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Parents sue BC private school after daughter severely bullied on social media – Cowichan Valley Citizen

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Two Vancouver parents are suing an all-girls private school, claiming their daughter has been viciously bullied by classmates for years and calling on the federal government to ban social media apps that serve as “a breeding ground for hate.”

Natalie and Uwe Boll, both restaurateurs and filmmakers, have filed a civil claim against Crofton House in connection to a string of alleged incidents between their daughter and another student that have gone on for two years.

In an online petition, Natalie Boll said her daughter, now in Grade 8, has received anonymous messages on the social media apps Tellonym and YOLO telling her to kill herself and “drink bleach,” and threatening gang rape.

A message allegedly received by a B.C. girl who attended Crofton House, an all-girl private school in Vancouver. (Natalie Boll/Change.org)

The bullying came to a head at the beginning of the school year, she said, when the girl overdosed on Xanax in a school washroom. She was later admitted to BC Children’s Hospital on two occasions for self-harming related behaviour, Natalie said, and attends a different school.

The Bolls claim Crofton House, which teaches pre-school to Grade 12, did not do enough to intervene amid spiraling racism, bullying and homophobia.

None of the allegations has been proven in court.

In a statement to Black Press Media, head of school Ena Harrop said she does not agree with the characterization of events as portrayed in the lawsuit, and that the school plans to defend itself.

“While the school cannot share information on specific incidents, investigations, or members of our community, the concerns raised were thoroughly investigated, including working with our Vancouver Police Department liaison officer, and where warranted, actions were taken in line with our code of conduct,” Harrop said.

She added that the school’s curriculum includes lessons on bullying and cyber safety, and that teachers regularly talk with students about the impact of negative social interactions in person and online.

Mom wants social media apps banned

Natalie’s petition calls on the federal government to ban the two social media apps, saying no child should be subject to that type of harassment.

“Both the Apple App Store and Google Play have policies against bullying and harassment, and our Canadian government spends thousands of dollars on anti-bullying campaigns and mental health for our children,” the petition reads.

As of Wednesday morning, the petition had received about 450 signatures.

In a similar case in Australia, Apple and Google dropped the hugely popular social media app Sarahah after a mother said it helped facilitate bullying.


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

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What's the biggest media story of the moment? It's getting harder every day to say – Poynter

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What’s the biggest media story of the moment? It’s getting harder every day to say – Poynter


What’s the biggest media story of the moment? It’s getting harder every day to say – Poynter


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BC-born Trybe social media app's award system connects with Nickelback singer – Agassiz-Harrison Observer

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Dan Swinimer helped gather a tribe to launch a new app he hopes will disrupt the world of social media and websites where things are bought and sold.

Currently beta-tested for public launch, the Trybe platform counts Nickelback singer/guitarist Chad Kroeger among its four “founders/angels,” along with Swinimer, his father Bill and fellow Surrey-area musician/construction company boss Felipe Freig.

“We set out to try and monetize social media, while making it a safer and more positive experience,” said Swinimer, who lives in the Clayton area of Surrey. “We felt it unfair that social media users do all the work, provide all the content but make none of the profits.”

Trybe is based on an award system that sends as little as 10 cents per “like,” coupled with a built-in “win-win” for users, as Swinimer describes it.

“Every time you award someone else’s post, you get exposure for your own post which gives you a better chance of your post being seen and also making money in awards,” he told the Now-Leader.

“It’s turned into a thing, it really has,” added the Ontario-raised Swinimer. “We sold shares and raised almost $2 million, we have head offices in Toronto, a CEO (Thomas Jankowski) and staff of 10 coders. It’s turned into so much more than we originally conceived.”

In the late-2000s, Swinimer and Freig were members of the rock band Jet Black Stare when they met Kroeger, who shared a manager at the time.

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Today, Swinimer is a songwriter/producer with his own Manicdown Productions, and Frieg runs Langley-based Versa Homes.

A couple of years ago, Frieg told Swinimer about an issue involving his teen son, Jadis, who’d been posting video of his scooter-riding tricks to social media.

“You can’t even believe the tricks that this kid can do on the scooter, it’s amazing,” Swinimer said. “His son didn’t have any sponsors at that point, but he was spending hours and hours every day practicing, getting really, really good, and then he spent his own money buying all this video equipment and editing software. So he’d spend four or five hours a day practicing, learning tricks, videoing them from multiple angles, then he’d edit these videos just so that he could post them on social media. And what does he get for that? The ‘likes,’ and that’s it. He’d been doing this for awhile, and we realized that with the social media model, everyone is providing the product and getting nothing in return.”

(Story continues below video)

After Swinimer and Freig talked some more, they clicked on the idea for Trybe as a way to monetize social media.

“It’s a platform where if you post something, you have a chance to make money on that post,” Swinimer elaborated. “When people post to social media, the most important thing is content, connecting with people and receiving validation from others. So imagine if you mixed in the possibility of making money and also having complete control over how many people will see your posts.… The more people I reward, the more people will see my posts, and the more chance I have of making money on my posts. If the content is good and views-to-engagement ratio is high, it also drives exposure to the post, so that lights a little fire under the post.”

• RELATED STORY, from May 2020: Arm surgery for Nickelback’s Surrey-raised drummer Daniel Adair.

Out of the gate, Kroeger had the level of celebrity pull sought by Swinimer and Freig for Trybe.

“We discussed it with Chad and right away, he was excited about it because he could see how it could transform the music business,” Swinimer recalled. “It could completely disrupt the entire distribution chain, because it’s a pain in the ass going through iTunes, which takes a lot of the proceeds. So what about a world where you post new music on Trybe and you just say, if you give anyone who rewards this post a dollar or more, gets a download code, and now you’re keeping all the money that comes in, as opposed to just half of it.”

Right now, to get early access to the app, users join a waitlist by downloading the iOS or Android app from trybe.ly.

(Story continues below)

On Wednesday (Sept. 23), Nickelback raved about Trybe’s launch to the band’s 738,000 followers on the rival Twitter platform: “No more giving away your creativity and time to social media giants. The new way — Social. Be yourself, be with your people, get rewards. See you on there.” A day later, Avril Lavigne posted the same message for her 21 million followers on Twitter.

Swinimer says Kroeger is “very involved” in the project, and likes to be in the meetings when and where he can, including the time when the four Trybe founders flew in Kroeger’s private jet to Silicon Valley.

“We didn’t tour with Nickelback (with Jet Black Stare) back then, but toured with a lot of their friends, like 3 Doors Down, Hinder and Staind,” Swinimer recalled. “For someone of his level of recognition, Chad is very accessible to musicians. He’s not hard to find and he’s happy to talk to people. One night he took us out to celebrate our record deal when we first signed it, so that was kind of our first foray. He took us out to the Commodore Ballroom because Kid Rock was doing a special invite-only show there. So we’re in his little VIP section, and then we went to some penthouse suite afterwards to hang out. It was weird, man, because to that point it was all independent music, never getting anywhere, and all the sudden we’re partying with Kid Rock. It was a wild ride.”

In the decade since those rock-band days, after Jet Black Stare’s record deal with Island Def Jam had collapsed, Swinimer turned his attention to country music and launching the careers of musicians including Madeline Merlo and Jojo Mason. “I’ve been living in Surrey for 20 years,” he noted. “I built my production company here and have written/produced upwards of 40 hit songs since startup.”

• RELATED STORY, from March 2020: Surrey’s JoJo Mason brings mom along for Saturday song during Diesel Bird Digital Music Festival.

As for Trybe, the app’s public release should be in a month or so, he said.

“We’re doing a system where we are making it very exclusive and making people excited about it, to get in early. We have multiple celebrities on board to get behind this new idea once we are public. It’s exciting.”



tom.zillich@surreynowleader.com

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State Department revoked award for journalist over social media posts critical of Trump and lied about it, watchdog finds – CNN

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Although the watchdog found that the State Department had acted within its “broad discretion” to rescind the award from Jessikka Aro, it also found that the department lied to Congress and the press to explain why it had done so.
Aro, a Finnish investigative journalist with a history of breaking stories on Russian propaganda efforts, had been slated to receive an International Women of Courage (IWOC) Award in March 2019 when suddenly and without explanation the honor was rescinded.
After a Foreign Policy report suggested that the State Department may have retaliated against her because of her criticism Trump on social media, then-State Department deputy spokesperson Robert Palladino asserted it was a miscommunication and that she had been “incorrectly notified” of her award. He called it a “regrettable error,” saying Aro actually “had not” been a finalist.
However, the 16-page OIG report found that Aro’s social media posts were the only reason her award was rescinded.
“Indeed, every person OIG interviewed in connection with this matter acknowledged that had (the Secretary’s Office of Global Women’s Issues) not highlighted her social media posts as problematic, Ms. Aro would have received the IWOC Award,” it states.
Asked about the findings of the report, Aro told CNN Friday, “In my heart I feel like an international woman of courage. That the Trump administration can’t take away from me.”
The release of the report comes more than a year after a group of Democratic senators on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee requested an OIG probe into the circumstances of Aro’s award being revoked.
Sen. Bob Menendez, the ranking member on the committee, said in a statement Friday that the “State Department owes Ms. Aro an apology.”

‘Inflammatory tweets’

The report released Friday details conversations between State Department officials on the revocation of the award after the Secretary’s Office of Global Women’s Issues “discovered dozens of Twitter and Facebook posts by Ms. Aro that it considered controversial, some of which were critical of the current President.” According to the exchanges documented in the report, certain officials feared that the posts could cause an embarrassment to the department. US Ambassador to Finland Robert Pence “stated that, although he appreciated Ms. Aro’s work, the risk of embarrassment to the First Lady and the Department was too great to have her appear on stage at the awards ceremony.”
After an exchange between the acting director of the Office of Global Women’s Issues and the deputy chief of mission, in which the latter defended Aro, the office nonetheless drafted a memo stating that they were “unable to move forward with presenting an IWOC Award to Ms. Aro because she had not been ‘fully vetted’ and had a ‘history of inflammatory tweets, targeting US leadership and the Administration in a specific way.’ It further noted that the “identified disconcerting social media content could lead to potentially embarrassing media coverage for the Department and the First Lady along with the other awardees.'”

‘Misled the public and Congress’

Moreover, the report found that the State Department had provided false information to the press and Congress to explain why the award had been rescinded.
Officials from the department’s Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs “told OIG that they disagreed with the language in the talking points and press statements suggesting that Ms. Aro was incorrectly notified and was not an awardee,” the report says.
In a briefing with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in March 2019, the acting director of the Office of Global Women’s Issues said “not really” when asked if Aro’s social media posts played a role in the department’s decision and the ambassador claimed he was not “worried” about Aro’s social media posts.
The “Department’s statements during this briefing do not align with the internal discussions that occurred at the time the decision was made to rescind Ms. Aro’s selection. OIG found no documentary evidence to corroborate the Department’s claims during the briefing with congressional staff,” the report states. “Also, Department officials from (the Secretary’s Office of Global Women’s Issues), (the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs), and Embassy Helsinki all told OIG that, had Ms. Aro’s social media content not come to light, she would have received the award.”
Menendez said in his statement Friday that the report “confirmed that Secretary Pompeo’s Department misled the public and Congress about why it rescinded Ms. Aro’s award, covering up that her social media posts were the reason the award was withdrawn. The Trump administration also drafted talking points that falsely stated Ms. Aro had never been selected as a recipient.”
“Secretary Pompeo should have honored a courageous journalist willing to stand up to Kremlin propaganda. Instead, his department sought to stifle dissent to avoid upsetting a President who, day after day, tries to take pages out of Putin’s playbook,” the New Jersey Democrat said.

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