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Sarah Simpson Column: Social media mobilized to identify found film photo – Cowichan Valley Citizen



Social media gets blamed for a lot of things but it’s not all bad. Here’s a little story about people helping people via social media.

It was a bit of Sunday fun for Victoria’s John Carlow, recently. Well, I guess the story has a longer history than that. A few years ago Carlow bought an old Brownie Target 620 camera from a shop in Cowichan Bay. Carlow, a photographer, had initially intended to use it merely as a mantle decoration but recently he opted to prepare it for use again. He opened the body of the camera to discover a roll of 620 black and white film, shot, rolled and ready for processing.

What could possibly be on that film? Was the film even viable to process? How long had the camera been sitting in that store anyway? Where did it come from? Carlow had so many questions.

The Cowichan Bay thrift store he bought it from is long gone so that lead ended in a dead end.

“This shot film could be 40-plus-years-old for all I know,” he said. “I sourced a lab in Vancouver that still processes 620 film. I got the negatives back and could tell the exposed film had suffered considerably… years..heat..etc… I had a local store process five of the eight frames on the roll that showed any exposure at all.”

Luckily for Carlow, one image survived.

The photo, though battered and of poor resolution, showed an old building. Carlow’s goal: to identify that structure.

Carlow posted it on his personal Facebook and Facebook and Instagram photography pages to no avail. It was suggested he pop on over to the Old Victoria Facebook page given members of that group love history.

“I posted first thing in the morning on the weekend and reaction was immediate,” he said. “People thought [the camera] was a great story itself , and then the sleuthing and suggestions started.”

Over the course of the day, the post generated a couple of hundred responses. Some guesses seemed close, some were off the mark completely, Carlow said.

“There were lots of guesses for the Cowichan Valley and rest of the Island, as Cow Bay is where the camera was purchased,” he explained. “Some people just wanted to talk about the cars in the photo. Some people wanted to talk my last name and family history!”

Carlow said it wasn’t until around dinner time that a Facebook user named Douglas Lewis was able to identify the structure in the fuzzy photo.

“He presented compelling and well documented evidence,” Carlow explained. “Everything seemed very clear to me from that point on. There are one or two folks who aren’t convinced, but they present no evidence to back up what they are saying.”

The building? Mahon Community Hall on Saltspring Island.

The Island’s Agricultural and Fruit Growers Association’s agricultural hall was built in 1902 thanks to a loan from a man named Ross Mahon and, after his tragic drowning death in 1903, the Association named the new hall “Mahon Memorial Hall”.

School District 64 bought the property in 1942 and a community supported restoration project took place in the early 1980s to upgrade the roof among other improvements. It’s still used by the community to this day for concerts, theatrical performances, art exhibitions, craft sales and the like.

“I was very pleased and forwarded the information to the Islands Historical Society,” Carlow said. “I’d like to present the photo for the archives.”

The photo captivated Carlow so much, he even went to Saltspring Island to look at the building in person.

“We have walked past this area many times, but now it means so much more,” he said. “I’m sure we would have figured it out eventually. I’m impressed by the amount of people that took to the story. It was a positive experience overall.”

There you have it, a positive outcome all thanks to social media.

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To see the photo in question, go to our website: We will post this column Saturday.

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GB News Weighs International Expansion With Media Partners – BNN



(Bloomberg) — Conservative-leaning British television startup GB News is mulling exporting its broadcasting model to other markets provided it can shore up its domestic product, according to people familiar with the matter. 

GB News launched in June with a mission to offer an alternative to what its backers described as a liberal consensus at rivals like the British Broadcasting Corp. Its debut was beset with difficulties including poor broadcast quality and on-air gaffes. The station has tried to turn things around by re-vamping its schedule, hiring new faces like former U.K. Independence Party leader Nigel Farage, and recently launching a marketing campaign.

Executives led by former Sky News Australia boss Angelos Frangopoulos are now focused on building an audience to rival that of Comcast Corp.’s Sky News, said the people, who asked not to be named because the discussions are private. They must also contend with the launch next year of talkTV by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., which will include a show from controversial journalist Piers Morgan.

If they can overcome these issues down the line, parent company All Perspectives Ltd. is looking at how to push into countries including Germany, Italy, Spain and Poland, according to the people. That could be done with joint ventures melding its low-cost, cloud-based newsroom technology with presentation handled by local media groups, the people said. Possible partners discussed included German media conglomerate Axel Springer, they added.

Any expansion is not imminent, and a move abroad may not happen, said the people. Spokeswomen for GB News and Axel Springer declined to comment on the plans. 

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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Horizon Media, Madison Avenue’s Long-Time Independent Media Shop, Sells Minority Stake – Variety



Horizon Media, one of the largest advertising companies not owned by the big publicly-traded entities that dominate the industry, intends to sell off a minority stake to investment firms, ending its decades of pursuing a purely go-it-alone strategy.

Horizon, long controlled by entrepreneur Bill Koenigsberg, said it had sold a piece of the company to Temasek, a Singapore investment firm. LionTree Advisors, an investment firm led by Aryeh Bourkoff, will also become an investor as part of the transaction.  Financial terms were not disclosed, but Koenigsberg is to remain “the long-term majority shareholder” of the agency. Horizon was founded in 1989, employs 2,500 people and manages media investments valued at more than $9.5 billion

“Horizon sees more opportunity than ever before to take advantage of gaps in the marketplace and continue our significant growth in driving positive business outcomes for our clients. In evaluating the next evolution of Horizon, I wanted a world class partner who is like-minded strategically, has the same appetite for growth, understands the media, marketing, and technology landscape, is global in scale, and culturally aligned,” Koenigsberg said in a statement. “I found that perfect combination in Temasek and LionTree.”

Horizon is one of a handful of large firms that help advertisers allocate and invest millions of dollars in advertising, serving all the while as influential go-betweens that deal with blue-chip marketers and the media outlets they need to get the word out about their products and services. Horizon has long worked for Berkshire Hathaway’s Geico, one of the nation’s biggest ad spenders, along with Anheuser-Busch InBev’s Corona beer and CBS. Horizon is also involved in the launch of the Hoop Dreams Classic, an event that is backed by actor Michael B. Jordan and WarnerMedia among others.

But the other media buying giants, like Magna, Omnicom Media Group and GroupM, are backed by Madison Avenue giants like Interpublic Group, Omnicom Group and WPP. Koenigsberg has, over the years, chosen to remain independent — and some clients have appreciated it.

In the past, Koenigsberg has seen his company’s independence as an advantage. “Being CEO for the company for the last 30 years and having a long-term vision is an enormous competitive advantage, because when I look at my competitors — and I don’t want to go back 30 years, let me go back 10 — there have probably been 100 different CEOs at my competitor agencies,” he told Ad Age in 2020. “When a new one comes in, they feel the need to shake things up and leave a mark,” he said, adding: “There’s an inconsistency in where they’re going. For me, I’ve had a much longer runway and an ability to drive the business forward with this long-term vision.”

But staying solo has also created some disadvantages. “I’m not as strong globally,” he told Ad Age.  “The other downside is … the fact that I don’t have publicly traded currency sometimes has hurt me.”

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Parents of the social media generation are not OK – CNN



(CNN Business)Last September, just a few weeks into the school year, Sabine Polak got a call from the guidance counselor. Her 14-year-old daughter was struggling with depression and had contemplated suicide.

“I was completely floored,” said Polak, 45, who lives in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. “I had no clue she was even feeling remotely down at all. When I asked her about it, she just kept saying she wanted to get away from it all … but I didn’t know what that meant.”
After taking her to a crisis center, which banned phone use for anyone checking in, Polak learned from her daughter that the pressures of social media were driving her increased anxiety. The main source of stress: waiting for her friends to open and respond to messages and photos on Snapchat.
“It became really addictive [for her] — the sense that you always have to be on, and always have to be responding to someone in order to be seen or to exist,” she said. “She would look at her phone and go from calm to storming out of the car, and the rest of the night, just curled up in her bed.”
Polak turned on some of the phone’s parental controls, but they were easy for her daughter to circumvent. She took the phone away but worried this move would only drive her daughter to think about taking her own life again. She gave the phone back only to find her daughter “self-soothing” on another social app, TikTok — so much, in fact, that “she literally believes that she can’t fall asleep without it.” As Polak put it, her daughter “feels lost, like, ‘I have no idea what to do with myself if I’m not on social media.'”
Polak is among a generation of parents who did not spend their childhoods with social media apps and are now struggling to understand and navigate the potential harms that social media can have on their kids’ mental health as they grow up. In interviews over the last month, nearly a dozen parents spoke with CNN Business about grappling with how to deal with teens who experience online harms such as bullying, body image issues and pressures to always be Liked. Most of the parents said these issues either began or were exacerbated by the pandemic, a time when their children were isolated from friends, social media became a lifeline and the amount of screen time increased.
Sabine Polak is one of many concerned parents who are struggling to navigate social media's impact on their children's mental health.

Sabine Polak is one of many concerned parents who are struggling to navigate social media's impact on their children's mental health.

The issue of social media’s impact on teens gained renewed attention this fall after Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen leaked hundreds of internal documents, some of which showed the company knew of Instagram’s potential to negatively impact one’s mental health and body image, especially among teenage girls. But Haugen also touched on the impact on parents. During her testimony before Congress in October, Haugen cited Facebook research that revealed kids believe they are struggling with issues like body image and bullying alone because their parents can’t guide them.
“I’m saddest when I look on Twitter and people blame the parents for these problems with Facebook. They say, ‘Just take your kid’s phone away.’ But the reality is that it’s a lot more complicated than that,” she said in her testimony.
“Very rarely do you have one of these generational shifts where the generation that leads, like parents who guide their children, have such a different set of experiences that they don’t have the context to support their children in a safe way,” she added. “We need to support parents. If Facebook won’t protect the kids, we at least need to help the parents support the kids.”
Facebook, which rebranded as Meta in October, has repeatedly tried to discredit Haugen and said her testimony and reports on the documents mischaracterize its actions and efforts. But the outcry from Haugen’s disclosures pressured Facebook to rethink the launch of an Instagram app for children under 13. (Children under the age of 13 are not currently permitted to create accounts on any Meta platforms.)
It also helped spur a series of congressional hearings about how tech products impact kids, featuring execs from Facebook, TikTok and Snapchat’s parent company, Snap. This week, the head of Meta-owned Instagram is set to appear before Congress as lawmakers question the app’s impact on young users.
In their testimonies, the TikTok and Snap executives showed humility and acknowledged the need to do more to protect their platforms. Jennifer Stout, Snap VP of global public policy, said the company is developing new tools for parents to better oversee how their children are using the app. Instagram previously said it’s “increasingly focused on addressing negative social comparison and negative body image.”
Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen appears before a Senate subcommittee in October.

Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen appears before a Senate subcommittee in October.

Ahead of the Congressional appearance this week, Instagram introduced a Take a Break feature which encourages users to spend some time away from the platform. The company also said it plans to take a “stricter approach” to the content it recommends to teenagers and actively nudge them toward different topics if they’ve been dwelling on any type of content for too long. It’s also planning to introduce its first tools for parents, including an educational hub and parental monitoring tools that allow them to see how much time their kids spend on Instagram and set time limits, starting next year.
“You can offer tools to parents and you can offer them insights into their teen’s activity, but that’s not as helpful if they don’t really know how to have a conversation with their teen about it, or how to start a dialogue that can help them get the most out of their time online,” Vaishnavi J, Instagram’s head of safety and well-being, told CNN Business this week.
Meanwhile, members of Congress have shown rare bipartisanship by uniting in criticizing tech companies on the issue. Some lawmakers are now pushing for legislation intended to increase children’s privacy online and reduce the apparent addictiveness of various platforms — though it remains unclear when or if such legislation will pass.
For some parents, these changes aren’t coming quick enough. Unsure what else to do, parents feel they have to go it alone, whether that means pushing for changes in their school districts or looking for advice from peers on some of the same social networks they feel have caused their families pain.

A longtime concern that’s getting worse

Even before Haugen’s disclosures, there were concerns in some households that the risks social media platforms posed to their kids were only growing.
Katherine Lake said social media became “everything” for her 13-year-old child during the pandemic to pass the time at home and connect with friends. She said her teen fell down a rabbit hole of pages about mental health and, later, posts about self harm — something her kid “didn’t even know about before Instagram.” The teenager was hospitalized last spring after attempting suicide.
“The pandemic has certainly accelerated some of the threats and dangers that we’ve been dealing with for years,” said Marc Berkman, CEO of the Organization for Social Media Safety, an agency founded three years ago to provide tips and preventative safety workshops for parents.
Some data also support that mental health issues among young people on social media are on the rise. Bark, a paid monitoring service that screens social media apps, personal messages and emails for terms and phrases that could indicate concerns, said it saw a 143% increase in alerts sent around self-harm and suicidal ideation during the first three months of 2021 compared to the year prior. (Parents receive alerts when Bark detects potential issues, along with expert recommendations from child psychologists for how to address them.)
“Our children’s lives are buried deep within their phones and the problems live within their digital signal in places that parents don’t go,” said Titania Jordan, chief marketing officer of Bark. “If you’re not spending time in the places where your children are online, how can you be educated and then how can you give them guidance?”
Gabriella Bermudez, now 18, recalls how Instagram impacted her mental health in middle school.

Gabriella Bermudez, now 18, recalls how Instagram impacted her mental health in middle school.

Gabriella Bermudez, a 19-year-old Fordham University student, told CNN Business she started struggling with body image issues in middle school after a boy she had a crush on started Liking photos of a 30-year-old model on Instagram.
“I was 12, and I would look at her and think, ‘Why don’t I look like that?'” said Bermudez.”I was covered with pimples. My hair, it was awful. … It never resonated that she was a grown woman. I posted pictures of myself to make myself look a lot older than I was.”
But that started to attract direct messages from older men on Instagram. She kept this from her parents, she said, because she thought “they’ll never understand what it’s like to be young [right now].”
“They always had societal pressures to look a certain way or behave a certain way, but that was in a magazine or on TV. They could have turned it off. For us, we’re attached to our phones all the time. When we’re waiting at the bus stop or walking to class, we’re always reminded of these ideals.”

Looking for answers

When Julia Taylor needs held making parenting decisions, she sometimes turns to a Facebook group called “Parenting in a Tech World.” Taylor’s son has ADHD, which she said causes him to “become hyper-focused on certain things,” including “anything with a screen.” Taylor, a single mom from the Denver area, wanted him to have a smartphone, “but he was hacking every parental control, sometimes staying up all night.”
On “Parenting in a Tech World,” which has 150,000 followers, she and other parents can find feedback on a wide range of topics, including when a kid should be allowed to join social media sites, what to do if they’re sending or receiving inappropriate texts or pictures, and product recommendations like a docking station that keeps devices out of kids’ rooms at night. Last year, Taylor purchased a Pinwheel phone that comes with web browsers and restricts social media use. (She later joined the company full-time as a marketing manager.)
Bark’s Jordan started the group years ago after she joined the company when she struggled to find resources to help her own parenting. “It has always taken a village to be the best parent you can, and while we’re waiting on legislators and Big Tech to do the right thing, at the end of the day, nobody is going to be a better parent for your child than you. The best thing that you can do is learn from other parents who have been there and done that, both their mistakes and their wins.”
On this issue, however, there are no easy answers. Social media and smartphones are here to stay — and taking them away could risk undermining a child’s social relationships and sense of independence. According to Alexandra Hamlet, a clinical psychologist in New York City, it’s important for parents to help teenagers navigate both the online and physical world, by being understanding and nonjudgmental. “If we can teach and support our children to use the same skillsets to navigate each world, we increase our chances of attaining mental health,” she said.
There’s now a wide range of policy ideas being batted around to help parents and kids. Some critics, including Haugen, said tech companies should move away from algorithmic news feeds that can drive users down rabbit holes. Two Democratic Senators have touted legislation called the Kids Act, which would ban autoplay settings and push alerts with the hope of limiting screen time. And the Organization for Social Media Safety said it is now working with Congress to try to push through legislation that would require third-party parent monitoring apps on all social media accounts of kids of a certain age.
Titania Jordan, an executive at Bark, started a Facebook Group for parents to discuss the challenges associated with raisiing kids in the digital age

Titania Jordan, an executive at Bark, started a Facebook Group for parents to discuss the challenges associated with raisiing kids in the digital age

Some parents inside and outside this Facebook group are already using parental control apps as well as purchasing low-tech phones and limiting social media use. Some have also gone so far as to try to get their children’s schools to take action on everything from banning phones in classrooms to cracking down on online bullying incidents, with little success.
Fernando Velloso, a father from Los Angeles, said his high school-aged daughter dealt with an anonymous bullying account likely set up by classmates who made false claims about her dating life. He said the school didn’t want to take action because it occurred outside of its premises.
On a series of Instagram accounts from high schools in the area, which were viewed by CNN, students are encouraged to submit gossip tips to accounts that have called students cheaters, rapists or questioned their sexuality. While Instagram has banned some of the accounts, others remain active. (A Meta spokesperson said the accounts did not violate its community guidelines but a number of pieces of content did, and have been removed.)
Bermudez said schools can do more to educate teenagers on how to better manage mental health and social media. “We need to be taught at a really young age, like in elementary school, about how to use it and [make it a] safe space.”
During her testimony, Haugen said schools and organizations such as the National Institutes of Health should provide established information where parents can learn how to better support their kids. Meanwhile, the Organization for Social Media Safety is currently rolling out a program with DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) to be part of that curriculum in thousands of schools by the end of the current school year to educate students about the dangers of social media
Polak, the mother whose daughter had suicidal thoughts, has proposed a Mental Health Awareness Week at her daughter’s school that would include screenings of Childhood 2.0 and The Social Dilemma — two documentaries that touch on how platforms are impacting the well-being of its users.
Polak said her daughter is now doing better and occasionally accesses social media with time restrictions. “But once a week we have a social media brawl, where she’ll present me with, ‘When can I go back on Snapchat? When can I get back on TikTok?’ It’s a constant struggle, and there’s a lot of peer pressure from friends, good friends, to get back on some of the apps.”
But on a recent night, she found her daughter quietly playing with their family cat for half an hour in her room. “I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, that’s what’s missing — the little everyday stuff that curbs our anxiety,” she said. “It’s just completely missing from teenage life at this point.”

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