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Factbox: What is QAnon and how are social media sites handling it? – Reuters Canada

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(Reuters) – Social media companies Facebook Inc and Twitter Inc have announced crackdowns on content linked with the unfounded and sprawling conspiracy theory QAnon.

FILE PHOTO: A supporter holds a QAnon sign as U.S. President Donald Trump addresses a campaign rally at Mohegan Sun Arena in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, U.S., August 2, 2018. REUTERS/Leah Millis

WHAT IS QANON?

QAnon followers espouse an intertwined series of beliefs, based on anonymous web postings from “Q,” who claims to have insider knowledge of the Trump administration.

A core tenet of the conspiracy theory is that U.S. President Donald Trump is secretly fighting a cabal of child-sex predators that includes prominent Democrats, Hollywood elites and “deep state” allies.

QAnon, which borrows some elements from the bogus “pizzagate” theory about a pedophile ring run out of a Washington restaurant, has become a “big tent” conspiracy theory encompassing misinformation about topics ranging from alien landings to vaccine safety.

Followers of QAnon say a so-called Great Awakening is coming to bring salvation.

HOW HAS IT SPREAD ONLINE?

The ‘Q’ posts, which started in 2017 on the message board 4chan, are now posted on 8kun, a rebranded version of the shuttered web board 8chan. QAnon has been amplified on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, the video streaming service of Alphabet Inc’s Google.

Media investigations have shown that social media recommendation algorithms can drive people who show an interest in conspiracy theories towards more material.

A report by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD) found that the number of users engaging in discussion of QAnon on Twitter and Facebook have surged this year, with membership of QAnon groups on Facebook growing 120 percent in March.

Researchers say that Russian government-supported organizations are playing a small but increasing role amplifying the conspiracy theories.

QAnon backers helped to organize real-life protests against child trafficking in August and were involved in a pro-police demonstration in Portland, Oregon.

QAnon also looks poised to gain a toehold in the U.S. House of Representatives, with at least one Republican candidate who espouses its beliefs on track to win in the November elections.

WHAT ARE SOCIAL PLATFORMS DOING ABOUT IT?

Twitter in July said it would stop recommending QAnon content and accounts in a crackdown it expected would affect about 150,000 accounts. It also said it would block QAnon URLs and permanently suspend QAnon accounts coordinating abuse or violating its rules.

Facebook in August removed nearly 800 QAnon groups for posts celebrating violence, showing intent to use weapons or attracting followers with patterns of violent behavior. It has also imposed restrictions on the remaining 1,950 public and private QAnon groups that it found. Facebook said it plans to ban ads that promote or reference QAnon, and it does not allow QAnon pages to run commerce shops.

A spokeswoman for the short-form video app TikTok said QAnon content “frequently contains disinformation and hate speech” and that it has blocked dozens of QAnon hashtags.

A Reddit spokeswoman told Reuters the site has removed QAnon communities that repeatedly violated its rules since 2018, when it took down forums such as r/greatawakening.

A YouTube spokeswoman said it has removed tens of thousands of Q-related videos and terminated hundreds of Q-related channels for violating its rules since updating its hate speech policy in June 2019.

YouTube also said it reduces its recommendations of certain QAnon videos that “could misinform users in harmful ways.” It does not have a specific ban on monetizing QAnon content. ISD researchers found that about 20 percent of all QAnon-related Facebook posts contained YouTube links.

Reviews of major e-commerce sites Amazon.com Inc and Etsy Inc <CHECK ETSY RIC> show sellers listing QAnon-branded items ranging from books to T-shirts and face masks.

Compiled by Elizabeth Culliford, Joseph Menn and Ted Hesson; Editing by Greg Mitchell and Grant McCool

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Pegatron plans to invest $1 billion in Vietnam plant: state media – TheChronicleHerald.ca

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HANOI (Reuters) – Taiwan’s Pegatron 4938.TW> is seeking to invest $1 billion in three phases in production facilities in areas such as computing, communication and consumer electronics in Vietnam, state-media reported on Tuesday.

Pegatron, which is a manufacturing partner of Apple , Microsoft and Sony 6758.T>, had received licenses to initially invest $19 million in the city of Haiphong, the Hanoitimes and Tuoi Tre newspapers reported, citing a report by the Ministry of Planning and Investment.

Pegatron was also seeking licences for a $481-million second phase and $500 million in 2026-2027, the papers said, adding these were expected to create 22,500 jobs and contribute around 100 billion dong ($4.31 million) to the state budget per year.

Reuters was unable to obtain a copy of the report and calls to the ministry were not answered.

Pegatron did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Under the plans, Pegatron would join Apple’s two other iPhone assemblers, Wistron Corp 3231.TW> and Foxconn 2317.TW>, in developing more capacity in Vietnam.

Apple has been producing its wireless earbuds AirPods Pro in Vietnam since May.

Su Chih-Yen, acting director of the Investment Commission of Taiwan’s Economics Ministry, told Reuters it had not yet approved such an investment, but declined to comment on whether they had received an application.

In a bid to skirt U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods, Taiwanese companies have been particularly active in either moving production back home or elsewhere in Asia.

Another Taiwanese company, Universal Global Technology, which produces smartphone and earbuds parts for Lenovo 0992.HK> and Sony, was also looking to set up a plant in Vietnam, Hanoitimes cited the report as saying.

ASE Technology Holding, parent company of Universal Global Technology, did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.

(Reporting by Phuong Nguyen; Additional reporting by Khanh Vu and Jeanny Kao in Taipei; Editing by Ed Davies)

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Group wants Parliament, courts to hold social media to same standard as publishers – Chilliwack Progress

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Friends of Canadian Broadcasting is calling on Parliament to restrain social media platforms from distributing harmful or hateful content by applying the same laws that publishers and broadcasters already face.

The lobby group’s executive director says courts should be penalizing social media platforms that knowingly spread harmful content.

Daniel Bernhard made the comments shortly after Friends of Canadian Broadcasting released a research paper that argues social media platforms aren’t passive or neutral when it comes to content distribution.

The report says platforms like Facebook and YouTube routinely exercise editorial control by promoting content that users have never asked to see or sometimes conceal content without consulting users.

The report says traditional publishers can be held partly liable under Canadian law for harmful content but the same standard hasn’t been applied to internet platforms.

Facebook didn’t immediately comment on the research paper or Bernhard’s remarks.

The report was released as members of Parliament return to Ottawa this week and the Trudeau government prepares to lay out its plans for the coming session.

Among other things, Bernhard said that social media tell regulators and advertisers that they have very detailed knowledge of what’s being posted on their platforms and exercise control over what is made available to the public.

“(Facebook CEO) Mark Zuckerberg has claimed under oath that Facebook takes down 99 per cent of terrorist content before a human user ever sees it (and) 89 per cent of hate speech supposedly comes down before a human ever sees it,” Bernhard said.

He said that means Facebook in particular, and social media in general, should have the same responsibility to abide by Canadian laws as conventional publishers and broadcasters.

“If a judge finds that the content is illegal and that a platform has amplified it, the platform should be held responsible. And not only that, but that the penalty should be commensurate to their revenue and size so it hurts accordingly,” Bernhard said.

David Paddon, The Canadian Press

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Group wants Parliament, courts to hold social media to same standard as publishers – Campbell River Mirror

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Friends of Canadian Broadcasting is calling on Parliament to restrain social media platforms from distributing harmful or hateful content by applying the same laws that publishers and broadcasters already face.

The lobby group’s executive director says courts should be penalizing social media platforms that knowingly spread harmful content.

Daniel Bernhard made the comments shortly after Friends of Canadian Broadcasting released a research paper that argues social media platforms aren’t passive or neutral when it comes to content distribution.

The report says platforms like Facebook and YouTube routinely exercise editorial control by promoting content that users have never asked to see or sometimes conceal content without consulting users.

The report says traditional publishers can be held partly liable under Canadian law for harmful content but the same standard hasn’t been applied to internet platforms.

Facebook didn’t immediately comment on the research paper or Bernhard’s remarks.

The report was released as members of Parliament return to Ottawa this week and the Trudeau government prepares to lay out its plans for the coming session.

Among other things, Bernhard said that social media tell regulators and advertisers that they have very detailed knowledge of what’s being posted on their platforms and exercise control over what is made available to the public.

“(Facebook CEO) Mark Zuckerberg has claimed under oath that Facebook takes down 99 per cent of terrorist content before a human user ever sees it (and) 89 per cent of hate speech supposedly comes down before a human ever sees it,” Bernhard said.

He said that means Facebook in particular, and social media in general, should have the same responsibility to abide by Canadian laws as conventional publishers and broadcasters.

“If a judge finds that the content is illegal and that a platform has amplified it, the platform should be held responsible. And not only that, but that the penalty should be commensurate to their revenue and size so it hurts accordingly,” Bernhard said.

David Paddon, The Canadian Press

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