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'It plays to our worst fears': Coronavirus misinformation fuelled by social media – CBC.ca

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People collapsing in the streets of Wuhan, coverups of unreported deaths and travellers “escaping” quarantine in China at risk of spreading the coronavirus.

If you’ve been following the outbreak on social media, you may have seen some, or more, of these types of claims. 

But the truth is, they’re completely unverified – and in most cases, flat out untrue. 

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Social media has completely changed the way in which information about a disease outbreak travels around the world and experts say it’s not for the better. 

“When there’s a lack of information and there’s fear, rumours come in to fill that gap,” said Alfred Hermida, professor and director of the journalism program at the University of British Columbia. 

“The reason people are sharing this is because they’re trying to make sense of what is a really complicated situation and also something that is potentially worrying. The danger is that it spins out of control, because fear then takes over.”

Chinese passengers arrive to board trains before the annual Spring Festival at a railway station in Beijing, China, on Thursday. (Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)

Hermida began tracking the rate at which information about the coronavirus has been shared on Twitter since coverage of the outbreak began late last month. 

What he found was that there was little traffic around hashtags related to the coronavirus until Tuesday, the day the first U.S. case was reported, when the volume of tweets spiked. 

Hermida’s data showed about 25,000 tweets on Monday in the U.S., followed by over 80,000 Tuesday, close to 200,000 Wednesday, more than 350,000 Thursday and almost half a million on Friday alone. 

“Fear is a very powerful motivator here,” he said. “It’s very easy to weaponize and for most people, it’s very hard to figure out if something you see on social media is true or not.

“It plays to our worst fears.”

‘Please quarantine him’

One incident occurred Thursday morning, with the story of a traveller who reportedly “escaped” Wuhan and was heading to Toronto. The traveller was flagged to Toronto Pearson International Airport on Twitter as someone who should be quarantined. 

“This guy who escaped from Wuhan yesterday will be arrived at Toronto from Guangzhou today,” one Twitter user wrote. “Please quarantine him.” 

The official account for the airport responded publicly, adding legitimacy to the claim and raising important privacy concerns. The information was also reportedly shared with border officials. 

“Thank you for letting us know!!” the response read. “We will share this information with Canada Immigration.” 

For York University sociology professor Fuyuki Kurasawa, the tweet from an official source like the airport was troubling.

“I haven’t seen anything like that and it seems to me to be a violation of that traveller’s privacy, basic human rights and their right to be considered for fair treatment upon arriving at the Canadian border,” he said. 

“I don’t know if the person who was responsible for the Twitter account at Pearson Airport was aware of the potential violation of that person’s human rights or civil liberties, but it certainly seems to be a case that’s highly problematic.” 

Fuyuki Kurasawa says social media can amplify the fear that people have during an outbreak and decrease their ability to filter inaccurate information (Fuyuki Kurasawa)

In a statement to CBC News, a spokesperson for the Greater Toronto Airports Authority said that it’s not uncommon for the airport to receive information that needs to be reviewed to maintain passenger and employee safety. 

“The information had been shared widely on social media and blogging platforms before being sent to our account,” Robin Smith said of the tweet. 

“The safety of passengers and employees is our top priority, and a response was posted to maintain transparency with concerned members of the public.”

The responses from other Twitter users were indeed concerning. 

“For God’s sake keep him away from us!!!!” one Twitter user wrote. 

“We need to quarantine everyone on that flight!!” another wrote. 

But amid the panic, there was a clear lack of understanding of the nature of this coronavirus and the measures in place to prevent the spread of the illness.

For one, it’s not known how quickly this coronavirus spreads from person to person, or if it does so at a high rate. 

Symptoms may also not present initially and, if this person did in fact leave Wuhan, they would have presumably done so before the quarantine of the city or after a comprehensive exit screening at the airport there.

Fear driving misinformation online

Other outlandish claims include reports that China’s 5G wireless network could help spread the illness, or that nicotine could cure it. 

“Anything that’s health-related, the challenge online is that it’s so emotional,” said Ramona Pringle, director of the Creative Innovation Studio at Ryerson University. 

“It speaks to our primal instincts about survival that people panic, people have an emotional reaction to it.”

Officials are reminding people to get information about coronavirus from credible sources after large amounts of misinformation about the illness was spread on social media. 2:09

Pringle said a pattern with misinformation that goes viral is that the verified and accurate information never gets the same traction online. 

“It doesn’t have the stuff that makes people want to share it. It doesn’t have that shock and strong emotion,” she said. 

“Maybe people end up seeing it, but if they see it, they’re not sharing it. They’re not spreading it, unfortunately.” 

False alarm in the Philippines

An example of this was a tweet that had huge engagement on Monday. 

“WHY IS NO ONE TALKING ABOUT THE #CORONAVIRUS AND HOW IT HAS ALREADY CLAIMED 4 LIVES,” a Twitter user wrote. 

“AND THERE’s THIS CHINESE KID IN CEBU WHO HAS THE VIRUS AND HOW THE VIRUS IS CONTAGIOUS BETWEEN HUMANS.” 

Cebu, a province in the Philippines, has not had any cases of the illness to date. 

Hours later, the same user clarified that the illness may not be the same as the coronavirus outbreak that originated in China, but that tweet was only retweeted five times. 

Concerns over racial profiling

Kurasawa, at York University in Toronto, says social media can amplify the fear that people have during an outbreak and decrease their ability to filter inaccurate information. 

That can lead to a type of “vigilantism,” where people share personal information online, like in the case of the tweet the airport responded to, or confront them in the real world. 

“So you can imagine quickly that there would be targeting of people from specific ethnic or racial groups as a result of this, as potential carriers of a particular in this case of coronavirus,” he said. “And that’s very worrisome.” 

Kurasawa said he lived in Toronto during the 2003 SARS epidemic, and saw this type of racial profiling firsthand. 

“I was with a friend of mine who is Korean-Canadian and she happened to have a cold. She was coughing, and we were on the subway,” he said. 

“And we literally had people who jumped out of their seats, got angry at her for being on the subway, said something and then jumped right out of the subway car as soon as it got to the next stop.”

Chinese tourists wear masks in the Ginza shopping district in Tokyo on Jan. 24. There are fears that racist behaviour will emerge if the virus spreads. (Getty Images)

Former prime ministers Paul Martin and Jean Chrétien publicly ate at restaurants in Toronto’s Chinatown during the height of the SARS epidemic to dissuade Canadians from this type of thinking. 

This irrational fear and racist behaviour is nothing recent, but Kurasawa said it could easily happen again with the current outbreak. 

“The debate is going to be whether the message of ‘let’s remember the lessons of SARS’ is going to win over the message of fear and panic, where people justified racist behavior because of their concern about their own health,” he said. 

“That’s the concern I think that a lot of people are having.”

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The Murdoch media empire is in trouble. Can Rupert Murdoch's heir save it? – WUNC

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91.5 Chapel Hill 88.9 Manteo 90.9 Rocky Mount
91.1 Welcome 91.9 Fayetteville 90.5 Buxton
94.1 Lumberton 99.9 Southern Pines

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Your Employees Might Be ‘Quiet Quitting’ On Social Media. Here Are The Signs – Forbes

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The word “sentiment” is an important one in technology. It means an interpretation about feelings, attitudes, or the general vibes toward a given situation. For those on social media, sentiment can reveal intentions and future decisions.

As one example among thousands, you can usually pick up the sentiment about a political candidate, product or service, or celebrity on social media. Right now, all eyes are on Elon Musk and what appears to be a very public shift in sentiment toward his ability to lead a company.

Sentiment is all about tone. The words people use in their posts, whether they are critical or positive, and even if they post short comments or elaborate more can reveal a lot. Artificial intelligence does an adequate job of analyzing sentiment but has a long way to go.

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Many leaders struggle with this topic. Sentiment is hard to pin down and quantify, which means it is hard to put on a spreadsheet. Managers in business prefer hard data and facts that can be relayed by email or in a Word document; they are not as focused on the superficial, emotional stuff.

And yet, there’s a lot to learn about employees who post on social media and what they are saying in public spaces like Twitter where it’s easy to follow their posts.

Recently, the concept of “quiet quitting” came into the spotlight, likely because of the pandemic and other factors like the recent economic downturn and inflation.

Your employees might be having a rough period; they might be ready to find greener pastures. People are struggling out there, and when they start thinking about moving on to another role, it’s often hard to predict what they will do.

On social media, it’s perhaps a little easier.

One of the most obvious signs that an employee might be dissatisfied is when the tone of his or her posts turns negative and sour. When an employee suddenly switches from positive messages about the office or their work to a different tone that’s more pessimistic, it might indicate job dissatisfaction.

Here’s one example. Let’s say you normally see posts from an employee about sports or television shows. Maybe you’re used to seeing positive posts about business trends. Then, you start seeing negative posts about inflation, the cost of goods and services, or how salaries are not keeping up with the cost of living. You might want to address the problem, at least by asking how an employee is doing.

Employees tend to share their true feelings on social media, looking for some commiseration. Some even know you might be following their posts, which is why they might be sharing negative thoughts about their job, the office, or their coworkers.

Maybe the employee is trying to get your attention in a subtle way. Usually, it’s the switch in tone and sentiment that’s the dead giveaway.

“Went to the office today and was really bored” might be a post that is meant to air some deeper feelings about the work the employee is doing. Even more direct posts about the management structure, office politics, and products you make are signs the employee might be thinking of quitting at some point, or is already on the hunt.

Have you noticed the sentiment change for someone at your workplace? It might be time to pull up a chair, ask some honest questions, and get to the bottom of the issue.

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16 Largest Media Companies in the World in 2023

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In this article, we will be taking a look at the 16 largest media companies in the world in 2022. To skip our detailed analysis, you can go directly to see the 5 Largest Media Companies in the World in 2023.

The global media industry is worth nearly $2.3 trillion and is among the biggest industries in the world. It is also easily among the most important industries in the world as it plays an integral role in the promotion and dissemination of information. The media industry consists of broadcasting companies which can include the internet, radio, television and print, though the latter is a dying industry with the introduction of technology and cheaper, more efficient methods of distribution.

The outlook of the entertainment and media company is quite positive, with PwC forecasting that the industry will be worth nearly $3 trillion in 2026. In fact, it is expected to grow much faster than the global economy. Just like any other industry, the media segment took a bit hit in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic but has shown a strong recovery since and is expected to post a CAGR of 4.6%.

One of the changes we’ve seen in the industry which has been accelerated recently by the pandemic is the consumption of media from home via digital channels. Even as the pandemic has started to wane, digital growth is continuing to increase. We’ve already seen a market shift in terms of media consumption with streaming emerging as the area with the highest growth. While Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) can be considered to be the pioneer in this regard, many other companies have realized the potential of engaging in streaming services. The Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS) has now emerged as the biggest player in this market after the launch of Disney+, which combined with other streaming services offered by The Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS) means that its total number of subscribers in the world have crossed Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX).

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The biggest media companies in the world wield an incredible amount of power and influence. The companies in our list have a combined market cap of over $700 billion. This also raises an interesting question which many are grappling with nowadays: do media companies have too much power? Well, according to a PEW research, 72% of U.S. adults do believe that media companies have too much power as well as influence in politics today.

Photo by Ashley Byrd on Unsplash

Without further ado, let’s take a look at some of these companies, starting with number 16:

16. RTL Group S.A.

Total market cap of the company as of 26th November 2022 (in millions): 6,465

Total sales of the company (in millions): 7,845

Total profits of the company (in millions): 1,538

Total assets of the company (in millions): 12,170

The Luxembourg-based media company currently has around 70 television channels as well as 31 radio stations in multiple European countries including Germany and France.

15. The Interpublic Group of Companies, Inc. (NYSE:IPG)

Total market cap of the company as of 26th November 2022 (in millions): 13,808

Total sales of the company (in millions): 10,241

Total profits of the company (in millions): 953

Total assets of the company (in millions): 19,909

The Interpublic Group of Companies, Inc. (NYSE:IPG) is a leading advertising company in the U.S. The five major brands owned by The Interpublic Group of Companies, Inc. (NYSE:IPG) include IPG Mediabrands, McCann Group Worldwide, FCB and MullenLowe Group. The Interpublic Group of Companies, Inc. (NYSE:IPG) has around 54,000 employees.

14. Formula One Group (NASDAQ:FWONK)

Total market cap of the company as of 26th November 2022 (in millions): 13,816

Total sales of the company (in millions): 11,400

Total profits of the company (in millions): 398

Total assets of the company (in millions): 44,341

Formula One Group (NASDAQ:FWONK) consists of companies which are responsible for the promotion of FIA Formula One World Championship. Bernie Ecclestone, considered to be one of the main drivers behind the popularity of F1, was the chief executive of Formula One Group (NASDAQ:FWONK) for 40 years. Formula One Group (NASDAQ:FWONK) is headquartered in London.

13. WPP plc (NYSE:WPP)

Total market cap of the company as of 26th November 2022 (in millions): 11,363

Total sales of the company (in millions): 17,605

Total profits of the company (in millions): 877

Total assets of the company (in millions): 38,052

WPP plc (NYSE:WPP) is one of the biggest media companies in the United Kingdom. WPP plc (NYSE:WPP) is also considered to be the largest advertising company in the world. The major assets owned by WPP plc (NYSE:WPP) include Essence Global, Finsbury, Wavemaker and Mindshare among others.

12. Fox Corporation (NASDAQ:FOX)

Total market cap of the company as of 26th November 2022 (in millions): 16,539

Total sales of the company (in millions): 13,591

Total profits of the company (in millions): 1,436

Total assets of the company (in millions): 22,878

Fox Corporation (NASDAQ:FOX) is controlled by one of the most famous personalities of our time, Rupert Murdoch. Fox Corporation (NASDAQ:FOX) owns the Fox Broadcasting Company, Fox News, Fox Business and Fox Television Stations. Fox Corporation (NASDAQ:FOX) was only established 3 years ago after 21st Century Fox was acquired by The Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS), with unacquired assets being spun-off to Fox Corporation (NASDAQ:FOX).

11. Omnicom Group Inc. (NYSE:OMC)

Total market cap of the company as of 26th November 2022 (in millions): 16,140

Total sales of the company (in millions): 14,273

Total profits of the company (in millions): 1,294

Total assets of the company (in millions): 26,146

Omnicom Group Inc. (NYSE:OMC) is a global media and marketing company which is headquartered in New York City. Omnicom Group Inc. (NYSE:OMC) is not just one of the biggest media companies in the world, but also one of the biggest advertising companies in the world. Established 36 years ago, Omnicom Group Inc. (NYSE:OMC) has operations in over a hundred countries globally.

10. Warner Bros. Discovery, Inc. (NASDAQ:WBD)

Total market cap of the company as of 26th November 2022 (in millions): 27,854

Total sales of the company (in millions): 12,180

Total profits of the company (in millions): 1,022

Total assets of the company (in millions): 34,427

One of the most influential media companies in the world, Warner Bros. Discovery, Inc. (NASDAQ:WBD) was only established 7 months ago in April 2022 after being spun-off from Warner Media and merging with Discovery. Warner Bros. Discovery, Inc. (NASDAQ:WBD) has several divisions including the Warner Bros film and television studio, among the most famous film studios in the world. Further, Warner Bros. Discovery, Inc. (NASDAQ:WBD) also owns many U.S. networks including Discovery and Scripps, as well as CNN.

9. Liberty Global plc (NASDAQ:LBTYA)

Total market cap of the company as of 26th November 2022 (in millions): 9,418

Total sales of the company (in millions): 10,543

Total profits of the company (in millions): 13,427

Total assets of the company (in millions): 46,917

A British-Dutch-American multinational, Liberty Global plc (NASDAQ:LBTYA) maintains headquarters in Denver, London and Amsterdam. Liberty Global plc (NASDAQ:LBTYA) currently has operations in around half a dozen countries and more than 21,000 employees. In addition, Liberty Global plc (NASDAQ:LBTYA) has around 10.8 million cable subscribers and a total of 25.3 million revenue generating units.

8. Publicis Groupe SA

Total market cap of the company as of 26th November 2022 (in millions): 16,558

Total sales of the company (in millions): 13,874

Total profits of the company (in millions): 1,214

Total assets of the company (in millions): 37,352

Publicis Groupe is a French media company which is counted among the largest media companies in the world. Publicis is majorly engaged in public relations and multinational advertising and is considered one of the Big Four agency companies globally.

7. DISH Network Corporation (NASDAQ:DISH)

Total market cap of the company as of 26th November 2022 (in millions): 8,491

Total sales of the company (in millions): 17,881

Total profits of the company (in millions): 2,411

Total assets of the company (in millions): 48,465

DISH Network Corporation (NASDAQ:DISH) owns the direct-broadcast satellite provider Dish in addition to the over-the-top IPTV service known as Sling TV. Like many other media companies, DISH Network Corporation (NASDAQ:DISH) has seen its share price nosedive in 2022. Currently, DISH Network Corporation (NASDAQ:DISH) employs over 16,000 people.

6. Naspers Limited

Total market cap of the company as of 26th November 2022 (in millions): 30,418

Total sales of the company (in millions): 7,009

Total profits of the company (in millions): 13,966

Total assets of the company (in millions): 70,813

The largest media company in South Africa, Naspers Limited was initially just a printing company, and the biggest such company in South Africa throughout the 20th century and currently owns Media24 and Takealot.com.

5. Paramount Global (NASDAQ:PARA)

Total market cap of the company as of 26th November 2022 (in millions): 13,039

Total sales of the company (in millions): 28,586

Total profits of the company (in millions): 4,543

Total assets of the company (in millions): 58,620

Paramount Global (NASDAQ:PARA) is easily one of the biggest media companies in the world and owns Paramount Pictures, the CBS Entertainment Group, which includes CBS and the CW television networks, MTV, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, VH1, BET, Paramount Network and Showtime. Paramount Global (NASDAQ:PARA) has more than 170 networks currently and has more than 700 million subscribers in around 180 countries.

 

4. Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX)

Total market cap of the company as of 26th November 2022 (in millions): 127,071

Total sales of the company (in millions): 30,402

Total profits of the company (in millions): 5,007

Total assets of the company (in millions): 45,331

Arguably the pioneer of global streaming, Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) has had a torrid year in 2022 after being the top-performing S&P 500 stock in the 2010s.

 

3. Charter Communications, Inc. (NASDAQ:CHTR)

Total market cap of the company as of 26th November 2022 (in millions): 60,729

Total sales of the company (in millions): 51,682

Total profits of the company (in millions): 4,654

Total assets of the company (in millions): 143,392

Charter Communications, Inc. (NASDAQ:CHTR) is an American mass media company which has more than 32 million customers in around 41 states.

 

2. The Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS)

Total market cap of the company as of 26th November 2022 (in millions): 176,087

Total sales of the company (in millions): 72,982

Total profits of the company (in millions): 3,082

Total assets of the company (in millions): 203,311

The Walt Disney Company (NYSE:DIS) has been in the news recently its ex-CEO Bob Iger made a comeback to help the company turn around.

 

1. Comcast Corporation (NASDAQ:CMCSA)

Total market cap of the company as of 26th November 2022 (in millions): 154,130

Total sales of the company (in millions): 116,385

l profits of the company (in millions): 14,159

Total assets of the company (in millions): 275,905

Topping the list of the 16 largest media companies in the world in 2022 is Comcast Corporation (NASDAQ:CMCSA). Comcast Corporation (NASDAQ:CMCSA) is the second largest cable television and broadcasting company in the U.S. as well as the biggest Internet service provider in the nation.

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