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Belarus classifies social media channels as ‘extremist’ – Al Jazeera English

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Those who subscribe to three of the most popular opposition social media channels can face up to seven years in prison.

The Belarusian Ministry of Internal Affairs has classified three of the country’s most popular opposition social media channels as “extremist” organisations, meaning that people can face up to seven years in prison for subscribing to them.

Social media channels such as Telegram messenger were widely used during mass street protests against President Alexander Lukashenko last year to coordinate demonstrations and share footage of a violent police crackdown.

“The Ministry of Internal Affairs has made a decision to recognise a group of citizens carrying out extremist activities through the Telegram channels NEXTA, NEXTA-Live and LUXTA, an extremist organisation and prohibiting its activities,” the ministry said in a statement on Friday.

The NEXTA news outlet, run by a Belarusian exile in Poland, has three channels on Telegram, including NEXTA Live, which has nearly one million subscribers in a country of 9.5 million.

Previously, anyone who reposted material from NEXTA risked a fine or detention for 30 days. But the new classification means subscribers could be prosecuted for participating in an “extremist” organisation and be jailed for up to seven years.

“1.4 million more extremists appeared in Belarus today,” NEXTA wrote in a tweet. “Ministry of Internal Affairs recognised telegram channels NEXTA, NEXTA Live and LUXTA as ‘extremist formations’. This means that criminal cases can be opened against creators, administrators and subscribers in #Belarus.”

Deutsche Welle blocked

Meanwhile, on Friday, Germany criticised what it called the blocking by Belarus of the news website of German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle, urging Minsk to restore access “immediately”.

Germany’s ambassador in Minsk has taken up the complaint with the Belarusian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and demanded a reversal of the decision, a spokeswoman for the German foreign ministry said.

Deutsche Welle said in a statement that access to its online services had been hindered by the Belarusian information ministry.

The broadcaster said the Belarus government had explained the move, which also targeted other media outlets, by claiming that Deutsche Welle was posting “extremist” content.

Deutsche Welle Director-General Peter Limbourg called the accusations “absolutely ridiculous” in a statement.

The broadcaster said it had significantly expanded its offering in Belarus so it “can cover the activities of civil society”.

Protests erupted last year after a presidential election that Lukashenko’s opponents say was blatantly rigged to keep the veteran leader in power.

Tens of thousands of people were detained and human rights activists say more than 800 people are now in jail as political prisoners since the protests.

Authorities have recently taken reprisals against citizens who voice dissent online. Hundreds of people were detained and face prison terms for making disrespectful comments about a KGB officer who died in a shoot-out in Minsk last month.

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Trump's social media venture says it has raised $1B – Vancouver Sun

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He is working to launch a social media app called TRUTH Social that is at least several weeks away.

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Donald Trump’s new social media venture said on Saturday it had entered into agreements to raise about $1 billion from a group of unidentified investors as it prepares to float in the U.S. stock market.

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The capital raise, details of which were first reported by Reuters on Wednesday, underscored the former U.S. president’s ability to attract strong financial backing thanks to his personal and political brand. He is working to launch a social media app called TRUTH Social that is at least several weeks away.

Digital World Acquisition Corp, the blank-check acquisition firm that will take Trump Media & Technology Group Corp public by listing it in New York, said it will provide up to $293 million to the partnership with Trump’s media venture, taking the total proceeds to about $1.25 billion.

The $1 billion will be raised through a private investment in public equity (PIPE) transaction from “a diverse group of institutional investors,” Trump Media and Digital World said in a statement. They did not respond to requests to name the investors.

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Trump Media inked its deal with Digital World to go public in October at a valuation of $875 million, including debt. The social media venture is now valued at almost $4 billion based on the price of Digital World shares at the end of trading on Friday. Trump supporters and day traders snapped up the stock.

Many Wall Street firms such as mutual funds and private equity firms snubbed the opportunity to invest in the PIPE. Among those investors who participated were hedge funds, family offices and high net-worth individuals, Reuters reported on Wednesday. Family offices manage the wealth of the very rich and their kin.

Some Wall Street investors are reluctant to associate with Trump. He was banned from top social media platforms after the Jan. 6 attack by his supporters on the U.S. Capitol amid concerns he would inspire further violence. The Capitol attack was based on unsubstantiated claims of widespread fraud in last year’s presidential election.

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“As our balance sheet expands, Trump Media & Technology Group will be in a stronger position to fight back against the tyranny of Big Tech,” Trump said in a statement on Saturday.

The deal also faces regulatory risk. U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren asked Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Gary Gensler last month to investigate the planned merger for potential violations of securities laws around disclosure. The SEC has declined to comment on whether it plans any action.

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Trump Media and Digital World said the per-share conversion price of the convertible preferred stock PIPE transaction represents a 20% discount to Digital World’s volume-weighted average closing price for the five trading days to Dec. 1, when Reuters broke news of the capital raise.

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If that price averages below $56 in the 10 days after the merger with Digital World has been completed, the discount will grow to 40% with a floor of $10, the companies added. Digital World shares ended trading on Friday $44.97.

Trump had 89 million followers on Twitter, 33 million on Facebook and 24.5 million on Instagram at the time he was blocked, according to a presentation on his company’s website.

Investors attending the confidential investor road shows were shown a demo from the planned social media app, which looked like a Twitter feed, Reuters reported.

FIRST-QUARTER ROLLOUT

Since Trump was voted out of office last year, he has repeatedly dropped hints that he might seek the presidency in 2024.

Special purpose acquisition companies such as Digital World had lost much of their luster with retail investors before the Trump media deal came along. Many of these investors were left with big losses after the companies that merged with SPACs failed to deliver on their ambitious financial projections.

TRUTH Social is scheduled for a full rollout in the first quarter of 2022. It is the first of three stages in the Trump Media plan, followed by a subscription video-on-demand service called TMTG+ that will feature entertainment, news and podcasts, according to the news release.

In a slide deck on its website, the company envisions eventually competing against Amazon.com’s AWS cloud service and Google Cloud.

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Trump social media company claims to raise $1bn from investors – The Guardian

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Trump social media company claims to raise $1bn from investors  The Guardian



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Trump's new social media company says it has $1 billion in funding lined up – National | Globalnews.ca – Global News

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Donald Trump‘s new social media company and its special purpose acquisition company partner say the partner has agreements for $1 billion in capital from institutional investors.

The former president launched his new company, Trump Media & Technology Group, in October. He unveiled plans for a new messaging app called “Truth Social” to rival Twitter and the other social media platforms that banned him following the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

TMTG’s plan is to become a publicly listed company through a merger with the publicly traded Digital World Acquisition Corp., a special purpose acquisition company whose sole purpose is to acquire a private company and take it public.

Read more:

Trump tested positive for COVID-19 days before Biden debate, ex aide says

The institutional investors were not identified in a press release issued Saturday by Trump Media and Digital World. The money would come from “a diverse group” of investors after the two companies are combined, it said.

Digital World said in the release that the $1 billion is above the $293 million (minus expenses) that it may invest.

“I am confident that TMTG can effectively deploy this capital to accelerate and strengthen the execution of its business, including by continuing to attract top talent, hire top technology providers, and roll out significant advertising and business development campaigns,” Digital World CEO Patrick Orlando said in the release.

Trump is listed as chair of TMTG. He will get tens of millions in special bonus shares if the combined company performs well, handing the former president possibly billions of dollars in paper wealth.

© 2021 The Canadian Press

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