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How social media is helping young people with Crohn’s disease

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Crohn’s disease affects people of all ages. The symptoms usually start in childhood or early adulthood.

It’s a lifelong condition where parts of the digestive system become inflamed.

The main symptoms are diarrhoea, stomach aches and cramps, blood in your poo, tiredness (fatigue), weight loss.

The NHS recommends seeing a GP if you have, blood in your poo, diarrhoea for more than 7 days, frequent stomach aches or cramps or if you have lost weight for no reason.

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Source: NHS

 

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Lucy HarmanLucy Harman

It was Christmas Day 2020 that Lucy Harman fell extremely ill.

For months before, she had been struggling with worrying symptoms, like blood in her poo, and she’d rapidly lost weight.

But during dinner, she collapsed, and was taken to hospital.

Within 48 hours, she was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease.

Now, two years later, the 20-year-old is working with a large community online to raise awareness of the condition and its symptoms.

“I think the important thing is that often people think bowel diseases just affect old people, and they forget that anyone at any age can get it,” Lucy – who has over 1 million likes on TikTok – tells BBC Newsbeat.

“I’ve met such a wide range of people online, some who are really struggling and in hospital all the time and other people who are out there living their lives, controlling their Crohn’s quite amazingly.”

Sharing my journey

Crohn’s affects people of all ages, and it’s a lifelong condition where parts of the digestive system become inflamed.

There’s no cure, but the NHS says symptoms can be managed by tablets, injections or surgery.

 

Crohn's disease

Chloe Dixon

Chloe Dixon is another young woman who was diagnosed with the condition in 2019, and like Lucy, shares her experiences online.

Crohn’s most commonly impacts the bowels, but it can impact any area of the digestive tract.

For the 21-year-old, it impacts her oesophagus – it means that she has to wear a feeding tube.

“My main goal is to spread awareness because Crohn’s doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ve got to have poor bowel movement,” she says.

“It’s not always the case, and when you do understand the full extent of Crohn’s, it can literally affect any part of your GI tract.

“Even my consultant said to me, it’s so rare to have someone like have a patient with Crohn’s in their oesophagus, like it’s extremely rare.”

Chloe says social media has helped her understand more about the condition.

“I didn’t know anything about a feeding tube, so to be able to sit there and watch others get their advice really helped me in my journey,” she says.

“I always wanted to bring that to others.”

 

Crohn's disease

Ziyad Al-Dibouni

Ziyad Al-Dibouni, an NHS radiographer, is also trying to raise awareness of Crohn’s and colitis, another inflammatory bowel disease, through Instagram and TikTok.

The 32-year-old was diagnosed with Crohn’s when he was 17.

He says he was initially told by doctors the symptoms could have been caused by tiredness, or stress from studying for his A-levels.

“When you speak to anyone with an invisible chronic illness, they will often tell you that they will experience some form of symptom or discomfort every single day,” Ziyad says.

“And we just kind of get on with it. And lots of people often say that the most common phrase that we hear is ‘you don’t look sick’.”

“I also have a radar key that gives me access to disabled toilets, because Crohn’s and Colitis are actually classified as hidden disabilities,” he adds.

“And that key has been very helpful as Crohn’s disease can be very unpredictable.”

Sarah Sleet, chief executive of Crohn’s and Colitis UK, says that young people talking openly about Crohn’s on social media has been “inspiring”.

But she warns that there’s a huge amount of misinformation online – so those who suspect they have symptoms should go to the doctor – instead of dealing with the condition themselves, which could be dangerous.

“First of all, young people will look at things that are really not appropriate to dealing with a serious condition which needs proper medical management.

“Sometimes there are quite dangerous restrictive diets, which are completely inappropriate.

“Or they might be told, take some supplements, or why don’t you change the way you’re living.”

She also says young people might mistake symptoms for just being stressed or tired.

Sarah, Ziyad, Chloe and Lucy all say that if you suspect you have any symptoms, to go see your doctor.

“I think there is such a huge stigma attached to speaking about bowel symptoms in general, and not just when it comes to inflammatory bowel disease,” Ziyad says.

“I think a lot of the stigma occurs through the lack of understanding or misconceptions some people have on the topic.”

“It’s incredibly important that you see your diagnosis in a positive light, because sometimes people see it as the worst thing in the world,” Lucy says.

“But actually a diagnosis gets you the treatment that allows you to keep living your life.

“And so I think people need to try their hardest to be confident that talking to a doctor is not an embarrassing thing.”

 

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Trump’s Evolution on Truth Social: More QAnon, More Extremes – The New York Times

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The former president, now free to post again on Facebook and Twitter, has increasingly amplified far-right accounts on Truth Social. Experts on extremism worry that he will bring this approach to a far wider audience.

In September, former President Donald J. Trump went on Truth Social, his social network, and shared an image of himself wearing a lapel pin in the form of the letter Q, along with a phrase closely associated with the QAnon conspiracy theory movement: “The storm is coming.”

In doing so, Mr. Trump ensured that the message — first posted by a QAnon-aligned account — would be hugely amplified, visible to his more than four million followers. He was also delivering what amounted to an unmistakable endorsement of the movement, which falsely and violently claims that leading Democrats are baby-eating devil worshipers.

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Even as the parent company of Facebook and Instagram announced this past week that Mr. Trump would be reinstated — a move that followed the lifting of his ban from Twitter, though he has not yet returned — there is no sign that he has curtailed his behavior or stopped spreading the kinds of messages that got him exiled in the first place.

In fact, two years after he was banished from most mainstream social media sites for his role in inciting the Capitol riot, his online presence has grown only more extreme — even if it is far less visible to most Americans, who never use the relatively obscure platforms where he has been posting at a sometimes astonishing clip.

Since introducing his social media website in February 2022, Mr. Trump has shared hundreds of posts from accounts promoting QAnon ideas. He has continued to falsely insist that the 2020 election was stolen and that he is a victim of corrupt federal law enforcement agencies. And he has made personal attacks against his many perceived enemies, including private citizens whose names he has elevated.

Now, Mr. Trump’s increasingly probable return to major platforms raises the prospect that he will carry over his more radicalized behavior to a far wider audience on Facebook and Instagram, with a combined five billion active users, and Twitter, with 360 million active users.

The potential for such an outcome has alarmed extremism experts; pushed the platforms to explain that they have installed “guardrails” to deter incendiary posts; and prompted questions about how Mr. Trump’s assertions, long siloed in a right-wing arena, are likely to play with mainstream voters, particularly as a sizable share of his party signals that it is ready to move on.

“It’s not that Trump has meaningfully changed the way he behaves online. In fact, he’s grown more extreme,” said Jared Holt, a researcher at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue who studies technology and extremism in the United States. “I don’t think anybody should reasonably expect him to be any different if he’s back on Facebook and Twitter. And when it comes to spreading conspiracy theories, Trump is the big tuna.”

Last month, as Meta considered whether to reinstate Mr. Trump, he wrote on Truth Social that even the Constitution should not stand in the way of his return to power.

“A Massive Fraud of this type and magnitude allows for the termination of all rules, regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution,” he said.

Steven Cheung, a spokesman for Mr. Trump, said on Thursday that “Truth Social has been a success because President Trump has created a true free-speech platform, unlike the Big Tech oligarchs who censor conservatives.” He added, “President Trump should have never been banned on these social media platforms, and everybody knows their decisions were unjust and ultimately destroyed the integrity of our democracy.”

In a letter sent this month to three top Meta officials, including Mark Zuckerberg, the company’s chief executive, a lawyer for Mr. Trump argued that the ban had “dramatically distorted and inhibited the public discourse.”

The petition for reinstatement was timed to coincide with the second anniversary of the decision to bar him from Facebook and Instagram, made one day after the deadly attack on the Capitol by Trump supporters. At the time, the company said his presence on its sites posed a risk to public safety.

Democrats have said he’s still dangerous. Last month, four of the party’s members of Congress urged Meta not to reinstate Mr. Trump, writing in a letter that he was still “undermining our democracy.”

But on Wednesday, Nick Clegg, Meta’s president for global affairs, wrote in a blog post that “our determination is that the risk has sufficiently receded.” He added that the suspension was “an extraordinary decision taken in extraordinary circumstances” and that normally, “the public should be able to hear from a former president of the United States, and a declared candidate for that office again, on our platforms.”

To try to stop Mr. Trump from provoking future unrest, Meta said, it would prevent sharing of posts that, among other things, question the legitimacy of elections or promote QAnon content. Violations of the company’s policies could also result in his being blocked from the site again, Meta said. Conservatives praised the decision, and the A.C.L.U. and Senator Bernie Sanders defended the move.

Audience members at a Trump rally in Ohio in September. His social media site, Truth Social, is far more partisan than mainstream platforms: A Pew Research Center study found that half of the site’s most influential accounts self-identified as pro-Trump or right-wing.Jeff Swensen/Getty Images

No such restrictions exist for Mr. Trump on Twitter, which had barred him soon after the Capitol riot but reinstated him in November after Elon Musk, the company’s new owner, conducted a public poll about a possible return.

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How Times reporters cover politics. We rely on our journalists to be independent observers. So while Times staff members may vote, they are not allowed to endorse or campaign for candidates or political causes. This includes participating in marches or rallies in support of a movement or giving money to, or raising money for, any political candidate or election cause.

Mr. Trump also often handled his Twitter account directly, unlike his Facebook account. He used the platform as a cudgel during his presidency, issuing a steady flow of stream-of-consciousness thoughts, insults and policy declarations on the fly.

He has been talking to aides about when and what to post on Twitter upon his return, according to two people familiar with the discussions who asked for anonymity.

The former president delivered the first-ever post on Truth Social, in which he has a significant financial stake, in February 2022, writing: “Get Ready! Your favorite President will see you soon!”

He didn’t return for more than two months, but the floodgates then opened, with Mr. Trump Truthing and Retruthing — as posts and shares are called — dozens of times a day.

On Aug. 31, for example, he posted over 50 times, making wild claims about Hunter Biden’s laptop, Dominion voting machines, and supposed links by President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris to Russia.

He has often repeated lies about the 2020 election. This past week, he posted that his infamous phone call seeking more votes in Georgia was “perfect” and that officials had “cheated in many ways including STUFFING Ballots.”

If Mr. Trump returns to major social media sites, Republican candidates and elected officials — who spent his presidency dodging questions about his incendiary tweets — are far likelier to be pressed for their opinions on what he says.

Mr. Trump would also have to figure out how to manage his online presences.

According to regulatory filings, he is obliged to place his posts exclusively on Truth Social and to not share them elsewhere for six hours. That contract has a significant exception, though, allowing him to post material “that specifically relates to political messaging, political fund-raising or get-out-the vote efforts at any time” on other sites.

To date, Mr. Trump has not taken advantage of the loophole, posting exclusively to his 4.8 million followers on Truth Social and at times reposting that content to his nearly 800,000 subscribers on Telegram.

Those follower counts pale in comparison to his potential reach elsewhere. A Pew Research Center analysis in October found that only 2 percent of Americans used Truth Social or Telegram as a regular source for news, compared with 28 percent for Facebook and 14 percent for Twitter.

Mr. Trump’s own statistics underscore that difference. He has nearly 88 million Twitter followers; his Facebook account has 34 million followers. His Instagram page, which tended to focus more on family photos, has 23 million followers.

According to people close to Mr. Trump, he is aware that a return to those platforms would risk starving Truth Social of its largest draw. But it may be that his desire for more income, they said, is outweighed by the enormous attention that Facebook and Twitter can provide him as he runs again for president.

Rashad Robinson, the president of Color of Change, a civil rights group, said Mr. Trump’s outsize following could partly explain why Meta made its decision.

“Corporations like Facebook have continued to find ways to profit off Trump even as they’ve condemned him,” said Mr. Robinson, whose group has pressured Facebook to enact policy changes through advertiser boycotts. “It’s not just that they let Donald Trump back on their platform, it’s that they benefit from it.”

He and others pointed to the fact that Mr. Trump’s campaign spent $89 million to advertise on Facebook and Instagram during the 2020 election, and $56 million to advertise on Google and YouTube. (Google, which also suspended Mr. Trump from YouTube in January 2021, has not announced plans to reinstate him.)

“Facebook has more followers than Christianity,” Mr. Robinson said. “There is not really a comparison point in terms of reach and advertising power.” Meta declined to comment on Mr. Robinson’s criticism. But executives have in the past noted that political advertising represents a tiny fraction of the company’s overall revenue, and Meta has acknowledged tweaking its algorithm to downplay political content over the past two years.

The Pew social media study found that Truth Social was “heavily partisan,” with half of its most influential accounts self-identifying as pro-Trump or right-wing.

Kash Patel, an adviser to Mr. Trump, described the proliferation of QAnon-friendly content on Truth Social as a deliberate business decision.Haiyun Jiang/The New York Times

In a podcast interview in June, Kash Patel, an adviser to Mr. Trump and, at the time, a director of the company that owns Truth Social, described the proliferation of QAnon-friendly content on the site as a deliberate business decision by the platform, which has struggled financially.

“We try to incorporate it into our overall messaging scheme to capture audiences,” Mr. Patel said. “You can’t ignore that group of people that has such a strong dominant following.”

While it is possible that Mr. Trump will moderate his flow of extreme posts if he returns to mainstream platforms, it is far from clear he will do so.

On Wednesday, Mr. Trump showed no sign of slowing down, posting or reposting 19 times on Truth Social about the 2020 election, the news media and the end of what he called his “deplatforming” from Facebook.

“Such a thing should never happen again,” he wrote.

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Mauritania media guide – Yahoo News Canada

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Mauritanians read newspapers on a main street in Nouakchott

Mauritanians read newspapers on a main street in Nouakchott

Privately-owned outlets provide competition for the state broadcaster, Telediffusion de Mauritanie (TDM). There is easy access to pan-Arab and European satellite TV.

Print newspapers have low circulations and some only publish irregularly. Some have moved to online-only publication.

Media rights groups say self-censorship is commonplace, especially when covering sensitive topics such as the military, corruption, and slavery. Legislation criminalises critical speech and “blasphemy”.

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Although internet use has risen substantially, driven by mobile access, it still only reaches a minority of the population. However, dozens of online news outlets have emerged.

Internet access is unrestricted. There were 969,000 internet users by December 2021, comprising 20% of the population (Worldinternetstats.com).

Facebook is the leading social media platform.

  • Radio Mauritanie – state-run, programmes in Arabic and French; also operates youth network and Koran network

  • Radio Sahara Media FM – private

  • Mauritanid FM – private

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Watch Live: Montreal Canadiens’ Cole Caufield speaks to media about injury – Sportsnet.ca

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