Flash Briefing: More loadshedding; social media giants scramble after NZ massacre; electric cars rule Geneva

By Linda van Tilburg

In today’s global headlines:

  • As the world reels from the mosque massacre in New Zealand which left 50 people dead, the focus is again on the social media giants and the scramble by Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Google and Twitter to pull the offending 17-minute video the perpetrator posted and its edits, from their sites. Some security experts say that 18 hours after the attack, copies or edited versions could still be found on Facebook and YouTube. Politicians are contemplating whether it is time to force social-media providers to delay live broadcasting or streaming and whether so-called ‘hashing’ technology used to combat child pornography and copyright violations may be the way forward. New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she wanted to talk to Facebook about live streaming. Facebook’s shares fell by 2.5% on Friday. Meanwhile in Turkey, President Erdogan decided to use snippets of video footage of the New Zealand attacks as a campaign prop to galvanise his conservative base.
  • In the United Kingdom, Prime Minister Theresa May is ramping up the pressure on Brexiteers in her own party to support the deal she negotiated with the EU and some have since said they would support her as they see Brexit slipping away from them. She even pulled the patriotism card, saying in a local newspaper that supporting her deal is the honourable thing to do. Opposition parties have accused May of trying to bribe the Democratic Unionist party of Northern Ireland who has 10 MPs in the House of Commons after talks between her finance minister and the DUP. She is expected to be going for it again this Wednesday, round number three to get Parliament to pass her highly unpopular deal that has twice been rejected by Parliament. Approval has been given by MPs last week to extend the Brexit deadline from March 29th to the end of June or beyond.
  • News from South Africa is that more loadshedding up to stage 2 can be expected until the middle of the week after stage 4 loadshedding over the weekend, which was among other factors attributed to the cyclone that hit Mozambique. Power utility Eskom said it is unlikely that the imports from Mozambique will be restored in the next few days and asked consumers try to use less electricity.
  • The Steinhoff forensic report released late Friday is still reverberating as Steinhoff indicated that many questions about the details of the accounting irregularities, fictitious and improper deals worth $7.4bn remain unanswered and that they need to get to the bottom of it. No culprits were identified in the PWC report, but the Steinhoff board promised full assistance and co-operation with any criminal investigations. The report may trigger regulators and law authorities around the world to demand that those responsible need to be cornered. They are also considering how to respond to the various litigation actions against them. As a next step, the group indicated it will pursue recovery of losses and damages incurred and finalise a plan to bolster corporate governance.
  • The Geneva Motor Show wrapped up this weekend and it was clear from the cars on show that battery-powered cars are the way forward with dozens of electric cars unveiled. European manufacturers don’t have much of a choice, tougher new rules on CO2 emissions will start to come in effect next year. On show was a Volkswagen electric people carrier and Aston Martin’s Lagonda, which will become available as an electric SUV. And if you want to have a look at something really interesting, although it is still a concept car, Pininfarina have unveiled a car called the Battista, an electric hyper car which is faster than a Formula 1 racer. The price tag however is a cool £2m.