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As Taliban returns, Afghan influencers go dark on social media – Al Jazeera English

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Sadiqa Madadgar’s social media looked much like any other successful young Afghan influencer’s until the Taliban stormed into Kabul and upended her dreams.

The return of the group has sent a shockwave through Afghanistan’s social media. Prominent influencers have gone dark or fled, while residents and activists are scrambling to scrub their digital lives.

A former contestant on the reality singing competition “Afghan Star”, Madadgar amassed a huge following with her stunning vocals and down to earth, girl-next-door persona.

A devout Muslim who wears a headscarf, she spent her days uploading videos that transfixed Afghan youngsters, winning her 21,200 subscribers on YouTube and 182,000 followers on Instagram.

In one video, she giggles as she struggles to cut open a watermelon. On another, the 22 year old is singing a haunting folk tune in a cafe while a friend plays guitar.

On a recent trip to the city of Kandahar – the Taliban’s birthplace – she filmed herself sharing a pizza with girlfriends.

On Saturday, Madadgar posted her first overtly political post on Instagram.

“I don’t like to express my pain online but I’m sick of this,” she wrote. “My heart is in pieces when I look at the soil, my homeland which is being destroyed slowly before my eyes.”

The following day, the Taliban seized Kabul, and Madadgar stopped posting.

Millions of Afghan youngsters – in particular women and religious minorities – fear that what they once put online could now put their lives in danger.

Few can forget the first time the Taliban imposed its ultra-conservative version of Islamic law on Afghanistan between 1996-2001.

Women were excluded from public life, girls could not attend school, entertainment was banned and brutal punishments were imposed, such as stoning to death for adultery.

Ayeda Shadab was a fashion icon for many young Afghan women with 290,000 followers on Instagram and 400,000 on TikTok. Each day, she would model the latest outfits that were stocked in her upscale Kabul boutique.

In one of the most recent videos from her range, she posed in an asymmetrical sheer ball gown as Dua Lipa’s infectious dance track “Levitating” played in the background.

But she had no illusions about what a Taliban regime would mean for fashionable women entrepreneurs like her.

“If the Taliban take Kabul, people like me will no longer be safe,” she told German broadcaster ZDF in a recent interview. “Women like me who don’t wear a veil, who work, they can’t accept them.”

She was so terrified of the Taliban’s return that she had to flee, telling followers recently that she had relocated to Turkey.

Other prominent celebrities and influencers who remained in the country have scrambled to follow in her footsteps.

Aryana Sayeed, one of Afghanistan’s most prominent pop stars, posted a selfie on Wednesday taken on a United States military evacuation flight headed to Doha.

“I am well and alive after a couple of unforgettable nights,” she wrote. “My heart, my prayers and my thoughts will always be with you.”

Digital scrubbing

Others have not been so lucky.

Zaki Anwari was a promising footballer who played for Afghanistan’s youth team and often posted fashionable self-portraits on social media.

On Thursday, Afghanistan’s sports federation confirmed the 19 year old was one of those who fell to their deaths after trying to cling to a US plane airlifting people out of Kabul.

Following recommendations from activists, journalists and civil society groups, Facebook announced new security measures allowing users in Afghanistan to quickly lock their accounts.

The company, which also owns WhatsApp and Instagram, said it had also set up a special operations centre “to respond to new threats as they emerge”.

US advocacy group Human Rights First has published advice in Pashto and Dari on how Afghans can delete their digital histories, something they also offered for activists in Hong Kong and Myanmar.

“What we heard from activists in Afghanistan were similar requests prompted by fears of being targeted when a new power took over the country’s security,” Brian Dooley, an adviser to the group told AFP.

Raman Chima, from digital rights advocacy group Access Now, which has also published guides, warns even relatively mundane online content could be dangerous given the Taliban’s harsh interpretation of Islamic law.

“They may be targeted for retribution, for being accused of being infidels, or being unIslamic in the views of not just the Taliban but other religious extremist groups in the country,” he told AFP.

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Company set to buy Trump’s social media app faces subpoenas – Global News

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The company planning to buy Donald Trump’s new social media business has disclosed a federal grand jury investigation that it says could impede or even prevent its acquisition of the Truth Social app.

Shares of Digital World Acquisition Corp. dropped 10% in morning trading Monday as the company revealed that it has received subpoenas from a grand jury in New York.

Read more:

Jan. 6 committee hears of Trump’s pressure on Justice Department over election

The Justice Department subpoenas follow an ongoing probe by the Securities and Exchange Commission into whether Digital World broke rules by having substantial talks about buying Trump’s company starting early last year before Digital World sold stock to the public for the first time in September, just weeks before its announcement that it would be buying Trump’s company.

Trump’s social media venture launched in February as he seeks a new digital stage to rally his supporters and fight Big Tech limits on speech, a year after he was banned from Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

The Trump Media & Technology Group – which operates the Truth Social app and was in the process of being acquired by Digital World – said in a statement that it will cooperate with “oversight that supports the SEC’s important mission of protecting retail investors.”

The new probe could make it more difficult for Trump to finance his social media company. The company last year got promises from dozens of investors to pump $1 billion into the company, but it can’t get the cash until the Digital World acquisition is completed.

Stock in Digital World rocketed to more than $100 in October after its deal to buy Trump’s company was announced. The stock traded at just around $25 in morning trading Monday.

Digital World is a special-purpose acquisition company, or SPAC, part of an investing phenomenon that exploded in popularity over the past two years.


Click to play video: 'U.S. Capitol siege hearings focus on Trump’s pressure campaign to overturn 2020 election'



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U.S. Capitol siege hearings focus on Trump’s pressure campaign to overturn 2020 election


U.S. Capitol siege hearings focus on Trump’s pressure campaign to overturn 2020 election

Such “blank-check” companies are empty corporate entities with no operations, only offering investors the promise they will buy a business in the future. As such they are allowed to sell stock to the public quickly without the usual regulatory disclosures and delays, but only if they haven’t already lined up possible acquisition targets.

Digital World said in a regulatory filing Monday that each member of its board of directors has been subpoenaed by the grand jury in the Southern District of New York. Both the grand jury and the SEC are also seeking a number of documents tied to the company and others including a sponsor, ARC Global Investments, and Miami-based venture capital firm Rocket One Capital.

Some of the sought documents involve “due diligence” regarding Trump Media and other potential acquisition targets, as well as communications with Digital World’s underwriter and financial adviser in its initial public offering, according to the SEC disclosure.

Digital World also Monday announced the resignation of one of its board members, Bruce Garelick, a chief strategy officer at Rocket One.

© 2022 The Canadian Press

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GUNTER: Coun. Michael Janz doesn't need a social media censor – Edmonton Sun

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Janz should not be investigated by the city’s integrity commissioner, or as I would recommend renaming the position, the city’s social media censor.

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It should be obvious I’m not a big fan of Michael “Mosquito Mike” Janz, the city councillor most responsible for ending the city’s mosquito-spraying program. The flying pests are noticeably worse this summer; I’ve got the bites to prove it.

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Thanks, Mosquito Mike.

In general, I don’t care for Janz’s politics and especially his anti-police harangues. Check out his Twitter feed. He complains about police about once a month, sometimes even more often.

He accuses them of race and class double standards. He thinks they slough off investigations of alleged crimes against lower-income Edmontonians and routinely mislead the public to cover their own misdeeds.

I find it particularly detestable that he is alleged recently to have retweeted a post from a Calgary account referring to police as “pigs.”

(Calling the police “pigs” is not only detestable, but laughably archaic, too. Hey, Councillor, the late ’60s called. They want their tie-dyed shirt and peace medallion back. Groovy, man.)

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Yet, so long as Janz must account to his voters, he should be free to tweet and retweet as he sees fit. The relationship is between the electors and their elected representative. If they disapprove of his online behaviour, they can vote him out of office.

Janz should not be investigated by the city’s integrity commissioner, or as I would recommend renaming the position, the city’s social media censor.

It should be up to the voters who elected Janz to punish him, if they so desire, not some appointed adjudicator who doesn’t answer to voters directly.

A complaint has been filed with the integrity commissioner, Jamie Pytel, by sometimes local Liberal candidate, Thomas Deak. In the complaint, Deak says Janz retweeted the following post, “So this week a co-worker got a $409 ticket for failing to stop his bike at a stop sign. It was 7 a.m. in a residential area, the roads were empty, except for the pig hiding in the bushes.”

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Get outraged. Compose an email to the Sun. Post your own tweet condemning Mosquito Mike for his retweeting of juvenile, anti-police name-calling.

But don’t go running to the censor asking her to clap Janz in irons just because you find his opinion (in this case his second-hand opinion) infuriating. Grow up. This is a democracy. We get to have opinions, even unpleasant ones, so long as we respect the right of others to opinions we vehemently disagree with.

Remember, that any government tool that can be used to hush-up your opponents will almost most certainly be turned on you one day, too.

I find it hilarious that Janz, in his own defence, insists there is a plot to “erroneously paint me as some sort of anti-police radical.” Nothing “could be further from the truth.”

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Apparently, in his own mind, Janz is a big fan of police.

But remember, Janz was recently also hauled before the integrity commish for tweeting, liking or retweeting nearly two dozen anti-police posts near the end of last year.

Hmm, he certainly has an odd way of showing his love and respect for the Edmonton Police Service.

Own it, councillor. You don’t like the cops much.

But that is his right. He gets to have a seat on council and hold juvenile, archaic, anti-police opinions until the voters in his ward tire of his schtick and punt him from office.

Even after that, he still gets to hold his objectionable views, he just can’t do it as a councillor anymore.

In his run-in with Pytel earlier this year, Janz was not sanctioned by Edmonton’s in-house play-nice-children scold.

And he shouldn’t have been, just as he shouldn’t be reprimanded now.

The whole integrity commissioner ideal just gets in the way of democracy.

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Omnicom Media Group Heads Home from Cannes with 39 Lions, the Media Network Crown, a New Global Consultancy and a Big Lead in Connected Commerce – Canada NewsWire

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OMG’s OMD Worldwide Named Media Network of the Year

NEW YORK, June 27, 2022 /CNW/ — With a combination of accolades and headline-making announcements, Omnicom Media Group (OMG), the media services division of Omnicom Group Inc. (NYSE: OMC) was a dominant presence at the 2022 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.

On the accolades front, OMG agencies earned a total of 39 Lions and its OMD agency, the largest global media network by billings, was named Media Network of the Year. This marks the second consecutive year that an OMG agency took the Network of the Year title, which was awarded to PHD in 2021. 

Concurrent with its performance in the competition, OMG earned headlines each day of the festival, announcing a series of first-mover collaborations with retail media networks, as well as the global expansion of its TRKKNanalytics and ad consultancy that is one of the largest Google Marketing Platform (GMP) partners in Europe.

OMG’s Lions’ Share
The 39 Lions earned by OMG agencies – 7 Gold, 13 Silver and 19 Bronze – encompassed work from APAC, EMEA, North America and LATAM, spanning the automotive, CPG, Beverage Technology and Travel sectors; and including competition categories that reflect a wide range of both established and emerging priorities for clients – from data-driven targeting and insights to integrated media to corporate purpose and responsibility.

A strong global footprint was also evident in OMD’s Media Network of the Year award, with work from Portugal, France and Australia helping fuel the agency’s win.

“Being named Media Network of the Year is especially meaningful coming at a time when brands are re-evaluating their business, marketing and technology operations to better address new realities – both economic and cultural,” said George Manas, CEO, OMD Worldwide. “They need a trusted partner in transformation – and this recognition helps confirm that OMD is that partner.”

Taking the Lead in Connected Commerce
During the Cannes festival OMG announced four first-mover strategic partnerships with retail media networks, beginning Monday, June 20, with Walmart Connect announcing their first-ever agency holding company partnership with Omnicom. The agreement will enable cross-screen planning against Walmart audiences in Omni – Omnicom’s open operating system which orchestrates better outcomes for clients across the entire consumer purchasing journey – allowing Omnicom’s agencies to deliver connected experiences across media and commerce platforms with-in owned, earned, and paid environments.

Over the next three days, OMG also revealed details of its partnership with Instacart, that will help Omnicom clients better understand how media spend drives purchase of products on that platform; how Amazon is supporting OMG’s eCommerce training and certification programs; and its collaboration with Kroger Precision Marketing that will allow planners to optimize in-market retail media, utilizing shopper behavior data to shift spend based on product availability, and still have the flexibility to optimize media while maintaining national consumer demand.

Describing the collective impact of the announcements, Omnicom eCommerce CEO Frank Kochenash said, “With each collaboration, we are adding another layer of unique capabilities to a connected commerce offering that encompasses the totality of client investment across all media channels, screens and environments.”

A Global Expansion for the Cookieless World
OMG wrapped the industry’s most global of events with news of a global expansion, announcing on the last day of the festival that it is expanding TRKKN- its digital analytics ad technology and cloud consultancy that is one of the largest Google Marketing Platform sales partners across the European market – to APAC, the Middle East and North America. The expansion will assure global best practices that enable GMP & GCP efficiency and effectiveness, while also giving OMG greater flexibility to help in-housed media operations manage their Google marketing and cloud stacks to drive better business results in the cookieless future.

Summing up the desired takeaway from OMG’s high profile throughout Cannes 2022, OMG global CEO Florian Adamski says, “People were coming to Cannes this year looking for more than the big parties – they wanted big ideas and big actions that will help them solve the big challenges that we as an industry are all facing: privacy, connected commerce, measurement, the cookieless future, talent. Through the work we submitted, the partnerships we announced, the capabilities we’re expanding, and the close to 20 thought-leader forums we hosted over the week with clients and partners, I think the net takeaway for marketers is obvious: OMG is meeting these challenges- and we can help you meet them, too.”

About Omnicom Media Group
Omnicom Media Group (OMG) is the media services division of Omnicom Group Inc. (NYSE: OMC), a leading global marketing and corporate communications company, providing services to more than 5,000 clients in more than 70 countries. Omnicom Media Group  includes full- service media agencies OMDPHD and Hearts & Science as well as the Annalect data and analytics division that developed and manages Omni, the open architecture operating system underpinning all Omnicom agencies.

SOURCE Omnicom Media Group

For further information: Isabelle Gauvry, +1-917-435-6457, [email protected]

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