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Reports: IS Trafficking in Yazidi Slaves Via Social Media

The Associated Press is reporting that IS is advertising via encrypted messages the "sale" of Yazidi women, an ethnic group indigenous to Iraq that has been targeted by IS.

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IS trafficking in Yazidi. Image Sources: www.abc.net.au
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  • IS advertises via encrypted messages the “sale” of Yazidi women, an ethnic group indigenous to Iraq 
  • The slaves are said to be held against their will and often subjected to rape as well as forced labour
  • IS kidnapped thousands of Yazidi women and children in August 2014 when it attacked their homes and villages in northwestern Iraq near the border with Syria

Members of the Islamic State group have started advertising women and children for sale on social networking applications such as WhatsApp, Facebook and Telegram, says reports.

IS trafficking women and children. Image Sources: www.bbc.com
IS trafficking women and children. Image Sources: www.bbc.com

The Associated Press is reporting that IS is advertising via encrypted messages the “sale” of Yazidi women, an ethnic group indigenous to Iraq that has been targeted by IS.

A spokesman for the U.S. State Department, John Kirby, told AP the United States continues “to be appalled by credible reports that Daesh [Islamic State] is trafficking in human beings, and sex slavery in particular.”

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“This depravity,” he said, “not only speaks to the degree to which Daesh cheapens life and repudiates the Islamic faith, it also strengthens our resolve to defeat them.”

Islamic State kidnapped thousands of Yazidi women and children in August 2014 when it attacked their homes and villages in northwestern Iraq near the border with Syria. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured some of that territory, but many children have been orphaned and many young women are believed to have been taken into slavery.

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The slaves are said to be held against their will and often subjected to rape as well as forced labor. While some women have escaped, they say the slaves are closely tracked and are often recovered, only to face punishment.

One escapee, Nadia Mourad, has spoken to U.S. and European lawmakers about getting more help for the Yazidis.

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“They are being used as human shields,” she told the European Parliament. “They are not allowed to escape or flee. Probably they will be assassinated. Where is the world in all this? Where is humanity?”

Telegram messenger. Image Source: www.independent.co.uk
Telegram messenger. Image Source: www.independent.co.uk

A representative for Telegram, a messaging app, said the company regularly removes public channels used by Islamic State and is committed to preventing abuse of the service. (VOA)

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Anonymous Ads on Facebook Influenced 10 Million British Voters

Facebook faced flak for not doing enough to prevent spread of misinformation by Russia-linked accounts during the 2016 US presidential election

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Fake News, Facebook
This photo shows the logo for Facebook on screens at the Nasdaq MarketSite, in New York's Times Square. VOA

An anonymous political campaign on Facebook has reached nearly 10 million voters, asking them via advertisements to oppose British Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal, the media reported on Saturday.

According to The Guardian, it was discovered by the digital campaign group 89up, which shared the details with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport’s (DCMS) panel into fake news.

“In adverts micro-targeted to individual constituencies, voters are exhorted to tell your local MP to bin Chequers,” said the report.

“This advertising is designed to specifically influence MPs,” 89up said.

All that is known about the campaign is what can be found on its website, Twitter and Facebook accounts.

“Going by the name Mainstream Network, the group writes and publishes news stories on its website with an almost exclusively pro-Brexit slant, shared on its social media accounts,” the report added.

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Anonymous Facebook ads urged nearly 10 mn British voters to oppose Brexit. IANS

“Over the last couple of weeks, I received a flood of about 50 emails – some quite abusive – urging me to ‘chuck Chequers’ and vote for out-and-out Brexit,” Labour MP Paul Farrelly was quoted as saying

The news comes at a time when Facebook is reeling under a couple of massive data breaches including the Cambridge Analytica scandal that impacted 87 million users earlier this year.

Facebook says it has set a goal of bringing a transparency feature for political ads — now available in the US and Brazil — to the UK and India by March 2019.

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With the new ad architecture in place, people would be able to see who paid for a particular political ad.

Facebook has also set up a War Room to reduce the spread of potentially harmful content.

Facebook faced flak for not doing enough to prevent spread of misinformation by Russia-linked accounts during the 2016 US presidential election. (IANS)