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“The greatest propaganda machine in history” – Sacha Baron Cohen slams Facebook

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“The greatest propaganda machine in history” – Sacha Baron Cohen slams Facebook | The Thaiger

“The Silicon Six – all billionaires, all Americans – who care more about boosting their share price than about protecting democracy.”

Speaking at the Anti Defamation League’s International Leadership summit, actor and comedian Sacha Baron Cohen caned Facebook and other social media as “the greatest propaganda machine in history.”

Sacha was accepting an award when he opened up on his thoughts on modern social media and its impact on democracies and the weaponisation official media by politicians.

He said that social media was “stoking the fires of bigotry and enabling the spread of dangerous conspiracies, often fueled by algorithms designed to keep consumers hooked”.

He pointed the finger at social media companies, particularly Facebook, for the way they provided far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and his fringe media outlet InfoWars with platforms and millions of views until banning him amid a wave of criticism last year.

“Today around the world, demagogues appeal to our worst instincts. Conspiracy theories once confined to the fringe are going mainstream.”

“We have lost, it seems, a shared sense of the basic facts upon which democracy depends.”

Sacha acknowledged that the social media companies have attempted to wind back some of the problems with the platforms and implemented policies meant to reduce hate and conspiracies that spread on their platforms. But he described the measures as “mostly superficial”.

“Freedom of speech is not freedom of reach. I think we could all agree that we should not be giving bigots and pedophiles a free platform to amplify their views and target their victims,” he said as part of his speech.

He also poked blame at Google’s Sundar Pichai, Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki, and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey.

“The Silicon Six – all billionaires, all Americans – who care more about boosting their share price than about protecting democracy.”

“This is ideological imperialism. Six unelected individuals in Silicon Valley imposing their vision on the rest of the world, unaccountable to any government and acting like they’re above the reach of law.”

Sacha urged that the companies be seen as “what they really are… the largest publishers in history.”

“They should follow basic standards and practices that newspapers, magazines and TV news adhere to in their daily reporting.”

“Your product is defective, you are obliged to fix it, no matter how much it costs and no matter how many moderators you need to employ,”

A recent documentary on Netflix “The Great Hack” exposed abuses of the Facebook platform by a UK company called ‘Cambridge Analytica’, employed by the 2016 election team for, then, US presidential candidate Donald Trump, and later the promoters of Brexit.

In both cases huge amounts were spent (in the case of the Donald Trump campaign, some $US37 million) to sway small pockets of swinging voters with highly targeted propaganda designed to change people’s vote. Much of the ‘advertising’ has since been proven as untrue, targeting opposition parties and politicians with fake allegations.

The swinging voters’ ‘profiles’ were identified by simple ‘personality profile’ posts, appearing as entertainment or games on the Facebook platform, and then the information mined to identify, as Cambridge Analytica called them, ‘the persuadables’.

SOURCE: CNN

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Chiang Rai

British diver’s lawyer claims jury blundered in Elon Musk defamation trial

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British diver’s lawyer claims jury blundered in Elon Musk defamation trial | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Getty Images

“That is a serious problem. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a bullying billionaire or a penniless troll, that behaviour is ­destructive.” – Vernon Unsworth’s lawyer, Mark Stephens

Elon Musk could face a retrial in his defamation case after a lawyer for the British cave diver Vernon Unsworth, based in Chiang Rai, claimed the jury blundered. The Tesla founder had a spat with diver Vernon Unsworth over the rescue of 13 young men trapped in the flooded Tham Luang cave in June and July last year. Read The Thaiger story of the trial verdict HERE.

In a Twitter spat in July last year, the US Tech-guru branded Vernon as the “pedo guy”. Vernon had criticised Elon’s offer of an ‘escape tube’ saying it was (paraphrasing) impractical and just a ‘vanity project’ by the American tech crusader – the founder of Space X and Tesla electric cars.

At the time Vernon branded Elon’s gesture a “PR stunt”, telling him to “stick his submarine where it hurts”.

On Friday Elon Musk told the court the phrase “pedo guy” was a common slur in South Africa where he grew up. But Vernon claimed the remarks were effectively “a life sentence without parole”, saying the defamatory comment would ‘stick’ even though Elon later retracted them.

Vernon Unsworth made a claim for US$190 million in damages but Elon Musk was cleared of the defamation suit last Friday.

Now Vernon’s lawyer, Mark Stephens, claims post-verdict interviews with jurors show they decided the tycoon was not liable because he did not name Mr Unsworth in his tweet, according to an article in the mirror.co.uk.

Mr. Stephens claims the jurors made a mistake that could set a dangerous precedent for future ‘Twitter’ based defamation cases.

“We all know jurors make mistakes on occasion.”

SOURCE: mirror.co.uk

British diver's lawyer claims jury blundered in Elon Musk defamation trial | News by The Thaiger

PHOTO: Vernon Unsworth arrives for the trial verdict last Friday – Getty Images

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Thailand

You introduce new visa requirements? We don’t send any tours.” – Taiwan

Greeley Pulitzer

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You introduce new visa requirements? We don’t send any tours.” – Taiwan | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Chiang Rai Times

“This is not the first time the Thailand Trade and Economic Office has come under fire for enforcing unpopular policies that were introduced without a lot of thought.”

It’s now emerged that the proposed requirement for Taiwanese tourists to submit financial statements to obtain a Thai visa happened after the Travel Agents Association of Taiwan threatened to boycott tours to Thailand. Nothing like a threat of tourist numbers to convince the Thai government to review its stance on the Taiwanese tourists’ visas!

In November the Thailand Trade and Economic Office in Taipei announced a new policy requiring tourist visa applicants to submit submit bank details for the previous three months to prove that they could cover their travel expenses. Unlike in the past, they would also be required to apply online for an appointment, then submit the documents in person.

The new policy, which was to take effect on December 1, would have eventually applied to Taiwan, China, Britain and France. The TTEO says it chose Taiwan to implement the procedure because of its “advanced information technology”.

Travel Agents Association of Taiwan chairman Hsiao Po-jen (蕭博仁) says the Taiwanese ministry should halt its visa-waiver program for Thai tourists.”

Travellers and travel agents in Taiwan have said the policy was disrespectful and said the Taiwanese government humiliated itself by agreeing to it. But the TTEO decided on the policy unilaterally and the Taiwan government was not involved, according to a spokesperson

The China News Agency reports that the plan will now be postponed until March 1 “to give applicants sufficient time to prepare and to acquaint themselves with the new method”.

Nearly 700,000 Taiwanese tourists travel to Thailand each year.

“Why do they need a financial statement when they apply for visas? Taiwan is not a third world country,” the head of the Travel Agent Association of Taiwan said. “The policy is just ridiculous.”

Many people also complained that they couldn’t even access the new online visa-application system.”

This is not the first time the TTEO has come under fire for enforcing unpopular policies that were introduced without a lot of thought. Last year, the Association protested a proposed 470 baht increase in visa fees, threatening to stop sending tourists to Thailand. The proposal was eventually scrapped

SOURCE: Taipei Times

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Thailand

Thai army takes delivery of Chinese battle tanks

Greeley Pulitzer

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Thai army takes delivery of Chinese battle tanks | The Thaiger

Thailand’s Army has taken delivery of Chinese tanks and armoured personnel carriers, just three months after receiving armoured infantry vehicles from the US.

The army received 10 shiny new tanks and 38 armoured personnel carriers from China. All the hardware was taken to the Adisorn Cavalry Centre in Saraburi province for inspection.

The government hasn’t officially acknowledged its Chinese acquisitions and there has been fierce domestic criticism over its defense budget during an economic slowdown.

PM Prayut Chan-o-cha’s government has allocated 233 billion baht (7.7 billion $US) for security in fiscal year 2020, when Thailand’s economy is expected to to slow to 2.5-3% growth.

The US froze 4.7 million dollars worth of military aid and cancelled security agreements with Thailand in May 2014, after Prayut, then the head of the Thai Army, led a bloodless coup that deposed elected PM Yingluck Shinawatra.

The cancellation was a result of the US Foreign Assistance Act, which bars the US from sending aid to countries whose elected governments have been toppled by coup. Military ties improved when civilian rule was officially restored this year, although critics allege Prayut manipulated the election.

The latest delivery from China was part of a 50 tank deal ordered in 2016 by the Thai military government. The deal was worth about 7 billion baht ($231 million), the Chiang Rai Times reports

Thailand has also agreed to buy three Chinese submarines, worth 36 billion baht ($1.1 billion), with the first delivery expected within five to six years.

The NCPO approved the budget for the first submarine in January 2017 after delaying the purchase the previous year due to public criticism. In September this year Thailand also signed a deal with China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation for an amphibious landing platform dock warship.

As part of its military modernisation, Thailand will also buy eight Boeing attack helicopters and related hardware from the USs in a deal worth 400 million dollars, and 70 Stryker armoured personnel carriers worth 5.4 billion baht ($175 million) according to US officials.

SOURCE: Chiang Rai Times

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