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Rohingya refugees sue Facebook for $150 billion over Myanmar violence

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Rohingya refugees from Myanmar are suing Meta Platforms Inc, formerly known as Facebook, for $150 billion over allegations that the social media company did not take action against anti-Rohingya hate speech that contributed to violence.

A U.S. class-action complaint, filed in California on Monday by law firms Edelson PC and Fields PLLC, argues that the company’s failures to police content and its platform’s design contributed to real-world violence faced by the Rohingya community. In a coordinated action, British lawyers also submitted a letter of notice to Facebook’s London office.

Facebook did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment about the lawsuit. The company has said it was “too slow to prevent misinformation and hate” in Myanmar and has said it has since taken steps to crack down on platform abuses in the region, including banning the military from Facebook and Instagram after the Feb. 1 coup.

Facebook has said it is protected from liability over content posted by users by a U.S. internet law known as Section 230, which holds that online platforms are not liable for content posted by third parties. The complaint says it seeks to apply Burmese law to the claims if Section 230 is raised as a defense.

Although U.S. courts can apply foreign law to cases where the alleged harms and activity by companies took place in other countries, two legal experts interviewed by Reuters said they did not know of a successful precedent for foreign law being invoked in lawsuits against social media companies where Section 230 protections could apply.

Anupam Chander, a professor at Georgetown University Law Center, said that invoking Burmese law wasn’t “inappropriate.” But he predicted that “It’s unlikely to be successful,” saying that “It would be odd for Congress to have foreclosed actions under U.S. law but permitted them to proceed under foreign law.”

More than 730,000 Rohingya Muslims fled Myanmar’s Rakhine state in August 2017 after a military crackdown that refugees said included mass killings and rape. Rights groups documented killings of civilians and burning of villages.

Myanmar authorities say they were battling an insurgency and deny carrying out systematic atrocities.

In 2018, U.N. human rights investigators said the use of Facebook had played a key role in spreading hate speech that fueled the violence. A Reuters investigation that year, cited in the U.S. complaint, found more than 1,000 examples of posts, comments and images attacking the Rohingya and other Muslims on Facebook.

The International Criminal Court has opened a case into the accusations of crimes in the region. In September, a U.S. federal judge ordered Facebook to release records of accounts connected to anti-Rohingya violence in Myanmar that the social media giant had shut down.

The new class-action lawsuit references claims by Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen, who leaked a cache of internal documents this year, that the company does not police abusive content in countries where such speech is likely to cause the most harm.

The complaint also cites recent media reports, including a Reuters report last month, that Myanmar’s military was using fake social media accounts to engage in what is widely referred to in the military as “information combat.”

 

(Reporting by Elizabeth Culliford in New York and Poppy McPherson. Editing by Gerry Doyle)

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Apple grabs record China market share as Q4 sales surge-research

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Apple Inc achieved its highest-ever market share in China in the fourth quarter, when it was the top-selling vendor there for the first time in six years, research firm Counterpoint Research reported on Wednesday.

The milestone coincided with the release of the iPhone 13, and amid otherwise stagnant demand for handsets as chief rival Huawei Technologies Co Ltd’s [HWT.UL] market share declined.

Apple’s smartphone market share reached 23%, a record for the brand. Its unit sales volume grew 32% year-on-year in the quarter, while total smartphone sales in China fell 9%, according to Counterpoint.

Counterpoint analyst Mengmeng Zhang cited a lower starting price in China and the impact of U.S. sanctions against Huawei, Apple’s main competitor in the high-end segment, as factors.

Apple last ranked as China’s top-selling smartphone brand in late 2015, just after the company launched its iPhone 6, which attracted Chinese consumers with their large screens.

In 2021 as a whole, Apple ranked as China’s third best-selling smartphone brand with 16% of the market.

Vivo and Oppo, two Android handset brands under the privately-owned BBK Electronics, ranked first and second with 22% and 21% respectively.

Year on year, Apple’s unit sales rose 47% while Huawei’s tumbled 68%. Overall smartphone sales in China fell 2%, according to Counterpoint.

Lengthening upgrade cycles have presented an ongoing dilemma for Chinese smartphone brands looking to maintain growth at home, as consumers delay purchasing new devices.

A global chip and component shortage has meanwhile rattled the entire electronics industry, affecting pricing and margins for all hardware makers.

(Reporting by Josh Horwitz, Editing by Louise Heavens and John Stonestreet)

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Gold price remains down following 11.9% rise in U.S. new home sales – Kitco NEWS

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(Kitco News) – The gold market remains under pressure but is seeing little movement following stronger than expected U.S. new home sales numbers.

New home sales increased 11.9% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 811,000 units last month, the Commerce Department said on Thursday. The sales data came in much stronger than expected as consensus forecasts expected a sales rate of 759,000 homes.

The report also noted that sales are down 14% compared to December 2020.

The gold market is not seeing much reaction to the latest housing data. Spot gold futures last traded at $1,836.98 an ounce, down 0.60% on the day.

According to some market analysts, gold is seeing little reaction to the latest economic data as traders prepare for the Federal Reserve’s latest monetary policy decision, which comes out in the afternoon. The U.S. central bank is expected to lay the groundwork for a rate hike in March.

Economists are closely watching the U.S. housing market. This sector could start to cool as rising interest rates will push mortgages higher.

Looking at some of the components of the latest housing report, the median sales price of new houses sold in December 2021 was $377,700. Meanwhile, the average sales price was $457,300. 

Looking at inventory levels, the report said that the supply of new homes sale as of the end of December totaled 403,000 homes, representing a 6-months supply.

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TD Bank to add 2,000 technology roles in 2022, expanding workforce by 2%

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Toronto-Dominion Bank said on Wednesday it plans to hire more than 2,000 people to fill technology roles this year as it seeks to expand capabilities in engineering, automation, artificial engineering, cloud technology and cybersecurity.

The hiring plans would expand TD’s 89,658-strong workforce by about 2.2%, based on its fourth-quarter financial statement.

Canadian banks have poured capital into growing technological capabilities in recent years while shrinking headcounts, particularly as the COVID-19 pandemic turbocharged demand for online banking services.

But TD’s growth plans come at a time when other industries are also boosting their digital capabilities and demand for technology talent is already red-hot. Canada’s digital economy is likely to account for about 11% of all employment by 2025, triggering demand for an additional 250,000 jobs, the Information and Communications Technology Council said in an August report https://www.ictc-ctic.ca/ictc-labour-market-outlook-additional-demand-digital-talent-reach-250000-2025.

That puts an even bigger spotlight on the bank’s expenses after they rose 7% in fiscal 2021, driven in large part by variable employee compensation. The bank does not have a specific target for expense growth and will prioritize important projects that will drive growth, executives said on its fourth-quarter earnings call last month.

“Technology is now closer to our customers than ever before,” said Greg Keeley, senior executive vice president for platforms and technology at TD. “It is undeniably an incredibly competitive landscape as financial services compete with Big Tech and Fintech for top talent in the industry.”

 

(Reporting by Nichola Saminather; Editing by Will Dunham)

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