics. It’s not illegal to run a mud-slinging campaign or engage in unscrupulous electioneering. And the tech companies are wary of being seen as infringing on American’s right to engage in political speech — all the more so as conservatives such as President Donald Trump accuse them of silencing their voices.
Plus, the line between foreign and domestic can be blurry. Even in 2016, the Kremlin-backed troll farm known as the Internet Research Agency relied on Americans to boost their disinformation. Now, claims with hazy origins are being picked up without need for a coordinated 2016-style foreign campaign. Simon Rosenberg, a longtime Democratic strategist who has spent recent years focused on online disinformation, points to Trump’s promotion of the theory that Ukraine significantly meddled in the 2016 U.S. election, a charge that some experts trace back to Russian security forces.
“It’s hard to know if something is foreign or domestic,” said Rosenberg, once it “gets swept up in this vast ‘Wizard of Oz’-like noise machine.”
3) Bad actors are learning
Experts agree on one thing: The election interference tactics that social media platforms encounter in 2020 will look different from those they’ve trying to fend off since 2016.
“What we’re going to see is the continued evolution and development of new approaches, new experimentation trying to see what will work and what won’t,” said Lee Foster, who leads the information operations intelligence analysis team at the cybersecurity firm FireEye.
Foster said the “underlying motivations” of undermining democratic institutions and casting doubt on election results will remain constant, but the trolls have already evolved their tactics.
For instance, they’ve gotten better at obscuring their online activity to avoid automatic detection, even as social media platforms ramp up their use of artificial intelligence software to dismantle bot networks and eradicate inauthentic accounts.
“One of the challenges for the platforms is that, on the one hand, the public understandably demands more transparency from them about how they take down or identify state-sponsored attacks or how they take down these big networks of authentic accounts, but at the same time they can’t reveal too much at the risk of playing into bad actors’ hands,” said Oxford’s Marchal.
Researchers have already observed extensive efforts to distribute disinformation through user-generated posts — known as “organic” content — rather than the ads or paid messages that were prominent in the 2016 disinformation campaigns.
Foster, for example, cited trolls impersonating journalists or other more reliable figures to give disinformation greater legitimacy. And Marchal noted a rise in the use of memes and doctored videos, whose origins can be difficult to track down. Jesse Littlewood, vice president at advocacy group Common Cause, said social media posts aimed at voter suppression frequently appear no different from ordinary people sharing election updates in good faith — messages such as “you can text your vote” or “the election’s a different day” that can be “quite harmful.”
Tech companies insist they are learning, too. Since the 2016 election, Google, Facebook and Twitter have devoted security experts and engineers to tackling disinformation in national elections across the globe, including the 2018 midterms in the United States. The companies say they have gotten better at detecting and removing fake accounts, particularly those engaged in coordinated campaigns.
But other tactics may have escaped detection so far. NYU’s Barrett noted that disinformation-for-hire operations sometimes employed by corporations may be ripe for use in U.S. politics, if they’re not already.
He pointed to a recent experiment conducted by the cyber threat intelligence firm Recorded Future, which said it paid two shadowy Russian “threat actors” a total of just $6,050 to generate media campaigns promoting and trashing a fictitious company. Barrett said the project was intended “to lure out of the shadows firms that are willing to do this kind of work,” and demonstrated how easy it is to generate and sow disinformation.
Real-life examples include a hyper-partisan skewed news operation started by a former Fox News executive and Facebook’s accusations that an Israeli social media company profited from creating hundreds of fake accounts. That “shows that there are firms out there that are willing and eager to engage in this kind of underhanded activity,” Barrett said.
4) Not all lies are created equal
Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are largely united in trying to take down certain kinds of false information, such as targeted attempts to drive down voter turnout. But their enforcement has been more varied when it comes to material that is arguably misleading.
In some cases, the companies label the material factually dubious or use their algorithms to limit its spread. But in the lead-up to 2020, the companies’ rules are being tested by political candidates and government leaders who sometimes play fast and loose with the truth.
“A lot of the mainstream campaigns and politicians themselves tend to rely on a mix of fact and fiction,” Marchal said. “It’s often a lot of … things that contain a kernel of truth but have been distorted.”
One example is the flap over a Trump campaign ad — which appeared on Facebook, YouTube and some television networks — suggesting that former Vice President Joe Biden had pressured Ukraine into firing a prosecutor to squelch an investigation into an energy company whose board included Biden’s son Hunter. In fact, the Obama administration and multiple U.S. allies had pushed for removing the prosecutor for slow-walking corruption investigations. The ad “relies on speculation and unsupported accusations to mislead viewers,” the nonpartisan site FactCheck.org concluded.
The debate has put tech companies at the center of a tug of war in Washington. Republicans have argued for more permissive rules to safeguard constitutionally protected political speech, while Democrats have called for greater limits on politicians’ lies.
Democrats have especially lambasted Facebook for refusing to fact-check political ads, and have criticized Twitter for letting politicians lie in their tweets and Google for limiting candidates’ ability to finely tune the reach of their advertising — all examples, the Democrats say, of Silicon Valley ducking the fight against deception.
Jesse Blumenthal, who leads the tech policy arm of the Koch-backed Stand Together coalition, said expecting Silicon Valley to play truth cop places an undue burden on tech companies to litigate messy disputes over what’s factual.
“Most of the time the calls are going to be subjective, so what they end up doing is putting the platforms at the center of this rather than politicians being at the center of this,” he said.
Further complicating matters, social media sites have generally granted politicians considerably more leeway to spread lies and half-truths through their individual accounts and in certain instances through political ads. “We don’t do this to help politicians, but because we think people should be able to see for themselves what politicians are saying,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in an October speech at Georgetown University in which he defended his company’s policy.
But Democrats say tech companies shouldn’t profit off false political messaging.
“I am supportive of these social media companies taking a much harder line on what content they allow in terms of political ads and calling out lies that are in political ads, recognizing that that’s not always the easiest thing to draw those distinctions,” Democratic Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington state told POLITICO.