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Nadine Dorries: Culture secretary says social media has been hijacked – BBC News

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Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries has said people have become afraid to say what they think for fear of being “cancelled”, and that left-wing activists have “hijacked” social media.

In her first TV interview since taking the job, she said she does not plan “to charge out on a culture war battle”.

She criticised online campaigners for frightening young people “who actually do want to engage” in serious debate.

She also described negative reaction to her new role as “quite misogynistic”.

After her appointment in September, comedian Dom Joly said it was “like the result of some drunk bet” while fellow comic Mark Thomas said Dorries, who is also a successful author, had “written more books” than she had read.

“People were making these comments for political attack and nothing else,” she told BBC culture editor Katie Razzall. “I just found them thoroughly unpleasant.”

As culture secretary, her in-tray includes deciding whether to privatise Channel 4, introducing a law protecting young people from harms online and setting the BBC’s funding by deciding the level of the licence fee until 2027.

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Dorries has previously said the corporation needs “real change”.

She told Razzall the BBC was “the best of British”, but how it competes with streaming giants and how it is funded after 2027 will be “discussions for the future”.

She also welcomed director general Tim Davie’s recent 10-point plan to deal with “issues like a lack of impartiality”.

“I think they’ve made a good attempt to start dealing with some of these issues,” she said.

‘Tone down the condemnation’

Since this interview with Dorries took place, she has defended deleting a tweet in response to the BBC’s Political Editor, Laura Kuenssberg, which the culture secretary later denied was a “rebuke” for reporting criticism of the prime minister from an unnamed Conservative MP.

On Friday, Dorries also announced a further £107m as part of the Culture Recovery Fund to help almost 1,000 arts and heritage organisations continue their recovery from the pandemic.

Last month, The Observer described Dorries as the “minister for culture wars”.

But in the interview, Dorries said that was “what other people say about me, not what I say”.

She explained: “Sometimes I think we just need to tone down the condemnation and the judgement, and evaluate and engage a little bit more than we do. I think social media probably contributes a lot to this.

“People are afraid because of the amplification in the echo chambers of social media.”

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The culture secretary has been outspoken on social media herself in the past,and her remarks got short shrift from those who pointed to her own record.

LBC presenter James O’Brien, who has previously exchanged insults with Dorries in the press and on Twitter, said on Friday that she “is part of the problem of online abuse”.

Former Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood wrote that the culture secretary “is gaslighting us”. Gaslighting refers to psychological manipulation to make someone question what’s true or real.

Dorries told the BBC her own strident posts are aimed at campaigners “on the left who have hijacked that space” rather than people who “do want to talk about these issues seriously”.

As a backbencher in 2017, Dorries famously wrote on Twitter that “left-wing snowflakes are killing comedy”.

She stood by that comment, noting that some comedians had recently expressed concerns that they could no longer make light of certain subjects. “I just said it first,” she told the BBC.

‘You can’t wipe away history’

She also said she doesn’t agree with removing statues and other memorials connected to the slave trade and other aspects of history, such as the Bank of England’s removal of paintings and busts of past governors and directors.

“You can’t, with this whole cancel culture, wipe it all out like it didn’t happen and pretend it didn’t exist,” she said. “You can’t wipe away our history, either the good or the bad.”

The bank said in response it would feature the portraits in a future Bank of England exhibition “in their appropriate context”. It added it has appointed a researcher to work in its museum to “examine in detail the bank’s historic links to the transatlantic slave trade”.

Dorries grew up in one of the poorest parts of Liverpool, and said her priority is to help young people from backgrounds like hers to get involved in arts, culture and sport.

“Those people in those backgrounds are of every colour and every sexuality, but are we looking after everybody when we talk about diversity?” she said.

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Analysis box by Katie Razzall, Culture editor

Her reputation precedes her – as a politician who shoots from the hip, who has previously got into fairly heated Twitter rows with detractors, and who has been dubbed in some quarters the “minister for culture wars”.

Ahead of our meeting at the Young Vic theatre in London, one MP even told me to “strap yourself in for that interview”.

She’s a far more interesting culture secretary than many who have gone before, not least because she’s sold more than two million books. She may also be right that the critical reaction to her appointment from some in the sector was sexist and snobbish.

Some of her responses about how we all need to be kinder and listen a bit more to each other will raise eyebrows and worse. She’s not known as someone who is kind to people on social media, or as someone who listens to those with different views. People are already accusing her of hypocrisy. And clearly if you blame the left, as she did in the interview, you are being political, sticking the boot in to the opposition.

Her professed mission – to widen access to the cultural and sporting world – felt sincere. She’s not the first to say it. But the difference is she speaks with authenticity as a result of her personal experiences.

She’s levelled up personally, rewarded with a cabinet job after intense loyalty to Boris Johnson. But as the 10th culture secretary in 10 years, will she be around for long enough to make a difference?

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The £107m Culture Recovery Fund money that was announced on Friday will help 925 theatres, museums, cinemas and other cultural venues and organisations “through the recovery period”, Dorries said.

The recipients include Leeds Grand Theatre, English National Ballet and The Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury, Kent, which have all received at least £1m each.

“Make no mistake about this. Many theatres would not be standing today if the government hadn’t supported them over the last 20 months,” she said.

Some commercial theatre operators like Sir Cameron Mackintosh did not receive emergency funding, but those who applied opened their accounts to the Treasury, she said.

“You’ll hear some people in the theatre sector say, ‘We didn’t get any of that money’, but they are still standing and they are still running with plays back up, which actually is testament to the fact that they didn’t need the funding, because they are still here. They have private investors.”

Dorries is also working on the new Online Safety Bill, which will require social media platforms to remove harmful content quickly or potentially face multi-billion-pound fines or even jail time for executives. She told them to get ready.

“They’ve had notice. They’ve got fair warning,” she said. “This bill is coming. Abide by your terms and conditions now. Remove your harmful algorithms now.”

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Montréal Massacre anniversary: The media must play a key role in fighting femicide – The Conversation CA

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On Dec. 6, 1989, an act of violent misogyny killed 14 young women at École Polytechnique at Université of Montréal.

This mass femicide, though carried out by a lone male, grew out of a societal environment of gender inequity, misogyny, colonialism, racism and other intersecting systems of oppression.

Femicide, which refers to the sex/gender-related killings of women and girls, does not occur out of the blue. Although media often portray femicides as spontaneous “crimes of passion” when men kill their female partners, these femicides are the culmination of a history of violence in more than 70 per cent of cases — and are more often crimes of control.

They are also often more likely to be premeditated than non-intimate partner killings. So many of these deaths are preventable, and we must use every tool at our disposal to increase public awareness and enhance prevention.

Holding officials to account

Public health efforts around the COVID-19 pandemic have illustrated the importance of clear messaging, prioritizing expert voices and holding political leaders and social institutions to account to save lives.

As these efforts continue, we once again mark Dec. 6, the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women, and reflect on the ongoing pandemic of male violence that continues to take the lives of women and girls worldwide.

a silhouette of a woman in seen beside a monument with christmas lights in the background
A woman stands next to the Women’s Monument in London, Ont., as people gather to mark the 25th anniversary of the ÉcolePolytechnique massacre in 2014.
THE CANADIAN PRESS//Dave Chidley

Our work at the Canadian Femicide Observatory for Justice and Accountability keeps track of this extreme form of sex/gender-related violence. As is so evident with the COVID-19 pandemic, the media play a critical role in informing us about how threats are defined, what aspects to pay attention to and how to deal with a given problem.

In short, the media frame the problem and suggest the solutions. As such, the media can be a key mechanism for primary prevention, but only if the problem is represented accurately.

In covering femicide, media have a leading role, not only in awareness and education generally, but in actively shaping the construction of attitudes and beliefs that can help prevention efforts.

In contrast, harmful representations include those that portray these killings as isolated or individualized events, focus on victim behaviours to suggest (implicitly or explicitly) that they were to blame for their own death or marginalizing certain groups based on race, religion, socio-economic class, sex-trade involvement, sexual orientation and other factors.

There is also the matter of who isn’t represented at all. The “missing white girl syndrome” underscores that white, usually class-privileged victims receive copious amounts of media coverage while missing and murdered Indigenous, Black and other racialized women and girls are excluded from large-scale societal attention. Therefore, some women and girls remain invisible in life and death.

Girls and women in brightly coloured skirts hold drums as they walk.
Young girls walk together during the annual Women’s Memorial March in Vancouver in February 2021. The march is held to honour missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls with stops along the way to commemorate where women were last seen or found.
THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Media reporting on femicide is key

How reporters frame femicides is therefore critical for accurately informing the public. Media coverage of femicide has the potential to connect it to broader issues related to violence against women, thereby educating the public about these crimes, their broader societal causes, consequences and implications.

This media coverage might include terminology such as femicide, statistics on the number of women killed by intimate partners, domestic violence resources or new expert sources who are more qualified to speak on femicide, including front-line service providers, advocates and researchers.

In addition to providing more in-depth, empirically supported context about femicide, this type of coverage raises public awareness about the issue. It reports on femicides not as isolated incidents but more directly highlights community and societal solutions.

That can include funding services that help victims of violence, prevention education, legal reform and cultural change, such as targeting the attitudes that support or normalize violence against women.




Read more:
‘Home is the most dangerous place for women,’ but private and public violence are connected


As we remember those women and girls killed by violence in Canada, we can critically reflect on how their stories are told and how the media educate us about their deaths. We can move beyond relying on police narratives and cultural framings about femicide, drawing from the experiences and expertise of survivors and those who have lost loved ones to violence.

We can reduce sensational, graphic reporting of femicide and stop suggesting any victim’s actions, behaviours or lifestyles contributed to their deaths.

Femicide is a tragic loss of life. It is the most extreme act of violence against women, a human rights violation and part of a public health crisis. An accurate representation of this crime by the media must include perspectives that address all three of these areas.

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Trump's social media venture says it has raised $1B – Vancouver Sun

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He is working to launch a social media app called TRUTH Social that is at least several weeks away.

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Donald Trump’s new social media venture said on Saturday it had entered into agreements to raise about $1 billion from a group of unidentified investors as it prepares to float in the U.S. stock market.

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The capital raise, details of which were first reported by Reuters on Wednesday, underscored the former U.S. president’s ability to attract strong financial backing thanks to his personal and political brand. He is working to launch a social media app called TRUTH Social that is at least several weeks away.

Digital World Acquisition Corp, the blank-check acquisition firm that will take Trump Media & Technology Group Corp public by listing it in New York, said it will provide up to $293 million to the partnership with Trump’s media venture, taking the total proceeds to about $1.25 billion.

The $1 billion will be raised through a private investment in public equity (PIPE) transaction from “a diverse group of institutional investors,” Trump Media and Digital World said in a statement. They did not respond to requests to name the investors.

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Trump Media inked its deal with Digital World to go public in October at a valuation of $875 million, including debt. The social media venture is now valued at almost $4 billion based on the price of Digital World shares at the end of trading on Friday. Trump supporters and day traders snapped up the stock.

Many Wall Street firms such as mutual funds and private equity firms snubbed the opportunity to invest in the PIPE. Among those investors who participated were hedge funds, family offices and high net-worth individuals, Reuters reported on Wednesday. Family offices manage the wealth of the very rich and their kin.

Some Wall Street investors are reluctant to associate with Trump. He was banned from top social media platforms after the Jan. 6 attack by his supporters on the U.S. Capitol amid concerns he would inspire further violence. The Capitol attack was based on unsubstantiated claims of widespread fraud in last year’s presidential election.

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“As our balance sheet expands, Trump Media & Technology Group will be in a stronger position to fight back against the tyranny of Big Tech,” Trump said in a statement on Saturday.

The deal also faces regulatory risk. U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren asked Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Gary Gensler last month to investigate the planned merger for potential violations of securities laws around disclosure. The SEC has declined to comment on whether it plans any action.

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Trump Media and Digital World said the per-share conversion price of the convertible preferred stock PIPE transaction represents a 20% discount to Digital World’s volume-weighted average closing price for the five trading days to Dec. 1, when Reuters broke news of the capital raise.

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If that price averages below $56 in the 10 days after the merger with Digital World has been completed, the discount will grow to 40% with a floor of $10, the companies added. Digital World shares ended trading on Friday $44.97.

Trump had 89 million followers on Twitter, 33 million on Facebook and 24.5 million on Instagram at the time he was blocked, according to a presentation on his company’s website.

Investors attending the confidential investor road shows were shown a demo from the planned social media app, which looked like a Twitter feed, Reuters reported.

FIRST-QUARTER ROLLOUT

Since Trump was voted out of office last year, he has repeatedly dropped hints that he might seek the presidency in 2024.

Special purpose acquisition companies such as Digital World had lost much of their luster with retail investors before the Trump media deal came along. Many of these investors were left with big losses after the companies that merged with SPACs failed to deliver on their ambitious financial projections.

TRUTH Social is scheduled for a full rollout in the first quarter of 2022. It is the first of three stages in the Trump Media plan, followed by a subscription video-on-demand service called TMTG+ that will feature entertainment, news and podcasts, according to the news release.

In a slide deck on its website, the company envisions eventually competing against Amazon.com’s AWS cloud service and Google Cloud.

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Trump social media company claims to raise $1bn from investors – The Guardian

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Trump social media company claims to raise $1bn from investors  The Guardian



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