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Gabby Petito’s Disappearance And Clues Debated On Social Media – Forbes

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On Monday, a body thought to be that of missing Gabrielle “Gabby” Petito was discovered, while authorities are still searching for her fiancé Brian Laundrie. The 22-year-old was reported missing on Sept. 11 after she failed to return from a months-long cross-country trip with Laundrie, who as of Tuesday afternoon – when he was named a person of interest – remains missing.

The case has remained in the spotlight on cable news over the past week while there have been nightly segments on the national evening news. “Gabby Petito” has also been trending on social media this week, but some users have even questioned why her disappearance has garnered so much media scrutiny while other cases fail to gain any attention.

Missing White Woman Syndrome

While Petito’s disappearance and possible death should not be taken lightly, many on the social platforms have noted that the media attention is an example of what has been labeled “Missing White Woman Syndrome.” The term is used by social scientists and media commentators to refer to the alleged disproportionate media coverage, especially on TV, of a missing person case that involves a young, white, upper-middle-class woman compared to the relative lack attention towards missing women who are not white and women of lower social classes, as well as missing men or boys.

Jennifer Bendery (@jbendery) of the Huffington Post tweeted, “In the same area that Gabby Petito disappeared, 710 indigenous people— mostly girls—disappeared between the years of 2011 and 2020 but their stories didn’t lead news cycles.” via @MollyJongFast”

Some on social media have also used Gabby Petito’s disappearance to highlight other missing person’s cases. The grass roots organization Occupy Democrats (@OccupyDemocrats) posted, “BREAKING NEWS: While the media obsesses over the Gabby Petito story, Jelani Day, a Black aspiring doctor and Illinois medical school student is also missing, but his disappearance is barely being covered. His abandoned car was found in the woods. Please RT to make this go viral.”

“I’m very sad and angry. Gabby could have been saved. Some are highlighting the media responses. It doesn’t diminish Gabby’s case. It’s an attempt to make sure we search for them all. Still, so many women missing. Use the same outrage to find them all,” added social media user @tbkeith.

Even with those calls to find every missing woman, this case certainly highlights yet another divide in our nation, and it further puts social media in the spotlight for its ability to get people arguing about nearly everything.

“Social media continues to have that potential to be polarizing,” said Saif Shahin, assistant professor in the school of communication at the American University.

“We see this all the time in the political space between liberals and conservatives, but it is evident on social media in different contexts such as this one,” Shahin added.

It also seems that this case has taken social media by storm unlike others, and that could potentially help break the case.

“When you combine that with America’s fascination with true crime – Serial Podcast, Don’t F**k With Cats and the latest Kristin Smart case – this is a perfect storm for the story to go viral,” said Matt Zuvella, VP of marketing at talent management services company FamePick.

“In the case of Gabby, her social media profiles might actually help solve the case, mainly because her fans became accustomed to her style of posting,” noted Zuvella. “So when there is something off or different, her fans immediately took notice and started asking questions.”

Spread Of Misinformation During Investigations

At issue too is where there is a potential for the spread of misinformation that could impact cases such as this one. How much harm it can do is a matter of debate, but past cases have shown that wild theories can stir up individuals and even put some people in harm’s way.

“Over the last few years, we have seen the dark side of social media with the spread of Covid-19 misinformation and political/election agendas,” added Zuvella. “However, in Gabby’s case we can see social media’s positive impact since her fans and fellow influencers jumped to her ‘aide’ and tried to help in any way they could.”

However, in past cases, social media has caused more harm than good, and amateur sleuths ‘debating’ potential suspects during an ongoing investigation could present serious problems.

“This happened after the Boston bombing,” explained Shahin. “There was the sharing of information on Reddit and Twitter, and other platforms. Users on social media were actively trying to figure out who were the Boston bombers.”

And they did so without the knowledge the police and FBI had access to, and as Shahin added, that was a problem as there was a zealous audience seeking information and sharing details without context. Many didn’t have investigative training either.

“They were pointing fingers everywhere,” said Shahin. “That certainly targeted people of color, and some on social media pointed fingers at a young man from India who had gone missing.”

Sunil Tripathi was wrongly accused of being a Boston Bombing suspect on Reddit, as he had been missing for a month prior to the April 15, 2013 bombing. His family had even turned to social media to assist in their search for Tripathi. That included setting up a Facebook page and sharing a video on YouTube.

Instead of helping find Tripathi, the information posted online resulted in his being misidentified as a suspect by users on social media. Thousands of individuals actually jumped on the bandwagon, and his name and details were even shared on Reddit. A BuzzFeed reporter then named the young man, who was born to Indian immigrants, as being a primary suspect.

“That led to threats against his family, while some mainstream media outlets even picked up on the story,” said Shahin. “The family was already in a lot of pain and it exacerbated it.”

In the end, Tripathi had nothing to do with the bombing, and he had killed himself by drowning.

“There is such a potential for the spread of bad information, and that could even distract the police during an investigation,” warned Shahin. “This isn’t new, but the presence of social media brings in such new dynamics.”

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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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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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