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WASHINGTON: Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg was named personally in a Washington lawsuit Monday alleging he played a direct role in decisions that set the stage for the Cambridge Analytica privacy scandal.
The US capital’s attorney general argues that Zuckerberg was closely involved in conceiving the framework that allowed the Britain-based consulting firm to harvest over 70 million US Facebook users data
A whistleblower revealed in 2018 that Cambridge Analytica went on to use that data for political purposes, including trying to rally support for Donald Trump.
“Zuckerberg is not just a figurehead at Facebook; he is personally involved in nearly every decision the company makes,” Washington Attorney General Karl Racine wrote in the suit.
He added that Zuckerberg’s control is baked into the structure of the company, where the founder and CEO holds a majority of voting shares.
Racine’s office sued Facebook over its data privacy practices in 2018 as part of a case that is ongoing.
Facebook’s parent company Meta did not immediately respond to the new lawsuit’s allegations, but spokesman Andy Stone noted on Twitter that a judge had previously rejected Racine’s bid to add Zuckerberg as a defendant in the privacy case.
US authorities imposed what they described as a “historic” $5 billion fine on Facebook in the wake of the scandal, and also required Facebook to ramp up privacy protections, provide detailed quarterly reports on compliance with the deal, and have an independent oversight board.
Since the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke, Facebook has removed access to its data from thousands of apps suspected of abusing it, restricted the amount of information available to developers in general, and made it easier for users to calibrate restrictions on personal data sharing.
DAVOS: “During downturns is when we get better at what we do,” Susan Wojcicki, CEO of YouTube, told the audience at the World Economic Forum in Davos earlier today.
Seventy-five percent of Fortune 500 CEOs expect the next recession to begin by the end of 2023, according to a Fortune 500 survey. Wojcicki, who was Google’s 16th employee, has lived through two recessions during her time at the company.
And although there are “concerning macros trends” such as the war in Ukraine and inflation in the US, she said with regard to Google’s and YouTube’s business: “We have always tried to take a long-term point of view and we see tremendous growth across the board.”
The war in Ukraine marks a significant moment for YouTube, which is still operating in Russia, unlike other social media platforms. “As soon as the war broke out, we realized this was an incredibly important time for us to get it right with regard to our responsibility, and we made a number of really, really tough decisions,” Wojcicki said.
The reason for YouTube continuing to operate in Russia, said Wojcicki, is the platform’s ability — and responsibility — to “deliver independent news into Russia,” so that the average Russian citizen has the same free access to information as anybody else anywhere else in the world.
Although Russia has not suspended YouTube, it has its own version of the video-sharing platform, RUTUBE. Wojcicki is not concerned about RUTUBE specifically, but she said that “video is a very competitive emerging market right now and I expect us to continue to see more players,” especially out of Asia.
TikTok’s growth story, for instance, is worth mentioning. “We definitely are seeing really strong competition coming out of China, particularly with TikTok,” Wojcicki said.
TikTok’s rise to popularity was largely fueled by its short-form content format, which enticed both viewers and creators. Although YouTube now features longer videos, it was a short-form video platform in its early days when the only other form of video was traditional TV. In fact, the first-ever video uploaded to YouTube was only 18 seconds long.
Today, YouTube is investing more and more in short-form content with the launch of YouTube Shorts. “I expect to see a lot of competition there,” said Wojcicki of short-form video platforms, adding that such content “is probably the fastest part of the market right now.”
The conversation would not have been complete without talking about misinformation. YouTube has made worthy investments and improvements in battling misinformation through new policies and frameworks. According to a study by the company, the amount of violative content that is not caught by YouTube is down to 10-12 videos per 100,000 views.
“That number has come down significantly and our plan is to continue to work on it and make sure that we continue to reduce that,” Wojcicki said.
DUBAI: Meta recently hosted a virtual forum on digital literacy to help young adults in the Middle East and North Africa navigate digital platforms. The forum, which was broadcast live on Meta’s official Facebook page, explored the importance of digital literacy programs in creating a safer online experience for young users and reducing the risk of misbehavior in the real world.
The event brought together leading organizations working on youth well-being to discuss the role of digital literacy in promoting the safe and responsible use of digital platforms to fight misinformation, hate speech, bullying and harassment and address online safety, privacy and digital citizenship among MENA youth aged 13 to 18 years old.
“Digital citizenship involves using technology responsibly for any individual who engages with social media, the internet, and other digital tools to interact with other members of society,” said Rama Halaseh, policy programs manager at Meta for the MENA region.
She added: “We aim to partner with multiple organizations across the region on youth digital literacy as a key pillar of the work we continue to do in the MENA to create a safe environment for everyone engaging responsibly on digital platforms.”
The first panel brought together experts from the SecDev Foundation and the Arab Digital Expression Foundation to discuss the importance of understanding digital citizenship.
Ranwa Yehia, co-founder and chairperson of ADEF Egypt, said: “In designing programs on digital literacy for youth, attention to long-term impact, criticality and fun exposure and practice to latest trends in technology are essential.”
Dr. Raed M. Sharif, senior regional manager of [email protected], the Digital Resilience for Women and Youth in MENA Program at the SecDev Foundation said: “Digital citizenship and resilience skills are crucial for Arab youth’s future.”
He added: “Whether it is basic digital literacy skills, such as using digital tools, or more advanced ones, such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, Arab youth need to be digitally safe, productive and innovative in order to capitalize on the many socioeconomic, political and cultural opportunities offered by the digital environment.”
The second panel featured leaders from the non-profit Sourire de Reda and the Himaya Foundation, who discussed building an ecosystem for prevention and protection.
Myriam Bahri, director-general of Sourire de Reda, said that the non-profit, which has been working for over a decade to prevent suicide among youngsters, believes in “the importance of spreading messages of life, hope and kindness through awareness campaigns.”
She added that the non-profit believes that “social media plays a tremendous role in this matter” and trusts “peer prevention to be one of the most efficient ways to prevent suicide among teenagers,” as they identify more easily with a person their age who is going through the same life experiences.
Meta said in a statement that it will work on “leveraging collective efforts and building partnerships with organizations on the ground” and “convene with stakeholders, share resources, and invest programmatically in educating young users about the responsible and safe use of digital platforms across the region.”
The organization is also looking to work with local partners in the region to address community needs and challenges.
LONDON: The UK’s data watchdog fined facial recognition firm Clearview AI £7.5 million ($9.3 million) on Tuesday for unlawfully collecting images of people from social media platforms and the web for use in a global database.
The Information Commissioner’s Office, the UK’s privacy regulator, also told Clearview AI to stop obtaining and using the personal data of UK residents, and to delete their data from its systems.
“The company not only enables identification of those people, but effectively monitors their behavior and offers it as a commercial service,” John Edwards, the information commissioner, said. “That is unacceptable. People expect that their personal information will be respected, regardless of where in the world their data is being used.”
According to the ICO, Clearview AI had gathered people’s private photos from social media and across the web without their knowledge. It subsequently created a database of 20 billion images, committing multiple breaches of data protection laws.
Clearview AI’s services are no longer being offered in the UK.
Previous clients included the Metropolitan police, the National Crime Agency and nationwide police forces. However, the ICO said on Monday that as the firm still had customers abroad, it was still using the data of UK residents.
It also found that the firm had asked for additional personal information, including photos, when asked by members of the public if they were in the database.
“I am deeply disappointed that the UK information commissioner has misinterpreted my technology and intentions,” Hoan Ton-That, the company’s CEO, said.
“My company and I have acted in the best interests of the UK and their people by assisting law enforcement in solving heinous crimes against children, seniors and other victims of unscrupulous acts.
“We collect only public data from the open internet and comply with all standards of privacy and law,” he added.
LONDON: The Digital Cooperation Organization and the World Economic Forum launched a Digital Foreign Direct Investment Initiative today at the WEF annual meeting in Davos to boost global foreign direct investment in the digital economy.
The agreement stipulates that the DCO and WEF work together to identify methods to increase digital adoption, investment in new digital activities, and investment in digital infrastructure.
Additionally, the DCO and WEF will conduct research to contribute to global understanding of the regulatory challenges currently preventing countries from realizing the full potential of digital FDI.
Under the Initiative, the DCO and WEF will launch digital FDI enabling projects in countries around the world, helping them identify and support implementation of policies and measures to increase investment in the digital economy, in addition to facilitating knowledge-sharing of successful reforms among countries.
Commenting on the launch, Borge Brende, president of the WEF, said “Global FDI is rebounding, following the COVID-19 pandemic, and investment in the digital economy could not come at a better time. These country projects will help grow FDI into the digital economy, which is key for long-term growth, competitiveness, and sustainable development.”
The DCO, which focuses on digital economy initiatives supporting youth, startup entrepreneurs and women, has nine member states with a combined GDP of nearly $2 trillion and a population of nearly 600 million.
According to the WEF, DCO member states provide a valuable market opportunity to investors and entrepreneurs alike.
“As the first and only global multilateral focused on enabling digital prosperity for all, the DCO is partnering with the WEF on a Digital FDI Initiative to help countries develop digital FDI-friendly investment climates,” DCO Secretary-General Deemah AlYahya commented.
“We invite digital innovators with a commitment to economic development and inclusion to join us.”
Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, minister for communications and digital economy of Nigeria, a DCO member state and one of the countries where digital FDI enabling projects will be implemented, said: “The digital economy cannot be developed in silos. There is a need for partnership, collaboration and support, and this what the DCO aims to do, by supporting regulation to support development.
“Through the Digital FDI initiative, we are continuing our mission to encourage collaboration and partnership not just between governments, but also investors, policymakers, academics, and everyone involved in the digital economy.”
DUBAI: YouTube has taken down over 9,000 channels and 70,000 videos related to the war in Ukraine for violating content guidelines, according to The Guardian.
Earlier this year, Russia banned other popular social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram. However, YouTube has continued operating in the country despite featuring content from opposition figures and cracking down on pro-Kremlin content.
Since February, YouTube has taken down several channels such as that of pro-Kremlin journalist Vladimir Solovyov, and temporarily suspended channels associated with Russia’s defense and foreign ministries.
“We have a major violent events policy and that applies to things like denial of major violent events: everything from the Holocaust to Sandy Hook. And of course, what’s happening in Ukraine is a major violent event. And so we’ve used that policy to take unprecedented action,” Neal Mohan, chief product officer of YouTube, told The Guardian.
He added that YouTube is “the largest video-sharing site up and running in Russia itself,” and is a place where “Russian citizens can get uncensored information about the war.”
In its 2021 Ads Safety Report, Google said that it “acted quickly to institute a sensitive event, prohibiting ads from profiting from or exploiting the situation.”
It also took several other steps to pause the majority of its commercial activities in Russia across Google products — including pausing ads from showing in Russia as well as ads from Russian-based advertisers. It also paused the monetization of Russian state-funded media across its platforms.
So far, Google has blocked over 8 million ads related to the war in Ukraine under its sensitive event policy and removed ads from more than 60 state-funded media sites across its platforms.
Still, Russia will not block the video platform, said Maksut Shadaev, Russia’s minister of digital development, communications and mass media at an educational forum.
“We are not planning to close YouTube. Above all, when we restrict something, we should clearly understand that our users won’t suffer,” he said.

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