Utah social media law means kids need approval from parents
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) —
Children and teens in Utah would lose access to social media apps such as TikTok if they don’t have parental consent and face other restrictions under a first-in-the-nation law designed to shield young people from the addictive platforms.
Two laws signed by Republican Gov. Spencer Cox Thursday prohibit kids under 18 from using social media between the hours of 10:30 p.m. and 6:30 a.m., require age verification for anyone who wants to use social media in the state and open the door to lawsuits on behalf of children claiming social media harmed them. Collectively, they seek to prevent children from being lured to apps by addictive features and from having ads promoted to them.
The companies are expected to sue before the laws take effect in March 2024.
The crusade against social media in Utah’s Republican-supermajority Legislature is the latest reflection of how politicians’ perceptions of technology companies has changed, including among typically pro-business Republicans.
Tech giants like Facebook and Google have enjoyed unbridled growth for over a decade, but amid concerns over user privacy, hate speech, misinformation and harmful effects on teens’ mental health, lawmakers have made Big Tech attacks a rallying cry on the campaign trail and begun trying to rein them in once in office. Utah’s law was signed on the same day TikTok’s CEO testified before Congress about, among other things, the platform’s effects on teenagers’ mental health.
But legislation has stalled on the federal level, pushing states to step in.
Outside of Utah, lawmakers in red states including Arkansas, Texas, Ohio and Louisiana and blue states including New Jersey are advancing similar proposals. California, meanwhile, enacted a law last year requiring tech companies to put kids’ safety first by barring them from profiling children or using personal information in ways that could harm children physically or mentally.
The new Utah laws also require that parents be given access to their child’s accounts. They outline rules for people who want to sue over harms they claim the apps cause. If implemented, lawsuits against social media companies involving kids under 16 will shift the burden of proof and require social media companies show their products weren’t harmful — not the other way around.
Social media companies could have to design new features to comply with parts of the laws that prohibit promoting ads to minors and showing them in search results. Tech companies like TikTok, Snapchat and Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram, make most of their money by targeting advertising to their users.
The wave of legislation and its focus on age verification has garnered pushback from technology companies as well as digital privacy groups known for blasting their data collection practices.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation earlier this month demanded Cox veto the Utah legislation, saying time limits and age verification would infringe on teens’ rights to free speech and privacy. Moreover, verifying every users’ age would empower social media platforms with more data, like the government-issued identification required, they said.
If the law is implemented, the digital privacy advocacy group said in a statement, “the majority of young Utahns will find themselves effectively locked out of much of the web.”
Tech industry lobbyists decried the laws as unconstitutional, saying they infringe on people’s right to exercise the First Amendment online.
“Utah will soon require online services to collect sensitive information about teens and families, not only to verify ages, but to verify parental relationships, like government-issued IDs and birth certificates, putting their private data at risk of breach,” said Nicole Saad Bembridge, an associate director at NetChoice, a tech lobby group.
What’s not clear in Utah’s new law and those under consideration elsewhere is how states plan to enforce the new regulations. Companies are already prohibited from collecting data on children under 13 without parental consent under the federal Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. To comply, social media companies already ban kids under 13 from signing up to their platforms — but children have been shown to easily get around the bans, both with and without their parents’ consent.
Cox said studies have shown that time spent on social media leads to “poor mental health outcomes” for children.
“We remain very optimistic that we will be able to pass not just here in the state of Utah but across the country legislation that significantly changes the relationship of our children with these very destructive social media apps,” he said.
The set of laws won support from parents groups and child advocates, who generally welcomed them, with some caveats. Common Sense Media, a nonprofit focused on kids and technology, hailed the effort to rein in social media’s addictive features and set rules for litigation, saying with its CEO saying it “adds momentum for other states to hold social media companies accountable to ensure kids across the country are protected online.”
However, Jim Steyer, the CEO and founder of Common Sense, said giving parents access to children’s social media posts would “deprive kids of the online privacy protections we advocate for.” Age verification and parental consent may hamper kids who want to create accounts on certain platforms, but does little to stop companies from harvesting their data once they’re on.
The laws are the latest effort from Utah lawmakers focused on the fragility of children in the digital age. Two years ago, Cox signed legislation that called on tech companies to automatically block porn on cellphones and tablets sold in the state, after arguments about the dangers it posed to children found resonance among Utah lawmakers, the majority of whom are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Amid concerns about enforcement, lawmakers ultimately revised that legislation to prevent it from taking effect unless five other states passed similar laws.
The regulations come as parents and lawmakers are growing increasingly concerned about kids and teenagers’ social media use and how platforms like TikTok, Instagram and others are affecting young people’s mental health. The dangers of social media to children is also emerging as a focus for trial lawyers, with addiction lawsuits being filed thorughout the country.
Ortutay reported from Oakland, California.
Sam Metz And Barbara Ortutay, The Associated Press
What is social media? – McKinsey
A energetic and tightly grouped collection of social media reaction icons including hearts, thumbs up, happy and surprised faces along with comment and texting bubbles and hashtags.
You probably already know what social media is. Whether you cringe at the memory of your Myspace page from the early 2000s, keep in touch with your aunt on Facebook, or are regularly unsettled by too-relevant ads on Instagram, few of us are strangers to a feed. In fact, nearly 60 percent of the world’s population uses social media. And as of July 2022, global adoption of social media is showing no sign of slowing: new users are joining social-media platforms at an average global rate of seven users per second.
So if you’re reading this, we’d guess you know social media when you see it. But what would you say if your great-grandmother asked you to define social media? Our definition—the applications and websites that allow people to interact with other users, businesses, communities, and content—is accurate, but it also seems to include a large portion of the internet. What are the actual parameters? What do people use it for? And how can businesses use social media to reach new customers in new ways? Let’s break it down.
Learn more about McKinsey’s Growth, Marketing, & Sales Practice.
When did social media start?
If social media is just a means of mass communication, you could argue that the telegraph, invented in 1844, was the first of its kind. But that’s a bit pedantic: social media as we know it probably began in 1997 with SixDegrees—a short-lived social-networking website for making friends. Personal blogs became popular with the launch of LiveJournal in 1999. And the early 2000s saw the launches of the now-ubiquitous social-media platforms LinkedIn and Facebook.
What are the different types of social media?
Social media has revolutionized how people socialize, do business, shop, date, come up with ideas, and get news. It’s limitless. There are now so many platforms that it can be difficult to keep track (sure, you’ve heard of TikTok and Snapchat, but what about BeReal and Yik Yak?). And it’s changed the way that businesses connect and transact with their customers. Organizations that understand the different types of social media and how to use them are at an advantage. In particular, there are four social-media categories that organizations should be aware of:
- Social networks. Social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter, allow people to foster relationships with family, friends, brands, and perfect strangers. Users can follow other users online, sharing photos, life updates, random thoughts, and more. Businesses can capitalize on social networks through branding and customer service.
Media-sharing networks. You may have guessed from the name, but people typically use these platforms—such as Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, and YouTube—to share photographs, videos, and other types of media. Media-sharing platforms are the domain of social-media influencers: popular users who use their social platforms to influence their audience’s lifestyles, consumer behavior, and more. Through partnerships with these influencers, businesses can target specific audiences and promote their products or services.
Learn more about influencer marketing in our McKinsey Explainers entry on the topic.
- Discussion forums. On discussion forums, people can share general advice, ask silly (or serious) questions, make restaurant recommendations—anything you can think of, and a few things you probably can’t. Because platforms such as Reddit have lots of visitors (1.7 billion visits to the site were recorded in May 2022) discussing a large number of topics, businesses can use discussion forums to gain research insights into new potential markets. Companies can create advertisements, answer consumer questions, and provide customer service by responding to compliments and complaints. They can also crowdsource ideas for products and launches.
Consumer reviews. You have likely used apps such as TripAdvisor and Yelp before, maybe when you were vacationing in a new city, exploring a new type of cuisine, or sounding off on a good—or bad—consumer experience. Many people rely on these platforms and their reviews when making decisions about new products, brands, and services. Online consumer reviews can be vitally important for a business.
Learn more about McKinsey’s Technology, Media & Telecommunications Practice.
Who uses the most popular types of social media?
We know that billions of people all over the world are using social media. But who are they? According to a 2021 survey of more than 1,500 American adults conducted by the Pew Research Center, approximately 84 percent of respondents between the ages of 18 and 29 reported that they habitually use at least one form of social media. A majority of these users attended college or earned at least $75,000 annually. Businesses can use these and other survey statistics to their advantage by catering their marketing on social media to a generally young, well-educated audience.
In addition to this core demographic, a wide variety of people of all ages are on social media, and certain generations gravitate toward different platforms. Most of Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter’s users are between the ages of 25 and 34. However, Twitter’s second-largest bloc of users is made up of those aged between 35 and 49, which skews the overall demographic older. Just more than 70 percent of Instagram’s users are under the age of 34. TikTok is known as Gen Z’s stomping grounds—in the United States, 25 percent of its users are under the age of 19.
What are the four primary social-media functions for businesses?
As we’ve described, social media has myriad uses, and everyone seems to be on a platform for a different reason. It can be difficult for businesses to keep up with platforms’ functionalities and demographics.
McKinsey has pinpointed the four primary functions of social media for businesses—to monitor, respond, amplify, and lead consumer behavior. These four functions are linked to the journey consumers undertake when making purchasing decisions:
- Monitor. Businesses can keep a close eye on how customers are responding to their brand and adjust their marketing and strategies accordingly. Customers have extremely high expectations: survey results show that half of consumers who have a negative experience will publicly complain online. And social media is having a big impact on consumption habits, especially among younger people: one in ten omnichannel shoppers in a McKinsey survey say they had made purchases directly via social media.
Respond. When a complaint is made, speed counts. A study finds that 79 percent of consumers expect a response within 24 hours of a complaint, and 40 percent expect brands to respond within an hour. What’s more, 81 percent say if they don’t receive a response when they complain online, they won’t recommend that company to their friends. These are high standards; only about 50 percent of businesses meet these expectations. But companies that respond quickly and genuinely can positively affect consumer perception and behavior.
It’s also critical to communicate such feedback quickly within the business. Whoever is responsible for brand monitoring must make sure that the information reaches relevant teams, such as communications, design, marketing, public relations, and risk.
- Amplify. Amplification is marketing activity that spurs broader engagement and sharing. This includes referrals and recommendations, community stimulation, and brand advocacy. For example, Starbucks launched a campaign in 2009 that awarded Twitter users $20 gift cards for being the first to tweet a picture of new advertising posters in major US cities. The company shared that the campaign, which turned core customers into brand ambassadors, was “the difference between launching with many millions of dollars versus millions of fans.”
Lead consumer behavior. Businesses can use social-media platforms to encourage long-term behavioral changes among consumers—usually achieved through activities related to brand content awareness, product launches, targeted deals and offers, and customer input.
With an awareness of all social-media functions, companies can make informed decisions on how to lead consumer behavior. One example is the Old Spice Man campaign, launched in a 2010 Super Bowl commercial. The campaign started on television, but Old Spice quickly moved to social media as a way to interact with millennials, a new audience for the heritage brand. After just one month on YouTube, Old Spice became the platform’s all-time top-viewed brand. Ultimately, the ad got more than 19 million hits across social-media platforms, and Old Spice sales grew 27 percent in six months.
Overall, social media offers significant advantages for businesses that adequately monitor, respond, amplify, and lead consumer behavior. The most powerful social-media strategies focus on a limited number of marketing responses closely related to every stage along the consumer decision journey.
In the future, personalization—on social media and elsewhere—will unlock a wealth of new opportunities for companies. We’ve already seen the benefits of personalization in action: it can reduce customer acquisition costs by as much as 50 percent, lift revenues by up to 15 percent, and increase marketing ROI by up to 30 percent. Personalization has also been shown to improve performance and customer outcomes. And the COVID-19 pandemic has only made personalization more urgent for brands: three-quarters of customers have switched to a new store, product, or buying method during the pandemic, proving that store and product loyalty are increasingly things of the past. In the future, successful business leaders will employ generative AI tools, such as ChatGPT, to craft personalized messages on social media, as well as other sales content, to drive conversions.
Learn more about McKinsey’s Growth, Marketing, & Sales Practice.
What is social commerce?
Social commerce is when customers browse and shop directly on social-media platforms. It’s already a core feature of e-commerce in China, but this new way of buying is growing rapidly in the United States as well. In 2021, $37 billion in goods and services were purchased through social-commerce channels in the United States, and that figure is expected to increase to nearly $80 billion by 2025. Globally, the social-commerce market is expected to grow to more than $2 trillion by 2025.
For consumer brands, social commerce creates the opportunity for an interactive, entertaining, and experiential journey—one that also feels less promotional than the traditional journey. For example, rather than starring in an ad for a new skin care product, celebrities can invite fans behind the scenes to view their skin care routines, demonstrating how they use the branded product and why they love it. Then fans can buy the product within the platform.
Innovation has driven creativity within Chinese social commerce. TikTok (and its sibling app Douyin, which was its foundation) has emerged as a leader in social commerce, with gamified product purchasing and a strong social element. Live-stream hosts build a rapport with their high-volume customers, and that rapport builds a sense of community and helps bring important customers back on a near-daily basis.
The US social-commerce market is likely to evolve differently from China’s, but there are some parallels. For instance, social-commerce adoption in the United States is currently being driven by social-media and content creation platforms, such as Pinterest and TikTok, adding new shopping capabilities, just as their Chinese counterparts did half a decade ago. And interest is growing in these new shopping features: a 2021 retail survey by Forrester found that 61 percent of online US adults younger than 25 said they had completed a purchase on a social or creator platform network without leaving the website or app, up from 53 percent in 2020.
What are some of the risks of social media for businesses?
Despite social media’s opportunities for business growth, using such platforms for marketing introduces many challenges. Here are five social-media risks to be aware of:
- Customer expectations vary across platforms. The most popular platforms—such as Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok—have many users who are relatively young. But beyond that, demographics on these platforms can look quite different. Companies should cater their tone, customer service, and advertisements to each platform’s users.
- High expectations for service response. As we’ve described, customers expect quick responses to their online questions and complaints. Some consumers hope for a response within an hour; others, 24 hours. Either way, only about 50 percent of businesses can keep up with these demands.
- Unpredictable service demand spikes. There’s always a risk that an online review will go viral, especially when social-media influencers get involved. The related dramatic spikes in company awareness (positive or negative) can be hard to predict.
- Gaps between required and available skills. The hiring demand for social-media experts changes year to year, and it can be a challenge for companies to keep their social-media teams up to date.
- Complicated workflow and technology investment choices. Because social media is so dynamic, it can be difficult for leaders to make the right investment decisions when it comes to related technology. Operating models should allow for a wide range of actions and responses—including authenticating posts, gathering customer information, and providing on- and offline resolution—and automatically allocate them to the appropriate service teams.
There are many risks that come with company marketing in social media, but frequently, the rewards outweigh the risks. It’s important for businesses to understand the relationship between social media and marketing—and how this relationship is evolving.
Learn more about McKinsey’s Operations Practice.
What effect does social media have on customers’ purchasing decisions?
Before the use of social media for marketing, businesses relied on media such as newspapers, radio, and television. Companies had to spend a lot of money if they wanted to reach a broad audience, and even then, they couldn’t use the platforms to monitor, respond, amplify, and lead consumer behavior. Today, social media has made it possible for marketers to reach customers at any and every stage of the consumer decision journey. In fact, social media is the only form of marketing that can give businesses the opportunity to influence consumers from the moment that they begin thinking about a purchase all the way to after they’ve received a product.
McKinsey studied the purchasing decisions of 20,000 European consumers in 2013 and 2014. Respondents were asked if social media influenced their purchasing decisions significantly. The results showed that social media had significant effects on consumers, both directly (when social-media recommendations played a critical role at the point of purchase) and indirectly (when social media played a role at earlier decision journey touchpoints, such as initial awareness of a product). The study also revealed that between 2013 and 2014, there was a 10 percent increase in consumer purchases related to product recommendations received on social media. These study results serve as a testament to how social media can affect consumers at any stage of the decision journey.
The relationship between social media and consumer behavior seems stronger than ever, but the landscape is constantly shifting. In the future, new platforms might make it easier for users to share their experiences with companies, products, and services. At the same time, it might become more complicated for businesses to keep up with these developments and adapt to the new challenges and opportunities that social media will bring. Companies need to prioritize staying ahead of this powerful technological movement.
Learn more about McKinsey’s Growth, Marketing, & Sales Practice, and check out the firm’s social-media job opportunities if you’re interested in working at McKinsey.
- “Generative AI is here: How tools like ChatGPT could change your business,” December 20, 2022, Michael Chui, Roger Roberts, and Lareina Yee
- “Social commerce: The future of how consumers interact with brands,” October 19, 2022, Camilo Becdach, Marc Brodherson, Alex Gersovitz, Daniel Glaser, Zachary Kubetz, Max Magni, and James Nakajima
- “How US consumers are feeling, shopping, and spending—and what it means for companies,” May 4, 2022, Kari Alldredge, Tamara Charm, Eric Falardeau, and Kelsey Robinson
- “Social media as a service differentiator: How to win,” April 27, 2022, Avinash Chandra Das, Malcolm Gomes, Ishwar Lal Patidar, and Renny Thomas
- “The value of getting personalization right—or wrong—is multiplying,” November 12, 2021, Nidhi Arora, Daniel Ensslen, Lars Fiedler, Wei Wei Liu, Kelsey Robinson, Eli Stein, and Gustavo Schüler
- “Getting a sharper picture of social media’s influence,” July 1, 2015, Jacques Bughin
- “The social economy: Unlocking value and productivity through social technologies,” July 1, 2012, Michael Chui, James Manyika, Jacques Bughin, Richard Dobbs, Charles Roxburgh, Hugo Sarrazin, Geoffrey Sands, and Magdalena Westergren
- “Demystifying social media,” April 1, 2012, Roxane Divol, David Edelman, and Hugo Sarrazin
Opinion | How the Government Justifies Its Social-Media Censorship – The Wall Street Journal
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Discarded mortar detonates killing more than 20 in Somalia: Media
Local official says unexploded mortar detonated near to where mostly children – aged between 10 and 15 – were playing.
A mortar shell explosion in Somalia’s Lower Shabelle region has killed more than 20 mostly children and young people and injured more than 50, according to media reports.
Most of the victims who were killed on Friday were aged between 10 and 15 years, according to news reports, which blamed the blast on an unexploded mortar shell which was struck and detonated near an area where the children and young people were playing.
The explosion “caused by unexploded mortar shells” occurred near the town of Qoryoley, approximately 120km (75 miles) south of the capital, Mogadishu, said Abdi Ahmed Ali, deputy district commissioner of Qoryoley.
“They were playing with a mortar shell … It exploded on them. Twenty of them died and others are injured,” Ali said.
“We request the government and aid agencies to clear mines and shells from the area,” he said.
Residents said that Somalia’s warring factions had left the shell behind at some stage.
Another report said the children had found an intact explosive device on a football field and were playing with it when it exploded. Recent rainfall had uncovered the explosive device, according to reports.
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Remaining residents urged to flee Tumbler Ridge immediately as crews continue to fight wildfire near townsite – CBC.ca
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