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Marc Lasry resigns as chair of Ozy Media after 3 weeks, following reports of alleged misconduct at firm – CNBC

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Billionaire investor Marc Lasry announced Thursday he will step down as chairman of Ozy Media, just days after The New York Times reported the company’s COO impersonated a YouTube executive on a call with potential investor Goldman Sachs.

Lasry, who is also owner of NBA champions the Milwaukee Bucks and CEO of Avenue Capital Group, was named chairman of Ozy Media exactly three weeks ago.

“I believe that going forward Ozy requires experience in areas like crisis management and investigations, where I do not have particular expertise,” Lasry said in a statement announcing his move. He added that he remains an investor in Ozy Media.

The New York Times story published Sunday night called into question many of the promotional and journalistic practices at Ozy Media, a digital media start-up. Ozy Media routinely inflated its viewership numbers on YouTube and other platforms and misattributed glowing commentary about itself in advertising, according to the New York Times story and several follow-up reports in other outlets

Most notably, the company’s board excused the behavior of its COO Samir Rao who allegedly impersonated the YouTube executive, by blaming the incident on Rao’s mental health. The company’s board announced Tuesday that it asked Rao to take a leave of absence while it investigated the claims in the Times’ report.

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India celebrates 1 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses with song and dance

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 India celebrated the milestone of administering one billion COVID-19 vaccine doses on Thursday, with the government promoting the achievement in song and video even as a recent drop in inoculations worries healthcare providers.

After a slow beginning in the middle of January, India’s immunisation campaign has covered three-quarters of its 944 million adults with at least one dose but only 31% with two. The government wants all adults to get vaccinated this year.

“India scripts history,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Twitter. “We are witnessing the triumph of Indian science, enterprise and collective spirit of (1.3 billion) Indians.”

Modi marked the occasion with a visit to a government hospital in New Delhi. The health ministry announced musical and other programmes across the country, and special illuminations of national monuments including a colonial-era jail.

Nearly 90% of the vaccines administered in India have come from the Serum Institute of India (SII), which produces a licensed version of the AstraZeneca drug. SII has more than tripled its capacity since April and can now produce 220 million vaccine doses a month.

SII has also slowly resumed exports for the first time since April, when the government stopped all overseas sales to meet domestic demand as infections rose dramatically.

The World Health Organization (WHO), which relies heavily on India for supplies to its global vaccine-sharing platform COVAX, congratulated the country for reaching the landmark.

“India’s progress must be viewed in the context of the country’s commendable commitment and efforts to ensure that these life-saving vaccines are accessible globally,” said Poonam Khetrapal Singh, regional director WHO South-East Asia.

India has so far reported 34.1 million COVID-19 cases and more than 452,000 deaths, most during a second wave of infections of the Delta variant that surged through the country between April and May.

A “sizeable number https://www.reuters.com/article/health-coronavirus-india/many-indians-skipping-second-covid-shot-despite-record-vaccine-stocks-idUSL4N2RF2G3” of people in India have not taken their second dose by the due date despite adequate supplies, the health ministry said on Tuesday, as new infections fell to their lowest since early March.

Daily shots have averaged 5 million this month, a fifth of September’s peak, though states are sitting on record stocks of more than 100 million as domestic output of the AstraZeneca vaccine soars.

Despite the current low number of infections, ministry officials have been urging people to get vaccinated fast, especially as the ongoing festival season means family gatherings and mass shopping, raising the risk of a new wave of infections.

(Reporting by Krishna N. Das; Editing by Lincoln Feast.)

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Western News – Expert insights: Why social media companies need to be reined in – Western News

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In September, the Wall Street Journal released the Facebook Files. Drawing on thousands of documents leaked by whistle blower and former employee Frances Haugen, the Facebook Files show that the company knows their practices harm young people, but fails to act, choosing corporate profit over public good.

The Facebook Files are damning for the company, which also owns Instagram and WhatsApp. However, it isn’t the only social media company that compromises young people’s internationally protected rights and well-being by prioritizing profits.

As researchers and experts on children’s rights, online privacy and equality and the online risks, harms and rewards that young people face, the news over the past few weeks didn’t surprise us.

Harvested personal data

Harvesting and commodifying personal data (including children’s data) underpins the internet financial model — a model that social psychologist and philosopher Shoshana Zuboff has dubbed surveillance capitalism .

Social media companies make money under this model by collecting, analyzing and selling the personal information of users. To increase the flow of this valuable data they work to engage more people, for more time, through more interactions.

Ultimately, the value in harvested personal data lies in the detailed personal profiles the data supports — profiles that are used to feed the algorithms that shape our newsfeeds, personalize our search results, help us get a job (or hinder) and determine the advertisements we receive.

In a self-reinforcing turn, these same data are used to shape our online environments to encourage disclosure of even more data — and the process repeats.

Surveillance capitalism

Recent research confirms that the deliberate design, algorithmic and policy choices made by social media companies (that lie at the heart of surveillance capitalism) directly expose young people to harmful content. However, the harms of surveillance capitalism extend well beyond this.

Our research in both Canada and the United Kingdom has repeatedly uncovered young people’s concern with how social media companies and policy-makers are failing them. Rather than respecting young people’s rights to expression, to be free from discrimination and to participate in decisions affecting themselves, social media companies monitor young people to bombard them with unsolicited content in service of corporate profits.

As a result, young people have often reported to us that they feel pressured to conform to stereotypical profiles used to steer their behaviour and shape their environment for profit.

For example, teen girls have told us that even though using Instagram and Snapchat created anxiety and insecurity about their bodies, they found it almost impossible to “switch off” the platforms. They also told us how the limited protection provided by default privacy settings leaves them vulnerable to unwanted “dick pics” and requests to send intimate images to men they don’t know.

Several girls and their parents told us that this can sometimes lead to extreme outcomes, including school refusal, self harm and, in a few cases, attempting suicide.

The surveillance capitalism financial model that underlies social media ensures that companies do everything they can to keep young people engaged.

Young people have told us that they want more freedom and control when using these spaces — so they are as public or private as they like, without fear of being monitored or profiled, or that their data are being farmed out to corporations.

Teenagers also told us how they rarely bother to report harmful content to the platforms. This isn’t because they don’t know how, but instead because they have learned from experience that it doesn’t help. Some platforms were too slow to respond, others didn’t respond at all and some said that what was reported didn’t breach community standards, so they weren’t willing to help.

Removing toxic content hurts the bottom line

These responses aren’t surprising. For years, we have known about the lack of resources to moderate content and deal with online harassment.

Haugen’s recent testimony at a Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation hearing and earlier reports about other social media platforms highlight an even deeper profit motivation. Profit depends on meaningful social engagement, and harmful, toxic and divisive content drives engagement.

Basically, removing toxic content would hurt the corporate bottom line.

Guiding principles that centre children’s rights

So, what should be done in light of the recent, though not unprecedented, revelations in the Facebook Files? The issues are undoubtedly complex, but we have come up with a list of guiding principles that centre children’s rights and prioritize what young people have told us about what they need:

  1. Young people must be directly engaged in the development of relevant policy.
  2. All related policy initiatives should be evaluated on an ongoing basis using a children’s rights assessment framework.
  3. Social media companies should be stopped from launching products for children and from collecting their data for profiling purposes.
  4. Governments should invest more resources into providing fast, free, easy-to-access informal responses and support for those targeted by online harms (learning from existing models like Australia’s eSafety Commissioner and Nova Scotia’s CyberScan unit).
  5. We need laws that ensure that social media companies are both transparent and accountable, especially when it comes to content moderation.
  6. Government agencies (including police) should enforce existing laws against hateful, sexually violent and harassing content. Thought should be given to expanding platform liability for provoking and perpetuating these kinds of content.
  7. Educational initiatives should prioritize familiarizing young people, the adults who support them and corporations with children’s rights, rather than focusing on a “safety” discourse that makes young people responsible for their own protection. This way, we can work together to disrupt the surveillance capitalism model that endangers them in the first place.The Conversation

Kaitlynn Mendes, Professor of Gender, Media and Sociology, Western University; Jacquelyn Burkell, Associate Professor, Information and Media Studies, Western University; Jane Bailey, Professor of Law and Co-Leader of The eQuality Project, L’Université d’Ottawa/University of Ottawa, and Valerie Steeves, Full Professor, Department of Criminology, L’Université d’Ottawa/University of Ottawa

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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Trump Plans to Regain Social Media Presence With New Company – Bloomberg

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Former President Donald Trump on Wednesday announced a deal that would enable him to regain a social media presence after he was kicked off Twitter Inc. and Facebook Inc. platforms. 

The former president’s new enterprise will be in operation by the first quarter of 2022, according to a press release from the Trump Media and Technology Group. It says it plans to start a social media company called Truth Social. The moves, if all goes according to plan, would occur well ahead of the 2022 mid-term elections. 

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