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Meeting The Media: Interview Transcripts – EMU Eagles



DETROIT, Mich. ( — Third-year play-by-play broadcaster Tom Helmer had a chance to catch up with Head Coach Chris Creighton, senior tight end Thomas Odukoya (Almere, Netherlands-Helen Parkhurst-Garden City C.C.), and senior defensive lineman Turan Rush (Charleston West Side, W.Va.-Capital-Antelope Valley) at Mid-American Conference Football Media Day at Ford Field, July 20.

Helmer previews the upcoming season and how exciting it will be to have fans back inside “The Factory” at Rynearson Stadium,

Read the transcripts below of the interview or listen to them by clicking the links above.

To see and hear all content from the 2021 MAC Football Media Day, be sure to follow EMUFB on Instagram, @EMUFB on Twitter, click here. As always, continue to visit for the most up-to-date information on all things EMU football, and EMU Athletics.   

CREIGHTON TRANSCRIPT – Click Here to Listen to the Audio

Tom Helmer  0:02
Tom Helmer, here with Head Coach Chris Creighton, it is Media Day. It feels somewhat normal to be back at Ford Field and everybody around and talking. So feel good. ,

Chris Creighton  0:12  
Absolutely. Yeah it’s, I mean, it’s a tiring day and whatnot, but it’s, uh, it definitely marks like, hey, the football season is, is almost here, you know, it’s, you think about it, you’re counting the days down, but you come you see everybody, and you’re talking about the team and all of that. And so, it definitely, you know, accentuates how, how soon it is,

Tom Helmer  0:34  
let’s talk about the team, how you feeling about this 21 squad,

Chris Creighton  0:38  
I love our team. I do. It’s been fun being with them, you know, and not being away from them. And I think that our guys are, are really determined, we don’t want to be the same as we were last year, even though it’s the, you know, same group of guys, we want to be different than we were, we felt as though, you know, we finished strong, and we’re on a really good trajectory. And if we’d played six more games, you know, could have felt really good about it. But nonetheless, we, you know, didn’t achieve what we wanted to and even in a short, you know, season. And so we want to be different this year. And we’ve taken that really seriously. And we’ve worked on that ever since early January. And so it’s gonna be fun to see how that comes to fruition.

Tom Helmer  1:26  
What is the secret sauce when you think about your team and what it’s going to take to be back here at Ford Field on December 4 for the conference title game? You know,

Chris Creighton  1:34  
I think we have the the intangibles, I really do. I think we have the senior leadership, I think that we have, you know, the chemistry, we have the desire, the work ethic, the receptivity to coaching, I think we’ve got to run the ball better. We’ve got to be stingier versus the run. We have to take the ball away more, and we have to take care of it. I mean, I really, that’s what I really believe that that’s what it will take.

Tom Helmer  2:07  
One of the great things too, is when you guys smash that cinderblock wall against St. Francis to come out of the field, there’s gonna be fans, there’s gonna be a band waiting for on the other side.

Chris Creighton  2:16  
No doubt, hey, listen, I can’t wait. You know, for that I really can’t. And I know people can’t wait. You know, we, I think our golf outing was an indicator. I mean, it’s something that we had to cancel the year before. And things sold out Well, before it ever had sold out before. People are excited about getting back together. You know, and so I think Friday night, September 3, and The Factory is going to be a huge party, I really do. Two years of players, families have not met each other.  It’s unbelievable. When you think about that, I mean, two fifths of our team’s families have not even done this yet together. And so when I say that it’s going to be a celebration, and that there’s going to be like, you know, genuine excitement, I think there’s going to be on a couple different levels. One is just being able to do that and to be there in that venue with those people. And then of course, you know, getting to watch college football and watch, you know, their sons, or for our fans, watch their team play. It’s just gonna be an electric night.

Tom Helmer 3:14  
Because the bummer is we had the bowl game here against Pitt at Ford Field. And I talked to so many alumni and Eastern Michigan fans, that said, that was awesome. It was fun. It was great to see those people. I can’t wait to go to the first game next fall, and then that never happened. So it’s been this long waiting period to come back.

Chris Creighton  3:31  
Yeah, well, I know our marketing people are getting a hold of, you know, all those people that you were talking to and making sure that they know we’re playing on Friday night, September 3, and, you know, five other dates outside of that. And, you know, last year, we spent the whole time saying to our guys doesn’t matter, right, if there’s fans or not, we got to play at a high level. Well, it does matter, right? It does matter. You know, and we’re gonna play whether there’s a lot or there’s a little we’re gonna play at a high level, but it does matter. It brings energy. It’s a great environment fun. They’re a part of it, and so I can’t wait to have them back.

Tom Helmer  4:06  
Would you consider this your most experienced team because so many players are coming back? You had that six game season? You have so many veterans for lack of a better word.

Chris Creighton  4:15  
Yeah, I think that’s true for virtually everybody in college football. So yeah, and we have 24 or 25 starters back and that we’ve been recruiting obviously, you know, and guys that are incoming freshmen and then guys who, who have some years underneath their belt and so we definitely will be the most experienced team, you know, that I’ve ever coached. However, again, I think that nearly everybody in the in the in the country can say that.

Tom Helmer  4:47  
I know I speak for all Eastern Michigan fans, but I’m pumped, I just can’t wait for September 3. It’s going to be great coach. I know I’m excited. And we look forward to the product you guys are gonna put on the field this season.

Chris Creighton  4:54  
Yeah, I can’t wait to see again there and for everybody who’s come in can’t wait to see.

ODUKOYA TRANSCRIPT – Click Here to Listen to the Audio

Tom Helmer  0:02  
Tom Helmer, here with Thomas Odukoya, talking some college football as we get ready for the 2021 season, a full 12 game season, that’s gonna feel pretty good…

Thomas Odukoya  0:11  
Finally, oh, it’s gonna feel great. Playing six games last year was kind of weird. But I’m excited to you know, get back to the grind and be able to play some other teams outside of our conference as well as our, you know, normal eight game schedule in the MAC.

Tom Helmer  0:24  
Playing such a short season last year, what did you personally get out of that? What’s your takeaway from that season?

Thomas Odukoya  0:30  
Don’t take anything for granted. I mean, there was a point last year in the fall where we thought we weren’t going to play at all maybe play in the spring. And we finally get those six games and they went by in a snap. This is going to be my last season of college football. So I’m going to enjoy every second of it.

Tom Helmer  0:45  
And what’s going to be the special sauce for this team to be back here in Detroit, December 4 to play in the MAC title game?

Thomas Odukoya  0:53  
I mean, it’s built on what we already had, you know, we’re a tight knit group. We’re gonna play for each other, we’re gonna play with each other. I’m very excited of building on that brotherhood, that family bond that we have. And I think as a family, we can be the best in a MAC. So I’m excited to show it out on the field as well.

Tom Helmer 1:12  
How nice is it going to be speaking last year to come out of the tunnel this year, and there’s actually going to be fans in the stands?

Thomas Odukoya   1:18  
I’m so excited. I’m so excited. It felt so weird playing in front of nobody, no band was there, no cheerleaders, nobody. So just having an atmosphere again, being able to feed off the support, feed off the fans feed off the cheers. It’s gonna be amazing.

Tom Helmer  1:32  
You guys start with St. Francis. And then the week after that, you go to Wisconsin to take on the Badgers, any concern you overlook a team like St. Francis?

Thomas Odukoya  1:41  
I mean, we played a really good FCS team in 2019 in Central Connecticut State that almost came to our place and upset us. So that was just another reminder for us. Like don’t don’t think anybody is below you don’t think of anybody as like, Oh, this is an easy cakewalk game because we’ve showed in recent years to that Big 10 teams like to think that about us that we’re just you know, a small MAC school and then we go to their place and we beat them and example are Rutgers, Purdue Illinois, and we almost knocked off Pitt in the bowl game. So you know, we’re going to prepare for St. Francis like we’re going to prepare for Wisconsin.

Tom Helmer  2:16  
Yeah, last time you guys were in this building you guys played against Pitt, as you said almost beat them. Bowl games have pretty much become the norm at Eastern Michigan now instead of the exception you’ve had a big part of that How does it feel to leave that kind of legacy that Eastern Michigan’s in a much better spot now than it was even three four or five years ago?

Thomas Odukoya  2:34  
It means means the world to us we went from a team that you know was just trying to compete with people to a team that was beating you know, a lot of people so being able to go to various bowl games and raise the standard raise the bar is amazing in a program like this but as also a constant reminder of you know, how far how far things could set back so we got to you know, push ourselves every day continue to go want to know, to continue to raise that bar and upheld that standard of being able to go to the ballgames and stuff like last

Tom Helmer  3:06  
Question is a fashion one you guys are gonna wear two helmets this year, the green with the block E and the gray, you got a preference you got one you like over the other?

Thomas Odukoya 3:15  
My favorite combination has to be the gray white white, so I love that one. The green obviously is nice, too. You know, you can’t go wrong with the green but I love the gray one.

RUSH TRANSCRIPT – Click Here to Listen to the Audio

Tom Helmer  0:02  
Tom Helmer, here with Taran Rush as we get set for the 2021 season, a full 12 game season How good is that feel?

Turan Rush  0:09  
It’s a very, very amazing filling managers knowing that all this hard work we put in, we get a full schedule. So it’s fun to get out there.

Tom Helmer  0:16  
What was the benefit of even playing a six game season last year? What did you personally get out of that?

Turan Rush  0:22  
I had a chance to develop my game, it was all like another spring ball. So, my pass rush got better in spring ball, plus the season, I had a chance to develop learning more offensive sets. So I can recognize a play before to play even starts. So I got better with just being a smarter football player.

Tom Helmer  0:39  
Non-conference wise, you guys start with St. Francis. And some might say, well, that’s that’s an easy one for Eastern they might look pass them to Wisconsin, but you and I talked a little bit about Central Connecticut State. You can never look past anybody in college football, can you?

Turan Rush  0:52  
No, Sir. Any given Saturday, you can lose. It’s all about who can make smarter plays and execute the most so like don’t matter what school what conference would come from, everybody got playmakers? Everybody athletic, everybody fast. Everybody’s strong. So it’s about executing and playing together as a team.

Tom Helmer  1:09  
What’s it going to take what’s going to be the special sauce this year for this team to be back here in Detroit for the MAC championship game.

Turan Rush  1:16  
Go 1-0 every day. Try to use our talents that we got and just be successful within the office and defense.

Tom Helmer   1:23  
Coach Creighton always says go 1-0 every week. Just worry about that week. It sounds simple. And it is but it really makes a lot of sense when you apply it.

Turan Rush  1:34  
Ye  s, sir. Coach Creighton always tells us when you do bad  – flush it. When you do good, you got 24 hours to feel good  about it and flush it because you always got to reset even though every play we got to go 1-0, win a play, winner a series, win a quarter. If you go literally break that down like that. You can’t lose like if you know you can win a quarter win every series you can’t lose. And it’s really that small. I seem like a small table. You have to look at it like that. Because if you look too far ahead, that’s when you you start losing focus of what you got right in front of you.

Tom Helmer  2:08  
We’re talking with Taran rush. How nice is it going to be to have fans in the stands when you come out for that home opener

Turan Rush  2:14  
Man is gonna be everything – fans are so important to the game of football and we really want y’all to come see us play to this year. You are family to us. Y’all part it is and we want to we want to see us win this year.

Tom Helmer 2:26  
It’s gonna be a grind 12 games is gonna seem like a lot after only plant six last year. It’s been two years since you guys played a full schedule. Is your body ready for it?

Turan Rush 2:34  
Yes, sir. We got some of the best staff in the MAC and nationally. They take of us – there made sure we got food to fuel our body with, the right rehab, and stuff. And when you love football, you can have some next and next well if you really love the game, you can play through it.

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Prominent Agencies And Marketers Are Ramping Up Their Ad Commitment To Minority-Owned Media – Forbes



The killing of George Floyd and the subsequent protests has triggered a call to action in the advertising industry to invest a greater amount of their budgets to minority owned media companies. As a result, every prominent media holding group recently launched a separate division with the objective to facilitate and encourage their clients to make long-term investments and a greater portion of their ad budget to media companies owned by minority groups that target multicultural audiences. Additionally, several “blue-chip” marketers have separately announced their own plans to allocate more ad dollars to minority owned media outlets.

Many of these announcements occurred during the upfronts when agencies are registering their client’s budgets and negotiating billions of ad dollars for the upcoming year. Here is a rundown of these recent announcements.

GroupM: In May, the WPP-owned media company launched the Media Inclusion Initiative, an integrated investment strategy to support and grow diverse and Black-owned media companies and creators. The initial focus will be on Black-owned media and creators. GroupM, the world’s largest media investment company, will invite their clients to pledge at least 2% of their annual ad spend on Black-owned media. In June, twenty GroupM clients had committed to this initiative.

IPG Mediabrands: In May, announced a commitment to spend a minimum of 5% of ad budgets in Black-owned media channels across all clients, in aggregate, by 2023. IPG also launched their first annual Equity Upfront™ to highlight the importance of Black-owned companies that target Black audiences. Among the media companies participating were the Allen Media Group/Entertainment Studios, BET Network, Essence Communications, Urban One ReachTV, Revolt, The Source, Blavity, Ebony along with a number of IPG clients. The goal is to expand to other multicultural platforms in the future. In June IPG announced a partnership with ReachTV, a Black-owned in-airport linear TV channel.

Dani Benowitz, US President, MAGNA says “We saw the critical need to move beyond intent and into actionable steps with minority and Black-owned media partnerships. This young and affluent audience shapes the culture, is entrepreneurial and drives growth. At MAGNA and Mediabrands, we presented the first Equity Upfront, in an effort to reverse long-standing inequities in the advertising industry. We also launched our partnership with ReachTV so our clients could see the immediate benefit of how minority-owned media companies not only provide them with exciting content environments, but also closely connect them with highly desirable and hard to reach consumers in engaging ways.”

Dentsu: Also in May, Dentsu International announced the creation of a separate, stand-alone division to promote diversity in media and support minority-owned companies. The new group called Economic Empowerment, will combat the existing inequities by creating benchmarks when clients are investing in minority owned media and reaching diverse audiences. The unit will support both established and up and coming media companies as well as offer strategic consultancy services to clients along with feedback to media owners.


In June, Omnicom announced the launch of Diverse Content Creators Network which targets minority-owned publishers and content creators. The plan is to tap Omnicom clients into content from Asian, Black, LatinX, and LGBTQ+ creators across all media platforms and eliminate any barriers of ad investments. These creators include actor Will Smith (53.8 million Instagram followers), director Ava DuVernay (2.7 million Twitter followers) and singer Jason Derulo (46.2 million TikTok followers) as well as famous web creators. Furthermore, Omnicom will add a programmatic element with the goal of overcoming built-in biases especially with smaller minority publishers that typically wind up toward the bottom of programmatic bidding.

Havas: In July, the Havas Media Group started BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) Media Connections. The goal is to assist advertisers to allocate more ad dollars to Black and Hispanic owned U.S.-based radio stations. Havas says 180+ minority owned radio stations have joined. Last year, Havas had launched a social equity marketplace that facilitated their clients to invest ad dollars in underrepresented Black, Hispanic and LGBTQ+ owned media companies. A number of HMG clients have enlisted in the initiative. Havas has been expanding the program to global markets. 

Publicis: In July, Publicis launched a cross-industry consortium called The Once and For All Coalition: a multi-year, industrywide initiative to remove barriers to equitable financial opportunity and representation of ethnically-diverse suppliers to help its clients uncover opportunities that mirror their brand values and drive growth with audiences in a multicultural world.

“The Once and For All coalition was created to address a legacy challenge to our client’s business growth, which is the ability to sustainably evaluate, support and invest with ethnic minority owned or targeted businesses to drive superior performance with communities of underrepresented backgrounds,” said Jason Smith, President, Diversified Investment at Spark Foundry, a part of Publicis. “We felt a strategic need to approach this critical growth area with a comprehensive, collaborative, measurable and open-source approach built off industrywide representation and an eye toward the rapidly changing dynamic of our culture.”

Publicis says 21 clients have signed on for the first wave of participation along with 23 minority owned and targeted supplies from traditional and emerging media. The early emphasis will be on Black and Hispanic owned media. In addition, a number of marketers have pledged greater advertising support to minority owned media outlets.

Coca-Cola: In June, the Atlanta-based Coca-Cola Company

vowed to almost double their ad spending with minority owned media. Coca-Cola has announced their ad spend will be five times higher in minority owned media when 2021 is compared to 2020. Furthermore, by 2024 Black, Hispanic, Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI)-owned media will account for 8% of Coca-Cola’s annual ad spend in North America, resulting in an increase of at least $500 million in five years. Coca-Cola also said their U.S. employee population across all positions will mirror the U.S. census for race and ethnicity. 

General Motors: In May, General Motors charted a “five-point action plan” to amend how they partner with diverse owned media companies and their audiences. Historically one of the top marketers in ad spend, the Detroit-based carmaker announced they would allocate 2% of ad spend in Black-owned media spend in 2021, double it to 4% by 2024 and then double it again to 8% in 2025. General Motors was cited by Black-media owners for spending less than 0.5% of their ad budget on Black-owned media, although GM

disputes the figure. The carmaker also had a virtual meeting with members of NABOB (National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters) to make their commitment known. GM also plans to invest $50 million over the next decade to fund diversity in sponsorships and marketing.


The quick service restaurant announced plans to double by 2024 their marketing dollars toward media companies, programmers and production companies owned by Black, AAPI, females and the LGBTQ community. McDonald’s plans to increase their national ad spend to diverse owned media companies from an estimated 4% this year to 10% in 2024. As part of their marketing strategy, McDonald’s will increase their national ad dollars to Black-owned media from 2% this year to 5% in 2024. McDonald’s said they also cultivate long-term relationships with minority owned media companies.

Other blue-chip advertisers announcing plans to commit to minority owned media include.

·       Target

, a GroupM client, announced plans to invest $2 billion in Black-owned businesses by the end of 2025.  

·       Verizon

announced plans to increase their ad spend in Black-owned media companies.

·       The goal of Procter & Gamble’s

“Widen the Screen” initiative is to improve the image of Black life on screen and promote Black creators in film, television and advertising. Procter & Gamble also has plans to invest more ad dollars in minority-owned media.

The multicultural consumer is an attractive target for advertisers. Their population is growing; within 25 years, the Census Bureau projects non-Hispanic whites will account for less than half the U.S. population. The buying power of minority groups in the U.S. is exploding, totaling $4.2 trillion in 2020 and forecast to be $5.2 trillion in 2023. In addition, the multicultural market presents a desirable youthful target for marketers, the median age of Hispanics is 30, for Blacks it is 35 and it is 38 for Asian-Americans, compared to 44 for non-Hispanic whites.

Nonetheless, support of minority owned media and their target audience has been sluggish. For example, Nielsen’s Ad Tel reports Black-owned media companies account for less than 2% of total ad dollars spent in 2020 despite accounting for 13% of the U.S. population.

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CBC grapples with how to program an Olympics in the social media age – The Globe and Mail



After dozens of Olympics on television, you might think it would be easy for a network programmer to figure out which sports Canadian audiences want to watch. But conventional wisdom goes only so far. “In a Winter Games, it’s pretty much: hockey, figure skating, curling – and then you sort everything else out,” said Chris Irwin, the executive producer and head of production for CBC Olympics, in a recent interview. “But a Summer Games, once you get past the big three – athletics, aquatics, gymnastics – everyone in the room has a different opinion.”

In the entertainment realm, TV networks that are programming a new show might base decisions on the performance of similar fare: if CSI Miami pulls in 10 million viewers on Thursdays in primetime, it’s a safe bet CSI: Poughkeepsie would do more or less the same. That works for sports, too: Networks can project with some accuracy the viewership numbers for a typical Yankees or Maple Leafs game.

But the relative rarity of the Olympic Games, combined with their changing locations and the head-swirling developments in both technology and viewer habits, have made historical comparisons of little use for the Tokyo Games, which will unfold 11½ to 16 hours ahead of viewers watching across Canada.

“It’s definitely part science, part art form,” Irwin said.

What to watch at the Tokyo Olympics: Everything you need to know about the Summer Games

Looking at data from the 2018 Games in Pyeongchang, “you have the right time zone [as Tokyo], but it’s winter sports, so nothing is relevant. You go back to Rio, and it’s summer sports on the same schedule, but nothing is relevant from a time-zone perspective,” he said. “So, when you get people weighing in and saying, ‘The highest-rated sporting hour in Rio was this [particular event],’ you say, ‘Yes, but that’s because it was at 9 o’clock eastern time and it followed that big, huge other thing.’ And then you try to map that to Tokyo, and [that same sport] is at 8 a.m. and the available audience is one-tenth of what it is [in primetime].

“So, the last comparable Olympics with information that could help you make better decisions was [the Beijing Games in] 2008 – and you can imagine how irrelevant that research is. Nobody was watching streaming. There wasn’t even an app in 2010,” for the Vancouver Games. “So the idea that people [might watch the Olympics] on their phones, and in their beds and on trains and planes and everything, was just non-existent until this cycle.”

Canadians will have a dizzying array of ways to access these Games: five broadcast channels (the main CBC network, which will devote 23 hours every weekday, and 24 hours on weekend days, to coverage; two channels each of CBC’s sub-licensees, TSN and Sportsnet); up to 20 livestreams at once on CBC’s Gem app, the new CBC Olympics app, and the CBC Olympics website. Amazon Prime will have a CBC Olympics hub filled with live games and replays. Select bits of content will run on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. CBC Sports even started up a TikTok account for Tokyo.

“As we look at these Olympics and [the 2022 Winter Games] coming up, and Paris [in 2024] down the road, I’m convinced it’s our responsibility not to just expect Canadians to come to the main channel and watch it like they used to,” said Chris Wilson, the executive director of CBC Sports and Olympics. We’ve got to challenge ourselves to present the Olympic content in different ways, on different platforms and be very creative with our partners.”

Mindful of its role as a public broadcaster, the CBC will be offering the opening ceremony, which airs Friday morning, in eight Indigenous languages on its online platforms: Eastern Cree, Dehcho Dene, Denesuline, Gwichʼin, Inuktitut, Inuvialuktun, Sahtu Dene and Tlicho.

And while TSN and Sportsnet are only available to paying subscribers, all of the action airing on those cable networks will also be available free on the CBC’s streaming platforms.

That free and universal access – at least for those who have broadband internet – contrasts with the United States, where NBC will spread content across its over-the-air network and several of its pay cable channels. And it is using the Games to push subscriptions to its new streaming service, Peacock.

The CBC is also treating these Games as a promotional opportunity. “We’re certainly interested to see if we can drive additional awareness and additional free subscriptions to Gem,” Wilson said. “There’s no question that Gem is a massive part of our future.”

During the Games themselves, all of those online platforms will help Irwin and his team take the country’s pulse on a continuing basis: They’ll be able to see, in real time, what people are engaging with, what they’re sharing. “Actual clicks, actual minutes, actual numbers, when [viewers] joined, when they left: There are some very specific things that the digital and social metrics can tell us all about what the country is thinking, what the users are thinking,” Irwin said. But, he adds, those numbers need to be read with some caution. Social media is not a perfect proxy for the wider world.

And while the CBC can simply run all of the available sports on its online platforms, it needs to aggregate the largest possible audience for the five broadcast channels at its disposal, especially the main CBC network. That’s where it will aim to show the biggest event of interest to Canadians at any given moment. Long-form competitions – including team sports, road races, golf – will be carried on TSN and Sportsnet, with the CBC main channel possibly cutting in to the final minutes.

Recognizing that many viewers can and do access results on their phones as soon as they occur, the CBC decided years ago it would prioritize live events. “That’s where the change has come to the global media [landscape],” Irwin said. “You can no longer stage the release of information in a way that makes a show [of tape-delayed content] work, or make an audience play along.”

So the broadcaster decided “live trumped everything, and that your filters to make decisions started with live – live Canadian, live of Canadian interest – and worked its way down, to delayed international events that aren’t for medals.” That made it immediately clear where an event might end up on its matrix of outlets.

Irwin knows that makes it challenging to bring in a primetime audience, but he says there is still a hunger for that communal, narrative experience. “The audience, if they love [a particular sport], they did see it when it happened live,” possibly hours before. “And we told them about it on our digital platforms and in our shows and social [media] talked about it, and our daytime show reviewed it, and we’ve interviewed athletes since it happened. But now we have a very captive audience that has made an appointment to come and watch us tonight, when they have a chance to sit down. And we’ve made them a promise that we’re going to tell them a story.”

Sign up for The Globe’s Olympic newsletter and follow all of the news, features and opinion in the leadup to the Summer Games in Tokyo.

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U.S. senators want social media to be held liable for spreading health misinformation – Global News



Two Democratic U.S. senators on Thursday will add to the stack of bills going after Section 230 — a law that protects tech companies from being sued over content posted by users — making such platforms responsible for health-related misinformation.

The legislation introduced by Amy Klobuchar and Ben Ray Lujan requires internet platforms such as Facebook to take down health and vaccine-related misinformation during public health emergencies or be held liable for that failure.

It also directs the Department of Health & Human Services to issue guidelines on what constitutes health misinformation.

Read more:
How conspiracy theorists are using a CDC database to spread misinformation and fear

“These are some of the biggest, richest companies in the world and they must do more to prevent the spread of deadly vaccine misinformation,” Klobuchar said.

The bill quotes a study from the Center for Countering Digital Hate that found social media platforms failed to act on 95% of coronavirus-related disinformation reported to them.

Kevin Martin, a vice president of public policy at Facebook, said the company supports reforming Section 230.

Click to play video: 'Increasing concerns about COVID-19 misinformation'

Increasing concerns about COVID-19 misinformation

Increasing concerns about COVID-19 misinformation – Feb 26, 2021

“We believe clarification on the difficult and urgent questions about health related misinformation would be helpful and look forward to working with Congress and the industry as we consider options for reform.”

The Health Misinformation Act is not the first bill targeting tech firms’ liability shield from Senator Klobuchar, who chairs the Senate antitrust subcommittee.

Read more:
Influencers say they got offered thousands to spread fake news on Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine

Earlier this year, she co-sponsored another bill called the Safe Tech Act with two fellow Democrats. It aims to make social media companies more accountable for enabling cyber-stalking, targeted harassment and discrimination on their platforms.

The chief executives of Google, Twitter and Facebook have said Section 230 is crucial to free expression on the internet. They said it gives them the tools to strike a balance between preserving free speech and moderating content, even as they appeared open to suggestions that law needs moderate changes.

Click to play video: 'Health officials warn about disinformation, conspiracies'

Health officials warn about disinformation, conspiracies

Health officials warn about disinformation, conspiracies – Feb 26, 2021

Several Republican lawmakers have separately pushed to scrap the law entirely over decisions by tech platforms to moderate content critical of former President Donald Trump and his supporters.

There are several other pieces of legislation aimed at changing the law that have been making the rounds for over a year, including a bipartisan bill from Democrat Brian Schatz and Republican John Thune.

Trump repeatedly pushed for the legal protection to be stripped away over what he alleged was censorship against conservatives.

(Reporting by Nandita Bose in Washington; Editing by Dan Grebler and Sam Holmes)

© 2021 Reuters

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