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Biden says social media companies 'killing people' by letting COVID-19 misinformation circulate – CBC.ca

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U.S. President Joe Biden said Friday that social media companies are “killing people” by failing to police misinformation on their platforms about COVID-19 vaccines.

Biden’s comments came a day after U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy declared misinformation about the vaccines a threat to public health, and as U.S. officials advised that deaths and serious illness from the virus are almost entirely preventable because of the vaccines.

Biden, asked if he had a message for platforms like Facebook where false or misleading information about the coronavirus vaccines has spread, told reporters, “They’re killing people.”

“The only pandemic we have is among the unvaccinated,” he said.

Speaking Thursday, Murthy said misinformation about COVID-19, deemed an “infodemic” by the World Health Organization, was deadly.

“Misinformation poses an imminent and insidious threat to our nation’s health,” Murthy said during remarks Thursday at the White House. “We must confront misinformation as a nation. Lives are depending on it.”

U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy is seen speaking at the White House on Thursday. (Susan Walsh/The Associated Press)

Given the role the internet plays in spreading health misinformation, Murthy said technology companies and social media platforms must make meaningful changes to their products and software to reduce the spread of false information while increasing access to authoritative, fact-based sources.

Too often, he said, the platforms are built in ways that encourage, not counter, the spread of misinformation.

“We are asking them to step up,” Murthy said. “We can’t wait longer for them to take aggressive action.”

Facebook spokesperson Dani Lever responded: “We will not be distracted by accusations which aren’t supported by the facts. The fact is that more than two billion people have viewed authoritative information about COVID-19 and vaccines on Facebook, which is more than any other place on the internet. More than 3.3 million Americans have also used our vaccine finder tool to find out where and how to get a vaccine. The facts show that Facebook is helping save lives. Period.”

Twitter posted on its platform, “As the COVID-19 pandemic evolves around the world, we’ll continue to do our part to elevate authoritative health information.”

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RCMP Southeast District media relations officer headed east – Cranbrook Daily Townsman – Cranbrook Townsman

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After 15 years in B.C., RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey is headed east.

O’Donaghey has spent the last two years as the district advisory non-commissioned officer for media relations B.C. RCMP’s Southeast District. Before that, he served as the communications officer for the Kelowna Regional Detachment, following stints as a front-line officer in Kelowna and Lake Country. He began his policing career in Chilliwack with Fraser Valley Traffic Services.

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Now, he’s accepted a transfer to Newfoundland and Labrador, where his spouse was born and raised.

“I am absolutely thrilled for the opportunity to take her back home,” said O’Donaghey. “I am also overjoyed for the opportunity to work in such a gorgeous part of our country and raise my young family in a warm and welcoming province, well-known for having the some of the friendliest people you’ll ever meet.”

O’Donaghey was born in Calgary, Alta., but moved to Penticton at eight years old. He graduated from Pen-High.

“Jesse has been a valuable part of the BC RCMP Media Relations program,” says Dawn Roberts, director in charge of B.C. RCMP communications. “Representing the RCMP, talking about what we do, as well as being very engaged in community awareness and charity events is why we are going to miss him so much as he heads to the east coast.”


@michaelrdrguez
michael.rodriguez@kelownacapnews.com

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BC residents taking more outdoor risks for social media glory – My PG Now

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Securing that killer selfie or video for some social media glory comes at a cost according to BC Hydro.

According to its latest survey, 16% of British Columbians have stood at the edge of a cliff, while 12% knowingly disobeyed safety signage or trespassing.

Spokesperson, Dave Conway told Vista Radio the recent numbers ring true of an even more disturbing trend.

“We have seen over a five-year period a 200% increase in trespassing incidents over the last five years and about 2% or 80-thousand British Columbians admit to hurting themselves while trying to get a photo or a video.”

Cuts, falling, and spraining ankles are among the most common injuries followed by near-drownings and broken bones.

Those living in the north experience injuries the most at a rate of 4% while taking a photo or video while people in our region were most likely (19%) to trespass or ignore warning signs.

Conway also mentioned public interference with electrical infrastructure is quite risky.

“You do not need to touch the infrastructure to be electrocuted. You need to come within the area that the electricity can jump from the infrastructure itself into you and then down into the ground.”

However, the risks do not stop at selfies.

British Columbians also admit to staying in a park or recreation site after permitted hours (25%), getting too close to a wild animal (17%), cliff diving (15%), hiking in a or restricted area (13%), and swimming out of bounds or in a restricted area (12%).

Selfie-related deaths and injuries are on the rise globally.

Between 2011 and 2017, 259 people were reported killed worldwide in these types of incidents.

A link to the full report can be found here.

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Is Social Media Spreading Dangerous Covid-19 Delta Variant Misinformation? – Forbes

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Throughout the pandemic, there have been memes on social media that questioned whether Covid-19 was real. Now across the platforms there are those who are even claiming that the delta variant was somehow caused by the vaccines. That’s not true of course, as the delta variant was first identified in India last October – two months before the first emergency-approved Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine was even administered.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the delta variant is also just one of eight known variants of the virus. It has been in the spotlight because of its high transmission rate and its level of aggression.

On social media there are those that not only disregard the warnings from the WHO and Centers of Disease Control (CDC), but have used the platforms to spread contradictory information.

“Social media is not news,” warned William V. Pelfrey, Jr., Ph.D., professor in the Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs at Virginia Commonwealth University.

“Reputable news outlets have objective editors who review information quality before disseminating it,” added Pelfrey. “There are, unfortunately, some media elements that present as news but are instead politically motivated and distribute information that is not factual. They are usually easy to spot. Although the word ‘news’ may be in the title, they are in reality an echo chamber.”

Misinformation Spreads Like A Virus

Because of the continued divide in our country, it is easy to see how social media can help spread information, misinformation and even disinformation. Information sent by like-minded individuals, even if they aren’t friends, can be more trusted than what is seen or heard from the actual news outlets.

“Social media is different,” noted Pelfrey. “People post what interests them, posts that will draw attention – and secure distribution – and posts that make them feel good. The psychology behind this process is fascinating. When given a large enough platform, posts that make a person feel good can be very dangerous. If I have thousands of followers and post that ‘Covid-19 is over!,’ I am creating a serious public health risk, even if that post makes me feel less insecure about an uncertain world.”

The ability for social media to spread this sort of misinformation isn’t new, but the pandemic may have increased its ability to act as a megaphone.

“As a healthcare provider, I was already starting to see an increase in patients turning to social media before Covid-19 even started. Jokes about Dr. Google or Dr. Facebook were already taking place,” said Dr. Donna Gregory, senior lecturer within the School of Nursing at Regis College.

Previously it was more of an individual case-by-case basis, but with the outbreak of the pandemic last year, suddenly it seemed the masses took to social media for the latest source of information, even as health care experts knew very little about it.

“Unfortunately, with social media it can often be difficult to determine the original source and the credibility of that source,” added Gregory. “I often hear patients say, ‘Someone I know shared a post…,’ or ‘My friend posted that her friend…,’ regarding health information. Many of these posts generate fear and impact patient decision making but aren’t grounded in fact.”

Social media remains a great place to interact with others, especially during the shutdown that forced people to stay at home. It can also be a good place for academic discourse and information gathering, but it doesn’t take much for misinformation to be presented as fact.

“Disinformation can lead to fear, failure to follow guidelines, distrust of the medical community, and overall, we have seen it negatively impact the community response to this pandemic,” explained Gregory.

“In order to prevent the spread of disinformation and allow people to make decisions that are based on fact and expert opinion, people need to know how to be savvy consumers of social media,” she explained. “This includes being able to identify disinformation and know what sources are credible. This has been true since the start of the pandemic and continues to be true as we see changes, such as the emergence of the delta variant.”

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