A Regina lawyer says the people who operated an Instagram page that posted allegations of sexual misconduct were running a significant risk.
Aaron Fox told Gormley this week that people could anonymously put up posts on the Victims Voices Regina page without administrators checking the accuracy or legitimacy of the allegations. If the accusations aren’t true, legal action is possible against the administrators.
“It’s no defence to say that they don’t know whether it’s true or not, they’ve just passed along what’s on there,” Fox said. “That isn’t going to be a defence for them.”
Fox represents a Regina man who claims he was wrongly accused on the page. Another Regina law firm launched a $1-million lawsuit against the page — which was removed from Instagram due to the legal action – and against Facebook, which operates Instagram.
A second page has replaced it, administered by different people.
Fox said the anonymous nature of the pages is concerning.
“A disgruntled former partner or something like that could put a complaint on there that’s not true,” he said. “A business rival, a political rival, a foreign government who wants to cause disruption in our society — there’s nothing stopping them from putting an anonymous complaint on there about somebody which is completely bogus and causing a great deal of problems not only for that individual but the organization they’re associated with and society in general.
“That’s the scary part of this.”
Fox said the process for those who feel they’ve been defamed on social media pages starts with trying to determine who wrote the post as well as who’s behind its publication.
That means issuing a claim and then a subpoena for Instagram records.
“(Social media platforms) don’t want to get involved in that,” Fox said. “They view themselves more or less as a bulletin board. People post things on there. Their responsibility isn’t to track them down or determine the authenticity, that sort of thing.
“The first step generally is to try and access their information and see what they can provide in terms of identifying who’s responsible for these postings in the first place.”
If the lawyers were to succeed in finding out the identities of the administrators – or if those people were to come forward – legal action could follow.
If it’s proved that the allegation of misconduct is true, the individual named in the post wouldn’t have any recourse. If the accusation is proven to be unfounded, the individual may have grounds for a suit.
“Once somebody who feels they’ve been defamed by something on there identifies who is responsible for that – either who’s operating the site or who has drafted the false statement — they will be personally named and sued,” Fox said.
Fox has another concern about the posts.
He believes the publication of false accusations about sexual assault could end up damaging those that are true.
“When you create a platform where people can create bogus, anonymous complaints without recourse and you lump them all in with some people who have very legitimate complaints, all of the complaints begin to lose credibility and reliability,” he said.
“Really, I think what this is doing is harming people who have legitimate complaints and have every right to pursue those complaints in a variety of ways.”
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good – Rossland News
With the not-for-profit sector among the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, Black Press Media and BC-based technology company Do Some Good have partnered to help local businesses raise awareness of vital charities and projects in their community.
“During these unprecedented times, charities need our help. At the same time, we want to recognize our local businesses for their invaluable support of non-profits, working to build better communities for all of us,” says Randy Blair, Chief Operating Officer of Black Press Media.
By partnering with Do Some Good, Black Press Media is providing a forum across its 70 British Columbia communities to recognize the great work that charities, non-profits and businesses are doing during these challenging times.
Through Black Press Media’s exclusive Pay it Forward program, businesses can connect with Do Some Good’s easy-to-use platform that helps community-minded businesses achieve a better return on their charitable giving and share content related to their charitable initiatives.
“The greatest support Black Press Media can provide is really to connect the charities with our audiences, raising awareness of both the substantial need and the great work they’re doing,” Blair says.
The philanthropy-focused program builds on Black Press Media’s ongoing initiatives to support local businesses in this challenging time.
This partnership leverages the power of technology to create stronger communities, recognizing people and businesses that give back, and allowing employees to be more engaged in the communities they work in.
“We are very excited about our partnership with Black Press Media. Whether you’re an individual, community group, non-profit or business, the Do Some Good platform and mobile app is a hub where you can share good stories, find volunteer positions, support local causes, create and manage community events, and do so much more,” says Samantha Williams, Chief Operating Officer of Do Some Good. “These connections matter now more than ever.”
Visit dosomegood.ca to start sharing your good stories and to support your local community.
Black Press Media is home to some of the oldest, most established newspapers in BC, Yukon, Alberta, Washington State, Alaska, California and Hawaii. Through its print and full suite of digital products, the Black Press team provides readers with an exceptional blend of localized news coverage and clients with unmatched integrated marketing solutions. Learn more at blackpress.ca
Do Some Good is a social enterprise that cares about building stronger communities. Their platform and app help connect people, charitable organizations, and businesses to make a meaningful impact in communities all across Canada and easily help their local community in times of need. As a registered Community Contribution Company, they give back a portion of their profits to community initiatives. Businesses can start creating impact immediately since their paid membership makes it possible for charitable organizations, youth and community members to use the Do Some Good platform for free! Learn more dosomegood.ca
No new laws required to hold social media accountable for illegal content – Canada NewsWire
New report to be discussed by expert panel today
TORONTO, Sept. 21, 2020 /CNW/ – In the eyes of Canadian law, social media companies like Facebook and YouTube are arguably publishers, opening the platforms to legal liability for user-generated content, according to Platform for Harm, a new research report released this morning by the watchdog group FRIENDS of Canadian Broadcasting.
The report builds on a legal analysis provided by libel defence lawyer and free speech advocate Mark Donald. Longstanding common law states that those who publish illegal content are liable for it in addition to those who create it. According to Donald, this liability is triggered when publishers know that content is harmful but publish it anyway, or if they fail to remove it after being notified of it.
“Our elected officials don’t need to create new laws to deal with this problem. They don’t need to define harmful content, police social media, or constrain free expression in any new way. All government needs to do is apply existing laws. But if a judge decides that content circulated on social media breaks the law, the platform which publishes and recommends that illegal content must be held liable for it,” says FRIENDS’ Executive Director Daniel Bernhard.
Social media platforms have long argued that they are simple bulletin boards that display user-generated content without editorial control, and that it is not possible to discover illegal content from among the 100 billion daily posts.
Yet Facebook and other social media platforms claim to advertisers that they do indeed have the technology to recognize content users post before it is published and pushed out to others.
In fact, the report finds that platforms like Facebook routinely exercise editorial control by promoting content users have never asked to see, including extreme content that would land any other publisher in court: for example the promotion of illegal acts such as the Christchurch, NZ massacre. They also conceal content from users without consulting them, another form of editorial control.
“Facebook and other social media platforms have complaints processes where they are alerted to potentially illegal or otherwise objectionable content. Yet it is their own community standards, not the law, which dictates whether they will remove a post. Even then Facebook employees say that the company does not apply its own standards when prominent right-wing groups are involved,” says Dr. George Carothers, FRIENDS’ Director of Research.
Platform for Harm is the subject of a panel discussion today from 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm ET co-sponsored by FRIENDS and the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI). Moderated by Rita Trichur, Senior Business Writer and Columnist at The Globe and Mail, the panel will feature leading platform governance experts, lawyers and a leading political figure who will share their unique opinions and firsthand experiences and discuss ways to balance free speech and the rule of law in relation to harmful content online. Panelists are Daniel Bernhard, Executive Director, Friends of Canadian Broadcasting, Catherine McKenna, MP for Ottawa Centre, Taylor Owen, Senior Fellow, CIGI, Heidi Tworek, Professor of History and Public Policy, UBC.
Join the discussion at 12PM ET today at https://www.cigionline.org/events/platforms-harm.
SOURCE Friends of Canadian Broadcasting
For further information: For information or to book an interview: Jim Thompson 613-447-9592
J-Talks Live kicks off season with Voices for Change: Media's Moment to Shine – Canada NewsWire
- Nana aba Duncan, host of CBC Radio One’s Podcast Playlist and Ontario’s weekend morning show Fresh Air;
- Karen K. Ho, a global finance and economics reporter for New York-based Quartz, a digital business news publication; and
- Angela Sterritt, a journalist with CBC Vancouver and member of the Gitxsan Nation.
“There are so many layers to the conversation with these three standout journalists—from their views on what must change in newsroom culture and how, to ensure it is lasting, to a discussion on the prism through which news is defined and assigned, and followed through,” says Anna Maria Tremonti, host of the J-Talks Live webcast series and the CBC podcast More. “Our panelists are bringing their professional and personal experience to the table as they discuss how this moment in time can and must be the catalyst for permanent change.”
Nana aba Duncan is currently studying the experiences of racialized and women leaders in Canadian media as a William Southam Journalism Fellow at the University of Toronto’s Massey College. Karen K. Ho, a former Delacorte Fellow at the Columbia Journalism Review, has contributed to publications including The New York Times, The Globe and Mail, Toronto Life and Time. Angela Sterritt has won numerous awards for her CBC column, Reconcile This, and is also currently a visiting professor at UBC’s School of Journalism.
This free virtual event is part of the CJF’s J-Talks program, which explores pressing journalistic issues.
The CJF thanks the generosity of J-Talks series sponsor BMO Financial Group and in-kind supporter Cision.
DATE: Thursday, September 24, 2020, 1 p.m. EDT
About The Canadian Journalism Foundation
Founded in 1990, The Canadian Journalism Foundation promotes, celebrates and facilitates excellence in journalism. The foundation runs a prestigious awards and fellowships program featuring an industry gala where news leaders, journalists and corporate Canada gather to celebrate outstanding journalistic achievement and the value of professional journalism. Through monthly J-Talks, a public speakers’ series, the CJF facilitates dialogue among journalists, business people, academics and students about the role of the media in Canadian society and the ongoing challenges for media in the digital era. The foundation also fosters opportunities for journalism education, training and research.
SOURCE Canadian Journalism Foundation
For further information: Natalie Turvey, President and Executive Director, The Canadian Journalism Foundation, [email protected]
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