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Digital Asia links: Weibo backflip, Facebook comeuppance, dancing grandpa, more

Sarah Logan’s links to digital news across Asia.

Sculpture in Singapore (Photo: Alph Thomas/Flickr)
Sculpture in Singapore (Photo: Alph Thomas/Flickr)
Published 19 Apr 2018   Follow @DrSarahLogan

  • The Cambridge Analytica scandal has reached Indonesia after authorities launched a criminal investigation into Facebook. Local Facebook management testified before the Indonesian parliament in early April. Although there is a legal ban on transferring electronic information and documents to a third party, analysts judge the case will more likely resolve in greater government attempts to control Facebook’s activities in Indonesia, one of its most active markets.
  • Meanwhile, in the Philippines, the social media manager of President Rodrigo Duterte’s 2016 election campaign has denied using Cambridge Analytica’s services, despite being photographed with the company’s director in Manila in 2015.
  • And Facebook has joined with two local media partners in the Philippines to run a third-party fact-checking program to stem the spread of fake news on the platform.
  • China’s Weibo this month exhibited an unusual backflip on censorship. It had begun censoring LGBTI+ material but, after an uproar by users, which involved online protests and even dumping of its parent company’s shares, Weibo reactivated the hashtag 我是同性恋 (I’m homosexual) and stopped removing related material. This seems significant in the same month a joke app was shut down for not aligning with “core socialist values”.
  • Still in China, new legislation released for comment facilitates Chinese police “spot checks” of compliance with the country’s new cybersecurity law, including in-person and remote testing.
  • A coalition of Myanmar NGOs has written an open letter to Mark Zuckerberg, highlighting Facebook’s impact on the country’s ethnic violence and noting the lack of a systematic emergency escalation process for highly volatile situations, among other issues. Zuckerberg’s response, which noted an increase in the company’s “Burmese language” review team, as well as increased attention to local issues, was panned by the NGOs as insufficient.
  • Thailand has experienced its first major mobile data breach. True Corp, Thailand’s second largest mobile operator, lost stored copes of national identification cards belonging to 11,400 customers. The National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) said it would ask Thailand’s five main mobile operators to outline their data protection measures, and is looking to build its own data centre to store customer information, arguing that data storage should be undertaken by a government agency.
  • Japan is in a stoush with online pirates of anime. Amid a spike in copyright infringement, the country’s Intellectual Property Strategy Headquarters has compiled a report calling for emergency measures locking those websites that pirate anime. The move would be a stopgap until more appropriate antipiracy laws are passed, but risks running afoul of the Japanese constitution, which forbids censorship.
  • A South Korean arts visit to North Korea saw journalists accompanying K-pop stars and others puzzling over the wonders of North Korean consumer technology. Journalists were provided with ten internet connections which apparently worked “just like at home”, with all American sites available. South Korean officials with the group were also given their own phones, which apparently looked just like older model iPhones but with “Pyongyang” written on the back.
  • Malaysia has passed an anti-fake news law, vaguely defining fake news as anything “wholly or partly false” across all digital publication platforms. The law comes just in time to cushion the impact of a corruption scandal looming over Prime Minister Najib Razak’s government over allegations of embezzlement of state funds. In March, the government announced that any news related to the scandal which had not been approved by authorities would be considered “fake”, and would be subject to government action.
  • Finally, a Shanghai Grandpa and his daughter have gone viral for their sweet, sweet moves, captured here:

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