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BEYOND LOCAL: How the coronavirus crisis is finally putting the 'social' into social media – TimminsToday

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This article, written by Matthew Flisfeder, University of Winnipeg, originally appeared on The Conversation and has been republished here with permission:

The platforming of our lives on social media apps — like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter — is usually met with criticism. Interactive technologies, like video games and social media, we’re told, make us anti-social. Now, as a result of social distancing efforts in response to the coronavirus pandemic, online social networks and video conferencing platforms like Zoom are redefining what it means to be social through our technologies.

In a less-than-ideal situation, the Zoom conferencing platform has become central to many people’s everyday life during the crisis. Quarantining has forced us to move our social gatherings online; hangouts with friends and family have, for the past month, become virtually possible thanks to new media. My family, like many others, participated in a Zoom Passover seder this year.

Video-sharing apps like TikTok also help us to relieve boredom. The platform’s dance challenges and lip-syncing memes provide a sense of fun and comic relief.

Social media networks and conferencing platforms may be compensating for the loss of social life in a moment of crisis, but perhaps we are getting more than we bargained for.

Remote working

Working from home, and homing while at work, has become part of the routine for many white-collar workers: work life and family life are blending into one.

A couple of weeks ago, my five-year-old son wandered into my home office during a Zoom meeting. This embarrassing scenario is something now familiar to many of us working remotely via Zoom or other video conference platforms. An hour later, both of my children logged onto Zoom meetings of their own for a session of remote schooling.

Work-life balance was hard enough before the crisis. Now, social media is blending private life and work. For parents and caregivers, the extension of the office into personal space can be an added cause of stress. With no separation, we are forced to do it all at once.

The double duties of care and work, what feminists refer to as the “double shift,” isn’t new. But bringing the office space into the home while managing care and the health crisis can be daunting.

Zoom may enable work life during the crisis. But is this really the best way to use our social technologies and media? Maybe this situation gives us an opportunity to see the problems of our culture differently through the prism of social technology.

Anti-social media?

Social isolation may have changed the way we interact online, but apprehensions about social media and other cloud-based social interaction technologies and platforms are justified. Not only do we fear the anti-social effects of social media, many of us are also worried about online surveillance, manipulation and trolling.

Zoom, too, is not exempt from these kinds of security fears. Like other cloud-based technologies, Zoom is not immune to the threat of data mining and surveillance, even from other platforms.

Using social technologies as a lifeline during the ongoing crisis helps us to see beyond the anti-social aspects of the technology. Looking past the interface, we should interrogate online anti-social behaviour less as a problem with the technology and more as having to do with the broader culture of neoliberal capitalism.

Like all media, platforms amplify the social, political and economic conditions in which they are used. Since corporate platforms profit from our usage and data, they all have an interest in keeping our attention and our active participation. This is what makes data mining, for instance, essential to all platforms.

Data has become a staple resource for the new economy of 21st century capitalism. And algorithms are designed to keep us plugged in, whatever the emotional cost.

As critical media scholars have said for years, if the product is free, chances are the commodity is you.

Scholars point to “communicative capitalism” or “platform capitalism” to identify the harmful aspects of platforms and social media. Platforms rely on user-generated content and data mining as part of their profit models.

Like traditional news media and communicative technologies, platform conglomeration risks limiting information freedom and media democracy. Already, Zoom appears to have cornered the market for video conferencing platforms.

The context of using social technologies during the coronavirus crisis should therefore force us to question the future of our media. Will platforms like Zoom help us to enhance our social relationships and the public good, or will they do more to amplify the needs of platform and neoliberal capitalism?

Social media and public culture

Against the background of the COVID-19 crisis, we see just how essential social networking platforms and online communication technologies have become for our social life. At the same time, these technologies extend and embed work into the home.

Can we imagine social media networks and apps designed for the public good? What might it look like if we removed platforms and social media from their corporate setting? Perhaps a social media that lived up to its name.

Given the ways we’re using social technologies and platforms to maintain our social lives during the crisis, we should reconsider our relationships to technology. Maybe technologies and social media don’t make us anti-social, after all, and the cause of the problem lies in a culture that prioritizes profit making over people making.

Matthew Flisfeder, Associate professor of Rhetoric and Communications, University of Winnipeg

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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Social Media Increasingly Linked With Mass Shootings – Forbes

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On Wednesday, authorities in Texas identified Salvador Ramos as the 18-year-old shooter who had opened fire in Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. Ramos, who had killed at least 19 students and two teachers during his shooting spree on Tuesday, had allegedly posted disturbing images online prior to carrying out the senseless attack.

According to reports, an Instagram account allegedly connected to Ramos featured disturbing photos. That account has since been taken down.

It was just last week that New York’s attorney general, Letitia James, announced that her office was investigating social media companies after another mass shooter had used the online platforms to plan, promote and stream a massacre in a Buffalo grocery store that left 10 dead. James said her office would investigate Twitch, 4chan, 8chan and Discord along with other platforms that the shooter used to amplify the attack.

Many are asking if warning signs were missed.

“It is impossible to prevent people from making threats online,” explained William V. Pelfrey, Jr., Ph.D., professor in the Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Yet he suggested that social media organizations do have a moral responsibility to identify and remove threatening messaging.

“They are generally abysmal at this task. Direct threats (i.e. I want to shoot the President, I want to kill myself) frequently are flagged and investigated. Indirect threats are much harder to identify and rarely receive any attention,” Pelfrey continued. “Many social media companies will need to make decisions – protect individual’s rights to make oblique threats or protect safety. Compromising freedom of speech seems abhorrent until we weigh that compromise against the lives lost in Buffalo or the many other places where radicalized violent extremists found their motivation to kill.”

The Anti-Social Networks

As the United States remains very much in what President Joe Biden has identified as an “Uncivil War,” where the country remains so politically divided, the platforms that were once about friendly discussions have evolved very much into “anti-social networks” where people now find themselves in echo chambers that support their opinion and views.

“Social media has compounded a growing racial, cultural and gender divide in America and the world,” explained Anthony Silard, professor at the Luiss Business School, Rome, and the author of The Art of Living Free in the Digital Age.

Social media has enabled the actions of extremists to be live-streamed to the masses.

“One facet of the Buffalo shooting that is critical for understanding its conception and operation is that it was not the work of one person,” added Silard. “The shooter brought his thought community with him via live stream. They were poised and ready to send out the horrific imagery of innocent people being slaughtered before the social media site, Twitch, could take it down, in an impressive two minutes. They succeeded, yet millions watched from the comfort of their screens.

“With his thought community virtually present and at the ready, the shooter felt less alone and propped up by the hate-imbued ideology of his group,” Silard added. “Herein lies an important point for lawmakers to consider about the role of social media in this tragedy: it enabled rapid, collective action by a hate group.”

Lack Of Empathy

Social media has also been seen as responsible in lowering the empathy of most Americans. It is easy to “speak your mind” about someone on social media based on a tweet they made or something they posted on Facebook. Even like-minded individuals with similar interests can find themselves in serious flare ups that turn hostile.

This has been common with email, posts on Newsgroups and online forums, but has increased significantly in the era of social media.

“One of the primary reasons social media has become so dangerous to a healthy society is that it erodes empathy. The reason town hall meetings became a healthy medium for cross-aisle conversations is that people had to listen to each other, even when they disagreed,” said Silard.”Now that these conversations have gone online, empathy has fallen to the wayside. A recent meta-analysis of seventy-two studies conducted between 1979 and 2009, for instance, found that the empathy levels of American college students have dropped 40 percent, which the authors primarily attribute to the rise of social media.”

The social media platforms have largely failed to address the issue, and in some cases it has only served to radicalize individuals, such as the recent mass shooters.

“Social media companies like Facebook promised us that its services would encourage people to care more for each other and express their authentic views more both online and in person. None of this has happened,” warned Silard. “Instead, recent Pew research has found that people speak up less in person now for fear of retribution. Why? Social media has helped them realize there are many opposing views out there they would prefer not to confront.”

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Media Advisory: Premier Furey to Announce Additional Measures to Help Residents with the Cost of Living – News Releases – Government of Newfoundland and Labrador

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The Honourable Andrew Furey, Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, the Honourable Siobhan Coady, Deputy Premier and Minister of Finance, and the Honourable Bernard Davis, Minister Responsible for Labour, will announce additional measures today (Thursday, May 26) to help Newfoundlanders and Labradorians with the cost of living. The event takes place at 1:00 p.m. in the Media Centre, East Block, Confederation Building.

The announcement will be livestreamed on Facebook.

– 30 –

Media contacts
Meghan McCabe
Office of the Premier
709-729-3960
meghanmccabe@gov.nl.ca

Victoria Barbour
Finance
709-729-4087, 327-6152
victoriabarbour@gov.nl.ca

Lynn Robinson
Environment and Climate Change
709-729-5449, 691-9466
lynnrobinson@gov.nl.ca

2022 05 26
11:10 am

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Ideon Media announces exclusive Canadian partnership with VICE Media Group – GlobeNewswire

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TORONTO, May 25, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Ideon Media announced today it will serve as the exclusive ad sales and branded content development partner for VICE Media Group (VMG), the world’s largest independent youth media group, in Canada. VMG digital properties, which include VICE.com, and Refinery29.com, reach a combined 13.3 million unique visitors in Canada per month across all platforms (GAR, GWL, Comscore, VICE Census).

The new partnership will see Ideon Media exclusively represent the commercial activity of  VICE.com and Refinery29.com in Canada to brands and advertisers. This includes the sale of media advertising and sponsorships, production of branded content as well as affiliate advertising and commissions.

“VICE leaves an indelible mark on the public discourse, with impressive in-depth reporting and authentic storytelling that resonates worldwide. We’re so proud to represent VICE in Canada, and so flattered that Ideon has been given full latitude to help Canadian advertisers tell their stories on platforms like VICE and Refinery29 using Canadian talent and creators,” said Kevin Bartus, Ideon Media President and CEO.

“VICE is a true Canadian media success story, and has always been the gold standard for integrated campaigns targeting the youth demographic, and I am thrilled to be working with the company again. From best-in-class branded content, to incredible brand-sponsored events, and even cutting-edge proprietary digital ad products; VICE and Refinery29 allow brands to reach a huge Canadian audience of highly influential Gen-Z and Millennial young people in authentic and meaningful ways,” said Shawn Phelan, Vice President of Brand Partnerships, Ideon Media.

“I am delighted to be partnering with Kevin, Shawn and the team at Ideon in Canada to drive future growth across our publishing business. Our shared passion for the VICE brands, storytelling, breakthrough content solutions and our audiences will allow us to realise our ambitious growth targets in the market and to forge new opportunities with brands and advertisers,” said Luke Barnes, Chief Revenue Officer and Chief Digital Officer, EMEA, VICE Media Group.

ABOUT VICE MEDIA GROUP
VICE Media Group is the world’s largest independent youth media company. Launched in 1994, VICE has offices across 25 countries across the globe with a focus on five key businesses: VICE.com, an award-winning international network of digital content; VICE STUDIOS, a feature film and television production studio; VICE TV, an Emmy-winning international television network; a Peabody award winning NEWS division with the most Emmy-awarded nightly news broadcast; and VIRTUE, a global, full-service creative agency. VICE Media Group’s portfolio includes Refinery29, the leading global media and entertainment company focused on women; PULSE Films, a London-based next-generation production studio with outposts in Los Angeles, New York, Paris and Berlin; and i-D, a global digital and bimonthly magazine defining fashion and contemporary culture and design.

ABOUT IDEON MEDIA (www.ideonmedia.com)
Ideon Media is a Toronto-based digital firm that offers a wide spectrum of advertiser solutions with best-in-class publisher representation and wholly owned and operated sites, including SavvyMom.ca and 29Secrets.com. Ideon specializes in custom content programs created by our award-winning in-house editorial team, influencer programs, events, performance network, proprietary data, and analytics. Ideon Media reaches a combined total of 18.6 million Canadians (Comscore, March 2022).

For more information or interview requests: Shawn Phelan at shawn.phelan@ideonmedia.com

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