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tv   Inside Story  Al Jazeera  April 26, 2022 8:30pm-9:00pm AST

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really unpredictable monsoon rains and a rapidly growing city are clearly big challenges here. but many hope that by conserving water, they'll at least start to reduce them from the other liberal al jazeera gutman do. ah, there again, i'm fully battle with the headlines on al jazeera, russia's present, better me put in, has met with un secretary general antonio terrace in moscow, which in says, he hopes talks with ukraine will yield positive result results in as called, but unfolding in the besieged city of mary paul, a difficult and tragic situation. it's the 1st time the u. n. chief has visited russia since the war and ukraine began earlier. good, harris met with russia's foreign minister, say gay love rob, who told you and chief, that the west was responsible for the war in ukraine. rody shoshone will show, show control this was happening as a result of the actions of the u. s. and its allies and unipolar world to the guns,
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as for our geopolitical sphere, was done in the interest of containing russia. and to that end, for many years green has been used as a springboard to stream our country. as the us defense secretary lloyd austin says washington and his allies will hold monthly meetings to discuss arming ukraine. the u. s. has hosted talks had the ramstein air base in germany focused on helping ukraine defend itself. politicians and military experts from up to 40 countries too . hot to ensure that we continue to build and o'clock we're as we're going to extend this for and beyond. today. i'm proud to announce that today's gathering will become a monthly contact group on ukraine. soft the fresh in the counter group will be a vehicle for nations of good will to intensify our efforts and coordinate our assistance and focus on winning today's vote. and the struggles to go on the ground
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in ukraine. russian markets have here from national center in the city of zapper ejaculate, one person in injuring another. so last large city under ukrainian control in the southeast explosions have damage to soviet era. radio antennas in the break away. moldova region of trans mystery of the antennas were used to broadcast rush and radio from the village of my york on monday, the ministry of state security inter aspell was also hit. the reach and has raised its threats level to read and introduce checkpoints. and in other news, at least 4 people have been killed and several others injured after a suicide bomber targeted a van at the university of karachi in pakistan. those are the head lives next on al jazeera. it's inside story say with this. ah,
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ellen musk is set to take control of twitter. that's one of the biggest tech acquisitions of all time. so what will it mean for the future of this popular platform and for freedom of speech, this is inside story. ah hello there and welcome to the program. i'm laura kyle. free speech is the bedrock of a functioning democracy and twitter is it's digital towns, squirm. these are the words of the world's richest man, and now the owner of that town square in all musk sealed the deal for $44000000000.00. twice as board unanimously agreed to sell to the man,
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promising to promote free speech and transparency. but the future of the company is not yet clear. twitter has been losing value over the past year. and mosque is notorious for trying to silence his critics and social media takeover sparked this reaction from the white house. what i can tell you as a general matter, no matter who owns or runs twitter, the president has long been concerned about the power of large social media platforms. what they have the power they have over our everyday lives. as long argued, the tech platforms must be held accountable for the harms they cause he's been a strong supporter, a fundamental reformed to achieve that goal, including reforms to section $230.00 and acting anti trust reforms requiring more transparency and more. and he's encouraged that there's bi partisan interest in congress in terms of what hypothetical policies might happen. i'm just not going to speak to that as well after the purchase. it'll must tweeted yes and said i want to
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make twitter better than ever by enhancing the products with new features, making algorithms open source to increase trust. the feeding the spam bolts and authenticating or humans. twitter has tremendous potential. he said, i look forward to working with the company and the community of uses to unlock, it's on the move as part, plenty of reaction, both good and bad as well. some people in new york had to say, i just don't think it would be good of, you know, my control. and just because there's a lot of mine doesn't give my up our, i think you'll turn it for a better house or giving people more freedom of speech. maybe bringing my mail truck back the twitter. i don't think that the one person should have full control at the platform. i think people have their own voice to be able to see how they feel. he wants to buy or whatever and make it a private company. but it's like, you already got so much money already. awesome with of why are you missing a month? what are all the combo? why you've over here bar. would you like to learn on them?
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well, even if you don't have a twitter account, it is unlikely that you've not heard of it. it's been around for 16 years. it's a platform based on the u. s. from micro blogging and social networking services. it's estimated to have more than 436000000 registered users who post and interact using short messages known as tweets. these uses regular people like you and me also, celebrities, organizations, and governments. they use twitter to reach millions of people in a mosque as an avid theresa with an audience of more than 80000000 followers himself. in 2022, as his annual revenue reached $3720000000.00 us dollars. it's a relatively small amount compared to other giants life like facebook that made more than $84000000000.00 that same year. ah, let's bring in our guests now and joining us from london, we have quinn, mchugh, executive director at article 19 from los angeles. we have ramez, schriner, vasa,
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professor im information studies at the university of california and also from london, charles arthur, a journalist, specializing in technology and social media, a very warm welcome to all of you quinn. let's start with you. why has twitter accepted eden masks offer when? just a few days ago, the board unanimously agreed not to let the take over 3. i think maybe some of the people who are more inclined on business past that in the charleston speech that relatively well. but it's clear that the offer that was ultimately made and exceeded the share price, where the presence rate such that it was a very attractive big, even after the twitter board had put in a poison, tell the toys li, just last week on any kind of attempts to charge you again, that was just an offer that was simply too good for twitter to refuse in the end. well, it's interesting to, to was due to because it's 1st called results this thursday,
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and it's not going to do this. so some people feel that with the general or slow down in the world economy, that maybe things like it's a good actually, this was the best offer actually on the table, was easy for them to refuse the offer initially because most didn't have the financing. then they were hoping that maybe someone else might turn out to have more money when it's less. so michelle ross was the $50.00 a masked offering. this lesson share prices last year when it was about $80.00, but it's more than it has been. so it's the sort of thing where was the best offer around then? possibly they didn't see things improving. so yes it's, it's pretty obvious not respect why they took that money, but i have about math. every mesh is a loss of money for a business that's been described as wastefully unprofitable. why did it on why is it almost wanted oh, 1st of all, even musk low to get into little, you know, battles and turf wars and little, you know, sort of arm wrestling matches on twitter. he really enjoyed being active on twitter
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. and i also think that it fits within you on mark's ideological portfolio, if you will, right, we see him owning multiple other types of companies. and he's always kind of been this person who likes to be a little bit outlandish in that sort of claims for free speech. and so now he owns a social media wing to his media conglomerate empire. and so for him, it's a major achievement. and twitter, despite not necessarily being profitable, remains extremely influential, especially on media itself, right? reporters all around the world, often source and engage with stories by a twitter or less given that twitter is so influential in society, if it right. but such a powerful tool should be in the hands of just one man. i think it's extremely problematic, actually not for many, many different reasons. first of all, twitter was already encountering huge issues with algorithmically powered dis
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information. what i mean by that is content was being targeted to people and going viral that tended to be hateful, conspiratorial, and really kind of grabbing those people's attention. so that's not a way any sort of media network should function. there should be some baseline of kind of commonality to where people see it's really problematic even more so because mosque himself has boasted quite widely that he's a free speech absolute stress. so what does that mean? that means in any given society, when we talk about free speech, we should have lots of different kinds of speech be part of the platform. but what we found again and again on twitter and mosque is highly unlikely to do anything about it. is that hateful speech or speech that is intended to grab your attention? is the content that ends up going viral again and again. so, must have been always against regulation of almost any times and calls himself
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a free, free speech. absolute is as a private, you know, well, the hyper wealthy person, wealthiest person in the world. this, this recipe is a concoction for even greater problems with big tax takeover of all of our lives around the world. and i want to do everything we can to sort of rain in and balance the playing fields a little bit more. that that's a small aside from that, why is that hate speech so popular on people's news feeds? that's a great question. so the reason why is what is happening with all technology platforms is data is constantly back being gathered about hundreds of other hundreds of billions of people. hundreds of millions of people, excuse me, all around the world. so data around what we look at, how long we look at it, what we tweet, what we comment on, et cetera. this is all fine grained behavioral data. so based on the data that's been captured about all the time without us really even being aware of it. content is being suggested based on prediction all based on correlation prediction of what
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will capture our attention. so the business model of the technology or is to keep us all locked in there all the time. and one thing that gets all of our attention no matter who we are, is crazy or outrageous concepts. so unless that is fundamentally intervened with and mosque has given no signals that that's something he really ultimately cares about, which is an instrument of democracy. some baseline of common understanding are problems continue, that can, how much could that be counted by making the algorithms open source exposing them? so the people have more control over what they see because that is also something that mask and said he wants to do. i think we need to be clear what we're talking about when we talk about algorithm transparency, which is something our organization has called for numerous other people have as well there the, the transparency of what the algorithm is itself. but then there's also
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transparency in terms of how it actually operates, just having the code out there doesn't necessarily tell you about the various things that are going on. so one way of making companies more accessible is making more of the code out there for people to look at to evaluate and otherwise. but as, as i was saying, the fundamental problem is the attention economy. and that is what drives the business model of this company. and much more successful companies, the twitter, if you look at facebook and youtube and it's that the fundamental business model is centralized control over what we see and what we do, what we interact with in a few small, powerful companies for charles is what ill mosque is wanting to do with twitter if it realistic means given very few details, new details on how he proposes to reduce censorship. we don't even know if he can sort of expose this algorithm. how would that work?
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is this something that he's actually going to see happen? what he said has been quite contradictory, is talked about things like getting rid of bots, but at the same time being a free speech absolute us, but utter of all free speech. so where's the line there? similarly, you know, are you going to allow terrorist videos? are you going to allow child sexual abuse material? obviously not for your free speech. apaloosa. absolutism clearly has a line. and the question is, where does it draw the line? and i think that's the complicated part that, that you know, it's very easy to talk about these things, the conferences, but actually when you're running the company, some sort of question. i think that the, the point, the remission clinic both made about the hour was, is interesting. actually, if you were to remove the algorithm, the amplified content that amplifies outrage, which is the thing that we pay attention to. then you have a sort of a strict back, a twitter one, which is much more just about what people are saying, rather than things being thrust that you to gain your interest. because that's what
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get advertising in front of you. and if twitter doesn't necessarily have to survive on advertising, then it might be able to take on a different sort of character. but he's given no clues about that. he's made fake noises. what subscriptions? but then he was to change the character of twitter that way that, that could actually have a big impact. both on that is this information and on the attention economy, is it quinn? describe it, do you think people will still want to use it as human beings? we do tend to be drawn towards that sort of dramatic speech. if it's not very, if it doesn't exist, what's the point in using it? we won't be entertained at most mentally, but personally, i never see any twitter ads and i don't get the algorithmic twitter feed because i use a 3rd party app called tweet book. and it only gets the sort of chronological timeline and now and so in that sense, i'm getting the truth of it. but it used to be a must pass me could be. so, you know,
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this is totally possible and i use it all the time because i'm a journalist as from a sent in a journal. so drawn to it because that's where you find news, where to quickly find sources you find information. when he has said that he would allow the laws of each individual country to govern the free speech or, or predict, or dick determine what free speech is allowed. but how does that work when twitter is a global entity, and there are so many different countries for so many different laws. i think you 0 then on this one to be a fundamental problem to the idea of really enforcing what we consider the global international norms on freedom of expression. which is at present time, according to our own research, freedom of expression globally. that is, bo, this level in 20 years, and this is increasingly driven by laws passed at the national level. that restricts significantly severely, was global media companies like twitter,
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facebook, and others are allowed to do, or that gives company or gives government huge control over the kind of content, whether it's through the data localisation laws, requiring companies the whole data and all of their users in a country within the country, whether it's things like landing. so for example, requiring companies to have local offices in country with then gives governments a form of pressure man influence over what's being done because staff can be held hostage. so the global picture becomes much more complex when you take into account the different laws and the fact that actually democracy is lowest in 20 to 30 years . that being incredibly complex to find places where that view of freedom of expression is supported, as he may think it ramos, we heard that from the white house that biden has concerns about such concentrations of power in social media companies. that was the fact that they went to, they didn't comment specifically on this case,
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but what can government do about it? i mean, how can they police this sort of takeover even if they wanted to? right. and i think we're, we're headed to potentially and very problematically, will be this false choice between a free speech absolute as a private hyper. well, the guy who basically kind of says, let, let, let the wild furs go and the backlash is going to be a censorship. kind of model by a lot of restrictive and sort of authoritative governments and states and, and this is going to end up being a really problematic flash point because the real issue should be governing these platforms. not so, not solely in their private accumulative profit and valuation driven interest, but in a democratic interest. right. and so here in the united states, i have several colleagues connected to the administration and also people i work with in congress. and there's widespread dissatisfaction with the status quo we
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have seen very little in terms of actual action either taken by the federal trade commission, the federal communications commission, or on a congressional level, despite this widespread kind of discontent. and i think the reason why is because the biggest lobbyist in democratic administrations and to some extent and republican administrations despite sort of high profile, you know, flash points like little controversies. are the big tech companies we should no longer think about big technology companies as simply social media or simply technology companies are the wealthiest and most powerful companies in the history of the world. when our military budget gets expanded under the byte in administration to record levels, many of those contracts go to technology companies, right? so they've taken over every aspect of our lives by monetizing our attention by grabbing our data and by basically taking our anxieties and emotions as their raw materials for a new, expansive immersive form of digital capitalism. so we need to think about what
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people need in their actual interest, right? what a real free speech looks like in balance with a free media or really need to think about those issues. so people can be uplifted along with these companies as well. and tell us how concerning do you find that that all of that power that one actually has been talking about, at least in twitters concern, is now in the hands of one man. oh, i mean, social media in the form of facebook is in effects in hands amongst gra, google her is effectively held by surgeon under larry page because they have all the voting stock. so yeah, we're very much in a situation where you have an incredible concentration of power and, and the years congress because they're american companies, struggles to find ways to regulate these companies because it's not quite sure what it is that it wants to do or not do it was not to be bad, but it doesn't know quite how to do that without turn,
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tripping all over the 1st amendment. which of course stops the u. s. government from impeding what companies can say and affect what citizens can say. there's possibly more movement on in europe because of the digital marketing and the digital services act, which may have some sort of leverage over these companies. but that remains to be seen. i think that'll sort of become a bit clearer in the next couple of years. but again, the question becomes one of all, if they, if the companies with taller services may say, well, we're not had a lot going to show up in france, germany at lee, or ever do the government's cave in because the citizens to mon, the services all throughout the service is spring up. it's difficult to say, let's not forget, of course, that governments use the services themselves. i mean, governments use twitter to release their policies. i mean, at some forget that trump was hugely successful, largely on the back of his tweets. we were reporting them all the time at 3 am here at al jazeera. at what chance do you think and trump might get his account back? well, i think,
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considering that he almost himself has talked about restoring the account. i think it's a fairly significant likelihood. and while i may be living in britain right now, i do remember the very problematic days of yourself that recording constantly the tweet coming from donald trump. and at the very moment when it's being found that there was the significance of insurrection planned, an attempt to overthrow the u. s. election orchestrated by donald trump. i think we need to take seriously that, that the real risk politically for democracy in the united states and not be due to the each one of the, one of the, the powers of freedom of expression is leveling between the powerful and the power less. and one of the things that we're concerned with because of the less don't experiences, is that he's actually more concerned about ensuring that those are already powerful . don't find their voices constrained. when actually the attention should be placed on those who are not in positions of power and ensuring they're not driven all that
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forms where that they have the same kind of access as those who are billionaires. but if people do want to leave twitter, they can do you think we will see a lot of people leaving the platform? quin it's very difficult to say one of the things i think we need to taken into account is globally. twitter actually is not one of the largest tech companies. twitter has an audience about 43440000000 as you said, you know, just taking into accounts, apps that are just strictly messenger out. like what that net has over 2000000000 uses. telegram, i'm much smaller with his 550000000. we put a lot of emphasis on twitter because it is really important for the media and therefore content on twitter get amplified and cross over into mainstream media a lot more, but never leave the potential for innovation to this. i think charles mentioned
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that media platforms are constrains other services will jump up to take their place on a problematic said. we've already seen this happen in china where the large western media companies are effectively band or out right down. and yeah, there's a very vibrant on the very centered social media environment that's there. so i do think that if somehow twitter does disappear or becomes a less hospitable place for people to be, that there will be alternatives that arise. charles can must walk less tightrope of quoting new leaders, but also uses but also stopping defects and julio. many things are possible and honestly said that they are he, he has had successes with building electric vehicle company and has low billing reusable space on the space x. and this is a, this is a different game because this is dealing with humans and the very,
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very way that humans behave. i mean, it can be done. i mean, we haven't mentioned the financials of this yet, which, which are tricky because he needs at least a $1000000000.00 a year to repay just the interest on his dad's cut has never come close to generating that sort of money. so he's going to have to find some sort of new business model for it really in order to make it thrive and have on the grades, the twitter has an almost value, but they can't quite see how to unlock it. advertising clearly isn't the way to do it, but if it was to make it a sort of a backbone, almost as communications backbone for the world, then you could see that there's an enormous value, as you said, you know, to, to world leaders to people with huge celebrity followings, or why would they not want to pay a certain amount of money in order to be able to make their voices heard and possibly that's a white ford so that you can in effect, you pay for your spirit free speech. it might sound like a contradiction, but i'm sure that he be very happy with that. as i mentioned either he says he wants to unlock her twice as tremendous potential. what is that potential deal?
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thank. well, the potential is for it to be being disposable and indispensable tool for us all to communicate with one another, you know, much like what basically facebook slash matters. portfolio has really taken that over. so i think his real goal would be to unlock twitter to be the absolute tool that we use to connect with one another and also just sort of learn about the wider world. the problem is the wider world as being presented to us is not an open public sphere, right? in any public sphere, there are of course, going to be some hateful voices or some people who are saying things that are just not true. the problem is, is on twitter much like on facebook, which of, as you all pointed out, dominates sort of the global south in the global kind of marketplace on a lot of levels. especially to include instagram and what's up in their portfolio. and the problem is, is that content, the content that they are fueling to us again and again, and again, is the content designed to grab our eyeball. so they're going to have to explore
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different kinds of business models that perhaps maybe more rooted in a certain kind of humanity ray in all of our voices. and i do want to make the point, despite the potential challenges in making the funds to pay off this debt mosque is the wealthiest person in the history of the world. he's a made a huge amount of wealth during the pandemic as have all of the tack. you know, billionaires approaching trillion, they've double their well in many cases and reinstating the former presidents onto twitter will be an incredibly effective success in terms of supporting masks, interest to grow and build up the platform and have it boom. even more because the former president was a central note on twitter himself. he was a central note because of his messaging, often outrageous and pulse contents, which went viral all the time. certainly some interesting times i had to move, i have to say on twitter to see what happens. many thanks food for you all for joining us today. could mchugh romesha should it should have asked them and tells
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us that and thank you to for watching. you can see the program again any time by visiting our website. this al jazeera dot com and for further discussion to go to our facebook page at facebook dot com forward slash ha inside story. and yes, we are on twitter. i'll handle as as a j inside story from me laura kyle and the whole team here in doha is good bye for now. ah. ah. where temperature's reach minus 35 degrees celsius and mountain roads become barely
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possible? one small, many bus serves as a lifeline for a community facing environmental and cultural change. ah, out, is there a well joined the regulars on board? turkeys shin kaya bus analogies, era ah, holding the powerful to account as we examine the us, his role in the world on al jazeera, when the war on ukraine commenced, people in power reached out to inhabitants of harper. the nation 2nd city, less than 40 miles from the russian border. as the carnage unfolds, a handful of civilians document their experiences as they tried to survive and maintain some normality in a reality. turn upside down. a rare glimpse of life under the ball. you
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crave a city under siege on a j 0. ah, this is al jazeera. ah hello, i'm fully back to bo, this is in use. our live from doha. coming up in the next 60 minutes, antonio terrace meets vladimir putin in moscow. the un chief calls on russia to work with the world body to set up humanitarian corridors in ukraine. a series of attacks in the russian baths, breakaway region of trenton is 3 m. o. dover is president condemns. attempts to involve.


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