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Latest news headlines: Facebook to roll out new protections for public figures

Facebook to roll out new protections for public figures

Facebook is to roll out policies designed to protect public figures on the platform, following the revelations of a former employee-turned-whistleblower about the effects of its products on the wellbeing of users.

Facebook said on Wednesday it would start to remove sexualising and derogatory content relating to public figures, including journalists, politicians and celebrities. It would also start to remove harmful content sent through private channels, such as direct messages.

Facebook distinguishes between public figures and private individuals, allowing looser discussion and content about the former. But, it said, it would now introduce stricter policing of content about such people from underrepresented backgrounds, such as women and LGBT individuals, and those who became public figures unintentionally, like activists or reporters.

“We also recognise that becoming a public figure isn’t always a choice, and that this fame can increase the risk of bullying and harassment,” said Antigone Davis, Facebook’s global head of security. “These groups will now have protections from harmful content.”

Davis also said the company would remove “state-linked and adversarial networks of accounts” that coordinate targeted harassment against dissidents.

UK car insurance costs fall by most since 2014

UK drivers are paying an average of almost £100 less to insure their cars than they were doing a year ago, the biggest year-on-year fall in insurance prices since 2014. 

The decrease was caused by a sharp decline in driving, and therefore claims, during the pandemic, that insurers have passed on to their customers in lower premiums. Car insurance prices in the third quarter were down 16 per cent from the same period in the previous year, according to an index provided by insurance broker Willis Towers Watson and comparison website Confused.com. 

That equated to a £97 year-on-year fall for the average premium, to £514, the biggest drop in seven years and the second biggest since the index began in 2006. 

The quarter-on-quarter fall was much smaller at 2 per cent. Recovery in road usage is already normalising, and experts have predicted this will put upward pressure on prices. 

But the overall outlook for 2022 is “extremely uncertain”, said Willis’s UK property & casualty consulting lead, Stephen Jones. That was due, he said, to the upheaval expected in pricing from reforms that come into effect in January, banning so-called “loyalty penalties” at renewal, and the challenge to car repair shops from the supply-chain problems facing the wider UK economy.

Bow and arrow attacker leaves several dead in Norwegian town

Norwegian police are investigating a potential terrorist attack after a man killed several people using a bow and arrow.

Police in Kongsberg — a town 70km west of the capital Oslo — said there were “grounds to evaluate whether this is a terror attack” after confirming that several people had died and several more were injured in the attack by what authorities described as a lone man who has been arrested.

Norwegian police issued a temporary order for officers to carry weapons after the attack on Wednesday evening, highlighting the seriousness of the situation.

Police declined to give further details or speculate on motive but confirmed there had been a confrontation between the attacker and officers after the suspect initially fled. “We are keeping an open mind, also that it could be a terror attack,” local police chief Oyvind Aas told an emergency press conference.

Read more on this story here.

What to watch in Asia today

China monthly consumer price index and inflation figures Figures will be released today after the IMF warned the world earlier this week of the need to be need to be “very, very vigilant” over rising inflation risks. The country has also been battling surging coal costs.

US bank earnings Citigroup, Bank of America, Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo report third-quarter results today. JPMorgan Chase kicked off Wall Street bank earnings yesterday with a big jump in profits driven by a dealmaking boom, but warned that expenses would continue to rise and that demand for new loans remained sluggish.

US stocks and bonds shrug off inflation data and Fed’s taper plans

Wall Street stock and bond prices climbed on Wednesday despite data confirming a surge in inflation and the Federal Reserve publishing further details on its plans to begin easing asset purchases.

Headline US consumer prices rose 5.4 per cent year on year in September, marking the fifth consecutive month of annual increases of 5 per cent or more. The figure was slightly ahead of most economists’ forecasts, but had little immediate effect on US stocks after investors had spent much of the past few weeks positioning themselves for a likely increase.

Persistent inflation has increased confidence that the US central bank will begin tapering its pandemic-era stimulus measures as early as next month. Minutes from the latest meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee provided further support on Wednesday, showing that there was a growing consensus among top officials to begin tapering “soon”.

The prospect has hit stock markets in recent weeks, but the blue-chip S&P 500 rose 0.3 per cent on Wednesday, having already dropped about 4 per cent from the record high it hit in early September. The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite index rose 0.7 per cent. In Europe, the region-wide Stoxx 600 also closed up 0.7 per cent.

The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note, which falls when prices rise, slipped for a second consecutive day after hitting a four-month high at the start of the week. It fell 0.04 percentage points to 1.54 per cent.

Read more about Wednesday’s trading here.

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