As part of our effort to #FightOnlineAbuseNow, we’re publishing a series of pieces about the harm online abuse poses to free speech—but also what Facebook, Twitter, and other social media companies can do to blunt its worst effects.
Writers and journalists increasingly rely on social media platforms to stay on top of news, find sources, engage with readers, and promote their work. Yet their visibility and the nature of their work—to challenge the status quo and hold the powerful accountable—can make them lightning rods for online abuse. They are relentlessly harassed in these spaces, especially if they are women, Black, Latino, LGBTQ+, members of religious or ethnic minorities, or if they cover topics such as feminism, politics, or race.
But there are concrete steps social media companies can take to reduce the devastating impact of online abuse by giving users more control over their privacy, security, identity, and account history. Here are five features they should build:
1. Safety Modes: Making it easer to tighten privacy and security settings
While social media companies give users granular control over their settings, it can be confusing and time consuming to figure out how these adjustments impact visibility and reach. For writers and journalists who require a public presence online to do their job, finding the balance between visibility and safety is full of trade-offs. When under attack, they often freeze their accounts until the trouble passes, but that means they can’t engage with friends, followers, or the public.
Platforms need to make it easier for users to fine-tune their privacy and security. Users should be able to save configurations of settings into personalized “safety modes,” which they can easily toggle between. When they alternate between safety modes, a “visibility snapshot” should show them in real time who will be able to see their content.
2. Identities: distinguishing between the personal and professional
Fusing personal and professional identities online can make writers and journalists more vulnerable, as abusive trolls leverage private information to humiliate, discredit, and intimidate them, their friends, and families. Social media platforms should make it easier to create boundaries between private and public “identities” online, while allowing users to keep their audiences. Users should be able to toggle between personal and professional identities, and migrate or share audiences between them. Platforms should also allow users to decide which subsets of friends or followers see their content—features that Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are already experimenting with.
3. Managing account histories
While people may switch jobs and careers—and even shift their views over time—their social media histories, which can date back more than a decade, become treasure troves for abuse. Social media platforms should make it easier for users to manage their personal account histories, including the ability to easily search and review old posts, and make them private, as well as delete and archive content.
To preserve transparency and accountability, especially for social media accounts used by public officials and entities, it is critical that journalists have access to tools that archive the internet and to laws requiring public officials to retain records of communications that may be disclosed to the public.
4. Anti-harassment help centers: educating users on how to protect themselves
Social media companies have been improving their anti-harassment features, but many of these are still hard to find and navigate. Each platform should build a user-friendly section in their help center that deals specifically with online abuse, including internal features and links to external tools and resources. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter need to get creative by using nudges, quizzes, sign-on prompts, and videos to get the message across. They must invest in training vulnerable users, like journalists and writers, to proactively use features that reduce risk and exposure to attacks.
5. Third-party tools
Beyond the major social media platforms, start-ups, nonprofits, and universities are building third-party tools to help counter online abuse. Some scrub private information from data broker sites; others help users manage their Twitter account histories. A handful enlist allies to help those facing abuse. Still others filter, mute, or block problematic accounts or demystify convoluted privacy and security settings. Many of these tools are still in early stages of development, are not sufficiently financed, or known widely enough to reach the majority of users in need. Some involve costs for the consumer, which may be an insurmountable obstacle for those who need them most.
Social media platforms should recognize the gravity of online abuse and support third-party tools—especially those built by and for women, Black, Latino, Indigenous, or LGBTQ+ technologists with direct experience of online abuse—by investing in their research and development, and providing access to the data and information they need to succeed. They should consider integrating third-party tools that have proven effective at mitigating online harassment.
Online attacks can damage mental and physical health, chill free expression, and silence voices that are already underrepresented in the creative and media sectors and in public discourse. By embracing these five concrete and actionable recommendations, social media companies can better protect all vulnerable individuals and create a safer online environment where writing, creativity, and ideas can flourish.
The Justice Department subpoenas follow an ongoing probe by the Securities and Exchange Commission into whether Digital World broke rules by having substantial talks about buying Trump’s company starting early last year before Digital World sold stock to the public for the first time in September, just weeks before its announcement that it would be buying Trump’s company.
Trump’s social media venture launched in February as he seeks a new digital stage to rally his supporters and fight Big Tech limits on speech, a year after he was banned from Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.
The Trump Media & Technology Group – which operates the Truth Social app and was in the process of being acquired by Digital World – said in a statement that it will cooperate with “oversight that supports the SEC’s important mission of protecting retail investors.”
The new probe could make it more difficult for Trump to finance his social media company. The company last year got promises from dozens of investors to pump $1 billion into the company, but it can’t get the cash until the Digital World acquisition is completed.
Stock in Digital World rocketed to more than $100 in October after its deal to buy Trump’s company was announced. The stock traded at just around $25 in morning trading Monday.
Digital World is a special-purpose acquisition company, or SPAC, part of an investing phenomenon that exploded in popularity over the past two years.
2:24 U.S. Capitol siege hearings focus on Trump’s pressure campaign to overturn 2020 election
U.S. Capitol siege hearings focus on Trump’s pressure campaign to overturn 2020 election
Such “blank-check” companies are empty corporate entities with no operations, only offering investors the promise they will buy a business in the future. As such they are allowed to sell stock to the public quickly without the usual regulatory disclosures and delays, but only if they haven’t already lined up possible acquisition targets.
Digital World said in a regulatory filing Monday that each member of its board of directors has been subpoenaed by the grand jury in the Southern District of New York. Both the grand jury and the SEC are also seeking a number of documents tied to the company and others including a sponsor, ARC Global Investments, and Miami-based venture capital firm Rocket One Capital.
Some of the sought documents involve “due diligence” regarding Trump Media and other potential acquisition targets, as well as communications with Digital World’s underwriter and financial adviser in its initial public offering, according to the SEC disclosure.
Digital World also Monday announced the resignation of one of its board members, Bruce Garelick, a chief strategy officer at Rocket One.
Janz should not be investigated by the city’s integrity commissioner, or as I would recommend renaming the position, the city’s social media censor.
It should be obvious I’m not a big fan of Michael “Mosquito Mike” Janz, the city councillor most responsible for ending the city’s mosquito-spraying program. The flying pests are noticeably worse this summer; I’ve got the bites to prove it.
Thanks, Mosquito Mike.
In general, I don’t care for Janz’s politics and especially his anti-police harangues. Check out his Twitter feed. He complains about police about once a month, sometimes even more often.
He accuses them of race and class double standards. He thinks they slough off investigations of alleged crimes against lower-income Edmontonians and routinely mislead the public to cover their own misdeeds.
I find it particularly detestable that he is alleged recently to have retweeted a post from a Calgary account referring to police as “pigs.”
(Calling the police “pigs” is not only detestable, but laughably archaic, too. Hey, Councillor, the late ’60s called. They want their tie-dyed shirt and peace medallion back. Groovy, man.)
Yet, so long as Janz must account to his voters, he should be free to tweet and retweet as he sees fit. The relationship is between the electors and their elected representative. If they disapprove of his online behaviour, they can vote him out of office.
Janz should not be investigated by the city’s integrity commissioner, or as I would recommend renaming the position, the city’s social media censor.
It should be up to the voters who elected Janz to punish him, if they so desire, not some appointed adjudicator who doesn’t answer to voters directly.
A complaint has been filed with the integrity commissioner, Jamie Pytel, by sometimes local Liberal candidate, Thomas Deak. In the complaint, Deak says Janz retweeted the following post, “So this week a co-worker got a $409 ticket for failing to stop his bike at a stop sign. It was 7 a.m. in a residential area, the roads were empty, except for the pig hiding in the bushes.”
Get outraged. Compose an email to the Sun. Post your own tweet condemning Mosquito Mike for his retweeting of juvenile, anti-police name-calling.
But don’t go running to the censor asking her to clap Janz in irons just because you find his opinion (in this case his second-hand opinion) infuriating. Grow up. This is a democracy. We get to have opinions, even unpleasant ones, so long as we respect the right of others to opinions we vehemently disagree with.
Remember, that any government tool that can be used to hush-up your opponents will almost most certainly be turned on you one day, too.
I find it hilarious that Janz, in his own defence, insists there is a plot to “erroneously paint me as some sort of anti-police radical.” Nothing “could be further from the truth.”
Apparently, in his own mind, Janz is a big fan of police.
But remember, Janz was recently also hauled before the integrity commish for tweeting, liking or retweeting nearly two dozen anti-police posts near the end of last year.
Hmm, he certainly has an odd way of showing his love and respect for the Edmonton Police Service.
Own it, councillor. You don’t like the cops much.
But that is his right. He gets to have a seat on council and hold juvenile, archaic, anti-police opinions until the voters in his ward tire of his schtick and punt him from office.
Even after that, he still gets to hold his objectionable views, he just can’t do it as a councillor anymore.
In his run-in with Pytel earlier this year, Janz was not sanctioned by Edmonton’s in-house play-nice-children scold.
And he shouldn’t have been, just as he shouldn’t be reprimanded now.
The whole integrity commissioner ideal just gets in the way of democracy.
OMG’s OMD Worldwide Named Media Network of the Year
NEW YORK, June 27, 2022/CNW/ — With a combination of accolades and headline-making announcements, Omnicom Media Group (OMG), the media services division of Omnicom Group Inc. (NYSE: OMC) was a dominant presence at the 2022 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.
On the accolades front, OMG agencies earned a total of 39 Lions and its OMD agency, the largest global media network by billings, was named Media Network of the Year. This marks the second consecutive year that an OMG agency took the Network of the Year title, which was awarded to PHD in 2021.
Concurrent with its performance in the competition, OMG earned headlines each day of the festival, announcing a series of first-mover collaborations with retail media networks, as well as the global expansion of its TRKKNanalytics and ad consultancy that is one of the largest Google Marketing Platform (GMP) partners in Europe.
OMG’s Lions’ Share The 39 Lions earned by OMG agencies – 7 Gold, 13 Silver and 19 Bronze – encompassed work from APAC, EMEA, North America and LATAM, spanning the automotive, CPG, Beverage Technology and Travel sectors; and including competition categories that reflect a wide range of both established and emerging priorities for clients – from data-driven targeting and insights to integrated media to corporate purpose and responsibility.
A strong global footprint was also evident in OMD’s Media Network of the Year award, with work from Portugal, France and Australia helping fuel the agency’s win.
“Being named Media Network of the Year is especially meaningful coming at a time when brands are re-evaluating their business, marketing and technology operations to better address new realities – both economic and cultural,” said George Manas, CEO, OMD Worldwide. “They need a trusted partner in transformation – and this recognition helps confirm that OMD is that partner.”
Taking the Lead in Connected Commerce During the Cannes festival OMG announced four first-mover strategic partnerships with retail media networks, beginning Monday, June 20, with Walmart Connect announcing their first-ever agency holding company partnership with Omnicom. The agreement will enable cross-screen planning against Walmart audiences in Omni – Omnicom’s open operating system which orchestrates better outcomes for clients across the entire consumer purchasing journey – allowing Omnicom’s agencies to deliver connected experiences across media and commerce platforms with-in owned, earned, and paid environments.
Over the next three days, OMG also revealed details of its partnership with Instacart, that will help Omnicom clients better understand how media spend drives purchase of products on that platform; how Amazon is supporting OMG’s eCommerce training and certification programs; and its collaboration with Kroger Precision Marketing that will allow planners to optimize in-market retail media, utilizing shopper behavior data to shift spend based on product availability, and still have the flexibility to optimize media while maintaining national consumer demand.
Describing the collective impact of the announcements, Omnicom eCommerce CEO Frank Kochenash said, “With each collaboration, we are adding another layer of unique capabilities to a connected commerce offering that encompasses the totality of client investment across all media channels, screens and environments.”
A Global Expansion for the Cookieless World OMG wrapped the industry’s most global of events with news of a global expansion, announcing on the last day of the festival that it is expanding TRKKN- its digital analytics ad technology and cloud consultancy that is one of the largest Google Marketing Platform sales partners across the European market – to APAC, the Middle East and North America. The expansion will assure global best practices that enable GMP & GCP efficiency and effectiveness, while also giving OMG greater flexibility to help in-housed media operations manage their Google marketing and cloud stacks to drive better business results in the cookieless future.
Summing up the desired takeaway from OMG’s high profile throughout Cannes 2022, OMG global CEO Florian Adamski says, “People were coming to Cannes this year looking for more than the big parties – they wanted big ideas and big actions that will help them solve the big challenges that we as an industry are all facing: privacy, connected commerce, measurement, the cookieless future, talent. Through the work we submitted, the partnerships we announced, the capabilities we’re expanding, and the close to 20 thought-leader forums we hosted over the week with clients and partners, I think the net takeaway for marketers is obvious: OMG is meeting these challenges- and we can help you meet them, too.”
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