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?
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.
Aide: Media ignores Trump’s loving bond with 13-year-old son – CityNews Vancouver
WASHINGTON — A top aide to President Donald Trump complained Friday that the news media doesn’t pay enough attention to the president’s loving relationship with his 13-year-old son, Barron.
“The president’s just a really caring father and you don’t see that,” acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney said during an appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference, an annual gathering for conservatives. “The press would never show you that because it doesn’t fit.“
Mulvaney said he noticed on his first trip with the president that Trump had called his son multiple times to check in and let him know when his helicopter would be returning to the White House.
The first lady’s office has requested that the media respect the privacy of the youngest of the president’s five children and discourages writing about him. Her office declined to comment on Mulvaney’s remarks.
The Associated Press
Kew Media’s Lenders Call In Debts, Pushing TV Group Closer To The Edge – Deadline
Kew Media Group’s lenders have called in the Canadian TV producer-distributor’s debts, pushing the company closer to the brink of collapse after it was delisted from the Toronto Stock Exchange last month.
In a statement issued to Kew Media Group’s investors on Friday, the company said Truist Bank has “demanded repayment of all amounts owing under the senior credit facilities,” adding that the bank intends to enforce its security under Canada’s Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act. The company’s net debt stood $117M, according to its most recent earnings.
“Following a 10-day notice period, Kew’s senior lenders may take steps to enforce on their security,” the statement added. It is the latest chapter in a disastrous downward spiral for the company after it defaulted on its credit facility last year because it filed “inaccurate” financial information.
Kew Media Group’s subsidiary, the once-thriving British sales house Kew Media Distribution, is also staring down the barrel of a winding-up order, with a court hearing set for next week. Producers including, Leaving Neverland indie Amos Pictures, are fighting to claw back the royalties they are owed from the international sales of their shows.
Other Kew Media Group subsidiaries have also been fleeing the sinking ship. The latest was Frantic Films today after CEO Jamie Brown bought back the company, which makes HGTV’s Backyard Builds. Others who have left the group include UK producer Two Rivers Media, while Dance Moms executive producer Jeff Collins left Kew-backed Collins Avenue Entertainment in January.
Networks Ramp Up Coronavirus Coverage As White House Accuses Media Of Fearmongering – Deadline
Networks are ramping up their coronavirus coverage, as concerns escalate of a worldwide spread, major public events are postponed or canceled, and Wall Street experienced its worst week since the 2008 financial crisis.
The White House contends that the media is raising unnecessary alarm about the virus and its spread in the U.S., even with the intent of hurting President Donald Trump.
As he headed out to a rally in South Carolina on Friday, Trump told reporters, “I think that CNN is a very disreputable network. I think that they are doing everything they can to instill fear in people.”
Earlier in the day, his acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, appeared at the Conservative Political Action Conference and told the crowd that “the reason you’re seeing so much attention to it today is that they think this is going to be the thing that brings down the president. That’s what this is all about it.”
Mulvaney advised people to tune out the news.
“I got a note today from a reporter saying, what are you going to do today to calm the markets?” he said. “Really what I might do today to calm the markets is tell people to turn their televisions off for 24 hours.”
The administration’s attacks on the media are not unusual. But they are coming at a time when public communication of accurate information is essential, if anything to reassure the country that the White House has a handle on the crisis and the risk is still very low.
Trump tried to assuage fears on Wednesday by holding a briefing where he announced that Vice President Mike Pence would be leading the administration’s effort to contain the disease.
But markets continued to slide on Thursday and Friday — the S&P and Dow Jones were down by more than 10% for the week. Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell issued a statement to try to calm nerves, saying that “we will use our tools and act as appropriate to support the economy.” But he said that the virus poses “evolving risks to economic activity.”
Trump defended the administration’s response, noting that the administration placed limits weeks ago on travel from China that limited its spread in the U.S.
“Some people are giving us credit for that and some people aren’t. But the only ones who aren’t, they don’t mean it. It’s political. It’s politics,” Trump told reporters.
Pence went on Rush Limbaugh’s radio show on Friday, where he said that the threat of the coronavirus spreading in the U.S. “remains low.”
“With that being said, out of an abundance of caution, we are going to continue to take very, very strong measures and to put the health and safety of the American people first,” he said.
Earlier in the week, Limbaugh claimed that the coronavirus was being “weaponized as yet another element to bring down Donald Trump.” Pence told him that he has been speaking to Democratic leaders and governors like Gavin Newsom in California, and that “we’re all in this together.”
Meanwhile, networks are announcing plans to boost their coverage of the coronavirus.
NBC News launched a live blog with feed from the network’s medical, business, political and investigative reporters and updates on known cases and new infections. They also are doing a morning newsletter, Morning Rundown Special Edition: Coronavirus Crisis, starting on Monday, with updates from medical correspondent Dr. John Torres and on business ramifications from Ali Velshi. The newsletter also will provide tips to readers.
Among other highlights, Pence will appear on Meet the Press on Sunday, and investigative and consumer correspondent Vicky Nguyen will answer questions from viewers on Today on Monday.
Fox News is presenting a coronavirus special at 1 p.m. ET on Saturday featuring Leland Vittert.
While increasing their focus on the virus, media outlets also have provided a bit of context.
ABC News’ chief medical correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton co-hosted ABC’s The View on Friday, where she noted the greater threat currently posed by flu season and addressed misinformation about the disease.
Among the topics: The idea that Americans should be wearing surgical masks. “They are not to protect the healthy from something coming in,” she said, noting that the Centers for Disease Control was not recommending that the average American wear them now.
“Right now, according to the CDC, this is a highly transmissible virus with a low mortality or fatality rate and that’s really important right now,” she said.
She added, “One of the biggest problems with this story is where people get information and where people get misinformation, and you have to get your information from credible, credentialed sources. If you don’t, not only does it not do you any good, it can actually endanger public health and the response.”
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Aide: Media ignores Trump’s loving bond with 13-year-old son – CityNews Vancouver
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