By Ross Kerber
BOSTON (Reuters) – Pension fund managers and religious investors on Friday asked top social media companies to step up their content control efforts to reduce the threat of violence ahead of the inauguration of U.S. President-elect Joe Biden next week.
The effort is the latest pressure on Facebook Inc, Twitter Inc and Alphabet Inc over extreme rhetoric after the storming of the U.S. Capitol last week by supporters of President Donald Trump.
In letters sent on Thursday, the investors – including New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, the Service Employees International Union and the Unitarian Universalist Association – asked for steps including disabling the coding they said tends to elevate conspiracy theories and radicalizing content, and for the companies to continue to flag content with hashtags like #Stopthesteal.
In the longer run, boards and executives must review their “business model and reliance on algorithmic decision making, which has been linked to the spread of hate and disinformation online,” the letters said.
Alphabet representatives did not respond to questions. A Facebook spokesman said it has banned over 250 white supremacist groups and enforced rules like those barring militias from organizing on its platform. A Twitter representative cited actions it has taken like suspending accounts that mainly shared QAnon content.
Violent rhetoric on social media platforms has ramped up in recent weeks as groups planned openly for the gathering in Washington, according to researchers and public postings, prompting criticism of the companies for failing to take action in advance.
Twitter and Facebook banned Trump’s accounts last week as the tech giants scrambled to crack down on Trump’s baseless claims of fraud in the U.S. presidential election.
The activist investors together manage about $390 billion in assets but own relatively small stakes in the social media companies. Top shareholders in the space so far have declined to comment on their responses including BlackRock Inc Vanguard Group Inc and Morgan Stanley.
The bans on Trump have prompted concern among other investors that users and advertisers would leave for different platforms. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said the decision was correct but set a dangerous precedent. Facebook operations chief Sheryl Sandberg has said the company has no plans to lift its ban.
(Reporting by Ross Kerber; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Raju Gopalakrishnan)
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Restaurant owner makes last-ditch effort on social media as business plummets – CTV Toronto
Business for a Barrie restaurant is plummeting during the most recent lockdown, and it’s prompting the owner to reach out on social media for help.
“We have zero orders for Thursday; we have zero orders for Friday and Saturday,” says Urban Dish owner Jennifer LeGallais, “it’s a little heartbreaking when we realize that without your take-out orders, we will not make it until May.”
The Urban Dish has been a staple in Barrie’s south end for eight years, and last night, LeGallais, posted a video to Facebook in one final desperate attempt to get the business flowing once again.
Less than twelve hours later, LeGallais woke up to something she could never have imagined; the video was seen more than 5,000 times, and the restaurants’ phone was ringing off the hook.
“We have 75 or 80 orders going now as of (Wednesday) night, and we had zero, so this is crazy,” she says.
But despite most recent orders, LeGallais says she is still just trying to make it to May; that’s when the warm patio season typically gets going.
“We kind of use the hashtag ‘makes it to May’ because that’s when our patio opens and warmer weather comes, and whatever stage the lockdown is at, we have faith that the patio will be open for at least that,” she says.
The same goes for many of the restaurants that are still open in downtown.
“It’s the inconsistency of opening and closing that’s really been the issue,” says North Country owner Steve Ricalis.
Ricalis owns three establishments in the downtown core, and so far, take has been good to him, but he says he’ll agree to anything to get people back.
“Patio season would be great, but I’d rather see people inside the restaurants myself,” says Ricalis. “Every bit helps for sure you know even the ten people helped you just selling some alcohol and stuff like that it does help.”
On Monday night, Barrie city council will discuss the possibility of opening patios as soon as April 1st. It may also consider waving any fees associated with the patio permits this summer
Penguins alter social media post, admit wrongdoing – National Post
Social media users are calling a penalty on the Pittsburgh Penguins for altering a photo to make fans look as if they were wearing their required face masks properly.
The Penguins tweeted a photo Wednesday night with spectators in the stands at PPG Paints Arena for the first time since the start of the coronavirus pandemic nearly one year ago. The photo is accompanied by a caption that reads, “We just had to say this again… Thanks for the continued support, Penguins fans. We can’t wait to see you tomorrow night.”
But a Pittsburgh-area reporter posted an original photo from Getty Images that showed three fans wearing masks improperly — and one woman maskless — and compared it with the image posted by the team.
In the photo shared by the Penguins, the masks of the three people cover their noses, which they didn’t in the original, and the maskless woman is cropped out.
Twitter users said the Penguins were wrong.
“Whoever made the decision to photoshop masks on fans in this photo should be fired, and the team should apologize. This is a historic pandemic that’s killed over 500,000 – and your franchise player has missed ice time because of it,” one man wrote, referring to Penguins star Sidney Crosby, who is out because of league health and safety protocols. “You can do better than lying to the public.”
The team released a statement Thursday.
“While perhaps well intended, our staffer should not have altered a wide crowd photo to adjust masks on faces of even a few fans who were not strictly following the rules. Our social media team should never send out altered photos to our fan base. This is a violation of our social media and safety policy, and this staffer has been disciplined,” the statement said.
The team also said “they are taking all precautions to enforce the use of masks to keep our fans safe” and adopting a “zero-tolerance policy.”
On Monday, Gov. Tom Wolf announced an occupancy limit of 15 percent at indoor venues, meaning PPG Paints Arena can hold about 2,800 fans for hockey.
The Penguins beat the Philadelphia Flyers 5-2 on Tuesday night and will host them again Thursday night in the second of a three-game series. The team hadn’t played at home in front of spectators since March 8, 2020.
–Field Level Media
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