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Does Facebook Need a Sec'y of State?

Does Facebook Need a Sec'y of State?

Last week, all eyes were on Facebook’s problems in the United States, as CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified before Congress about privacy lapses and election meddling. But as fellow Signalista @kevinallison points out, only a small minority of the social network’s 2 billion-plus monthly active users are American.


That means Facebook has to navigate an increasingly patchwork world of national regulations and popular expectations about privacy and content. And while building community is Zuck’s strong suit, diplomacy certainly isn’t. Here’s Kevin’s non-exhaustive list of Facebook’s other big foreign flaps at the moment.

Europe: The EU is already way ahead of the US on regulation. Firm privacy laws are about to get even stricter next month, imposing heavy fines on companies that mistreat users’ data. In addition, Facebook faces national-level German and UK investigations into the Cambridge Analytica fiasco. Topping it all off, a US-EU data sharing agreements that Facebook relies on to store data is on increasingly shaky legal ground.

Indonesia: The world’s fourth most populous country recently threatened to ban Facebook unless the company gets a handle on privacy and “fake news.” The government may be worried in particular about squelching fake accusations about President Joko Widodo’s alleged communist sympathies ahead of next year’s elections. Either way, Zuckerberg’s got a big content management problem in a huge market.

Myanmar: Facebook has come under fire from both UN investigators and local activists for serving as a platform for anti-Muslim hate speech that has helped fuel genocidal violence against the country’s Rohingya minority. A personal apology from Zuck (his specialty!) has done little to quell the uproar.

Cambodia: Facebook is coping with allegations from an exiled opposition leader that strongman Prime Minister Hun Sen has used the social network (where he somehow has amassed nearly twice as many followers as Cambodia has people) to “deceive Cambodia’s electorate and to commit human rights abuses,” as part of a broader crackdown on the political opposition and media.

Pop quiz: what percentage of plastic currently gets recycled worldwide? Watch this video in Eni's Energy Shot series to find out and learn what needs to be done to prevent plastic from ending up in our oceans. Plastic is a precious resource that should be valued, not wasted.

Ten years ago this week, a powerful earthquake off the coast of eastern Japan triggered a tsunami that destroyed the Fukushima nuclear plant, resulting in the world's worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986. A decade and dozens of decommissioned reactors later, nuclear energy still supplies about 10 percent of global electricity, but its future remains uncertain amid post-Fukushima safety concerns.

As more countries pledge to curb emissions to mitigate climate change, nuclear could serve as a clean(ish) and reliable source of energy. But investing more in nuclear comes with tradeoffs.

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This Monday, March 8, is International Women's Day, a holiday with roots in a protest led by the Russian feminist Alexandra Kollontai that helped topple the czar of Russia in 1917. More than a hundred years later, amid a global pandemic that has affected women with particular fury, there are dozens of women-led protests and social movements reshaping politics around the globe. Here we take a look at a few key ones to watch this year.

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Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Hey everybody. Ian Bremmer here. Welcome to your week, life looking better every day in the United States, coronavirus land. But I thought I'd talk about, this week, all of this cancel culture that everyone's talking about right now. If you're on the wrong political side, your opponents are trying to shut you down and you take massive umbrage. I see this everywhere, and it's starting to annoy.

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"Apocalyptic" protests in Senegal: At least five people have been killed in clashes with police as protests over poverty, unemployment, and the jailing of a popular politician rock the West African nation of Senegal. Ousmane Sonko, who heads the opposition Movement to Defend Democracy (M2D) and is considered the most viable challenger to current president Mackie Sall, was accused of rape in February and arrested last week. Sonko says the charges are a politically motivated attempt to remove him from politics before the 2024 presidential election. His supporters immediately hit the streets, voicing a range of grievances including joblessness and poverty. Though youth unemployment has fallen over the past decade, it still exceeds eight percent and close to two-thirds of the country's 16 million people are under the age of 25. As Sonko supporters pledge to continue protests this week, Senegal's head of conflict resolution says the country is "on the verge of apocalypse."

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The GZERO World Podcast with Ian Bremmer. Listen now.

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