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Social media a downer?

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A new study from UBC Okanagan finds that it’s not social media itself, but how we use it, that could impact our overall happiness.

Associate professor Derrick Wirtz studied how people use three major social media platforms — Facebook, Twitter and Instagram — and how that use can impact a person’s overall well-being.

“Social network sites are an integral part of everyday life for many people around the world,” says Wirtz. “Every day, billions of people interact with social media. Yet the widespread use of social network sites stands in sharp contrast to a comparatively small body of research on how this use impacts a person’s happiness.”

COVID-19 has changed the way we interact, but according to Wirtz, social media has transformed how we interact with others. Face-to-Face, in-person contact is now matched or exceeded by online social interactions as the primary way people connect.

While the majority of people gain happiness from interacting with others face-to-face, Wirtz notes that some come away from using social media with a feeling of negativity—for a variety of different reasons.

The study indicated that one of the main reasons for this negative feeling is linked to social comparison. Participants in Wirtz’s study said the more they compared themselves to others while using social media, the less happy they felt.

“Viewing images and updates that selectively portray others positively may lead social media users to underestimate how much others actually experience negative emotions and lead people to conclude that their own life—with its mix of positive and negative feelings—is, by comparison, not as good,” he says.

Wirtz notes that viewing other people’s posts and images while not interacting with them lends itself to comparison without the mood-boosting benefits that ordinarily follow social contact, undermining well-being and reducing self-esteem. “Passive use, scrolling through others’ posts and updates, involves little person-to-person reciprocal interaction while providing ample opportunity for upward comparison.”

The research studied the way participants used social media and specifically four functions of Facebook—checking a news feed, messaging, catching up on world news and posting status or picture updates. The most frequently used function was passively checking one’s news feed without directly connecting with other users.

During COVID-19, Wirtz notes that people used social media more when they were lonely, and time spent on social media only increased feelings of loneliness for participants in the study. “Today, the necessity of seeing and hearing friends and family only through social media due to COVID-19 might serve as a reminder of missed opportunities to spend time together.”

The study also indicated that the more people used any of these three social media sites, the more negative they reported feeling afterwards.

“The three social network sites examined—Facebook, Twitter and Instagram—yielded remarkably convergent findings,” he says. “The more respondents had recently used these sites, either in aggregate or individually, the more negative effect they reported when they responded to our randomly-timed surveys over a 10-day period.”

This study also included offline interactions with others, either face-to-face or a phone call. Comparing both offline communication with online, he was able to demonstrate that offline social interaction had precisely the opposite effect of using social media, strongly enhancing emotional well-being.

The study also indicated that it is possible to use social media positively. Wirtz suggests people avoid passively scrolling and resist comparing themselves to other social media users. He also says people should use social media sites to enable direct interactions and social connectedness—for example, talking online synchronously or arranging time spent with others in-person, when possible and with proper precautions.

“If we all remember to do that, the negative impact of social media use could be reduced—and social networks sites could even have the potential to improve our well-being and happiness,” he adds. “In other words, we need to remember how we use social media has the potential to shape the effects on our day-to-day happiness.”

Rob Gibson / Castanet

 

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'Netflix tax' for digital media likely to raise prices for consumers, experts say – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News

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David Paddon, The Associated Press


Published Tuesday, December 1, 2020 7:13PM EST

TORONTO – The cost of digital services and goods sold by foreign companies like Netflix will go up under a taxation plan the government wants to put in place next year, experts said Tuesday.

Ottawa said in its fiscal update released Monday it will require multinationals to collect GST or HST on digital products and services, which it said would add up to $1.2 billion over five years.

Sometimes labelled a “Netflix tax,” the measure would also apply to other services such as Amazon.com Inc.’s Prime Video or the Spotify audio streaming service, as well as digital products such as software applications.

The government says Canadian companies already collect those taxes when they make digital sales, so it’s only fair that foreign multinationals should do the same.

KPMG tax partner Joe Micallef said it’s likely Canadians will end up paying the taxes collected for the government by foreign multinationals.

“Right now, the way in which they’re delivering their services, they’re not responsible for the collection,” Micallef said.

“And so, effectively, it would mean that these charges would be appearing on (their) invoices.”

A regular monthly subscription for a streaming service that delivers video or music would be a simple calculation, with the tax rate applied to the purchase price.

But Micallef said it is be more difficult to estimate how much additional tax individual consumers, or businesses, will pay for other types of digital purchases, he said.

Something like gaming software might cost little or nothing itself, but offer the option for subsequent charges to add features that make the experience better.

“How many times? How many transactions? It adds up,” Micallef said.

Dwayne Winseck, a media industry researcher at Carleton University in Ottawa, also expects companies will add the price of the tax to the total sale price.

“I mean, this is really not a very substantial amount, when we’re talking about corporate finances,” said Winseck, who is a professor of journalism and communication.

He said that the term “Netflix tax” has become highly politicized and is often used as “code” for levelling the playing field between U.S.-based digital media companies and traditional Canadian broadcasters.

“And if the idea is to create a level playing field between those two services, then that by all means that makes great sense,” Winseck said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.

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'Netflix tax' for digital media likely to raise prices for consumers, experts say – OrilliaMatters

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TORONTO — Experts in taxation and media say a plan to make taxable the digital services sold by foreign companies such as Netflix Inc. will ultimately add to the cost consumers pay for those services. 

Ottawa said in its fiscal update released Monday it will require multinationals to collect GST or HST on digital products and services, forecasting it would receive $1.2 billion over five years.

Sometimes labelled a “Netflix tax,” the measure would apply to other services such as Amazon.com Inc.’s Prime Video or the Spotify audio streaming service, as well as digital products such as software applications. 

The government says Canadian companies already collect those taxes when they make digital sales, so it’s only fair that foreign multinationals should do the same. 

KPMG tax partner Joe Micallef says the plan may be fair but it’s likely Canadians will end up paying the taxes collected for the government by foreign multinationals.

Dwayne Winseck, a media industry researcher at Carleton University in Ottawa, says he also thinks the companies will add the price of the tax to the total sale price. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 1, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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Social Media Account Verification Messages: CyberCriminals' Latest Phishing Technique Exploits Both Human Emotions And Anti-Fraud Techniques – Joseph Steinberg

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Social media users’ delight at receiving notification that their accounts have qualified for Verification (that is, receiving the often-coveted “blue check mark” that appears on the social media profiles of public figures) has become the latest target of criminal exploitation. Cybercrooks intent on stealing people’s identities (or worse) have begun sending well-crafted messages that both impersonate various major social-media providers, as well as mimic the instructions that such media platforms utilize as part of their respective Verification processes.

In order to ensure that they do not erroneously Verify accounts impersonating public figures or businesses, some social-media providers ask candidates for Verification to submit copies of government issued identification documents, such as drivers’ licenses or passports; only after the platform has validated the documents submitted by a candidate for Verification, and confirmed that the information on the documents corresponds to the data associated with the relevant account, will the social media provider Verify the account with a blue check mark.

As such, scammers sending bogus Verification messages request that recipients do the same, and exploit the fact that so many people both expect to be asked for copies of such documents as part of the Verification process, and are willing to share such documents in order to become Verified. The attack is especially devious because, in some cases, targeted individuals are not even directed to a phishing site, rather, they are instructed to send the relevant documents via email to an address that mimics one used by the social media provider’s real employees.

Some of the fraudulent Verification messages appear to be targeted – sent to active social media users with significant followings, for whom receiving Verification is often valuable, and for whom receiving notice of qualifying for Verification seems wonderful, rather than suspicious. Because targeted attacks involve relatively small numbers of people, criminals also benefit from would-be-victims not having previously learned about such scams, and a lack of media coverage that might otherwise serve as advance warnings to future targets. (There have been some fraudulent Verification emails sent to poor targets, perhaps indicating that some criminals are now attempting to use more of a “shotgun” approach of sending out many messages with the hope that one or more recipients fall prey. I myself received one such message – for a social media account of mine that has been Verified for the greater part of a decade.)

One of the simplest ways to avoid falling prey to a bogus Verification-message scam is simply not to trust unsolicited email messages from social media providers; instead communicate through the messaging systems offered as part of the relevant official apps and websites. Also, never send personal documents to a social media provider by email; all major providers offer ways to upload documents directly to them, and to perform the upload via the providers’ official apps and/or websites.

And, of course, if you do receive some notification that one of your social media accounts has qualified for Verification, but that message was delivered to you as an email or text message – or via any other form of message other than one in the official support section of a social media app – beware.

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