My friend Dave said to me recently that whatever anyone thought of social media, we human beings at this point in our evolution were not ready for these tools. Hard to argue, even for someone who makes part of his living teaching that very tool. Using social media as our primary source for both news and truth, we have arrived at a chaotic time in public discourse like people swept up in a mob who don’t quite know what we are doing. Or, why we are doing it. Or, what will become of all that private and personal information shared and shouted. We only know, as mob members, that everyone else is doing it; parts of it seem like entertainment; and we had better do it lest we miss out on something – that most modern of motivations.
I tell students and clients that one of the tenets of modern communications, especially social media, is that if you do not define your online voice, someone else will do it for you. Sure, they probably will anyway (see: Yelp). But, I remind them, you have to enter the arena to at least hear what is being said. I encourage its use broadly and pervasively, so even though I am not an active social media poster, I am connected to the ridiculous and deadly spectacle that happened in the American capital this past week in myriad ways. In a sense all of those in the social network are: the lurkers and the over-sharers. Not culpable, or guilty or anything, but not quite innocent either: we are responsible for how widely, vigorously and seriously we read. And, of course, we are responsible for what signs we hold over our head; and what weapons we bear in our arms. But the basic underlying algorithm that controls the news we unprepared-humans now are fed has made social media so dangerous that its standard bearer is being linked in legitimate publications to the machine that will destroy mankind.
Put simply, an algorithm is a specific set of instructions to solve a problem. Broadly speaking, social media algorithms find out what you like and then feed you more of it. This process is always been part of the internet experience: more cute than deep (endless cat videos), more seedy than dangerous (endless pornography), more annoying than threatening (endless spam). What has fundamentally changed is that now, mostly through Twitter and Facebook, we are fed not just larks or stimuli, we are fed news and truth.
Different truth, and different news according to what we already believe. News and truth, actually, that have specifically designed and delivered for us. News and truth that have been curated to please us and turn off our critical faculties. The Atlantic recently published an article called “Facebook is a Doomsday Device” that is both chilling and worth the read. This is what Dave meant. We are not prepared for these tools.
The eleventh hour banning of President Trump’s Twitter account and the Big Tech move that comes against Parler, Twitter’s conservative wannabee doppelganger, is too late in the process, poorly and cynically timed; but also necessary. Though it may seem futile, Twitter’s Jack Dorsey and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg must chase down the horses that have so violently erupted from their barns. Even if they do, they will almost certainly face more regulatory and legislative oversight going forward from all nations. Good.
In the United States, the protections social media companies have been granted under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act will be further scrutinized. The best way to quickly explain Section 230 is that it allows social media companies to be platforms, not publishers: a publisher is responsible for the veracity of whatever it publishes, a platform is not responsible for whomever stands on it and shouts. It appears that the companies themselves have now realized that line can no longer be so easily delineated in the still nascent empires of influence.
Though it is possible to understand the banning of the MAGA crowd as the violation of the rules of a platform, it can be just as easily read as the editorial decisions of a publisher. The president’s quixotic and ill-informed attack on Section 230 notwithstanding, I expect the investigation, regulation and scrutiny to only grow on the companies that control the information age; and the most prominent web companies do too based on their recent actions. Good.
We know now and have always known that disinformation has consequences. It seems unavoidable to conclude that absent the ability of social media companies to curate and choose news and truth for people based on scraped personal information and preferences; and those companies’ concurrent ability to group those people together with relative ease, these acts of mob terrorism would have been far harder to organize. This is not to excuse or explain away the brutality and violence, this is to understand how it all got together in one place. Understanding the later, does not lessen the contempt, disgust or scorn for the former.
I also acknowledge that Facebook can help facilitate many wonderful things too and connect people in a certain way. But, at the moment, that feels akin to people fighting the opioid epidemic by acknowledging that heroin makes you high … Sure, it does that too. That’s how this all got started.
I come bearing no solutions other than this: Read more. I would doubt anyone who said they know exactly what social media will look like, or how it will impact us, in10 years, or even five. I’ll just close by paraphrasing George Orwell, who was prescient about the danger of a degraded public discourse: Those who do not read well cannot think well, and those who do not think well will have their thinking done for them.
Kent Bruyneel teaches modern business communications and social media and applied digital communications at the University of Prince Edward Island and is the editor-in-chief of Forget Magazine. With his wife, Dr. Shannon Bruyneel, he runs a strategic consulting firm, The Eastsizing Company, that focuses on socially actionable research.
Myanmar protesters defy curfew; media outlets ordered shut – CTV News
MANDALAY, MYANMAR —
Demonstrators in Myanmar’s biggest city came out Monday night for their first mass protests in defiance of an 8 p.m. curfew, seeking to show support for an estimated 200 students trapped by security forces in a small area of one neighbourhood.
The students and other civilians earlier took part in one of the many daily protests across the country against the military’s seizure of power last month that ousted the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi.
The military government also placed a major curb on media coverage of the crisis. It announced that the licenses of five local media outlets – Mizzima, DVB, Khit Thit Media, Myanmar Now and 7Day News – have been cancelled.
“These media companies are no longer allowed to broadcast or write or give information by using any kind of media platform or using any media technology,” it said on state broadcaster MRTV.
All five had been offering extensive coverage of the protests, often with live steaming video online. The offices of Myanmar Now were raided by the authorities Monday before the measure was announced. The government has detained dozens of journalists since the coup, including a Myanmar Now reporter and Thein Zaw of The Associated Press, both of whom have been charged under a public order law that carried a penalty of up to three years in prison.
The night’s street protests began after police cordoned off part of Yangon’s Sanchaung neighbourhood and were believed to be conducting door-to-door searches for those who fled attacks by security forces to seek shelter in the homes of sympathetic strangers.
News of their plight spread quickly on social media, and people poured into the streets in neighbourhoods all over the city to show solidarity and in hopes of drawing some of the pressure off the hunted protesters. On some streets, they constructed makeshift barricades with whatever was at hand.
In the Insein district, they spread across road junctions, singing songs, chanting pro-democracy slogans and banging objects together.
The diplomatic missions of the United States, Britain, Canada and the European Union all issued statements urging the security forces to allow the trapped people to return safely to their homes. Although all have been sharply critical of the Feb. 1 coup and police violence, it is unusual for such diplomatic statements to be issued in connection with a specific, ongoing incident.
“There is heightened tension caused by security forces surrounding Kyun Taw Road in Sanchaung Township, Yangon. We call on those security forces to withdraw and allow people to go home safely, ” said the U.S. Embassy’s statement.
By midnight Myanmar time, there had been no reports of clashes between police and protesters, although security forces chased crowds, harassed residents watching from windows, and fired stun grenades. They also were some reports of injuries from rubber bullets.
The nighttime hours have become increasingly dangerous in Myanmar. Police and army units routinely range through neighbourhoods, shooting randomly to intimidate residents and disrupt their sleep, and making targeted arrests.
Security forces shot and killed two people in northern Myanmar during the day, local media reported.
The Irrawaddy online newspaper said the victims were shot in the head during anti-coup protests in Myitkyina in Kachin State. Graphic video on social media showed protesters backing away from tear gas, responding with rocks and then fleeing after a fusillade of what seemed to be automatic gunfire.
Demonstrators hurriedly carried away the injured, including one apparent fatality, a person with a severe head wound. A second body was seen later on a stretcher, his head covered with a cloth.
Another shooting death took place in Pyapon, a city about 120 kilometres (75 miles) south of Yangon.
To date, the government’s violent crackdown has left more than 50 protesters dead. At least 18 people were fatally shot Feb. 28 and 38 on Wednesday, according to the U.N. Human Rights Office.
Security forces also clamped down on anti-coup protesters elsewhere Monday, firing tear gas to break up a crowd of about 1,000 people demonstrating in Pyinmana, a satellite town of the capital, Naypyitaw. The protesters deployed fire extinguishers to create a smokescreen as they fled from authorities.
Thousands of protesters who marched in Mandalay, the second-largest city, dispersed on their own amid fears that soldiers and police were planning to break up their demonstration with force.
Meanwhile, an armed force from one of Myanmar’s ethnic groups was deployed to protect anti-coup marchers in the wake of a brutal crackdown by the junta.
The unit from the Karen National Police Force arrived shortly after dawn to accompany about 2,000 protesters near Myitta in Tanintharyi Region in southeastern Myanmar. They carried an assortment of firearms including assault rifles as they marched ahead of the column down dusty rural roads.
The Karen police force is under the control of the Karen National Union, one of many ethnic organizations that have been fighting for greater autonomy from the central government for decades. The KNU employs both political and, through its armed wing, military means to achieve its aims.
Large-scale protests have occurred daily in many cities and towns since Myanmar’s military seized power, and security forces have responded with ever greater use of lethal force and mass arrests.
On Sunday, police occupied hospitals and universities and reportedly arrested hundreds of people involved in protesting the military takeover.
Why Black-owned media companies didn't join multicultural marketplaces – Digiday
Agencies saw the social unrest movement as an opportunity to create multicultural exchanges. Black-owned media companies are hesitant to join.
Last summer, marketers vowed to support Black-owned media companies with increased ad spend. In turn, agencies said they saw an increase in clientele; publishers said they received more RFPs and signed longer-term ad deals.
And where there is advertising money flowing, there are agencies to step in and help direct the stream.
While the opportunity to place ads on Black-owned publications became en vogue amid the social unrest movement over the summer, Black-owned media has been left disappointed in the months that followed that it took marketers so long to realize that their properties are worth investment.
“There has been a slight knock-on effect after the increased awareness of the Black Lives Matter movement last summer,” said Mariel Richards, CEO of U.K.-based magazine gal-dem. “Which is kind of bittersweet because it’s a good thing that we’re able to support our staff and our community with increased commissioning budgets that comes from this advertising. But it is frustratingly familiar that this money is coming from a time of crisis and that it takes a tragedy for this attention to fall on us.”
GroupM, Havas Media and H Code all launched new multicultural private marketplaces or networks in the past year for brand clients to more efficiently buy ad spots in Black-owned media companies at scale. But some independently owned media companies are refraining from joining these agency networks, despite indications that the marketplaces are bringing in new clients and sales for publishers that are participating.
In June, Havas Media Group launched its version of a multicultural marketplace, its so-called social equity marketplace, in the U.S., later creating marketplaces in the U.K., France and Germany. The expansion will soon come to Spain.
The marketplace in the U.S. quickly gained steam and now claims that one-fourth of its clients are active in it. Furthermore, the marketplace offers programmatic ads for more than 1,200 BIPOC- and LGBTQ+-owned and operated publishers and media partners, including podcast creators and CTV channels, according to the company’s global head of programmatic, Ben Downing.
In its U.K. iteration, campaigns saw a 25% uplift compared to D&I-focused campaigns not purchased in the marketplace. And in all of the global social equity marketplaces, transactions have been consistent and growing since launch. In other words, clients are not just using the marketplace during key moments for Black audiences, such as Black History Month in the U.S., Downing said.
GroupM has had a multicultural division since 2006 but launched its programmatic multicultural marketplace in July. The PMP started with a portfolio of 300 sites. It now includes more than 500 media sites primarily operated by BIPOC creators or produced for BIPOC audiences, versus being minority owned.
The marketplace has brought in 20 to 25 new clients into the multicultural division, according to Gonzalo del Fa, president of GroupM Multicultural, but he said he expects significant growth in 2021 as his team moves out of the strategizing stage and into the execution phase. Especially when it comes to programmatic.
“We did have a lot of client interest, what became the challenge is that most of those sites were not set up programmatically,” said Susan Schiekofer, chief digital investments officer at GroupM, adding that her team consulted with the publishers in the marketplace to help set them up for programmatic transactions.
Overall, these marketplaces have convinced brands to more regularly allocate a portion of their advertising budgets to publishers that they might never have worked with before. This moment of time has also gotten brands to spend around new key moments. Schiekofer added that this was the first year ever that her team has had clients ask about Juneteenth campaigns.
But as agencies become more involved in the process, independently owned publishers say they lose direct contact with potential new clients, as well as autonomy over who is advertising on their sites and what they’re able to charge, leaving many skeptical and hesitant to join these marketplaces.
“After everything that came with Black Lives Matter, there are lots of agencies and organizations that are making quick money off of saying they are able to put a badge of diversity and ‘wokeness’ on a brand, without that brand having to actively engage with that community,” said gal-dem’s Richards. “It didn’t feel just like the normal moving and shaking of the advertising world, it felt much more like exploitation than it would have in any other circumstance.”
Richards said that gal-dem was included as a publisher in one multicultural marketplace for an agency that “specializes in buying diverse media,” despite not having had a conversation with that agency about the magazine’s inclusion. Richards would not disclose the name of the agency, but said that the experience left “a bad taste in my mouth.”
The advertising industry has historically been dominated by the white male demographic, Richards said, and in these situations, the agencies become the middlemen that profiteer on the money that is being earmarked by brands to support Black-owned media companies.
REVOLT, a music-oriented digital cable television network founded by rapper and producer Sean Combs, was approached by GroupM to join its multicultural marketplace, but turned down the offer, according to the network’s evp of ad sales Mike Roche.
In the past year, Roche said REVOLT added 40 new advertisers. Joining a PMP would not have allowed the company to gain the scale at the depth of spend it could reach on its own.
PMPs allow brands to “check the box of buying Black-owned properties through small allocations of media,” but the “brands that are looking to make the greatest impact on the culture” usually work with REVOLT’s in-house agency, Roche said.
The Plug, a newsletter turned online media company covering innovation and entrepreneurship in the Black community, also has not worked with any multicultural PMPs or media buying agencies, said the publication’s founder Sherrell Dorsey.
“It’s not a matter of being left out,” however, she said. “It’s when you’re looking for critical mass, sometimes the niche spaces just don’t fit. And I’m OK with that.”
Dorsey noted that the brand saw an increase of requests from brands over the summer, but declined to count this uptick in true growth and instead called it artificial.
That interest also began to wane by the start of the fourth quarter, she noted, with a slight pick-up again ahead of Black History Month last month.
“I think that you kind of have that crop of advertisers who feel like they’re doing Black media publishers a favor when they are approaching them and looking to advertise, but they don’t want to spend market rate for what it costs,” said Dorsey.
For many of these independently-owned media companies covering topics and reporting stories that have been largely marginalized by mainstream media, this additional ad revenue becomes even more crucial to their operations, so agencies taking a portion of that makes it an even murkier situation, Richards said.
“Not only do they take away your agency in terms of determining which brands are present on your website — which potentially could affect how people view your editorial integrity when reading it — but also they start to determine how much that that audience is worth,” Richards said.
Further more, gal-dem typically sets its CPMs between £15-25 ($20-35) due to its selective nature around who the advertisers are and the number of ads that run on site. But the agencies that Richards has spoken with in the past encouraged the magazine to drop its CPMs to £4-6 (about $5-8), even though publications of a similar size that have a whiter audience are being sold at £10-15 ($14-20) or £15-20 ($20-17) CPMs. Not only does it make Richards question the motive of the agency, but she said it is also very transparent that advertisers do not see Black audiences as having an equally high value.
“We’re trying to make a shift in how dollars are allocated, how campaigns are built. Let’s talk about a strategic relationship with a brand that goes six months, a year, two years.” said Damian Benders, general Manager of B Code Media, a division of multicultural advertising agency H Code that focuses on connecting brands with Black audiences.
In January, the B Code division was officially launched and rather than only being a programmatic solution to selling Black media at scale, Benders said that his team focuses on researching insights into Black audiences then takes a consultative approach to helping brands build campaigns that are meaningful.
“Black media suffers from the problem of building scale across a fragmented landscape. There’s a few top players that are bigger companies that have a bunch of brands, and then there’s hundreds of smaller players who are minority owned [that] aren’t getting most of the money,” said Benders.
Some publishers are taking the issue of limited scale into their own hands and either formally (or informally) creating their own networks of multicultural publications.
Roche’s solution mirrors the industry: He said REVOLT will launch its own version of a PMP by the end of the year, which will focus on creating a network of YouTube content creators and digital publishers.
Richards said gal-dem informally works with other U.K.-based niche publishers regularly, and will share RFPs that don’t fully match its specific audience.
Brands want to make sure they “get the scale within the community they’re trying to reach. That’s totally feasible outside of working with a white guy who says that he can buy programmatic advertising. And often we can do it more effectively because then you’ll get access to the talent directly through the publications,” she said.
'Self-serving': U.K. media tabloids hit back at Meghan and Harry's interview – CTV News
British tabloids are hammering Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, and her husband Prince Harry after their explosive interview with Oprah Winfrey.
Meghan revealed during the sit-down conversation that life within the Royal Family was so isolating, lonely and lacking in support that she had experienced suicidal thoughts. She also said that individuals within the institution had raised concerns about the colour of their son Archie’s skin.
Even before the interview — Meghan’s first since she and her husband announced plans to step back from senior roles in the Royal Family — the U.K. media had been criticizing the event. The relationship between the couple and the country’s press, and particularly newspaper tabloids, has long been tumultuous.
The Daily Mail ran wall-to-wall coverage of the interview, and tried to fit all of the bombshells into a single headline this way: “Meghan claims she was suicidal when she was 5 months pregnant, Kate made HER cry and Royals refused to make Archie a prince because they were worried how ‘dark’ he would be, as Harry reveals their new baby will be a GIRL.” The website was dominated with coverage, including at least 13 articles about the interview that included photos.
The interview aired Sunday on CBS during primetime U.S. hours, and 1 a.m. local U.K. time.
The tabloid’s website also included a prominent banner that read: “I WANTED TO KILL MYSELF,” and featured a clip playing on loop from the interview, which showed Meghan saying, with subtitles: “I just didn’t want to be alive anymore.”
Another article on the website ripped into the couple’s discussion during the interview about life in the United States, where they are raising chickens.
“Back to basics at their $14.5 million mansion,” read one headline.
Monday’s print edition of the Daily Mail, meanwhile, highlighted the allegations about concerns of Archie’s skin colour: “MEGHAN ACCUSES PALACE OF RACISM,” the front page of Monday’s edition of the Daily Mail read. While other news outlets used images provided by Harpo Productions, Winfrey’s production company, the Daily Mail chose a closely cropped image focused on Meghan’s face.
The deluge of stories on the Daily Mail homepage follows a dismissive pre-interview banner headline earlier on Sunday, in which the outlet attempted to lambast the CBS special as “a sideshow.”
Other newspapers were also quick to weigh in on the potential fallout of the interview.
“Meghan Markle may never return to Britain after angering Royal Family with bombshell Oprah interview,” The Sun newspaper wrote, referring to Meghan’s name before marriage. It cited “insiders [who] fear she and Prince Harry could have burnt their bridges by failing to tell family members what was in the two-hour chat before it was shown.”
The publication has come up with a new nickname for Meghan amid her rift with the Royal Family: “Megxile.” Previously, British tabloids have labelled the couple’s decision to step away from their royal duties “Megxit,” a riff on the term used to describe the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union.
“Queen: Duty and family unite us,” read the front page of the Daily Express newspaper. “That’s public service for you, Harry and Meghan … NOT a self-serving TV chat with Oprah.”
Even ahead of the program, British tabloids came armed for the occasion, which was among the biggest royal interviews in decades.
On Monday, the Daily Mirror’s print edition will point to Princes “Charles & William’s ‘immense sadness'” amid “Oprah interview fallout,” Sky News reported.
Both the duke and duchess have increasingly opened up about the harsh media scrutiny they have received.
Last month, Prince Harry told late night talk show host James Corden that his experiences had prompted him to take a step back from the Royal Family. “We all know what the British press can be like, and it was destroying my mental health,” he said.
And in April of last year, Harry and Meghan said they would cut off all dealings with four of the United Kingdom’s biggest tabloid newspapers after years of strained relations. The couple has also tussled with the media in court.
In the interview with Oprah on Sunday, Meghan said that it had become painfully clear that there were double standards in how the media covered her and Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge and wife to Prince William, who is second in the line of succession to the throne.
“I can see now what layers were at play there. And again, they really seemed to want a narrative of a hero and a villain,” said Meghan.
Coverage of the interview with Meghan and Harry was not limited to the tabloids. British morning shows and broadsheets also featured excerpts prominently on Monday.
— Brian Stelter contributed to this report.
™ & © 2021 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.
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