Facebook apologises as services including Instagram hit again

Facebook apologises as services including Instagram hit again. Facebook has apologised after again reporting problems with its services, days after a major outage hit WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook for hours.

The company said that a “configuration change” had impacted users globally.

It added that the incident was not related to the outage that saw its products taken offline for over six hours earlier this week.

Its Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and Workplace products had been affected, it said.

“We’re so sorry if you weren’t able to access our products during the last couple of hours,” the company said it a statement on Friday evening. “We know how much you depend on us to communicate with one another. We fixed the issue – thanks again for your patience this week.”

Earlier, web monitoring group Downdetector said that for a relatively short period of time on Friday there was an avalanche of messages from users reporting problems with Instagram.

Some of them immediately took to Twitter and other social media platforms to complain about the second Instagram disruption and share memes on the issue.

On Monday, Facebook – which owns WhatsApp and Instagram – blamed an internal technical issue for the major outage which not only affected the firm’s services, but also employees’ work passes and email.

The services were down from about 16:00 GMT until around 22:00 on Monday.

Two wealthy fathers have been convicted of paying bribes to have their children admitted to elite universities by falsely posing as successful athletes.

A jury in Boston on Friday found ex-casino chief Gamal Aziz and private equity firm founder John Wilson guilty of bribery and fraud charges.

Sentencing is scheduled for February. They each face up to 20 years in jail.

The verdict marks the first trial conviction in the scandal, dubbed “Operation Varsity Blues” by officials.

More than 50 parents, coaches and school administrators are facing federal charges as part of the scandal. Others implicated in the nationwide plot – including celebrities Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman – have pleaded guilty to their crimes rather than stand trial.

Federal prosecutors accused Aziz of paying $300,000 (£220,000) in 2018 to have his daughter admitted to the University of Southern California (USC). The girl was admitted as a top basketball recruit, despite having failed to make her high school basketball team.

Wilson was found to have paid $220,000 in 2014 for his son to be admitted to USC as a water polo player. Officials say his son did play the sport, but not well enough to have been recruited.

He also offered to pay a $1.5m bribe for his twin daughters to be admitted to Stanford and Harvard.

Both men had argued that they had been duped by William Singer, who officials say was the mastermind of the plan. They argued that they did not know that the money being paid to Mr Singer would be used for bribes.

Mr Singer, who has not yet gone on trial and is co-operating with authorities, allegedly told parents he was able to secure admissions for their children through a “side door” at universities for athletes.

Both Aziz and Wilson are expected to appeal against the verdict.

The University of Hong Kong has said a statue commemorating the Tiananmen Square massacre must be removed.

The Pillar of Shame depicts dozens of torn and twisted bodies and was at the forefront of vigils held in the city to commemorate the 1989 crackdown.

The university said the decision was “based on the latest risk assessment and legal advice” without expanding on this explanation.

Beijing has recently moved to silence opposition to its rule in Hong Kong.

Tiananmen is still a heavily censored topic in modern China. The anniversary was marked annually in Hong Kong until it was banned by authorities in 2020, citing Covid measures.

Pillar of Shame, by Danish sculptor Jens Galschiot, has been on display at the university’s campus for 24 years.

But the university wrote a letter to the Hong Kong alliance, a now disbanded group which organised an annual vigil, asking for the piece to be removed by 13 October.

It added that the statue would be deemed “abandoned” if it was not removed from the campus.

Mr Galschiot told Hong Kong Free Press that the statue, which was given to the alliance as a gift, is “difficult to remove”.

“It is really not fair to remove it in a week while it’s been there for 24 years,” he said, adding that it could be damaged if it is moved too quickly.

What happened in Tiananmen Square?

In 1989, Beijing’s Tiananmen Square became the focus for large-scale protests, calling for reform and democracy.

Demonstrators had been camped for weeks in the square, but late on 3 June, the military moved in and troops opened fire.

China has only ever said that 200 civilians and security personnel died, but there has been no publicly released record of deaths. Witnesses and foreign journalists have said the figure could be up to 3,000.

The journalists, Maria Ressa of the Philippines and Dmitri A. Muratov of Russia, were recognized for their work in promoting freedom of expression in their home countries.CreditCredit…Heiko Junge /NTB, via Reuters

Seeking to bolster press freedoms as journalists find themselves under increasing pressure from authoritarian governments and other hostile forces, the Norwegian Nobel Committee on Friday awarded the Peace Prize to two journalists thousands of miles apart for their tireless efforts to hold the powerful to account.

The journalists, Maria Ressa of the Philippines and Dmitri A. Muratov of Russia, were recognized for “their courageous fight for freedom of expression, which is a precondition for democracy and lasting peace.”

“They are representatives of all journalists who stand up for this ideal in a world in which democracy and freedom of the press face increasingly adverse conditions,” the committee said in a statement released after the announcement in Oslo.

Ms. Ressa — a Fulbright scholar, who was also named a Time magazine Person of the Year in 2018 for her crusading work against disinformation — has been a constant thorn in the side of Rodrigo Duterte, her country’s authoritarian president.

The digital media company for investigative journalism that she co-founded, Rappler, has exposed government corruption and researched the financial holdings and potential conflicts of interest of top political figures. It has also done groundbreaking work on the Duterte government’s violent antidrug campaign.

“The number of deaths is so high that the campaign resembles a war waged against the country’s own population,” the committee said. “Ms. Ressa and Rappler have also documented how social media is being used to spread fake news, harass opponents and manipulate public discourse.

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