Musk considers removing X platform from Europe over EU law

The DSA took effect in August and requires large online platforms like X to have effective and transparent systems in place for the moderation and removal of harmful content. (AFP/File)
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Updated 19 October 2023
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Musk considers removing X platform from Europe over EU law

  • Musk responded dismissing the news as false
  • He called Business Insider, which broke the story, as ‘not legitimate’

LONDON: Elon Musk, owner of social media platform X, is considering removing the service formerly called Twitter from Europe in response to a new Internet platform regulation in the region, news site Insider reported on Wednesday.
The billionaire has discussed removing the app’s availability in the region, or blocking users in the European Union from accessing it, a person familiar with the company told the publication.
The European Union in August adopted the Digital Services Act (DSA), which sets forth rules for preventing the spread of harmful content, banning or limiting certain user-targeting practices, and sharing some internal data with regulators and associated researchers, among other things.
On Thursday, Musk took to the platform to denied the leak, calling the news “utterly false” and criticizing Business Insider as “not a real publication”.
The financial and business news website has a history of mixed reporting, particularly concerning Musk’s companies.

With Reuters


US judge signals Elon Musk’s X may lose case against hate speech watchdog

Updated 01 March 2024
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US judge signals Elon Musk’s X may lose case against hate speech watchdog

  • X sued the Center for Countering Digital Hate last July, accusing the nonprofit of breaching its user contract by cherry-picking data to create false and misleading reports that Musk was letting X become a haven for hate speech, extremism and other misinf

A US judge on Thursday signaled he may dismiss X Corp’s lawsuit against a nonprofit group that has criticized a rise in hate speech on the social media platform once known as Twitter since Elon Musk took it over.

X sued the Center for Countering Digital Hate last July, accusing it of causing tens of millions of dollars in damages through a “scare campaign” to drive away advertisers.
According to X, the nonprofit breached its user contract by improperly scraping and cherry-picking data to create false and misleading reports that Musk was letting X become a haven for hate speech, extremism and other misinformation.
US District Judge Charles Breyer was skeptical that when the nonprofit entered the standard user contract governing all Twitter and X users, it could have foreseen that Musk would buy Twitter for $44 billion in 2022 and welcome back users it had banned for posting hateful content.
“You’re telling me ... it was foreseeable that Twitter would change its policy and allow these people to have access,” the San Francisco-based judge told X’s lawyer Jon Hawk in a video conference.
“I am trying to figure out, in my mind, how that’s possibly true, because I don’t think it is.”
Hawk said the nonprofit could have left X if it didn’t like Musk’s changes. “When CCDH agreed to stay on the platform, it agreed to successors’ versions of the policy,” he said.
Musk, the world’s second-richest person, also runs the electric vehicle maker Tesla, which has faced several lawsuits claiming it tolerated the harassment of workers. Tesla has denied those allegations.

Free speech interference
John Quinn, a lawyer for the Center for Countering Digital Hate, said X’s lawsuit violated California’s so-called anti-SLAPP law, or strategic lawsuits against public participation, which was meant to stop lawsuits intended to silence critics.
He also called it “implausible” to suggest the nonprofit engaged in scraping, and said it could not be liable for advertisers’ “independent” decisions not to work with X.
“CCDH used a tool that runs searches for certain people to see what public tweets are being put out, and then they commented on it,” Quinn said. ” didn’t have any issues with that until advertisers reacted to the content of the report.”
Quinn also said giving Musk and X “the power to say, anybody who uses our search function and looks at tweets, if you use an automated tool in any way, we can come after you, sue you, drag you into court ... runs straight into speech principles.”
Hawk said that wasn’t why X sued.
“I understand CCDH does not like some of the content it may see,” he said. “This is about the security of data.”
Breyer did not say when he would rule, or if X could file an amended complaint if he dismissed the case.

European nonprofit
X also sued the European Climate Foundation, a nonprofit based in The Hague, Netherlands that promotes efforts to mitigate climate change, accusing it of conspiring with the Center for Countering Digital Hate to illegally gather data.
A lawyer for the European nonprofit said it should be dismissed from the case because the court lacked jurisdiction.
Since buying Twitter, Musk has since faced wide criticism that he fired too many people who policed misinformation, and from civil rights groups for allowing more harmful and abusive posts.
In November 2023, Musk endorsed an antisemitic post on X that said members of the Jewish community were stoking hatred against white people, saying the user spoke “the actual truth.”
He has denied being antisemitic and sought to make amends for his post. In January he visited former Nazi death camp Auschwitz in southern Poland.
The case is X Corp. v. Center for Countering Digital Hate Inc. et al, US District Court, Northern District of California, No. 23-03836.


TikTok hosts awards ceremony for second edition of Creator Hub Middle East

Updated 01 March 2024
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TikTok hosts awards ceremony for second edition of Creator Hub Middle East

  • First place receives $10,000, second and third $5,000 each

RIYADH: TikTok MENA (Middle East and North Africa) hosted the second edition of the TikTok Creator Hub Awards ceremony in Riyadh on Wednesday to celebrate the growth of women-led businesses.

Taking place in Lakum Artspace, the event was attended by many aspiring businesswomen and influencers from the region.

Heba Qadeer, who won a second-place prize, told Arab News: “It’s incredible. I couldn’t believe it. When I found out that I (had) won, I was at work, and the first thing that I did was call my mom.”

Born and raised in Dubai, Qadeer is the founder and designer at Bharosa, a design line which celebrates Pakistani and Middle East culture.

She said: “I resonate with Middle Eastern culture so much, I am a hijabi myself and I absolutely love modest wear but at the same time I love my Pakistani colorful rich culture, so I wanted to mix that and create something that is unique.”

She explained that turning 30 was a milestone that motivated her to pursue her dream in business.

The top three at the event won cash prizes with Duaa Al-Bataiha, founder of Dina’s Dessert Hour, winning $10,000 for first place. 

Those in second and third place, Qadeer and Lara Akl, owner of a balloon and decoration company, received $5,000 each.

Kinda Ibrahim, TikTok’s general manager of operations for the Middle East, Turkiye, Africa, Pakistan, and South Asia, expressed the platform’s support for women-led businesses.

Reem Akl, communications and advocacy analyst at the UN Women Regional Office for the Arab States; Chahrazad Al-Hajjar, founder of Chahrazad’s Cuisine The Bakery; and Doaa Gawish, CEO and founder of The Hair Addict, also attended the ceremony.

Jomana Al-Rashid, CEO of the Saudi Research and Media Group and chairwoman of the Red Sea Film Foundation, delivered a speech via video.

She said: “To all of the incredible women creators, entrepreneurs and innovators here, you are making a profound impact on the world of digital media.

“Your creativity and determination are shaping narratives and inspiring women worldwide.

“Clarity of vision, resilience in execution, and the preparedness to seize opportunities when they are presented are the only determinants of success.”

One of the participants at the creator hub was Atheer Fahad, a Saudi designer who created the handbag brand Pearly.

She said: “This is all handmade. I taught myself how to create these products on my own and I took part in the competition through TikTok Creator Hub to reach more people and share my story and product.”

Fahad said she was a “one-woman show,” designing, creating, and promoting her handbags in the region.

She told Arab News: “I create these products on my own — from making the handbags by hand to managing the company and promoting it on TikTok.”

The program has helped her reach more people than ever before while showcasing her product, she added. 

The TikTok Creator Hub launched its Middle East edition in 2022. The program is set to continue annually with the next edition scheduled to take place in January 2025.


Saudi Press Agency launches first news training academy

Updated 29 February 2024
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Saudi Press Agency launches first news training academy

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s state news agency announced on Thursday the launch of its first news training academy.

The Saudi Press Agency’s initiative came as part of the Human Capacity Development Initiative conference, held in Riyadh under the patronage of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The first phase of the academy’s work has seen the signing of partnerships with local and international organizations, SPA said in a press statement.

Local partnerships include the Technical and Vocational Training Corporation, the Prince Mohammad bin Salman College of Business and Entrepreneurship, the Institute of Public Administration, the Human Resources Development Fund, the Sky News Arabia Academy, and the Austrian International Center for Qualification and Quality.

SPA’s new academy will benefit from the agency’s partnership with more than 30 international news corporations.

The agency said it will work towards localizing knowledge, transferring best practices, and becoming a regional hub that produces and distributes news content.

The academy aims to develop advanced news skills, meet market requirements, and promote the transfer of knowledge, technology, and modern tools for journalistic and news work, in addition to enhancing a deep understanding of news issues and global challenges.

It will also offer training programs in five domains: journalism and news, technology and artificial intelligence, leadership and journalism ethics, media partners, and news awareness.

The newly established academy’s programs are directed at journalists, photographers, professionals, and technicians in the fields of media, media students, and media affairs officials in various entities.


Prince Mohammed bin Salman College, Saudi Press Agency sign training agreement

Updated 01 March 2024
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Prince Mohammed bin Salman College, Saudi Press Agency sign training agreement

  • MBSC will train journalists in ‘interpersonal effectiveness skills,’ such as negotiation and presentation

RIYADH: The Prince Mohammed bin Salman College for Management and Entrepreneurship announced on Thursday a new partnership with the Saudi Press Agency to provide specialized training and development programs for the Kingdom’s news industry.

The partnership was co-signed by Zieger DeGreef, dean of MBSC, and Fahad bin Hassan Al-Aqran, president of SPA, during the “Human Capabilities Initiative” conference held in Riyadh on Feb. 28-29.

“We are proud to partner with the Saudi Press Agency,” DeGreef said. “We are proud to partner with a number of very prominent ministries and organizations in the Kingdom to develop business acumen in Saudi Arabia.”

He told Arab News that the partnership will train journalists in a variety of “interpersonal effectiveness skills,” such as teamwork, negotiation, presentation, influencing, decision-making, and communication — all of which “are very relevant for journalists (and) for professionals in the media.”

DeGreef added that although “there is already good education in the Kingdom,” it has “a long way to go in excellence in business education.”

He added: “The college tries to fill that void.”  

In addition to joining media-focused training programs under the agreement, Saudi journalists will also be able to obtain graduate degrees in business administration and finance.

“We will welcome journalists in those degree programs in business, but we are also developing an exciting portfolio of executive education programs again for the media,” DeGreef said. “So, most of our partnerships are already in those two areas, but the third area is research.”

He highlighted that MBSC’s faculty “will work with journalists from SPA on particular research projects, mostly linked to data, data analysis, data presentations, (and) data communication.”

SPA announced on Thursday the launch of its first news training academy in partnership with several organizations, including the Technical and Vocational Training Corporation, the Prince Mohammad Bin Salman College of Business and Entrepreneurship, the Institute of Public Administration, the Human Resources Development Fund, Sky News Arabia Academy, and the Austrian International Center for Qualification and Quality.


Former MSNBC show host launches new media company

Updated 29 February 2024
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Former MSNBC show host launches new media company

  • Subscription-based news organization aims to produce “unfiltered journalism”

LONDON: Former MSNBC host Mehdi Hasan is to launch a new digital media company called Zeteo.

In a CNN interview with Jake Tapper, aired on Wednesday, the British-American writer and broadcaster said: “The reason I’m starting this company is that I want to be able to speak in a blunter fashion than some in the media speak right now, especially about issues like racism, fascism, genocide.”

The move came after his MSNBC “The Mehdi Hasan Show” was abruptly canceled by the network in October.

It coincided with his criticism of Israel’s actions during its war against Hamas in Gaza.

Zeteo, Hasan noted, was an ancient Greek word that meant “to seek out, to inquire, to get to the truth.”

The subscription-based news organization aims to produce “unfiltered journalism” with hard-hitting interviews, podcasts, newsletters, op-eds, and essays.

In a promotional video for the site, Hasan pointed out that he had been busy assembling an “Avengers-style team of contributors,” which included award-winning journalists, New York Times best-selling authors, and Hollywood celebrities.

Before joining MSNBC in 2021, Hasan worked for Al Jazeera English and hosted a podcast at The Intercept.