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EDITORIAL: Media, social media and the justice system – The Guardian

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Here’s an explanation that might not satisfy everyone.

But give it a try.

WSAV reporter Alex Bozarjian was doing a live report on a road race in Savannah, Georgia on Dec. 7, when a passing runner, later identified as Thomas Callaway, a Boy Scout leader and church youth volunteer, appeared to reach out and smack her on the butt.

To be clear, the behaviour is in no way acceptable: just because you’re doing your job in a public place doesn’t mean there’s an open season on unwanted physical contact or even shouted obscenities.

As Bozarjian’s employers were quick to point out: “The conduct displayed toward Alex Bozarjian during her live coverage of Saturday’s Savannah Bridge Run was reprehensible and completely unacceptable … No one should ever be disrespected in this manner. The safety and protection of our employees is WSAV-TV’s highest priority.”

The sooner people in the public — particularly star-struck oafish males who have a lot of growing up to do — recognize that and modify their behaviour, the better for us all.

There are a host of different headlines about the case: “Runner who allegedly smacked TV reporter’s backside charged with sexual battery”, “Runner who allegedly sexually assaulted reporter has been arrested”, “Man accused of slapping reporter’s backside on air charged with sexual battery”.

And that’s where things get interesting.

Social media, where video of the situation took off internationally, has since had some interesting questions not only about Callaway’s behaviour, but about the way the news media reported the event.

Here’s a sample that explains the new issue succinctly: “Just wish they’d stop putting ‘accused’ and ‘alleged’ before his name WE HAVE IT ON VIDEO.”

So, why “alleged”? Why “accused”?

The reason is both simple and complicated; criminal charges are involved.

And that changes everything,

The western justice system is based on the presumption of innocence.

Accurately reporting on cases in that justice system involves recognizing that people accused of crimes are innocent until those crimes are proven beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

It sounds like splitting hairs, but it’s both arcane and necessary.

The facts are, in many ways, not in a great amount of dispute: the television reporter says she was slapped on the backside, the video shows that happening, and the man involved admits his did something he shouldn’t have done (although he maintains he touched her lower back).

But, right now, the media can’t actually report that Callaway committed a sexual assault, because it wouldn’t be accurate.

You can argue that there’s a pretty good chance that, given the available evidence so far, there’s a pretty good likelihood Callaway will plead guilty or be convicted.

But his conviction is not our job.

Sure, it’s frustrating.

But the media is not a substitute for the justice system, nor should it be.

And neither, by the way, is social media.

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Forget TikTok. Clubhouse Is Social Media’s Next Star. – Bloomberg

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Forget TikTok. Clubhouse Is Social Media’s Next Star.  Bloomberg



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Forget TikTok. Clubhouse Is Social Media’s Next Star. – Bloomberg

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Clubhouse is gaining attention and users. The social media giants should be concerned.

The next killer smartphone app has arrived — and it offers the potential to transform how we communicate, share knowledge and even make new friends.

I am talking about voice-and-audio-based social networking startup Clubhouse. Its platform enables users to drop in and out of ephemeral chat rooms and take part in a range of gatherings, from small “water-cooler” type conversations to larger discussions featuring expert panels, often attended by thousands of listeners. Since its launch last March, Clubhouse has increasingly become a cultural phenomenon, attracting politicians, celebrities and experts from all walks of life. With its success and prominent backing, it may now be poised to upend the entire social media space.

Clubhouse’s latest figures reveal how quickly it is growing. During a weekly town hall event on Sunday, co-founder Paul Davison said the app’s weekly active user base had doubled to 2 million over the last couple of weeks. He also announced the startup had raised another investment round led by venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, adding it now has more than 180 investors. While he didn’t offer any specifics, The Information reported on Friday that Clubhouse was getting interest at a $1 billion valuation. If true, that means the company’s value has risen by a factor of 10 since its earlier Series A round last May, also led by Andreessen Horowitz.

Something special is happening inside the Clubhouse community. Call it the power of the voice — and it’s what separates Clubhouse from other platforms. A short back-and-forth live conversation, with its nuance and tone, can build closer relationships more quickly than dozens of written posts and text messages sent through more established social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. Since I joined Clubhouse last summer, I met and became friends with professors, filmmakers, artists, engineers and more from places all over the world. It has been intoxicating listening to people’s life stories and absorbing their knowledge and experience, from learning how a streaming video executive greenlights projects to getting expert political analysis on the latest breaking news. It has easily become one of my favorite pastimes.

To illustrate the kind of agenda-setting conversations that are becoming a staple on Clubhouse these days, here’s one example: Earlier this month, the mayors of San Francisco, Miami and Austin congregated inside a “room” to tout their cities as good places for tech companies to do business. Thousands of executives, investors, and employees tuned in to the vibrant interactive panel. For an app like Clubhouse — or any social media platform looking to extend its influence and user base — this is the holy grail of the virtuous feedback loop, where the network effects of a large influential audience attract the highest-quality speakers and vice versa. 

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Andrew Yang is among those entering the conversation on Clubhouse.
Source: Tae Kim/Bloomberg

Impressive as Clubhouse’s latest metrics are, they may actually understate its potential. All the growth thus far has come largely by worth of mouth, and from only half of the smartphone market. The app still requires an invitation from a current member to join and is exclusive to Apple Inc. devices. So when the founders decide to open Clubhouse to the public and release an Android version, growth will take off to higher levels.

The nature of Clubhouse’s platform offers the potential for money-making opportunities. For instance, Clubhouse could take a commission from room admission fees for large panel discussions. Or, similar to Amazon.com Inc.-owned Twitch channels, it could offer monthly subscriptions for specific interest-based club rooms. One can also imagine users buying unique animated reaction emojis to give visual feedback to speakers and interact with other members of the audience. Of course, the ability to make money will also attract and retain the best room hosts for the Clubhouse ecosystem. On Sunday, Clubhouse’s cofounders said they will start testing ways for the platform’s creators to get paid through “tipping, tickets or subscriptions” in the coming months.

Clubhouse has its challenges. Like other social media networks, it has faced criticism for objectionable content that was broadcast on its site. Last September, Clubhouse was hit with a flurry of negative publicity when some speakers perpetuated anti-Semitic stereotypes. The startup needs to invest more aggressively in trust and safety features and hire content moderators to mitigate harassment. There is also competition on the horizon with Twitter Inc. testing its own audio chat room feature inside its app called Spaces.

#lazy-img-367502513:beforepadding-top:195.73333333333332%;relates to Forget TikTok. Clubhouse Is Social Media’s Next Star.
Twitter Spaces offers a similar experience as Clubhouse. Too little too late?
Source: Tae Kim/Bloomberg

But it may be too little too late for other players. While Twitter’s new service does offer some differentiated features – including real-time transcriptions that appear on screen and the ability to share tweets to the room for discussion purposes – it is thus far largely siloed around a specific account’s followers. It lacks Clubhouse’s distinctive serendipity that lets people from diverse backgrounds meet and form their own connections through their own wanderings. Clubhouse also is at a stage where it is adding new innovations on a near weekly basis — including different room types, activity-based notification feeds and event calendars. It will be difficult for any other company to catch up.

Of course, the app has benefited from the pandemic as people look for ways to socialize while avoiding in-person interactions and outdoor activities. But Clubhouse usage may prove more durable than many believe after daily life returns to normal. It’s a convenient, frictionless way to meet new people through the intimacy of conversation and listen to conference-like events that otherwise might be difficult to attend in person.

Perhaps most importantly is the stunning level of usage and engagement. On a personal level, since installing Clubhouse I have noticed my time spent on the app is significantly higher than any other social network on my smartphone — more than TikTok, Twitter or Instagram. It is a sign of how appealing audio-based social networking can be. And judging from the activities of my friend list inside the community, I am not alone. I have little doubt once Clubhouse opens up to the general public, its user base can grow into the tens of millions. The social media giants should be concerned.

    This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.

    To contact the author of this story:
    Tae Kim at tkim426@bloomberg.net

    To contact the editor responsible for this story:
    Beth Williams at bewilliams@bloomberg.net

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    Forget TikTok. Clubhouse Is Social Media’s Next Star. – Bloomberg

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    Forget TikTok. Clubhouse Is Social Media’s Next Star.  Bloomberg



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