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Facebook profits from Canadian media content, but gives little in return – The Conversation CA

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It’s a promise I can’t wait to see fulfilled. In its most recent speech from the throne, Justin Trudeau’s government pledged to ensure the revenue of web giants “is shared more fairly with our creators and media.”

As a journalism professor, I think that’s great news for Canadian journalists. Canadian media have been struggling in the past decade — and more than 2,000 jobs have been lost since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

But how much will the contributions from digital platforms amount to? How can we calculate what news is worth for them?

Putting a dollar value on news

I’ll focus on Facebook, both because we can extract Canadian revenues from its financial documents and also because it doesn’t have a revenue-sharing model.

For the first two quarters of 2020, Facebook reported revenues of US$924 million in Canada alone. Over 2018 and 2019, Facebook made nearly $6 billion in Canada.

It should be noted that nearly 98 per cent of this turnover comes from advertising sales — it’s the same good old business model that has sustained news media for the past 200 years, but Facebook has tailored it for the digital age using emotional manipulation.

To find out what proportion of this attention is the result of journalistic content, I used CrowdTangle, a public insights tool offered by the company to look for content on Facebook, Instagram and other social networks such as Reddit. Researchers have been able to access it since 2019, under a partnership with Social Science One.

Among other things, CrowdTangle provides access to the 30,000 publications that generated the most interactions over a given period of time. Interactions are the sum of shares, reactions (like, love, wow, haha, anger, sadness and, more recently, care) as well as comments. The tool also allows you to restrict your search to pages administered in a given country.

Calculating profit

For each of the 30 months in the period between Jan. 1, 2018, and June 30, 2020, I used CrowdTangle to identify the 30,000 posts that generated the most interactions on pages whose administrators are predominantly located in Canada. I got 900,000 Facebook posts from just over 13,000 different pages. Of these, close to 500 pages belong to news media. Together, they posted almost 80,000 items.

This means media pages have accounted for 8.9 per cent of the Canadian content on Facebook pages. This proportion of the company’s Canadian sales represents more than half-a-billion dollars since 2018.

Number of publications by language and page category, from January 2018 to June 2020.
(Jean-Hugues Roy), Author provided

Having said that, we must take into account the fact that Facebook does not generate revenue simply when a post is published, but when people interact with this content by sharing it, liking it or commenting on it. So let’s take a look at how interactions are distributed by language and page type since Jan. 1, 2018.

Table showing the number of interactions triggered by Canadian Facebook page postings
Number of interactions triggered by Canadian Facebook page postings, by language and page category between Jan. 1, 2018, and June 30, 2020.
(Jean-Hugues Roy), Author provided

Out of more than 7.6 billion interactions, more than 400,000 were triggered by journalistic content. That’s 5.3 per cent of the total.

This way of calculating, which weighs the place of journalistic content by the lowest number of interactions it generates, still means that the Canadian media have enabled Facebook to raise nearly a third of a billion dollars over the past two and a half years.

The gulf between Facebook and the media

Of course, my study has its limits. Facebook generates revenue in Canada when advertisers buy ads to reach Canadians. In order to more accurately measure Facebook’s revenues in Canada, it would be necessary to examine what content Canadians are viewing on this social network. But Facebook does not share this kind of information. The best we can do, therefore, is to look at what is produced by pages administered in Canada.

A woman wearing a surgical mask walks past a wanted poster of Mark Zuckerberg
Friends of Canadian Broadcasting ran a campaign called Wanted to focus public and political attention on rules that allow Facebook to profit from content created by Canadian news outlets without compensation.
THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Besides, it’s not only pages on Facebook. There is also content on groups and profiles. And Facebook generates revenue through Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp. But it is only possible to collect country data through the pages.

The main takeaway from this analysis is that there is a gulf between what the media allow Facebook to generate as revenue and what Facebook returns to them. Kevin Chan, director of public policy for Facebook Canada, stated in Le Devoir recently that Facebook has spent $9 million on various journalism projects in Canada over the past three years.

Sharing revenue

There are other ways Facebook benefits the media — they can monetize their stories through “instant articles,” where content remains on Facebook in exchange for some revenue sharing with the media, or the video platforms Watch and IGTV, Facebook’s attempts to compete with YouTube.

In the United States, Facebook News, a new licensing mechanism, could allow some major media outlets to earn up to US$3 million annually.

Facebook also funds some journalism education initiatives at various universities, including Ryerson University.

However, instant articles have been abandoned by many media outlets, and creators trying Watch have gone back to YouTube. In both cases, it’s because Facebook doesn’t share enough of its revenue.

Australia introduced legislation that would force Facebook and Google to sit down with the Australian media and negotiate to share revenues. Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault seems to have been inspired by this approach.

Facebook benefits from journalism

Facebook has reacted to Australia’s intentions by threatening to block users from sharing local and international news. Just imagine Facebook without news: Would we use it as much if all we could share with our friends was clickbait?

Making Facebook share its revenues would therefore be a triple win. First, with a little more money, the media would be able to hire more journalists. I say “a little” because I know Facebook alone won’t save the media, but it would certainly help.

Second, the federal government (and all Canadians) would win too, because supporting the production of quality journalism is a concrete way to fight misinformation.

Third, Facebook would win because Canadians would have greater assurance that it would be a source they can trust for their information needs.

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QYOU Media: At The Forefront Of The Influencer Marketing Trend – The Deep Dive

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The influencer marketplace is something to behold. On Instagram alone, the market size, as per a recent Statista report, is estimated as being US$2.3 billion in 2020, which is a significant gain from the $0.7 billion figure from 2017. A Business Insider Intelligence report published last December meanwhile estimates that the market will grow to US$15 billion across all social media platforms by just 2022.

The rise in demand from such marketing has lead to the inevitable – publicly traded companies are now becoming involved. The latest being that of BroadbandTV, operating under BBTV Holdings (TSX: BBTV) whom just this past week announced the pricing of their IPO with the the company aiming to raise $172.4 million through the sale of just 12.4% of the company. While they own one of the largest creator networks currently, they are not to be the only publicly traded firm operating in this niche.

Although BroadbandTV will be the latest to market, they are certainly not the first. Canadian small cap company QYOU Media (TSXV: QYOU) has actually been slugging it out in the space for quite some time, with the company also focused on developing its India-based entertainment platform known as The Q India through the use of influencers and social media stars.

QYOU’s approach to influencers is actually two-fold. The first method in which influencers are utilized is for its entertainment brand, The Q India. Here, the company utilizes influencers and digital creators to create original content in which it distributes on its platform in the form of both traditional (linear) television, and that of video on demand, as well as “over-the-top” (think Roku) and mobile platforms.

The second method, is that the company utilizes its network of influencers to conduct social media marketing. In this arena, the company will assist its clients with creative strategy, influencer deals, in-house production, media amplification and channel management.

With the influencer marketing division predominantly focused on the US market, the company largely provides marketing services for third party brands. The company traditionally has been primarily engaged with major studios to promote theatrical releases for motion pictures.

With the advent of COVID-19, that has now changed slightly.

Given the lack of operational theatres, the company has had to slightly refocus on its target market for this influencer marketing. As a result, the company announced this past week that it has begun focusing on a slightly different market for motion pictures. Rather than solely focus on theatrical releases, the company has now found demand for its influencer marketing services in three segments for motion picture markets.

  • Theatrical and Premium Video On Demand – Major motion pictures slated to be released directly to consumers at high purchase prices.
  • Subscription On Demand – Direct to consumer content that is consumed by platforms such as Netflix, Hulu, HBO, etc.
  • Advertiser Video On Demand – Free to consumer offerings that are supported by advertisements on platforms such as Roku, Pluto, Tubi and Peacock.

And with this, the company announced that is has secured US$710,000 in new contracts for influencer marketing services over the course of September and October.

To get a sense of how effective QYOU is at influencer marketing, lets look at a project the company took on earlier this year. As a result of the pandemic, Dreamworks Universal decided to release Trolls World Tour via direct to consumer, rather than taking the theatrical release approach. While unusual for a film of this magnitude, the company was left with little option due to the state of theatres across North America.

The Q influencer team had initially been hired by Dreamworks to promote the theatrical release, but was asked to pivot the campaign as a result of the change in release plans. QYOU worked with 19 influencers for the project, generating over 57 million organic video views and achieving a 17% engagement rate. The custom TikTok channel created for the film also managed to acquire 314,000 subscribers as well.

The end result is that Trols World Tour became the largest direct to video success in history, with the film generating over $100 million in revenue. It also proved just how effective influencer marketing campaigns can be.

Looking forward, QYOU has identified a number of new potential growth areas that can aide in further scaling the influencer marketing division. Opportunities such as media placements, merchandising, talent management, channel management for brands, production services, and original IP development present new avenues for further growth for the firm.

Audiences have changed the way in which they consume their content. Rather than the traditional methods of television, consumers now utilize a number of sources such as YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, and more to obtain their entertainment. From this, valuable opportunities exist for marketing, branding, and more as businesses look to sell their products to the world. Naturally, agencies at the forefront of this trend will ultimately benefit the most.

QYOU Media last traded at $0.065 on the TSX Venture.


FULL DISCLOSURE: QYOU Media is a client of Canacom Group, the parent company of The Deep Dive. The author has been compensated to cover QYOU Media on The Deep Dive, with The Deep Dive having full editorial control. Additionally, the author personally holds shares of the company. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security.

As the founder of The Deep Dive, Jay is focused on all aspects of the firm. This includes operations, as well as acting as the primary writer for The Deep Dive’s stock analysis. In addition to The Deep Dive, Jay performs freelance writing for a number of firms and has been published on Stockhouse.com and CannaInvestor Magazine among others.

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#EndSARS: How Nigerians harness social media against police abuse – Al Jazeera English

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Port Harcourt, Nigeria – For two weeks, thousands of young people across Nigeria and abroad this month took to the streets to call for the dissolution of Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), an infamous police unit accused of extortion, extrajudicial killings, rape and torture.

This was far from the first time Nigerians had made such a demand. It was, however, by far, the first time their calls garnered such widespread support and international media coverage – thanks, largely, to the prominent role of social media in spreading the word.

Peaceful protests against police brutality began on October 8 after a video allegedly showing a SARS operative killing a man was widely shared online.

The #EndSARS hashtag swiftly started trending, boosted in part by Nigerian celebrities and high-profile personalities with large followings. As the hashtag also spread beyond the country’s borders, a number of Nigerian Twitter users announced they would help cover the phone bills of others so they could afford to keep tweeting and maintain momentum.

Encouraged by the first protest held in Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital, Uloma Nwoke and her friends decided to also organise one in the Lekki area of the city. They shared a flyer detailing the time and location of the protest on various social media platforms – and on the morning of October 10, they were surprised to see that nearly 1,000 people had descended on the site.

“A lot of celebrities and influential people showed up,” Nwoke said.

Meanwhile, thousands of kilometres away, Omolara Oriye, a human rights lawyer, was organising a protest via WhatsApp in South Africa’s capital, Pretoria. She said a video of Nigerian police officers manhandling demonstrators circulating on Twitter prompted her to action.

“I contacted the Nigerian Student Association in Pretoria who put me in touch with Nigerian students,” said 32-year-old Oriye. “We met at the [Nigerian] embassy.”

On October 15, the protest movement got an extra push from Twitter’s CEO, Jack Dorsey, who used the #EndSARS hashtag as he posted a donation link associated with the Feminist Coalition, one of the most prominent groups supporting protesters on the ground.

While the amplification of the protest by celebrities and social media influencers bridged the information gap left by local news outlets, protesters resisted attempts by government officials to single out influential personalities as spokespeople via invitations to join newly instituted panels on police reforms.

Having witnessed other movements fizzle out following closed-door meetings between lionised protest leaders and government representatives, many activists cautioned against such appointments.

Nwoke, 25, decried the tendency of celebrities to monopolise the microphone at protest venues, depriving those most affected by SARS of the opportunity to share their experiences.

“It was one of the biggest challenges for me,” she said, of celebrity worship and narcissism. “Most of them just want to always be in front. We had to start profiling [speakers].”

It’s a sentiment also shared by Oriye.

“Celebrities are great for amplification, but they are not movement leaders,” she said, arguing that many are ill-informed and have, in the past, diverted attention away from knowledgeable activists.

Apart from raising awareness about police brutality and coordinating protests on the ground, various #EndSARS organisers used social media to connect with volunteers, accept donations from other parts of the world and publish accounts of disbursed funds through frequent updates.

Information about emergency helplines and ways to circumvent a potential internet shutdown also spread freely and widely.

Essentially, observers say, social media democratised the #EndSARS movement, allowing users with varying numbers of followers to pitch, improve or reject ideas, solicit donations or start food banks to feed protesters.

“This entire movement was born, bred and salvaged online,” said Chioma Agwuegbo, communications lead for Not Too Young to Run, an advocacy group dedicated to getting young Nigerians into public office. “There was a constant reminder that there was no leader, [which] helped strengthen people’s voices and close any avenue for compromise.”

On the news front, web-based publications largely run by and geared towards millennials kept the protest in the fore alongside witnesses armed with smartphones, as most traditional media outlets – perhaps wary of running afoul of the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation’s directive to be cautious with user-generated content and to not “embarrass” the government – kept off.

Their reticence left protesters such as Nwoke disappointed.

“It hurt me personally that people were dropping dead on the street and news channels were showing a cooking show or talking about some irrelevant subject,” she said.

Demonstrators gesture during a protest against police brutality in Lagos [File: Temilade Adelaja/Reuters]

As the peaceful protests grew in size after entering their second week, gangs attacked protesters in various cities, including Lagos and the capital, Abuja. Thugs also vandalised public buildings, burned private businesses and stormed prison facilities to help inmates escape, prompting state governors to impose curfews to curb the escalating unrest.

On Friday, President Muhammadu Buhari said 51 civilians were killed and 37 injured since demonstrations began, blaming the violence on “hooliganism.” He added that 11 policemen and seven soldiers had been killed by “rioters”.

Buhari’s statement came two days after Amnesty International put the death toll at 56, with about 38 killed on October 20, the same day security forces opened fire on unarmed demonstrators in Lekki, in an attack that was livestreamed on Instagram by a witness and caused widespread outrage.

Amnesty said its on-the-ground investigation by Amnesty International confirmed that the army and police killed at least 12 peaceful protesters in Lekki and Alausa, another area of Lagos where #EndSARS protests were being held. The army has denied the involvement of their men in the shooting.

Oriye expressed admiration for the dynamism of social media-savvy Nigerians.

“The Nigerian press refused to cover the issue initially, so it forced us to rely on social media to record information to preserve the truth and possible evidence,” she said.

Still, some Nigerians remain unconvinced by the video evidence. In a now-deleted tweet, an actress with more than one million followers seemingly cast doubt on the Lekki shooting, requesting the bereaved to “speak out”.

Others, however, are urging those with proof to store it in the cloud, away from potential government interference.

And despite the brutal clampdown, many see a silver lining.

“One of the things that would help us [gain political power] is community engagement,” said Nwoke. “That was something we tried to implement during the protest, educating people about the issues.”

For her part, Agwuegbo believes the events of the past two weeks have transformed Nigerian youth into a force to be reckoned with in the general elections less than three years from now.

“I think 2023 will be interesting for the future of the country because there’s rage,” she said. “But there’s also the realisation that if we come together and plan towards something, we can make it.”

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COMMENTARY: How comics can teach media literacy and help identify fake news – Global News

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At this point, most of us know the drill when it comes to COVID-19: proper hand hygiene, mask wearing and social distancing.

But does setting fire to cell towers make your list? Probably not. A conspiracy theory linking 5G mobile technology to the COVID-19 outbreak has ignited fears worldwide, prompting just this response from a few individuals in Québec, who set ablaze seven mobile towers.

READ MORE: Trump duped by fake news story of Twitter going down to protect Biden

Although such destructive responses are rare, thousands of digital consumers have absorbed aspects of this falsehood, pushing fringe beliefs into the mainstream despite refutations from the World Health Organization and multiple agencies in Canada and the United States. What started as a conspiracy turned into a real crisis for the people who immediately believed what they’d heard.

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My research focuses on critical media studies and ideological representations in news and popular culture. I regularly offer workshops to schools and community groups that engage the public in contemporary media literacy issues. My book, Won’t Get Fooled Again: A Graphic Guide To Fake News, helps readers identify the underlying purpose of the messages they receive and learn how to do basic research before accepting the validity of what’s being presented to them.


Click to play video 'New study suggests social media feeds source of COVID-19 fake news'



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New study suggests social media feeds source of COVID-19 fake news


New study suggests social media feeds source of COVID-19 fake news

Dealing with fake news

Fake news is an increasingly pressing problem. In fact, a 2019 poll found 90 per cent of Canadians reported falling for false information online.

As consumers, we need to learn how to filter content and become our own educators, editors and fact-checkers to ensure the information we act upon is trustworthy. In a constantly changing informational and political environment, it’s no wonder we often struggle to separate fact from fiction.

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Research indicates people create misinformation for two primary reasons: money and ideology.

Articles, videos and other forms of content can generate large amounts of money for the websites that host these pieces. Most of their income comes from clicks on advertisements, so the more people who visit their sites, the better chances they have of boosting ad revenue. This feedback loop has led many publishers to lean on false information to drive traffic.

The threshold for making believable fake news has fallen as well. A conspiracy theorist, for example, can create a web page using a professional template with high-quality photos in just a few clicks. Once the content has been added, sharing it on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other platforms requires even less effort.

These misinformation and fake-news campaigns amplify and circulate through false digital accounts using automated programs known as bots that use certain keywords to influence and impact conversations among like-minded clusters of people. The results can foment discord on hot-button Canadian policy issues — like immigration and refugees — possibly disrupting election outcomes.

A page with six comic book panels showing an exchange about news.
Focus groups with students informed the content for ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again,’ a graphic narrative teaching media literacy.
(Alan Spinney), Author provided

Generating anxiety and undermining truth

Canadians are expressing anxiety about the social impact of fake news, with 70 per cent fearing it could affect the outcome of a federal election. The Pew Research Center warns that fake news may even influence the core functions of the democratic system and contribute to “truth decay.”

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Dubious and inflammatory content can undermine the quality of public debate, promote misconceptions, foster greater hostility toward political opponents and corrode trust in government and journalism.

The effects of misinformation have been evident throughout the COVID-19 epidemic, with many citizens confused as to whether a mask will decrease the chances of spreading the infection. Similar tactics are being levelled against Black Lives Matter protesters, such as labelling them all as rioters when videos and photos show most behaving peacefully.

Conspiracy theories about the “Chinese virus,” amplified by politicians in Canada and the U.S., have fanned the flames of anti-Asian sentiments following the spread of COVID-19. Data from law enforcement and Chinese-Canadian groups has shown an increase in anti-Asian hate incidents in Canada since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

READ MORE: How to teach kids to hunt out fake news? With dinosaurs, of course

Who and how to trust

Aside from a few social media platforms that identify misleading content and provide a brief explanation, most information online or in print can appear factual. So how can we figure out which sources to trust?

As a sociologist who focuses on critical media studies, I formed focus groups and collected input from my students to create a resources to guide readers through identifying fake news. While regulation and legislation are part of the solution, experts agree we must take swift action to teach students how to seek verification before acting on fake news.

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In my findings, students identified several reasons why media outlets post or re-publish fake news, including making mistakes, being short-staffed, not fact-checking and actively seeking greater viewership by posting fake news.

The students pointed to holistic media literacy and critical thinking training as the best responses. This finding runs counter to the tactics currently used by publishers and tech companies to label or “fact-check” disputed news.

One student summarized this mindset best: “As citizens and consumers, we have a responsibility to be critical. Don’t accept stories blindly. Hold those in power responsible for their actions!”

Getting multiple perspectives is a great way to expand our digest of viewpoints. Once we can see a story from more than one angle, separating truth from falsehood becomes much simpler.

At this point, I transitioned from recording perceptions of fake news to determining how to identify it. Providing students with information about the nature and agendas of fake news, in an immersive format, seemed to be a key step in engaging and cultivating their critical literacy capabilities. Information delivery was a key consideration.

A page with six comic book panels showing an exchange about news.
Graphic narratives can help communicate complex and multiple ideas at the same time, such as research skills.
(Alan Spinney), Author provided

Illustrating the narratives

Researchers have shown graphic narratives can accelerate cognition by focusing the reader’s attention on crucial information. Images clarify complex content, especially for visual learners. Comic books require readers to create meaning using multiple factors that helps develop a complex, multi-modal literacy.

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A major goal of my book involves unpacking the motivations behind the news we consume. Consider why a particular person was interviewed: Who do they represent? What do they want us to believe? Is another point of view missing?

Won’t Get Fooled Again: A Graphic Guide to Fake News is the culmination of my research and the insights drawn from media literacy scholarship. This guide helps readers understand what fake news is, where it comes from, and how to check its accuracy.

If there’s one habit my students and I hope everyone will develop, it’s this: pause before sharing news on social media. Double-check anything that immediately sparks anger or frustration and, remember, fake news creators want a reaction, not thoughtful reflection.The Conversation

Erin Steuter, professor of sociology, Mount Allison University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons licence. Read the original article.

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