Tag: social media

Stop censuring dissent: MENA activists to Facebook, Twitter
Middle East & Africa

Stop censuring dissent: MENA activists to Facebook, Twitter

Stop censuring dissent: Activists write open letter to Twitter, Facebook, urging to stop silencing critical voices in MENA

Marking the 10th anniversary of the Arab Spring, around 17 human rights organizations from Middle East and North Africa (MENA) have issued a letter to Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, condemning their actions to silence critical opinions from marginalised and oppressed communities in the region.

During the Arab Spring, citizens and activists across MENA countries used social media to raise voices and push for social justice and political change. For years now, thousands of peaceful protesters and activists have relied on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to draw the attention of the world to various causes including police brutality and climate change in their respective countries. 

However, in recent years, social media platforms have introduced a number of policies and content moderation policies that have resulted in silencing and effacing dissent voices. 

In the letter, the signatories have alleged that Facebook and Twitter have censored key activists, journalists, and other changemakers throughout the region. 

The signatories including journalists,  activists, and human rights organizations said that they have come together to voice their frustration and dismay at the practices of social media platforms in suppressing the opinions of marginalized and oppressed communities across Middle East and North Africa.

“These platforms often fail to protect human rights defenders when concerns are raised,” the statement said.

They added that arbitrary and non-transparent account suspension and removal of political and critical speech have become frequent acts. They have enlisted a number of incidents where Facebook and Twitter disabled the accounts of activists and journalists in countries like Syria, Tunisia, Egypt and Palestine to silent their voices.  

“The MENA region has one of the world’s worst records on freedom of expression, and social media remains critical for helping people connect, organize, and document human rights violations and abuses,” the statement added. 

In the letter, human rights organisations urged the social media giants to not “be complicit in censorship and erasure of oppressed communities’ narratives and histories.”

They further suggested a number of measures to Facebook and Twitter to ensure that users are treated fairly and they are able to voice their opinion freely.

They called on the social media giants to actively engage activists, local users, human rights defenders and civil society members from MENA countries in a bid to address the concerns of unfair discrimination. In addition, they called on the social media platforms to invest in regional expertise to design and implement context-based content moderation decisions in line with the prevailing human rights frameworks across the MENA region. 

Human rights defenders also appealed the platforms to pay special focus on such incidents related to war and conflict zones in a bid to ensure that content moderation procedures do not target marginalized communities in the region. It will also help in ensuring greater transparency across the platforms. 

The parable of Mr Lentz, the pastor of the stars fired

The parable of Mr Lentz, the pastor of the stars fired

The pastor of stars fired: Mr Lentz had launched the Australian New Age Hillsong Church, but he has now been kicked out for cheating on his wife. The “unfaithful” pastor had been the architect of Justin Bieber’s return to faith. VIPs of the calibre of Selena Gomez and basketball stars like Kevin Durant used to attend his messes. The pastor apologized via social media to his 700,000 followers. Tattoos, fashion sunglasses, Yves Saint Laurent jeans, Rolex on the wrist, and sports cars, behind the trendy nightclub look hid America‘s most exclusive pastor, 42, until a sex scandal engulfed him.

The Hillsong megachurch fired Lentz amidst narcissistic and manipulative behaviours, as well as more than a meaningful deal. Its founder said in an alleged leaked audio posted last week by Page Six. The shepherd was ousted from Hillsong in early November after 20 years and later admitted being unfaithful to his wife, Laura, whom he married in 2003 with who he has three children. Upon his demise, Hillsong founder Brian Houston publicly cited moral failures. In the audio, Houston claimed Lentz was unfaithful multiple times. Representatives from Hillsong and Lentz did not immediately respond to media requests for comment. “When it comes to a relationship, these issues were more than business. They were significant,” said Houston, adding that some Lentz negative behaviours were well known, but not necessarily to that case.

Houston said that a Hillsong worker discovered a very compromising series of text messages on Lentz’s computer, which provoked a dispute that drove to his firing. Houston affirmed that they were able to work through his problems with the wife if it was just about a moral issue but professed his relationship with the pastor had declined. The global board of the church concluded that his firing was the only solution. Now, it seems that Lentz was also a difficult man to speak with and often got irritable, according to a Page Six report.

The founder revealed that he felt like the time of Carl and Laura in New York was coming to an end. “Not just general narcissistic behavior, manipulating, mistreating people. I think, sometimes other hurtful things. The breaches of trust connected to lying, constantly lying, basically, broken trust,” he added. According to the media, the church of the VIPs general manager, George Aghajanian, was also present for the leaked chat and allegedly said the church was negotiating with Lentz on a severance package, which they had not yet accepted.

The discussion took place around November 19, during a gathering with church executives and top founders. After admitting his adultery, Lentz said on Instagram that “this failure is on me, and me alone.” Fifteen days later, the model Ranin Karim came forward to allege that she and Lentz had had a months-long romance that stopped last month as his wife Laura discovered the truth. Notwithstanding the embarrassment, Lentz and Laura remained a united front, and a friend of the couple recently said that they spent the Thanksgiving holidays together with their kids. Lentz and Laura are working hard to secure their marriage, and she remained by his side amid the turmoil, according to “PEOPLE.” The couple met in Australia at the Hillsong International Leadership College. They launched the Hillsong Church N.Y.C. in 2010, opening the first branch in the United States.

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