Twitter has faced a barrage of awkward questions from the U.K. parliament over its ongoing failure to tackle violent abuse targeted at women.
Katy Minshall, the social media platform’s head of U.K. government public policy, admitted it needs to do more to safeguard women users — but claimed the company is “acutely aware” of the problems women experience on Twitter, saying it’s in the process of reviewing how it applies its policies to fix its long-running misogyny problem.
“We are acutely aware of the unique experience women have on Twitter and changes we may have to make in our policies to get that right,” she told the human rights committee session on free speech and democracy this afternoon. “We are very much aware of the real issue that women experience on our platform.”
Parliamentarians raised the issue of how unequally Twitter applies policies on hateful conduct depending on the sex being targeted, with MP Joanna Cherry accusing the company of displaying a pattern of relaxed tolerance to tweets containing violent attacks on women.
She contrasted that with examples of alacritous intolerance to tweets that raised the issue of male violence — citing examples of users who had had their Twitter accounts temporarily suspended for making factual, gender-based observations with a male flavor — such as that, on aggregate, men kill more than women.
Or tweets citing English law — which states that only a man can commit rape.
“There seem to be a number of mistakes here. And they seem to be mistakes that are failing to protect women. Do you accept that?” asked Cherry.
“There is clearly a number of steps that we want to take, we need to take, but we are in a different place to where we were even this time last year,” said Minshall initially, before simplifying her response to “clearly there’s an issue here for us to look at” later in the Q&A session.
She was asked to look at several examples of violent tweets which had been directed at women, including tweets whose recipients had reported them to Twitter — only to be told they did not violate its hateful conduct policy.
Only later, after feminist campaigners, journalists and Cherry herself had tweeted about Twitter’s decision not to take down some of these misogynistic tweets did it reverse course and remove them.
Minshall admitted that one of the abusive tweets had been removed last night, after Cherry had tweeted to draw attention to it.
One tweet cited during the session depicted a cartoon figure with a photo of a real hand holding a gun pointed at the viewer, atop the caption “shut the fuck up terf” — ‘terf’ being a term of abuse which Cherry pointed out tends to be applied to women; another showed a video game clip of a man repeatedly chopping a woman in the neck which had been attached to a tweet saying “what I do to terfs”; a third was what Cherry dubbed “a very unpleasant representation of a male flaying a woman alive” — that she said had been sent to one of the women after they had complained on Twitter about receiving one of the other violent tweets.
Minshall said she believed all the tweets Cherry raised with her as exampled violated Twitter’s policies and should have been removed if they hadn’t already. Though said she doesn’t work in the safety team, caveating her response with: “I’m not the expert.”
She also said that trying to moderate a public discussion about transgender rights can be “difficult” — leading Cherry to point out that none of the counter examples she had raised were in any way abusive towards transgender people.
“What I’m trying to understand is why, initially, the first tweet — the chopping in the neck — was ruled alright by Twitter. And why it took the intervention of a leading journalist, a leading feminist commentator and a member of parliament for it to be ruled not alright,” she went on.
“We need to understand who is actually carrying out these decisions. Who is carrying out the mediation at Twitter. Is it done in the UK, is it done in America, who is done by. Is there any attempt at gender balance within the teams of people looking at these tweets.”
Minshall said she could not answer the gender breakdown of the team question — saying she would write to the committee with an answer.
Cherry also made the point that sex is a protected characteristic in UK law, and pressed Minshall several times on why Twitter’s hateful conduct policy only applies to gender.
“Can you tell us why Twitter has chosen to exclude sex from their hateful conduct policy as a protected characteristic?” she asked. “I’m wondering if that’s what could be going wrong here? That the training is not covering the fact that sexist, misogynistic, demeaning behavior should be treated as seriously as abuse of, for example, trans people.”
Minshall said Twitter’s hateful conduct policy is based upon United Nations definitions, arguing the current policy that protects gender should also protect against misogyny — while admitting there’s still an asymmetrical burden on women users of Twitter to report abuse.
She agreed to follow up with the committee to explain why Twitter’s policy does not include sex as a protected characteristic too.
“There’s a lot that we want to do to reduce the burden on reporters,” she said. “We have rules in place where it would be a breach to target someone based on the fact that they’re a woman — where we need to do far more is to be proactive in reducing the burden on victims to report that to us.”
At another point during the session she said Twitter is also reviewing its policy on harassment — saying it’s concerned about the risk of women being stalked via the platform by ex-partners.
“There is an issue specific to women, typically ex-partners, stalking them on Twitter in ways that have traditionally been difficult to detect in our rules — and we want to do better on that,” she added.
Huawei Responds To Android Ban
Fresh off the sledgehammer blow of having its Android license revoked by Google in response to US government demands, Huawei has issued its first, limited response, which leaves more questions open than it answers. In a statement emailed to The Verge, Huawei underscores its contributions to the growth of Android globally — which most recently saw the company’s Android phone sales growing by double digits while every other leading smartphone vendor was shrinking or stagnant — and reassures current owners of Huawei and (subsidiary brand) Honor phones that they will continue to receive security updates and after-sales service. That promise also covers phones that are already shipped and in stock at stores globally, but no additional promises are made beyond that.
“Huawei has made substantial contributions to the development and growth of Android around the world. As one of Android’s key global partners, we have worked closely with their open-source platform to develop an ecosystem that has benefitted both users and the industry.
Huawei will continue to provide security updates and after-sales services to all existing Huawei and Honor smartphone and tablet products, covering those that have been sold and that are still in stock globally.
We will continue to build a safe and sustainable software ecosystem, in order to provide the best experience for all users globally.”
Google has already said that owners of Huawei phones will retain their access to the Play Store and continue being able to update their apps. The big thing that’s being written out of their future, however, are further Android OS updates from Google. To get those back, Huawei phone owners and fans will have to hope for a resolution in the US-China trade dispute, which has been the trigger for Huawei’s current blacklisting by the US government.
For its part, Huawei has been making preparations for an eventuality of losing access to software from US companies like Google and Microsoft, and it has been developing an in-house operating system alternative to Android. That may be what the company hints at in the final paragraph of its statement when it says it will “continue to build a safe and sustainable software ecosystem.” Sustainable being the key word.
Source: The Verge.
NCA Unveils Plan To Ban All Fake Phones.
Mobile devices that enter the country will now be tested for their authenticity before being released onto the market.
This follows the completion of a state of the art laboratory by the National Communications Authority to test such devices.
The NCA, together with other stakeholders in the telecommunications industry, has on a number of occasions lamented the effect of substandard mobile devices have on service delivery.
Speaking at the celebration of World Telecoms Day in Accra, Deputy Minister of Communications George Andah said the Ministry will do all it can to maintain high standards within the country’s telecommunication industry.
“The NCA has acquired the state of the art type approval laboratory capable of testing all electronic communication devices to ensure that they are up to standard”
“To the NCA, I request that you kindly liaise with mobile network operators to determine the level of potential risk with regards to the prevalent substandard mobile devices on the market”.
Ghana joined the rest of the world on Friday, May 19, 2019 to observe the 2019 World Telecommunications and Information Society Day under the theme “Bridging the standardization gap”. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the celebration since its inception in 1969.
The day was observed to raise awareness on the importance of the theme as well as encourage the implementation of international standards in Ghana’s communications sector in the bid to bridge the digital divide
Google And Android System Start To Cut Ties With Huawei.
US internet giant Google, whose Android mobile operating system powers most of the world's smartphones, said Sunday it was beginning to cut ties with China's Huawei, which Washington considers a national security threat.
In the midst of a trade war with Beijing, President Donald Trump has barred US companies from engaging in telecommunications trade with foreign companies said to threaten American national security.
The measure targets Huawei, a Chinese telecoms giant in Washington's sights that is listed by the Commerce Department among firms with which American companies can only engage in trade after obtaining the green light from the authorities.
The ban includes technology sharing.
"We are complying with the order and reviewing the implications," a Google spokesperson told AFP.
The move could have dramatic implications since Google, like all tech companies, must collaborate with smartphone makers to ensure its systems are compatible with their devices.
Google will have to halt business activities with Huawei that involve transfer of hardware, software and technical services that are not publicly available -- meaning Huawei will only be able to use the open source version of Android, a source close to the matter told AFP.
Huawei will no longer have access to Google's proprietary apps and services, such as the Gmail email service.
Huawei did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Huawei is a rapidly expanding leader in 5G technology but remains dependent on foreign suppliers.
It buys about $67 billion worth of components each year, including about $11 billion from US suppliers, according to The Nikkei business daily.
Huawei is the target of an intense campaign by Washington, which has been trying to persuade allies not to allow China a role in building next-generation 5G mobile networks.
US government agencies are already banned from buying equipment from Huawei.
Huawei founder and CEO Ren Zhengfei said Saturday that "We have not done anything which violates the law," adding the US measures would have a limited impact.
Rigworld, Maritime University Partner To Train Students On IMO Regulations.
Rigworld Training Centre (RTC), an indigenous Ghanaian company has signed an accreditation partnership with the Regional Maritime University (RMU) to train personnel on International Maritime Organization (IMO) regulations.
Under the accreditation partnership the two parties will collaborate for the training of people on IMO mandatory short courses hence issue two certificates; one jointly signed by RTC and RMU and secondly solely signed by the Ghana Maritime Authority, certificate of competency from Ghana Maritime Authority.
The partnership, which was signed by Prof. Elvis Nyarko, Vice Chancellor of the RMU and Kofi Amoa-Abban, Director of the RTC.
Among some of the courses that would be offered as part of the training program include Elementary First Aid, Personal Survival Techniques, Personal Safety and Social Responsibilities as well as Basic Fire Prevention and Fire Fighting.
Others are International Ship and Port Facility Security Code, Oil/Chemical Tanker Familiarization, Efficient Deck Hand, Lifeboat, Proficiency in Survival Craft Rescue Boat, Radar/ARPA Simulator Training as well as International Safety Management.
The RMU is an international institution owned by the Republics of Cameroon, The Gambia, Ghana, Liberia and Sierra Leone under the Maritime Organization of West and Central Africa (MOWCA). The overall objective of the RMU is to promote regional co-operation in the maritime industry focusing on the training to ensure sustained growth and development in the industry.
The RTC on the other hand is an indigenous Ghanaian company accredited by various international bodies to train people and students in safety and survival skills in the oil and gas industry here. Enditem