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Tech

Indonesia imposes 10% VAT on Facebook, Disney, Tiktok

JAKARTA Indonesia has added more technology companies that will be obligated to apply 10% value-added tax on sales to Indonesian customers to include Facebook, Disney and TikTok, its tax office said on Friday.

Southeast Asia’s biggest country, which has a population of nearly 270 million people, announced last month a 10% VAT on sales by technology firms including Amazon, Netflix, Spotify and Google, as spending patterns shift with increased remote working amid the coronavirus pandemic, which has hit government finances.

The additional companies announced on Friday include three units of Facebook, Tiktok Pte Ltd, Apple Distribution International Ltd, The Walt Disney Company (Southeast Asia) Pte Ltd, and more of Amazon’s subsidiaries, including its audiobook unit Audible and its voice assistant Alexa.

Facebook said the company would comply.

“In Indonesia, we will start collecting VAT as of September 1, 2020, as required under Indonesia regulations,” a Facebook spokeswoman said.

The other companies did not immediately respond to requests to comment.

Under the rules, non-resident foreign firms which sell digital products and services in Indonesia worth at least 600 million rupiah ($41,040) a year, or which generate yearly traffic from at least 12,000 users, must pay the 10% VAT.

Tech giants are increasingly facing tougher fiscal regimes in Southeast Asia, including in Thailand and the Philippines, where legislation pending house approval proposes VAT of 7% and 12% respectively.

The Indonesian tax office in a statement said it continues to identify other technology companies to inform them of the digital tax rules, adding the number of firms subject to the VAT would likely increase.

The VAT rules aim to create a level playing field between foreign and local companies and between conventional and digital businesses, it said.

Indonesia expects a 13% annual drop in state revenue this year as the coronavirus disrupts business activity.

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($1 = 14,620 rupiah)

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Tech

Facebook removes small pro-Trump network based in Romania

SAN FRANCISCO Facebook Inc said on Thursday it recently removed a small network of accounts operating from Romania that had been promoting President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign with stories about his support from conservatives, Black Americans, Christians and followers of the QAnon web of baseless conspiracy theories.

Many of the 35 Facebook and 88 Instagram accounts posed as Americans, and some managed Trump fan pages, but they ran afoul of the social network’s rules on what it calls coordinated inauthentic behavior. In addition to misleading people about their location, some account holders ran multiple personas with similar names that posted identical content.

The network had a small reach, with only 1,600 accounts following the Facebook pages and 7,200 tracking the accounts on Instagram, which is owned by Facebook.

Facebook security policy head Nathaniel Gleicher said the company was unable to tell whether the Romanian group was motivated by money, ideology or government directive.

The nonprofit Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensics Research Lab said some pages only shared content from Trump’s page, while others promoted QAnon, which connects various theories around the idea that Trump is secretly waging a war against powerful Democrats who worship the devil and abuse children. The FBI warned last year https://www.justsecurity.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/420379775-fbi-conspiracy-theories-domestic-extremism.pdf that QAnon would likely motivate extremists to commit violence.

Atlantic Council Lab Director Graham Brookie said there were no clear connections to Trump associates or surrogates, and Gleicher said there were no obvious ties to established commercial players such as companies that sell “likes” and followers.

Facebook previously removed much larger and better-connected networks that supported Trump, including one connected to the Epoch Times https://www.reuters.com/article/us-facebook-content/facebook-says-group-used-computer-generated-faces-to-push-pro-trump-message-idUSKBN1YO26W, which was founded by supporters of the Falun Gong spiritual movement and often criticizes the government of China.

Facebook said on Thursday it had removed another network that reposted content from the Epoch Times and other Falun Gong media in a follow-up action.

While smaller than the network in the December takedown, the new one had amassed more than 2 million followers by posting on topics including the Hong Kong protests, the coronavirus, and U.S. policy toward China, as well as posting animal pictures.

Other July takedowns dismantled a major operation aimed at politics in the Democratic Republic of Congo. More than a million accounts followed pages in the network, which sometimes impersonated political figures.

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Facebook said it connected the activity to Congolese political party Force des Patriotes.

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Tech

Facebook removes one of largest QAnon conspiracy groups after false posts

SAN FRANCISCO Facebook said on Thursday it had removed one of the largest public groups devoted to the QAnon web of conspiracy theories after repeated violations of the company’s policies.

The group, called Official Q/Qanon and with nearly 200,000 members, had been deleted after multiple individual postings were removed for crossing the lines on bullying and harassment, hate speech, and false information that could lead to harm, a Facebook spokeswoman said.

The spokeswoman, who declined to be identified, said Facebook took the action on Tuesday and was monitoring other QAnon groups as it strengthens enforcement in the area.

QAnon followers espouse an intertwined series of beliefs based on anonymous web postings from someone claiming special insider knowledge of the Trump administration. The core tenet is that President Donald Trump is secretly fighting a cabal of child-sex predators including prominent Democrats.

Though the FBI has identified QAnon as among fringe movements likely to encourage extremist violence, a growing number of office-seeking Republicans have praised the loose association.

In May, Facebook removed a smaller network of QAnon accounts that pushed false information about the deadly coronavirus.

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Twitter last month went further, saying it would delete or restrict many thousands of QAnon accounts.

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Categories
Tech

Indonesia imposes 10% VAT on Facebook, Disney, Tiktok – tax office

JAKARTA Indonesia has added more techology companies that will be obligated to apply 10% value-added tax on sales to Indonesian customers to include Facebook, Disney and TikTok, the tax office said in a statement on Friday.

Southeast Asia’s biggest country, which has a population of nearly 270 million people, announced last month it will impose 10% VAT on sales by technology firms including Amazon, Netflix, Spotify and Google, as spending patterns shift with increased remote working amid the pandemic, which has hit government finances.

The additional companies announced on Friday include three units of Facebook, Tiktok Pte Ltd, Apple Distribution International Ltd, The Walt Disney Company (Southeast Asia) Pte Ltd, and more of Amazon’s subsidiaries, including its audiobook unit Audible and its voice assistant Alexa.

The companies did not not immediately respond to requests to comment.

Under Indonesia’s rules, non-resident foreign firms which sell digital products and services in Indonesia worth at least 600 million rupiah ($41,039.67) a year or which generate yearly traffic from at least 12,000 users will be required to pay the 10% VAT.

Indonesia expects to record a 13% annual drop in state revenue this year as the coronavirus pandemic disrupts business activity.

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($1 = 14,620 rupiah)

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Tech

Facebook employees to work from home until July 2021 due to coronavirus outbreak; get $1,000 for home offices

Facebook Inc will allow employees to work from home until July 2021 due to the coronavirus outbreak and will give them $1,000 for home office needs, a spokeswoman for the social media giant said on Thursday.

The company joins other big technology firms that have taken similar steps recently.

Late in July, Alphabet Inc’s Google said it would allow employees who do not need to be in the office to work from home until the end of June 2021, while Twitter Inc had proposed remote work indefinitely for some of its employees.

“Based on guidance from health and government experts, as well as decisions drawn from our internal discussions about these matters, we are allowing employees to continue voluntarily working from home until July 2021”, a Facebook spokeswoman said in an emailed statement.

“In addition, we are giving employees an additional $1,000 for home office needs,” it added.

Facebook also said that the company will continue reopening offices in a restricted capacity where government guidance permits and where virus mitigation has taken place for about two months.

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However, the company added that it was unlikely many locations will reopen in the United States and Latin America before the end of the year, due to the high number of COVID-19 cases.

Disclaimer: This post has been auto-published from an agency feed without any modifications to the text and has not been reviewed by an editor


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Tech

Facebook bars pro-Trump PAC from advertising, citing repeated false posts

SAN FRANCISCO Facebook Inc is temporarily banning a Republican political action committee, the Committee to Defend the President, from advertising after it repeatedly shared content that was deemed false by external fact-checkers, the social media company said on Thursday.

“As a result of the Committee to Defend the President’s repeated sharing of content determined by third-party fact-checkers to be false, they will not be permitted to advertise for a period of time on our platform,” Facebook spokesman Andy Stone said in a statement.

The company declined to specify the length of the advertising ban or which posts prompted it.

Politicians’ ads and posts are not subject to Facebook fact-checking, a policy that has drawn heat from lawmakers, but content from political groups like PACs can be fact-checked.

The committee’s Facebook page, which has almost 1 million “likes,” has had four “false” or “partly false” fact-checking labels attached to content since the start of July.

Founded as the Stop Hillary PAC in 2013, the group has spent more than $15 million to advance the agenda of U.S. President Donald Trump, according to its website. It claims to reach millions of Americans via digital and telemarketing channels.

Committee chairman Ted Harvey said in a statement the group would not be “silenced by ‘woke’ Silicon Valley elites” and would reallocate its Facebook budget to other platforms.

Reuters, a Facebook fact-checking partner, determined last month that one of the group’s advertisements took a quote from Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden out of context, misleadingly claiming he made racist comments in 1985.

The Biden campaign last year wrote to Facebook asking the company to reject an ad by the PAC that it said was false, according to a CNN report.

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The Trump and Biden campaigns did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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Female politicians in the United States, Europe urge Facebook to protect women in politics

WASHINGTON Facebook Inc must step up and protect women in politics from threats of violence and sexism and hate on its platform, said a letter to the company from female members of the U.S. Congress such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and top female politicians from the European Union.

Facebook has been heavily criticized for its decision to not fact-check political ads, allowing the spread of misinformation on its platform, as well as over antitrust concerns and privacy practices. The platform also came under fire for not removing a doctored video of Pelosi last year.

“We are imploring Facebook to do more to protect the ability of women to engage in democratic discourse and to foster a safe and empowering space for women,” said the letter, led by U.S. Representative Jackie Speier, a Democrat who is also co-chair of the Democratic Women’s Caucus.

The lawmakers are asking Facebook to remove posts that threaten candidates or glorify violence against women, eliminate hate speech targeting women, and remove manipulated videos, images and offending accounts. The letter was addressed to Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg and Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg on Thursday.

Social media has become the No. 1 place in which psychological violence – in the form of sexist and , misogynistic remarks, humiliating images, mobbing, intimidation and threats – is perpetrated against female parliamentarians, the letter added, citing a study by the Inter-Parliamentary Union, an independent organization promoting democracy.

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Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Tech

Facebook purges ads for illegal wildlife in SE Asia as online trade surges

YANGON An ad showing a civet cat cowering in a cage being offered for sale on Facebook was just one of hundreds that the social media giant has removed in a crackdown on Southeast Asia’s illegal wildlife trade during recent weeks.

“Not too wild, not too-well behaved. If interested, call…” the seller wrote on the post, using an account in Myanmar, a major source and transit point for the trade in wild animals.

Facebook has a ban on the sale of animals on its platform.

But, in the five months through May 2020, a report seen by Reuters showed World Wildlife Fund researchers had counted 2,143 wild animals from 94 species for sale on Facebook from Myanmar alone.

The vast majority of posts – 92% – offered live animals, including birds of prey, while gibbons, langurs, wild cats, and hornbills were in high demand.

Wildlife charities said more than 500 posts, accounts, and groups were taken down in April and July after they alerted Facebook, which said its staffers remove content that breaches rules as soon as they become aware.

“We are committed to working with law enforcement authorities around the world to help tackle the illegal trade of wildlife,” a Facebook spokesperson said.

‘INCREASING IN EVERY COUNTRY’

Campaigners say the advent of zoonotic diseases like the novel coronavirus, which is suspected of having jumped from animals to humans, has not quashed demand from buyers.

Southeast Asia is a major hub in the multi-billion dollar global wildlife trade and, according to monitors, sellers are increasingly using social media due to its massive reach and private chat functions.

“It’s increasing in every country,” said Jedsada Taweekan, a regional program manager for WWF, adding that the volume of wildlife products sold online had approximately doubled since 2015.

Myanmar came under fire in recent weeks over reported plans to allow captive breeding of about 175 threatened species including tigers and pangolins. Naing Zaw Htun, a senior forestry department official, told Reuters social media had become “one of the major drivers of the wildlife trafficking”, and the aim of the captive breeding plan was to reduce poaching.

Fighting the illegal online wildlife trade poses a serious challenge for governments across the region, where many national laws lag behind, said Elizabeth John, senior communications officer for TRAFFIC, a non-government organisation.

She said Facebook had been “very proactive in trying to address the online trade” but faced a “considerable logistical challenge” monitoring posts.

A study by TRAFFIC published in early July found more than 2,489 ivory items for sale across Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam on Facebook and Instagram, which is owned by Facebook.

TRAFFIC said 557 out of 600 posts, groups and profiles subsequently flagged to Facebook were removed. WWF said four Facebook accounts and seven groups, each with thousands of members, were removed in response to their research in Myanmar.

The company says it uses a combination of technology and reports from NGOs and others to detect and remove content.

Relying on tip-offs isn’t good enough, said Michael Lwin, founder of Myanmar-based tech start-up Koe Koe Tech.

“Social media platforms in general need a more systematic response,” Lwin said.

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(Writing and additional reporting by Poppy McPherson; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

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Tech

Google and Amazon Were the Most Imitated Brands Used for Phising Attacks in June Quarter: Report

Image for Representation.

Image for Representation.

Email phishing exploits were the second most common type after web-based exploits, compared to Q1 where email was third, the report added.

  • IANS
  • Last Updated: August 5, 2020, 11:04 AM IST

Google and Amazon were the most imitated brands via phishing attempts in the second quarter this year while Apple which was the leading phishing brand in Q1 fell to seventh place in the June quarter, a new report said on Tuesday. Google (13 per cent), Amazon (13 per cent) and WhatsApp (9 per cent) were the top three most imitated brands globally in Q2 across devices while Facebook was the most imitated brand on mobile, according to cybersecurity firm Check Point’s ‘Q2 Brand Phishing Report’.

Email phishing attacks surged, making up nearly a quarter (24 per cent) of all phishing attacks. The report outlined the latest trends in ‘brand phishing’, a term used to describe when a hacker imitates an official website of a known brand by using a similar domain or URL.

“Hackers leverage a variety of methods to send links to deceptive websites, redirecting users during their web browsing experiences. Typically, the intention of a hacker is to steal credentials, personal information or payments,” said the researchers. Facebook was fifth in the overall tally, followed by Microsoft (7 per cent), Outlook (3 per cent), Apple (2 per cent), Netflix (2 per cent), Huawei (2 per cent) and PayPal (2 per cent).

Email phishing exploits were the second most common type after web-based exploits, compared to Q1 where email was third. “The reason for this change may be the easing of global Covid-19 related restrictions, which have seen businesses re-opening and employees returning to work,” said the report.

“Almost 15 per cent of phishing attacks trace to mobile. Facebook, WhatsApp and then PayPal are the most imitated brands on mobile, respectively,” it added. In late June, the researchers witnessed a fraudulent website which was trying to imitate the login page of Apple’s cloud services iCloud. “The purpose of this website was to try and steal iCloud login credentials and the domain was registered in Russia,” said the report.


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Tech

Why Does Microsoft Want To Buy TikTok? The Answer Is You, The Consumer, And The Data You Create

Microsoft wants to buy TikTok. Donald Trump is not happy about it. Donald Trump is okay with it. Donald Trump has given his blessings. Donald Trump has set a deadline for the deal. Well, depending on which side of the bed you wake up and what day it is, the intersection of politics and technology is undoubtedly creating more confusion that it does good. At the time of writing this, it seems the political dispensation in the US is okay with Microsoft going ahead with the attempt to follow through on its interest in acquiring TikTok. At least the operations for certain parts of the world, including the US. Works out well for the tech giant, because TikTok is trying everything possible to remain present and active, in the US in particular, where it has a large and active user base. But the question still remains, why does Microsoft want to buy TikTok?

The way things have been over the past few years, Microsoft has focused on the enterprise space. The part consumer plays, that have included the Surface computing device line-up and the revamped Microsoft 365 subscriptions, in the end, do plug into the enterprise space very nicely. But Microsoft, for most intents and purposes, doesn’t really do consumer products. Except perhaps the Microsoft Xbox ecosystem. Let us look at some of Microsoft’s consumer products that no longer are around. Windows Phone, Groove Music, the Microsoft Band fitness accessory are some examples. Cortana, the virtual assistant, seems to be going down that path—the app for Android and iOS will be shut down next year, along with Cortana access for Harman Kardon Invoke smart speakers and the first-generation Microsoft Surface headphones. Cortana instead is getting deeper integration within the Outlook email app and Teams video meeting app, which have great enterprise significance. Gives you a sense of the demographic of users Microsoft is largely designing products and services for.

At this time, it is believed Microsoft wants to acquire TikTok’s operations for US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. “This is a unique deal of a decade opportunity with a price tag that could easily be consummated,” wrote Dan Ives, analyst at Wedbush, to the investors earlier this week, as reported by CNN. It is believed TikTok’s value stands at $50 billion.

One of the primary reasons why Microsoft believes TikTok is an investment worth doing is it will get a readymade product in the social media space. The closest Microsoft right now is to that space is with LinkedIn, a professional network. Yet, it is no match for the might of Facebook, the Facebook owned Instagram and even Twitter and Snapchat. Maybe that LinkedIn acquisition holds a clue—Microsoft didn’t change the branding or the foundations of the network that made it successful in the space it operates. If the company does the same with TikTok, as in leave the branding and the app as is, it could simply be successful because of the numbers that drive TikTok engagement on a daily basis. The only change would be that the user data for US based accounts will be saved on servers in the US. As a consumer, that would make no difference, except you may perhaps have to again accept the new terms and conditions at some point when you open the app post the expected Microsoft acquisition.

Second, it is the oil of the modern world. Data. It all started with data, and the fears that data of US users was ending up with the Chinese government. After all, TikTok is owned by Chinese company ByteDance. In China, the National Intelligence Law of 2017 governs all tech companies that are based in China or are under Chinese ownership. The law mandates all businesses to share any and all information that the Chinese Government may ask for. This is something that is worrying governments around the world, including India.

Microsoft acknowledges the importance of the data that it’ll get from TikTok. “Among other measures, Microsoft would ensure that all private data of TikTok’s American users is transferred to and remains in the United States. To the extent that any such data is currently stored or backed-up outside the United States, Microsoft would ensure that this data is deleted from servers outside the country after it is transferred,” says the company in an official statement confirming the talks.

As of January, TikTok had clocked 800 million users worldwide. The app saw more than 49 million downloads in the US just last year. On an average, TikTok users in the US open the app 8 times a day, with each session around 5 minutes—that works out to around 40 minutes of app usage in a day. This is the sort of ready-made platforms that don’t become available so easily for tech companies to acquire. Microsoft will finally have a product to take Facebook on with.

If you notice the list of countries that Microsoft wants to acquire TikTok in, these are all English-speaking. That would mean limited challenges when it comes to moderating content as well, without having to deal with complexities of localization.

TikTok is as consumer centric as it gets. In fact, this gives Microsoft a head-start in trying to understand a younger demographic of users, who will consume more services and apps in the years to come. While Microsoft fell behind with the previous generation with its much delayed attempts at battling with Google, Apple and Facebook in the past when it came to platforms such as Windows Phone, Outlook Mail, Bing Search and social networks in general, it’ll have an advantage over the rival big tech companies when it comes to understanding these users that it’ll adopt with TikTok.

Microsoft is also in a safe spot as far as regulators are concerned. While Facebook, Google, Apple and Amazon are all very much under scrutiny by the US Congress, Microsoft hasn’t been dragged into it just yet because of its business and enterprise focus.

Remember, TikTok is the one social media platform that has had Facebook worried for a while now. The popularity, the quick video format and the product itself has been some concern for Facebook, which is trying the same with Instagram Reels. With Microsoft’s might behind it, TikTok can logically stand to gain. The key for Microsoft will be to leave TikTok as is, and not make it a Microsoft product.


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