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QAnon merchandise still sold by major online retailers despite social media crackdown – CBC.ca

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E-commerce giants Amazon and eBay continue to offer thousands of products for sale that promote QAnon, even as social media companies crack down on the dangerous and baseless conspiracy theory.

A search for “QAnon” on Amazon’s Canadian retail site Tuesday returned more than 6,000 results, including T-shirts, hats and stickers. The same query on eBay.ca offered 15,367 items.

It’s unclear how many sales actually take place and how much profit the third-party sellers are making from them, but an expert worries their availability on prominent, mainstream websites is only helping to legitimize the cult-like conspiracy theory.

QAnon “is radicalizing people,” said Alison Meek, a history professor whose focus includes cults and conspiracy theories. 

“For companies like Amazon and eBay to be selling this stuff is just absolutely mind-boggling,” said Meek, who teaches at King’s University College, affiliated with Western University in London, Ont.

WATCH | QAnon begins to gain traction in 2018:

CBC News looks at its origins and how QAnon supporters could impact U.S. politics in the months ahead. 2:12

QAnon supporters say a number of high-profile, and generally liberal, figures are Satan-worshiping pedophiles who are running  the world and operating a child sex-trafficking ring which can only be stopped by U.S. President Donald Trump.

The FBI last year designated QAnon a “domestic terror threat” because of its potential to incite extremist violence, and people who openly support QAnon are accused of being behind some recent violent incidents both in the U.S. and Canada.

A man wearing a QAnon T-shirt is seen at a pro-police rally in New York City on August 9. (Stephanie Keith/Reuters)

QAnon-inspired content had been posted on an Instagram account associated with the Canadian Ranger accused of ramming his truck through the gates of Rideau Hall in July. A QAnon believer charged with the murder of a New York mob boss told investigators he did it because the target was part of the “deep state.” 

“I don’t think everybody quite realizes just how serious, how deadly and how linked to violence the QAnon conspiracy theory has become,” Meek said.

Twitter recently announced it would take steps to curb QAnon’s presence on the social media platform. Facebook later followed suit, removing hundreds of groups and pages in a bid to restrict QAnon adherents’ ability to organize online.

An online store removed from the Shopify platform this week had offered ‘QANON GIRL’ T-shirts with initials signifying the motto: ‘Where we go one, we go all.’ (Website screen capture)

Shopify takes down QAnon stores

This week, Ottawa-based e-commerce firm Shopify took down a series of online shops from its platform after CBC News inquired about the QAnon products they were selling.

The websites — including “QAnonMerch.net” and “TheBookofQAnon.com” — featured items with symbols related to the conspiracy theory: a white rabbit, the letter Q, and the motto “Where we go one, we go all.”

Another site sold “QAnon Girl” t-shirts meant for children “ages 2-6.”

“We consider products and content promoting QAnon to be a violation of our Acceptable Use Policy,” a Shopify spokesperson said in an email to CBC News. “When made aware of such products or stores, our team will investigate and take action when appropriate.”

The Shopify representative said teams “actively review” potential violations, “and stores that violate our policies will be immediately addressed.”

Amazon’s public relations team and eBay Canada’s communications manager did not reply to requests for comment.

QAnon allowed despite Amazon, eBay bans on offensive products

Both sites sell books that present QAnon fabrications as fact, including one for $9.99 which on Tuesday topped Amazon.ca’s list of “Social Science Reference E-books.” The publication warns in its first pages that a “deep state war” will soon break out.

Amazon and eBay both take fees from third-party vendors to list and sell products, but QAnon items may violate the sites’ policies.

Amazon’s “offensive products” policy bans items “that promote, incite or glorify hatred, violence, racial, sexual or religious intolerance or promote organizations with such views.” 

For instance, in 2015, Amazon, North America’s biggest online retailer, withdrew some Nazi paraphernalia for sale on the site, including flags and knives, after a report by CBC’s Go Public

Similarly, eBay says it doesn’t allow listings that “promote or glorify hatred, violence or discrimination.”

QAnon supporters falsely believe widespread arrests will soon come, targeting these “deep state” global elites who control the world. Since the arrests won’t actually materialize in the real world, observers like Meek worry about QAnon supporters taking up arms themselves.

What began as a fringe, online movement “could easily move into terrorism,” she said.

“If Amazon and eBay are normalizing this… that’s terrifying.”

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A new model leverages the power of the media to win hearts and minds for climate action – UN Environment

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Over $500 billion dollars a year is spent on paid media advertising, returning significant profit to the media industry involved in the buying and selling of advertising space. But there is ever-growing awareness of the gravity of the climate crisis, and advertisers, consumers and industry leaders increasingly want to be part of the solution.

“We are excited to see advertisers and the media industry throw their weight behind global efforts to reverse the climate crisis,” says Niklas Hagelberg, the UNEP’s Climate Change Coordinator. “The climate emergency urges us to find new ways to expand and accelerate the rising tide of public support for climate action, especially in an increasingly fragmented media and content landscape. By reaching a mainstream audience of 30 million people through this one-country pilot alone, we see huge potential in this partnership’s capacity to ensure UNEP’s message of the importance and opportunities of climate action reaches many more people worldwide. We’re very grateful to our partner Blue Life, and their implementing partners who have worked tirelessly to bring this to life.”

While there are now high levels of awareness of climate change, there remains confusion and misinformation about what actions are necessary and wide misapprehension that climate action will have a negative impact on peoples’ lives.

Paid advertising media space offers the thoughtful targeting necessary to efficiently reach mainstream audiences and address these misconceptions. However, paid media space is usually prohibitively expensive. To solve this, at the core of the partnership’s concept is the idea that as media space is bought and sold, instead of creating profits margins with each trade, could some of the space be retained for climate positive messages, and therefore transform UNEP’s ability to reach widespread mainstream audiences with climate positive messages.  

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Group wants Parliament, courts to hold social media to same standard as publishers – The Battlefords News-Optimist

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TORONTO — 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.

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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.

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.

Facebook has said internet platforms are recognized as intermediaries, not publishers, under the U.S.-Mexico-Canada free trade agreement.

But Zuckerberg has also said Facebook has a responsibility to keep people safe and suggested new regulations could provide a standardized approach.

“These are complex issues and we are always open to discussing these important topics with the government,” a Facebook statement said Monday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 21, 2020.

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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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