With vaccination against COVID-19 in full swing, social platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter say they’ve stepped up their fight against misinformation that aims to undermine trust in the vaccines. But problems abound.
For years, the same platforms have allowed anti-vaccination propaganda to flourish, making it difficult to stamp out such sentiments now. And their efforts to weed out other types of COVID-19 misinformation — often with fact-checks, informational labels and other restrained measures, has been woefully slow.
Twitter, for instance, announced this month that it will remove dangerous falsehoods about vaccines, much the same way it’s done for other COVID-related conspiracy theories and misinformation. But since April 2020, it has removed a grand total of 8,400 tweets spreading COVID-related misinformation — a tiny fraction of the avalanche of pandemic-related falsehoods tweeted out daily by popular users with millions of followers, critics say.
“While they fail to take action, lives are being lost,” said Imran Ahmed, CEO of the Center for Countering Digital Hate, a watchdog group. In December, the non-profit found that 59 million accounts across social platforms follow peddlers of anti-vax propaganda — many of whom are immensely popular superspreaders of misinformation.
Efforts to crack down on vaccine misinformation now, though, are generating cries of censorship and prompting some posters to adopt sneaky tactics to avoid the axe.
“It’s a hard situation because we have let this go for so long,” said Jeanine Guidry, an assistant professor at Virginia Commonwealth University who studies social media and health information. “People using social media have really been able to share what they want for nearly a decade.”
The Associated Press identified more than a dozen Facebook pages and Instagram accounts, collectively boasting millions of followers, that have made false claims about the COVID-19 vaccine or discouraged people from taking it. Some of these pages have existed for years.
Of more than 15 pages identified by NewsGuard, a technology company that analyzes the credibility of websites, roughly half remain active on Facebook, the AP found.
One such page, The Truth About Cancer, has more than a million Facebook followers after years of posting baseless suggestions that vaccines could cause autism or damage children’s brains. The page was identified in November as a “COVID-19 vaccine misinformation super spreader” by NewsGuard.
Recently, the page stopped posting about vaccines and the coronavirus. It now directs people to sign up for its newsletter and visit its website as a way to avoid alleged “censorship.”
Facebook said it is taking taking “aggressive steps to fight misinformation across our apps by removing millions of pieces of COVID-19 and vaccine content on Facebook and Instagram during the pandemic.”
“Research shows one of the best ways to promote vaccine acceptance is by showing people accurate, trusted information, which is why we’ve connected 2 billion people to resources from heath authorities and launched a global information campaign,” the company said in a statement.
Facebook also banned ads that discourage vaccines and said it has added warning labels to more than 167 million pieces of additional COVID-19 content thanks to our network of fact-checking partners. (The Associated Press is one of Facebook’s fact-checking partners).
YouTube, which has generally avoided the same type scrutiny as its social media peers despite being a source of misinformation, said it has removed more than 30,000 videos since October, when it started banning false claims about COVID-19 vaccinations. Since February 2020, it has removed over 800,000 videos related to dangerous or misleading coronavirus information, said YouTube spokeswoman Elena Hernandez.
Prior to the pandemic, however, social media platforms had done little to stamp out misinformation, said Andy Pattison, manager of digital solutions for the World Health Organization. In 2019, as a measles outbreak slammed the Pacific Northwest and left dozens dead in America Samoa, Pattison pleaded with big tech companies to take a closer look at tightening rules around vaccine misinformation that he feared might make the outbreak worse — to no avail.
It wasn’t until COVID-19 struck with a vengeance that many of those tech companies started listening. Now he meets weekly with Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to discuss trends on their platforms and policies to consider.
“When it comes to vaccine misinformation, the really frustrating thing is that this has been around for years,” Pattison said.
The targets of such crackdowns are often quick to adapt. Some accounts use intentionally misspelled words — like “vackseen” or “vΓåòx” — to avoid bans. (Social platforms say they’re wise to this.) Other pages use more subtle messaging, images or memes to suggest that vaccines are unsafe or even deadly.
“When you die after the vaccine, you die of everything but the vaccine,” read one meme on an Instagram account with more than 65,000 followers. The post suggested that the government is concealing deaths from the COVID-19 vaccine.
“It’s a very fine line between freedom of speech and eroding science,” Pattison said. Purveyors of misinformation, he said, “learn the rules, and they dance right on the edge, all the time.”
Twitter said it is continuously reviewing its rules in the context of COVID-19 and changes them based on guidance from experts. Earlier this month, it added a strikes policy that threatens repeat spreaders of coronavirus and vaccine misinformation with bans.
But blatantly false COVID-19 information continues to pop up. Earlier this month, several articles circulating online claimed that more elderly Israelis who took the Pfizer vaccine were “killed” by the shot than those who died from COVID-19 itself. One such article from an anti-vaccination website was shared nearly 12,000 times on Facebook, leading earlier this month to a spike of nearly 40,000 mentions of “vaccine deaths” across social platforms and the internet, according to an analysis by media intelligence firm Zignal Labs.
Medical experts point to a real-world study showing a strong correlation between vaccination and decreases in severe COVID-19 disease in Israel. The nation’s health ministry said in a Thursday statement that the COVID-19 vaccine has “profoundly” reduced the rate of deaths and hospitalizations.
As U.S. vaccine supplies continue to increase, immunization efforts will soon shift from targeting a limited supply to the most vulnerable populations to getting as many shots into as many arms as possible. That means tackling the third of the country’s population who say they will not or probably won’t get it, as measured by a February AP-NORC poll.
“Vaccine hesitancy and misinformation could be a big barrier to getting enough of the population vaccinated to end the crisis,” said Lisa Fazio, a professor of psychology at Vanderbilt University.
Some health officials and academics generally believe that the social-platform efforts are helpful, at least on the margins. What’s not clear is how big of a dent they can put in the problem.
“If someone truly believes that the COVID vaccine is harmful and they feel a responsibility to share that with friends and family … they will find a way,” Guidry said.
And some still blame business models that they say encouraged the platforms to serve up engaging, if false, coronavirus misinformation in order to profit from advertising.
When the Center for Countering Digital Hate recently studied the crossover between different types of disinformation and hate speech, it found that Instagram tended to cross-pollinate misinformation via its algorithm. Instagram might feed an account that followed a QAnon conspiracy site further posts from, say, white nationalists or anti-vaxxers.
“You continue to allow things to disintegrate because of the seamless intermingling of misinformation and information on your platforms,” Ahmed, the centre’s CEO, said.
GLAAD Media Awards presenters support transgender athletes
LOS ANGELES — “Schitt’s Creek” and “The Boys in the Band” were winners at the GLAAD Media Awards, which included soccer’s Ashlyn Harris and Ali Krieger calling for transgender students to be accepted as “part of the team” in sports.
Harris and Krieger, spouses who play for the Orlando Pride and were on the 2019 World Cup-winning U.S. women’s national team, presented an award in Thursday’s virtual ceremony to the film “Happiest Season,” about a lesbian romance.
The couple drew attention to transgender athletes amid widespread efforts to restrict their participation, including a recently signed Mississippi bill that bans them from competing on girls or women’s sports teams. It becomes law July 1.
“Trans students want the opportunity to play sports for the same reason other kids do: to be a part of a team where they feel like they belong,” Krieger said.
Added Harris: “We shouldn’t discriminate against kids and ban them from playing because they’re transgender.”
“Star Trek: Discovery,” “I May Destroy You” and “A Little Late with Lilly Singh” were among the other projects honoured in the pre-taped ceremony hosted by Niecy Nash. It’s available on Hulu through June.
The GLAAD awards, in their 32nd year, recognize what the media advocacy organization calls “fair, accurate, and inclusive” depictions of LGBTQ people and issues. Presenters and winners in this year’s event highlighted priorities including the importance of solidarity and self-respect.
“Friends, I’m so proud to stand with the LGBTQ community tonight, just as the LGBTQ community stands with Black and diverse communities,” said Sterling K. Brown, who presented the outstanding documentary award to “Disclosure.”
The “This Is Us” star, citing the Black Lives Matter and Black Trans Lives Matter movements, said that “we’re going to keep spreading that message of unity and justice until every one of us is safe to live the lives we love.”
JoJo Siwa, the teenage YouTube personality and performer, presented the award for outstanding children’s programming to “The Not-Too-Late Show with Elmo.” She said in January that she’s part of the LGBTQ community.
“I have the best, most amazing, wonderful girlfriend in the entire world who makes me so, so, so happy and that’s all that matters,” Siwa said. ”It’s really cool that kids all around the world who look up to me can now see that loving who you want to love is totally awesome” and should be celebrated.
Other awards went to Sam Smith, who was honoured as outstanding music artist for the album “Love Goes”; Chika, named breakthrough music artist for “Industry Games,” and “We’re Here” won outstanding reality program.
Cast members from “Glee,” including Chris Colfer, Amber Riley and Jane Lynch, paid tribute to Naya Rivera and her character in the series, gay cheerleader Santana Lopez. Rivera, 33, died in an accidental drowning in July 2020.
Lynn Elber, The Associated Press
Source:- Coast Reporter
Social Media Etiquette Review
Despite your best efforts, you may cause someone pain with that Tweet or Facebook post. Here’s a refresher on social media best practices, along with advice for some pandemic-only dilemmas.
In an ideal world, your followers would think every photo, video or thought you post on social media is like a little gift to them. In reality, it’s hard to predict how posts on Instagram, Facebook and other social media will land, especially during the pandemic. After so much loss and isolation over the past year, people are on edge. That vaccine selfie may feel joyous and hopeful to you, but it could be a digital slap in the face to someone who hasn’t received a vaccine shot or who has suffered a grave loss.
“Someone could be experiencing loss in such a way that there’s no way someone else won’t post something that compounds their grief,” said Catherine Newman, who has written the Modern Manners etiquette column for Real Simple magazine for 10 years. “That’s how grief is.”
Still, it’s hard not to overthink things — and to worry that despite your best efforts, you may cause someone pain. Some social media experts say you should review your sharing practices periodically, so here’s a refresher on social media etiquette, along with advice for some pandemic-only situations.
Ask why are you posting.
First, identify your motivations. Are you sharing that picture of the exquisite cake you baked because you want praise, or do you want people to feel bad that what they made themselves wasn’t as good? If it is to receive affirmation, that’s OK. But if you find yourself trying to get all your needs met by social media likes, it might be time to think about what else is missing in your life.
Second, focus on your friends. If you tried to consider every possible person who might be hurt by a post — your seemingly unobjectionable photo of tulips could very well remind a follower of someone they have lost — you might never post anything on social media. But absolutely think about your inner circle carefully.
Ms. Newman, for one, hasn’t posted about her own post-vaccination visits with family because so many in her immediate friend group have lost a parent in the past year. If you’re in a similar situation and you still want to post your vaccine selfie or the first time you’ve hugged your father in a year, consider acknowledging your own good fortune.
“I still appreciate it when people say, ‘We’re so lucky and there’s been so much loss and I’m sorry if you’re experiencing loss,’” said Ms. Newman, whose best friend died of cancer five years ago.
Before you hit “share,” read your words in multiple tones of voice, as different people can interpret the text differently, suggested Diane Gottsman, an etiquette expert and the founder of the Protocol School of Texas, a San Antonio company specializing in corporate etiquette training. If there’s any doubt, add a cue, such as an emoticon, about your tone.
Don’t go low, go high.
If you want to post something negative, keep in mind that what you say or share often says more about you. Disagree (respectfully), but avoid sweeping generalizations about entire groups of people — or about one business based on your interaction with a single employee.
Additionally, remember that any message you share, even with close family members, will be amplified to your entire online community. (The tension may also be amplified around vaccines, health measures and the stress of a not-normal year.) If you are replying to your sister online about something, that doesn’t mean you can speak to her as harshly as you might privately. Ms. Gottsman advises taking a heated family debate offline.
“Don’t start a family feud on social media,” Ms. Gottsman said. “It can affect the next family holiday.”
If you are soliciting donations for a particular cause or charity, or asking for money to pay someone’s rent or medical bills with a GoFundMe campaign, recognize that the financial situations of many people have changed this past year and there may be many other appeals compared to times past. Skip shaming phrases, like “How can you not help this person?” Instead, Ms. Gottsman said, use ones like “If your heart moves you, I’m sharing this.”
Consider your audience.
Think less vigilance is needed, because your text group is small or your settings have been changed to private? Think again. When Heidi Cruz, the wife of Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, shared her family’s plans to flee a devastating winter storm in Texas for a vacation in Mexico, she texted only a small group of neighbors and friends. Screenshots of the messages ended up with journalists. Elaine Swann, an etiquette expert and founder of the School of Protocol in Carlsbad, Calif., points out that it wasn’t just one person who shared the chat with The New York Times; there were others who confirmed it.
“Even if you think it’s just your inner circle, there’s always somebody there who isn’t 100 percent on your team,” she said. “That’s the person who takes the screenshot before you delete whatever it is.”
Ban body-size talk.
Posting about food and fitness may be even more tempting than usual, given that a lot of people have changed what they eat and how much they exercise during the pandemic. But confine your commentary to how these lifestyle changes make you feel, not how they make you look. Among other things, not all people have had the luxury of more time to exercise during the pandemic — or if they did, they might not have had the energy to do so.
Dr. Lindsay Kite is a founder of Beauty Redefined, a nonprofit that promotes body image resilience, and an author of “More Than a Body.” She noted that your “before” photo — talking about how fat you look — may be someone else’s “after.”
If you really want affirmation and accountability for your fitness goals, avoid the sports-bra selfie and posts about body measurements. Instead, Dr. Kite suggested posting a picture of yourself in a blood pressure cuff, or a less body-focused snapshot of you jogging to your favorite coffee shop.
“Loving your body and improving your health doesn’t always lead to a more ideal-looking body,” she said.
Acknowledge your mistakes.
There may be situations in which a post doesn’t land as you had intended. Maybe you shared a photo of a masked-up pandemic wedding, but followers pointed out that attending still involved travel. Or you posted a video of your family’s Easter egg hunt, because all the adults participating had been lucky enough to be vaccinated.
Ask yourself how many people reacted negatively. If only one follower is unhappy, it may just be that one person is raw.
“We have a genre in my family we call ‘hurting your own feelings,’” Ms. Newman said. “Where you’re looking for something to hang some pain on and you find it.”
You don’t have to own the person’s grief, but you do have to take responsibility for yourself and apologize. You can keep it simple, Ms. Newman said: I see your pain. I’m so sorry.
If you post something that is hurtful to a wider audience — you inadvertently said something offensive or you didn’t consider all the issues — it should absolutely be deleted if it’s causing people pain.
If it’s not, consider keeping the post up, Ms. Newman said, because deleting it erases the post from public view but does not address the hurt it caused. On Facebook, she suggested an “edited to add” with your heartfelt apology. This should not include the words “but” or “if,” as in, “I apologize if you were offended.” These words don’t acknowledge the hurt person’s truth and their situation, or your role in hurting them.
“If you accidentally step on someone’s foot, you don’t say, ‘I’m sorry if I stepped on your foot,’” Ms. Swann said. “You did it. It’s not a question.”
Your apology should also include a thoughtful plan about how you’ll do things differently in the future, which can be calibrated based on how grievous the offense. For lesser instances, Ms. Gottsman said, a sentence like “I’ll think twice before I post,” may be enough.
These are words all of us could live by.
Source:- The New York Times
Media Advisory: Virtual Infrastructure Announcement in Brampton – Yahoo Canada Finance
SAN DIEGO, April 08, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Reneo Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a clinical stage pharmaceutical company focused on the development and commercialization of therapies for patients with rare, genetic, mitochondrial diseases, today announced the pricing of its initial public offering of 6,250,000 shares of its common stock at a public offering price of $15.00 per share, for total gross proceeds of approximately $93.8 million, before deducting underwriting discounts and commissions and offering expenses. All of the shares are being offered by Reneo. The shares are expected to begin trading on the Nasdaq Global Market on April 9, 2021 under the symbol “RPHM.” In addition, Reneo has granted the underwriters a 30-day option to purchase up to an additional 937,500 shares of common stock at the public offering price less underwriting discounts and commissions. The offering is expected to close on April 13, 2021, subject to satisfaction of customary closing conditions. Jefferies, SVB Leerink and Piper Sandler are acting as joint book-running managers for the offering. A registration statement relating to these securities has been filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission and became effective on April 8, 2021. The offering is being made only by means of a prospectus. Copies of the final prospectus relating to the offering may be obtained, when available, from: Jefferies LLC, Attention: Equity Syndicate Prospectus Department, 520 Madison Avenue, 2nd Floor, New York, NY 10022, by telephone at (877) 821-7388 or by e-mail at email@example.com; SVB Leerink LLC, Attention: Syndicate Department, One Federal Street, 37th Floor, Boston, MA, 02110, by telephone at (800) 808-7525, ext. 6105 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org; or Piper Sandler & Co., Attention: Prospectus Department, 800 Nicollet Mall, J12S03, Minneapolis, MN 55402, by telephone at (800) 747-3924 or by e-mail at email@example.com. This press release shall not constitute an offer to sell or a solicitation of an offer to buy, nor shall there be any sale of, these securities in any state or jurisdiction in which such offer, solicitation or sale would be unlawful prior to registration or qualification under the securities laws of any such state or jurisdiction. About Reneo PharmaceuticalsReneo is a clinical stage pharmaceutical company focused on the development and commercialization of therapies for patients with rare genetic mitochondrial diseases, which are often associated with the inability of mitochondria to produce adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Reneo is developing REN001 to modulate genes critical to metabolism and generation of ATP, which is the primary source of energy for cellular processes. REN001 has been shown to increase transcription of genes involved in mitochondrial function and increase fatty acid oxidation, and may increase production of new mitochondria. Contacts: Joyce AllaireManaging DirectorLifeSci Advisors, LLCjallaire@lifesciadvisors.com Vinny JindalChief Financial OfficerReneo Pharmaceuticals, Inc.firstname.lastname@example.org
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