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Anti-mask fringe movement getting more media coverage than warranted: expert – Hanna Herald

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The coronavirus pandemic has illustrated the ability of both social media and mainstream news coverage to amplify and exaggerate the influence of extremist groups that reject science-based policies, says Aengus Bridgman.

It only took 30 people dancing without masks last week in a Rosemère shopping centre for the anti-mask movement to make headlines across Quebec.

On Saturday, anti-maskers were in the news again when Quebec City police handed out 34 tickets to demonstrators protesting against anti-COVID-19 measures in front of the National Assembly.

And on Sunday, a small group of maskless protesters gathered outside a house in Westmount they believed was the home of Premier François Legault. Legault does not live in Westmount.

Now, a two-week-old anti-mask group is planning another flash mob in Laval on Dec. 6 or 12, and is asking people to shop without masks at a grocery store in Ste-Thérèse on Dec. 5, according to information posted on YouTube Friday. The group Sans Masque boasts 517 members in different regions of the province, according to another video.

But while news reports might give the impression the group is gaining momentum, it remains a fringe movement, said Aengus Bridgman, a PhD candidate at McGill University who studies online political participation.

“It’s really important to note that from 85 to 90 per cent of Canadians are wearing masks regularly,” Bridgman said.

The coronavirus pandemic has illustrated the ability of both social media and mainstream news coverage to amplify and exaggerate the influence of extremist groups that reject science-based policies, he said.

For example, the flash mob in Rosemère on Nov. 21 received widespread media exposure despite the small number of participants, he noted.

“I think it has received too much coverage,” he said.

Bridgman was among the authors of a McGill study released in July showing that Canadians who get their information from social media instead of traditional news sources are more likely to believe misconceptions about COVID-19.

Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Reddit have enabled once-marginal movements to reach audiences numbering in the millions, he said.

The study surveyed 27,615 Canadians on where they got their news and on their attitudes toward COVID-19.

It also looked at how anti-intellectualism — the generalized distrust of experts and intellectuals — influences attitudes on the risk of contracting COVID-19 and prevention measures like mask-wearing and physical distancing .

Mainstream media are also contributing to the increased visibility of anti-mask groups, Bridgman said. One reason is that media constantly seek another side of every story as a means of advancing the news, he said.

For example, at the beginning of the pandemic, when health authorities around the world were counselling against the general public wearing masks, mainstream media outlets did reports suggesting masks could help prevent the spread of the virus. When governments switched course and called on citizens to don masks, the media raised questions about how effective mask-wearing was, Bridgman said.

There are no easy answers when it comes to combating misinformation on social media, he said. While Twitter flagged many tweets by U.S. President Donald Trump before and after the Nov. 3 election, rooting out false statements is not always feasible, he said.

mscott@postmedia.com

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Social Media Buzz: Larry King Dies, Dr. Birx, Heathrow Crowds – BNN

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(Bloomberg) — What’s buzzing on social media this morning:

Larry King, the interviewer whose schmoozy style attracted celebrities, politicians and other newsmakers as guests and made him the star of a top-rated U.S. cable talk show, has died. He was 87.

  • King died Saturday morning at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. The cause of death wasn’t provided. The cancer and stroke survivor had spent time recently undergoing treatment for Covid-19.

Pfizer Inc. is trending on Twitter. Senior doctors in the U.K. are urging the gap between first and second doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine doses be halved to ensure efficacy. The U.K. extended the maximum wait from three to 12 weeks to get more people to take the first shot. France may also delay second doses to stretch supplies.

  • Large crowds at Heathrow Airport on Friday sparked concerns of virus spread. U.K. only allows residents to travel internationally for “legally-permitted reasons.”

Dr. Deborah Birx said she “always” considered quitting Donald Trump’s coronavirus task force as she worried she’d been viewed as a political person. “I mean, why would you want to put yourself through that, um, every day?” Birx told CBS in an interview that will air Sunday, according to an advance clip. Her term ended as Biden took office.

Protests broke out in cities across Russia as tens of thousands demanded the release of jailed opposition leader Alexey Navalny. Police detained hundreds of people.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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Blockbuster Laine-Dubois deal draws mixed reviews on social media – Sportsnet.ca

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Sometimes, change happens fast.

Mere days after Columbus Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella benched Pierre-Luc Dubois, one of his team’s best players, in an overtime loss against the Tampa Bay Lightning, Dubois was packing his bags to go play in another country altogether.

The Blue Jackets traded the 22-year-old, who had requested to be dealt shortly after signing a two-year, $10-million bridge contract in the off-season, to the Winnipeg Jets for superstar winger Patrik Laine and Jack Roslovic in a move that sent shockwaves through the NHL.

Not all blockbusters are universally well-received, of course. And while some on Twitter celebrated the move as a shuffling of high-profile talent, others were quick to wonder how the dynamic between Laine, an offensive-minded forward, and Tortorella will play out.

Here is some of the best reaction to the winter blockbuster:

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Social media's sea shanty trend scores well with musician-curator – CBC.ca

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Southern Ontario folk musician Ian Bell says it makes sense that sea shanties are taking off on social media right now because they are participatory and easy to learn.

“It’s easier to learn Heave ‘Er Up and Bust ‘Er than it is to try and figure out all the bits for, say Bohemian Rhapsody or something,” Bell, who is also the former curator of the Port Dover Habour Museum, told CBC. 

“I think for a lot of people, singing shanties at this moment is like the musical equivalent of learning to bake your own bread.”

The social media platform Tik Tok is awash in videos of people performing the traditional work songs or altering others’ videos of them, and even talk show hosts such as Stephen Colbert have gotten in on the action.

The songs are appealing because of their communal nature, Bell said.

“There is nothing better than being in a large gang of people who are singing their faces off often in three or four part harmonies, and it’s one of those situations where it kind of goes beyond musical. You know the vibrations can go right through you,” he said.

One of the best shanty sings used to take place at the Mill Race Festival in Cambridge, he said, where 60 or 70 singers would pack into the Kiwi Pub and belt out the numbers.

Musician Ian Bell has been singing sea shanties for many years and says he loves shanties about the Great Lakes because of the local connection. (ianbellmusic.ca)

Songs to make work easier

Shanties aren’t so much songs as they are templates of songs, Bell said.

The rhythm helped workers carry out tasks in unison such as pulling in sails on sailboats.

“Some of the jobs needed a bunch of short pulls, and some of the jobs needed longer pulls, and so there was a whole repertoire of songs that fitted those needs and that the sailors sang to make the work go a little more easily,” he said.

But the lyrics were fluid.

Each work crew might have a shantyman — possibly the person with the loudest voice — who might recall some of the original words to the number, but there was a lot of improvisation, Bell explained.

“If the job wasn’t over and he’d finished the song, ‘Well, we’ll add a verse about the cook,'” he added.

Great Lakes shanties name local spots

A number of sea shanties were written on or about the Great Lakes and they are particular to the types of ships on the lakes, he said. Specifically, they were schooners rather than clipper ships. 

There were lots of capstan shanties, or songs sung while rotating the capstan to pull in an anchor, he said. Some also specifically mention the lakes or the surrounding areas.

“They mention Buffalo and they mention Long Point and they mention Windsor and Sarnia,” Bell said. 

For those wanting to learn a shanty or two and get in on the social media activity, Bell recommended Bully in the Alley and It’s Me for the Inland Lakes.

“I love the way it’s happening on Tik Tok,” Bell said, “which I haven’t tried, because, let’s be frank; I’m an old guy.”

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