Tech giants under fire as they bow to governments’ controversial demands 

Tech giants have run into controversy after bowing to pressure from governments to change highly disputed and politicised content. 

The iPhone maker Apple came under fire after its maps for users in Russia referred to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia in 2014, as part of Russia. 

The EU and the US have condemned the annexation as illegal and do not recognise Crimea as Russian, introducing ongoing sanctions in response. 

Apple said the move was due to a new law in Russia, but it was condemned in Ukraine. 

The Ukrainian embassy in the US wrote on Twitter: "Let’s all remind Apple that #CrimeaIsUkraine and it is under Russian occupation – not its sovereignty." 

Ukrainian foreign minister Vadym Prystaiko wrote on Twitter: "IPhones are great products. Seriously, though, @Apple, please, please, stick to high-tech and entertainment. Global politics is not your strong side." 

He compared Russia’s annexation of Crimea to having a "piece of your heart stolen by your worst enemy" and suggested Apple didn’t "give a damn" about its pain. 

Russian ex-world chess champion Garry Kasparov, who was briefly jailed in 2007 for taking part in an anti-Kremlin rally in Moscow, called the decision "unacceptable appeasement".

He added: "Where is the backlash? American consumers have the power to change the world for the better by protesting against such things, from Crimea to Hong Kong. Stop letting tech companies and tyrants have it both ways."

Apple said it was now reviewing how it handled "disputed borders", adding it took into account international, US and domestic laws before labelling its maps, and made changes if required by law. 

The row came as social media giant Facebook on Friday added a correction to a post on the Facebook page of anti-government website States Times Review,  following a demand from Singapore authorities who claimed it contained false information.  

Facebook posted a label underneath the post saying "Facebook is legally required to tell you that the Singapore government says this post has false information", next to a link to the government’s fact-checking site. 

The controversial new law on misinformation in the City state came into use on Monday but has been criticised as an attack on free speech.

Amnesty International has said the law will give Singapore authorities "unchecked powers to clamp down on online views of which it disapproves." Transgressions can lead to fines of up to $730,000 [£564,687].

Facebook, whose Asia headquarters is in Singapore, said it hoped the law would be implemented in a "measured and transparent" way. 

Apple cancels premiere of ‘The Banker’ over ‘concerns’

Apple has canceled the world premiere of one of its first original films as it investigates sexual abuse allegations involving the family of the person the movie is based on.

"The Banker" was supposed to debut on Thursday in Hollywood at the American Film Institute’s AFI Fest.

The movie stars Anthony Mackie, Samuel L. Jackson, and Nicholas Hoult.

Mackie plays Bernard Garrett Sr, who in the 1950s and 1960s recruited a white man, Matt Steiner, played by Hoult, as the face of his property and banking business.

According to The Hollywood Reporter two daughters of Mr Garrett contacted Apple, claiming that as children they were abused by Bernard Garrett Jr, their half-brother.

Bernard Garrett Jr had been a producer on the film but stepped down after the allegations, it was reported.

An Apple spokesman said: "We purchased ‘The Banker’ earlier this year as we were moved by the film’s entertaining and educational story about social change and financial literacy.

"Last week some concerns surrounding the film were brought to our attention. We, along with the filmmakers, need some time to look into these matters and determine the best next steps. In light of this, we are no longer premiering ‘The Banker’ at AFI Fest."

Mr Garrett Jr did not respond to requests for comment from The Hollywood Reporter.

Apple has been buying films to feed Apple TV+, the subscription video streaming service that the iPhone maker launched this month.

"The Banker" is due to hit cinemas on Dec 6 before streaming on Apple TV+, but it was not clear whether those plans were still in place.

The movie was Apple’s boldest step yet into film-making. AFI said it would replace "The Banker" with a screening of Noah Baumbach’s Netflix release "Marriage Story" as its closing-night film.