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Munk Debates – Noam Cohen: Social media is dangerous and it needs to be regulated – National Post

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The following was adapted from remarks recently delivered on a Munk Debates podcast: “Be it resolved, social media is a force for good in the world.”

Social media is not a force for good in society. That doesn’t mean that communicating is bad and being connected is bad. It means the way social communication is being run by a handful of companies has been bad for society. Recently, there was a memo that came out that was written by one of Mark Zuckerberg’s top deputies, Andy Bosworth, where he tried to defend Facebook against recent criticisms. The best he came up with was “it’s no worse than a company that uses sugar to get people to buy their product.” He also says in the same memo that Facebook got Donald Trump elected.

If Jeff Jarvis were to concede that one point which Facebook itself claims, that Facebook got Donald Trump elected, wouldn’t that be an argument that Facebook is one example of social media in our society that is a force for bad? Facebook has an algorithm that encourages Fox News to be read by people who made it clear they want Fox News’ lies to be what they read; is that not an indictment of Facebook? Would that be something that would be a social negative? If they did something by design that let more Fox News be read by people who are primed to believe it, wouldn’t you agree that is a bad thing?


A Facebook sign is seen at the China International Import Expo in Shanghai on Nov. 6, 2019.

Aly Song/Reuters

These companies have chosen not to engage. They’ve chosen not to make tough decisions about how to run their companies well. They’ve chosen to say that they don’t care about the social impact. There are companies that care about social impact, who care about whether Donald Trump is lying in his ads, whether he is suppressing the black vote. Yet social media companies are saying, “we’re not going to engage.” That’s too dangerous. We’ve always believed the companies should have a social role in our society and they should not be making up the rules. Now we find ourselves in a situation where we have entrusted this vitally important tool to a bunch of inept people who care more about making money than social responsibility.

The social network platforms grew without any kind of thought towards regulation. They have gained unprecedented power and control and chosen to behave in a laissez-faire libertarian approach. I don’t want to live in a world that is so libertarian, that is extreme in its idea of freedom, that no one should care what you’re doing. You should care what your neighbour is doing. We all have a stake in each other. I’m arguing for a company that cares about society and social good.

They have gained unprecedented power and control

The U.S. government has failed to break up these monopolies. If we were to implement a regulated social network system with genuine competition, if we could break up Silicon Valley and bring them into line, if people could own their own data, I believe social media would be transformed into a force for good in the world. We can choose to have a decent internet with rules and smaller companies. Yet right now the opposite is happening. We as a society have allowed this miserable system to take over because we fetishize the idea of not having any rules. And that is a recipe for disaster.

Noam Cohen is a journalist and the author of “The Know-It-Alls: The Rise of Silicon Valley as a Political Powerhouse and Social Wrecking Ball.” He is an Ideas columnist for Wired magazine. Before that, he wrote the Link by Link column for The New York Times, producing some of the earliest articles about Wikipedia, Bitcoin, Wikileaks and Twitter.

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Social media giants monetise anger and trolling is the result. A crackdown is welcome – The Guardian

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Social media giants monetise anger and trolling is the result. A crackdown is welcome  The Guardian



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Princeton the focus of international media – the story on the story – Penticton Western News – Pentiction Western News

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Over the past two weeks the community has been flooded…with media.

Princeton quickly became a focus for journalists across Canada and around the globe, following the devastating events that started Sunday, Nov. 14, when the Tulameen River breached its banks.

Last Thursday, correspondents working for The New York Times were trekking through muck on Fenchurch Avenue, interviewing residents who were starting the process of cleaning out their homes.

“In the town of Princeton, which was uncomfortably close to this summer’s wildfires and was hit by record heat, bands of volunteers of all ages were roving the streets and helping out,” wrote Ian Austen. “There are a lot of tears in Princeton and other communities right now, but they’re not all from grief over what’s lost. When flood victims described the kindness of those volunteers to me, some broke out in tears of gratitude.”

The U.K. based Guardian also reached out to area homeowners.

Ed Staples, from Coalmont, was interviewed.

“After a summer of staying indoors to shield his lungs from thick smoke, Staples said he’s sad to see the loss in his community so soon after the fires,” The Guardian wrote. ‘It’s heartbreaking, I get choked up thinking about it,’ said Staples. ‘These are real people who have lost everything and it’ll take months or years to get their lives in order.’”

Princeton Mayor Spencer Coyne has fielded hundreds of requests for interviews, and granted many.

“I’ve done so many interviews,” he told the Spotlight, “I don’t know who all I’ve interviewed with. It’s kind of been a blur to be honest…I was doing, by lunch time, about eight interviews a day at one point.”

Coyne said this has given him the opportunity to keep Princeton’s needs top-of-mind for government officials, who hold the purse strings for emergency aid. “If I’m not out there, Abbotsford is going to be the story…It’s getting us the attention we need.”

Coyne appeared live on the CBC’s The National, and on the television program Power and Politics. He’s spoken frequently with regional affiliates of all the major networks.

While he doesn’t particularly relish the limelight, Coyne is uniquely qualified to take on the press. “At one time I was a small town reporter. I worked for Black Press, I worked for (The Similkameen News Leader.)”

Recently a journalist writing for the Globe and Mail followed the mayor for an entire day, as he made the rounds of the community.

“Shortly after 11:30 a.m. on Sunday, Mr. Coyne jumped in his yellow Nissan Xterra and began driving around town, checking on crew progress and speaking to residents about their needs. His cellphone rang constantly. He made a stop at the one-runway airport where the small lounge was crammed with people bringing in dogs and cats in animal carriers,” wrote Anthony Davis.

There’s been absurdity, attached to some of Coyne’s experiences.

“One interview, I won’t say what network and what show, they began telling me what I should be wearing in the interview and what the backdrop should be…like a bookshelf.”

Coyne eventually gave that interview, via his phone, wearing a high-visibility vest, while inside the Princeton fire hall.

During an interview with the BBC, he was asked about local temperatures. When the mayor reported the temperature was hovering at about minus 3 degrees Celsius, he was asked, “And why is that?”

After requesting the question be repeated, Coyne responded, “Well, it’s November. This is when we start to turn into winter.”

Coyne said he often prefers to communicate with local media.

“Local media has been invaluable, absolutely invaluable,” he stated. “I really appreciate the efforts of the Spotlight in order to keep accurate information going out.”

Related: Princeton’s water system hanging – literally – by a fire hose

Related: Princeton ‘as ready as it can be’ for the next 24 hours

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:andrea.demeer@similkameenspotlight.com


 
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Local peer outreach team continuing without Northern Health, claims health authority lied to media – Energeticcity.ca

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A public outcry took place once it was announced funding was being cut. Schultz believes NH’s statement was an attempt to save face.

“Northern Health is committed to harm reduction and overdose prevention in Fort St. John, and working to improve existing services, and implement additional and expanded services. Peers play an important role in Overdose Prevention work, and Northern Health will work with peers to ensure this continues,” said Northern Health in a statement to local media.

The group was formed in April, providing harm reduction services and tackling the stigma surrounding drug addiction. In October, NH informed the team that they were restructuring the funding model.

There were 30 peers working for the outreach teams that were fired, and more than 20 with lived experience were employed by the group, said Schultz.

The peers helped offer food, hygiene kits, first aid, naloxone kits, harm reduction supplies, info on detox and treatment, and warm clothing for those in need. Afterwards, they were paid a cash honorarium, which is what NH has cut.

Schultz and another leader, Neil Bramsleven, were in contact with the health authority to work on the community mobile harm reduction program. Schultz describes the program as a mobile safe injection site.

They were the only ones contacted to continue working for the health authority due to meeting specific criteria, including being clean from drugs and alcohol, said Schultz.

“NH Leadership is in contact and discussion with the peer outreach team leaders to continue peer outreach services in Fort St. John,” said Northern Health in a statement.

Schultz has pulled her application for the mobile program following the release of NH’s statement.

“There are no outreach programs right now, and they have no plans of getting outreach programs.”

Schultz showed Energeticcity an email with an NH worker, which confirms there are no outreach programs in the city.

“They did admit that it was untrue about peer outreach continuing. They said they don’t talk with the person who deals with the media.”

Peers were previously paid by NH to go on patrol, but Schultz says they will now run on a voluntary basis.

“We will accept donations from the community, and we will get harm reduction from mental health.”

At this point, Schultz says the team doesn’t want anything to do with the health authority.

“Peers are real. Peers are honest. We have one passion, and that’s to help people. We’re not even going to work with Northern Health anymore. We will volunteer our time.”

Anyone looking to donate to the team can contact Schultz at 250-329-8374.

Eryn Collins, Regional Manager, Public Affairs & Media Relations with NH, says the health authority is aware of the pushback and is working to get clarity on concerns being raised.

With files from Tom Summer, Local Journalism Initiative, Alaska Highway News

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