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Harry and Meghan aim to control media image

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The Daily Mirror said in an editorial that the couple’s failure to tell Harry’s grandmother Queen Elizabeth II about their plans “shows shocking disregard for a woman whose entire life has been ruled by a sense of public duty and honour.” The Times of London accused Harry of “petulance and hot-headedness,” while the Daily Mail said the couple wanted “the status of being ‘senior’ royals but the privacy and freedom of being private citizens.”

The Sun and the New York Post both described the departure as “Megxit,” a play on Brexit, Britain’s impending departure from the European Union.

The 93-year-old monarch moved Thursday to take control of the situation. Britain’s national news agency, Press Association, reported that the queen had ordered officials representing the monarch, Charles, Prince William, and Harry and Meghan to meet and find “workable solutions” within “days not weeks.”

Harry and Meghan’s shock announcement drew comparisons to the abdication of the queen’s uncle King Edward VIII, who gave up the throne in 1936 so he could marry divorced American Wallis Simpson. Once again, waspish commentators noted, an American woman has caused a ruction in the British royal family.

But the relationship between royals and the media has changed dramatically in the intervening decades. Before the abdication, the romance between Edward and Simpson was headline news in the United States but went largely unreported by a deferential British press.

The trauma of World War II and the social revolution of the 1960’s demolished that tradition of deference to royalty. For decades, the U.K. media has proclaimed its reverence for the queen while treating the travails of her family as fair game, from the divorces of three of her four children to second son Prince Andrew’s troubling friendship with the late sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

After Prince Charles married Lady Diana Spencer in 1981, the media charted every twist in the marriage: the births of sons William and Harry, Diana’s glamour and charity work, the slow public crumbling of the relationship.

Charles and Diana both used the media as a weapon as their marriage foundered, giving TV interviews to present themselves in a sympathetic light. But Diana — a global megastar, followed by paparazzi wherever she went — was never fully in control of the media attention. She was killed in a car crash in Paris in 1997 while being pursued by photographers.

Diana’s death provoked a crisis for the monarchy — which was portrayed as remote and cold at a time of national grief — and for the media, accused of hounding a vulnerable woman.

In the wake of Diana’s death, the palace and the press reached an uneasy truce. The British media left young William and Harry alone in exchange for carefully staged interviews and photo opportunities as they grew up. That practice has continued with the three young children of William and his wife Kate.

Harry, however, still blames the media for his mother’s death, and since meeting his wife — the former actress Meghan Markle — he has become less willing to play the game.

In 2017, the prince accused the media of directing “a wave of abuse and harassment” at the biracial Markle, including “racial undertones” in articles. Last year the couple launched a lawsuit against the Mail on Sunday newspaper over its publication of a letter written by Meghan. Harry said he feared “history repeating itself. … I lost my mother and now I watch my wife falling victim to the same powerful forces.”

Yet using the media has been a key part of Harry and Meghan’s strategy, just as it was for Diana. When they wanted to make their unhappiness public, the couple gave an interview to a sympathetic journalist from broadcaster ITV.

In that interview, Meghan said that “very naively,” she had been unprepared for the intense media scrutiny she would receive once she married into the British royal family.

“I never thought that this would be easy, but I thought it would be fair,” she said.

Harry and Meghan now want to use the media on their own terms, dropping out of the “royal rota,” a pool system that organizes media coverage of the royal family’s public events. On a newly launched website, they said the system hampered their ability to “personally share moments in their lives directly with members of the public” via social media.

They said in the future they would “engage with grassroots media organizations and young, up-and-coming journalists.” They also slammed the “misconception” that the British media’s royal correspondents were “credible sources” of information.

Freddy Mayhew, editor of the Press Gazette, a newspaper industry trade publication, said the royal couple was aiming for a “much more controlled, much more private” approach to the media, drawing on Meghan’s experience as a U.S. television star.

“I think they are perhaps seizing an opportunity with the decline of print media to break away,” he said. “That’s something they couldn’t have done before, when papers were at their full strength. But now that a lot of it is moving online, there’s the ability for people like Harry and Meghan to take control of what they put out there.”

Harry, 35, is Elizabeth’s grandson and sixth in line to the British throne, behind his father, brother and his brother’s three children. With his ginger hair and beard, he is one of the royal family’s most recognizable and popular members and has spent his entire life in the public eye.

Before marrying the prince in a wedding watched around the world in 2018, the 38-year-old Meghan was a star of the TV legal drama “Suits.” The couple’s son Archie was born in May 2019.

Less than two years after that fairy tale wedding, the couple was enmeshed in an uproar that began Wednesday with a statement from Buckingham Palace, described as “a personal message from the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.” It said Harry and Meghan intend to become financially independent and to “balance” their time between the U.K. and North America.

In a subsequent statement just 90 minutes later, though, a difference of opinion was laid bare. The palace said many issues still had to be worked out before the couple’s plan could be realized and discussions with the couple “were at an early stage.”

That communique suggested that Harry and Meghan’s statement had caught the royal household by surprise.

“We understand their desire to take a different approach, but these are complicated issues that will take time to work through,” it read.

The announcement left a slew of questions: Where exactly do Meghan and Harry plan to live, and how will they earn private income without tarnishing the royal image? At the moment, they are largely funded by Harry’s father, Prince Charles, through income from his vast Duchy of Cornwall estate.

The move dominated the news in Britain, and divided opinion. Some blamed Meghan for the troubles. A social media storm compared her to Yoko Ono, the widow of Beatles singer John Lennon, who was blamed for the breakup of the famous band.

Madame Tussauds, the famed London waxwork attraction, moved the couple out of the royal section, where they had previously stood next to the monarch and Prince Philip.

Others offered sympathy for the queen, who remains a revered figure.

“We don’t mind them having an ordinary life. What we don’t like is the queen not being informed about nothing,” said royal super-fan John Loughrey, adding that the British public did not want to see the royal couple “isolated” abroad.

“It is a crisis,” he said. “We have got a crisis here. Seriously.”

___

Gregory Katz contributed to this report.

 

Jill Lawless And Danica Kirka,

by Canadian Press

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NDP calls for social media watchdog as scrutiny of Facebook heats up – The Globe and Mail

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NDP Member of Parliament Charlie Angus speaks during a news conference in Ottawa on Oct. 18.

Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

The fallout from a Facebook whistleblower’s explosive revelations this month continues to descend on Canada as politicians and experts grapple with how to regulate Big Tech amid renewed questions on the harm it can wreak.

A prolonged “techlash” over the past few years has seen western countries adopt varying degrees of platform regulation, with users becoming increasingly alive to the fractured civic bonds brought on by digital echo chambers. But so far no single approach to regulating and policing the platforms has emerged as a solution.

New Democrats are the latest to demand a federal government crackdown on social media giants. On Monday, NDP MP Charlie Angus called on Ottawa to establish an independent watchdog that tackles disinformation, hateful posts and algorithm transparency, citing a former Facebook executive .

Frances Haugen testified before a U.S. Senate committee on Oct. 5 that the company’s products harm children and fuel polarization in the U.S., a claim supported by internal company research leaked to the Wall Street Journal.

“Ms. Haugen reveals that Facebook knew that its algorithms are driving hate content and leading to breakdown in civic engagement,” Angus said.

“Facebook made the decision to incentivize profits through its use of its algorithms over the well-being of its users.”

As the company confronts intense public scrutiny over how its coding fans inflammatory rhetoric and affects users’ self-esteem, Angus is proposing to create an independent ombudsman accountable to the House of Commons, akin to Canada’s ethics and privacy commissioners.

“Rather than relying on outdated institutions like the Competition Bureau or the CRTC, it’s time for the federal government to establish a regulator that actually understands this file,” he said.

Facebook Canada said it continues to make investments that target misinformation and harmful content, and stands ready to collaborate with lawmakers on a new legal frameworks for platforms.

“As we’ve shared, we welcome regulation and have been vocal calling for a new set of public rules for all technology companies to follow. It’s been 25 years since the rules for the Internet have been updated and it’s time for industry standards to be introduced so private companies aren’t making these decisions on their own,” Rachel Curran, head of policy at Facebook Canada, said in a statement.

Online hate remains on Ottawa’s radar as global observers continue to question Facebook’s role in tragedies ranging from the Christchurch mosque shootings in New Zealand to deadly military violence directed at Myanmar’s Rohingya minority, along with racist posts in Canada.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has pledged to overhaul internet rules after a pair of bills aiming to regulate social media giants and tackle online hate died on the order paper this year.

In last month’s federal election campaign, he promised to introduce legislation within 100 days of forming government that combats harmful online materials.

His plan would create a digital safety commissioner to enforce a new regime that targets child pornography, terrorist content, hate speech and other harmful posts on social media platforms. The regulator could order social media companies to take down posts within 24 hours.

Sam Andrey, director of policy and research at the Ryerson Leadership Lab, welcomes the new blueprint. But he suggested enhancing transparency at tech giants by requiring details on algorithms, not just company data on illegal content and post takedowns.

Andrey also said the government’s proposal targets sites where the posts are public such as YouTube and Facebook, but not private messages on platforms such as the Facebook-owned WhatsApp.

“But there’s mounting evidence … that private platforms, including things like WhatsApp or WeChat, can contribute to the spread of online harm,” he said, suggesting a way to flag troubling messages.

Charter questions of privacy and free expression may well come into play as the government considers whether the regime should cover private communication, whether to expand its scope to other harmful activity such as impersonation and how proactive the digital safety commissioner and accompanying tribunal could be.

Vivek Krishnamurthy, a law professor at the University of Ottawa, noted that most large platforms already have policies that claim to meet or exceed the government’s would-be rules on harmful material, with some seeking to highlight or remove misleading information – about COVID-19 vaccines, for example.

New Democrats and Conservatives have also questioned why a new regulator is needed to crack down on exploitive material when the Criminal Code already bars child pornography, hate speech and the knowing distribution of illicit images.

Krishnamurthy says the government is focusing too heavily on “culture war” wedge points rather than data privacy, which involves fewer grey areas.

“There’s no real work happening on Big Tech and competition in Canada,” he added.

Trudeau has said he will reintroduce legislation to modernize the broadcasting regime in a way that could force internet steaming sites like Netflix and Spotify to showcase Canadian content and cough up financial contributions to bolster Canadian creators.

Bill C-10, which died in the Senate in August after the election was triggered, provoked months of debate over whether its regulation of online videos would amount to government overreach, with free speech advocates criticizing the bill and the arts community supporting it.

Angus said Monday that the bill amounted to a “political dumpster fire” and that having the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) address Facebook algorithms would bring “a 1980s solution to a 21st-century problem.” He added that Bill C-10 included “good ideas” around applying broadcast rules for funding to Big Tech.

“Tax the SOBs,” he said of tech behemoths.

Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said earlier this month the Liberal government will move ahead with legislation finalizing the enactment of a Digital Services Tax by Jan. 1. The tax would come into effect two years later on Jan. 1, 2024, if a tax regime under a newly inked global agreement has not already come into force.

A spokesperson for Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault said comment is not possible until cabinet has been formed, but pointed to the Liberals’ platform pledges, including a plank requiring digital giants to pay legacy media outlets for linking to their work.

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Media Advisory: Minister Coady to Introduce Legislation on Making Better Beverage Choices – News Releases – Government of Newfoundland and Labrador

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The Honourable Siobhan Coady, Minister of Finance and Deputy Premier, will be available to discuss amendments to the Revenue Administration Act regarding sugar sweetened beverages prior to debate in the House of Assembly tomorrow (Tuesday, October 19) at 11:00 a.m. in the media centre, East Block, Confederation Building.

The event will be live-streamed on the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador’s Facebook, Twitter and YouTube accounts.

Media covering the announcement will have the opportunity to join in person in the media centre or by teleconference. Media planning to participate should register with Victoria Barbour (victoriabarbour@gov.nl.ca) by 9:00 a.m. tomorrow (Tuesday, October 19).

Technical Briefing

Prior to the announcement, a technical briefing for media will be provided at 10:00 a.m.

Media participating in the briefing will also have the opportunity to join in person in the media centre or by teleconference. Media who wish to participate in the technical briefing should RSVP Victoria Barbour (victoriabarbour@gov.nl.ca), who will provide the details and the required information.

Media must join the teleconference at 9:45 a.m. (NST) to be included on the call. For sound quality purposes, registered media are asked to use a land line if at all possible.

-30-

Media contact
Diana Quinton
Finance
709-729-2477
dianaquinton@gov.nl.ca

2021 10 18
5:10 pm

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Thomas Knapp: Legacy social media: Free as in beer, not as in speech – Ontario Argus Observer

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Thomas Knapp: Legacy social media: Free as in beer, not as in speech  Ontario Argus Observer



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