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3 Reasons Scientists Endure Social Media Trolls And Attacks – Forbes

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Social media is an interesting place. It can be a repository of amazing information and access. At the same time, it can be a cesspool of mean-spiritedness and misinformation. It can be a place for credible experts to connect with others beyond ivory towers as well as place for someone to gain an audience whether they deserve one or not. My wife pondered recently how I so effortlessly ignore trolls or personal attacks when she is ready to pounce (That’s one of the reasons I love her). The simple answer is that by acknowledging foolishness you legitimize it. However, the conversation triggered a deeper question. Why do respected, published, and admired scientists endure trolling and attacks from faceless personas behind keyboards? I offer three reasons based on my own experiences.

While not able to speak on behalf of all scientists, I can offer some perspective. As a meteorologist and climate scientist who is active on social media, I certainly receive my share of trolling. People will attack my perspectives on climate science, my race, intelligence, and so forth. It doesn’t bother me at all, and I am often even amused by it. However, there are scholars that avoid social media because they cannot stomach the trolling or fear the intimidation. It’s worth it though.

One reason we endure the “hot mess” that can be social media is because it is an effective medium for exposing the broader public, media, and policymakers to real science. The vast majority of people are not cracking open scientific journals or conference proceedings on a regular basis, but they are on Twitter and Facebook. It is imperative that scientists engage in these spaces because if credible expertise is not in the fray, then pseudo-expertise and bad actors with agendas will gladly fill the voids that we leave behind. MedicalBrief columnist Alastair McAlpine understood this. According to McAlpine’s Law, pseudoscience will always try to fill vacuums in scientific knowledge.

A 2013 study by Isabelle M. Côtéimcote of Simon Fraser University and Emily S. Darling of the University of Toronto found that when a scientist had greater than 1000 followers they exponentially increased their ability to share credible scientific information. Dr. Robert Rohde is lead scientist at Berkeley Earth. Rohde has done an outstanding job recently analyzing the social media reach and efficacy of climate scientists. He recently tweet stormed Professor Katharine Hayhoe’s Twitter list of climate scientists, the most followed climate scientists, and some outstanding experts that may be flying under the radar.

Beyond serving as an antidote to the “Dunning-Kruger Effect run amuck” and coordinated misinformation campaigns, another reason scientists likely endure the trolling is passion. We are passionate about what we do. I have been in awe of hurricanes, thunderstorms, and so forth since 6th grade and have spent a career trying to understand how our Earth system works. This establishes a benchmark and a protective shield that trolls may not understand. For them, it may be about agendas, political motive, or the goal to disoriented or annoy. For many scientists, the opportunity to share, talk about or do science is golden. It’s organic. I usually can recognize ulterior motives and steer clear of them.

The final reason some scientists may endure the discomfort of the occasional social media irritant is what I call the “Boiled Peanut Incentive.” I grew up in the South and love boiled peanuts. If you are not from here, you might be saying, “What are those?” They are amazing and are staple of country roads and college football games around here. Anyhow, they can be a bit messy and cumbersome to get into, but once you are past the shell, the moist, slightly salty nut is soooo worth the effort. I guess this feeling probably applies to crab lovers too. Scientists who study climate change or COVID-19 have objectives and goals that extend far beyond triviality of Twitter bickering. Our work is for a greater good – advancement of knowledge, the betterment of society, and the future of our kids. We are able to endure a few Internet shells to get to our ultimate prize.

I hope this captures what some of my colleagues feel also. Finally, as I reflect on my life, upbringing, challenges, and circumstances, there are some other things that I have come to realize with age and experience. When I consider my journey, the “sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me” rule kicks in and I just brush the silly stuff right off my shoulders.” I have endured and overcome far more significant challenges.

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Google says it will remove search function in Australia if media code becomes law – TheChronicleHerald.ca

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By Renju Jose

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Alphabet Inc’s Google said on Friday it would block its search engine in Australia if the government proceeds with a new code that would force it and Facebook Inc to pay media companies for the right to use their content.

Google’s threat escalates a battle with publishers such as News Corp that is being closely watched around the world. The search giant had warned that its 19 million Australian users would face degraded search and YouTube experiences if the new code were enforced.

Australia is on course to pass laws that would make tech giants negotiate payments with local publishers and broadcasters for content included in search results or news feeds. If they cannot strike a deal, a government-appointed arbitrator will decide the price.

“Coupled with the unmanageable financial and operational risk if this version of the Code were to become law, it would give us no real choice but to stop making Google Search available in Australia,” Mel Silva, managing director for Australia and New Zealand, told a senate committee.

Silva made no mention of YouTube in prepared remarks.

Google’s comments drew a sharp rebuke from Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison who said the country makes its rules for “things you can do in Australia.”

“People who want to work with that in Australia, you’re very welcome. But we don’t respond to threats,” Morrison told reporters.

Google has called the code overly broad and said that without revisions, offering even a limited search tool would be too risky. The company does not disclose sales from Australia, but search ads are its biggest contributor to revenue and profit globally.

The United States government this week asked Australia to scrap the proposed laws, which have broad political support, and suggested Australia should pursue a voluntary code instead.

Australia announced the legislation last month after an investigation found Google and social media giant Facebook held too much market power in the media industry, a situation it said posed a potential threat to a well-functioning democracy.

Google’s threat to limit its services in Australia came just hours after the internet giant reached a content-payment deal with some French news publishers as part of three-year, $1.3-billion push to support publishers.

Google’s testimony “is part of a pattern of threatening behaviour that is chilling for anyone who values our democracy,” said Peter Lewis, director of the Australia Institute’s Centre for Responsible Technology.

(Reporting by Renju Jose; Editing by Byron Kaye and Gerry Doyle)

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Google says it will remove search function in Australia if media code becomes law – The Journal Pioneer

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By Renju Jose

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Alphabet Inc’s Google said on Friday it would block its search engine in Australia if the government proceeds with a new code that would force it and Facebook Inc to pay media companies for the right to use their content.

Google’s threat escalates a battle with publishers such as News Corp that is being closely watched around the world. The search giant had warned that its 19 million Australian users would face degraded search and YouTube experiences if the new code were enforced.

Australia is on course to pass laws that would make tech giants negotiate payments with local publishers and broadcasters for content included in search results or news feeds. If they cannot strike a deal, a government-appointed arbitrator will decide the price.

“Coupled with the unmanageable financial and operational risk if this version of the Code were to become law, it would give us no real choice but to stop making Google Search available in Australia,” Mel Silva, managing director for Australia and New Zealand, told a senate committee.

Silva made no mention of YouTube in prepared remarks.

Google’s comments drew a sharp rebuke from Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison who said the country makes its rules for “things you can do in Australia.”

“People who want to work with that in Australia, you’re very welcome. But we don’t respond to threats,” Morrison told reporters.

Google has called the code overly broad and said that without revisions, offering even a limited search tool would be too risky. The company does not disclose sales from Australia, but search ads are its biggest contributor to revenue and profit globally.

The United States government this week asked Australia to scrap the proposed laws, which have broad political support, and suggested Australia should pursue a voluntary code instead.

Australia announced the legislation last month after an investigation found Google and social media giant Facebook held too much market power in the media industry, a situation it said posed a potential threat to a well-functioning democracy.

Google’s threat to limit its services in Australia came just hours after the internet giant reached a content-payment deal with some French news publishers as part of three-year, $1.3-billion push to support publishers.

Google’s testimony “is part of a pattern of threatening behaviour that is chilling for anyone who values our democracy,” said Peter Lewis, director of the Australia Institute’s Centre for Responsible Technology.

(Reporting by Renju Jose; Editing by Byron Kaye and Gerry Doyle)

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Google says it will remove search function in Australia if media code becomes law – The Journal Pioneer

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SYDNEY (Reuters) – Google said on Friday it will disable its search function in Australia if the government proceeds with a media code that would force it and Facebook Inc to pay local media companies for sharing their content.

Australia is on course to pass laws that would make the Big Tech giants negotiate payments with local publishers and broadcasters for content. If they can’t strike a deal, a government-appointed arbitrator will decide the price.

“The code’s arbitration model with bias criteria presents unmanageable financial and operational risk for Google,” Mel Silva, managing director for Australia and New Zealand, told a senate committee.

“If this version of the code were to become law, it would give us no real choice but to stop making Google Search available in Australia.”

Australia announced the legislation last month after an investigation found Alphabet Inc-owned Google and social media giant Facebook held too much market power in the media industry, a situation it said posed a potential threat to a well-functioning democracy.

The United States government this week asked Australia to scrap the proposed laws, which have broad political support, and suggested Australia should pursue a voluntary code instead.

Google’s threat to limit its services in Australia came just hours after the internet giant reached a content-payment deal with some French news publishers.

Google’s testimony “is part of a pattern of threatening behaviour that is chilling for anyone who values our democracy,” said Peter Lewis, director of the Australia Institute’s Centre for Responsible Technology .

(Reporting by Renju Jose; Editing by Byron Kaye and Gerry Doyle)

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