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Green Shirt Day's organ donation message will move to social media for 2020 – Calgary Herald

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Green Shirt Day is going to look a little different this year.

The annual day of events aims to raise awareness about organ donation and encourage more people to register as donors. Held in honour of Humboldt Broncos bus crash victim Logan Boulet, it’s set for April 7.

The COVID-19 pandemic has meant that this year’s Green Shirt Day is going to mostly be an online campaign.

But Boulet’s father, Toby, is still hoping to see massive participation.

“What I’d really like to see is people going on whatever social media they like to use, whether it be Twitter or Instagram or Facebook or Tik-Tok, whatever people like to use,” Boulet said. “Just go on there and make a post and take a picture of yourself in a green shirt. It doesn’t have to be a Green Shirt Day shirt, just wear green and register (for organ donation), talk to your family and be inspired.

“Just do something positive for this campaign. This campaign has never been about money … the whole campaign is about awareness.

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Denmark and Norway create travel bubble

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By Terje Solsvik and Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen and Edited BY Harry Miller

OSLO/COPENHAGEN (Reuters) – Norway and Denmark will allow tourists to travel between the two countries from mid-June, their governments announced on Friday, although border crossings with Sweden, where the number of COVID-19 infections is higher, will remain restricted.

Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen and Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg said in separate news conferences that most restrictions related to travel between the two countries would end on June 15.

“We can’t open too suddenly, that would jeopardise everything we’ve accomplished,” Norway’s Solberg said.

Denmark will also welcome tourists from Germany and Iceland. All foreign visitors will need to book at least six nights accommodation before arriving and they will not be allowed to stay in the capital Copenhagen, where most of the country’s coronavirus infections are.

Tourists from Sweden will still not be able to visit. Sweden’s death rate per capita from the disease is many times higher than the combined total of the other Nordic countries.

“We are looking at the possibility of regional solutions, for example opening up the Oresund region,” Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde said at a news conference on Friday, adding she had been in contact with the Danish foreign minister on Friday.

Meanwhile, Sweden has advised all its citizens against travelling abroad until July 15.

On Tuesday, Linde said excluding Sweden from moves to open borders across the Nordic region would be a political decision and not justifiable on health grounds.

She also added that the COVID-19 spread and death rate was higher in the Copenhagen area than in the Swedish region Skane that borders Denmark.

Thousands of people are also exempt from the travel restrictions and commute daily between Denmark and southern Sweden.

Norway announced on Thursday it would allow business travel to resume across the Nordic region from June 1.

The idea of travel bubbles, or travel corridors, is gaining traction with governments around the world as a way to restart international travel as the pandemic eases.

Source:TheChronicleHerald.ca

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Trump escalates war on Twitter, social media protections – Yahoo Canada Finance

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Trump escalates war on Twitter, social media protections

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump escalated his war on Twitter and other social media companies Thursday, signing an executive order challenging the lawsuit protections that have served as a bedrock for unfettered speech on the internet.

Announced with fanfare, the president’s action yet appeared to be more about politics than substance. He aims to rally supporters after he lashed out at Twitter for applying fact checks to two of his tweets.

Trump said the fact checks were “editorial decisions” by Twitter amounting to political activism and that such actions should cost social media companies their liability protection for what is posted on their platforms.

Trump, who personally relies heavily on Twitter to verbally flog his foes, has long accused the tech giants in liberal-leaning Silicon Valley of targeting conservatives by fact-checking them or removing their posts.

“We’re fed up with it,” Trump said, claiming his order would uphold freedom of speech.

Technology industry groups disagreed, saying it would stifle innovation and speech on the internet. And the U.S. Chamber of Commerce objected, “Regardless of the circumstances that led up to this, this is not how public policy is made in the United States.”

The executive order directs executive branch agencies to ask independent rule-making agencies including the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Trade Commission to study whether they can place new regulations on the companies — though experts express doubts much can be done without an act of Congress.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said in a statement: “This debate is an important one. The Federal Communications Commission will carefully review any petition for rulemaking filed by the Department of Commerce.”

Companies like Twitter and Facebook are granted liability protection under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act because they are treated as “platforms,” rather than “publishers,” which can face lawsuits over content.

A similar executive order was previously considered by the administration but shelved over concerns it couldn’t pass legal muster and that it violated conservative principles on deregulation and free speech.

“They’ve had unchecked power to censor, restrict, edit, shape, hide, alter virtually any form of communication between private citizens or large public audiences,” Trump said of social media companies as he prepared to sign the order. “There is no precedent in American history for so small a number of corporations to control so large a sphere of human interaction.”

Trump and his campaign reacted after Twitter added a warning phrase to two Trump tweets that called mail-in ballots “fraudulent” and predicted “mail boxes will be robbed.” Under the tweets, there’s now a link reading “Get the facts about mail-in ballots” that guides users to a page with fact checks and news stories about Trump’s unsubstantiated claims.

Trump accused Twitter of interfering in the 2020 presidential election” and declared “as president, I will not allow this to happen.” His campaign manager, Brad Parscale, said Twitter’s “clear political bias” had led the campaign to pull “all our advertising from Twitter months ago.” In fact, Twitter has banned political advertising since last November.

Late Wednesday, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey tweeted, “We’ll continue to point out incorrect or disputed information about elections globally.”

On the other hand, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told Fox News his platform has “a different policy, I think, than Twitter on this.”

“I just believe strongly that Facebook shouldn’t be the arbiter of truth of everything that people say online,” he said.

The president’s critics, meanwhile, scolded the platforms for allowing him to put forth false or misleading information that could confuse voters.

Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden, a Democrat and advocate for internet freedoms, said Trump was “desperately trying to steal for himself the power of the courts and Congress. … All for the ability to spread unfiltered lies.”

Trump’s proposal has multiple, serious legal problems and is unlikely to survive a challenge, according to Matt Schruers, president of the Computer and Communications Industry Association, a Washington-based organization that represents computer and internet companies.

It would also seem to be an assault on the same online freedom that enabled social media platforms to flourish in the first place — and made them such an effective microphone for Trump and other politicians.

“The irony that is lost here is that if these protections were to go away social media services would be far more aggressive in moderating content and terminating accounts,” Schruers said. “Our vibrant public sphere of discussion would devolve into nothing more than preapproved soundbites.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said it was “outrageous” that while Twitter had put a fact-check tag on Trump’s tweets asserting massive mail-in election fraud, it had not removed his tweets repeating a debunked conspiracy theory that a TV news host had murdered an aide years ago.

The president and fellow conservatives have been claiming, for years, that Silicon Valley tech companies are biased against them. But there is no evidence for this — and while the executives and many employees of Twitter, Facebook and Google may lean liberal, the companies have stressed they have no business interest in favouring one political party over the other.

The trouble began in 2016, two years after Facebook launched a section called “trending,” using editors to curate popular news stories. Zuckerberg met with prominent right-wing leaders at the time in an attempt at damage control, and in 2018, Facebook shut down the “trending” section,.

In August 2018, Trump accused Google of biased searches and warned the company to “be careful.” Google pushed back sharply, saying Trump’s claim simply wasn’t so, and experts suggested his comments showed a misunderstanding of how search engines work.

Last year, Trump again blasted social media companies after Facebook banned a slew of extremist figures including conspiracy peddler Alex Jones from its site and from Instagram.

Meanwhile, the companies are gearing up to combat misinformation around the November elections. Twitter and Facebook have begun rolling out dozens of new rules to avoid a repeat of the false postings about the candidates and the voting process that marred the 2016 election.

The coronavirus pandemic has further escalated the platforms’ response, leading them to take actions against politicians — a move they’ve long resisted — who make misleading claims about the virus.

Last month, Twitter began a “Get the Facts” label to direct social media users to news articles from trusted outlets next to tweets containing misleading or disputed information about the virus.

As the White House claimed that Trump was the subject of a fact check but Chinese disinformation about the coronavirus was not, Twitter moved Thursday to add a warning to a March tweet from a Chinese government spokesman falsely claiming the U.S. military spread the virus.

Even as he and his supporters complain of bias on the platform, Trump has used Twitter to build a potent and vocal online following. The president’s account currently has more than 80 million followers.

Trump’s success on social media suggests that his proposal may be more about politics than an actual interest in regulation, according to Rutgers University media professor John Pavlik, who studies the impact of technology on society and government.

Pavlik said that by trying to intimidate the platforms now, he’s seeking to control how the 2020 campaign plays out online and “about appealing to his base.”

___

AP writers Amanda Seitz, Barbara Ortutay and David Klepper contributed.

Zeke Miller, The Associated Press

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Is Vancouver city manager's desire to hire social media guru an overblown controversy? – Vancouver Courier

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You may have heard the news this week that Vancouver city manager Sadhu Johnston wants to hire a $95,000-a-year “senior social digital communications strategist” for his office.

The delivery of the news, which came via radio and television, focused on how sanitation services were being cut so Johnston could hire the social media guru.

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The predictable reaction was outrage, which came largely and ironically via social media giant, Twitter, my favourite go-to source for facts, context and gauging how people really feel.

I’m kidding.

What happened at city council Tuesday – I’m sorry to report – was more complicated than pitting sanitation services against a well-paid social media employee.

Coun. Sarah Kirby-Yung was responsible for making it less complicated by zeroing in on line items in a city staff report that showed $329,000 in spending allotted for the city manager’s office.

Of that $329,000, a total of $95,000 was to hire the social media person, $105,000 for “ongoing funding” for a social planner and $129,000 for another planner.

Another set of line items in the report was related to equipment and staffing for litter pickup, street sweeping, staff operations and safety training programs, all of it to be delayed – not cancelled – until next year.

The net cut in the delay would amount to $130,000.

So there was the matchup for Kirby-Yung, who went on to pepper Johnston with questions, some of it transcribed below for context.

Kirby-Yung: “We have 1,800 staff laid off right now and we still have – without a reduction – three new positions in the city manager’s office, including a social media person and planning related roles?”

Johnston: “We are doing a lot more online right now. There’s a lot more happening social media wise. As an example of that, we’re broadcasting this meeting live on Facebook because of the technology challenges. So we’re seeing a huge demand at this point for that service across the organization.”

Kirby-Yung: “So we’re keeping $329,000 for three new positions, but we still have 1,800 people laid off and we’re cutting $130,000 in sanitation. Is that a correct summary?”

Johnston: “We’re not currently hiring those positions because we do have a hiring freeze. So at this point, those positions are not being pursued, but we haven’t removed the funding for them, though.”

Kirby-Yung: “But that is an option, is that right?”

Johnston: “Yes.”

With that, Kirby-Yung tried twice to reduce Johnston’s office budget but was voted down by Green Party councillors Michael Wiebe, Adriane Carr and Pete Fry, along with Mayor Kennedy Stewart and councillors Jean Swanson and Christine Boyle.

Boyle: “I don’t think it would be good practice to start cherry picking some dollar amounts specifically when we’re not identifying exactly what we’re giving up. I don’t support the process, otherwise we’ll be here all night with each of us saying, ‘Well here’s $300,000 that I would like to see go towards something that has been delayed or cut back.’”

Wiebe: “There’s a lot of work being done by staff, and I think there’s a lot of opportunities in this budget to see movement and I don’t want to see us go through each operational item. I think we should be at a policy level.”

Wiebe made those comments after hearing from Johnston that the city’s aim to balance its $1.6 billion operating budget is a fluid exercise, with more changes expected the rest of the year.

“Each department will make adjustments in their own budgets to prioritize and to address the changing conditions and the circumstances,” Johnston said.

“We may need to produce further savings later in the year, or we may be doing better than we thought because revenue comes back sooner and we could do more.”

All this debate and discussion occurred Tuesday because the city has lost millions in revenues since the pandemic was declared in March, and is facing a $111 million deficit.

Sanitation and the city manager’s office budget, you may have assumed by this point in the story, were not the only items in staff’s lengthy report that outlined cuts, delays and cancellations.

Have a look for yourself here.

A story that didn’t receive near or any of the attention that ‘Socialmediagate’ attracted was Swanson’s successful motion to save the city’s women’s equity, anti-racism and reconciliation initiatives that were on the chopping block.

For media this week, it was all about the social media position, with reporters hounding the mayor the day after the council meeting at an unrelated news conference at city hall.

This morphed into the wider question as to why the city has 40-plus communications staffers – a perpetual issue for media that has been fuelled by Non-Partisan Association councillors past and present, who have yet to land on the best number of media reps, graphic designers, multimedia people and others to be promoting one of the country’s biggest cities.

“This city has a budget of $1.6 billion, we have 10,000 employees and you’re talking about one position – somebody that hasn’t been hired,” a clearly peeved Stewart told reporters.

“So what you’re setting up is a false narrative. I am very concerned about social disorder in this city, I’m very concerned about sanitation, I’m very concerned about rising crime levels.”

Added Stewart: “The focus in targeting one position – and the person hasn’t been hired yet – is kind of a weird story to follow.”

Another weird story is that Stewart’s office used Elettra Communications, which was involved in his election campaign, to manage his communications this week because his media guy was taking a week off.

Weird or not, my work of providing some context mixed with political rhetoric is done. You can tweet about it, if you like. Be outraged, if you must.

mhowell@vancourier.com

@Howellings

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