Election blind dates: Georgia Toffolo and Jack Monroe – BBC News

What happens when two strong-minded individuals from opposite sides of the political debate sit down for dinner? To find out, the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme has organised a series of political first dates for the general election campaign.

Made in Chelsea star Toff, real name Georgia Toffolo, says she had a privileged background and is a Conservative Party member.

Political campaigner and food blogger Jack Monroe, who at one time was unemployed and unable to afford food, has been a member of several parties, including the Labour Party.

They went into the meal without knowing who they would be meeting.

But did they get on?

Jack Monroe

Describe yourself: I’m Jack Monroe, aged 29, and I’m a food writer and political commentator.

Background: I used to be a 999 call-handler. I got pregnant with my son, and when I went back to work I couldn’t work the shift patterns any more. I ended up in a shoddy personal situation – I didn’t eat for three days in a row to feed my child. I started to write about being a single mum on the dole and it seemed to strike a chord with people. Then I got offered a recipe book deal and life went stratospheric.

Political beliefs: I’ve been a member of the Labour Party on and off for the past few years, about six or seven years, eight maybe. I’ve also been a member of the Green Party at that time. I’m also a member of the Women’s Equality Party and the National Health Action party.

How was your date?: I think it went well. It was nice to meet Georgia and talk to her and try to understand her point of view a bit more.

First impression: I have seen Made in Chelsea, but not for a couple of years. I thought she was fun, she was very, very nice. I was surprised at how young she was because she seemed quite firm in her beliefs, she seemed very politically aware.

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Media captionJack Monroe: ‘Every system is open to abuse’

What did you agree on?: Her most convincing argument, the one I agreed with, was about national security. She was quite strong about armed police and how there is a rise in that and how we all have to adjust to it and and the reasoning behind that.

What did you disagree on?: I found some of her views on welfare difficult to listen to as someone who had quite a difficult time on benefits. To hear her saying, ‘Oh the Conservatives are taking money from people who don’t need it’, and you’re like, ‘No they’re not, they’re taking money from people like me’.

Best thing: I thought she was really, really friendly and just very nice and she was very good at listening. She asked lots of questions and she just genuinely seems like a warm, friendly human being.

Worst thing: I did find her views on fox hunting quite difficult to swallow.

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Media captionThe pair strongly disagree over fox hunting

Did you change her mind?: We both seemed to have shifted slightly closer to the centre by the end of lunch. I don’t think she’ll be going home and telling all her friends to vote for Jeremy Corbyn but I’d like to think that we’ve both given each other something to think about.

Did she change your mind?: I think my views are quite strongly held. I wouldn’t say that she’d drastically changed my mind about anything but it certainly put a human face to some of the things that I consider to be more radical Conservative beliefs.

Second date: I’d love to see her again. Genuinely would. I thought she was fun, I thought she was engaging. I think I’d have a much more interesting life with her in it.

Find out more

Watch the Victoria Derbyshire programme on weekdays between 09:00 and 11:00 BST on BBC Two and the BBC News Channel.

Thursday’s election blind date will be classicist Prof Mary Beard and nightclub owner Peter Stringfellow.


Describe yourself: My name is Georgia Toffolo, I’m 22, best known for being on a TV programme called Made in Chelsea and I really love politics.

Background: I’m very lucky I went to a nice school and I live in a very lovely part of London.

Political beliefs: I’m a member of the Conservative Party and I have been for about eight years now. I believe that the traditions of our country should be upheld and I’m a real advocate of business. I can’t comprehend why someone my age would support the Labour Party.

How was your date?: I actually enjoyed it so much and I’m a bit surprised because for someone that has different views to me, it was amazing. She could tell me why I was wrong, which is so good, and it’s actually kind of made me think a little bit more about where I stand. It hasn’t changed my political ideology, but maybe a little bit more understanding of people who have had hard times.

First impressions: She was very different to me. Not the stereotypical Labour voter.

What did you agree on?: I actually agreed with her a lot on our views on national security. We also agreed on LGBT rights, which is fantastic.

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Media captionToff: “The harder I work, the more I earn”

What did you disagree on?: The thing that angered me the most is our differing views on tax. I just cannot comprehend how anyone could have her views on taxation. The lower the better.

Did you win any arguments?: I think I did convince her a little bit because when we looked at our political spectrum again she moved a little bit more centre.

Best part: Jeremy Corbyn-bashing. It’s my favourite activity.

Awkward moments: I found the most awkward part talking about benefits, because she had some fantastic points, but I believe what I believe in. But some of her arguments were quite deep ones where it threw me a bit, because what can you say when someone says, “Oh you know I was starving for three days”?

Could you be friends?: I actually think we could be friends. I hope we stay in touch, I had such a lovely time. I need to get the next lunch.

Watch more election blind dates

Find out what happened when ex-UKIP leader Nigel Farage went on a date with journalist – and Boris Johnson’s sister – Rachel Johnson.

Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-40030197

British and Irish Lions: Rugby union’s commercial big cats – BBC News

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The Lions’ squad will play 10 games in New Zealand on this tour

The British and Irish Lions are not only one of the biggest sporting names in rugby union, they are also arguably its premier commercial brand.

This weekend Warren Gatland’s squad kick off their tour of New Zealand, home of the World Cup holders. It will be their first visit since 2005, in what should be a mouth-watering series of clashes.

Each Lions tour generates millions of pounds in turnover, with revenues pouring in from major sponsorship deals, tourism and other events such as high-profile gala dinners. It is estimated that the Lions turn over about $50m (39m) in each four-year cycle between tours.

Meanwhile, some 35,000 fans are expected to make the journey from around the world, with close to half buying packages from the in-house travel operator, Lions Rugby Travel.

This commercial power of the tour, which takes in 10 games – including three Test matches against the All Blacks – means it will generate significant revenues for the development of the sport in the UK and Ireland.


“The value of the Lions is actually so much greater than what you might see on a tour. It is the fusion of the professional and amateur eras, it embodies all the good qualities of the game,” Charlie McEwen, British and Irish Lions chief operating officer, tells me.

“And that means that supporting and growing the presence of rugby union is a very important part of what we do. The Lions is a subsidiary of the four home rugby unions and any profits are distributed back to the home unions, with the ultimate aim of growing the game.”

Image copyright British and Irish Lions
Image caption Charlie McEwen says the Lions combine the commercial with the sporting, for the good of the game

As part of that mission, at the end of March the Lions also unveiled its own separate grassroots programme. It will see some of the money they raise go directly into a standalone Lions-directed programme.

“With the support of the home unions we will be running programmes for existing youth players to keep them in the game,” says Mr McEwen.

“It will be using the inspiration of the Lions brand to keep them playing at an age – late teens and early twenties – where there is a high drop-off rate.”

‘Reflect our values’

The Lions’ financial machine that generates those funds for developing the game is largely sponsor-driven.

In total there are 11 major commercial backers – from shirt sponsors Standard Life to brewery Doom Bar, the official beer of the Lions. Some three-quarters of the Lions income is from sponsorship, a much bigger proportion than that enjoyed by England’s RFU or any of the other home unions.

“We hold sponsors and partners very dear,” says Mr McEwen. “We look to find brands that reflect our values and everything we stand for.

Image copyright StandardLifeInvestments
Image caption Standard Life is one of a number of big name sponsors of the Lions’ tour

“We try to ensure we deliver against what they need, but also to make sure they don’t compromise our values, or ability to perform on the field. If we are not competitive on the field then the whole concept of the Lions is brought into question.”

As well as Standard Life, which replaced HSBC as shirt sponsors, other big name backers include Land Rover, Qantas, Gillette, EY, and Canterbury.

Brand review

In a changing sporting and leisure landscape, he insists that the Lions are not an anachronism but are as relevant now as they were when they first set out across the globe in the late 19th Century.

In 2014 the Lions itself underwent an internal “strategic brand review”, conducted with players from the 1950s to the present day, and also including coaches, broadcasters, commercial partners and consumer experts.

Mr McEwen said that it was realised that if the players did not still have the desire to be selected for the Lions ahead of their sporting peers, then the brand was no longer relevant.

He said that after a thorough analysis that drive among players to be selected was still there.

Image copyright Allsport/Getty Images
Image caption Sam Warburton will captain the Lions for a second successive tour

And he says that from a rugby follower’s perspective, the Lions are also still hugely important.

“We are far and away the second most desirable proposition in rugby for fans, after attending a World Cup match,” says Mr McEwen.

“We have a big fan base, who hold us dear, and that extends to people in New Zealand, Australia and South Africa. Everyone wants the Lions to stick around.”

This year’s Lions tour will be the last to feature 10 games, with future tours reduced to eight matches, in what is an increasingly crowded rugby union international calendar.

‘Top echelon’

Meanwhile, for this year’s host nation, it is hoped the visit of the star-studded Lions squad will provide such a buzz of excitement it will help New Zealand Rugby (NZR) towards balancing its books, after reporting a loss of NZ$7.5m (4m) for 2016.

A Lions tour is a financial bonanza for the host country. NZR had matchday revenues of NZ$9.2m in 2004, and NZ$11.2m in 2006, but in the Lions tour year of 2005 revenues were NZ$33.9m.

Image copyright Central Press/Hulton Archive
Image caption The Lions have not won a series in New Zealand since 1971

NZR has not specified how much the tour will generate, but expects demand to exceed that of the Lions’ last visit in 2005, when travelling fans contributed tens of millions towards the wider New Zealand economy.

“We only tour New Zealand every 12 years, and that breeds value,” says Mr McEwen.

“Lions tours are right up there as a live sporting proposition. People get excited about the rugby and football world cups, and this is also something that people want to be part of – whether in the stadium or on TV – at the top echelon of sport.

“The great thing about the Lions is the great amount of interest in them.

“The ultimate purpose for the team is winning – but our focus as a business is growing the game.”

Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-38904510

Flynn to provide documents for Russia investigation after initially refusing

Former national security adviser will turn over business and personal documents for the Senate intelligence committees investigation into election meddling

After initially refusing, former national security adviser Michael Flynn will provide documents to the Senate intelligence committee as part of its investigation into Russias meddling in the 2016 election, a person close to Flynn told the Associated Press.

Flynn will turn over documents related to two of his businesses as well as some personal documents the committee requested earlier this month, a person close to Flynn said. Flynn plans to produce documents by next week, according to the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss Flynns private interactions with the committee.

The decision on Tuesday was the first signal that Flynn and the Senate panel have found common ground. Congressional investigators continue to press for key documents in the ongoing investigation, and the retired lieutenant general is trying to limit damaging disclosures that hostile Democratic lawmakers could use against him.

Flynn had previously invoked his fifth amendment protection against self-incrimination in declining an earlier request from the committee. Flynns attorneys had argued the initial request was too broad and would have required Flynn to turn over information that could have been used against him.

Flynns cooperation came as Donald Trumps personal attorney, Michael Cohen, rejected a request for documents as part of a House committees separate investigation into Russias election meddling and contacts with the Trump campaign.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/may/30/michael-flynn-russia-investigation-documents-senate

Quitting Paris climate deal would threaten US security, UN chief warns

Antnio Guterres says exiting landmark accord would threaten US economy and society: If someone leaves a void, I guarantee someone will fill it

The UN secretary general, Antnio Guterres, warned on Tuesday that if the US exits the Paris climate agreement, there could be negative economic, security and societal consequences for the country.

Guterres issued the warning after calling on world leaders to adhere to the agreement in his first major speech on climate change as secretary general.

His remarks at New York Universitys Stern School of Business came as the world waits for Donald Trump to announce whether the country will continue to uphold the Paris deal, which nearly 200 countries signed as a commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

In a question and answer session after the speech, a student asked how the US can address climate change when its president has threatened to back out of the Paris accord.

If someone leaves a void, I guarantee someone will fill it, said Guterres, who went on to explain what consequences such an exit could have for the US.

Today, the economy and social aspects are linked to the environmental aspects, but they are also linked to the security aspects, they are linked to the risks of conflict, said Guterres.

He continued: if you leave a void to others to occupy, you might be creating a problem to your own internal security.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/may/30/paris-climate-deal-un-us-donald-trump

Flynn to turn over subpoenaed documents to Senate intelligence committee

Former national security adviser Michael Flynn will hand over subpoenaed personal and business records to the Senate intelligence committee, a source close to the retired Army lieutenant general told Fox News Monday. 

Flynn, who was fired as national security adviser in February, rebuffed an initial subpoena for personal documents from the committee by invoking his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. The committee’s leaders responded by subpoenaing records related to Flynn’s consulting businesses, which are not subject to Fifth Amendment protections.

The source told Fox News that the committee recently narrowed its requests for Flynn’s personal records, enabling him to accommodate the committee’s requests without jeopardizing his legal rights. Flynn’s attorneys had argued the earlier request was too broad and would have required Flynn to turn over information that could have been used against him.

The source added that Flynn wanted to cooperate with congressional investigations and was grateful that the Senate panel had narrowed the scope of its request.

The House and Senate intelligence committees, as well as the FBI, are conducting an investigation into Russian activities during the 2016 election campaign, including whether members of Trump’s campaign team colluded with Russian officials.

Flynn’s cooperation came as President Donald Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, rejected a request for documents as part of a House committee’s separate probe into Russia’s election meddling and contacts with the Trump campaign.

Cohen, a longtime attorney for the Trump Organization, remains a personal lawyer for Trump. He served as a cable television surrogate for the Republican during the presidential campaign.

The House intelligence committee’s request for information from Cohen came as the investigators continued to scrutinize members of Trump’s inner circle, including Flynn. Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., said last week that a subpoena for Flynn from the House panel was likely.

“I declined the invitation to participate as the request was poorly phrased, overly broad and not capable of being answered,” Cohen told The Associated Press. “I find it irresponsible and improper that the request sent to me was leaked by those working on the committee.”

Cohen told ABC News Tuesday that he had been asked by both the House and Senate intelligence committees to provide information and testimony about contacts he had with Russian officials.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said the allegations of Moscow meddling in the U.S. presidential election are “fiction” invented by the Democrats in order to explain their loss. In an interview with French newspaper Le Figaro, Putin reaffirmed his strong denial of Russian involvement in the hacking of Democratic emails. The interview was recorded during Putin’s Monday trip to Paris and released Tuesday.

Trump made a similar claim in a tweet early Tuesday: “Russian officials must be laughing at the U.S. & how a lame excuse for why the Dems lost the election has taken over the Fake News.”

Cohen’s ties with Russian interests came up in February when The New York Times reported that Cohen helped to broker a Ukraine peace plan that would call for the withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine and a referendum to let Ukrainians decide whether the part of the country seized by Russia in 2014 should be leased to Moscow. The Russian government denied knowing anything about such a plan.

The Times reported that the peace plan was the work of Felix Sater, a business associate who has helped Trump try to find business in Russia, and Cohen.

Cohen was a fierce defender of Trump during the campaign, often haranguing probing reporters and famously challenging a CNN reporter live on-air to name the specific polls that showed then-candidate Trump behind his rival, Hillary Clinton.

In the early 2000s, he formed his own firm working on a range of legal matters, including malpractice cases, business law and work on an ethanol business in Ukraine. Cohen also owned and operated a handful of taxi medallions, managing a fleet of cabs in New York.

Cohen’s business associates in the taxi enterprise included a number of men from the former Soviet Union, including his Ukrainian-born father-in-law.

Cohen has made his own unsuccessful attempts at public office, losing a city council race and briefly running for state assembly in New York.

Fox News’ Catherine Herridge and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/05/30/flynn-to-turn-over-subpoenaed-documents-to-senate-intelligence-committee.html

Scott Pelley Reportedly Axed From ‘CBS Evening News’

Scott Pelleyreportedly has been booted from the anchor desk at CBS Evening News.

The New York Post, which broke the story on Tuesday evening, saidPelley will remain with the networkat 60 Minutes.

The newspapers Page Six said his office was cleared out earlier in the day, while he was away on assignment.

There is no word yet on who will replace him, but CBS Money is reporting that senior national correspondent Anthony Mason will likely fill infor now.

Pelley, who joined the network in 1989,replaced Katie Couric as anchor of CBS Evening Newsin 2011.

Scott has it all. He has the experience, the credibility and he is among the very best reporters ever to work at CBS News, Jeff Fager, who was then chairman of CBS News, said in a statement at the time. We like to think of CBS News as the reporters network and I cant think of anybody in this business better suited for the anchor chair than Scott.

Pelley has drawn both praise and criticism for his no-holds-barred coverage of President Donald Trump, whom he called divorced from realityduring a broadcast in February.

He later defended the comments.

I dont think we were being too hard at all; it was just empirically true, he told Variety. The president had said a number of things that day that were false. I think its incumbent upon us all of us, we all believe this to help our audience sort out fact from fiction.

However, the shows ratings have been down. During May sweeps, the CBS Evening News finished in third place, down 9 percent in year-on-year ratings and 14 percent in the key demographic of viewers ages 25-54, according to TV Newser.

In addition, both the Post and New York Daily News report that Pelley has not been getting along with CBS News president David Rhodes.

Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/scott-pelley-out-at-cbs-news_us_592e2278e4b0e95ac194deaa

Try Not To Laugh At This Womans Super Relatable Amazon Order Fail

Blaque, a 25-year-old from Virginia, was on a freakin roll.

She designs wigs and decided she wanted to dedicate a space in her apartment to her hobby, which is turning into a budding business.

Recently, she jumped on Amazon and began ordering stuff she needed to create the ultimate wig-making station. She was just clicking away, adding all kinds of items to her cart, including a desk, when she spotted a cute ghost chair that was advertised as an add-on item.

The chair Blaque ordered.

I didnt think twice about the chair, Blaque told HuffPost. I didnt look at the description or reviews.

She added the $5 chair to her cart, thinking she scored a great deal and placed the order.

A few days later, on May 23, she got her shipment in a pretty big box.

Even still, I thought it was kind of small to hold a chair, she said.

But she still felt pretty good about things, figuring that the chair came in pieces and needed to be assembled. She continued to dig through her box, but there was no chair in sight.

But theres one small white box left and Im trying to figure out what it is I ordered I think we are all guilty of forgetting what we buy online, she told HuffPost.

She opened the white box and found this inside:

I immediately busted out laughing, she said.

Blaque found her mistake so funny, she decided to snap a picture of her tiny chair and post it to Twitter.

The post quickly went viral, receiving more than 10,000 likes and 4,000 retweets.

People found the mistake totally relatable.

Apparently Im not alone with this type of purchase, she told HuffPost. I had so many people tell me they bought the same chair or something else that was miniature!

Blaque has decided to keep the tiny chair and its currently sitting on her new desk, acting as a decorative reminder of her hilarious mistake.

Maybe itll end up being a business card holder, she said.

And her takeaway from his silly ordeal?

Literally always read the descriptions, she said.

Much like a chair, thats something we can totally support.

Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/super-relatable-amazon-order-fail_us_592d949fe4b0df57cbfd8e19

Goldman Vilified by Venezuelan Opposition Over Alleged Bond Deal

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. was denounced by the head of Venezuela’s legislature over a report that the bank bought $2.8 billion of bonds from that country, potentially helping President Nicolas Maduro’s administration amid accusations of human-rights violations.

The investment bank’s asset management arm paid about $865 million, or 31 cents on the dollar, for bonds issued in 2014 by state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela, the Wall Street Journal reported Sunday, citing five unidentified people familiar with last week’s transaction. A Goldman Sachs spokesman declined to comment. Spokesmen for the central bank, which had held the notes, didn’t respond to messages.

Julio Borges

Photographer: Wil Riera/Bloomberg

“It is apparent Goldman Sachs decided to make a quick buck off the suffering of the Venezuelan people,” Julio Borges, the opposition lawmaker who heads the National Assembly, wrote in a letter to Goldman Chief Executive Officer Lloyd Blankfein and seen by Bloomberg. Congress will investigate the deal, he said. “I also intend to recommend to any future democratic government of Venezuela not to recognize or pay on these bonds.”

Venezuela’s opposition has been urging Wall Street banks not to throw a financial lifeline to Maduro, who’s faced almost two months of public protests while cutting imports of food and medicine to conserve cash and continue bond payments. The nation’s dollar shortage, exacerbated by a collapse in oil prices, has left investors trying to gauge the likelihood that the government can keep servicing its debt.

Last month, lawmakers reached out to big Wall Street firms including Goldman Sachs, asking them not to help the country monetize its $7.7 billion in gold reserves. In an editorial on Friday, Harvard University economist Ricardo Hausmann — a former planning minister in Venezuela and long-time critic of the current government — called on JPMorgan Chase & Co. to remove Venezuela from its bond indexes so investors tracking the gauges aren’t compelled to buy those notes.

Read more: Venezuela lawmakers ask Wall Street to stop aiding Maduro

In his letter, Borges said Goldman Sachs’s deal violates the bank’s own code of conduct and its statement on human rights. A copy of that statement on the firm’s website said its respect for human rights is “fundamental to and informs our business,” and that the firm places a “high priority” on identifying potential issues when deciding whether to do business with a client.

Goldman didn’t negotiate the bond purchase with Venezuela’s government, the Journal said, citing three of the people. The asset management division instead bought the debt through an unnamed broker, the newspaper said.

Still, Borges said, the transaction helps Maduro. It’s “a financial lifeline to his authoritarian regime that is systematically violating the human rights of Venezuelans,” the lawmaker wrote in his letter to Blankfein. The “irregular nature” and “absurd financial terms involved” are “to the detriment of Venezuela and its people,” Borges said.

Fintech Advisory Inc., a New York-based investment fund, previously agreed to buy $1.3 billion of PDVSA bonds in a repo transaction providing at least $300 million of cash, Reuters reported in early April.

Goldman Sachs was the seventh-largest holder of PDVSA bonds as of March 31, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Venezuela’s international reserves rebounded from near the lowest since 2002 last week, gaining more than $700 million to $10.86 billion as of May 25.

Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-05-29/goldman-vilified-by-venezuelan-opposition-over-alleged-bond-deal

Ivanka Trump’s brand gets Memorial Day very, very wrong

Image: chip somodevilla/Getty Images

Memorial day is supposed to be the day Americans come together to pay respect to the people who’ve died while serving the countryor, if you’re Ivanka Trump, make popsicles.

On Sunday, the Ivanka Trump brand posted a painfully tone deaf tweet just in time for the holiday.

What a better way to honor fallen soldiers than with a nostalgic childhood treat and a little “adult beverage?” (Commence: gentle teeheehees).

Of course, Memorial Day also doubles as the start of summer for many in the United States, so it’s not exactly surprisingor wrong eventhat the brand came up with a recipe. But c’mon, champagne popsicles?

Presidents and their senior advisors are typically expected to post something not horrible on the day. And it felt particularly hypocritical for some that Ivanka, who is a champagne popsicle of a human, posted about drinking such an expensive beverage when her family is proposing massive social service cuts to low income families. Even Trump appears to have let a real adult craft his tweet today.

Is this the moment he became president?

Since joining the White House, Ivanka Trump has chosen to put her company in a trust. Ivanka remains the sole beneficiary of the trust and continues to wield power over the brand. Lawmakers have expressed concern that, given the nature of the trust, it’ll be difficult to enforce monitoring.

Concerned about corruption? Oh well. Just grab some of your best girlfriends and champagne popsicle the pain away.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/05/29/ivanka-trump-brand-dumb-memorial-day/

Facebook valiantly tries but fails to moderate hate speech in Myanmar

A young woman looks at her Facebook wall while she travels on a bus in Yangon.
Image: AFP/Getty Images

Efforts by Facebook to moderate content in one of its fastest-growing countries has evidently not been easy.

Like what it’s doing in many other markets, the social media giant is trying to stem content deemed hateful in Myanmar.

The emerging market experienced a surge of new internet users in recent years, and Facebook benefited with 10 million Burmese users by 2016.

With these new users come challenges. One hot button topic, the ongoing Rohingya refugee crisis, has resulted in posts made insulting the minority Muslim Rohingyas.

On Facebook’s end, it’s trying to cut derogatory terms that have traditionally been thrown at the group. But like many automated processes dealing with a language’s nuances, it can get those wrong.

In a Medium post, Facebook user Aung Kaung Myat, points out that Facebook has nearly comically blocked posts with any reference to banned words. This includes puns and words that sound like them.

In a statement, Facebook said that the company’s teams of moderators regularly engages and listens to feedback from the community, safety experts and NGOs in Myanmar.

“Once were made aware of errors we quickly act to resolve them,” a spokesperson told Mashable, adding that the company conducts “regular audits and quality assessments” so errors will not happen again.

Moderation is an uphill battle

The move to ban slurs in Myanmar is the latest in Facebook’s efforts to ban hate speech on its platform. In a series of leaked documents published by the Guardian last week, Facebook outlined racial slurs as unacceptable on their platform, except in cases of ironic use.

The social media giant is facing pressure by governments to stop hate from its nearly two billion users. The company is also attempting to use machine learning and AI to ease the burden on its 4,500 content moderators.

Buddhist monks protest in Yangon against a pro-Muslim group.

Image: AFP/Getty Images

Posts can be made in more than 70 languages, and in rapidly developing countries like Myanmar where Facebook has a growing user base, moderation could be a very difficult job.

“Hardliners know the effectiveness of online hate speech and are using it more,” Ma Zar Chi Oo, a program manager at PEN Myanmar Centre, a literary advocacy group, told the Myanmar Times last year. “The number of shares, likes and comments on false information or fake news is astounding.”

The Institute for War and Peace Reporting found 565 cases of hate speech on social and broadcast media in Myanmar from August to October last year, with just over half targeted to Muslims and Rohingya.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/05/29/facebook-myanmar-hate-speech/