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Ford: Cancel culture is not new, but social media has given it more fuel – Calgary Herald

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Cancel culture claims another victim, this time poet George Elliott Clarke, says columnist Catherine Ford.


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“Cancel culture” isn’t new; it isn’t even inventive. This mob bullying tactic just has a new name and the power of social media.

Its latest victim is a poet — not just any poet, but Toronto’s former poet laureate and the former poet laureate of Canada’s Parliament, George Elliott Clarke. He was hounded and scarified into cancelling his lecture at the University of Regina because he committed the emotional mortal sin of giving a killer a chance. Not a second chance mind you, because Clarke didn’t know the poet he mentored and helped called Stephen Brown, who lives in Mexico, was, in fact, Steven Kummerfield. Kummerfield was one of two men who killed an Indigenous woman, Pamela George, in 1995 and served half his sentence before being paroled in 2000. Only after helping Brown edit his poetry did Clarke discover his real identity.

Let’s not confuse the issue: Clarke himself did nothing wrong but in cancel culture the mere notion he had aided and abetted (Criminal Code of Canada, look it up) a killer, particularly a murderer of a First Nations’ woman, became the lightning rod for anger. Combine that with Regina, with its more than 15,000 First Nations and Metis population, Canada’s pathetic treatment of its Aboriginals (I prefer the Greek word, the more euphonious autochthones) and it’s a recipe for high-toned moral outrage.

This would be a modern phenomenon had the whole notion of being affronted by ideas and talk and things one doesn’t like wasn’t so old and tired.

I watched it in person and was disgusted with my fellow journalists in 1986 who chose not to listen or engage with the South African ambassador, Glen Babb, during the height of apartheid. It was a moral stance according to my colleagues who chose to picket a meeting of the Centre for Investigative Journalism in Vancouver. Babb had been invited to sit on a panel about censorship of the press hosted by the late Peter Gzowski. The protesters marched outside the hotel, apparently unaware of the dichotomy of their position.

Yet, as far as I could tell, none of these so-called “neutral” journalists marching in protest was reprimanded or considered infra dig by their co-workers

If you don’t like a person’s opinion, debate it; if you don’t agree with their politics, vote otherwise; if you don’t want to hear any contradictory opinions, turn off the radio or television or change the channel. Don’t attend the lecture. Write a carefully crafted letter to the editor. But to try to shut down discourse because that person’s opinion is anathema to you, you have just proven how weak your own arguments and opinions are.

More history, but curiously connected, about “sensitive” topics: how we treat those whom we keep under lock and key. See the above outrage about Kummerfield. One can argue he didn’t serve nearly enough time for his crime, but we place those decisions in the hands of our courts and eventually with parole boards.

There is a thread running through all of this anger and resentment and an attitude of revenge, which for some bizarre reason resonates with so many of our citizens. Consider the height of cancel culture: Lock them up and toss away the key. Truly, is every criminal worthless or incapable of being rehabilitated?

The recent report on lack of access to education in prison by Lisa Kerr and Paul Quick, both lawyers, showed how rebarbative our treatment of criminals has become. Yet all I could think of was the two Steves: West and Harper. I consider both to be masters of “cancel culture.”

Many of you may not remember 1992 when Alberta cabinet minister Steve West decided colour television sets in Alberta prisons were a frivolity, so he had them removed and replaced with 12-inch black-and-whites. Apparently, colour TV was “coddling” miscreants.

So, too, with Canada’s six prison farms, which employed about 300 federal inmates. Stephen Harper’s government decided the program was not essential and was too expensive ($14 million annually.) The last one was shuttered in 2009. It was rebarbative. Why? Because such programs taught inmates how to care for living things, something so many hardened inmates never did.

Want a better world? First, make it better for society’s rejected members. Change “cancel culture” to “counsel culture.”

Catherine Ford is a regular columnist for the Calgary Herald.

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Social media giants YouTube, TikTok, Snap questioned at Senate hearing over kids’ safety – Global News

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Bearing down on hugely popular social media platforms and their impact on children, the leaders of a Senate panel have called executives from YouTube, TikTok and Snapchat to face questions on what their companies are doing to ensure young users’ safety.

The Senate Commerce subcommittee on consumer protection is fresh off a highly charged hearing with a former Facebook data scientist, who laid out internal company research showing that the company’s Instagram photo-sharing service appears to seriously harm some teens.

The panel is widening its focus to examine other tech platforms, with millions or billions of users, that also compete for young people’s attention and loyalty.

The three executives — Michael Beckerman, a TikTok vice president and head of public policy for the Americas; Leslie Miller, vice president for government affairs and public policy of YouTube’s owner Google; and Jennifer Stout, vice president for global public policy of Snapchat parent Snap Inc. — are due to appear at a subcommittee hearing Tuesday.

The three platforms are woven into the fabric of young people’s lives, often influencing their dress, dance moves and diet, potentially to the point of obsession. Peer pressure to get on the apps is strong. Social media can offer entertainment and education, but platforms have been misused to harm children and promote bullying, vandalism in schools, eating disorders and manipulative marketing, lawmakers say.

“We need to understand the impact of popular platforms like Snapchat, TikTok and YouTube on children and what companies can do better to keep them safe,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., the subcommittee’s chairman, said in a statement.

Read more:
Done with doomscrolling? Why people choose to quit social media

The panel wants to learn how algorithms and product designs can magnify harm to children, foster addiction and intrusions of privacy, Blumenthal says. The aim is to develop legislation to protect young people and give parents tools to protect their children.

The video platform TikTok, wildly popular with teens and younger children, is owned by the Chinese company ByteDance. In only five years since launching, it has gained an estimated 1 billion monthly users.


Click to play video: 'Mental Health Matters: Dealing with ‘doomscrolling’ on social media'



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Mental Health Matters: Dealing with ‘doomscrolling’ on social media


Mental Health Matters: Dealing with ‘doomscrolling’ on social media – Sep 15, 2021

TikTok denies allegations, most notably from conservative Republican lawmakers, that it operates at the behest of the Chinese government and provides it with users’ personal data. The company says it stores all TikTok U.S. data in the United States. The company also rejects criticisms of promoting harmful content to children.

TikTok says it has tools in place, such as screen time management, to help young people and parents moderate how long children spend on the app and what they see. The company says it focuses on age-appropriate experiences, noting that some features, such as direct messaging, are not available to younger users.

Early this year after federal regulators ordered TikTok to disclose how its practices affect children and teenagers, the platform tightened its privacy practices for the under-18 crowd.

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Facebook reports profit growth amid fallout from leaked documents

A separate House committee has investigated video service YouTube Kids this year. Lawmakers said the YouTube offshoot feeds children inappropriate material in “a wasteland of vapid, consumerist content” so it can serve ads to them. The app, with both video hosting and original shows, is available in about 70 countries.

A panel of the House Oversight and Reform Committee told YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki that the service doesn’t do enough to protect children from potentially harmful material. Instead it relies on artificial intelligence and self-policing by content creators to decide which videos make it onto the platform, the panel’s chairman said in a letter to Wojcicki.

Parent company Google agreed to pay $170 million in 2019 settlements with the Federal Trade Commission and New York state of allegations that YouTube collected personal data on children without their parents’ consent.


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Instagram for kids idea questioned


Instagram for kids idea questioned – May 11, 2021

Despite changes made after the settlements, the lawmaker’s letter said, YouTube Kids still shows ads to children.

YouTube says it has worked to provide children and families with protections and parental controls like time limits, to limit viewing to age-appropriate content. It emphasizes that the 2019 settlements involved the primary YouTube platform, not the kids’ version.

“We took action on more than 7 million accounts in the first three quarters of 2021 when we learned they may belong to a user under the age of 13 — 3 million of those in the third quarter alone — as we have ramped up our automated removal efforts,” Miller, the Google vice president, says in written testimony prepared for the hearing.

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Here’s how parents can navigate kids’ screen time during COVID-19

Snap Inc.’s Snapchat service allows people to send photos, videos and messages that are meant to quickly disappear, an enticement to its young users seeking to avoid snooping parents and teachers. Hence its “Ghostface Chillah” faceless (and word-less) white logo.

Only 10 years old, Snapchat says an eye-popping 90% of 13- to 24-year-olds in the U.S. use the service. It reported 306 million daily users in the July-September quarter.

The company agreed in 2014 to settle the FTC’s allegations that it deceived users about how effectively the shared material vanished and that it collected users’ contacts without telling them or asking permission. The messages, known as “snaps,” could be saved by using third-party apps or other ways, the regulators said.

Snapchat wasn’t fined but agreed to establish a privacy program to be monitored by an outside expert for the next 20 years — similar to oversight imposed on Facebook, Google and Myspace in privacy settlements in recent years.

© 2021 The Canadian Press

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Trudeau’s heritage minister has a chance to reset social media regulations. Will he take it? – Global News

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Justin Trudeau’s new heritage minister has a chance to reset the Liberal government’s controversial plans to regulate social media and internet giants. The question is whether he will take it.

Trudeau tapped veteran MP and cabinet minister Pablo Rodriguez to lead the heritage portfolio Tuesday, part of a wider reset of his cabinet after September’s general election.

The heritage file has presented surprising political risks for Trudeau’s ministers. Melanie Joly ran into trouble over a deal with Netflix that saw the streaming giant promise a $500-million investment in Canadian content, but did not subject the company to Canadian sale taxes.

More recently, rookie minister Steven Guilbeault introduced Bill C-10, a poorly received attempt to modernize broadcasting rules to reflect the new internet-driven landscape.


Click to play video: 'Canadian heritage minister won’t say whether Bill C-10 could regulate users’ social media algorithms'



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Canadian heritage minister won’t say whether Bill C-10 could regulate users’ social media algorithms


Canadian heritage minister won’t say whether Bill C-10 could regulate users’ social media algorithms – May 14, 2021

The legislation was meant to bring internet content under broadcasting rules, in recognition that Canadians consume media differently in the internet age than when the Broadcasting Act was last reformed in 1991.

But it became a political lightning rod after the Liberals removed protections for user-generated content, which critics argued would subject Canadians’ social media accounts to CRTC regulations. And it wasn’t just opposition parties that were critical of the bill; it was widely panned by civil society organizations and academics.

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Trudeau unveils new cabinet with 9 new faces, major shake ups to top jobs

Rodriguez, who served as Trudeau’s House leader in the last Parliament, is a longtime Quebec MP and seen as a steady hand in the Liberals’ front bench. He also remains Trudeau’s Quebec lieutenant in cabinet.

That responsibility could play a role in C-10’s fate. While the legislation was widely criticized, it was politically popular in Quebec – where C-10’s stated purpose of making Canadian content more “discoverable” on streaming platforms was well received.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Facebook, YouTube take down Bolsonaro video over false vaccine claim

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Facebook and YouTube have removed from their platforms a video by Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro in which the far-right leader made a false claim that COVID-19 vaccines were linked with developing AIDS.

Both Facebook and Alphabet Inc’s YouTube said the video, which was recorded on Thursday, violated their policies.

“Our policies don’t allow claims that COVID-19 vaccines kill or seriously harm people,” a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement on Monday.

YouTube confirmed that it had taken the same step later in the day.

“We removed a video from Jair Bolsonaro’s channel for violating our medical disinformation policy regarding COVID-19 for alleging that vaccines don’t reduce the risk of contracting the disease and that they cause other infectious diseases,” YouTube said in a statement.

According to the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS), COVID-19 vaccines approved by health regulators are safe for most people, including those living with HIV, the virus that causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, known as AIDS.

Bolsonaro’s office did not respond immediately to a request for comment outside normal hours.

In July, YouTube removed videos from Bolsonaro’s official channel in which he recommended using hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin against COVID-19, despite scientific proof that these drugs are not effective in treating the disease.

Since then, Bolsonaro has avoided naming both drugs on his live broadcasts, saying the videos could be removed and advocating “early treatment” in general for COVID-19.

Bolsonaro, who tested positive for the coronavirus in July last year, had credited his taking hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malarial drug, for his mild symptoms. While Bolsonaro himself last January said that he wouldn’t take any COVID-19 vaccine, he did vow to quickly inoculate all Brazilians.

In addition to removing the video, YouTube has suspended Bolsonaro for seven days, national newspapers O Estado de S. Paulo and O Globo reported, citing a source familiar with the matter.

YouTube did not respond to a separate Reuters request for comment regarding the suspension on Monday night.

(Reporting by Pedro Fonseca in Rio de Janeiro; Additional reporting by Gram Slattery in Rio de Janeiro and Anthony Boadle in Brasilia; Writing by Gabriel Araujo; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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