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Facebook labels state-controlled media outlets

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(Last Updated On: June 5, 2020)

Facebook – a social media giant – said Thursday that it would start labeling state-controlled media outlets on Facebook.

Facebook would reportedly add labels to the Facebook pages of Russia Today, Russia’s Sputnik, China’s Xinhua News, Iran’s Press TV, and the People’s Daily, among others, saying that these were state-controlled outlets.

The Company said in a statement, “We’re providing greater transparency into these publishers because they combine the influence of a media organization with the strategic backing of a state, and we believe people should know if the news they read is coming from a publication that may be under the influence of a government.”

The giant tech company would also block state-controlled media outlets from buying advertising in the US this summer ahead of the US presidential election in November without setting an exact date.

“State-controlled media outlets rarely advertise in the US. Nevertheless, later this summer we will begin blocking ads from these outlets in the US out of an abundance of caution to provide an extra layer of protection against various types of foreign influence in the public debate ahead of the November 2020 election in the US,” Facebook said. 

Other outlets that are run independently, would not be included in the labeling, Facebook said.

It comes as the company has recently faced a backlash from its employees for not adding warning labels to comments from the U.S. president linked to the ongoing violence across the country.

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IEA pledges to safeguard all UN operations and staff

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(Last Updated On: October 24, 2021)

Deputy Prime Minister of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA), Abdul Salaam Hanafi met with the UN Secretary-General’s special representative to Afghanistan Deborah Lyons on Saturday at ARG (Presidential Palace) to discuss various issues including that of the protection of UN operations and staff.

Hanafi asked for the UN’s cooperation in different sectors and assured Lyons the Islamic Emirate (IE)
would ensure the safety of all UN organizations in Afghanistan, said a spokesperson of the IEA Zabiullah Mujahid in a statement.

Lyons, who is also head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), briefed Hanafi on her recent visit to the US and said that the UN is committed to providing the people of Afghanistan with humanitarian assistance.

Lyons also said that they are willing to cooperate with the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan in resolving economic woes and banking problems.

Hanafi in turn said that the IEA is willing to work closely with the UN and wants positive and fruitful consultations.

“Our priority is to protect the security and social rights of the Afghan people and (we) will not allow any group to threaten other countries using Afghanistan’s soil,” said Hanafi.

He also said that the IEA will work to stop the planting of poppies, the source of opium and heroin, and asked the UN to provide Afghan people with alternatives in terms of jobs and farming.

Lyons also expressed gratitude to the IEA for giving their assurance that UN organizations and staff will be safeguarded in the country, read the statement.

Lyons meanwhile also met with acting foreign minister Mawlawi Amir Khan Muttaqi. According to her, they discussed the increase in staff needed to deliver humanitarian aid.

She also said she would call for the economic curbs against Afghanistan to be lifted during her upcoming trip to the US, said MoFA spokesman Abdul Qahar Balkhi.

Muttaqi meanwhile assured her that the Islamic Emirate was ready to distribute all humanitarian aid, Balkhi added.

Meanwhile, Zabihullah Mujahid, Deputy Minister of Information and Culture and an IEA spokesman, said that the amount of humanitarian aid provided so far has not been enough.

“This aid is not enough. The people of Afghanistan have just emerged from the war, the economic problems have increased and it will take time to solve them,” Mujahid said.

Mujahid welcomed the aid being sent into the country but said this was not nearly enough to help all those in need.

He also assured donors that all aid received would be distributed fairly and transparently and only to those in need.
Zabihullah Mujahid, deputy minister for the Ministry of Information & Culture, told Ariana News that no one from the address of the Islamic Emirate govt attending the meeting of the foreign ministers of Afghanistan’s neighboring countries, but described the meeting as good for Afghanistan.

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Russia-led bloc concludes drills near Afghan border to boost Tajik security

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(Last Updated On: October 24, 2021)

A Russia-led military exercise held over six days near the Tajik-Afghan border, designed to demonstrate Moscow stands ready to protect Dushanbe in the event of an incursion from the south, reached its conclusion on Saturday, Reuters reported.

Tajikistan’s relations with the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan [IEA] leadership in Kabul have been strained from the start and reports of troop build-up on both sides of the border have alarmed Moscow, which operates a military base in the former Soviet republic.

According to the report the exercise, carried out by the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO), which also includes Belarus, Armenia, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan, involved over 4,000 troops as well as tanks, artillery and assault aircraft.

“This is the first time an event of this scale is being held,” Tajik Defence Minister Sherali Mirzo told reporters at the site.

CSTO Secretary General Stanislav Zas said the war games were aimed at showing “that no incursions into Tajikistan’s territory will be allowed,” adding “we will not leave Tajikistan alone in the face of danger.”

Millions of Tajiks live in Afghanistan, comprising its second largest ethnic group, and Tajikistan’s President Emomali Rakhmon has criticised the predominantly IEA for failing to set up an ethnically diverse cabinet.

The IEA has forged an alliance with an ethnic Tajik militant group seeking to overthrow Rakhmon, according to Russian media reports.

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Despite Doha deal mistrust between US and IEA still exists: Khalilzad

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(Last Updated On: October 23, 2021)

Zalmay Khalilzad, former US special envoy for Afghanistan, says that despite the signing of the February 2020 Doha agreement between the US and the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA), there is still an “atmosphere of mistrust” between the two sides.

In an interview with an American media outlet, Khalilzad said that because of America’s distrust, they still need to monitor the IEA’s performance, despite their assurances.

“Well, as I have mentioned before, the main problem right now is that we don’t trust them [IEA]. So the important thing is that what they say should not be trusted. Because of American disbelief in what the Taliban (Islamic Emirate) say and do, especially in relation to terrorism, they need to monitor the group’s work.”

In response to the possibility of the IE not adhering to the principles of women’s rights and girls education, Khalilzad said that there could be a difference of opinion among the leaders of the Islamic Emirate on this matter.

“I think there is disagreement among the leaders of the Taliban (Islamic Emirate) regarding the education of girls; we cannot say that all the Taliban (Islamic Emirate) are of the same opinion. Currently, in three to four provinces of Afghanistan, school gates are open to girls above the sixth grade,” Khalilzad added.

His comments come just days after he stepped down as special envoy after leading the US team through the peace process with the IEA and the former government.

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