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Turkish parliament ratifies security deal with Libya: State media – Al Jazeera English

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Turkey’s parliament on Saturday approved a security and military cooperation deal signed with Libya’s internationally-recognised government last month, state media reported, an agreement that could pave the way for military help from Ankara.

Turkey has been backing the Libyan government led by Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj as it fights off a months-long offensive by renegade commander Khalifa Haftar‘s forces based in the east of Libya.

Ankara has already sent military supplies to Libya, according to a report by United Nations‘ experts, as reported by the Reuters news agency earlier this month.

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The two sides signed the deal in November to boost military cooperation, along with a separate accord on maritime boundaries in the eastern Mediterranean that has enraged Greece.

There is an arms embargo on Libya imposed by the UN.

On Saturday, the state-run Anadolu news agency said Turkey’s parliament voted 269-125 in favour of the security accord after Serraj’s Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) ratified it on Thursday.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said Turkey could deploy troops to Libya in support of the GNA but no request has yet been made. He said on Friday that Turkey could not remain silent over Russian-backed mercenaries backing Haftar’s forces. 

Russia, meanwhile, said it was very concerned about the possibility of Turkey deploying troops in Libya and that the security deal raised many questions for Moscow. 

Erdogan will discuss Ankara’s potential troop deployment to Libya with Russian President Vladimir Putin during talks in Turkey next month, the Kremlin said on Tuesday. 

Speaking on Saturday, Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay said the accords with Libya were historic for Turkey, adding that Ankara was ready to evaluate possible troop deployment.

Deal approved by Tripoli government

The GNA said in a statement on Thursday that its cabinet had “unanimously approved the implementation of the memorandum of understanding on security and military cooperation between the GNA and the Turkish government signed on November 27”.

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Libya splintered into a patchwork of competing power bases following the NATO-backed overthrow of former leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

The country has been split into rival eastern and western administrations since 2014, with the GNA currently controlling Tripoli, situated in northwestern Libya, and a parallel administration holding the east of the oil-rich country, supported by Haftar’s self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA).

Haftar’s forces in April launched a campaign to wrest control of the capital, but have been unable to break through the GNA’s defences.

Last week, Haftar said that a “decisive battle” to capture the city would commence imminently.

SOURCE:
Al Jazeera and news agencies

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Facebook’s safety head tells UK lawmakers it does not amplify hate

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Facebook Inc‘s https://www.reuters.com/technology/facebooks-zuckerberg-kicks-off-its-virtual-reality-event-with-metaverse-vision-2021-10-28 algorithms demote rather than promote polarising content, its global head of safety told British lawmakers on Thursday, adding that the U.S. company would welcome effective government regulation.

Governments in Europe and the United States are grappling with regulating social media platforms to reduce the spread of harmful content, particularly for young users.

Britain is leading the charge by bringing forward laws that could fine social media companies up to 10% of their turnover if they fail to remove or limit the spread of illegal content.

Secondary legislation that would make company directors liable could be proposed if the measures do not work.

Facebook https://www.reuters.com/technology/facebook-asks-employees-preserve-internal-documents-legal-inquiries-2021-10-27 whistleblower Frances Haugen https://www.reuters.com/technology/facebook-sees-safety-cost-whistleblower-says-2021-10-25 told the same committee of lawmakers on Monday that Facebook’s algorithms pushed extreme and divisive content to users.

Facebook’s Antigone Davis denied the charge.

“I don’t agree that we are amplifying hate,” Davis told the committee on Thursday, adding: “I think we try to take in signals to ensure that we demote content that is divisive for example, or polarising.”

She said she could not guarantee a user would not be recommended hateful content, but Facebook was using AI to reduce its prevalence to 0.05%.

“We have zero interest in amplifying hate on our platform and creating a bad experience for people, they won’t come back,” she said. “Our advertisers won’t let it happen either.”

Davis said Facebook, which announced on Thursday it would rebrand as Meta, wanted regulators to contribute to making social media platforms safer, for example in research into eating disorders or body image.

“Many of these are societal issues and we would like a regulator to play a role,” she said, adding Facebook would welcome a regulator with “proportionate and effective enforcement powers”.

“I think criminal liability for directors is a pretty serious step and I’m not sure we need it to take action.”

 

(Reporting by Paul Sandle; Editing by Alexander Smith)

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Facebook to be called Meta in nod to its ‘metaverse’ vision

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Facebook Inc is now called Meta, the company said on Thursday, in a rebrand that focuses on its ambitions building the “metaverse,” a shared virtual environment that it bets will be the next big computing platform.

The rebrand comes as the world’s largest social media company battles criticisms from lawmakers and regulators over its market power, algorithmic decisions and the policing of abuses on its platforms.

CEO Mark Zuckerberg, speaking at the company’s live-streamed virtual and augmented reality conference, said the new name reflected its ambitions to build the metaverse, rather than its namesake social media service.

The metaverse, a term first coined in a dystopian novel three decades ago and now attracting buzz in Silicon Valley, refers broadly to the idea of a shared virtual environment which can be accessed by people using different devices.

“Right now, our brand is so tightly linked to one product that it can’t possibly represent everything that we’re doing today, let alone in the future,” said Zuckerberg.

The company, which has invested heavily in augmented and virtual reality, said the change would bring together its different apps and technologies under one new brand. It said it would not change its corporate structure.

The tech giant, which reports about 2.9 billion monthly users, has faced increasing scrutiny in recent years from global lawmakers and regulators.

In the latest controversy, whistleblower and former Facebook employee Frances Haugen https://www.reuters.com/technology/facebook-sees-safety-cost-whistleblower-says-2021-10-25 leaked documents which she said showed the company chose profit over user safety. Zuckerberg earlier this week said the documents were being used to paint a “false picture.”

The company said in a blog post that it intends to start trading under the new stock ticker it has reserved, MVRS, on Dec. 1. On Thursday, it unveiled a new sign at its headquarters in Menlo Park, California, replacing its thumbs-up “Like” logo with a blue infinity shape.

Facebook said this week that its hardware division Facebook Reality Labs, which is responsible for AR and VR efforts, would become a separate reporting unit and that its investment in it would reduce this year’s total operating profit by about $10 billion. The unit will now be called Reality Labs, its head Andrew “Boz” Bosworth tweeted on Thursday.

Zuckerberg said the new name also reflects that over time, users will not need to use Facebook to use the company’s other services.

This year, the company created a product team focused on the metaverse and it recently announced plans to hire 10,000 employees in Europe over the next five years to work on the effort.

Facebook shares were up 3.7% at $323.81 on Thursday afternoon.

(Reporting by Elizabeth Culliford in New York and Sheila Dang in DallasEditing by Ken Li and Matthew Lewis)

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Facebook’s Zuckerberg lays out ‘metaverse’ vision at developers event

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Facebook Inc CEO Mark Zuckerberg said privacy and safety would need to be built into the metaverse, as he opened the company’s annual conference on virtual and augmented reality on Thursday.

Facebook continues to battle criticism over its market power, its content moderation practices and harms linked to its social media platforms. The tech giant, which reports about 2.9 billion monthly users, has faced increasing scrutiny in recent years from global lawmakers and regulators.

In the latest controversy, whistleblower and former Facebook employee Frances Haugen https://www.reuters.com/technology/facebook-sees-safety-cost-whistleblower-says-2021-10-25 leaked documents which she said showed the company chose profit over user safety. Zuckerberg earlier this week said the documents were being used to paint a “false picture.”

The metaverse, a term first coined in a dystopian novel three decades ago and now attracting buzz in Silicon Valley, refers broadly to the idea of a shared virtual environment which can be accessed by people using different devices.

Zuckerberg has increasingly been promoting the idea of Facebook, which has invested heavily in augmented and virtual reality, as a “metaverse” company https://www.reuters.com/technology/facebook-sets-up-new-team-work-metaverse-2021-07-26 rather than a social media one.

The CEO, speaking during the live-streamed Facebook Connect event, gave examples of privacy and safety controls that would be needed in the metaverse, such as the ability to block someone from appearing in your space. Zuckerberg is betting that the metaverse will be the next big computing platform, calling it “the successor to the mobile internet.”

The whistleblower documents, which were first reported by the Wall Street Journal, show internal research and employee discussions on Instagram’s effects on the mental health of teens and whether Facebook stokes divisions, as well as its handling of activity around the Jan. 6 Capitol riot and inconsistencies in content moderation for users around the globe.

The company gave a slew of updates for its VR and AR products. It said it would this year launch a way for people using its Oculus VR headset to call friends using Facebook Messenger and for people to invite others to a social version of their home, dubbed “Horizon Home,” to talk and play games as avatars.

Facebook also said it would introduce a way for Oculus Quest users to use different 2D apps like Slack, Dropbox and Facebook while in this “Horizon Home” VR space.

The company, which began a beta test of its virtual meeting spaces “Horizon Workrooms” earlier this year, said it was working on ways of customizing these with company logos and designs and said it would be bringing more work capabilities into consumer Quest devices. It also announced new fitness offerings for Oculus Quest users.

Facebook said this week that its hardware division Facebook Reality Labs, which is responsible for AR and VR efforts, would become a separate reporting unit and that its investment in it would reduce this year’s total operating profit by about $10 billion.

This year, Facebook created a product team focused on the metaverse and it recently announced plans to hire 10,000 employees in Europe over the next five years to work on the effort.

Facebook also said it would run a $150 million education program aimed at helping AR and VR creators and developers.

(Reporting by Elizabeth Culliford in New York and Sheila Dang in DallasEditing by Matthew Lewis)

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