Reverends, rabbis and other religious leaders urged Meta Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg to permanently stop the company’s plan for an Instagram version aimed at young users on Tuesday, in a letter sent by advocacy group Fairplay and their Children’s Screen Time Action Network.
Since last September, Instagram has paused its plans to introduce a version of the photo-sharing app for kids, as opposition to the project grew.
“After much meditation and prayer, we assert that social media platforms that target immature brains, practice unethical data mining, and are inspired by profit motives are not a tool for the greater good of children,” said the letter, which was signed by more than 70 religious leaders.
Instagram and its parent company, Meta Platforms formerly Facebook, have come under intense scrutiny over the potential impact of their services on the mental health, body image and safety of young users, including after whistleblower Frances Haugen leaked internal documents about the company’s approach to younger users.
In December, Instagram head Adam Mosseri was grilled about children’s online safety by a Senate panel. A coalition of state attorneys general has also opened a probe into Meta for promoting Instagram to children despite potential harms.
Meta has said the leaked documents have been used to paint a false picture of the company’s work. It has also said the idea of Instagram for kids was to give a safer, dedicated place for younger users to engage with the service.
Instagram, like other social media sites, has rules against children under 13 joining the platform but said it knows it has users under this age.
The letter from the faith groups, which quoted the Bible, Qur’an, Pope Francis and Buddhist monk Thích Nhất Hạnh, called on Zuckerberg, as someone who has in the past said religion is “very important,” to recognize spiritual as well as secular concerns about the project.
Instagram declined to comment on the letter.
Reuters reported last year https://www.reuters.com/technology/facebook-decided-faith-groups-are-good-business-now-it-wants-your-prayers-2021-07-22 on Meta’s concerted outreach to the religious community in its efforts to drive engagement on its platforms. The company, which has a dedicated faith partnerships team, launched a new feature to request and send prayers on the site, sent out mini equipment kits for streaming worship during the COVID-19 pandemic, and last year held its first virtual faith summit.
(Reporting by Elizabeth Culliford; Editing by Bernard Orr)
Media Advisory: Ministers Stoodley and Davis to Attend Run for Women in Support of Stella's Circle – News Releases – Government of Newfoundland and Labrador
On Sunday, June 26 the Honourable Sarah Stoodley, Minister of Digital Government and Service NL and the Honourable Bernard Davis, Minister of Environment and Climate Change, will attend the LOVE YOU’ by Shoppers Drug Mart Run for Women, in support of women’s mental health programs at Stella’s Circle.
The event is set to begin at 8:45 a.m. at Quidi Vidi Lake, 115 The Boulevard, St. John’s.
The Run for Women is held in 18 cities throughout Canada and focuses on Women’s Mental Health. Funds raised go to this year’s charity partner, Stella’s Circle, to specifically support programming at Naomi House and the Just Us Women’s Centre. The event also promotes physical movement as a means to creating better positive mental health outcomes.
Digital Government and Service NL
Environment and Climate Change
Newly appointed Toronto councillor resigns after controversial social media posts resurfaced – CTV News Toronto
A newly installed Toronto councillor has resigned after her old social media posts, which appear to show homophobic content, were unearthed hours following her appointment.
Rosemarie Bryan was appointed by city council as the new councillor for Ward 1 – Etobicoke North during a special meeting on Friday, filling the vacancy left by Michael Ford, who ran in June’s provincial election and won.
After she was appointed, however, Bryan’s alleged past social media activities, which appears to show her sharing anti-LGBTQ content, were brought to light.
Friday was the start of the Pride Toronto’s Festival Weekend, which features the return of the Pride Parade to downtown streets on Sunday following a two-year hiatus.
Several councillors posted to social media that had they known about Bryan’s posts, they would not have voted for her to fill the seat.
“A majority of councillors would have never this (way) had this information been brought forward. We relied too heavily on the recommendation being made by former councillor,” Coun. Mike Layton tweeted.
“We need to reopen this debate.”
Of the 23 councillors who cast their ballots, 21 voted for Bryan, including Mayor John Tory.
Coun. Josh Matlow, one of the two councillors who did not vote for Bryan, called for her resignation, tweeting that he does not believe “anyone who supports hate and bigotry should be a Toronto city councillor, or hold any public office for that matter. This is disgraceful.”
On Friday night, Bryan released a statement announcing that she is resigning, saying it’s the best way to continue serving those who love and support her in Etobicoke North.
Bryan said she is devastated that her past online posts are being “thrown against my decades of commitment to the community.”
“I recognize councillors were not aware of those posts before today’s discussion and now that they are, I recognize many would not have cast their vote for me. I don’t want to hurt all those who supported me and I remain committed to helping my community in any and every way I can,” she said.
In a statement, Tory said while Bryan made a “strong case” to council for her appointment, her past social media posts are “not acceptable.”
“I totally disagree with any homophobic or transphobic views. I absolutely support our 2SLGBTQ+ residents. City Councillors are expected to set an example when it comes to consistency with our shared values,” Tory said.
“I would not have voted for this appointment had I been aware of these posts and I know that is the sentiment of the vast majority of council who also voted today.”
He said it was appropriate for Bryan to resign.
“The upset this has caused everyone involved is extremely unfortunate. This is especially unfortunate on the very weekend when we are celebrating the progress we have made together,” Tory said, adding that he has asked staff to review the overall appointment process.
S.Korean leader's informal media events are a break with tradition – SaltWire Halifax powered by The Chronicle Herald
By Soo-hyang Choi
SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korean leader Yoon Suk-yeol has departed from years of tradition by holding informal daily media events to field questions on topics ranging from inflation and ties with neighbouring North Korea to the first lady and even boyband BTS.
Such wide-ranging access to the president was previously unheard of. It stems from Yoon’s decision to move his office out of the official Blue House, whose previous occupants largely steered clear of such interactions over more than seven decades.
“It’s apparently helping Yoon dispel worries about his lack of political experience and giving him a sense of where public opinion is at,” said Eom Kyeong-young, a political commentator based in the capital, Seoul.
Yoon, a former prosecutor-general, entered politics just a year ago, before winning the presidency in March by a margin of just 0.7%, the narrowest in South Korea’s history.
Upon his inauguration in May, Yoon moved the presidential office to the compound of South Korea’s defence ministry, describing the official residence as the symbol of an “imperial presidency”, and vowing not to “hide behind” his aides.
His liberal predecessor, Moon Jae-in, had rarely held news conferences, and almost always filtered his communication with the media, and the public, through layers of secretaries.
Analysts see Yoon’s daily freewheeling sessions as part of a broader communications strategy that lets him drive policy initiatives and present himself as a confident, approachable leader.
The campaign has also allayed public suspicions about the newcomer to politics, they say.
Polls show the new strategy helping to win support and much-needed political capital for Yoon in his effort to hasten recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, in a parliament dominated by the opposition Democratic Party.
Although Yoon’s approval rating dipped to 47.6% in a recent survey, slightly lower than the disapproval figure of 47.9%, another June poll showed communication was the reason most frequently cited by those who favoured him.
“The sweeping victory of Yoon’s conservative party in June local elections shows the public is not so much against the new administration,” said Eom.
Incumbents from Yoon’s People Power Party (PPP) defeated challengers for the posts of mayor in the two biggest cities of Seoul and the port city of Busan in that contest, while its candidates won five of seven parliamentary seats.
Eom attributed Yoon’s low approval rating from the beginning of his term to inflation risks that threaten to undermine an economic recovery and his lack of a support base as a new politician.
But some critics say Yoon’s sessions raise the chances that he could make mistakes.
“He could make one mistake a day,” Yun Kun-young of the opposition party wrote on Facebook last week, saying the new practice could be “the biggest risk factor” for the government.
The presidential office could not immediately be reached for comment.
Yoon has already faced criticism for controversial remarks made during the morning briefings, such as one in defence of his nominee for education minister, who has a record of driving under the influence of alcohol years ago.
But the daily meetings and public reaction would ultimately help the government to shape policy better, said Shin Yul, a professor of political science at Myongji University in Seoul.
“It might be burdensome for his aides for now, but will be an advantage in the long term,” Shin said. “A slip of the tongue cannot be a bigger problem than a policy failure.”
(Reporting by Soo-hyang Choi; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)
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