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Social media giants 'shown up once again' in effort to combat election misinformation – BNN

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Despite efforts by major social media platforms like Facebook Inc. and Twitter Inc. to combat the spread of false information during the U.S. election campaign, some experts say these technology companies could have done more earlier on, and that they may still be ill-equipped for what might happen on Nov. 3.  

“The major social media firms are being shown up once again to not have done as much as they can,” says Dipayan Ghosh, co-director of the Digital Platforms & Democracy Project at the Harvard Kennedy School.

“We have heard reports of millions of people coming across misinformation and conspiracy theories over the major social media platforms that we all use – and that is just not good enough. The prevalence of political disinformation affects election results.”

While social media companies have a better sense now of how malicious actors can hijack their platforms four years after the 2016 presidential election, they have not yet fully taken control in part because there is much more information circulating today, according to Ghosh.

“I think 2020 is even worse in terms of the volume and spread of misinformation than 2016 was,” he says.

One expert says social media companies haven’t made the appropriate changes to stop the spread of misinformation, which refers to inaccurate information that is spread regardless of intent to mislead and disinformation, deliberately deceptive information.

“There is little evidence that internet platforms have learned the right lessons. They appear to view criticism as a public relations problem, rather than a real issue that requires changes to their business practices,” says Roger McNamee, founding partner of the venture capital firm Elevation Partners, and an early investor in Facebook.

Earlier this month, Facebook banned all QAnon accounts from its platform as the movement picked up steam on social media. In July, Twitter began removing thousands of accounts associated with the far-right conspiracy theory. In September, Twitter also removed approximately 130 accounts originating from Iran that were attempting to disrupt the public conversation during the first U.S. presidential debate. While these are substantial moves, McNamee believes it is just a temporary fix to a broader problem.

“The changes they have made are largely cosmetic,” says McNamee. “Harmful content such as hate speech, disinformation, and conspiracy theories is the lubricant for the business model of internet platforms. They do not want to change their business model for fear of losing profits and power.”

It is worth noting, however, that platforms like Facebook have made some key changes since 2016. These improvements include: the of launch of a third-party fact-checking program, stronger labeling of false content, the strengthening of its voter suppression policies, more restrictions on inflammatory content in ads, and the prevention of ads that prematurely claim victory or attempt to delegitimize the 2020 election.

Philip Mai, co-director of the Social Media Lab at Ryerson University’s Ted Rogers School of Management, points to the power social media influencers can have when it comes to strengthening and spreading conspiracy theories.

A study Mai and a colleague conducted over the spring, regarding a conspiracy aimed at positioning the COVID-19 pandemic as a hoax, determined that partisan influencers — particularly those from the extreme right — enabled the conspiracy to pick up steam.

“Social media influencers might prove to be the misinformation Trojan horses in this election cycle, helping to launder and amplify dis- and misinformation,” he says.

So what can social media users expect leading up to the election, election day itself, and in the days that follow?

Mai notes that because COVID-19 is driving more Americans to vote by mail, one of the biggest concerns is the potential disruption of the normal business of voting, and bad actors turning any clerical or mechanical mishap into evidence of widespread conspiracy.

“For example, I expect to see posts from anonymous accounts and from supporters of both candidates with supposed proof —pictures, videos — of how people’s votes are not being counted or stolen,” says Mai.

Additionally, he thinks that there will be a flood of false information posted simply for the purpose of confusion and chaos.

One way to deal with this is to roll out retroactive corrections for electoral misinformation, Mai suggests. Facebook and Twitter are already doing this for content related to COVID-19.

“With the election, speed is the enemy. A post from politicians or influencers can go viral in mere seconds, so labeling the post hours or even days after the fact and restricting sharing cannot undo the damage already done,” Mai warns.

Amid ongoing concerns about the content created or disseminated on these social media platforms, regulating big technology companies remains top of mind. This was evident during the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee hearing last Wednesday when the CEOs of Facebook, Twitter and Google were grilled about their content moderation practices.

“The litigation will take years, but ultimately I would not be surprised to see a settlement that involves larger tech companies being split into smaller components,” says Jim Anderson, CEO of social media optimization firm SocialFlow.

However, Anderson notes that while regulation may sound good in theory, it could pose a challenge in reality.

“Many of the proposed remedies – such as making social media platforms legally responsible for the content on their platforms – could actually escalate the conflict,” he says.

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Japanese PM Suga to hold news conference amid third coronavirus wave: media – TheChronicleHerald.ca

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TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s prime minister, Yoshihide Suga, is set to hold a news conference to provide an update on the country’s pandemic response on Friday, his first since coronavirus case numbers surged in November.

Suga is expected to explain his backing of a widely criticised travel subsidy campaign meant to help revive the economy amid infection controls.

In recent weeks, a third wave of the coronavirus has arrived in parts of the country, and some medical groups and experts blame it on a government campaign to encourage domestic tourism.

His news conference will take place at 6 p.m. local time (0900 GMT), according to the Prime Minister’s Office.

Suga’s approval ratings have dipped, with many unhappy with his handling of the pandemic, polls showed. That could deal a blow to his plan to prop up local economies and may threaten the chances of his premiership beyond next autumn.

The government has paused its “Go To Travel” campaign in two cities, but Suga said on Thursday the travel subsidy programme would be extended beyond the original end date of January 2021.

“We need to support the tourism industry, which is indispensable for the local economy,” Suga told a tourism strategy meeting.

The world’s third-largest economy rebounded in the third quarter from a pandemic-induced slump, thanks to surging consumption and exports, but some analysts worry about slowing growth ahead because of the resurgence in infections.

Suga also faces a political controversy involving his predecessor, Shinzo Abe, who resigned in September.

He was widely seen as Abe’s right-hand man during his tenure and has defended him in parliament.

Tokyo prosecutors are considering a summary indictment of two officials in Abe’s office over alleged violations of a funding law, the daily Asahi reported on Friday.

(Reporting by Ju-min Park; Editing by Gerry Doyle)

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Japanese PM Suga to hold news conference amid third coronavirus wave: media – TheChronicleHerald.ca

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TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s prime minister, Yoshihide Suga, is set to hold a news conference to provide an update on the country’s pandemic response on Friday, local media reported, his first since coronavirus case numbers surged in November.

Suga is expected to explain his backing of a widely criticised travel subsidy campaign meant to help revive the economy amid infection controls.

In recent weeks, a third wave of the coronavirus has arrived in parts of the country, and some medical groups and experts blame it on a government campaign to encourage domestic tourism.

His news conference is scheduled for late Friday, Jiji Press said, but the Prime Minister’s Office has yet to confirm it.

Suga’s approval ratings have dipped, with many unhappy with his handling of the pandemic, polls showed. That could deal a blow to his plan to prop up local economies and may threaten the chances of his premiership beyond next autumn.

The government has paused its “Go To Travel” campaign in two cities, but Suga said on Thursday the travel subsidy programme would be extended beyond the original end date of January 2021.

“We need to support the tourism industry, which is indispensable for the local economy,” Suga told a tourism strategy meeting.

The world’s third-largest economy rebounded in the third quarter from a pandemic-induced slump, thanks to surging consumption and exports, but some analysts worry about slowing growth ahead because of the resurgence in infections.

Suga also faces a political controversy involving his predecessor, Shinzo Abe, who resigned in September.

He was widely seen as Abe’s right-hand man during his tenure and has defended him in parliament.

Tokyo prosecutors are considering a summary indictment of two officials in Abe’s office over alleged violations of a funding law, the daily Asahi reported on Friday.

(Reporting by Ju-min Park; Editing by Gerry Doyle)

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Media Beat: December 03, 2020 – FYI Music News

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Bruce Allen’s Reality Check: The Weeknd shunned by the Grammys

Next is now

Pictured: Fresh from the printer, the cover from the premiere edition of Next, Michael Hollett’s followup to Now Magazine. The glossy four-colour mag is to be distributed in Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto starting next week. More to come on Monday.

New broadcast bill could spell the end of Canadian ownership requirements

The current Broadcasting Act begins with a declaration of Canadian broadcast policy, identifying at least 20 different priorities that range from access to both English and French programming to the role of the CBC. At the top of the list is Canadian ownership, affirming “the Canadian broadcasting system shall be effectively owned and controlled by Canadians.” Yet Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault’s bill discards the provision and removes any reference to Canadian ownership and control in the law. – Michael Geist, The Globe and Mail

Just ribbing

 …Snobbery is a comfort mattress for those who are already well endowed with comfort. Sneering at people facing a hard time and on the edge of making it through this business is a cheap amusement.

Before anyone dumps on “third-rate” rib joints: try starting one, running it and see it going to ruin, under a regime that lets great corporations thrive, some protests but not others receive benediction and a bended knee, and try a little empathy. – Rex Murphy, National Post

Conrad Black: The civil war in the American media

In order to formulate his views on the impact of technology on politics and the news cycle, historian Conrad Black, Baron Black of Crossharbour, takes the audience back 40 years to the mid-point of the Watergate crisis and Richard Nixon’s trial by the national media and public opinion. From there, he analyzes the growth of “vapid” network newscasts and the media-based “civil war” that is now being waged south of the border. Technology is not the issue, he says – the problem is rooted in modern American history. The following address was made in 2018 at Moses Znaimer’s IdeaCity forum in Toronto.

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Who are the highest-paid US newscasters?

Broadcasting the news has taken a hit in the information age, as more and more media consumers get their news from digital platforms rather than turning on Fox, CNN or some of the other “alphabet” TV news networks.

Even so, being a news anchor is still a lucrative career. In 2019, the big news media broadcasters earned dizzying salaries in the US. In fact, the top 5 raked in salaries that topped US$100M. – Brian O’Connell, The Street

Moderna’s modern-day miracle: A vaccine in 2 days

Traditional vaccines are made from a weakened or a dead virus, which prompts the body to fight off the invader and build immunity. These vaccines take time to develop as scientists have to grow and inactivate an entire germ or its proteins.

But Moderna’s mRNA technology used synthetic genes, which can be generated and manufactured in weeks and produced at scale more rapidly than conventional vaccines. – Katie Dangerfield, MSN News

The crisis of democracy for America is not over

Biden has earned more votes than any other presidential candidate in history—with Trump a close second. As in 2016, tens of millions of Americans will look at the results knowing that their compatriots voted for a candidate whose campaign was premised on their mere presence in the United States being an existential threat to the country. For many of them, the sense of relief they find in a Trump defeat will be coupled with the understanding that much of the electorate does not recognize them as truly American, and that the faction that supports Trumpism has not only grown, but grown more diverse than it was in 2016. The outcome is ultimately bittersweet—not only because of the institutional obstacles to any lasting change, but because America’s rebuke of Trumpism was paired with a reminder of the ideology’s lingering potency. That the president spent the last few weeks of the campaign making his own supporters sick with a deadly disease, simply to feed his own ego, did not begin to dampen the devotion they showed him.

With Biden’s victory, American democracy has earned a reprieve from its most immediate threat. But the tasks Biden faces when he assumes the presidency are daunting. – Adam Serwer, The Atlantic

Silly headlines: Elon Musk wants to steer Tesla towards higher profits

 While the company has never reported positive net income on an annual basis, shares have skyrocketed approximately 1,160% over the past five years as investors drove up the stock on the belief that profits would come at some point down the road. Although Tesla reported its fifth consecutive quarter of profitability in Q3 2020, Musk appears to sense that shareholders are yearning for more. – Motley Fool

As silly: Best 75-inch TV for 2020

No TV I’ve ever tested offers this much picture quality for this little cash. The 2020 TCL 6-Series has even better image quality than its predecessor, thanks to mini-LED tech and well-implemented full-array local dimming that helps it run circles around just about any other TV at this price. It’s also a solid choice for gamers with a new THX mode that combines low input lag and high contrast. As if that’s not enough, the Roku TV operating system is our hands-down favourite. U$1597 on Amazon, $1400 at Best Buy. – CNET

The US health care system has always been unequal, but Covid-19 has revealed it to be absurd

Free markets are powerful tools to efficiently distribute resources. But they are not magic—especially right now. A functional market can’t spring up overnight for a disease that didn’t even exist last year. Worse still, markets have no concern for the public good. The US health care system may be a free market, but it’s not a fair one. Covid makes this terribly clear. – Wired

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