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Jack Ma snubbed by Chinese newspaper from business leaders list

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Jack Ma snubbed by Chinese newspaper from business leaders list

Billionaire Jack Ma still appears to be on the outs with Beijing.

The Alibaba Group founder — who made international headlines last month when he vanished from the public eye after running afoul of the Chinese government — was left off a list of Chinese entrepreneurial leaders published by state media.

China’s most famous businessman was omitted in a front-page story published by the Shanghai Securities News on Tuesday. Instead Huawei Technologies’ Ren Zhengfei, Xiaomi Corp’s Lei Jun and BYD’s Wang Chuanfu were lauded for their contributions.

The article came out the same day that Alibaba reported its third-quarter earnings, which bested Wall Street’s expectations. The e-commerce giant posted a 52 percent jump in net income to $12.2 billion, as revenue rose 37 percent to $34. 2 billion.

Tuesday’s snub appears to be just the latest fallout for Ma since he gave a speech on Oct. 24 blasting China’s regulatory system. Days later the same regulators suspended his Ant Group’s $37 billion initial public offering ahead of the fintech giant’s big listing day.

Ma, a prominent figure who is often in the limelight, also disappeared from public sight for roughly three months — triggering frenzied speculation about his whereabouts. He re-emerged late last month with a 50-second video appearance tied to an awards ceremony for rural teachers.

But the pressure on him continues as China’s regulators have launched an anti-trust probe into the tech sector, with Alibaba taking much of the heat. Stricter regulations for Ant Group are also being mulled.

In its front-page article, the Shanghai Securities News made a thinly veiled dig at Ma, noting that while some of the entrepreneurs it praised had once behaved like “reckless heroes” in their efforts to break away from an old, rigid economic system, they now led “a group of companies that respected the rules of development and abided by market rules.”

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CD Projekt delays Cyberpunk 2077 fix due to cyberattack

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CD Projekt delays Cyberpunk 2077 fix due to cyberattack

Polish video games maker CD Projekt is delaying the release of a patch for its Cyberpunk 2077 game until the second half of March, it said on Wednesday, after a cyberattack slowed down work on fixes for the troubled game.

The cyberattack earlier this month compromised some of CD Projekt’s internal systems including the source code to Cyberpunk 2077, dealing another blow to the Warsaw-based business after the game’s launch was beset by glitches.

“While we dearly wanted to deliver Patch 1.2 for Cyberpunk 2077 in the timespan we detailed previously, the recent cyber attack on the studio’s IT infrastructure and extensive scope of the update mean this unfortunately will not happen,” the company wrote on Twitter.

After releasing some fixes for the game in January, the company had planned to release a bigger patch in February.

Shares in the company, which rose to fame on the back of the success of its medieval fantasy Witcher series, plunged at the end of last year due to the Cyberpunk roll-out problems.

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Facebook silenced Kurdish group to stop hit on its business

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Facebook silenced Kurdish group to stop hit on its business

Sheryl Sandberg and other top Facebook execs silenced a Kurdish group at the request of the Turkish government in a bid to protect its business in 2018, according to a new report.

According to ProPublica, Turkey, which was launching a bloody military offensive against Kurdish minorities in neighboring Syria, demanded that Facebook block posts from the People’s Protection Units, a mostly Kurdish militia group that the Turkish government had targeted.

If Facebook didn’t give in to Turkey’s demands, it faced losing tens of millions of users in the country. On the flip side, silencing the group, known as YPG, would add to the perception that Facebook too often bends to the wishes of authoritarian governments and that it values its business over all else.

In a series of newly disclosed emails from the company’s leadership, ProPublica revealed that there was no hand-wringing over the ethical dilemma. In response to Turkey’s demand that Facebook block YPG’s posts, Sandberg, the social media giant’s No. 2 exec simply wrote: “I am fine with this.”

The terse one-line email reply was not accompanied by any other thoughts.

According to ProPublica, the emails show that deliberations were centered on keeping the platform operational, not on human rights.

“The page caused us a few PR fires in the past,” one Facebook manager warned of the YPG material.

The chairman of Turkey’s telecommunications regulator reminded Facebook “to be cautious about the material being posted, especially photos of wounded people,” wrote Mark Smith, a UK-based policy manager in an email to Joel Kaplan, Facebook’s vice president of global public policy. 

He also added that the government “may ask us to block entire pages and profiles if they become a focal point for sharing illegal content.”

Facebook’s eventual solution was to “geo-block” or selectively bar users in a geographic region from viewing certain content, should the threats from Turkish officials escalate.

Three years later, YPG’s photos and updates about the Turkish military’s brutal attacks on the Kurdish minority in Syria still can’t be viewed by Facebook users inside Turkey, according to the report.

Turkey considers the YPG a terrorist organization, although neither the US nor Facebook do.

“We strive to preserve voice for the greatest number of people,” a Facebook spokesman told The Post. “There are however, times when we restrict content based on local law even if it does not violate our Community Standards. In this case, we made the decision based on our policies concerning government requests to restrict content and our international human rights commitments. We disclose the content we restrict in our twice-yearly Transparency Reports and are evaluated by independent experts on our international human rights commitments every two years.”

Facebook’s regulatory filings suggest that cutting off revenue from Turkey could financially harm the tech giant. Facebook includes revenue from Turkey and Russia in the figure it gives for Europe overall and the company reported a 34 percent increase for the continent in annual revenue per user, according to its 2019 10-K filing.

Katitza Rodriguez, policy director for global privacy at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said the potential revenue loss is a big issue for Facebook and others. She said the Turkish government has also managed to force Facebook and other platforms into appointing legal representatives in the country. If tech companies don’t comply, she said, Turkish taxpayers would be prevented from placing ads and making payments to Facebook.

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Australian lawmakers push news law after Facebook concessions

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Australian lawmakers push news law after Facebook concessions

Australian lawmakers advanced a bill that effectively will force Google and Facebook to pay media companies for news content, clearing the last major hurdle for legislation that could set precedents for government policies worldwide.

The bill, which was amended and green-lighted by Australia’s Senate, will return to its House of Representatives, where it is expected to pass as early as this week.

Lawmakers introduced amendments to the so-called Media Bargaining Code after Facebook last week escalated a dispute over the new laws by blocking Australian users from sharing and viewing news content on its popular social media platform.

Facebook on Tuesday said it would restore Australian users’ access to news in light of the compromise it had reached with the government.

On Wednesday, Facebook also said it plans to spend at least $1 billion in the news industry over the next three years. Facebook follows Google’s pledge last October to pay publishers $1 billion over the next three years.

“We’ve invested $600 million since 2018 to support the news industry, and plan at least $1 billion more over the next three years,” Nick Clegg, vice president of global affairs at Facebook, said in a blog published Wednesday.

“Facebook is more than willing to partner with news publishers,” added Clegg. “We absolutely recognize quality journalism is at the heart of how open societies function — informing and empowering citizens and holding the powerful to account.”

After the bill passes both houses, news businesses that want to be paid for content that appears on search engines or social media can sign up — provided they meet some conditions, including earning $150,000 per year in revenue.

“What we’ve sworn to do is create a level playing field,” Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg told Sky News on Wednesday. “We’ve sought to sustain public interest journalism in this country, and we’ve also sought to enhance and encourage those commercial deals between the parties.”

One major change is that Frydenberg will be given the discretion to decide that either Facebook or Google need not be subject to the code if they make a “significant contribution to the sustainability of the Australian news industry.”

Australia’s original legislation had required the tech giants to submit to forced arbitration if they could not reach a commercial deal with Australian news companies for their content, effectively allowing the government to set a price.

Some critics worry that small publishers could get cut out of the deal, which is supposed to address the power imbalance between the social media giants and publishers when negotiating payment for news content displayed on the tech firms’ sites.

“The big players could successfully negotiate with Facebook or Google. The minister then doesn’t designate them, and all the little players miss out,” independent senator Rex Patrick, who plans to vote against the amended bill, told Reuters.

Frydenberg said he will give Facebook and Google time to strike deals with Australian media companies before deciding whether to enforce his new powers.

After first threatening to withdraw its search engine from Australia, Google instead struck a series of deals with several publishers, including a global news deal with News Corp.

Major television broadcaster and newspaper publisher Seven West Media on Tuesday said it had signed a letter of intent to reach a content supply deal with Facebook within 60 days.

Rival Nine Entertainment Co also revealed on Wednesday it was in negotiations with Facebook.

“At this stage, we’re still obviously proceeding with negotiations,” Nine chief executive Hugh Marks told analysts at a company briefing on Wednesday. “It is really positive for our business and positive particularly for the publishing business.”

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