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Factbox: What is QAnon and how are social media sites handling it? – The Guardian

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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.

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 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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Nagorno-Karabakh: Information war and competing media narratives – Al Jazeera English

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REPORTER’S NOTEBOOK

While international media focuses on the fighting, it is a conflict largely seen and read through official tweets, Facebook posts and emails.

Tbilisi, Georgia – Nagorno-Karabakh is today uniquely isolated in more ways than one.

From Azerbaijan, it should easily be reachable from the capital, Baku. But there is no way through the armies stationed on the front lines, separated in some places by not more than a few hundred metres of no man’s land, encamped in a vast network of impenetrable trenches and surrounded by minefields.

When I last travelled there to cover an outbreak in hostilities in April 2016, an asphalt road from Armenia deteriorated the closer we approached the territory. It was a tense, bone-jarring ride.

Some of the roads have since been resurfaced thanks to a more youthful and less corruption-prone government in Yerevan, but that first sight of the “Black Garden” is no less alluring – a forested mountain range sloping down to meadows and plains baked yellow in the fierce heat of summer.

The region is geographically isolated, but so too are its people – isolated from the narrative.

There are fewer than 150,000 people living in Karabakh (today almost exclusively ethnic Armenian).

There are tens of thousands of Azerbaijanis exposed in farmsteads and villages along Azerbaijan’s side of the so-called line of control. And in Armenia, there are thousands of villagers close to the border with Azerbaijan.

We are talking about the people not wearing military uniforms – all vulnerable to the heavy weaponry now being deployed.

They are the civilians referred to in a daily headcount of casualties, or those who have escaped with their lives but have seen their homes peppered by shrapnel, roofs blasted off, or walls reduced to masonry rubble.

They are those who have endured the threat of all-out war for decades, living through sporadic cross-border violence, mortars, missiles and sniper fire, making it often impossible to go out and farm their fields in safety.

And they are the hundreds of thousands of Azerbaijanis and Armenians suffering from the trauma of exile. As many as a million people are refugees or internally displaced people from the inter-ethnic conflict over Karabakh in the 1990s and the ghastly pogroms in the Azerbaijani SSR as the Soviet Union was collapsing.

Reaching Karabakh and the people who live in and around it was never easy. The pandemic has deterred newsrooms from dispatching journalists to travel.

Now their human stories risk being drowned out by officialese. A sterile terminology thrives, the language of security bloc acronyms and geopolitics, spouted by presidents and ministers, spokespeople, and us, the reporters too.

The international media focuses its attention once again on the fighting, but it is a conflict for now largely seen and read through official tweets, Facebook posts and emails.

We watch through cameras mounted on military drones and hilltop high magnification lenses. The videos depict tanks, anti-aircraft defences and personnel carriers disappearing in puffs of smoke.

Young recruits barely out of school are human beings too, but pixelated or hidden inside this war machinery.

Monopolised messaging

Some claims are a distraction. Azerbaijan says foreign fighters are assisting Armenian forces. Armenian officials claim Syrian mercenaries are already imposing Islamic law in Azerbaijani villages.

At the time of writing, fewer than 48 hours since the latest fighting began, none of it – yet – is independently verifiable.

Official sources have monopolised the messaging. And internet restrictions in Azerbaijan have stifled conversations between its citizens on social media.

Much of the official messaging seems vainglorious – Azerbaijan’s defence minister describes the liberation of occupied lands as a “sacred duty”.

An Armenian tweet shows a pious priest brandishing a Kalashnikov.

Controlling the narrative and the media obscures the human suffering. The pandemic, the geography and the information war make it all the more difficult to penetrate the isolation of Nagorno-Karabakh.

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Engine Media Provides Update on Acquisition of Allinsports – Canada NewsWire

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TORONTO, Sept. 28, 2020 /CNW/ — Engine Media Holdings, Inc. (“Engine” or the “Company”; TSX-V: GAME; OTCQB: MLLLF) announces that it continues to work towards closing of the previously announced acquisition of Allinsports (see press releases of April 22, 2020 and August 10, 2020). The Company has advised the shareholders of Allinsports that all closing conditions of the transaction have not been satisfied – the shareholders of Allinsports have advised the Company that they believe otherwise.  The parties continue to discuss resolution of these matters.  Further updates will be provided as they become available.

About Engine Media Holdings, Inc.
Engine Media is focused on accelerating new, live, immersive esports and interactive gaming experiences for consumers through its partnerships with traditional and emerging media companies. The company was formed through the combination of Torque Esports Corp., Frankly Inc., and WinView, Inc. and trades publicly under the ticker symbol (TSX-V: GAME) (OTCQB: MLLLF).  Engine Media will generate revenue through a combination of: direct-to-consumer and subscription fees; streaming technology and data SaaS-based offerings; programmatic advertising and sponsorships; as well as intellectual property licensing fees.  To date, the combined companies have clients comprised of more than 1,200 television, print and radio brands including CNN, ESPN, Discovery / Eurosport, Fox, Vice, Newsweek and Cumulus; dozens of gaming and technology companies including EA, Activision, Blizzard, Take2Interactive, Microsoft, Google, Twitch and Ubisoft; and have connectivity into hundreds of millions of homes around the world through their content, distribution and technology.

Cautionary Statement on Forward-Looking Information

This news release contains forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors which may cause the actual results, performance or achievements of Engine to be materially different from any future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements. Often, but not always, forward-looking statements can be identified by the use of words such as “plans”, “expects” or “does not expect”, “is expected”, “estimates”, “intends”, “anticipates” or “does not anticipate”, or “believes”, or variations of such words and phrases or state that certain actions, events or results “may”, “could”, “would”, “might” or “will” be taken, occur or be achieved.  Forward-looking information contained in this news release include, but are not limited to, statements relating to closing of the acquisition of Allinsports and the satisfaction of all closing conditions thereto. In respect of the forward-looking information contained herein, Engine has provided such statements and information in reliance on certain assumptions that management believed to be reasonable at the time, including assumptions as to obtaining required regulatory approvals. Forward-looking information involves known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors which may cause the actual results, performance or achievements stated herein to be materially different from any future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by the forward-looking information. Actual results could differ materially from those currently anticipated due to a number of factors and risks.  Accordingly, readers should not place undue reliance on forward-looking information contained in this news release.

The forward-looking statements contained in this news release are made as of the date of this release and, accordingly, are subject to change after such date. Engine does not assume any obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether written or oral, that may be made from time to time by us or on our behalf, except as required by applicable law.

Neither the TSX Venture Exchange nor its Regulation Services Provider (as that term is defined in policies of the TSX Venture Exchange) accepts responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this release.

SOURCE Engine Media Holdings, Inc.

For further information: Paul Ryan, [email protected] 678-644-0404, Lou Schwartz, Co-CEO [email protected], https://www.engine.media

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Public urged to call police first, not use social media, to report suspicious incidents in Mount Pleasant – Vancouver Sun

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Vancouver police are urging the public to call investigators first — instead of posting on social media — with reports of suspicious activity in Mount Pleasant.

The reminder comes as police investigate suspicious events in Mount Pleasant that were reported in social media posts. The posts allege a man in a silver sedan has been approaching or following women in the Mount Pleasant area, asking to borrow phones or inviting them to approach the vehicle. Other posts allege similar incidents are also taking place in Kitsilano and Burnaby.

The flurry of informal reports has prompted the creation of a neighbourhood safe walk and plenty of action on group chats and social channels, although police say they have no evidence to link any of the reported incidents.

“We want them to call police right away,” Const. Tania Visintin said to anyone who has had a similar experience in recent weeks. “Don’t go to the internet and write it on Twitter, don’t tell your barista or server. Call us so we can investigate.”

“We just want the first thing not to be people going to social media, we want you to call us so we can track these incidents and we can see if they’re all linked.”

Visintin said Monday that a handful of suspicious circumstances had been reported directly to police in the Mount Pleasant area in recent weeks and that investigators are taking them seriously. And while there is an understandable desire for residents to warn others in the community, Visintin notes that unconfirmed social media posts can create a lot of fear.

“If we truly believe that we need to warn the public, we 100 per cent will and that will come from our mouth right away,” she said, noting there is nothing wrong with warning others, but that it’s important to contact police first with information that can help an investigation.

“If anything, we should all get out of this is awareness. We need to remind everyone — men, women and children — to be alert, be aware of your surroundings, know where you are, have your phone on you charged in any kind of situation so this is a good reminder of that.”

Visintin also noted that many of the posts about the recent circumstances are written by individuals on behalf of a friend or are secondary sources, which poses a challenge for investigators who need to speak directly with victims.

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