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Influenced: A Global News series about social media’s impact on and offline –



While it has long been suspected — and anecdotally understood — that social media platforms don’t always have a positive influence on our mental health, the ill effects of social networks have recently come into sharper focus.

In September 2021, the Wall Street Journal published a deluge of internal Facebook research that put a spotlight on the company’s behind-the-scenes actions. The documents revealed the company, which recently changed its corporate name to Meta and owns other social networks including Instagram and WhatsApp, is well aware of its platforms’ negative influences on the mental health of young people, hate speech, and dangerous political activity like the buildup to the U.S. Capitol riot.

“The documents offer perhaps the clearest picture thus far of how broadly Facebook’s problems are known inside the company, up to the chief executive himself,” a quote from the Journal’s report reads.

Read more:

Facebook whistleblower says platform amplifies online hate, extremism

The investigation showed Facebook ignoring its own employees’ findings. The Journal points out that despite congressional hearings, numerous media exposés and the company’s own pledges, Facebook “hasn’t fixed” its flaws. The company has started to backpedal, trying to get ahead of political anger by rolling out new in-app measures with safety in mind, but will that be enough?

Former Facebook employee Frances Haugen testifies on Capitol Hill October 5, 2021 in Washington, DC.

Photo by Drew Angerer/Pool/ABACAPRESS.COM

One of the more damning revelations from the Journal’s reporting, and later the testimony by Facebook whistleblower France Haugen, lies in the harm Instagram has contributed to teens’ mental health, particularly young girls navigating the dynamics and pitfalls of adolescence, body image and social acceptance.

“Canadians use social media to spend time with the people they care about, explore their interests, and express themselves. As always, we want our platforms to be a supportive and safe place for young people especially,” said Lisa Laventure, head of communications for Meta in Canada, in a statement to Global News.

“For years, Meta has done extensive work in bullying, suicide and self-injury, and eating disorder prevention and we will continue to look for opportunities to consult with experts and build new features and resources that help people who are struggling with negative social comparison or body image issues.”

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before a House Financial Services Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Oct. 23, 2019.

(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

The problems highlighted by the Journal and other media outlets are consistent with what Facebook critics have been lamenting for years — social media giants, like Facebook, seem to prioritize profits over the health and safety of billions of users.

Canadian teens are undoubtedly among those feeling the effect, and studies back that up.

A recent review of reports, studies and surveys has laid out a clear case for a growing epidemic of mental-health concerns among youth, pointing to social media as a contributing — often ignored — factor.

“This is an issue we’ve never taken lightly,” wrote Meta executives Kevin Chan, Rachel Curran, and Joelle Pineau in an op-ed published in The Globe and Mail last October.

“While there will always be more work to do, it’s false to suggest that we ignore these issues. Our research efforts, which we subsequently released in full, show the exact opposite.”

“It is only by better understanding the risks that we are able to develop products, policies and partnerships to address areas of concern. The claim that Facebook is incentivized to maximize profit at all costs ignores the reality of this work, as well as the fact that both users and advertisers do not want to see hate on our platform. There is no incentive, whether moral or economic, for Facebook to build products that make people angry or depressed.”

On the heels of increasing scrutiny of social media juggernauts, a group of reporters at Global News has been digging into the many facets of influence these platforms have both online and off — particularly on young Canadians — whether they like it or not.

This series will address the dangerous reality of social media and what’s being done about it:

  • Rachel Gilmore and Anne Gaviola will look at the Canadian government’s role, and analyze whether political leaders are taking enough action.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Social Media Buzz: NYPD Death, Roe v. Wade , M&Ms Get Makeover – BNN



(Bloomberg) — Here’s what’s buzzing on social media this morning:

Two New York City Police Department officers were shot in Harlem on Friday, one fatally. Officer Jason Rivera, 22, was killed after 10 to 15 shots were fired when he and other officers responded to a 911 call from a woman who said she was in a dispute with her son. The second officer is in critical condition. 

Mayor Eric Adams called it an attack on the city of New York.

Saturday marks the anniversary of the Supreme Court’s 1973 ruling of Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion nationally. Soon, a conservative-majority Supreme Court will rule on whether a Mississippi ban on most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy is constitutional.

Pro-choice advocates worry that this could be the last anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision. Anti-abortion supporters called on the Supreme Court to overturn the court decision on Friday at the 49th annual March for Life rally. 

Mars Inc. updated M&M mascots with the goal “to reflect the more dynamic, progressive world that we live in,” according to a company press release. The green M&M has lost its “sexy” boots and will sport sneakers. Likewise, the brown M&M will wear lower block heals, ditching high stilettos and the orange M&M “will acknowledge his anxiety.”

Ian Alexander Jr., only child of actress Regina King has died at the age of 26 from a suicide, People reported. “Our family is devastated at the deepest level by the loss of Ian,” King said in a statement to People. “He is such a bright light who cared so deeply about the happiness of others.” Alexander Jr., who was a DJ, turned 26 on Wednesday. 

©2022 Bloomberg L.P.

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Scooped: it was the ‘mainstream media’ that brought Boris Johnson low – The Guardian



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Scooped: it was the ‘mainstream media’ that brought Boris Johnson low  The Guardian

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Buyer Be Careful In The SPAC/Trump Media Deal – Forbes



Like many special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) deals, the proposed merger of Digital World Acquisition Corp. (DWAC) and the Trump Media and Technology Group is complex, which poses a risk to investors who do not understand SPACs. But this complexity is compounded by the fact that DWAC shares are trading as a meme stock with their own reddit forum, r/DWAC. It is possible, however, to dig into the details of the deal and make some conjectures about the future of the DWAC/Trump Media merger and what that might mean for its stock price movements.

The Deal

In September 2021, DWAC conducted its IPO by selling 30 million units (shares plus warrants) to 11 institutional investors, as well as the founder, at $10 per unit, raising around $300 million. The SPAC is currently trading over $70 per share, so the SPAC is worth more than $2 billion today. For the original IPO investors, the SPAC has been a great deal thus far, earning them at least a 500% return. However, whether it will be a great deal for the investors who bought in after the IPO is questionable. 

In October 2021, DWAC announced its merger deal with Trump Media, valuing Trump Media at a minimum of $875 million for a company that is still not operational. Depending on the merged entity’s stock price during the three-year period following the merger close, Trump Media shareholders will receive up to 127.5 million shares in the merged entity plus $1.2 billion in working capital. At the current share price, the market is valuing the merged entity at over $10 billion. 

In December 2021, DWAC raised an additional $1 billion via a private offering known as a private investment in public entity (PIPE). These PIPE investors have forward agreements to invest $1 billion in convertible preferred shares in the listed Trump Media as part of the merger closing. The number of common shares they can convert to is based on the value-weighted average price (VWAP) over the 10 days after the closing, known as the VWAP period. The lower the VWAP, the more shares allocated.

In its SEC filing for the PIPE offering, DWAC disclosed that it was under investigation by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). It is illegal for a SPAC to have substantive merger discussions with possible targets prior to their listing and then it is fraud to state otherwise. It has been reported that DWAC and Trump Media discussed the deal prior to their IPO and allegedly lied about it in multiple SEC filings. The SEC investigation into this deal reportedly continues, the latest in a series of reported probes into the Shanghai-based Arc Capital, which was the sole advisor in the creation of DWAC.

Possible DWAC/Trump Media Price Movements

To form conjectures about future price movements, we need to distinguish among three groups of investors: the current investors, the PIPE investors, and the shareholders of Trump Media. The current investors with long positions would like the price to increase as much as possible. Speculators who have short positions, of course, want the price to fall. PIPE shareholders want it to fall during the VWAP period so they will be allocated more shares, and Trump Media shareholders want the price to rise after the merger so they can also be allocated more shares. 

Starting with the motivations of the PIPE investors, it is clear that they want the price during this VWAP period to decline to at least to $16.67 to get their maximum share allocation of 100 million shares. The PIPE investors can potentially dump 30 million or more shares on the market during the VWAP period to achieve their goal. Furthermore, the PIPE investors can also short at any price above $33.60 during the VWAP period. Therefore, it seems logical to expect the price to be pushed down during the VWAP period, as close as possible to $16.67.

Clearly, current buyers, including the meme players, expect the merger will get SEC approval and that the listed Trump Media will do well; they also may not understand the motivations of the PIPE investors. Meanwhile, for the current sellers there are two expectations: no SEC approval and an understanding of the PIPE investors. Thus, the current buyers and sellers are playing against each other, generating the current stock price. 

To illustrate, let’s assume that there is a 50% chance for SEC approval and a share price of $70.00. Some of those who are short selling expect SEC rejection, and therefore have a price expectation of $10.20, the approximate price at which DWAC shares can be redeemed. Those who expect the deal to go through have an implied price target of around $130 because 50% (130.00) plus 50% ($10.20) gives us the share price of $70.00. 

There are two factors that are affecting this expected price. First, the meme buyers are irrationally acting as if the probability of SEC rejection is small if not zero, which seems implausible given the evidence. Second, given the limited number of shares to short, there is excess demand from short sellers. According to Bloomberg, DWAC had the highest short borrowing costs of any stock in the fourth quarter, at 86%. These costs put a cap on how much the short sellers can push the price down. All these factors are causing DWAC’s current elevated share price, now above $70. 

Of course, the price of DWAC will jump if the SEC approves the deal, which would be a good time to sell or short and not the greatest time to buy given the expected actions of the PIPE investors. Informed traders know the motivations of the PIPE investors; therefore, given SEC approval, as the merger closure approaches, we can expect some of these traders to sell their shares if they have not already, and others will short sell, pushing DWAC’s price down. If desired, they could buy back during the VWAP period. In addition, immediately after the merger, during the VWAP period, we can expect an increase in share sales and short selling by the PIPE investors. 

Post-VWAP period we can expect the shorts to be covered and the stock price to be driven by meme investors, putting upward pressure on the price. However, post-merger, the number of shares available to trade will likely rise from my estimated 15 million shares today to include an additional 45 million shares from the PIPE investors and current institutional investors. Moreover, Trump Media shareholders and the founder will also be able to start selling their shares immediately after the closing if the merged entity’s stock price is above $12 for a sustained period, which would add a minimum of another 95 million shares to the market. What remains to be seen is whether there will be enough post-merger demand to soak up all these potential shares.

Which Way from Here

Investors must take into account two critical issues: the possibility that the SEC rejects the deal and the motivation of the PIPE investors, both of which would  likely put downward pressure on DWAC’s share price. Currently, short sellers are assuming that one or the other of these outcomes will cause the price to fall. The meme players appear to ignore these two possibilities, and hence their continued upward hopes for the stock price. Post-VWAP period, Trump shareholders and buyers of the stock will want to price to climb; but there could be almost ten times the number of shares trading at that time.

Unless investors currently own or are shorting DWAC stock, now is a risky time to buy and an expensive time to short. For those who currently own the stock, it may be wise to sell before the merger, and shares could be bought again post-VWAP period. If you are currently short, hold on to your short as long as possible given the cost of shorting. Whatever the strategy, it’s wise with any SPAC merger deal—and especially this one—for investors to know what they’re doing and why.

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