For years, social media platforms have fuelled political polarization and hosted an explosion of hate speech. Now, with four months until the U.S. presidential election and the country’s divisions reaching a boiling point, these companies are upping their game against bigotry and threats of violence.
What’s not yet clear is whether this action is too little, too late – nor whether the pressure on these companies, including a growing advertiser boycott, will be enough to produce lasting change.
Reddit, an online comment forum that is one of the world’s most popular websites, on Monday banned a forum that supported U.S. President Donald Trump as part of a crackdown on hate speech. Also on Monday, live-streaming site Twitch, which is owned by Amazon, temporarily suspended Trump’s campaign account for violating its hateful conduct rules.
YouTube, meanwhile, banned several prominent white nationalist figures from its platform, including Stefan Molyneux, David Duke and Richard Spencer.
Social media companies, led by Facebook, now face a reckoning over what critics call indefensible excuses for amplifying divisions, hate and misinformation on their platforms. Civil rights groups have called on large advertisers to stop Facebook ad campaigns during July, saying the social network isn’t doing enough to curtail racist and violent content on its platform.
Companies such as the consumer goods giant Unilever – one of the world’s largest advertisers – as well as Verizon, Ford and many smaller brands have joined the boycott, some for the month of July and others for the rest of the year. New companies have been signing on to the boycott almost every day. While some are pausing ads only on Facebook, others have also stepped back from advertising on Twitter and other platforms.
On Monday, Ford Motor Co. put the brakes on all national social media advertising for the next 30 days. The company says hate speech, as well as posts advocating violence and racial injustice, need to be eradicated from the sites.
Reddit’s action was part of a larger purge at the San Francisco-based site. The company said it took down a total of 2,000 forums, known as the site as “subreddits,” most of which it said were inactive or had few users.
The Trump Reddit forum, called The_Donald, was banned because it encouraged violence, regularly broke other Reddit rules, and defiantly “antagonized” both Reddit and other forums, the company said in a statement. Reddit had previously tried to discipline the forum.
“We are cautiously optimistic that Reddit is finally working with groups like ours to dismantle the systems that enable hateful rhetoric on their platform,” Bridget Todd, a spokeswoman for the women’s advocacy organization UltraViolet, said in an e-mailed statement.
The group said its members met with Reddit CEO Steve Huffman via Zoom last week, encouraging him to address racism and hate speech on the platform.
For its part, Twitch pointed to comments the president made at two rallies, videos of which were posted on the site.
In one, a livestream of a rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Trump talked about a “very tough hombre” breaking into someone’s home. The other was from a 2015 campaign rally that was recently posted on Twitch, in which Trump said Mexico sends rapists and criminals to the U.S. Twitch declined to say how long the suspension will last.
The White House referred a request for comment to Trump’s re-election campaign. Tim Murtaugh, the campaign’s director of communications, said that people who want to hear directly from the president should download the campaign’s app.
Reddit has tweaked its rules and banned forums for white nationalists over the years in an attempt to rid its platform of vitriol, sometimes producing significant user backlash as a result.
CEO Steve Huffman said earlier this month that Reddit was working with moderators to explicitly address hate speech.
Companies are increasingly turning to social media to screen potential employees – The Conversation CA
As businesses around the world slowly start to reopen after being forced to shut down operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the graduates of the class of 2020 are sharpening their presentation skills and updating their resumes to look for employment opportunities. But will their polished resumes make them more competitive relative to their peers?
The answer may surprise you. In today’s digitally mediated world, well-prepared resumes may not be enough to make you stand out among hundreds of candidates.
Due to the increasing use of social media around the globe (especially now during #socialdistancing), many recruiters and hiring managers find social media attractive as a readily available source of real-time data to find and vet candidates.
Social media is used by potential employers to check job applicants’ qualifications, assess their professionalism and trustworthiness, reveal negative attributes, determine whether they post any problematic content and even assess “fit.”
We examined social media users’ attitudes towards employers using social media to screen job applicants, a process known as cybervetting. We conducted an online survey of 454 participants, primarily from the United States and India, with a followup study surveying 482 young adults in Canada.
In these studies, we compared people’s comfort level with cybervetting in relation to different types of information that could be gathered from publicly accessible social media platforms. These were readily available information in the form of raw data and metadata, meaning what they had posted, when and how; analytics information that would require processing, for example, results of sentiment analysis or topic modelling of an applicants’ posts; and information related to users’ online social network that is often used for social network analysis, for example who follows whom on social media.
Expectations of privacy
The results revealed the nuanced nature of social media users’ privacy expectations in the context of hiring practices. Individuals have context-specific and data-specific privacy expectations. People who are already concerned about social media platforms collecting their personal information and possibly sharing it without their consent are less comfortable with third parties using social media data to screen job applicants — even if it’s publicly available.
On the other hand, individuals who are more comfortable with this practice are also more concerned that social media platforms might be storing inaccurate information about them. This may be a sign of “digital resignation,” a phenomenon in which people are worried about privacy but recognize that companies still engage in this practice. Social media users may want to ensure that information collected about them from online sources is accurate, since erroneous representations may negatively impact their success on the job market.
We also found that being a job-seeker does not necessarily make one more or less comfortable with cybervetting. And there is no significant relationship between one’s gender and the comfort level with this practice. Regardless of one’s employment status or gender, our findings point to the presence of expectations and concerns with social media screening.
Our results highlight the need for employers and recruiters who rely on social media to screen job applicants to be aware of the types of information that may be perceived to be more sensitive by applicants, such as social network-related information (like friends’ lists and connections among friends).
Our research stresses the importance of employers aligning their hiring practices with people’s expectations. If job applicants are aware of and not comfortable with cybervetting, companies may lose the opportunity to recruit high-quality applicants.
Alternatively, employees may lose trust in the company if they later learn about the company’s social media screening practices. Despite the lack of regulations about cybervetting in most countries, employers should proactively state if they engage in cybervetting, outline what social media will be examined and describe how the information will be used.
Ethical hiring practices matter, and this type of transparency is a first step towards giving the next generation of graduates and employees a fair chance of landing their dream job.
Media Advisory: AIAC Holds News Conference With Honourable Jean Charest – GlobeNewswire
MONTREAL, July 08, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The Honourable Jean Charest, together with members of the aerospace and airline industries, will hold a virtual press conference to discuss how the Federal Government’s lack of a sector strategy for this important industry is putting jobs at risk and threatening Canada’s global standing.
Mr. Charest will be joined by:
Mike Mueller, Senior Vice President of the Aerospace Industries Association of Canada;
John McKenna, President & CEO, Air Transport Association of Canada
|DATE:||Thursday, July 9th, 2020|
|TIME:||11:00 AM (EDT)|
Please contact Marie-Pier Côté at email@example.com to obtain the videoconference link.
*Time subject to change if a governmental press conference related to COVID-19 conflicts. In that case, an updated advisory will be sent.
Information: Marie-Pier Côté 418 999-4847
Calls grow for media to address own failures with systemic racism – mississauga.com
Over the years, there have been recruitment efforts, training sessions, and diversity pledges, just as there have been in other business sectors.
But anything that fails to dismantle systemic and structural barriers are superficial measures that don’t achieve meaningful change, says Brian Daly of the Canadian Association of Black Journalists.
MORE EFFECTIVE SOLUTIONS
The CABJ and Canadian Journalists of Colour have partnered for a joint call to action that includes: regular disclosure of newsroom demographics, more representation and coverage of racialized communities (in part through hiring), and proactive efforts to seek, retain and promote Black and Indigenous journalists and journalists of colour to management positions.
They also suggest regular consultation with racialized communities on news coverage, identifying and addressing systemic barriers, targeted scholarships and mentorship opportunities, and encouraging journalism schools to lay the groundwork with diverse faculty and more focus on how to cover racialized communities.
Many on the ground agree conditions won’t improve without system-wide changes.
An expressed desire to address diversity is not enough, says TSN’s SportsCentre anchor Kayla Grey, who weathered blowback and sparked a Twitter hashtag when she criticized white freelance journalist Sheri Forde for using the N-word in a Medium blog post that ironically detailed Forde’s efforts at building racial awareness.
“Companies and newsrooms are showing their ass right now,” says Grey, the first Black woman to anchor a national TV sports show in Canada.
“I’m seeing people fumble and it’s clear that they just don’t have those voices in those rooms that check them in the first place. Or they might have those voices in the room, they might have that representation, but are they listening clearly to those voices? And have those voices felt empowered to speak out about such issues?”
THE IMPACT ON STAFF
The National Post met condemnation both within and outside of its newsroom for several inflammatory commentaries, most notably one from Rex Murphy on June 1 that declared, “Canada is not a racist country.” The online link now features an apology for “a failure in the normal editing oversight” and points readers to a rebuttal by Financial Post writer Vanmala Subramaniam.
Nevertheless, Murphy defended the piece in another column June 16 and Post founder Conrad Black added his denials of systemic racism in columns June 20 and 27, the latter of which dismissed the current reckoning with racial injustice and systemic racism as an “official obsession” causing “an absurd displacement for other concerns.”
A few frustrated staffers began withholding bylines from their own stories shortly after that first Black column, growing to involve more as the week wore on.
Editor-in-chief Rob Roberts would not comment on the byline strike, only saying: “We stand by our columnists’ right to state their opinion.”
Phyllise Gelfand, vice-president of communications for Postmedia, says in an emailed statement that the company is revisiting its diversity and inclusion programs and that diversity training for its newsrooms will roll out “immediately.”
Daly says it would be harder to dismiss the lived experiences of Black people if they were welcomed into newsrooms and their leadership.
“Allow people of differing worldviews and differing lived experiences to coexist in a newsroom environment, and then you’re going to get a healthy newsroom,” says Daly, a TV producer for the CBC in Halifax.
Over the course of a 25-year journalism career, Daly says he’s worked in five provinces, at three TV networks and wire services — including The Canadian Press — and has never had a manager of colour. He recalls just three full-time colleagues who were Black.
In June, the CABJ penned an open letter to Corus Entertainment urging improved supports for Black voices and staff while expressing solidarity “with Black employees at Global News who have grappled with feelings of defeat” over repeated microaggressions.
That was followed last Thursday by another open letter to Corus and its Global News division signed by more than 100 hosts, producers, reporters, editors and camera operators with similar demands. “If we are to expect accountability of others, we must demand it of ourselves,” they wrote.
Corus has hired Grange’s agency, DiversiPro Inc., to review the entire organization, while its executive vice president of broadcast networks, Troy Reeb, says in a statement it’s “acting immediately” at Global News to increase representation, remove systemic barriers to retention and promotion, and consult with marginalized communities on news coverage.
Grange, who wouldn’t discuss details of the review, notes an enduring lack of diversity in the broader media industry when it comes to those who decide which stories are covered and how they’re told.
Entire communities and perspectives are at risk of being ignored or distorted when coverage is filtered through a predominantly white lens, says Daly.
And when that happens, news coverage can effectively uphold the status quo, sustain systemic barriers and actively deepen racial inequities, adds Anita Li of the Canadian Journalists of Colour.
“That’s actually bad for democracy because if people don’t see themselves reflected in the news they’re less likely to vote, to trust their neighbours, to engage civically,” says Li, whose career has included stints with CTV Ottawa, CBC, the Toronto Star and the Globe and Mail.
These are not new problems, she adds, suggesting recent scrutiny rather than genuine insight has spurred some organizations to declare serious plans to address race-related failings.
Li notes the CABJ and CJOC issued their joint calls to action in January but the response from legacy organizations “was crickets.”
“We didn’t hear anything from them until these mass protests started happening,” she says of widespread demonstrations against anti-Black racism and police brutality.
Grange, too, says the majority of his clients have not traditionally been media. But that’s changing.
“Suddenly, we’re getting them. It’s kind of interesting.”
THE GROWING RESPONSE
Despite recent high-profile transgressions, the media industry does appear to be confronting its role in upholding white bias, says Li, pointing to emerging outlets, major media unions and larger organizations that have publicly committed to the calls to action.
She says they include the Toronto Star, the Globe and Mail union, Global News, and the Walrus.
The Canadian Press says it has met with the CABJ and CJOC on the recommendations and is working to ensure it has the proper infrastructure in place to fully enact them.
“I actually feel like there’s genuine traction being made and there’s actual, candid conversations about the barriers that journalists of colour are facing,” says Li.
She acknowledges that dwindling ad revenues, dropping readership and fragmented audiences amid a plethora of free online competitors make it financially difficult for many outlets.
But investing in diversity and inclusion pays off in the long run, she says, noting Canada’s immigrant and racialized population is growing.
“So you’re just increasingly missing a bigger and bigger portion of Canadian society,” she says of ignoring change.
“Sooner or later these folks, these communities that are being overlooked, are going to go to alternative sources of media.”
She encourages journalists and outlets to guard against feeling defensive when forced to acknowledge failures.
“For me it’s about calling them in, not calling them out,” says Li.
“The only way we can solve this issue is collaboratively together, with all hands on deck. It’s not just the responsibility of people of colour or journalists of colour. It’s the responsibility of the entire industry.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 8, 2020.
By Cassandra Szklarski, The Canadian Press
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