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Elon Musk's Twitter bid may push marginalized voices off the platform: experts – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News

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Adina Bresge, The Canadian Press


Published Saturday, April 30, 2022 6:53AM EDT


Last Updated Saturday, April 30, 2022 6:53AM EDT

A sense of unease is percolating in some pockets of Twitter over concerns that Elon Musk’s pending takeover could amplify toxic elements on the platform and drown out marginalized voices.

Musk’s US$44-billion bid to buy Twitter has spurred speculation that the tech mogul’s promises to foster “free speech” on the social network could translate into a hands-off approach to harassment.

This prospect is particularly disconcerting for members of marginalized groups who have found community on Twitter despite being targets of online abuse.

Some experts and Twitter users say they’re waiting to see whether Musk manages to push the deal through regulatory hurdles that could thwart his plans.

But there are already signs that the Tesla CEO’s influence may be shifting the makeup of the social network. A Twitter Canada spokesperson said in an email that the social media giant is looking into “fluctuations in follower counts,” with more accounts being created and also deactivated in recent days.

Jaigris Hodson, the Canada Research Chair in Digital Communication for the Public Interest, said these early signs suggest that Musk’s self-described “free speech absolutist” philosophy could in practice stifle the speech of Twitter’s most vulnerable users.

“After being abused online, people will cease posting themselves, because they don’t want to invite that kind of abuse,” said Hodson, an associate professor at Royal Roads University. “That’s actually the opposite of what Musk wants, which is for people to freely speak their minds.”

Her research indicates that when social networks fail to moderate harmful content, users who experience harassment are likely to reduce their engagement or even delete their accounts.

This has a distinct impact on members of marginalized groups, who are more likely to be harassed on the basis of their identity, said Hodson. The abuse they receive also tends to be more explicit and extreme, she said. For example, women often experience sexualized harassment, such as rape threats.

Toronto culture writer Roslyn Talusan said she suffered this type of targeted abuse when an offhand tweet calling out a white woman for writing a cookbook about Asian cuisine became the subject of a harassment campaign.

Her Twitter feed was flooded with racist, misogynistic and ableist slurs. A trauma survivor, Talusan said the psychological toll was so immense that she couldn’t and was afraid to leave the house.

Twitter’s safety tools did little to stem the tide of hate, Talusan said, and she’s concerned that Musk may erode the few protections that users have.

“It’s not legitimate free speech that is being limited on Twitter,” she said. “It’s that people want to be able to bully people without any consequence.”

Talusan said she’s too “stubborn” to abandon Twitter, but some of her friends have decided to step back from the site or log off for good.

“I feel like people are going to be more hesitant to stay on Twitter,” she said. “Having those perspectives suppressed in this way is definitely going to be problematic.”

A lenient stance on offensive content could also be bad for Twitter’s business, because no advertiser wants to be associated with a noxious online culture, said University of Toronto marketing professor David Soberman.

There could also be legal implications to hosting harassment, hate speech, incitements to violence and libel, he said.

June Findlay, a Toronto content marketer, hopes financial imperatives will impel Musk to temper his approach to social media moderation.

She sees much of the online fretting about Musk’s potential reign as “alarmist” given that the deal is not due to close until later this year, and it remains to be seen whether his grand plans for the social network will come to fruition.

But even Findlay can’t help but get swept up in the Musk mania as each new tweet threatens to upend the platform that has not only been a professional resource, but a community forum as part of #BlackTwitter.

“If you cut through all the noise, it’s really about … who’s going to police what’s being said in the town square,” she said. “That’s the beauty and the terror of social media. It changes all the time.”

Junia Joplin, a transgender pastor in Toronto, said Twitter was the first place where she could publicly be her true self, even if behind the veil of an anonymous account. Ever since, the platform’s transgender community has been a vital resource, offering guidance, friendship and even financial help when she was fired from her job after coming out.

But if Musk opens the floodgates of harassment, Joplin said she worries that transgender people and other marginalized groups could lose a support system that can have real-life consequences.

“It’s a platform they can use to raise money for basic living expenses and medically necessary procedures, to help them escape abusive situations or to just connect with somebody that tells them, hey, you’re not alone,” she said.

“That can really be a lifeline. So we don’t know that it’s going away, but some signs suggest that it might, and that’s a sad and scary thing.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 30, 2022.

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World shares sink after inflation driven retreat on Wall St – Business News – Castanet.net

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Shares declined in Europe and Asia on Thursday after a broad retreat on Wall Street triggered by worries over the impact of persistent high inflation on corporate profits and consumer spending.

U.S. futures were lower, while oil prices advanced.

Germany’s DAX lost 2% to 13,731.64 and the CAC 40 in Paris declined 1.9% to 6,234.78. Britain’s FTSE 100 shed 1.7% to 3,537.99. The future for the S&P 500 was 1% lower while the future for the Dow Jones Industrial Average sank 0.9%.

The Dow industrials sank more than 1,100 points, or 3.6% on Wednesday, and the S&P 500 had its biggest drop in nearly two years, shedding 4%. That was its steepest decline since June 2020. The tech-heavy Nasdaq fell 4.7%.

The benchmark index is now down more than 18% from the record high it reached at the beginning of the year. That’s just shy of the 20% decline that’s considered a bear market.

“The sentiment in the market is highly negative as traders and investors are largely concerned about an economic downturn and soaring inflation,” Naeem Aslam of Avatrade said in a commentary.

The Federal Reserve is trying to temper the impact from the highest inflation in four decades by raising interest rates. Many other central banks are on a similar track. But the Bank of Japan has stuck to its low interest rate policy and the gap between those benchmark rates of the world’s largest and third-largest economies has pushed the dollar’s value up against the Japanese yen.

Japan reported a trade deficit for April as its imports ballooned 28%. The shift reflects surging energy costs amid the war in Ukraine and a weakening of the yen against the U.S. dollar.

Japan’s exports grew to 8.076 trillion yen ($63 billion) last month, up 12.5% from the previous year, according to Ministry of Finance data released Thursday. Imports totaled 8.915 trillion yen ($70 billion) in April, up from 6.953 trillion yen in April 2021, and the highest since comparable numbers began to be taken in 1979.

The Nikkei 225 in Tokyo lost 1.9% to 26,402.84 and the Hang Seng in Hong Kong dropped 2.5% to 20,120.60. In South Korea, the Kospi shed 1.3% to 2,592.34, while Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 gave up 1.7% to 7,064.50.

The Shanghai Composite index reversed earlier losses, gaining 0.4% to 3.096.96.

On Wednesday, retailer Target lost a quarter of its value after reporting earnings that fell far short of analysts’ forecasts. Inflation, especially for shipping costs, dragged its operating margin for the first quarter to 5.3%. It had been expecting 8% or higher.

The company warned that its costs for freight this year would be $1 billion higher than it estimated just three months ago.

The report comes a day after Walmart said its profit took a hit from higher costs. The nation’s largest retailer fell 6.8%, adding to its losses from Tuesday.

Target and Walmart each provided anecdotal evidence that inflation is weighing on consumers, saying they held back on purchasing big-ticket items and changed from national brands to less expensive store brands.

The weak reports stoked concerns that stubbornly rising inflation is putting a tighter squeeze on a wide range of businesses and could cut deeper into their profits.

Other big retailers also have racked up hefty losses.

The data are not entirely consistent. On Tuesday, the market cheered an encouraging report from the Commerce Department that showed retail sales rose in April, driven by higher sales of cars, electronics, and more spending at restaurants.

Investors worry the Fed could trigger a recession if it raises interest rates too high or too quickly. Worries persist about global growth as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine puts even more pressure on prices for oil and food while lockdowns in China to stem COVID-19 cases worsens supply chain problems.

In other trading, benchmark U.S. crude oil rose 56 cents to $110.15 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It dropped $2.81 to $109.59 on Wednesday.

Brent crude, the basis for pricing for international trading, climbed $1.19 to $110.30 per barrel.

The dollar fell to 128.14 Japanese yen from 128.20 yen late Wednesday. The euro strengthened to $1.0481 from $1.0464.

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Gold prices holding at session highs as U.S. existing home sales fall 2.4% in April – Kitco NEWS

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(Kitco News) – The gold market continues to trade near session highs, supported by more disappointing economic data. Rising interest rates continue to cool down the U.S. housing market as fewer consumers purchased home last month, according to the latest data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

Existing home sales fell to a seasonally adjusted and annualized rate of 5.61 million units last month, down 2.4% compared to March’s annualized rate of 5.75 million homes, the NAR said on Thursday. Market consensus projections called for existing home sales to fall only slightly to 5.65 million.

For the year, home sales are down 5.9%, the report said.

The gold market has seen some renewed technical buying momentum, which has been supported by weaker-than-expected economic data. June gold futures last traded at $1,842.40 an ounce, up nearly 1.5% on the day.

The U.S. housing sector has faced some challenging headwinds as the Federal Reserve looks to aggressively raise interest rates, which in turn is pushing mortgage rates higher.

“Higher home prices and sharply higher mortgage rates have reduced buyer activity,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist. “It looks like more declines are imminent in the upcoming months, and we’ll likely return to the pre-pandemic home sales activity after the remarkable surge over the past two years.”

Yun noted that the falling sales space is helping to boost the supply of existing homes. The report said that the inventory of homes for sale totaled 1,030,000 in April, representing a 2.2-month supply.

Although sales are down, Yun said that home prices still remain elevated.

“The market is quite unusual as sales are coming down, but listed homes are still selling swiftly, and home prices are much higher than a year ago,” he said.

The report said the median existing-home price for all housing types in April was $391,200, up 14.8% from April 2021.

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Ford recalling 350,000 SUVs due to unexplained engine fires, including some sold in Canada – CBC News

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Ford is asking the owners of 350,000 SUVs from the 2021 model year to take them to dealers for repairs because the engines can catch fire.

Ford says in U.S. government documents posted Thursday that it doesn’t know what’s causing fires in some Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator SUVs from the 2021 model year.

2863 of the vehicles were sold in Canada: 2,354 Expeditions, and 509 Navigators.

Owners are being advised to park them outside if possible because engine fires have been reported even when the vehicles were not in use.

Ford has reports of 16 fires under the hood, 12 of which started when the engine was off. One person was burned.

Trying to notify customers

So far it hasn’t developed a repair for the fires, which appear to start at the back of the engine compartment on the passenger side.

Ford says it’s treating the recall urgently and will use apps and mail to notify customers as soon as it develops a list of vehicle owners and addresses.

“We are working around the clock to determine the root cause of this issue and subsequent remedy so that customers can continue to enjoy using their vehicles,” Jeffrey Marentic, general manager of Ford passenger vehicles, said in a statement.

Ford began investigating fire reports on March 24. It says the fires appear to be limited to SUVs built from Dec. 1, 2020 to April 30, 2021. The company says it has no fire reports from vehicles built before or after those dates.

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