DAVOS — Social media has become a hotbed of extremism, used to undermine democracy, a think-tank said on Wednesday, calling for reforms to restore trust in government and banish fringe elements.
The Kofi Annan Commission on Elections and Democracy in the Digital Age said in a report that unchecked by regulators or operators, political parties, candidates, consultants, and foreign agents have used social media as a weapon.
“Disinformation has been weaponized to discredit democratic institutions, sow societal distrust, and attack political candidates,” the report said.
The think-tank outlined a long list of proposals that would place government and industry checks on social media firm and would also require them to strengthen their internal controls.
“Social media has proved a useful tool for extremist groups to send messages of hate and to incite violence,” the think-tank added, pointing to elections in the U.S., Kenya, the Philippines, and Nigeria, as examples.
Facing criticism that it is failing to combat extremism, Facebook announced steps last year to combat misinformation and voter suppression ahead of the November 2020 U.S. presidential election.
It also said it had removed a network of Russian accounts targeting U.S. voters on Instagram.
Russia has long been accused of meddling in the U.S. 2016 presidential election while the now-defunct British consulting firm Cambridge Analytica has been found by U.S. authorities to deceive consumers about the collection of Facebook data for voter profiling and targeting.
“In recent years foreign governments have used social media and the Internet to interfere in elections around the globe,” the Kofi Annan Commission report said. (Reporting by Balazs Koranyi; Editing by Alexander Smith)
Social-Media Manager, the Most Millennial Job, Comes of Age – The Wall Street Journal
Rachel Karten got her start in social media in a way she admits is now a punch line: as an intern.
“That’s the classic joke when brand accounts mess up online, of course,” she says. “Did an intern tweet this?”
Ms. Karten, now 30 and based in Santa Monica, Calif., started running social media for Plated, a meal-kit startup, in 2013, and persuaded the company to turn her internship into a full-time role. There were few mentors in the still-new field at the time, so she got better at her job by seeking out meetings with people behind the accounts of companies she admired, like Warby Parker and Birchbox.
After more than seven years running social media for Plated and the food magazine Bon Appétit, she felt there was enough work available that she could become an independent consultant. Last December, she also launched a newsletter for industry professionals to discuss topics like mental health.
“There are enough of us now that people don’t need to start from scratch like I did each time,” she says. And there are so many full-time jobs that she even started posting some listings on her newsletter—a far cry from her one-woman campaign to create a position for herself eight years ago.
Some 15 years after
opened their platforms to the public, social media is an established, mainstream career field. There are academic programs dedicated to its practice. Workers say it’s sometimes still treated as a job for rookies, both through pay grades and interpersonal dynamics from those who think it’s just not that serious. But that’s changing: Those in the field see more bargaining power and more full-time roles than ever before.
Many social-media specific jobs still offer lower salaries than comparable fields like marketing. The average annual salary for marketing managers is $102,496 and $109,607 for marketing directors on Glassdoor, according to a spokesperson for the jobs website. Meanwhile, the average annual salary is $67,892 for social-media directors and $47,908 for social-media assistants.
“There’s still this idea that everyone uses social media, so it must be easy,” says 30-year-old Alana Visconti, a brand social account lead at
But Ms. Visconti notes that the field has become more professionalized in recent years. When she got her undergraduate degree at the Fashion Institute of Technology in 2015, she says, “It definitely wasn’t seen as a career path.” Today, following work for clients including Hyatt and Puma, she believes she can dedicate her whole career to social media. “What I love about it is that it’s the way to connect most directly with consumers,” she says.
The USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism launched a master’s degree in digital social media in 2018 in response to the growing number of jobs in the field, says Daniela Baroffio, who oversees the program. The school aimed to meet executives’ demand for social-media experts who have a handle both on hard skills, like data analytics, and storytelling, she says.
“These jobs are way beyond entry-level positions now,” she says. She also believes that social media’s maturation as a field has had social benefits: Online organizing and activism around movements like Stop Asian Hate are linked to the more sophisticated ways in which people use these platforms today. “That’s also a product of this new social-media talent,” she says.
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Mike Stelzner has been organizing Social Media Marketing World, an annual conference for industry professionals, since 2013. Its attendance nearly quadrupled from 2013 to 2020, from about 1,100 to over 4,000 people, he says. During that time, attendees changed from primarily community managers—workers reacting to customers on brands’ social-media accounts—to more full-time social-media marketers who actively create content.
The stakes of making a gaffe on an institutional social-media account, and the ability of nearly anyone to express displeasure or outrage over controversial content through social media, mean that nearly any public-facing body, from startups to the CIA, now has professionals behind its accounts.
That’s partly why even companies in fields not traditionally associated with a voice-y online presence, like financial services, have full-time employees in that space. Hannah Atiyeh runs social media at Yotta, a New York fintech startup launched in 2020. Before that, she was half of a two-person team running the social accounts of Marcus, the digital banking unit of
Though the 28-year-old has several years of experience now, she notes that much of her job remains self-taught. She learned Figma, a graphic-design tool, on her own, and keeps abreast of TikTok trends by maintaining a personal account in her spare time for her dog. “I never sign off,” she admits.
The fact that brand-new platforms like TikTok emerge every few years means that younger workers can have an edge in the field over veterans.
David Meerman Scott, a 60-year-old marketing strategist in Boston whose 2006 book “The New Rules of Marketing and PR,” about using social media for business purposes, is on its seventh edition, says that aspects of the industry are now beyond his grasp.
“In the beginning, it was all about the need for businesses to create content specifically for social media, which was an insight that I had somewhat early,” he says. “Now it’s much more about understanding how algorithms work, and I just don’t understand things like what time of day to publish a TikTok video on a deep level.”
Some young people entering the field today are finding more bargaining power than their predecessors.
Amya Zhanelle, a 22-year-old in Montclair, N.J., who runs her own social-media and marketing firm, says that clients seem more receptive to the notion that social media is hard work today than when she did part-time marketing work in college. Her one-off packages for new clients start at $2,500. Ongoing content management starts at $700 a month, for which she requires a binding, minimum six-month commitment.
“Even if some of my older clients don’t completely understand the process, they’ve seen how things can go wrong when brands mess up on social media, so they understand that it’s worth the investment,” she says.
—Write to Krithika Varagur at firstname.lastname@example.org.
DeFiance Media Launches To Cover Blockchain-Based DeFi Business And Culture – Forbes
DeFiance Media, a video-news startup focused on coverage of the business and culture of the fast-growing decentralized finance (”DeFi”) sector, has launched with a presence on OTT and digital broadcast services reaching 65 million homes in the United States and abroad, and a new website providing enhanced coverage.
“We’re not taking the ‘Bloomberg for crypto’ approach” of some competing services covering parts of the blockchain world, Scarpa said. “None of them went on TV. We’re only streaming (video). If you look at mass media, and the way they’re portraying the decentralized narrative, there’s a real hole (in coverage) there, for covering it in a positive way.”
The 24/7 channel will feature a mix of original programming from notable personalities, third-party creators such as Hardcore Finance, news from across the world of blockchain, cryptocurrencies, non-fungible tokens and related areas, as well as related areas such as biotech, the artists and creators using NFTs, artificial intelligence, “connected living,” alternative energy, and “regenerative culture.” Other programming will come from partnerships with high-profile blockchain and cryptocurrency conferences.
“Our job is really more akin to a Huffington Post in terms of curation for these contributors,” Scarpa said. “We enable them to goose their personal brands. That’s our job, to increase carriage, to amplify their voice, promote what their doing.”
Scarpa said he was “adamant” about including cultural coverage of the blockchain space, particularly with NFTs, where many musicians, artists and other creative talent are eagerly jumping in.
“They’re in the space now, they’re artists doing really interesting work,” Scarpa said. “They’re really the cultural fabric of the community. If we were only a financial network, DeFiance wouldn’t be broad enough to be something providers want to carry.”
Scarpa, whom I’ve known socially for many years, served as New York bureau chief in the early days of CNET, which undertook in the 1990s to cover the emerging internet and tech industry in a focused way. Scarpa said he is taking inspiration for DeFiance from the approaches CNET took to industry coverage back then.
Services carrying the startup’s content include aggregators such as Local Now, Select TV, NetRange, Glewed TV, as well as Twitter and Amazon
-owned Twitch. The services reach a combined 50 million U.S. households and another 15 million outside the country.
Initial shows include Bitcoin: Culture Conversations, whose episode feature interviews of former Shark Tank star Kevin O’Leary, venture capital stalwart Tim Draper, actor Adrian Grenier and skateboard icon Tony Hawk, and musicians Blond:ish and Fab Five Freddy. Weekly programs will be hosted by Patrick Tsang, Sarah Austin, Matt McKibbon, Ted Moskovitz, Mike Matsumura, Alex Chizhik, Shimon Lazarov, Steve McGarry, Siraj Raval, and Freya Fox.
The company hopes to make money several ways: with ad-revenue shares from carriers, branded entertainment/sponsored content, events, content licensing to Getty Images and similar outlets, and transactional markets, among other potential opportunities.
DeFiance is based in Puerto Rico, and has a studio in the Venice neighborhood of Los Angeles, Scarpa said. But in keeping with its core subject matter, the operation is heavily decentralized, with contributors and programming coming from numerous cities.
The company has been raising a seed round of about $2 million, Scarpa said.
It counts among its investors and advisers a number of notables in the blockchain world and related areas, including investor Brock Pierce, who is long-time chairman of the Bitcoin Foundation; Eric Pulier, founder of Vatom; Doug Scott, founder of gaming culture company Subnation; Hong Kong investor and podcast host Patrick P.L. Tsang; Good Human co-founder and former Warner Bros. Entertainment VP James Glasscock; and Craig Sellars, co-founder/CTO of cryptocurrency services company Tether. Sellars and Pulier are credited as pioneering creators of the technologies behind NFTs.
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