Facebook faces fine in Belgium, YouTube promotes conspiracy videos: International round-up

Plus Aldi accused of ‘illegal bait’ advertising and almost 800 million people send digital red envelopes over Chinese New Year.

Facebook threatened with hefty fines by Belgian court

A Belgian court has ordered Facebook to stop tracking users, or risk being slapped with fines of up to €100m (£88m) or €250,000 (£221,285) a day.

According to the court, the social media giant broke privacy laws by tracking people via third-party websites who are not necessarily Facebook users.

The social network has been ordered to wipe all data is has collected illegally from Belgian citizens following a long-winded battle with the nation’s watchdog, the Belgian commission for the protection of privacy (CPP).

“Facebook informs us insufficiently about gathering information about us, the kind of data it collects, what it does with that data and how long it stores it,” the court says in a statement, adding that Facebook doesn’t gain consent to collect and store information.

The social network plans to appeal the ruling, arguing its technologies meet industry standards.

Facebook’s vice-president of public policy for Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), Richard Allen, reiterates that the company provides clear notice to end-users and gives individuals the right to opt-out of having data collected.

READ MORE: Facebook ordered to stop collecting user data by Belgian court

YouTube search promotes conspiracy theory videos around Florida shooting

YouTube has been promoting a conspiracy theory that suggests survivors of last week’s school shooting in Florida are “crisis actors”.

Fourteen students and three members of staff were killed when gunman Nikolas Cruz opened fire at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

One of the survivors, David Hogg, slammed the government for its failure to address gun violence in the US, and has become the subject of a number of subsequent videos suggesting he is an actor hired by gun control advocates to push an anti-gun agenda. A video called ‘David Hogg the actor’, for example, received 200,000 hits before YouTube removed it.

And when a user typed ‘David Hogg’ into the search bar yesterday (21 February), YouTube was suggesting key words such as “exposed” and “forgot his lines”.

Hogg has since hit back, arguing he is not a crisis actor and simply a witness who has to “live through this”.

The video hosting platform has faced harsh criticism recently in terms of how it assesses video content and monitors its channels. As a result, a number of advertisers have become wary of using the site as a promotional tool in case their ads appear alongside fake news or extremist content.

YouTube has now taken the video down.

READ MORE: YouTube search automatically suggests conspiracy theories for Florida shooting

Wheelchair athlete stars in Woolworths’ first 2018 Commonwealth Games ad

Australian retailer Woolworths is championing inclusion by featuring Aussie wheelchair racer Kurt Fearnley in its first campaign ahead of the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.

Created by M&C Saatchi’s Greenhouse, the ‘Grown for Gold’ campaign tells the story of a number of Australian athletes including Fearnley, linking fresh produce to helping fuel Aussie champions.

Fearnley’s dad, teacher, coach and a local farmer help explain how the wheelchair racer used to train and would always carry freshly grown apples while he did so.

The campaign also features athletes such as diver Georgia Sheehan and basketballer Adam Gibson.

Woolworths’ director of marketing Andrew Hicks says the Grown for Gold series is an “authentic, emotional” look into the lives of Australian athletes.

The grocer is an official partner of the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games, which kicks off on 4 April.

READ MORE: Woolworths features apple hungry wheelchair athlete in first Commonwealth Games ads

Aldi accused of ‘illegal bait’ advertising

Aldi is under fire in Australia for selling cheap special buy products with limited stock, with an Australian consumer affairs programme calling out the retailer for “bait advertising”, illegal under section 35 of the country’s Consumer Law.

A new episode of ABC’s The Checkout claims dozens of consumers regularly queue outside their local store every Wednesday and Saturday when the retailer offers discounted one-off products, such as Dyson vacuum cleaners and cheap ski equipment. However, it claims there isn’t enough stock to meet demand.

According to The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC)’s website, bait advertising is not misleading if “the business is upfront in a highly visible, clear and specific manner about the particular product ‘on sale’ being in short supply or on sale for a limited time”.

The website also clarifies that consumers have the right to a replacement if a discounted item is in short supply.

Meanwhile, in the fine print of its brochures Aldi says “stocks are limited and will vary between stores”.

“Despite our careful planning we apologise if selected stock may sell out on the first day, due to unexpectedly high demand,” the company adds.

READ MORE: Aldi accused of ‘illegal bait advertising’

Almost 800 million people sent digital red envelopes over Chinese New Year

chinese new year

More than 768 million people are estimated to have sent red envelopes over Tencent’s social media platform, WeChat, during the Lunar New Year.

Known as hongbao, and one of China’s most ancient traditions, the red envelopes are often stuffed with cash in the form of virtual credits (which can be used to purchase goods online or withdrawn) before being sent to friends and relatives during the six-day holiday period.

One man alone is thought to have sent 2,723 envelopes, while another man reportedly received 3,429.

The exchanges were made over WeChat, known as Weixin Pay in China, which has proven a hit since hongbao went digital in 2014.

The platform claims users also sent more than 230 billion messages, shared almost three billion posts and had 28 million people play the WeChat mini games at the same time.

The third-party mobile payment market is said to be worth about $15.5trn (£11.18trn).

Chinese New Year celebrations began last Friday and will run until 2 March.

READ MORE: Almost 800m Tencent users send digital hongbao for lunar new year

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