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Could a reboot make social media a nicer place? – BBC News

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One of the most popular cures for an ailing computer, or Hollywood movie franchise, is often a reboot. Some people hope a reset could also be a remedy to fix toxic social media.

That’s what the Institute for Rebooting Social Media proposes to do over the next three years.

The academic institute, a new initiative from Harvard University’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society (BKCIS), is being funded with $2m (£1.5m) from the John S. and John L. Knight Foundation, as well as Craig Newmark Philanthropies.

“While the identification of problems may vary, it’s hard to find anyone defending the current environment of social media,” says BKCIS co-founder Jonathan Zittrain.

“It’s important to better assess (and make known) how social media is evolving,” he says, in order understand how it might be possible to reconfigure it.

Jonathan Zittrain

Jon Chase

According to BKCIS analysis, social media is no longer fit for purpose – the platforms, initially perceived as engines for democracy and truth, appear to have instead facilitated the spread and acceptance of lies, division, and physical harm.

In one recent example, social media was used to fuel the use of ivermectin, (a drug used to deworm livestock which the FDA warns can be very dangerous to humans,) as a Covid-19 treatment.

Worryingly, the BKCIS experts also suggest that social media has contributed to the decay in confidence in institutions, elections, and collective truth and the growth of racial, ethnic, political, religious, and gender-based animosities.

“When social media started, it was supposed to bring about this new renaissance of thought because everyone would have a voice. Clearly, something is off,” says Mitchell Marovitz, director of the communications, journalism, and speech program at the University of Maryland Global Campus.

Despite its warts, social media and online environments have clear benefits that are also worth preserving.

There’s no doubt social media for instance, opens-up access to vast amounts of knowledge, valuable self-governed communities, and flourishing cultural movements.

Part of the new institute’s work will be to strengthen these benefits of increased online communication, while minimising its harmful parts.

Ashley Johnson, a policy analyst at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation

Ashley Johnson

“There is a consensus, even among people who run social media companies, that there are growing problems with the way we interact and communicate, and share information online,” says Ashley Johnson, a policy analyst at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation.

“Any time you get together millions or people, you’re going to amplify the best in people, and you’re going to amplify the worst,” she continues.

“We’ve definitely seen that, and we haven’t figured out how to maximise the good and minimise the bad. That’s what I think of when I hear ‘reboot social media’.”

However the sheer scale and reach of social media will make reform difficult.

“It’s not as easy as saying there’s a problem at a company, let’s figure out how to change its culture,” says Karen Kovacs North, director of the Annenberg Program on Online Communities at the University of Southern California.

While social media has some societal benefits, it can have some very harmful effects on people, says John Carroll, a media analyst and journalist based in Boston.

“In many ways, it’s structured to exploit people’s weaknesses and opportunistic in maximising its own use,” he says. “The ‘gamification’ and addictive response of social media is something that’s really hard to disrupt.”

Craig Newmark, founder of Craig's List and Craig Newmark Philanthropies

Stephanie Canciello, Unali Artists

Current social media has a tendency to exaggerate differences in people, to outrage and to radicalise, says Craig Newmark, founder of Craig’s List and Craig Newmark Philanthropies.

“That’s part of the business model in many cases,” he adds. “We need social media where people listen to each other, where they can find common ground, and work together.”

The architects of the Harvard project say that’s why collaboration is baked-in to the new institute’s design.

It will be using a multi-disciplinary approach, corralling participants across industry, government, civil society, and academia, to build a portfolio of research, projects, programming, and educational opportunities to improve the digital social space.

“Online services are like hydras, if you fix one problem, another one often emerges,” James Mickens, a professor of computer science at Harvard, explains in a statement. Prof Mickens, Mr Zittrain, and George Bemis, a professor of international law and professor of computer science at Harvard, will be leading the institute.

“Part of the challenge is that many of the problems are multi-faceted,” he explains. “They’re not just engineering problems, and they’re not just regulatory issue,” says Prof Mickens.

Presentational grey line

Presentational grey line

John Sands, director of learning and impact at the Knight Foundation, hopes the institute can create a space for deeper discussion among people from a variety of backgrounds.

“Normally the folks who need to discuss these issues and hash out solutions are only together [for] a day or two at conferences,” he explains. “This institute offers an opportunity for extended engagement.”

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An interdisciplinary approach is needed if some progress is going to be made in the social media space, feels Julian Sanchez, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, a public policy think tank.

“It requires an interdisciplinary approach because it’s not really, or at least not just, social media that’s broken,” he says. “It’s human psychology, and social institutions, and the broader media ecosystem.”

“There’s a lot that social media platforms could do better,” he continues, “but there are also some harms that may just be intrinsic to connecting large groups of humans.”

“It can be tempting to say these harms must be the fault of some nefarious algorithm,” he notes, “both because it’s easier to fix and because it sounds more pleasant than acknowledging there are some inherently ugly aspects of human nature, but I suspect the fundamental problem is on the other side of the screen.”

“None of that’s to say it’s useless to try to mitigate these harms by trying to develop better social media policies,” Mr Sanchez adds, “but I think we ought to be realistic about how much good is ultimately going to be accomplished that way.”

Mr Carroll maintains that the biggest challenge for initiatives like the reboot project is to break through to the public at large.

These groups can come up with tools, approaches, and habits that could help people—if they reach them,” he says. “But the reach of a technology center at Harvard University is pretty limited in the overall scope of things.”

“They have laudable objectives,” he adds. “The only question is how realistic are they?”

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Media Release – September 24, 2021 – Guelph Police – guelphpolice.ca

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Home Invasion Investigation

On the morning of September 16th, 2021, three adult males and an adult female forced their way into an apartment in a residential building located near the intersection of Speedvale Avenue East and Stevenson Street North in the City of Guelph.

An adult male resident was struck with a firearm, and other weapons were brandished during this incident. The male resident and an adult female resident were ultimately able to lock themselves in a room and contact the Guelph Police Service for assistance. The three males and female fled on foot.

The male resident was transported to hospital, treated for his injuries and released.     

Police later located the three males inside another apartment in the building and they were subsequently arrested.

Through investigation, police identified the female involved and a warrant was issued.

This was a targeted incident and there is no concern for public safety. 

A 26 year old Guelph male has been charged with:
-Disguise With Intent
-Break, Enter And Commit Indictable Offence

He was held in custody pending a bail hearing on September 24th.

A 27 year old Guelph male has been charged with:
-Disguise With Intent
-Break, Enter And Commit Indictable Offence
-Use Firearm While Committing Offence
-Possession Of A Weapon For A Dangerous Purpose x2
-Breach Probation
-Fail To Comply With Judicial Release Order

He was held in custody pending a bail hearing on September 24th.

A 33 year old Guelph male has been charged with:
-Disguise With Intent
-Break, Enter And Commit Indictable Offence
-Possession Of Weapon For A Dangerous Purpose
-Fail To Comply With Judicial Release Order

He was held in custody pending a bail hearing on September 29th.

On September 23rd, just before 9:46am, police observed the female as a passenger in a motor vehicle driving near the intersection of Wellington Street West and Fife Road. A traffic stop was initiated, and an adult male driver fled the area on foot.

The female was subsequently arrested.

A search incident to arrest revealed 1.18 grams of Fentanyl.

Further investigation revealed that both the vehicle and the vehicle plates were stolen.

A 30 year old Guelph female has been charged with:
-Disguise With Intent
-Break, Enter And Commit Indictable Offence
-Use Firearm While Committing Offence
-Possession Of Weapon For A Dangerous Purpose
-Assault With A Weapon x2
-Breach Probation
-Fail To Comply With OIC Undertaking
-Possession Of A Controlled Substance – Schedule I
-Possession Of Stolen Property Under $5,000 x2

She was held in custody pending a bail hearing on September 24th.

Please note that police found a second adult female in the vehicle during the traffic stop. She was also subsequently arrested.

A 23 year old Guelph female has been charged with:
-Possession Of Stolen Property Under $5,000 x2

She will appear in court on January 14th, 2022.

The male who fled the vehicle on foot was not located.

Anyone with any information is asked to contact Constable Jenifer Nadalin at 519-824-1212 ext. 7523, email her at jnadalin@guelphpolice.ca, leave an anonymous tip at CRIME STOPPERS 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or submit an anonymous tip online at www.csgw.tips.

Road Rage Incident Leads To Weapon Charges

On September 23rd, 2021, just before 6:01pm, a road rage incident occurred between two adult male drivers, which lead to both males exiting their motor vehicles out front of a residence located near the intersection of Starwood Drive and Eastview Road in the City of Guelph. One of the males then pulled foldable knife out of his pocket, opened the blade and held it out in a threatening manner. He eventually left the area in his vehicle.

At 10:32pm, the male who had the knife turned himself into the Guelph Police Service station and was subsequently arrested.

A 29 year old Guelph male has been charged with:
-Assault With A Weapon
-Possession Of A Weapon For A Dangerous Purpose

He will appear in court on January 11th, 2022.

Motor Vehicle Collision Investigation

On September 23rd, 2021, just before 4:52pm, a collision occurred between two motor vehicles near the intersection of Dawson Road and Speedvale Avenue West in the City of Guelph. The collision resulted in minor injuries but significant damage to both vehicles.

Anyone with any dash camera footage in the area or any information at all is asked to contact Constable Lindsay Porterfield at 519-824-1212 ext. 7182, email her at lporterfield@guelphpolice.ca, leave an anonymous tip at CRIME STOPPERS 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or submit an anonymous tip online at www.csgw.tips.

Stolen ATV

Some time between midnight and 8am on September 23rd, 2021, a shed in the backyard of a residence located near the intersection of Edinburgh Road South and Waterloo Avenue in the City of Guelph was entered. An ATV was then taken, as its key was left in the ignition.

However, the vehicle wasn’t in good working order and was difficult drive, so it was abandoned around the corner from the residence, and was recovered by police at 9am.

Anyone with any information is asked to contact Constable Joshua van Breda at 519-824-1212 ext. 7417, email him at jvanbreda@guelphpolice.ca, leave an anonymous tip at CRIME STOPPERS 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or submit an anonymous tip online at www.csgw.tips.

The Guelph Police Service would like to encourage the public to never leave keys in the ignition of an unattended motor vehicle.

Multiple Motor Vehicle Collisions And Driving Complaints

Over the past 24 hours the Guelph Police Service received reports of 14 motor vehicle collisions and 11 driving complaints occurring throughout the City of Guelph.

The Guelph Police Service would like to encourage the public to slow down and follow the rules of the road in order to help ensure everyone arrives to their destination safely.

Calls for Service in the last 24 hours: 227

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Black Press Media Weekly Roundup: Top headlines this week – Summerland Review – Summerland Review

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Good afternoon and happy Friday!

Before you start off your weekend full of sunshine, cooler weather and pumpkin patch adventures, catch up on some of this week’s news headlines from the Okanagan-Shuswap region.

Woman found dead at Highway 33 and Nickel Road in Kelowna

Kelowna RCMP launched an investigation after the body of a woman was found at Highway 33 and Nickel Road in the city.

Police said they don’t have much information surrounding the woman’s death or the cause of it, but the investigation is ongoing.

Fundraisers set up for family of Penticton murder victim

Fundraisers have been set up for a Penticton murder victim’s family.

Taig Savage’s mother, Tracey, previously lost two other children in a house fire. The goal of the fundraisers is to support her as she goes through losing a child in a tragic way for the third time.

One dead in Vernon shooting

One person died and another person was taken into police custody after a morning shooting in Vernon on Monday (Sept. 20).

Vernon North Okanagan RCMP said the victim and the man in custody are known to each other. As he is still in custody, police said there is no further threat to public safety.

Boaters want Shuswap Lake channel dredged but obstacles deter city

Boaters have been asking the City of Salmon Arm to dredge the channel that leads into Shuswap Lake, but the mayor and his staff say that the high costs and government requirements to dredge are keeping them from doing it.

Staff added that dredging is a temporary solution and has a short life span.

And that’s all for this week. Have yourself a good and safe weekend.


@twilamam
twila.amato@blackpress.ca

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Media Day hype, player rankings are clickbait | Pickaxe and Roll – Denver Stiffs

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Ryan Blackburn shares his thoughts on the third day of player interviews for media week that included Aaron Gordon, Will Barton, Jeff Green, Austin Rivers, and Michael Porter Jr. in a stacked session. Gordon was chill, Barton was excited, Green was professional, Rivers was insightful, and Porter showed readiness to take the leap. Then, Ryan discusses the ESPN player rankings that are filtering out and what they had to say about the Nuggets and Nikola Jokić.

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