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Facebook to roll out new tools to tackle fake news

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Friday, December 16th, 2016

A man poses with a magnifier in front of a Facebook logo on display in this illustration taken in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, December 16, 2015. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

 

Facebook Inc. said on Thursday it will introduce tools to prevent fake news stories from spreading on its platform, an about-face in response to rising criticism that it did not do enough to combat the problem during the U.S. presidential campaign.

The social network company stressed that the new features are part of an ongoing process to refine and test how it deals with fake news. It has faced complaints this year involving how it monitors and polices content produced by its 1.8 billion users.

Facebook said users will find it easier to flag fake articles on their News Feed as a hoax, and it will work with organizations such as fact-checking website Snopes, ABC News and the Associated Press to check the authenticity of stories.

If such organizations identify a story as fake, Facebook said, it will get flagged as “disputed” and be linked to the corresponding article explaining why.

The company said disputed stories may appear lower in its news feed, adding that once a story is flagged, it cannot be promoted.

A few weeks ago, Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said it was a “crazy idea” that fake or misleading news on Facebook helped swing the election in favor of Republican Donald Trump. But criticism persisted amid reports that people in the United States and other countries have fabricated sensational hoaxes meant to appeal to conservatives.

Critics said fake news often was more widely read than news reported by major media organizations.

Ahead of the Nov. 8 election, Facebook users saw fake news reports saying Pope Francis endorsed Trump and that a federal agent who had been investigating Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton was found dead.

The effort by Facebook is intended to focus on the “worst of the worst” of clear hoaxes created by “spammers for their own gain,” Adam Mosseri, Facebook’s vice president in charge of its News Feed, said in a blog post.

Some far-right conservative writers quickly pounced on the announcement, decrying it as a covert attempt to muzzle their legitimate content.

“Translation: A group of incredibly biased left-wing fake news outlets will bury dissenting opinions,” Paul Joseph Watson, editor-at-large of the far-right website Infowars, which routinely peddles unsubstantiated conspiracy theories, said on Twitter.

Facebook has struggled throughout the year to mollify conservatives who fear the company may be censoring them. The company fired contractors who managed the site’s trending news sidebar after a report by Gizmodo in May quoted an anonymous employee claiming the site routinely suppressed conservative news.

On Thursday, Joel Kaplan, Facebook’s vice president for U.S. public policy, met with President-elect Trump at his Manhattan tower. — Reuters

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US declaration of Jerusalem sparks protests in the Arab world

by UNTV   |   Posted on Friday, December 8th, 2017

Palestinian authorities had called a general strike in protest at U.S. President Donald Trump’s Jerusalem announcement on Wednesday, which reversed decades of peacemaking policy regarding a city that Palestinians also see as their capital.

“This decision will not pass, not in your dreams. It will not pass, over the dead bodies of Arabs and bodies of Palestinians. We are here in the diaspora, in every location, we will fight this decision. We will fight this decision with iron and fire. We call upon Palestinian leadership to resist,” said Mohammed Salahat, a protester.

In Jordan, hundreds of Jordanians gathered near the U.S. Embassy in capital Amman. King Abdullah’s Hashemite dynasty is the custodian of the Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem, making Amman sensitive to any changes in the status of the city. Many people in Jordan are descendants of Palestinian refugees whose families left after the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948.

“We know that standing here and listening to the young people shouting whatever they want to say don’t bring us nearer to our cause, to our solution, but at least you feel you want to express your anger at the whole world,” said Jihad, a protester.

In Egypt, a makeshift Israeli flag was burned during the demonstration as well as a picture of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and protesters insisted on Jerusalem’s Arabian roots.

“I am here like every other Egyptian and Arab against trump’s decision. I see it as insulting, aggressive, and arrogance that we cannot accept, and we believe in our right of Jerusalem being Arab and Palestine as well,” said Hamdeen Sabahi, a former Egyptian presidential candidate.

In Turkey, hundreds of protesters gathered outside the U.S. embassy in Ankara on Thursday to denounce the declaration. The protest was largely peaceful, although police took security measures and U.S. soldiers were seen on the roof of the embassy building.

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim added that the United States “pulled the pin on a bomb” in the Middle East with its decision.

“[The United States] has pulled the pin on a bomb ready to blow in the region. First of all, as Turkey, we consider this decision null and void. Secondly, Jerusalem, and particularly the Al-Aqsa mosque, is considered a holy place by three religions. So a decision that changes or questions this status will stir up a big catastrophe,” said the prime minister.

The status of Jerusalem has been one of the thorniest issues in long-running Mideast peace efforts. The international community does not recognize Israeli sovereignty over the whole of Jerusalem, believing its status should be resolved in negotiations. No other country has its embassy in Jerusalem. — Reuters

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Trump recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, defying allies, foes

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Thursday, December 7th, 2017

With Vice Pence Mike Pence looking on, U.S. President Donald Trump signs an executive order after he announced the U.S. would Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., December 6, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

WASHINGTON/JERUSALEM (Reuters) – President Donald Trump on Wednesday reversed decades of U.S. policy and recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, imperiling Middle East peace efforts and upsetting Washington’s friends and foes alike.

Trump announced his administration would begin a process of moving the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a step expected to take years and one that his predecessors opted not to take to avoid inflaming tensions.

The status of Jerusalem – home to sites holy to the Muslim, Jewish and Christian religions – is one of the biggest obstacles to reaching a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed Trump’s announcement as a “historic landmark,” but other close Western allies of Washington such as Britain and France were critical.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said the United States abdicated its role as a mediator in peace efforts, and Palestinian secular and Islamist factions called for a general strike and rallies on Thursday to protest.

The international community does not recognize Israeli sovereignty over the entire city, believing its status should be resolved in negotiations. No other country has its embassy in Jerusalem.

Trump’s decision fulfills a campaign promise and will please Republican conservatives and evangelicals who make up a sizeable portion of his domestic support.

“I have determined that it is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” Trump said in a speech at the White House. “While previous presidents have made this a major campaign promise, they failed to deliver. Today, I am delivering.”

Trump’s decision risks further inflaming a region already grappling with conflict in Syria, Iraq and Yemen.

Protests broke out in areas of Jordan’s capital, Amman, inhabited by Palestinian refugees, and several hundred protesters gathered outside the U.S. consulate in Istanbul.

Youths chanted anti-American slogans in Amman, while in the Baqaa refugee camp on the city’s outskirts, hundreds of protesters roamed the streets denouncing Trump and calling on Jordan’s government to scrap its 1994 peace treaty with Israel. “Down with America. America is the mother of terror,” they chanted.

Israel considers Jerusalem its eternal and indivisible capital and wants all embassies based there. Palestinians want the capital of an independent state of theirs to be in the city’s eastern sector, which Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed in a move never recognized internationally.

Netanyahu said any peace deal with Palestinians must include Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. That would be a non-starter for Palestinians in any negotiations if it meant the entire city would be under Israeli control.

PALESTINIANS UPSET

Abbas on Wednesday called the city “the eternal capital of the state of Palestine.” He said Trump’s decision was tantamount to the United States abdicating its peace mediator role. Jordan said Trump’s decision was “legally null.”

“I think it’s pretty catastrophic, frankly,” said Hussein Ibish at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington, adding that “Trump did not distinguish in any meaningful sense between West Jerusalem and occupied East Jerusalem.”

Palestinian Islamist group Hamas accused Trump of a “flagrant aggression against the Palestinian people.”

Palestinians switched off Christmas lights at Jesus’ traditional birthplace in Bethlehem on Wednesday night to protest Trump’s move.

Trump has tilted U.S. policy toward Israel since taking office in January.

“He cannot expect to side entirely with Israel on the most sensitive and complex issues in the process, and yet expect the Palestinians to see the United States as an honest broker,” said former U.S. Ambassador to Israel Daniel Kurtzer.

Pope Francis called for Jerusalem’s status quo to be respected. China and Russia expressed concern the move could aggravate Middle East hostilities.

A statement from the Saudi Royal Court said the Saudi government had expressed “condemnation and deep regret” about the move.

A spokesman for British Prime Minister Theresa May called the U.S. decision “unhelpful in terms of prospects for peace in the region.”

The United Nations Security Council is likely to meet on Friday over Trump’s decision, diplomats said on Wednesday.

Trump said his move was not intended to tip the scale in favor of Israel and that any deal involving the future of Jerusalem would have to be negotiated by the parties.

He insisted he was not taking a position on “any final status issues, including the specific boundaries of the Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem, or the resolution of contested borders.”

REFUGEES, SETTLEMENTS AMONG DISPUTES

Other key disputes between the two sides include the fate of Palestinian refugees and Jewish settlements built on occupied land. Trump made no mention of settlements.

He said he remained committed to the two-state solution if the parties want one. The president called on the region to take his message calmly.

“There will of course be disagreement and dissent regarding this announcement but we are confident that ultimately, as we work through these disagreements, we will arrive at a place of greater understanding and cooperation,” Trump said.

U.S. Representative Eliot Engel, a pro-Israel Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee who is often critical of Trump’s foreign policy, expressed support for the move.

“This decision is long overdue and helps correct a decades-long indignity,” said Engel.

Trump acted under a 1995 law that requires the United States to move its embassy to Jerusalem. His predecessors, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, consistently put off that decision.

Trump ordered a delay to any embassy move from Tel Aviv since the United States does not have an embassy in Jerusalem to move into. A senior administration official said it could take three to four years to build one.

The Jerusalem decision has raised doubts about the Trump administration’s ability to follow through on a peace effort that Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, has led for months aimed at reviving long-stalled negotiations. It has so far shown little in the way of progress.

There was no indication Trump asked Netanyahu for anything in return when he notified the Israeli leader of his Jerusalem decision on Tuesday, a person familiar with the matter said.

But Aaron David Miller, a former Middle East negotiator for Republican and Democratic administrations, said Trump, who has long touted himself as a master negotiator, might be setting the stage for seeking Israeli concessions later.

“This might be the case where Trump applies a little honey now to show the Israelis he’s the most pro-Israel president ever, and then applies a little vinegar later,” he said.

Additional reporting by Matt Spetalnick, Arshad Mohammed, Phil Stewart, Patricia Zengerle, Doina Chiacu, David Alexander, Makini Brice, Maria Caspani and Yara Bayoumy in Washington, Ali Sawafta in Ramallah, Ori Lewis in Jerusalem, Suleiman Al-Khalidi in Amman and Michelle Nichols at the United Nations; Editing by Alistair Bell and Peter Cooney

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PNP chief cautions OFWs against fake news on PH war on drugs

by UNTV   |   Posted on Wednesday, December 6th, 2017

IMAGE_UNTV_NEWS_120617_DELA ROSA IN NEW YORK

MANILA, Philippines — Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Ronald dela Rosa believes the problems in illegal drugs in the country should stop, hopefully under the current administration. Otherwise, the Philippines will remain under the grip of such social menace.

In his official business trip to the United States, the PNP chief has advised Filipino community to be wary against fake news circulating on social media about the government’s war on drugs.

“Kawawa ang Pilipinas talaga. Alam ko kayo dito, hindi kayo mapapalagay habang nandito kayo, mga mahal niyo sa buhay nandoon sa Pilipinas. Kaya sana magtulungan tayo. Huwag kayong masyadong magpadala sa mga fake news na nakakarating dito, mga paninira,” said the chief.

(The Philippines is really pitiful. I know that you are uneasy living here while your loved ones are back in the Philippines. That’s why we should help each other. Do not get carried away by damaging fake news that reaches you.)

Dela Rosa assured the Filipino community in the US that the PNP will be more cautious in its operations now that it is reinstated as a support group to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) in executing anti-illegal drugs operations.

This has prompted the PNP to call for support in order to acquire the needed body cameras for their operations.

Meanwhile, the PNP chief guarantees the police’s support to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in its pursuit of the New People’s Army (NPA).

Dela Rosa warned organizations supportive of the NPA which is now officially declared a terrorist group by the Philippine government.

“Well, pagbasehan natin ‘yung Constitution at tsaka ‘yung Revised Penal Code. Kung meron silang nagawa dun na labag dun then, they are punishable by their crimes. At kami naman sa pulis palagi kaming actively supporting the Armed Forces of the Philippines when it comes to internal security operations. So pagtutulong-tulungan namin yan sa AFP yung laban natin na against sa NPA,” said Dela Rosa

(Well, let’s base it on the Constitution and the Revised Penal Code. If they have committed violations of these, then they are punishable by their crimes. We at the PNP are actively supporting the Armed Forces of the Philippines when it comes to internal security operations. So we will be working together with AFP against the NPA.) — Victor Cosare | UNTV News & Rescue

 

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