EU Beefs Up Fight Against Social Media Disinformation

A logo for the European Union

 

The EU is stepping up its fight against disinformation spread by accounts on Facebook, Google, Twitter and other social media with a bolstered code of practice presented Thursday.

The text — a reinforced revision of the code originally launched in 2018 — aims to push the platforms to more urgently and systematically crack down on false advertising, demonetise accounts spreading disinformation and boost fact-checking.

The code, obtained by AFP ahead of publication, remains voluntary.

But officials expect around 30 bodies to sign up, including some of the biggest social media companies, including Facebook parent Meta, Twitter, Microsoft and TikTok, along with big advertising corporations.

They all had input into the drafting of the updated code along with fact-checking outfits and media watchdogs such as Reporters Without Borders (RSF by its initials in French).

It was to be presented Thursday by the EU commissioner for transparency, Vera Jourova, and internal market commissioner Thierry Breton.

The new code of practice contains some 40 commitments, around double the number in the previous version, along with indicators to measure how well they are being met.

While the previous text relied on self-regulation, the new one holds the biggest platforms — those with at least 45 million users in the EU — to binding measures set out in the bloc’s Digital Services Act (DSA).

The DSA, in the process of being adopted, requires big online companies to reduce risks linked to disinformation or face fines that could go as high as six percent of the global turnover.

By signing up to the code, they can show they are taking “risk-mitigating” measures demanded by the DSA.

One of the main innovations in the code is to cut advertising platforms off from receiving revenue from ads placed on sites carrying disinformation.

“The platforms shouldn’t be getting even a single euro from spreading disinformation,” Breton said.

“From Brexit to the Russian war in Ukraine — over the past years well-known social networks have allowed disinformation and destabilisation strategies to spread without restraint, even making money out of it,” he said.

– Reinforced fact-checking –

Platforms that front ads such as Google parent Alphabet — whose YouTube platform monthly gets nearly a quarter of the planet’s population using it — pledge to block advertisements with conspirational content and to verify where they come from.

They also commit to actively counter ads containing disinformation.

The signatories to the code have to give users tools to identify and report false or misleading information, and they need to cooperate more closely with fact-checkers in all EU languages. The fact-checkers also get added support, notably by having access to aggregated, anonymised data.

Unlike illegal content, disinformation won’t be subject to immediate deletion because of the principle of freedom of expression.

Rather it would trigger prompts to users to turn to sources of reliable information, notably ones meeting norms fixed by the Journalism Trust Initiative, of which RSF and AFP are partners.

The platforms also commit to making political advertising more transparent, clearly identifying them as such and letting users know why they were targeted.

The signatories commit to cracking down on fake accounts and the amplification of disinformation via bots, as well as identity theft and malicious deepfake videos.

AFP

Instagram Beefs Up Child Protection Measures

A photo taken on March 14, 2022, shows the US social network Instagram logo on a smartphone screen in Moscow.  AFP

 

 

Social media giant Meta said on Tuesday it was rolling out a slew of measures to boost the safety of young users on its Instagram platform, the latest firm to address the issue.

Campaigners have long criticised tech giants for failing to protect teenagers from harmful content, and the popularity of Instagram with young people has placed it firmly in the firing line.

Meta, which also owns Facebook and WhatsApp, said parents and guardians would be able to set time limits on children’s scrolling on Instagram.

And young users would now see nudges encouraging them to look at other subjects if they are spending too much time looking at content about a single topic.

“It is crucial for us to develop tools that respect the privacy and autonomy of young people while involving parents in the experience,” said Clotilde Briend of Meta during a media briefing.

Instagram was rocked last year by revelations from whistleblower Frances Haugen that suggested executives were aware the platform could harm the mental health of young users, particularly teenage girls.

Meta has consistently denied the claims but has since faced a series of grillings in US Congress and suggestions that regulation could be on the way.

Other apps, including video-sharing platform TikTok, have also been criticised over fears young people were finding it hard to tear themselves away from the content.

Last week, TikTok announced young people would get nudges to remind them to take a break from scrolling — similar to an Instagram feature that has already been rolled out.

On Tuesday, Meta also announced new measures for its virtual reality headsets.

Parents and guardians will be able to block apps, view what their child is looking at on another device and see how long their child is spending with their headset on.

Families Of Overdose Victims Demand Action From Social Media Platforms

A young person holds a sign as people opposed to the sale of illegal drugs on Snapchat participate in a rally outside the company’s headquarters to call for tighter restrictions on the popular social media app following fatal overdoses of the powerful opioid fentanyl in Santa Monica, California, June 13, 2022. (Photo by RINGO CHIU / AFP)

 

 

Families of teens who died after overdosing on drugs they bought through Snapchat and other social media platforms called Monday for tech firms to do more to address the problem.

Sam Chapman, part of a group that staged a protest Monday in front of Snapchat’s Santa Monica headquarters, told AFP his son died in February 2021 after a pill he purchased through the platform was laced with the extremely powerful opioid fentanyl.

“I’m here today to warn people about the dangers of social media, delivering drugs and other criminal acts into the lives of our families, through our children,” said Chapman, 57.

His son Sammy would have celebrated his 18th birthday last weekend.

Chapman described the horrific scene of finding his son dead on the floor in his bedroom, in what he said was called the “fentanyl death pose.”

“He had stopped breathing and fell backwards in his chair and vomited, and he choked on his own vomit… It’s a very common way of going,” said Chapman.

Of the 107,000 overdose deaths recorded last year in the United States, 70 percent were caused by “fentanyl poisoning,” which is now the leading cause of death for Americans aged 18 to 45, according to the groups backing Monday’s protest.

Chapman said a drug dealer had contacted his son on Snapchat, and sent him a “colorful drug menu with pictures.”

“At the bottom it said that he delivered. And so he connected with our son and delivered the drugs to our home after we were asleep, like it was a pizza,” he added.

Like the other victims’ family members, Chapman is calling on Snapchat and other social media platforms geared toward young people to take stronger action against drug sales.

“We have been working tirelessly to help combat this national crisis by eradicating illicit drug dealers from our platform,” a Snapchat spokesperson told AFP.

“We use advanced technology to proactively detect and shut down drug dealers who try to abuse our platform, and block search results for dangerous drug-related content,” the representative added.

But Chapman said the tools currently in place do not work because dealers use emojis and code words that aren’t blocked.

The group Victims of Illicit Drugs (VOID) is demanding US law to be updated so that social networks are held liable for what happens to their users on their platforms.

“If you’re walking in a grocery store, you slip and fall, you can sue them,” said VOID president Jaime Puerta.

“The law was written in 1996,” he added.

“The legislators had no idea of where the internet would be today.”

Old Tricks, New Crises: How Misinformation Spreads

This file photo taken on October 5, 2020, shows logos of US social networks Facebook, Instagram and mobile messaging service WhatsApp on the screens of a smartphone and a tablet in Toulouse, southwestern France. Lionel BONAVENTURE / AFP
This file photo taken on October 5, 2020, shows logos of US social networks Facebook, Instagram and mobile messaging service WhatsApp on the screens of a smartphone and a tablet in Toulouse, southwestern France. Lionel BONAVENTURE / AFP

 

 

With gun control under debate and monkeypox in the headlines, Americans are facing a barrage of new twists on years-old misinformation in their social media feeds.

Accurate news stories about mass shootings have attracted eyeballs but algorithms have also spurred baseless conspiracy theories from trolls who want to push lies to attract traffic. And thousands have unwittingly shared them on Facebook, Twitter and other sites.

The May 24 attack at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas was a “false flag” operation aimed at pushing restrictive gun laws, according to Telegram posts from supporters of QAnon.

Carl Paladino, a New York congressional candidate, was among those who shared a similar theory on Facebook, later deleting it.

Others misidentified a shooting victim as “Bernie Gores” — a made-up name paired with an image of a YouTuber who has been wrongly linked to other major news events, including the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Experts say such misinformation is part of a pattern in which unscrupulous operators intentionally repurpose old narratives.

“A lot of this stuff is put together almost in this factory production style,” said Mike Caulfield, a misinformation researcher at the University of Washington’s Center for an Informed Public.

“You have a shooting event, you have these various tropes you can apply.”

Groundless claims of a “false flag” operation, which refers to political or military action that is carried out with the intention of blaming an opponent, can be traced back to the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

After 20 children and six staff members were killed, InfoWars founder Alex Jones falsely claimed the Newtown casualties were “crisis actors” — people who are paid or volunteer to play disaster victims.

In November 2021, a Connecticut judge found Jones liable for damages in a defamation suit brought by parents of the victims.

But regardless, allegations of staged mass shootings have routinely spread from fringe online networks such as 4chan to mainstream platforms — including the social media feeds of politicians such as Republican congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene and, more recently, Arizona state senator Wendy Rogers.

Hoax posts misidentifying gunmen or victims as internet personalities have also become common.

In the race to capture online attention following breaking news, recycled narratives can be produced quickly and are easier for audiences to digest, Caulfield said. Content producers “make guesses” about what may go viral based on past popular tropes, which can help monetize that attention.

“When you spread this stuff, you want to be seen as in the know,” he said, even though the information is demonstrably false or misleading.

– Copying the Covid-19 playbook –
Similarly, false claims about the recent spread of monkeypox — a rare disease related to smallpox — borrow from Covid-19 misinformation.

Since the outbreak, social media posts have claimed without evidence that the virus is a bioweapon, that the outbreak was planned, and that Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates is behind it. Others have falsely equated monkeypox to other viruses, including shingles.

Those claims resemble debunked conspiracy theories from the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Memetica, a firm that conducts digital investigations, has researched some of the top Covid-19 misinformation recycled for monkeypox. One widespread theory points to a 2021 threat preparation exercise conducted by the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) as purported evidence that the outbreak was planned.

That conspiracy theory is nearly identical to claims about Event 201, a pandemic simulation held in October 2019, that circulated online in early 2020.

“What was surprising to me was how similar (Covid-19 misinformation) is now to monkeypox,” Adi Cohen, chief operating officer at Memetica, told AFP.

“It’s the same exact story — oh, this is all planned, it’s a ‘plandemic,’ here’s the proof.”

Some monkeypox theories have been shared by conservative figures including Glenn Beck and anti-vaccine advocate Robert F. Kennedy Jr, according to Memetica’s research. Both have previously promoted misinformation about Covid-19.

Cohen said such tactics may be an effective way to get engagement on social media, regardless of the falsity of the information being shared.

“It’s the replication of what seems to work in the past,” he said. “Why work hard when you don’t have to?”

Social Media Threatening Press Freedom: Nobel Laureate

A photo taken on October 21, 2020 shows the logo of online social media and social networking service, Facebook and Twitter on a computer screen in Lille.

 

 

The rise of social media has allowed dangerous propaganda to flourish and left professional journalists facing constant threat of attack, according to Philippine journalist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Maria Ressa.

The situation for media workers around the world at the moment is “bleak”, Ressa told AFP in an interview, saying much of the blame lies with the dramatic shift in the way information is distributed.

Speaking on the sidelines of an event in Geneva on Tuesday to mark World Press Freedom Day, the 58-year-old co-founder of the news website Rappler highlighted how social media had made it far easier to spread propaganda, reject facts and change historical realities.

She pointed to the Philippines, which appears set next week to hand the presidency to Ferdinand Marcos Jr, whose dictator father and namesake presided over massive plunder and human rights abuses in the country.

“He looks set to win, and the only way that is possible is because history shifted in front of our eyes,” Ressa said.

Marcos Jr’s links to his father have made him one of the nation’s most polarising politicians.

But he has benefitted from a deluge of fake and misleading posts on social media platforms targeting a largely young electorate with no memory of the corruption, killings and other abuses committed during the elder Marcos’s 20-year rule.

– Separate realities –
Ressa pointed at how Marcos Jr has refused to participate in debates and to answer questions from traditional journalists, seeming to follow the playbook of populist politicians like Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.

“This is the problem with social media: It has allowed propaganda to flourish and literally has allowed public figures like Marcos, like Bolsonaro to ignore (media) checks and balances… and to create their own realities,” Ressa said.

“That’s not a good thing.”

In the face of such challenges, “the mission of journalism is more important today than ever,” Ressa said.

She says social media first enabled split global narratives around Russia’s annexation of Crimea back in 2014.

That dangerous fragmenting of media narratives has obviously worsened dramatically since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, bringing with it fears of looming nuclear attacks and World War III.

In such an environment, access to reliable facts is vital, Ressa said.

“I think this is one of those moments where everything that (journalists) do will matter, because that’s… how close we are to the edge.”

– ‘No guardrails’ –
The dramatic technological shift in the industry has meanwhile left journalists far more vulnerable to attacks and threats.

“There are no guardrails,” Ressa said, pointing to the largely lawless world of social media, often based on algorithms that promote the outrage and hateful debate that drive traffic, and where “troll armies” can easily be unleashed on critics.

“Every time you do a difficult story to try to hold power to account, you have to be ready to get personally attacked.”

Ressa, who shared the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize with Russian journalist Dmitri Muratov, has seen her share of threats, attacks and intimidation.

The vocal critic of Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte and his deadly drug wars faces multiple criminal lawsuits, which she says could see her sent to prison for 100 years.

Ressa sees the Nobel win as “vindication”, voicing “relief” that the Nobel Committee had recognised how difficult journalists’ jobs have become and that “risks have increased.”

The win did not, however, lessen her legal woes, she said, adding that the legal complaints against her and Rappler had in fact “accelerated”.

Ressa said it was unfair that the journalists were being “asked to sacrifice so much”, urging governments and the global community to step up and regulate the technologies that have transformed our information society.

“Guardrails have to be put in place so we can do our jobs.”

Until then, journalists “have no choice” but to continue holding the line as best they can in defence of democracy, Ressa said.

“We’re just putting our finger in the dam and hoping that the rest of society kicks in.”

Twitter Reexamining Musk’s Takeover Offer  – Report

In this file photo taken on March 14, 2019 Tesla CEO Elon Musk reacts during the unveiling of the new Tesla Model Y in Hawthorne, California. Frederic J. BROWN / AFP
In this file photo taken on March 14, 2019 Tesla CEO Elon Musk reacts during the unveiling of the new Tesla Model Y in Hawthorne, California. Frederic J. BROWN / AFP

 

Twitter is reconsidering Elon Musk’s buyout proposal, with discussions between the two camps ongoing Sunday, The Wall Street Journal reported, after the billionaire said Thursday he had secured the necessary funding.

“Twitter is taking a fresh look at the offer and is more likely than before to seek to negotiate,” the business daily reported, citing sources familiar with the matter.

Tesla CEO Musk said Thursday he had secured close to $46.5 billion to finance the transaction, but also that he planned to appeal directly the company’s shareholders as he looks to take over the social media platform.

The Twitter board of directors had been opposed to the proposal, lining up a “poison pill” clause that would make it harder for Musk to acquire more than 15 percent of the company via the market. He currently owns 9.2 percent of shares.

“The potential turnabout on Twitter’s part comes after Mr. Musk met privately Friday with several shareholders of the company,” the Journal reported.

READ ALSO: Russia Slaps Travel Ban On Kamala Harris, Zuckerberg

Musk “pledged to solve the free-speech issues he sees as plaguing the platform and the country more broadly, whether his bid succeeds or not,” the sources added, according to the Journal.

Musk has previously cited concerns over freedom of speech as motivation for buying the platform, though free-speech experts have pointed to Musk’s unpredictable statements and history of bullying critics as contradictory to his stated aims.

He “made his pitch to select shareholders in a series of video calls, with a focus on actively managed funds… in hopes that they could sway the company’s decision,” the sources told the Journal.

The polarizing billionaire said last week he was considering bypassing Twitter’s board of directors in his takeover bid by purchasing shares directly from existing shareholders, “but has not determined whether to do so at this time,” according to a securities filing released Thursday.

The Journal said Twitter could make an announcement on the matter by Thursday or even before, according to these sources.

Musk has apparently recently told Twitter chairman Bret Taylor his original April 14 offer of $54.20 per share has not changed, the daily added.

Twitter had previously invited Musk to join its board of directors, but the SpaceX head declined.

AFP

Trump’s New Social Media App Begins Slow Rollout

(FILES) In this file photo taken on June 30, 2021 Former President Donald Trump speaks during a visit to the border wall outside Pharr, Texas.  Sergio FLORES / AFP

 

Donald Trump’s new social media app started a gradual rollout late Sunday and should be “fully operational” by late March, potentially raising the former president’s profile more than a year after he was banned by major platforms.

“This week, we will begin to roll out to people on the Apple App store,” said Devin Nunes, CEO of the Trump Media & Technology Group (TMTG), parent company of the new app Truth Social.

The former Republican congressman was speaking Sunday on conservative Fox News.

“I think, by the end of March, we’re going to be fully operational — at least within the United States,” added Nunes, who resigned from the US House to lead the Trump group.

Trump has described Truth Social as an alternative to Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, all of which banned him following the assault on the US Capitol by his supporters on January 6, 2021.

The former president has been accused of inciting his followers to use force in a bid to overturn the result of the 2020 election.

On Sunday, the App Store was allowing visitors to pre-order Truth Social starting Monday, the Presidents Day holiday in the United States.

Later Sunday, the app was reported as available to some of those who had pre-ordered.

“It’s actually very moving for me to see people that are on the platform that have had their voice canceled,” Nunes said.

 ‘The Truth Is Coming’ 

In this file photo former US President Donald Trump speaks during a briefing at the White House September 27, 2020, in Washington, DC. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP)

 

“We want (customers) to tell us what they would like to have on the platform, which is the opposite of some Silicon Valley tech oligarch freak telling people what they want to think and deciding who can or cannot be on the platform,” he said.

Trump and his wife Melania Trump also plan on Monday to offer for sale 10,000 NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, illustrating key moments in the Trump presidency. NFTs are certified digital images that can be bought and sold.

“TRUTH is coming…” congresswoman Elise Stefanik, the third-ranking House Republican, tweeted Friday, in an allusion to the ominous “Winter is coming” catchphrase of television series “Game of Thrones.”

She posted a screen grab of her message on Truth Beta, the test version of the new site, saying, “I’m so excited to be on TRUTH!”

And Donald Trump Jr. celebrated on Twitter, posting, “Time for some Truth!!!” and including what he said was his father’s first post on Truth Social: “Get Ready! Your favorite President will see you soon!”

TMTG, asked for comment by AFP, did not immediately respond.

The group reportedly has a $1.25 billion treasure chest as it seeks a niche in a crowded conservative social-media marketplace, currently served by platforms such as Gettr, Parler and Gab.

Before being banned by Twitter, Trump had some 89 million followers there and used the platform constantly, both for presidential statements and to attack rivals.

Trump, who is 75, has hinted but never definitively said whether he will seek the presidency again.

He is currently under the shadow of multiple investigations and lawsuits, including over his tax filings and his efforts to cling to power after losing the 2020 election.

AFP

Afghan Professor Arrested For Criticising Taliban On Social Media

Taliban fighters stand guard at a checkpoint on a street in Kabul on December 17, 2021. Mohd RASFAN / AFP

 

A prominent Afghan university professor who openly criticised the Taliban’s hardline regime has been arrested in Kabul, a spokesman for the government said.

Professor Faizullah Jalal has made several appearances on television talk shows since the previous US-backed government was ousted in August, blaming the Taliban for the worsening financial crisis and criticising them for ruling by force.

Since returning to power, the Taliban have cracked down on dissent, forcefully dispersing women’s rights protests and briefly detaining several Afghan journalists.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid tweeted that Jalal had been detained Saturday over statements he made on social media in which he was “trying to instigate people against the system and was playing with the dignity of the people”.

“He has been arrested so that others don’t make similar senseless comments in the name of being a professor or scholar that harm the dignity of others,” he added.

Mujahid shared screenshots of tweets he claimed had been posted by Jalal, which said the Taliban intelligence chief was a stooge of Pakistan, and that the new government considers Afghans as “donkeys”.

READ ALSO[Nowhere To Hide] Abused Afghan Women Find Shelter Dwindling

In one television appearance, Jalal called Taliban spokesman Mohammad Naeem — who was also participating — a “calf”, a grave insult in Afghanistan.

Clips of his passionate criticism went viral on social media, sparking concern he risked Taliban retribution.

Jalal’s wife Massouda, who once stood as Afghanistan’s first woman candidate for the presidency, posted on Facebook that her husband had been arrested by Taliban forces and detained in an unknown location.

“Dr. Jalal has fought and spoken out for justice and the national interest in all his activities pertaining to human rights,” she said.

A long-time professor of law and political science at Kabul University, Jalal has long had a reputation as a critic of Afghanistan’s leaders.

On Twitter, rights group Amnesty International condemned the arrest of the lecturer “for exercising his freedom of expression and criticising the Taliban”, calling for his immediate and unconditional release.

The Taliban have formed an all-male cabinet made up entirely of members of the group, and almost exclusively of ethnic Pashtuns.

They have further restricted women’s rights to work and study, triggering widespread international condemnation.

AFP

China ‘Livestream Queen’ Accounts Disappear After Record Fine


This photo taken on April 20, 2021 shows e-commerce livesreamer Huang Wei, also known as Viya, speaking during the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) in Boao, in south China’s Hainan province. STR / CNS / AFP

 

The social media accounts of an influencer known as China’s ‘livestreaming queen’ disappeared on Tuesday, after she was ordered to pay a record $200 million fine for tax evasion.

Huang Wei, known by her username Viya, is one of China’s most prominent livestreamers in an e-commerce sector that has accelerated its rapid growth despite the coronavirus pandemic that took hold last year.

Boasting over 110 million followers on social media Viya reportedly sold products worth a total of 8.5 billion yuan ($1.3 billion) in just one evening during China’s recent Singles’ Day shopping festival.

READ ALSO: US To Return $154m Stolen And Converted To Bitcoin

But her star has fallen fast since authorities on Monday announced the 1.3 billion-yuan penalty — the biggest of its kind in Beijing’s sweeping crackdown on celebrities.

Viya’s accounts vanished from major online platforms on Tuesday, with her livestreaming page on the Alibaba-owned Taobao shopping site rendered inaccessible.

Searches for her account on the Twitter-like Weibo and Douyin — China’s version of TikTok — also returned no results.

Chinese censors closely monitor content on the country’s tightly controlled internet and frequently order the removal of accounts belonging to people who fall out of the ruling Communist Party’s good graces.

Beijing has launched a broad crackdown on tax evasion and perceived immoral behaviour in the entertainment industry that has targeted online influencers and celebrity fan groups.

The tightening has coincided with the launch of President Xi Jinping’s “common prosperity” drive to reduce economic inequality, partly by reining in excessive incomes in the entertainment and technology sectors.

Tax authorities in the eastern province of Zhejiang said Monday that Viya “evaded 643 million yuan of taxes” between 2019 and 2020 by “concealing personal income and [making] false declarations of income.”

She had already been fined 530,000 yuan in June for breaching advertising laws after some fans accused her of peddling counterfeit products.

Authorities also fined two other livestreamers $14 million last month.

Before her account was taken down, Viya apologised on Weibo for breaking tax laws and said she fully accepted the punishment.

“I am very remorseful and apologise to the public,” she wrote.

A series of scandals have taken down some of China’s biggest entertainers this year as part of the crackdown.

Chinese actress Zheng Shuang was hit with a $46 million fine for tax evasion.

At the time, the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television said it had “zero tolerance” for tax evasion and entertainers’ “sky-high pay”.

AFP

NNPC Denies Claims Of Recruitment Exercise

NNPC logo.

 

Unsuspecting job seekers in the country have been warned about a fraudulent job portal circulating on social media platforms, with claims that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) is conducting a recruitment exercise.

In a statement on Saturday, the spokesman of the NNPC, Garba Muhammad refuted reports claiming that the corporation is recruiting new employees.

He explained that the NNPC usually announces such information whenever it decides to conduct a recruitment exercise through authentic and credible public communication channels including its website www.nnpcgroup.com

The NNPC spokesman asked unsuspecting job seekers to disregard the recruitment information as false and advised them not to FALL INTO THE TRAP OF SCAMMERS.

 

READ FULL PRESS STATEMENT

NNPC IS NOT RECRUITING.

This is to inform the general public that the information circulating, especially in the Social Media platforms, claiming that the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Ltd (NNPC) is conducting a recruitment exercise IS NOT TRUE and the public should disregard it in its entirety.
Whenever NNPC decides to conduct a recruitment exercise, it will announce this to the public through authentic and credible public communication channels including the NNPC’s website (www.nnpcgroup.com). Once again the NNPC is NOT RECRUITING. DON’T FALL INTO THE TRAP OF SCAMMERS
Thank you.

Garba Deen Muhammad,
Group General Manager,
Group Public Affairs Division,
NNPC.

Abuja.
06. 11. 2021

From Nigeria To India, Gen Z Taps Apps To Invest


This photo taken on October 5, 2021 shows 20-year-old college student Ishan Srivastava checking stocks online on his computer, while actively trading on apps on his smart phone, at his residence in Ghaziabad. Prakash SINGH / AFP

 

There’s a new generation of investors in town. They’re young, they get their tips on YouTube, and they’re armed with apps that make the stock markets more accessible than ever before.

US investment app Robinhood has made a splash in the West with its mission to open the markets to “everyday people”, but from Nigeria to India, Gen Z are flocking to homegrown equivalents.

“I don’t really care about my college, to be honest. It’s all market, market, and market,” said Delhi student Ishan Srivastava, who started trading last December.

Srivastava uses a handful of Indian trading apps, including Zerodha and Upstox, and often gets his financial advice from YouTube. The ambitious 20-year-old hopes to build a diverse investment portfolio and then retire by 45.

In India in particular, the investment revolution has been aided by a boom in “demat” accounts — easy-to-open electronic accounts for holding financial securities, equity, or debt.

But a similar app-led investment craze is also underway 8,000 kilometres (5,000 miles) away, in Nigeria.

 Banks ‘Less Attractive By The Month’ 

The country’s economic hub Lagos has long been known for its hustle and celebration of success, but the weakness of the naira currency has put extra pressure on youths to make cash as the cost of living has rocketed.

Nigerians have flocked to local apps such as Trove and Risevest which allow them to invest in US stocks, widely seen as a means of protecting wealth as the naira nightmare continues.

“I had the option of putting the money in the bank, but that is looking less attractive by the month,” said 23-year-old Dahunsi Oyedele.

“Sometimes I put my money in Risevest and get some returns in a week. Imagine getting one or two percent returns on 100,000 naira ($240) each week — that’s small, but it means a lot.”

For a few months after losing his job as a tech journalist due to the pandemic, Oyedele covered his rent by trading cryptocurrencies.

He is far from alone in turning to speculation during the Covid-19 crisis, as a combination of mass joblessness, stay-at-home orders, and — for the fortunate — underused savings have encouraged people worldwide to dabble in trading for the first time.

In the US alone more than 10 million new investors entered the markets in the first half of 2021, according to JMP Securities, some of them drawn in by social media hype around “meme stocks” like GameStop.

Worldwide, the new arrivals are largely young. Robinhood’s median US customer age is 31; India’s Upstox says more than 80 percent of its users are 35 or under, a figure matched by Nigeria’s Bamboo (83 percent).

Trading apps have lowered the barriers to entry for youngsters in part by offering fractional trade.

A share in Amazon, for instance, is currently worth more than $3,000 — unaffordable for the average Gen Z or slightly older millennial. But a small fraction of that share might be within reach, particularly on an app that charges zero commission.

 Flirting With Danger? 

Trading apps may have been hailed as democratising access to the markets, but critics say they could also make it easier for inexperienced young investors to get into hot water.

In the US, the Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating whether apps are irresponsibly encouraging overtrading using excessive email alerts and by making investment feel like a game.

And Britain’s Financial Conduct Authority warned in March that the new cohort of young investors — who skew in the UK towards being women and from minority backgrounds — have more to lose.

Nearly two-thirds of the new investors it surveyed said “a significant investment loss would have a fundamental impact on their current or future lifestyle”, the FCA found.

“This newer group of self-investors are more reliant on contemporary media (e.g. YouTube, social media) for tips and news,” the watchdog noted.

“This trend appears to be prompted by the accessibility offered by new investment apps.”

Some young investors have already been burned.

Mumbai-based product designer Ali Attarwala is giving trading a break after a bad experience with cryptocurrencies earlier this year.

“These apps make it easy to buy speculative assets like crypto, but there is still a lot of volatility in these new assets,” the 30-year-old told AFP.

Srivastava has also had ups and downs, but he sees his losses as part of the learning experience.

“When I started, I blew up almost 50 percent of the capital,” he said.

“I don’t treat them as my losses, but like education fees.”

AFP

[Video]: The Next World War Will Be Caused By Fake News – Lai Mohammed

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed appears before the House of Representatives Committee on Information, National Orientation, Ethics and Values.

 

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, has warned against what he believes to be the growing trend of fake news, saying it can result in the next World War.

Lai Mohammed said this when he appeared before the House of Representatives Committee on Information, National Orientation, Ethics and Values to defend his ministry’s 2022 budget on Monday.

“Information is not what it used to be 20, 30 years ago,” he told the committee.

“People of today, they don’t read newspapers, they don’t watch television — it’s social media. And it is the most expensive. It’s an unseen enemy, they are there every moment.

“I have always said it here that the next world war will be caused by fake news.

“You can see even the US that used to pride itself on the freedom of the press is now questioning the role of the social media,” he added.

 

 

This is not the first time the minister will be making such assertions, as he has always been at the forefront of conversations around fake news.

In February, the minister had said the use of social media in amplifying fake news had become a form of cancer.

He, therefore, called for collaboration among stakeholders to tackle the menace.

“If we do not take the issue of fake news, social media seriously, it will be at our own peril,” Mr Mohammed said at the time.

His comments also come at a time when there have been conversations around the Federal Government’s perceived plans to stifle the media via the regulation of social media.

In June, the Federal Government banned Twitter, days after the social media platform deleted a remark from President Muhammadu Buhari.

But the government maintained that the suspension was needed because the platform had been used for activities that could destabilise the country.

With the suspension still in place despite public outcry, Nigeria joins countries like China, Turkey and Myanmar that have all moved to restrict access at some time to Twitter and other social media platforms.

Defending the ban, the Information Minister at the time, said Twitter must be registered and licenced locally for the suspension to end.