#ThewRap: Things you need to know, January 16, 2017

Hello! Here are the top stories you shouldn't miss this Monday.

BATTLE VS FAKE NEWS. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg speaks at the so-called 'Facebook Innovation Hub' in Berlin, Germany on February 25, 2016. File photo by Kay Nietfeld/AFP

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Hello!

Dear Rappler reader,

Facebook goes on a fake news offensive in Germany that will target 'unambiguously wrong reports' being shared by users. The social media giant makes this announcement as Germany–Europe's largest economy and most populous nation–enters its election year. German politicians earlier threatened Facebook and similar platforms of potential fines for their role in the spread of fake news.

Taking her cue from Donald Trump's social media-powered campaign, France's far-right leader, Marine Le Pen, is also looking at using the social media to bypass the traditional media, "to speak directly to the public."

Ahead of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Oxfam releases troubling findings. Ownership of the world's wealth has become so concentrated that the net worth of 3.6 billion people (roughly half of the global population) is now equivalent to the wealth of 8 top businessmen. This level of inequality could have dire political consequences, warns Oxfam, as growing discontent could potentially "pull our societies apart."

Here's the list of stories you should not miss this Monday:

8 men own half the world's wealth – Oxfam

CONTRAST. In this file photo, Manila's financial district is seen from a slum area before the lights are turned off to mark Earth Hour in Manila on March 28, 2015. Noel Celis/AFP

CONTRAST. In this file photo, Manila's financial district is seen from a slum area before the lights are turned off to mark Earth Hour in Manila on March 28, 2015. Noel Celis/AFP

The wealth of the world's poorest 3.6 billion people is the equivalent to the combined net worth of 8 businessmen: 6 Americans, one Spanish and one Mexican. This very short list -- which includes Microsoft founder Bill Gates, Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg, and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos -- Oxfam released ahead of the World Economic Forum opening in Davos. Pointing to a link between the vast gap between rich and poor and growing discontent with mainstream politics around the world, Oxfam warned that the level of inequality "threatens to pull our societies apart."

Trump: NATO is 'obsolete'

President-elect Donald Trump speaks to the media at Trump Tower on January 13, 2017 in New York. Bryan R. Smith/AFP

President-elect Donald Trump speaks to the media at Trump Tower on January 13, 2017 in New York. Bryan R. Smith/AFP

In remarks likely to rattle US allies, President-elect Donald Trump described NATO as "obsolete" in an interview published in Monday (January 16) editions of two European newspapers. He also hailed Britain's exit from the EU and backed a speedy trade deal with the UK, but condemned as "catastrophic" Chancellor Angela Merkel's decision to open Germany's doors to a flood of refugees.

Is France next?

This file photo taken on September 03, 2016 shows French far-right party Front National (FN) President and member of the European Parliament, Marine Le Pen gesturing as she delivers a speech during a FN political rally in Brachay, northeastern France. Francois Nascimbeni/AFP

This file photo taken on September 03, 2016 shows French far-right party Front National (FN) President and member of the European Parliament, Marine Le Pen gesturing as she delivers a speech during a FN political rally in Brachay, northeastern France. Francois Nascimbeni/AFP

Domination of social media was a key weapon in Donald Trump's rise to the US presidency, and now France's far-right leader, Marine Le Pen, is looking to follow suit, analysts say. Le Pen has more than a million followers on both Twitter and Facebook, giving her a bigger social media platform than any other candidate for the French presidency. Her party, the National Front (FN), is a veteran presence on the internet – it was the first political group in France to launch a website, back in 1996. Now the party is trying to use the digital world to trump mainstream rivals and bypass the traditional media, "to speak directly to the public."

Facebook to go on 'fake news' offensive in Germany

NO FLEETING ISSUE. The social network finds itself in the middle of political turmoil as some believe that its News Feed paves the way for fake news. Photo by Patricia de Melo Moreira/AFP

NO FLEETING ISSUE. The social network finds itself in the middle of political turmoil as some believe that its News Feed paves the way for fake news. Photo by Patricia de Melo Moreira/AFP

Social media giant Facebook announced Sunday, January 15, that it will introduce new measures to combat fake news in Germany, as Europe's largest economy and most populous nation enters an election year. Stories flagged with a fake news warning will not be eligible to be converted into an ad seen by other users or "promoted" into other users' feeds for a fee. German politicians have warned that populist parties and foreign nations could use fake news to try and influence parliamentary elections slated for September or October. Germany's Christian Democratic Union (CDU), the coalition of Angela Merkel, earlier announced they would introduce a bill next year to fight fake news. Among other things the measure would require social media platforms to set up local firms to respond to complaints and potentially pay fines of up to €500,000 ($519,925) for each fake news post that isn't taken down from the website immediately.

UN study: sharp rise in e-waste in Asia could have 'serious consequences'

In this file photo, an Indian worker sifts through a bag full of defunct computer mice prior to disassembly at Ash Recyclers, a government approved e-waste management firm in Bangalore on June 5, 2013. Manjunath Kiran/AFP

In this file photo, an Indian worker sifts through a bag full of defunct computer mice prior to disassembly at Ash Recyclers, a government approved e-waste management firm in Bangalore on June 5, 2013. Manjunath Kiran/AFP

Electronic waste is rising sharply––jumping 63% in 5 years––across Asia as higher incomes allow hundreds of millions of people to buy smartphones and other gadgets, according to a UN study released Sunday, January 15. The study warns of serious consequences for human health and the environment and highlighted the need for most nations across the region to improve recycling and disposal methods.

New shipping route promises to cut journey time between PH, Indonesia

Photo from Department of Transportation

Photo from Department of Transportation

Here's good news: a shorter shipping route between the Philippines and Indonesia will likely open soon. Designed to "boost international trade," the new route cuts the journey time from the current 3-5 weeks to only 3 days and may start in Davao City or General Santos City. The current shipping route from Davao City in Mindanao takes up to 5 weeks because ships first have to sail northwards to Manila and then cross the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), passing through Malaysian waters, before it reaches various ports in Indonesia. The maiden voyage, scheduled on April 28, will originate from Davao City, the Department of Transportation (DOTr) announced.

Replace, overhaul, professionalize BIR

  Logo of the Bureau of Internal Revenue

Logo of the Bureau of Internal Revenue

Former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo filed a bill proposing to replace the Bureau of Internal Revenue, among the widely perceived corrupt agencies in government, with the National Revenue Authority (NRA). The proposal addresses institutional problems that hinder the bureau from doing its job more effectively including its a "rigid personnel management system where promotion is based merely on loyalty and seniority rather than exemplary performance, compensation structure that restricts the hiring of first-rate professionals, and the strict line-item budgeting that limits the flexibility in the allocation of funds."

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