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HEADLINES: Google loses EU antitrust appeal / Ethiopia war crimes / Meta to end race-based ads

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HEADLINES: Google loses EU antitrust appeal / Ethiopia war crimes / Meta to end race-based ads


Google lost an appeal against a €2.4B ($2.8B) antitrust decision issued by the EU. 

The bloc's competition chief Margrethe Vestager sanctioned Google in 2017 for anti-competitive practices used in its price-comparison shopping service, the first of three decisions that have led to fines of €8.3B ($9.5B). 

The EU General Court court said the Commission correctly found Google's practices to be anti-competitive and that Google's appeal argument, which claimed that the presence of merchant platforms demonstrated a competitive environment, was invalid. Google said that it would review the judgment. 

It did not indicate whether it plans to appeal to the EU Court of Justice, the bloc's top court. 

One of the judges in the case said: "Google departed from competition on its merits." Google could face additional fines in two cases related to alleged anti-competitive features of its Android mobile operating system and its AdSense advertising service. 

Meta — formerly Facebook — plans to stop advertisers from targeting people based on their perceived views on "sensitive" topics like health, race, politics, religion, or sexual orientation. 

Meta said this "difficult decision" follows consultations with experts who felt that targeting advertisements based on these criteria could "lead to negative experiences for people in underrepresented groups." 

 Most of Meta's $86B in annual sales comes from advertising. The targetting that is being disallowed did not actually allow advertisers to target people based on demographic data but instead based on the content that Facebook users interacted with. 

The changes will take effect on Jan. 10, across Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, and its audience network that places ads on other smartphone apps. 

Critics argue that Facebook needs to change its approach to ads, saying that microtargeting produces bad outcomes like excluding people based on protected characteristics. 

A 2017 ProPublica investigation found that Facebook had allowed advertisers to cater to anti-Semites. Facebook placed a temporary ad on political ads in the lead-up to the November 2020 election that ended in March. 

Facebook played a crucial part in the Cambridge Analytica scandal that followed the 2016 Presidential election. The 2016 Trump campaign used microtargeted Facebook ads to increase turnout among likely Trump voters and decrease turnout among groups that it saw as likely Hillary voters - namely African-American and young individuals.

A new report by Amnesty International monitored by Prudentj2 revealed that guerilla fighters in the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) committed brutal crimes against women in the Ethiopian region of Amhara.

 The report was released as tensions rise in Ethiopia, where a civil war between the Ethiopian government and the TPLF has been building for months. More: Fourteen women told Amnesty stated that they were raped by TPLF troops. 

Last week a report by the United Nations and the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission (EHRC) found that war crimes had been committed by actors on both sides of the conflict. 

 On Nov. 2 the Ethiopian government declared a six-month state of emergency, which would limit internal travel within the country, impose curfews, and allow for the military takeover of some areas. 

The state-run TV network said the state of emergency will help "protect civilians from atrocities being committed by the terrorist TPLF group." Millions of people have been displaced by the conflict, which began last year. 

 UN political chief Rosemary DiCarlo said: "In a country of over 110 million people, over 90 different ethnic groups and 80 languages, no one can predict what continued fighting and insecurity will bring." 

Amnesty’s Secretary-General Agnes Callamard said of the report: "The testimonies we heard from survivors describe despicable acts by TPLF fighters that amount to war crimes, and potentially crimes against humanity. They defy morality or any iota of humanity

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