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British sport to boycott social media giants over online abuse and discrimination

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Arsenal’s German-born Bosnian defender Sead Kolasinac (R) plays the ball during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Manchester United at the Emirates Stadium in London on March 10, 2019.

Ben Stansall | AFP | Getty Images

LONDON – The world’s biggest social media platforms are being boycotted by British sports teams, athletes and leading sports bodies over a lack of action regarding online abuse.

Facebook, Instagram and Twitter will be shunned from 3:00 p.m. London time on Friday to 11:59 p.m. on Monday.

The boycott — embraced by sports including soccer, rugby and cricket — comes as the U.S. tech giants continue to face criticism for failing to remove racist and sexist abuse that gets posted on their platforms.

Facebook, which owns Instagram, and Twitter said that racism and other forms of abuse have no place on their platforms.

Anti-discrimination organizations like Kick It Out and Show Racism the Red Card are involved in the boycott, as are sport’s governing bodies.

Kick It Out said in September that there was a 42% increase in reports of discrimination in professional soccer last season, with the number of incidents rising from 313 to 446.

Former World Cup winner and Arsenal’s record goal-scorer Thierry Henry, who removed himself from social media last month, hailed the boycott as a “start” in the battle against racism and discrimination.

“(What) the world of English football is doing at the minute and what’s going to happen at the weekend, people ask me, ‘Is it enough, the weekend?'” he told CNN this week. “And I’m like, ‘it’s a start.’ You know, you can’t be too greedy from not having anything to that. It’s a start.”

Watford Football Club captain Troy Deeney told the BBC on Friday that many athletes receive abusive messages online on a daily basis, while some people experience it hourly.  

On Friday morning, Alex Scott, who played for Arsenal and England before moving into broadcasting, urged members of the public to get involved. “Join us and switch off too, as we collectively demand change,” she wrote on Twitter.

Premier League Chief Executive Richard Masters said in a statement: “Racist behavior of any form is unacceptable and the appalling abuse we are seeing players receive on social media platforms cannot be allowed to continue.”

He added: “The Premier League and our clubs stand alongside football in staging this boycott to highlight the urgent need for social media companies to do more in eliminating racial hatred. We will not stop challenging social media companies and want to see significant improvements in their policies and processes to tackle online discriminatory abuse on their platforms.”

Fines of up to 10% of annual global turnover

Ahead of the boycott, Manchester United wrote on Twitter: “Since September 2019, there has been a 350% increase in online abuse directed towards our players. We need change.” Separately, Everton Football Club said via Twitter: “Enough is enough” and used hashtags “#StopOnlineAbuse” and “NoRoomForRacism.”

British Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden wrote in British newspapers this week that the social media firms will face “severe sanctions” if they fail to remove racist abuse. “We could see fines of up to ten per cent of annual global turnover,” he wrote. “For a company such as Facebook or YouTube, that could be billions.”

Companies including Adidas, Barclays, Budweiser, Cazoo and betting app Smarkets, are taking part in the boycott, as are broadcasters including BT Sport and talkSPORT.

It’s not the first time the social media companies have faced a backlash for failing to remove offensive content. Last year, more than 1,000 groups and companies took part in a boycott, hoping to pressure Facebook into taking more stringent steps to stop the spread of hate speech and misinformation on its platform. Participants included the likes of HP, Verizon, Coca-Cola, Diageo and Ben & Jerry’s.

A Facebook spokesperson said it’s against the company’s policies to harass or discriminate against people on Facebook or Instagram.

“We agree with and have already made progress on many of the players’ suggestions, including taking tougher action against people breaking our rules in DMs,” the spokesperson said in a statement shared with CNBC.

“We also recently announced that, starting next week, we’ll provide new tools, based on consultation with footballers and anti-discrimination experts, to help prevent people seeing abusive messages from strangers. We continue to work with UK police on hate speech, and respond to valid legal requests for information, which can be essential for investigations. We’ll continue listening to feedback and keep fighting hate and racism on our platform.”

Twitter said it has removed over 7,000 tweets in the U.K since Sept. 12 that were targeting the soccer conversation with violations of the Twitter Rules.

“This represents roughly 0.02% of the overall football conversation in the U.K. and does not reflect the vast majority of people who engage in vibrant discussions about football on Twitter,” a spokesperson said.

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What Do Facebook Ads Have To Do With The Uyghur Genocide?

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In recent months, several reports suggested a concerning link between Facebook ads and the Uyghur genocide. In March 2021, Epoch Times reported on “evidence linking Facebook ad revenue to Chinese companies profiting from that genocide.” They indicated that one of the companies “continues selling through Facebook hair it admitted was from Uyghurs. Similar companies ‘suggested’ by the social media platform appear also to be selling Uyghur hair. Since a woman’s long hair is highly valued in Uyghur culture, the hair products being sold are almost certainly a product of the ongoing persecution, and not donated or sold freely.” These allegations come months after, in August 2020, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CPB) seized over 13 tons of human hair products from Xinjiang. 

In this photo illustration a Facebook logo seen displayed on...

In this photo illustration a Facebook logo seen displayed on a smartphone. (Photo Illustration: … [+] Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Facebook did not respond to these allegations that it profited from ads linked to Uyghur genocide. Yet it did not take long before Facebook became the centre of attention again, because of its links with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) which stands accused of committing genocide against the Uyghurs.

In April 2021, the WSJ reported that “some Facebook staff are raising concerns on internal message boards and in other employee discussions that the company is being used as a conduit for state propaganda, highlighting sponsored posts from Chinese organizations that purport to show Muslim ethnic minority Uyghurs thriving in China’s Xinjiang region, according to people familiar with the matter.” Reportedly, “a Facebook spokesman said that the ads taken out by Beijing pertaining to Xinjiang don’t violate current policies so long as the advertisers follow Facebook’s rules when purchasing them. He said the company is monitoring reports of the situation in Xinjiang ‘to help inform our approach and due diligence on this issue.’”

WSJ further reported that “Facebook hasn’t determined whether to act on the concerns, say people familiar with the matter. The company is watching how international organizations such as the United Nations respond to the situation in Xinjiang, one of the people said. The U.N. this week called on firms conducting Xinjiang-linked business to undertake “meaningful human rights due diligence” on their operations.”

Such responses to very serious allegations of benefiting from Uyghur genocide are highly inadequate. We are talking about atrocities targeting a religious group with methods including torture and abuse, rape and sexual violence, separation of children from their parents, forced sterilizations, forced abortions, forced labor and much more.

Waiting for the response from the U.N. cannot be seen as the right policy to address serious allegations of genocidal atrocities, especially considering stagnation at the U.N. and China’s powerful position there. While States and U.N. experts have been calling for action, and among others, for unfettered access to Xinjiang, this request has been ignored by the Chinese government. And so the vicious circle of impunity continues.

One would expect that Facebook would conduct a comprehensive review of the allegations and evidence in support. Ultimately, Facebook should make sure that they sever any ties with atrocities against the Uyghurs.

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Eutelsat Expands Use of Express Wi-Fi in Partnership With Facebook to Extend Wi-Fi Connectivity …

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PARIS–()–Regulatory News:

Eutelsat Communications (Paris:ETL) (Euronext Paris: ETL) is expanding its use of the Express Wi-Fi platform in partnership with Facebook to provide broadband services via satellite across several regions in Sub-Saharan Africa. With Express Wi-Fi, Eutelsat aims to connect thousands of people in rural and underserved communities spanning Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Nigeria, Côte d’Ivoire, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Kenya, Madagascar, South Africa, Cameroon, Ghana and Zimbabwe.

Express Wi-Fi is a platform developed by Facebook Connectivity that enables partners to build, grow and monetize their Wi-Fi businesses in a scalable way, while providing their customers with fast, affordable, and reliable internet access. Express Wi-Fi is used in more than 30 countries, including in multiple Asian, South American and African markets, helping millions of people connect over Wi-Fi.

Eutelsat and Facebook have previously conducted successful pilots in rural and underserved areas of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) enabling local businesses to offer affordable internet access to customers on a pre-paid basis. To date, Eutelsat’s use of the Express Wi-Fi platform has enabled access to affordable broadband for thousands of individuals across the DRC.

Philippe Baudrier, General Manager of Konnect Africa commented: “We are delighted to partner with Facebook in this ambitious scheme, aimed at getting more people online in the most underserved areas of sub-Saharan Africa. This initiative is the perfect example of the power of satellite connectivity to bridge the digital divide, with unmatched economic and social benefits. We are proud once again to leverage the unparalleled coverage of EUTELSAT KONNECT to satisfy this growing demand.”

“At Facebook, we’re committed to working with partners to help expand connectivity in Sub-Saharan Africa, which continues to be the region with the highest coverage gap,” said Fargani Tambeayuk, Head of Connectivity Policy for Sub-Saharan Africa, Facebook. “Connectivity is essential to ensuring access to jobs, education, healthcare and more. We’re proud to partner with Eutelsat to combine the power of the Express Wi-Fi platform and EUTELSAT KONNECT, with the goal of increasing satellite broadband coverage across rural and underserved areas of Sub-Saharan Africa.”

About Eutelsat Communications


Founded in 1977, Eutelsat Communications is one of the world’s leading satellite operators. With a global fleet of satellites and associated ground infrastructure, Eutelsat enables clients across Video, Data, Government, Fixed and Mobile Broadband markets to communicate effectively to their customers, irrespective of their location. Over 6,600 television channels operated by leading media groups are broadcast by Eutelsat to one billion viewers equipped for DTH reception or connected to terrestrial networks. Headquartered in Paris, with offices and teleports around the globe, Eutelsat assembles 1,000 men and women from 46 countries who are dedicated to delivering the highest quality of service.

For more about Eutelsat go to www.eutelsat.com

About Facebook Connectivity


Connectivity is at the heart of Facebook’s mission to give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together. Critical to this mission is high-quality internet access, which gives people a voice and creates opportunities to share knowledge that can strengthen local communities and global economies. Facebook Connectivity works closely with partners including mobile network operators, equipment manufacturers and more to develop programs and technologies—including Express WiFi, Magma and Terragraph—that increase the availability, affordability and awareness of high-quality internet access, bringing more people online to a faster internet. To learn more, visit: https://connectivity.fb.com

www.eutelsat.com – Follow us on Twitter @Eutelsat_SA

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Facebook Removes Ukraine’s ‘Fake’ Political ‘Influence-for-hire’ Network

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Facebook attributed the network to individuals and entities including politician Andriy Derkach, a pro-Russian lawmaker blacklisted by the United States.

  • Reuters
  • Last Updated:May 07, 2021, 14:04 IST
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Facebook Inc (FB.O) has taken down a network of hundreds of fake accounts and pages targeting people in Ukraine and linked to individuals previously sanctioned by the United States for efforts to interfere in U.S. elections, the company said on Thursday. Facebook said the network managed a long-running deceptive campaign across multiple social media platforms and other websites, posing as independent news outlets and promoting favourable content about Ukrainian politicians, including activity that was likely for hire. The company said it started its probe after a tip from the FBI.

Facebook attributed the activity to individuals and entities sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department including politician Andriy Derkach, a pro-Russian lawmaker who was blacklisted by the U.S. government in September over accusations he tried to interfere in the 2020 U.S. election won by President Joe Biden. Facebook said it removed Derkach’s accounts in October 2020.

Derkach told Reuters he would comment on Facebook’s investigation on Friday.

Facebook also attributed the network to political consultants associated with Ukrainian politicians Oleh Kulinich and Volodymyr Groysman, Ukraine’s former prime minister. Kulinich did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Groysman could not immediately be reached for comment.

Facebook said that as well as promoting these politicians, the network also pushed positive material about actors across the political spectrum, likely as a paid service. It said the activity it investigated began around 2015, was solely focused on Ukraine and posted anti-Russia content.

“You can really think of these operators as would-be influence mercenaries, renting out inauthentic online support in Ukrainian political circles,” Ben Nimmo, Facebook’s global influence operations threat intelligence lead, said on a call with reporters.

Facebook’s investigation team said Ukraine, which has been among the top sources of “coordinated inauthentic behaviour” that it removes from the site, is home to an increasing number of influence operations selling services.

Facebook said it removed 363 pages, which were followed by about 2.37 million accounts, and 477 accounts from this network for violating its rules. The network also spent about $496,000 in Facebook and Instagram ads, Facebook said.

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