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Facebook And Twitter Account Blocks Without Notice: Hezbollah

According to Ynet news, despite the closures, Internet users were directed to pages associated with Hezbollah.

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Facebook And Twitter Account Blocks Without Notice: Hezbollah
Facebook And Twitter Account Blocks Without Notice: Hezbollah, pixabay

Islamist political party and militant group Hezbollah said its Facebook and Twitter accounts have been terminated without any notice.

Hezbollah said on Telegram — an encrypted messaging app — that the closures came without warning and were “part of the propaganda campaign against the resistance due to the important role of the organisation’s information apparatus in various arenas”, The Times of Israel reported on Saturday.

There was no immediate explanation from either Facebook or Twitter on the decision to block the accounts.

According to Ynet news, despite the closures, Internet users were directed to pages associated with Hezbollah.

While the companies have previously blocked pages belonging to the Iran-backed terror group, the shutting down of the accounts came after recent threats by Israeli officials to take legal action against social media companies for hosting the accounts of terror groups, the report said.

Hezbollah
Hezbollah, flickr

Earlier this month, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan sent a letter to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey warning the company could face prosecution in Israel if it does not block accounts belonging to Hezbollah and Palestinian terror groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

Erdan had claimed that unlike other social media companies, Twitter in many cases had declined to remove content posted by terrorist groups.

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked had also threatened Twitter with a legal action over the social media giant’s alleged refusal to crack down on posts by terror operatives.

Also read: Social Media Companies Accelerating To Remove Online Hate Speech

The blocking of the Hezbollah accounts come a day after the terror group released new footage on social media from the 2006 border attack on Israeli soldiers that sparked the Second Lebanon War. (IANS)

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Facebook To Invest $300Mn In Local News Partnerships, Programs

The idea behind the investments, Brown said, is to look “holistically at how a given publisher can define a business model."

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Facebook, dating
Facebook owned photo-messaging app Instagram already supports the "Unsend" capability VOA

Facebook says it is investing $300 million over the next three years in local news programs, partnerships and other initiatives.

The money will go toward reporting grants for local newsrooms, expanding Facebook’s program to help local newsrooms with subscription business models and investing in nonprofits aimed at supporting local news.

The move comes at a difficult time for the news industry, which is facing falling profits and print readership. Facebook, like Google, has also been partly blamed for the ongoing decline in newspapers’ share of advertising dollars as people and advertisers have moved online.

Facebook, Fake News
A user gets ready to launch Facebook on an iPhone, in North Andover, Mass., June 19, 2017. Facebook has made changes to fight false information, including de-emphasizing proven false stories in people’s feeds so others are less likely to see them. VOA

Campbell Brown, Facebook’s head of global news partnerships, acknowledges the company “can’t uninvent the internet,” but says it wants to work with publishers to help them succeed on and off the social network.

“The industry is going through a massive transition that has been underway for a long time,” she said. “None of us have quite figured out ultimately what the future of journalism is going to look like but we want to be part of helping find a solution.”

Facebook has increased its focus on local news in the past year after starting off 2018 with the announcement that it was generally de-emphasizing news stories and videos in people’s feeds on the social network in favor of posts from their friends.

At the same time, though, the company has been cautiously testing out ways to boost local news stories users are interested in and initiatives to support the broader industry. It launched a feature called “Today In” that shows people local news and information , including missing-person alerts, road closures, crime reports and school announcements, expanding it to hundreds of cities around the U.S. and a few in Australia.

Facebook, social media
Silhouettes of laptop users are seen next to a screen projection of Facebook logo in this illustration. VOA

The push to support local news comes as Facebook, which is based in Menlo Park, California, tries to shake off its reputation as a hotbed for misinformation and elections-meddling. The company says users have been asking to see more local content that is relevant to them, including news stories as well as community information such as road closings during a snowstorm.

The $300 million investment includes a $5 million grant to the nonprofit Pulitzer Center to launch “Bringing Stories Home,” a fund that will provide local U.S. newsrooms with reporting grants to support coverage of local issues. There’s also a $2 million investment in Report for America as part of a partnership aiming to place 1,000 journalists in local newsrooms across the country over the next five years.

The idea behind the investments, Brown said, is to look “holistically at how a given publisher can define a business model. Facebook can’t be the only answer, the only solution — we don’t want the publisher to be dependent on Facebook.”

Also Read: Democratic Lawmakers Further Investigate Russia’s Involvement In U.S. Election

Fran Wills, CEO of the Local Media Consortium, which is receiving $1 million together with the Local Media Association to help their member newsrooms develop new revenue streams, said she is optimistic the investment will help.

“I think they are recognizing that trusted, credible content is of benefit not only to local publishers but to them,” she said. (VOA)