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Trump is building a social media platform – but keeping it online will be a challenge – The Conversation UK

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Having spent the early months of 2021 exiled from social media, Donald Trump may be set to make a return, circumventing his Twitter ban by creating a social media platform of his own. Jason Miller, the Trump aide who announced the news, has said the platform could be ready in “two or three months”.

While the announcement might seem ambitious, building a social media platform is actually relatively easy. In 2004, a rudimentary form of Facebook was developed in just two weeks. Since then, advances in software development and cloud computing have made it far easier to create a social media platform in a short space of time.

But keeping the new platform online after its release could prove difficult. It’ll have to avoid the fate of “free speech” social media platforms favoured by Trump’s supporters. One such platform, Parler, found itself dropped from app stores and forced offline after being accused of hosting content linked to the violence at the January 6 Capitol riot.

The platform will also likely become a target of hackers and “trolls” opposed to Trump’s brand of politics, who may look to find ways to shut it down or cause disruption. Trump’s new social media platform may well go live in two to three months – but keeping it online and free from disruption will be the real challenge.

Trump deplatformed

Trump’s plan comes after Twitter and Facebook decided to “deplatform” him in response to the January 6 Capitol riot. Twitter’s Trump ban is permanent. Facebook’s ban is currently under review.




Read more:
Parler: what you need to know about the ‘free speech’ Twitter alternative


Along with the suspension of Parler, these moves have forced millions, including many Trump supporters, onto a smattering of niche social media platforms. Many of these people are likely to flock to a platform created by Trump, guaranteeing it a large user base at the very least. As Miller emphasised in his statement: “It is going to be big.”

Donald Trump in front of a crowd holding up smartphones
Millions of Trump supporters could join his new social media platform – if it’s released.
Benjamin Clapp/Alamy

Building a platform

Technically speaking, the new social media platform could be built and launched in a matter of weeks. Software developers have access to easy-to-copy coding templates that mean it needn’t be built from scratch.




Read more:
Donald Trump: social media ban shows corporate responsibility can win out over profit


But to support millions of potential users, the new platform will require the infrastructure to scale quickly. If the correct infrastructure isn’t in place to support growth, Trump’s platform will simply crash under the strain of new users after its launch. The cloud computing infrastructure necessary to avoid crashing is typically provided by tech giants like Amazon’s AWS, Microsoft’s Azure, or Google’s Cloud.

Trump’s platform may be developed as a smartphone app that features in app stores, a website accessible through web browsers, or both. An app would be especially vulnerable to the whims of leading app stores – those run by Google and Apple – which could refuse to host the app if activity on it was seen to violate their terms of use.

One of the biggest challenges for Trump is whether all these providers, who are essentially the gatekeepers of the web, will agree to support his platform. Even if they do, the Parler precedent could see them withdraw their hosting at any time if users’ violent rhetoric goes unpoliced.

A thumb hovers over a phone screen featuring the icons for Twitter and Parler
Some Trump supporters moved from Twitter to Parler, only for it to be forced offline.
Ascannio/Shutterstock

Privacy and security

Meanwhile, Trump’s platform will need to protect user privacy if it’s to avoid the attention of data regulators. If the platform is to be made available for EU citizens, for example, it’ll fall under EU data regulations, which can impose huge fines – 4% of annual turnover or €20 million (£17.2 million), whichever is greater – if data on the app is misused.

Running parallel to privacy concerns, the security of Trump’s platform will also come under scrutiny after its release. The hacking of Twitter in 2020 proved that even the largest social media firms have security deficiencies. Meanwhile, the hacking of Gab – a “free speech” platform similar to Parler – by a single “hacktivist” earlier this year showed how hacks motivated by political views could also pose a threat to Trump’s platform.

The strength of feeling against Trump suggests that no effort will be spared in attempts to humiliate him, as TikTok users did when they bought up tickets to Trump’s Tulsa rally in June 2020, only to leave their seats conspicuously empty for the event. As well as hackers, then, so-called “trolls” could set up profiles of their own to disrupt activity on Trump’s platform.

A number of Trump’s supporters were displaced from mainstream social media platforms after being linked with violent rhetoric, including the sharing of white supremacist, racist and fascist tropes. If those same views are shared on Trump’s platform, his latest social media adventure could quickly descend into toxic farce – prompting tech companies like Apple, Google and Amazon to intervene once again to stop the spread of violent speech online.

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DeFiance Media Launches To Cover Blockchain-Based DeFi Business And Culture – Forbes

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DeFiance Media, a video-news startup focused on coverage of the business and culture of the fast-growing decentralized finance (”DeFi”) sector, has launched with a presence on OTT and digital broadcast services reaching 65 million homes in the United States and abroad, and a new website providing enhanced coverage.

“We’re not taking the ‘Bloomberg for crypto’ approach” of some competing services covering parts of the blockchain world, Scarpa said. “None of them went on TV. We’re only streaming (video). If you look at mass media, and the way they’re portraying the decentralized narrative, there’s a real hole (in coverage) there, for covering it in a positive way.”

The 24/7 channel will feature a mix of original programming from notable personalities, third-party creators such as Hardcore Finance, news from across the world of blockchain, cryptocurrencies, non-fungible tokens and related areas, as well as related areas such as biotech, the artists and creators using NFTs, artificial intelligence, “connected living,” alternative energy, and “regenerative culture.” Other programming will come from partnerships with high-profile blockchain and cryptocurrency conferences.

“Our job is really more akin to a Huffington Post in terms of curation for these contributors,” Scarpa said. “We enable them to goose their personal brands. That’s our job, to increase carriage, to amplify their voice, promote what their doing.”  

Scarpa said he was “adamant” about including cultural coverage of the blockchain space, particularly with NFTs, where many musicians, artists and other creative talent are eagerly jumping in.

“They’re in the space now, they’re artists doing really interesting work,” Scarpa said. “They’re really the cultural fabric of the community. If we were only a financial network, DeFiance wouldn’t be broad enough to be something providers want to carry.” 

Scarpa, whom I’ve known socially for many years, served as New York bureau chief in the early days of CNET, which undertook in the 1990s to cover the emerging internet and tech industry in a focused way. Scarpa said he is taking inspiration for DeFiance from the approaches CNET took to industry coverage back then.

Services carrying the startup’s content include aggregators such as Local Now, Select TV, NetRange, Glewed TV, as well as Twitter and Amazon

AMZN
-owned Twitch. The services reach a combined 50 million U.S. households and another 15 million outside the country.

Initial shows include Bitcoin: Culture Conversations, whose episode feature interviews of former Shark Tank star Kevin O’Leary, venture capital stalwart Tim Draper, actor Adrian Grenier and skateboard icon Tony Hawk, and musicians Blond:ish and Fab Five Freddy. Weekly programs will be hosted by Patrick Tsang, Sarah Austin, Matt McKibbon, Ted Moskovitz, Mike Matsumura, Alex Chizhik, Shimon Lazarov, Steve McGarry, Siraj Raval, and Freya Fox.

The company hopes to make money several ways: with ad-revenue shares from carriers, branded entertainment/sponsored content, events, content licensing to Getty Images and similar outlets, and transactional markets, among other potential opportunities.

DeFiance is based in Puerto Rico, and has a studio in the Venice neighborhood of Los Angeles, Scarpa said. But in keeping with its core subject matter, the operation is heavily decentralized, with contributors and programming coming from numerous cities.

The company has been raising a seed round of about $2 million, Scarpa said.

It counts among its investors and advisers a number of notables in the blockchain world and related areas, including investor Brock Pierce, who is long-time chairman of the Bitcoin Foundation; Eric Pulier, founder of Vatom; Doug Scott, founder of gaming culture company Subnation; Hong Kong investor and podcast host Patrick P.L. Tsang; Good Human co-founder and former Warner Bros. Entertainment VP James Glasscock; and Craig Sellars, co-founder/CTO of cryptocurrency services company Tether. Sellars and Pulier are credited as pioneering creators of the technologies behind NFTs.

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NASA Invites Media to Next SpaceX Cargo Launch to Space Station – NASA

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NASA Invites Media to Next SpaceX Cargo Launch to Space Station  NASA



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How HuffPost Canada's digital impact and untimely demise changed Canadian news media – Poynter

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Mel Woods found out they no longer had a job from a group chat.

The Vancouver-based journalist was working as HuffPost Canada’s only worker in the western region of the country, covering viral and trending stories as an associate editor, up until the outlet’s unceremonious March 2021 demise. BuzzFeed bought HuffPost in November 2019 and, just two weeks after the newsroom’s decision to unionize, closed HuffPost Canada and left 23 staff without their jobs.

It’s another data point in a long list of recent closures and contractions on the Canadian media landscape.

Many of those laid off have landed positions elsewhere. Woods now plies their trade at Xtra — a Toronto-based outlet focused on 2SLGBTQ+ perspectives — and others have surfaced as staff at The New York Times, CBC and Politico, among others. Some left for public relations gigs, and others are currently working as freelancers. The announcement of the closure just one week from the meeting, Woods said, left some staff scrambling.

“For somebody who was suddenly unemployed, it was a very, very busy week because we had to sort out what happened and when, and what the unionization played into it, what severance played into it and why it had happened because it caught all of us by surprise,” Woods said.

HuffPost’s union, CWA Canada, had never faced a closure in its history. President Martin O’Hanlon said the ceasing of operations points to BuzzFeed’s lack of understanding of the Canadian media landscape.

“I don’t think it says a lot about the Canadian media industry, per se, I think it says a lot about BuzzFeed. And I think it tells you that BuzzFeed is just interested in America, and in making as much profit as possible,” O’Hanlon said. “… They don’t give a damn about Canadian journalism is the bottom line.”

In an emailed statement, a spokesperson for BuzzFeed said: “BuzzFeed announced a restructuring of HuffPost in March in order to break even this year and fast-track its path to profitability. As part of these changes, we made the difficult decision to close HuffPost’s Canada and Quebec operations. The incredibly talented teams there have made enormous contributions to the political and news ecosystems in Canada — from extensive, award-winning coverage of the federal election, to relentless reporting on how COVID-19 exacerbated a long-term care crisis, and a powerful investigation of how mental illness is responded to as a crime. We know this decision was painful for everyone affected, but we are confident that these journalists will continue to do powerful and impactful reporting in the years to come. We continue to do everything we can to ensure their transition is a smooth one.”

The announcement certainly wasn’t easy on the staff of HuffPost Canada. The all-hands meeting in which the closure was announced, which Woods said was predicted within the staff to be announcing a new U.S. editor-in-chief, had the password “spring is here.”

But the closing of HuffPost Canada is more than another sad story to add to the layoffs seen at other newsrooms in Canada, most publicly at Global and Postmedia. HuffPost’s Canada’s coverage won awards posthumously. Woods won an award from RTDNA Canada for examining gender and transphobia more than two months after the outlet officially closed.

The skill and success of the staff was partially due to the culture and the diversity of the newsroom, Woods said.

“The fact of how quickly folks have been snapped up by other places is proof of the respect that was had for our newsroom,” Woods said. “We kind of sprinkled our seeds everywhere.”

Woods likened the HuffPost style that they have taken to Xtra as “serving (readers) their vegetables, but in a good way,” through a metrics and service journalism-focused approach.

Some of those seeds appear to have taken root elsewhere. New approaches to digital journalism in Canada, including what service looks like to staff and readers, is a common thread in discussions with Canadian newsroom leaders.

The Canadian Association of Journalists recently completed data collection for their first diversity survey, modeling their work after the News Leaders Association in the U.S. Meanwhile, CBC made the decision to turn off all Facebook comments on news stories for a month beginning in mid-June, which editor-in-chief Brodie Fenlon attributed to a data-gathering exercise mixed with a want to protect the mental health of journalists. It is a policy that they have since extended to the end of October.

HuffPost Canada’s digital impact, and its dismantling, points toward a future for Canadian journalism that must consider the health of its readers and staff while acknowledging the changing needs of digital media.

CBC’s decision to direct the tenets of service journalism toward its own staff hints toward an industry that is understanding (at a glacial pace) just how worn down it is and how building back means doing so with care. At this year’s Michener Awards, a ceremony dedicated to public service journalism and its impact on society, APTN journalist Kenneth Jackson acknowledged what it means to sit with the impact your work makes, on subjects, readers and staff.

“If you want to do service journalism you can’t fly above it,” he said, “you gotta get down and wear it.”

BuzzFeed appears to have worn its decision, as have the journalists who had to face the consequences.

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