It took a violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, fuelled by years of false statements, conspiracy theories and violent rhetoric, for social media giants Twitter and Facebook to bar President Donald Trump from addressing his vast audiences on their platforms.
On Wednesday, in an unprecedented step, the two companies temporarily suspended Trump from posting to their platforms after a mob of his supporters stormed the house of Congress.
It was the most aggressive action either company has yet taken against Trump, who more than a decade ago embraced the immediacy and scale of Twitter to rally loyalists, castigate enemies and spread false rumours.
Twitter locked Trump out of his account for 12 hours and said that future violations could result in a permanent suspension. The company required the removal of three of Trump’s tweets, including a short video in which he urged those supporters to “go home” while also repeating falsehoods about the integrity of the presidential election. Trump’s account deleted those posts, Twitter said; had they remained, Twitter had threatened to extend his suspension.
This means that the account of <a href=”https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>@realDonaldTrump</a> will be locked for 12 hours following the removal of these Tweets. If the Tweets are not removed, the account will remain locked.
Our public interest policy — which has guided our enforcement action in this area for years — ends where we believe the risk of harm is higher and/or more severe.<br> <a href=”https://t.co/ZcbhDEAYjH”>https://t.co/ZcbhDEAYjH</a>
Facebook and Instagram, which Facebook owns, followed up in the evening, announcing that Trump wouldn’t be able to post for 24 hours following two violations of its policies. The White House did not immediately offer a response to the actions.
While some cheered the platforms’ response, experts noted that these actions follow years of hemming and hawing regarding Trump and his supporters spreading dangerous misinformation and encouraging violence that contributed to Wednesday’s events.
Jennifer Grygiel, a Syracuse University communications professor and an expert on social media, said what happened in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday is a direct result of Trump’s use of social media to spread propaganda and disinformation, and that the platforms should bear some responsibility for their previous inaction.
“This is what happens,” Grygiel said. “We didn’t just see a breach at the Capitol. Social media platforms have been breached by the president repeatedly. This is disinformation. This was a coup attempt in the United States.”
Grygiel said the platform’s decision to remove the video — and Twitter’s suspension — are too little, too late.
“They’re creeping along towards firmer action,” Grygiel said, calling Trump “Exhibit A” for the need for greater regulation of social media. “Social media is complicit in this because he has repeatedly used social media to incite violence. It’s a culmination of years of propaganda and abuse of media by the president of the United States.”
Trump posted the video more than two hours after protesters entered the Capitol, interrupting lawmakers meeting in a joint session to confirm the electoral college results and president-elect Joe Biden’s victory.
Too little, too late?
Guy Rosen, Facebook’s vice-president of integrity, said on Twitter Wednesday that the video was removed because it “contributes to rather than diminishes the risk of ongoing violence.”
“This is an emergency situation and we are taking appropriate emergency measures, including removing President Trump’s video,” Rosen said.
This is an emergency situation and we are taking appropriate emergency measures, including removing President Trump’s video. We removed it because on balance we believe it contributes to rather than diminishes the risk of ongoing violence.
Twitter initially left the video up but blocked people from being able to retweet it or comment on it. Only later in the day did the platform delete it entirely.
Trump opened his video saying, “I know your pain. I know your hurt. But you have to go home now.”
After repeating false claims about voter fraud affecting the election, Trump went on to say: “We can’t play into the hands of these people. We have to have peace. So go home. We love you. You’re very special.”
Republican lawmakers and previous administration officials had begged Trump to give a statement to his supporters to quell the violence. He posted his video as authorities struggled to take control of a chaotic situation at the Capitol that led to the evacuation of lawmakers and the death of at least one person.
Trump has harnessed social media — especially Twitter — as a potent tool for spreading misinformation about the election. Wednesday’s riot only increased calls to ban Trump from the platform.
“The President has promoted sedition and incited violence,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, chief executive officer of the Anti-Defamation League, in a statement. “More than anything, what is happening right now at the Capitol is a direct result of the fear and disinformation that has been spewed consistently from the Oval Office.”
In a statement Thursday morning, Trump said there would be an “orderly transition on January 20th” and acknowledged defeat in the election for the first time. His aides posted the statement on Twitter because his account remained suspended.
WATCH | How the chaos at the Capitol unfolded:
GUEST OPINION: Is social media complicit in the mob attack on the American capital? – The Guardian
My friend Dave said to me recently that whatever anyone thought of social media, we human beings at this point in our evolution were not ready for these tools. Hard to argue, even for someone who makes part of his living teaching that very tool. Using social media as our primary source for both news and truth, we have arrived at a chaotic time in public discourse like people swept up in a mob who don’t quite know what we are doing. Or, why we are doing it. Or, what will become of all that private and personal information shared and shouted. We only know, as mob members, that everyone else is doing it; parts of it seem like entertainment; and we had better do it lest we miss out on something – that most modern of motivations.
I tell students and clients that one of the tenets of modern communications, especially social media, is that if you do not define your online voice, someone else will do it for you. Sure, they probably will anyway (see: Yelp). But, I remind them, you have to enter the arena to at least hear what is being said. I encourage its use broadly and pervasively, so even though I am not an active social media poster, I am connected to the ridiculous and deadly spectacle that happened in the American capital this past week in myriad ways. In a sense all of those in the social network are: the lurkers and the over-sharers. Not culpable, or guilty or anything, but not quite innocent either: we are responsible for how widely, vigorously and seriously we read. And, of course, we are responsible for what signs we hold over our head; and what weapons we bear in our arms. But the basic underlying algorithm that controls the news we unprepared-humans now are fed has made social media so dangerous that its standard bearer is being linked in legitimate publications to the machine that will destroy mankind.
Put simply, an algorithm is a specific set of instructions to solve a problem. Broadly speaking, social media algorithms find out what you like and then feed you more of it. This process is always been part of the internet experience: more cute than deep (endless cat videos), more seedy than dangerous (endless pornography), more annoying than threatening (endless spam). What has fundamentally changed is that now, mostly through Twitter and Facebook, we are fed not just larks or stimuli, we are fed news and truth.
Different truth, and different news according to what we already believe. News and truth, actually, that have specifically designed and delivered for us. News and truth that have been curated to please us and turn off our critical faculties. The Atlantic recently published an article called “Facebook is a Doomsday Device” that is both chilling and worth the read. This is what Dave meant. We are not prepared for these tools.
The eleventh hour banning of President Trump’s Twitter account and the Big Tech move that comes against Parler, Twitter’s conservative wannabee doppelganger, is too late in the process, poorly and cynically timed; but also necessary. Though it may seem futile, Twitter’s Jack Dorsey and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg must chase down the horses that have so violently erupted from their barns. Even if they do, they will almost certainly face more regulatory and legislative oversight going forward from all nations. Good.
In the United States, the protections social media companies have been granted under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act will be further scrutinized. The best way to quickly explain Section 230 is that it allows social media companies to be platforms, not publishers: a publisher is responsible for the veracity of whatever it publishes, a platform is not responsible for whomever stands on it and shouts. It appears that the companies themselves have now realized that line can no longer be so easily delineated in the still nascent empires of influence.
Though it is possible to understand the banning of the MAGA crowd as the violation of the rules of a platform, it can be just as easily read as the editorial decisions of a publisher. The president’s quixotic and ill-informed attack on Section 230 notwithstanding, I expect the investigation, regulation and scrutiny to only grow on the companies that control the information age; and the most prominent web companies do too based on their recent actions. Good.
We know now and have always known that disinformation has consequences. It seems unavoidable to conclude that absent the ability of social media companies to curate and choose news and truth for people based on scraped personal information and preferences; and those companies’ concurrent ability to group those people together with relative ease, these acts of mob terrorism would have been far harder to organize. This is not to excuse or explain away the brutality and violence, this is to understand how it all got together in one place. Understanding the later, does not lessen the contempt, disgust or scorn for the former.
I also acknowledge that Facebook can help facilitate many wonderful things too and connect people in a certain way. But, at the moment, that feels akin to people fighting the opioid epidemic by acknowledging that heroin makes you high … Sure, it does that too. That’s how this all got started.
I come bearing no solutions other than this: Read more. I would doubt anyone who said they know exactly what social media will look like, or how it will impact us, in10 years, or even five. I’ll just close by paraphrasing George Orwell, who was prescient about the danger of a degraded public discourse: Those who do not read well cannot think well, and those who do not think well will have their thinking done for them.
Kent Bruyneel teaches modern business communications and social media and applied digital communications at the University of Prince Edward Island and is the editor-in-chief of Forget Magazine. With his wife, Dr. Shannon Bruyneel, he runs a strategic consulting firm, The Eastsizing Company, that focuses on socially actionable research.
GUEST OPINION: Is social media complicit in the mob attack on the American capital? – TheChronicleHerald.ca
Firstlight Media Teams with Google Cloud to Deliver Next-Gen OTT – Canada NewsWire
Unlocks Service Agility, Scalability, Extensibility Across Partner Ecosystems
TORONTO, Jan. 19, 2021 /CNW/ – Firstlight Media today announced that it has partnered with Google Cloud to support rapid deployment and expansion of OTT video streaming services.
Firstlight Media’s microservices-based architecture takes full advantage of Google Cloud capabilities, including:
- Agility to launch services in weeks, rather than months;
- Scalability for cost effective growth with customers’ businesses and support for complex use cases; and
- Extensibility that futureproofs platforms with simplified integrations into best of breed technology solutions, as well as product features that drive innovation and deliver on customer acquisition, retention and revenue.
By combining Firstlight Media’s extensive background in solving complex issues for Tier 1 operators with the scale, reach and tools of Google Cloud, Firstlight Media now enables video providers to capitalize quickly and efficiently on new market opportunities in delivering AI/ML-powered personalization and monetization. Customers can leverage Firstlight’s OTT headend in San Diego and digital expertise in the media and entertainment industry to navigate the increasingly complex world of advertising and subscription direct-to-consumer business models with confidence.
“For the industry, our partnership with Google Cloud exponentially expands options for new services that can rapidly address viewer demand,” said Andre Christensen, CEO and co-founder of Firstlight Media. “Our customers can leverage three formidable resources—Firstlight Media’s cloud native platform, Google Cloud’s platform, and the technology of other Google Cloud partners—all to create opportunities that maximize the long-term value of each subscriber.”
“Increasingly, media and entertainment need to deliver digital-first experiences to consumers, in person and online,” said Kip Schauer, Global Head of Media and Entertainment Partnerships at Google Cloud. “We’re excited to partner with Firstlight Media to scale and extend their platform on Google Cloud, and help businesses deliver exciting, new digital experiences to consumers.”
About Firstlight Media
Firstlight Media is expediting OTT’s transformation to ultra-scalable, cloud-based platforms that use artificial intelligence to drive true engagement and monetization for Tier 1 operators. Founded by a team with deep OTT video expertise and a strong track record of building successful B2B businesses, Firstlight Media is poised to capture the next wave of growth in premium OTT entertainment services. The company is headquartered in Toronto and has additional locations in Los Angeles, San Diego and Chennai, India. For more information, visit firstlight.ai.
SOURCE Firstlight Media
For further information: Paul Schneider, PSPR, Inc. for Firstlight Media, [email protected], +1.215.817.4384
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