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Facebook’s safety head tells UK lawmakers it does not amplify hate

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Facebook Inc‘s https://www.reuters.com/technology/facebooks-zuckerberg-kicks-off-its-virtual-reality-event-with-metaverse-vision-2021-10-28 algorithms demote rather than promote polarising content, its global head of safety told British lawmakers on Thursday, adding that the U.S. company would welcome effective government regulation.

Governments in Europe and the United States are grappling with regulating social media platforms to reduce the spread of harmful content, particularly for young users.

Britain is leading the charge by bringing forward laws that could fine social media companies up to 10% of their turnover if they fail to remove or limit the spread of illegal content.

Secondary legislation that would make company directors liable could be proposed if the measures do not work.

Facebook https://www.reuters.com/technology/facebook-asks-employees-preserve-internal-documents-legal-inquiries-2021-10-27 whistleblower Frances Haugen https://www.reuters.com/technology/facebook-sees-safety-cost-whistleblower-says-2021-10-25 told the same committee of lawmakers on Monday that Facebook’s algorithms pushed extreme and divisive content to users.

Facebook’s Antigone Davis denied the charge.

“I don’t agree that we are amplifying hate,” Davis told the committee on Thursday, adding: “I think we try to take in signals to ensure that we demote content that is divisive for example, or polarising.”

She said she could not guarantee a user would not be recommended hateful content, but Facebook was using AI to reduce its prevalence to 0.05%.

“We have zero interest in amplifying hate on our platform and creating a bad experience for people, they won’t come back,” she said. “Our advertisers won’t let it happen either.”

Davis said Facebook, which announced on Thursday it would rebrand as Meta, wanted regulators to contribute to making social media platforms safer, for example in research into eating disorders or body image.

“Many of these are societal issues and we would like a regulator to play a role,” she said, adding Facebook would welcome a regulator with “proportionate and effective enforcement powers”.

“I think criminal liability for directors is a pretty serious step and I’m not sure we need it to take action.”

 

(Reporting by Paul Sandle; Editing by Alexander Smith)

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Diversity in the newsroom can build better media. Here's why – World Economic Forum

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  • Maintaining diversity in the newsroom and providing inclusive content is imperative for the longevity of any media platform.
  • More diverse and inclusive newsrooms and coverage can provide better representation of societies, build audience trust and even make news organizations more profitable.
  • News outlets that do not actively make diversity in the newsroom and inclusion a priority could face a decline in both readership and profits.

The Black Lives Matter protests and the #MeToo movement have shed light on the lack of racial and gender diversity in the workplace. The state of diversity in the newsroom is no exception: according to a 2016 Pew Research Center analysis, just 23% of newsroom employees were people of colour, while 61% of newsroom employees were men.

As Chief Executive of Internews, I’ve visited dozens of newsrooms in every inhabited continent. Across the board, I’ve noticed a commonality: having a diverse workforce bodes well for producing accurate and well-reported news content.

The world is becoming more diverse and it’s a newsroom’s responsibility to reflect this – failure to do so can result in news outlets being left behind.

The rise of user-generated news platforms, which often outperform traditional outlets in attracting new audiences, underscores the risk of failing to cater to diverse audiences. Audience growth trends at user-generated news platforms like Blavity and Outlier suggest the new generation of readers want content that reflects their experiences and perspectives.

Maintaining a diverse workforce and providing inclusive content is imperative for the longevity of any media platform. This is why it comes as a shock to me that inclusion is still lacking within the industry. Thankfully, the Tackling Diversity and Inclusion in the Newsroom report from the World Economic Forum takes on this issue from a business and ethical standpoint.

Including different perspectives

A diverse newsroom is essential for media institutions that pride themselves on providing well-researched, complex stories that explore different perspectives and voices. The news content the media provides should be an accurate reflection of the diverse society it serves As such, to reflect this society, we need to make sure that journalists from different cultures, religions and genders are represented.

It’s not just about providing different perspectives and viewpoints. Media institutions need to ensure that their newsroom culture reflects the diverse news content they’re producing, otherwise, audiences may question their authenticity.

Eliminating culturally insensitive mistakes

No matter their background, all journalists should be more than capable of objectively reporting stories that explore perspectives different from their own. However, a lack of knowledge or unconscious biases may lead some journalists to produce culturally insensitive reporting.

To be clear, I’m not suggesting that only journalists who have a personal connection to a news story should exclusively write about that topic. However, having a diverse team of journalists who can assist with reviewing news content can lessen the chance of mistakes that could harm the outlet’s brand.

Last year, the Guardian had to issue an apology for mistakenly using a picture of UK rapper Kano when referring to Wiley. The latter at the time was under scrutiny for anti-Semitic comments. Even though the newspaper claimed this was an “honest mistake”, it sparked conversations online regarding the lack of diversity in the newsroom. Many journalists from marginalized communities observed that a more diverse newsroom would spot the mistake before it was published.

Helping to build trust

An IPSOS study of 27 countries found that over a five-year period from 2014-2019, public trust in newspapers and magazines dropped by an average of 16%. In the US and Great Britain – two countries traditionally seen as having model independent media systems – public trust in print media dropped by 26% and 27% respectively.

Importantly, there’s a big difference between “the media” and local media: local news outlets are more trusted because they are more likely to know and reflect the communities they serve.

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Where trust In the news is highest and lowest

Image: Statista/RISJ

During the pandemic, trust in the media has never been more critical. For the last few years, media institutions have been responsible for keeping billions of people updated on COVID transmission rates and vaccine efforts. The success of Epicenter-NYC is an example of just how much of an impact local media can have when it commands community trust. Epicenter-NYC is a media company that was founded by and for members of the Jackson Heights neighbourhood in New York. When vaccination rates were lagging in the community, Epicenter made vaccine sign-up information readily available on its site. As a result, the organization encouraged more than 4,600 people to get vaccinated.

Creating a diverse newsroom can help establish trust in various communities and other under-represented groups. With the pandemic still raging, both local and national news outlets should be looking for ways to help sustain and build trust with their audiences.

Making media institutions more profitable

Studies suggest that the most diverse companies are more likely to outperform non-diverse companies in terms of profitability. A 2019 analysis by McKinsey suggests that companies in the top quartile of gender diversity on executive teams were 25% more likely to experience above-average profitability than peer companies. News outlets that do not actively make diversity in the newsroom and inclusion a priority could face a decline in both readership and profits.

The research published by the World Economic Forum makes one thing very clear: diverse newsrooms are essential for the betterment of any media institution that prides itself on providing news content that reflects an accurate representation of the world we live in today.

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A Famous Tech Expert Says You Should Quit Social Media. Not So Fast There – Forbes

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A famous professor and book author named Cal Newport is still arguing, after his popular TED talk from a few years ago and with a new book about the dangers of email out now, that you should quit social media.

He seems to advocate for deleting your account forever, never going back, skipping the entire social media space including apps like Facebook and Twitter.

In listening to his argument, the reasons are relatively sound. He doesn’t see the value, and views apps like Facebook as mere distractions.

Unfortunately, I view this argument as woefully flawed.

First of all, hats off to Newport who has written some excellent books. He makes some good points about distraction and how social media companies are using these apps to feed us ads that line their pocketbooks. We’re endpoints for advertising, nothing more.

My issue is that quitting social media is a recipe for disaster. For starters, quitting is not the same as controlling. As someone who has recently studied the productivity field these last two years and is about to release a book about how to be more purposeful in our work, I can say that there is some value in the apps, and quitting them doesn’t work anyway. In a workplace setting, it’s all but impossible not to use social media, even if it is keeping up on the company feed, commenting on posts, and using the social media chat features.

More importantly, quitting social media means you are not aware of how people are using the apps and finding new benefits. I’ve long maintained that social media is an excellent way to keep in touch with family members, especially those that live overseas. The apps allow us to stay in touch and build a community with others using digital tools.

And, honestly, that’s really all they are is tools. We can use them for positive purposes or we can get sucked into the void and choose to let distraction rule over us.

A more measured approach, one that limits how often we use the apps and for how long, works better because it teaches us to throttle how we use every digital tool, not just the ones that are the most compelling. When we figure out how to use social media tools effectively, we can apply those same concepts to other apps such as email clients.

More than anything, I worry about the “cold turkey” approach because people eventually get sucked back into using the apps. “I’m deleting my account” says the person who is not able to control usage, and hasn’t dealt with a tendency to overuse the apps. A few weeks or months later, that person is back using the app again, maybe even more than ever before. 

So how do you control usage? My approach to this issue is not to delete anything, but to find the value and purpose in what you are doing, and then to set limits on how long you use the apps. For example, if you find yourself using Instagram for an hour or two per day, that is heavy usage. The answer is not to delete your account. A better way to deal with that obsession is to time yourself and keep track of what you are actually doing, to set goals for what you want to accomplish. Tell yourself — I am going to only read 10 posts during one session and then, when I reach that last post, I’ll close out of the app. It works much better. In some ways, learning to control how you use social media apps is a gift because then you can learn to control other things.

My challenge is for you to try that. Set a time limit or choose how many posts you’ll read or comments you’ll make. Don’t delete the app, but find the value and benefit that works for you. If you do decide to limit your usage somehow, send me an email (johnbrandonbb@gmail.com) about how that proved effective for you in controlling how you use these digital tools.

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Media Advisory: Dr. Fitzgerald Available to Media – News Releases – Government of Newfoundland and Labrador

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Dr. Janice Fitzgerald, Chief Medical Officer of Health, will hold a media availability tomorrow (Wednesday, December 1) at 2:00 p.m. to discuss COVID-19.

The availability will be live-streamed on the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador’s Facebook and Twitter accounts and on YouTube.

Media covering the availability will have the opportunity to join in person in the media centre or by teleconference. To participate, please RSVP to Jillian Hood (jillianhood@gov.nl.ca) who will provide the details and the required information.

Media planning to participate by teleconference must join at 1:45 p.m. (NST) to be included on the call. For sound quality purposes, media calling in are asked to use a land line if at all possible.

– 30 –

Media contact
Lesley Clarke
Health and Community Services
709-729-6986, 699-2910
lesleyclarke@gov.nl.ca

2021 11 30
2:10 pm

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