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Taliban Endorses Twitter Over Threads

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Taliban Endorses Twitter Over Threads

Anas Haqqani, a senior leader in the Taliban, has officially endorsed Twitter over Facebook-owned competitor Threads.

“Twitter has two important advantages over other social media platforms,” Haqqani said in an English post on Twitter. “The first privilege is the freedom of speech. The second privilege is the public nature & credibility of Twitter. Twitter doesn’t have an intolerant policy like Meta. Other platforms cannot replace it.”

Talibendorsemennt.PNG

Taliban leader via Twitter.

Twitter has fallen out of favor with many people since Elon Musk took over the company last year. Musk’s changes to verification and slackening moderation policy have led a lot of subject matter experts, advertisers, and regular users to flee the platform. The Taliban, however, seems to love it. Two Taliban officials even bought blue verification check marks after Musk started selling them in January.

Haqqani noted that the biggest draw of Twitter was this lax moderation policy. After the American withdrawal from Afghanistan and the collapse of the U.S.-backed Afghan central government in 2021, the Taliban became the legitimate leaders of the country. The Taliban is aggressive about using social media to push its message. Some former fighters have even bemoaned the amount of time they spend on the computer compared to their freewheeling past. Facebook and TikTok both view the Taliban as a terrorist organization and disallow them from posting. It’s a ban that persists to this day.

To say that Twitter has had a lot of problems lately is an understatement. The site briefly limited the amount of tweets users could see earlier this month, annihilated its credibility by charging for blue verification check marks, and can’t keep a lid on hate speech. Competitors like Bluesky and, now, Threads have rushed to fill the void.

But Bluesky is a weird place filled with lovely, if niche, shitposts. It’s also small in comparison to the newly launched Zuckerberg-backed knock off. Threads, despite garnering over 100 million users in the week after it launched, feels like a desolate landscape where brands and influencers can talk to each other while everyone else watches. Many journalists and governments still use Twitter. Despite Musk’s mistakes, it’s still a place where, say, you can hear a Taliban official’s thoughts on the current state of social media.

Aram Shabanian, an OSINT manager at New Lines Institute, told Motherboard he was surprised that the Taliban would endorse the “up-and-coming warlordism of Elon Musk’s Twitter.” 

“Zuckerberg is clearly the Mullah Omar of this situation,” Shabanian said, referring to the founder of the Taliban and previous ruler of Afghanistan.. “You may not like him, but at least you know what you’re getting. And it’s uniform across platforms and districts. Unlike going with Musk, who represents a lawless, profit-driven society. Musk is all balls, no shaft, as the ancient Armenian proverb goes.”



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Top CIA agent shared pro-Palestinian to Facebook after Hamas attack: report

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Top CIA agent shared pro-Palestinian to Facebook after Hamas attack: report

A high-ranking CIA official boldly shared multiple pro-Palestinian images on her Facebook page just two weeks after Hamas launched its bloody surprise attack on Israel — while President Biden was touring the Jewish state to pledge the US’s allegiance to the nation.

The CIA’s associate deputy director for analysis changed her cover photo on Oct. 21 to a shot of a man wearing a Palestinian flag around his neck and waving a larger flag, the Financial Times reported.

The image — taken in 2015 during a surge in the long-stemming conflict — has been used in various news stories and pieces criticizing Israel’s role in the violence.

The CIA agent also shared a selfie with a superimposed “Free Palestine” sticker, similar to those being plastered on businesses and public spaces across the nation by protesters calling for a cease-fire.

The Financial Times did not name the official after the intelligence agency expressed concern for her safety.

“The officer is a career analyst with extensive background in all aspects of the Middle East and this post [of the Palestinian flag] was not intended to express a position on the conflict,” a person familiar with the situation told the outlet.

The individual added that the sticker image was initially posted years before the most recent crisis between the two nations and emphasized that the CIA official’s Facebook account was also peppered with posts taking a stand against antisemitism.

The image the top-ranking CIA official shared on Facebook.

The latest post of the man waving the flag, however, was shared as Biden shook hands with Israeli leaders on their own soil in a show of support for the Jewish state in its conflict with the terrorist group.

Biden has staunchly voiced support for the US ally since the Oct. 7 surprise attack that killed more than 1,300 people, making the CIA agent’s posts in dissent an unusual move.

A protester walks near burning tires in the occupied West Bank on Nov. 27, 2023, ahead of an expected release of Palestinian prisoners in exchange for Israeli hostages. AFP via Getty Images

In her role, the associate deputy director is one of three people, including the deputy CIA director, responsible for approving all analyses disseminated inside the agency.

She had also previously overseen the production of the President’s Daily Brief, the highly classified compilation of intelligence that is presented to the president most days, the Financial Times said.

“CIA officers are committed to analytic objectivity, which is at the core of what we do as an agency. CIA officers may have personal views, but this does not lessen their — or CIA’s — commitment to unbiased analysis,” the CIA said in a statement to the outlet.

The top CIA official has since deleted the pro-Palestinian images from her social media page. Hamas Press Service/UPI/Shutterstock

Follow along with The Post’s live blog for the latest on Hamas’ attack on Israel


Neither the Office of the Director of National Intelligence nor the White House responded to The Post’s request for comment.

All of the official’s pro-Palestinian images and other, unrelated posts have since been deleted, the outlet reported.

Palestinian children sit by the fire next to the rubble of a house hit in an Israeli strike. REUTERS

The report comes as CIA Director William Burns arrived in Qatar, where he was due to meet with his Israeli and Egyptian counterparts and the Gulf state’s prime minister to discuss the possibility of extending the pause in fighting between Israeli forces and Hamas terrorists in the Gaza Strip for a second time.

Israel and Hamas agreed Monday to an additional two-day pause in fighting, meaning combat would likely resume Thursday morning Israel time if no additional halt is brokered.

Both sides agreed to release a portion of its hostages under the arrangement.

More than 14,000 Palestinians in Gaza, including many women and children, have been killed in the conflict, according to data from the Hamas-controlled Ministry of Health.



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Lee Hsien Yang faces damages for defamation against two Singapore ministers over Ridout Road rentals

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Lee Hsien Yang faces damages for defamation against two Singapore ministers over Ridout Road rentals

High Court ruling: Lee Hsien Yang directed to compensate Ministers Shanmugam and Balakrishnan for defamatory remarks on Ridout Road state bungalows. (PHOTO: MCI/YouTube and ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP via Getty Images ) ((PHOTO: MCI/YouTube and ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP via Getty Images ))

SINGAPORE — The High Court in Singapore has directed Lee Hsien Yang to pay damages to ministers K. Shanmugam and Vivian Balakrishnan for defamatory statements made in Facebook comments regarding their rental of black-and-white bungalows on Ridout Road.

The court issued a default judgment favouring the two ministers after Lee – the youngest son of Singapore’s founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew and brother of current Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong – failed to address the defamation lawsuits brought against him. Lee had, among other claims, insinuated that the ministers engaged in corrupt practices and received preferential treatment from the Singapore Land Authority for their bungalow rentals.

The exact amount of damages will be evaluated in a subsequent hearing.

Restricted from spreading defamatory claims against ministers

Not only did Justice Goh Yi Han grant the default judgment on 2 November, but he also imposed an injunction to prohibit Lee from further circulating false and defamatory allegations.

In a released written judgment on Monday (27 November), the judge highlighted “strong reasons” to believe that Lee might persist in making defamatory statements again, noting his refusal to remove the contentious Facebook post on 23 July, despite receiving a letter of demand from the ministers on 27 July.

Among other things, Lee stated in the post that “two ministers have leased state-owned mansions from the agency that one of them controls, felling trees and getting state-sponsored renovations.”

A report released by the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau in June concluded that no wrongdoing or preferential treatment had occurred concerning the two ministers. However, Lee continued referencing this post and the ongoing lawsuits, drawing attention to his remarks under legal scrutiny.

Justice Goh emphasised that the ministers met the prerequisites for a default judgment against Lee. The suits, separately filed by Shanmugam, the Law and Home Affairs Minister, and Dr Balakrishnan, the Foreign Affairs Minister, were initiated in early August.

Lee Hsien Yang alleges in his post that two ministers leased state-owned mansions, 26 and 31 Ridout Road from an agency, one of which they control, involving tree felling and receiving state-sponsored renovations.Lee Hsien Yang alleges in his post that two ministers leased state-owned mansions, 26 and 31 Ridout Road from an agency, one of which they control, involving tree felling and receiving state-sponsored renovations.

Lee Hsien Yang alleges in his post that two ministers leased state-owned mansions, 26 and 31 Ridout Road from an agency, one of which they control, involving tree felling and receiving state-sponsored renovations.(SCREENSHOTS: Google Maps)

He failed to respond within 21 days

Lee and his wife, Lee Suet Fern, had left Singapore in July 2022, after declining to attend a police interview for potentially giving false evidence in judicial proceedings over the late Lee Kuan Yew’s will.

His absence from Singapore prompted the court to permit Shanmugam and Dr Balakrishnan to serve him legal documents via Facebook Messenger in mid-September. Despite no requirement for proof that Lee saw these documents, his subsequent social media post on 16 September confirmed his awareness of the served legal papers.

Although Lee had the opportunity to respond within 21 days, he chose not to do so. Additionally, the judge noted the novelty of the ministers’ request for an injunction during this legal process, highlighting updated court rules allowing such measures since April 2022.

Justice Goh clarified that despite the claimants’ application for an injunction, the court needed independent validation for its appropriateness, considering its potentially severe impact on the defendant. He reiterated being satisfied with the circumstances and granted the injunction, given the continued accessibility of the contentious Facebook post.

Lee acknowledges court order and removes allegations from Facebook

Following the court’s decision, Lee acknowledged the court order on 10 November and removed the statements in question from his Facebook page.

In the judgment, Justice Goh noted that there were substantial grounds to anticipate Lee’s repetition of the “defamatory allegations by continuing to draw attention to them and/or publish further defamatory allegations against the claimants.”

The judge mentioned that if Lee had contested the ministers’ claims, there could have been grounds for a legally enforceable case under defamation law.

According to Justice Goh, a reasonable reader would interpret Lee’s Facebook post as insinuating that the People’s Action Party’s trust had been squandered due to the ministers’ alleged corrupt conduct, from which they gained personally.

While Shanmugam and Dr Balakrishnan were not explicitly named, the post made it evident that it referred to them, and these posts remained accessible to the public, as noted by the judge.

Justice Goh pointed out that by choosing not to respond to the lawsuits, Lee prevented the court from considering any opposing evidence related to the claims.

Do you have a story tip? Email: [email protected].

You can also follow us on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and Twitter. Also check out our Southeast Asia, Food, and Gaming channels on YouTube.

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Tauranga judge orders Team Chopper Facebook pages taken down due to ‘threatening’ online communciations

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Tauranga judge orders Team Chopper Facebook pages taken down due to ‘threatening’ online communciations

Helen Fraser’s son Ryan Tarawhiti-Brown with Chopper, the dog at the centre of an attack on Tauranga vet Dr Liza Schneider.

The son of the woman whose Rottweiler dog attacked and seriously injured a Tauranga vet has been ordered to disable two Facebook pages that contained threats towards the vet and her business.

Ryan Tarawhiti-Brown (AKA Ryan Brown) ran and promoted a Facebook page called Team Chopper in support of his mother Helen Fraser’s legal battle to save her dog Chopper.

Chopper was euthanised following a court order handed down on August 21 by Judge David Cameron after he convicted Fraser of being the owner of a dog that attacked and seriously injured Holistic Vets co-owner Dr Liza Schneider.

The attack happened in the carpark of her Fraser St practice on October 14, 2022.

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Schneider was left with serious injuries after Chopper bit her arm, including a broken bone in her forearm, and deep tissue damage and nerve damage.

She required surgery and her arm took several months to heal.

Tauranga woman Helen Fraser, pictured here at her July trial, said that the case was "exceptional" and argued in favour of sparing Chopper's life. Photo / Ethan Griffiths
Tauranga woman Helen Fraser, pictured here at her July trial, said that the case was “exceptional” and argued in favour of sparing Chopper’s life. Photo / Ethan Griffiths

Following Fraser’s conviction, Schneider sought a takedown order after she told the court she and her practice had been the subject of constant online harassment and threats since October 2021.

Schneider said comments posted on the Team Chopper Facebook page included threats, harassment and derogatory and abusive comments.

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In an affidavit, Schneider said her Google account had also been bombarded with fake reviews which she alleged were incited by the Team Chopper page.

Court documents obtained by the Bay of Plenty Times confirm an interim judgment was made by Judge Lance Rowe on August 30 which ordered the page be taken down and any references to Schneider removed. She also asked for a written apology. This order was previously suppressed.

During a second court hearing on October 25, Tarawhiti-Brown’s lawyer Bev Edwards told Judge Cameron it was accepted her client had not complied with this order to take down the page.

Edwards said her client had instead changed the nature of the page to help promote the rights of cats and dogs, and no criticism or abuse of Schneider or Holistic Vets was made by her client in those posts.

Tarawhiti-Brown had filed an affidavit to similar effect, court documents show.

Schneider argued the change in tone had not prevented others from posting derogatory comments about her.

This included posts on September 23, which stated she should be “prosecuted for negligence”, “sucked” at her job and should lose her licence.

Edwards also submitted that Schneider was prepared to use social media to her own advantage when it suited, her and cited an online article published in June.

In Judge Cameron’s written judgement, dated November 13, Tarawhiti-Brown, who lives in Australia, was ordered to immediately disable or take down his two Facebook pages.

The judge ruled the digital communications on the Facebook pages had been “threatening” to Schneider and “amount to harassment of her”, and also caused her “ongoing psychological harm”.

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Judge Cameron also ordered Tarawhiti-Brown to refrain from making any digital communications about Schneider or identifying her or her business directly or indirectly, and not to encourage any other person to do so.

The judge said it was accepted by Schneider removal orders against Facebook/Meta were “fraught with difficulties”, including jurisdictional ones, and discontinued the takedown application against those organisations.

The judge did not order Tarawhiti-Brown to apologise to Schneider and lifted the suppression orders by consent of both parties, who had to pay their own legal costs.

Schneider and the NZ Veterinary Association, which has been supporting her, declined to comment on these court orders.

Tarawhiti-Brown was also approached for comment.

Sandra Conchie is a senior journalist at the Bay of Plenty Times and Rotorua Daily Post who has been a journalist for 24 years. She mainly covers police, court and other justice stories, as well as general news. She has been a Canon Media Awards regional/community reporter of the year.

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