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President Donald Trump’s Attack on Media as ‘Enemy of the People’ has Historic Echoes

"The FAKE NEWS media," Trump wrote on Twitter, "is the enemy of the American People!"

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President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

WASHINGTON, Feb 19, 2107: President Donald Trump ramped up his criticism of the news coverage of his administration Friday, again taking to his favorite social media platform.

“The FAKE NEWS media,” Trump wrote on Twitter, “is the enemy of the American People!”

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An initial tweet put only The New York Times, CNN and NBC News on his enemies list. That message was quickly deleted, however, and replaced by an almost identical note that added two more domestic television networks: ABC and CBS.

The social media attack, the latest in a long series of Trump broadsides against the news media, came after the president had left Washington for a visit to a Boeing aircraft plant in South Carolina. The president later headed to Florida, where he is to spend the weekend at his Mar-a-Lago complex.

President Donald Trump gives a thumbs up from the top of the steps of Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland, Feb. 17, 2017. VOA

As the president arrived at the estate he has dubbed the Winter White House, social media and the networks crackled with debate about the significance of Trump calling some of the top American journalistic outlets enemies of the people, a phrase that goes back to ancient Rome and was used with chilling finality during the communist revolution in Russia a century ago.

U.S. diplomat recalls ‘petty tyrants’

“As an American diplomat, I stood up to petty tyrants who called journalists ‘enemies of the people,'” tweeted Tom Malinowski, former assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor. “Guess that’s not our policy anymore.”

“It is one of the most controversial phrases in Soviet history,” said Mitchell Orenstein, professor of Russian and East European studies at the University of Pennsylvania.

The phrase has its roots in Latin, during the Roman Empire, but “enemies of the people” gained its most notorious associations during the 20th century, during the purges ordered by Soviet dictator Josef Stalin that killed tens of millions of people.

FILE – Facemasks depicting former Soviet dictator Josef Stalin and U.S President-elect Donald Trump hang on sale hours before Trump is to be sworn in as president of the United States, at a souvenir street shop in St. Petersburg, Russia, Jan. 20, 2017. VOA

An “enemy of the people” in the Soviet Union was not necessarily a criminal, but more often someone stigmatized by social origin or pre-revolutionary profession. The label alone was akin to a terminal illness, and merely being a friend of an enemy of the people was a certain cause for official suspicion.

“What it basically meant was a death sentence,” Orenstein told VOA.

Some see parallels in history

Stalin’s crimes were exposed to the world by Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev in a shocking speech to the Communist Party Congress in 1956, 61 years ago next Saturday, February 25. The speech, secret at the time, was delivered to a huge audience of communist faithful who heard it in fearful silence, but Khrushchev’s words were leaked to Western reporters and broadcast around the world the next day.

FILE - Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev addresses a huge rally in the Lenin sports stadium in Moscow, April 10, 1958.
FILE – Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev addresses a huge rally in the Lenin sports stadium in Moscow, April 10, 1958. VOA

“For both Lenin and Stalin, journalists and intellectuals who didn’t share their point of view were among the most hated enemies. In attacking them, both appealed to the people,” said Serhiy Yekelchyk, an affiliate associate professor and Soviet studies specialist at the University of Washington.

“I am sure you will see in this description quite a few uncomfortable parallels,” Yekelchyk told VOA.

The principal founding father of the Soviet Union, communist revolutionary Vladimir Lenin, was fond of “the peoples’ enemies” as a label, and decades later, China’s dictator Mao Zedong denounced as “enemies of the people” those who criticized the Maoist policies and commands that led to the Great Famine and the death of tens of millions of Chinese.

FILE – Security cameras in front of the giant portrait of former Chinese Chairman Mao Zedong on Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, Nov. 11, 2012. VOA

One would hope “American presidents would be educated enough to know something like that,” added Orenstein, who teaches one of the few courses on communism at an American university.

Trump defenders: ‘Things will adjust’

“He’s got his style,” Congressman Ted Yoho, a Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said on CNN when asked about the provocative “enemy of the people” phrase.

“Things will adjust,” Yoho predicted, brushing off the potential volatility of the tweet.

In a dispatch shortly after the second Trump tweet, the French news agency noted that while many U.S. presidents have criticized the press, “Trump’s language has more clearly echoed criticism leveled by authoritarian leaders around the world.”

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Can radical language justify violence?

J.M. Berger, a fellow at the International Center for Counter-Terrorism at The Hague, is among those who agree with that characterization, calling Trump’s language “radical.”

Some of Trump’s supporters on the extremist fringe “may see language like ‘enemy of the American people’ as ratifying violence,” Berger told VOA.

The president’s tweets “could also incite others who are inclined toward violence, whether because of a political ideology or mental illness,” said Berger, author of several books and studies on extremist group’s use of social media. (VOA)

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Facebook, Google, Bing and Twitter Join The Trust Project to Help Users Combat Fake News

In their bid to combat fake news and help readers identify trustworthy news sources, Facebook, Google, Twitter and several media organisations have joined the non-partisan "The Trust Project"

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To Combat Fake News
To Combat Fake News Facebook, Twitter , Google have joined 'The Trust Project'. PIxabay.

San Francisco, Nov 19: In their bid to combat fake news and help readers identify trustworthy news sources, Facebook, Google, Twitter and several media organisations have joined the non-partisan “The Trust Project”.

“The Trust Project” is led by award-winning journalist Sally Lehrman of Santa Clara University’s Markkula Centre for Applied Ethics.

Starting from Friday, an icon will appear next to articles in Facebook News Feed.

When you click on the icon, you can read information on the organisations’ ethics and other standards, the journalists’ backgrounds, and how they do their work.

“Leading media companies representing dozens of news sites have begun to display ‘Trust Indicators’. These indicators, created by leaders from more than 75 news organisations also show what type of information people are reading a” news, opinion, analysis or advertising,” the university said in a statement.

Each indicator is signalled in the article and site code, providing the first standardised technical language for platforms to learn more from news sites about the quality and expertise behind journalists’ work.

“Google, Facebook, Bing and Twitter have all agreed to use the indicators and are investigating and piloting ideas about how to best to use them to surface and display quality journalism,” the university said.

German press agency DPA, The Economist, The Globe and Mail, the Independent Journal Review, Mic, Italy’s La Republica and La Stampa, Trinity Mirror and The Washington Post are among the companies starting to go live with “Trust Indicators” this month.

The Institute for Non-profit News has developed a WordPress plug-in to facilitate broader implementation by qualified publishers.

“An increasingly sceptical public wants to know the expertise, enterprise and ethics behind a news story. The Trust Indicators put tools into people’s hands, giving them the means to assess whether news comes from a credible source they can depend on,” Lehrman explained.

The eight core indicators are: Best Practices; Author Expertise; Type of Work; Citations and References; Methods; Locally Sourced; Diverse Voices and Actionable Feedback.

New organisations like the BBC and Hearst Television have collaborated in defining the “Trust Indicator” editorial and technical standards, and in developing the processes for implementing these.

“Quality journalism has never been more important,” said Richard Gingras, vice president of news products at Google.

“We hope to use the Type of Work indicator to improve the accuracy of article labels in Google News, and indicators such as Best Practices and Author Info in our Knowledge Panels.”

“The Trust Indicators will provide a new level of accessibility and insight into the news that people on Facebook see day in and day out,” said Alex Hardiman, Head of News Products at Facebook.

A growing number of news outlets are expected to display the indicators over the next six months, with a second phase of news partners beginning implementation work soon. (IANS)

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Just in! No More Blue Tick to Verify your Account on Twitter

The announcement came after people criticised Twitter for verifying the account belonging to the organiser of the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, that left one dead in August

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Twitter app on a mobile phone. Pixabay

San Francisco, November 10, 2017 : Twitter has suspended its account verification exercise – a process that gives public figures on the micro-blogging platform a blue tick mark next to their names.

The announcement came after people criticised Twitter for verifying the account belonging to the organiser of the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, that left one dead in August, TechCrunch reported on Friday.

“Verification was meant to authenticate identity and voice but it is interpreted as an endorsement or an indicator of importance.

“We recognise that we have created this confusion and need to resolve it. We have paused all general verifications while we work and will report back soon,” read a tweet from @TwitterSupport account.

Jason Kessler, the organiser of the supremacist rally, was given the preferred status indicated by the blue tick.

Twitter had earlier withheld blue tick mark for whistleblower Julian Assange.

“We should’ve communicated faster on this: our agents have been following our verification policy correctly, but we realised some time ago the system is broken and needs to be reconsidered.

“And we failed by not doing anything about it. Working now to fix faster,” tweeted CEO Jack Dorsey.

Launched in 2016, the micro-blogging website created an online application process for Twitter accounts to receive verified status, which allows people to identify key individuals and organisations on Twitter as authentic and are denoted by a blue tick icon.

This typically includes accounts maintained by public figures and organisations in music, TV, film, fashion, government, politics, religion, media, sports, business and other key interest areas. (IANS)

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Send Your own Nudes to Facebook to Stop Revenge Porn

Facebook is testing a new method to stop revenge porn that requires you to send your own nudes to yourself via the social network's Messenger app

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Send your own nudes
Send your own nudes via messenger app to yourself.Pixabay.

Sydney, Nov 9: Facebook is testing a new method to stop revenge porn that requires you to send your own nudes to yourself via the social network’s Messenger app.

This strategy would help Facebook to create a digital fingerprint for the picture and mark it as non-consensual explicit media.

So if a relationship goes sour, you could take proactive steps to prevent any intimate images in possession of your former love interest from being shared widely on Facebook or instagram.

Facebook is partnering with a Australian government agency to prevent such image-based abuses, the Australia Broadcasting Corp reported.

If you’re worried your intimate photos will end up on Instagram or Facebook, you can get in contact with Australi’s e-Safety Commissioner. They might then tell you to send your own nudes to yourself on Messenger.

send your own nudes to yourself
Facebook is coming up with a method to prevent revenge porn if you send your own nudes to yourself. Pixabay.

“It would be like sending yourself your image in email, but obviously this is a much safer, secure end-to-end way of sending the image without sending it through the ether,” e-Safety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant told ABC.

Once the image is sent via Messenger, Facebook would use technology to “hash” it, which means creating a digital fingerprint or link.

“They’re not storing the image, they’re storing the link and using artificial intelligence and other photo-matching technologies,” Grant said.

“So if somebody tried to upload that same image, which would have the same digital footprint or hash value, it will be prevented from being uploaded,” she explained.

Australia is one of four countries taking part in the “industry-first” pilot which uses “cutting-edge technology” to prevent the re-sharing on images on its platforms, Facebook’s Head of Global Safety Antigone Davis was quoted as saying.

“The safety and wellbeing of the Facebook community is our top priority,” Davis said. (IANS)