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New social media apps guarantee your data will remain secure — for a price – NBC News

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As social media giants such as Facebook battle disinformation and data security issues, some users are opting for smaller, more low-key platforms that prioritize “privacy-forward” messaging.

Bethany and John Wilson live in Alabama with their two children, but struggle to keep in touch via traditional social media platforms with family spread across the United States.

“Social media for me was something that was very noisy and I lost the things that I cared about in the midst of that noise,” said John, a software designer.

Dec. 29, 201902:58

Facebook continues to dominate as the most popular social media platform, but amid recent privacy issues, including a $5 billion settlement with the Federal Trade Commission, users are growing wary. According to a recent poll by NBC and The Wall Street Journal, over 60 percent of users do not trust Facebook with their data and over 80 percent think social media is a waste of time.

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“Facebook has never done better as a business, and better as a stock, because it sells lots of advertising,” said Kara Swisher, editor-at-large at Recode. “But it’s facing all of these reputational issues about what it does with your data. People are worried that this company has enormous troves of data and they are not managing it properly.”

Now, a new crop of private social media apps is looking to capitalize on this concern and give users an alternative to sites such as Facebook, in both size and privacy.

“We will never share your data, or sell it with third parties,” said Sachin Monga, co-founder and CEO of Cocoon, one of the new apps used by the Wilsons. Cocoon is a privacy-forward messaging platform that the company describes as “not a social network,” but a private space for the “group that you consider to be as close as family.”

Sachin Monga and Alex Cornell, both former Facebook employees, started Cocoon together after noticing smaller, closer connections getting lost in the massive size of popular platforms.

“Networks are good for so many things, but over time they get a little bit worse at handling our most intimate relationships.”

“What we were missing was a real space just for family,” said Cornell. “Networks are good for so many things, but over time they get a little bit worse at handling our most intimate relationships. I think the “Aha!” moment for us was that this space, this cocoon we thought could exist.”

While Snap, Facebook Messenger, and Whatsapp do give users access to privacy features, only half of Facebook’s users say they have adjusted their privacy settings, according to a 2018 Pew Research study. Smaller, private “family network apps” such as Live360, Kohort and Cluster have grown in popularity, but are dwarfed in size compared to Facebook’s nearly 2.5 billion users.

“I think it’s very difficult for social media companies to break through and get the kind of audience needed to combat something like Facebook,” said Swisher. “It’s very hard to break into the market and get people to use it.”

For now, Cocoon is free, but the co-founders say they will transition to a subscription model in the near future in lieu of selling user data. Monga and Cromwell are banking on the privacy and traffic differences between Cocoon and other apps as the biggest selling points to attract users who will be willing to pay for the service.

“The great thing about Cocoon is that it doesn’t get mixed in with a lot of other noise,” said Wilson. “You get the information you care about, instead of anything additional that might irritate you or you might find funny or for some other reason just helps you procrastinate. It just kind of helps you get to the point quickly.”

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Nunavut politicians vote to remove minister from cabinet over social media post – Lethbridge News Now

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Before casting their ballots, some members made statements on the motion.

“It is up to us, everyone in this room, to show our commitment, to stand up against racism and gender violence. Now is that time,” Savikataaq told the assembly.

“Black lives matter. Indigenous lives matter. Women’s rights are human rights.”

Iqaluit-Manirajak MLA Adam Arreak Lightstone, who seconded the motion, thanked Savikataaq for his “swift action” to remove Netser.

“Freedom of expression does not equal freedom from consequence. The fact that the minister is still defending his position leads me to believe that there is no remorse,” Lightstone said.

In his statement, Netser apologized to the Black community but said his comments were not based on racism or gender violence.

“My reference to ‘all lives matter’ was certainly not stated in that context. And I would not have chosen these words if I knew they could be misconstrued as attempting to negate the struggles of my Black brothers and sisters,” Netser said.

Netser also said the Facebook post was an example of free speech.

“I understand that all lives cannot matter, if Black lives don’t matter. But my post on social media was meant to bring light to those without voices, the unborn,” he said.

“I did not make those statements in the house and I did not make them as a member of the executive council, but as an Inuk that values life.”

Netser also read a letter of support into the record from a friend, which questions whether people who criticize the government will be “picked up and shipped into the dark of the night to one of the many new internment camps across Canada.”

The letter also claims the federal government pays Canadian news media and mind control is imposed on people who speak out against the government.

Netsilik MLA Emiliano Qirngnuq told the assembly he would not support the motion to oust Netser because “we do have an expression of freedom” in Canada.

“We have to think about our children and the future of our children. We have to deeply reflect on our society’s values into the future,” Qirngnuq said

Justice Minister Jeannie Ehaloak told the assembly Netser’s comments were concerning. And politicians can’t say whatever they want, if their words have a negative impacts on people.

Speaking to reporters after the vote, Savikataaq said the decision to remove Netser was not easy but had to be made.

Because Nunavut has a consensus-style government, only a full caucus can remove cabinet members.

Netser, who represents Coral Harbour and Naujaat, is to stay on as an MLA.

A leadership forum is expected to take place next week to select Netser’s replacement in cabinet.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 23, 2020.

___

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian press News Fellowship

Emma Tranter, The Canadian Press

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Britain's Prince Charles wrote to support historic Australian PM sacking: media – TheChronicleHerald.ca

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SYDNEY (Reuters) – Britain’s Prince Charles sent a hand-written letter of support to Australia’s governor general in 1976, backing his controversial sacking of Prime Minister Gough Whitlam, local media reported on Saturday.

The letter, published on Saturday by The Australian newspaper, is dated four months after Queen Elizabeth’s representative in Australia, John Kerr, took the unprecedented step to dismiss Whitlam without first warning the palace or the prime minister.

“Please don’t lose heart,” the heir to the British throne wrote in the hand-written letter to Kerr on Mar. 27.

“What you did last year was right and the courageous thing to do — and most Australians seemed to endorse your decision when it came to the point.”

The letter was revealed in an extract of a book “The Truth of the Palace Letters: Deceit, Ambush and Dismissal in 1975” by Paul Kelly and Troy Bramston, due to be published next month.

Whitlam’s firing remains one of the country’s most polarising political events because it represented an unmatched level of intervention by the Commonwealth.

Historians say the country was never told the full story behind Whitlam’s removal during a political deadlock over the Budget and in 2016, one historian sued Australia’s National Archives for access to letters between Kerr and the Queen.

In July, the 211 so-called “palace letters” were published, pulling the veil from one of the great mysteries of Australian politics, and re-igniting a conversation about whether the country should cut ties with Britain and become a republic.

(Reporting by Paulina Duran; Editing by Lincoln Feast.)

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Grieving Paradise mother finds strength by writing social media blog – TheChronicleHerald.ca

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PARADISE, N.L. —

Pam Myles’ home looks as inviting as her greeting when she answers the door.

“Come in,” she says, with a warm smile.

“Don’t mind the mess,” she adds, as she walks into her living room, where a baby Exersaucer and a handful of toys rest on top of a section of colourful children’s foam floor tiles.

Other than the faint lull from the television, there’s little sound in the house as her six-month-old son, Lukas, naps in his room at the other end of the house.

“This is the time of day that’s hardest for me,” she said.

“It’s the daytime when it’s quiet.”

Normally, there would be an energetic young boy running around, likely wearing nothing but underwear, singing “Wheels on the Bus,” and climbing on a chair insisting that he help his mother wash dishes or cook supper, anxious to get a butter knife to cut up mushrooms.

“Noah was a force,” Myles said, her face lighting up. “He was busy — super, super busy. I can’t exaggerate enough how busy he was. He was bright and curious.

“And loud,” she added, laughing.

She would give anything to hear those sounds again, but they’ve been silenced forever.


Noah Saja. - Rosie Mullaley
Noah Zaja. – Contributed photo

On the morning of July 18, Myles’ four-year-old son, Noah, was killed in a tragic accident when he slipped out of the house, unknown to his mother, and got too close to a closing tow-long dump trailer in front of their Paradise home.

Dealing with such a heartbreaking loss has been painfully difficult for Myles and her family, including her fiancé and Noah’s father, Marko, and daughter Avery, who celebrated her 11th birthday the day before Noah died.

“We’re doing OK,” Myles said, shrugging her shoulders and nodding her head. “OK is about as good as we can expect.

“There are no really great days, but there are lots of great things in every day.”

Not an hour goes by when she doesn’t think of Noah, and she will never erase memories of the morning he died. He had been in and out of the house, running from the playhouse in the back garden to the front garden of the house, which is nestled at the end of a quiet road in a Paradise subdivision.

When it got chilly, Myles grabbed Noah’s favourite sweater — a front zip-up, a gift from a family friend, and called him inside.

“I was putting it on him and I remember holding his face and saying to him, ‘You’re a good boy, Noah.’ That wasn’t uncommon. I told him all the time, but for some reason, in that moment, I felt the need to hold his face.

“I remember his response wasn’t like, ‘Oh, thank you.’ It was, ‘Yes, I am a good boy,’” she said, laughing.

An hour later he was gone.

“It was just so sudden,” she said. “He was just outside playing and had just been inside with us.”

“Noah Bear,” as she fondly referred to him, may not be running in and out of the house anymore, but his presence is everywhere in the home. Multiple photos of him, with his siblings, parents and friends, are placed on the walls, fireplace and side tables, his smiling face still lighting up each room.

It gives the family comfort and serves as a way of helping Lukas know his big brother, she said.

“That’s important to us,” Myles said, tearing up. “Noah was so excited about him and adored him. We plan to show Lukas (photos) and make sure he knows how special he was to Noah.”

She’s glad now she took so many pictures — her last order to Costco had 1,600 photos — and hundreds of videos of Noah since he was born.

Myles has remained fairly private since Noah’s death, but three months later feels comfortable enough to speak publicly about her experience.

Through tears, smiles and laughter, she explained that sharing her thoughts and feelings not only helps her express herself, but also helps others who have experienced similar tragedies.

Myles has started a Facebook blog, “Myles in my Shoes,” which she recently created after receiving so much response on her personal Facebook page.

In her first blog post last week, she wrote, “A popular Chinese proverb states that the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. I suppose this is mine. At least in such a public forum.”

She introduces herself in the blog as, “A mom of three: Avery, Noah and Lukas. I am the mother of two children I get to hold in my arms and one child I hold in my heart.”

“I’m not a writer,” said Myles, adding that her training as a child- and youth-care instructor at Eastern Academy and youth counsellor at the Janeway Children’s Hospital was helpful in managing her grief.

“It’s never something I felt I was particularly skilled at,” she says of writing.

As her eyes welled with tears, she paused before continuing. “But Noah’s life had so much meaning to us and I really wanted to try to also find some meaning in his loss.”

What she found was an overwhelming response from hundreds of people, many of whom wrote to tell her about their loss, the guilt they felt and the difficulty they felt moving on in life.

“It’s validating to me to know that other people also experience that, too.

“And they felt there was something in my message that made them feel less alone.”

Helping others has helped her heal, she said.

“Writing is helping me to piece my heart and life back together and I hope it brings some comfort to another,” she wrote.

It was also a way of saying thank you to the people across the province and country who contacted them and helped them the last three months, whether it was through fundraisers, delivered meals, or messages and well wishes.

“Somewhere in the midst of my deep pain and sorrow and darkness there was light,” she wrote in the blog.

“While I had every reason in the world to want the world to stop … to lay in my bed and lay in my grief … my two beautiful children, Marko, my friends and family and the community around us reminded me of my many reasons to be grateful — grateful for what I have, grateful for what I’ve gained and, mostly, grateful for the chance to have ever been and to be Noah’s mom.”

The community’s support is evident in the blue hearts that adorn many neighbours’ properties.

On the pavement in front of the family’s house, there’s a brightly painted smiley-faced sun and rainbow, with the words, “We love you,” care of the neighbours’ kids, Dylan and Abby.

It’s been comforting as they deal with the heartache.

In their lovely landscaped front garden, there are spots to honour Noah, from the painted rocks to a mini-memorial that includes the scooter he rode and his tiny crocks.

“Oh, he loved those crocks,” Myles said, smiling.

Noah’s grandmother, Barb Wagstaff, said the happy memories are what keeps the family going.

She remembers the pitter patter of his tiny feet going up the stairs to see his poppy, Larry Myles, the paintings for Mother’s Day and throwing grass in the pond “to feed the fish” at their cabin on Hodgewater Line. They’re memories she will cherish forever.

“There are reminders of him everywhere, like when I open the cupboard and see his favourite cereal,” Wagstaff said.

“The pain hits you in waves all the time. … I think about what he would be doing if he was here. … We value the time we had with him. He was such a blessing.”

She said she and Myles’ father feel mostly for her daughter, Marko and the children.

“As parents, you want to fix things (for your children), but we can’t fix it for her,” she said.

But Wagstaff said she admires her daughter for her strength and courage to express her feelings publicly.

“She’s been an inspiration to all of us,” Wagstaff said.

It’s been a difficult three months and it will be for many more to come as Myles deals with firsts without him and the challenges of figuring out what to say when asked how many children she has.

But for Myles, it’s her two remaining children who will get her through this the most.

“I remember Marko saying to me, no matter what happens, Lukas and Avery deserve to have the same parents they had (before Noah died),” she said.

“Not to say we won’t have time for sadness and grief, but that they deserved for us to pick up, to do things they were accustomed to. That was going to be really important.

“So, with that in mind, we get up every day and do what we need to do to be the best parents we can be for the kids.”

And in the quiet of her days, it’s that which has become loud and clear.


Rosie Mullaley is the human interest reporter for The Telegram

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