Connect with us

Media

Viewpoint: Global media's Nigeria abductions coverage 'wrong' – BBC News

Published

 on



.css-94m6rd-HeadingWrapperborder-bottom:solid 1px #BABABA;padding-bottom:1.5rem;.css-94m6rd-HeadingWrapper > *:not([hidden]):not(style) ~ *:not([hidden]):not(style)margin-top:1rem;.css-vk3nhx-ComponentWrappermargin:1.5rem 0;

.css-2y05cd-StyledFigurefont-family:ReithSans,Helvetica,Arial,freesans,sans-serif;font-weight:400;font-size:0.875rem;line-height:1.125rem;

.css-kwaqyc-StyledFigureContainerposition:relative;

.css-4lxdld-Placeholderposition:relative;display:block;padding-bottom:66.59836065573771%;background-color:#EEEEEE;.css-4lxdld-Placeholder imgoverflow:hidden;position:absolute;top:0;right:0;bottom:0;left:0;display:-webkit-box;display:-webkit-flex;display:-ms-flexbox;display:flex;-webkit-box-pack:center;-webkit-justify-content:center;-ms-flex-pack:center;justify-content:center;-webkit-align-items:center;-webkit-box-align:center;-ms-flex-align:center;align-items:center;width:100%;height:100%;object-fit:cover;

.css-evoj7m-Imagedisplay:block;width:100%;height:auto;Interior of school dormitory

.css-1rnnz6t-StyledFigureCaptionbackground:#3F3F42;color:#EEEEEE;padding:1rem;

.css-uf6wea-RichTextComponentWrappermargin:1rem 0;max-width:36.25rem;

.css-83cqas-RichTextContainercolor:#3F3F42;.css-83cqas-RichTextContainer > *:not([hidden]):not(style) ~ *:not([hidden]):not(style)margin-top:1rem;

.css-14iz86j-BoldTextfont-weight:bold;In our series of letters from African writers, Nigerian novelist Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani criticises international media coverage of the abduction of schoolchildren in Nigeria – from that of the “Chibok girls” in 2014 to that of the “Kankara boys” last month.

.css-18mjolk-ComponentWrappermargin:1.5rem 0;max-width:50rem;

.css-1iqsg44-Placeholderposition:relative;display:block;padding-bottom:3.685897435897436%;background-color:#EEEEEE;.css-1iqsg44-Placeholder imgoverflow:hidden;position:absolute;top:0;right:0;bottom:0;left:0;display:-webkit-box;display:-webkit-flex;display:-ms-flexbox;display:flex;-webkit-box-pack:center;-webkit-justify-content:center;-ms-flex-pack:center;justify-content:center;-webkit-align-items:center;-webkit-box-align:center;-ms-flex-align:center;align-items:center;width:100%;height:100%;object-fit:cover;

Short presentational grey line

The frenzied journalism that followed the 2014 abduction by militant Islamist group Boko Haram of more than 200 girls from their school in Chibok, north-east Nigeria, may have been well-meaning but it led to some unfortunate outcomes.

Prior to the Chibok incident, Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau was just a fringe figure that Nigerians saw on TV once in a while.

When he stabbed at the camera with his fingers and guffawed wildly while threatening everyone from Nigeria’s then-President Goodluck Jonathan to the US president at the time, Barack Obama, with death and destruction, many of us wondered: Who did this unkempt man really think he was?

But, in the aftermath of Chibok media organisations around the world broadcast and rebroadcast Shekau’s slightest remark.

And he kept them supplied with material, such as videos of the kidnapped schoolgirls whom he promised to sell.

.css-1xtcmof-Placeholderposition:relative;display:block;padding-bottom:56.25%;background-color:#EEEEEE;.css-1xtcmof-Placeholder imgoverflow:hidden;position:absolute;top:0;right:0;bottom:0;left:0;display:-webkit-box;display:-webkit-flex;display:-ms-flexbox;display:flex;-webkit-box-pack:center;-webkit-justify-content:center;-ms-flex-pack:center;justify-content:center;-webkit-align-items:center;-webkit-box-align:center;-ms-flex-align:center;align-items:center;width:100%;height:100%;object-fit:cover;

Nigeria"s President Muhammadu Buhari (L) addresses the 82 rescued Chibok girls during a reception ceremony at the Presidential Villa in Abuja, on May 7, 2017.

.css-1ecljvk-StyledFigureCopyrightposition:absolute;bottom:0;right:0;background:#3F3F42;color:#EEEEEE;padding:0.25rem 0.5rem;text-transform:uppercase;AFP

Those who were abducted have subsequently described how the militants who held them captive revelled in any news about the incident. The Chibok coverage inflated Shekau’s value as a media commodity, making it increasingly rewarding to keep him on the airwaves.

It also distorted the story itself.

Despite the way it was covered by the international media, the Chibok kidnappings had nothing to do with “an attack on girls’ education”, rather it was banditry gone wrong.

When they were released after more than two years in Boko Haram captivity, some of those held described how the militants who attacked their school were simply on a mission to loot and steal.

.css-mysbf6-ComponentWrapper-CrossheadComponentWrappermargin:1.5rem 0;max-width:50rem;padding-top:1rem;max-width:36.25rem;

.css-qozapo-StyledHeadingfont-family:ReithSerif,Helvetica,Arial,freesans,sans-serif;font-weight:500;font-size:1.5rem;line-height:1.75rem;color:#3F3F42;@media (min-width:37.5rem).css-qozapo-StyledHeadingfont-size:2rem;line-height:2.25rem;.css-qozapo-StyledHeading:focusoutline-style:none;.css-qozapo-StyledHeading:focus-visibleoutline-style:auto;

‘Militants build a global brand’

After emptying out the school’s storeroom of food, they were then left with the problem of what to do with the students and began arguing.

One suggested that that they lock the girls in a dormitory and set them on fire. Another suggested that they use the girls to gain access to their parents’ homes nearby and then steal some more food.

Eventually, one man came up with the idea that would lead to infamy: “Let us take them to Shekau. He will know what to do.”

Michelle Obama

The Office of First Lady

.css-1xgj2ad-InlineLink:linkcolor:#3F3F42;.css-1xgj2ad-InlineLink:visitedcolor:#696969;.css-1xgj2ad-InlineLink:link,.css-1xgj2ad-InlineLink:visitedfont-weight:700;border-bottom:1px solid #BABABA;-webkit-text-decoration:none;text-decoration:none;.css-1xgj2ad-InlineLink:link:hover,.css-1xgj2ad-InlineLink:visited:hover,.css-1xgj2ad-InlineLink:link:focus,.css-1xgj2ad-InlineLink:visited:focusborder-bottom-color:currentcolor;border-bottom-width:2px;color:#B80000;@supports (text-underline-offset:0.25em).css-1xgj2ad-InlineLink:link,.css-1xgj2ad-InlineLink:visitedborder-bottom:none;-webkit-text-decoration:underline #BABABA;text-decoration:underline #BABABA;-webkit-text-decoration-thickness:1px;text-decoration-thickness:1px;-webkit-text-decoration-skip-ink:none;text-decoration-skip-ink:none;text-underline-offset:0.25em;.css-1xgj2ad-InlineLink:link:hover,.css-1xgj2ad-InlineLink:visited:hover,.css-1xgj2ad-InlineLink:link:focus,.css-1xgj2ad-InlineLink:visited:focus-webkit-text-decoration-color:currentcolor;text-decoration-color:currentcolor;-webkit-text-decoration-thickness:2px;text-decoration-thickness:2px;color:#B80000;This same account was recorded in a report by New York-based group Human Rights Watch based on interviews with some of the 57 students who managed to escape on the night of the kidnapping by jumping off the trucks used to ferry them away.

Although published a few months after the incident, little attention was paid to that detail.

Determined to make the Boko Haram attacks about the irresistible theme of terrorists targeting female education, some media outlets ignored any thread that did not fit this narrative.

Just a few weeks before the Chibok incident, Boko Haram had attacked a school in the north-east town of Burni Yadi and allowed female students to flee before slaughtering 40 boys in their dormitory.

The Burni Yadi incident attracted little media attention until after the Chibok kidnappings, but this additional knowledge did nothing to sway the direction of reporting.

Map
.css-1ix1qms-Placeholderposition:relative;display:block;padding-bottom:0.16025641025641024%;background-color:#EEEEEE;.css-1ix1qms-Placeholder imgoverflow:hidden;position:absolute;top:0;right:0;bottom:0;left:0;display:-webkit-box;display:-webkit-flex;display:-ms-flexbox;display:flex;-webkit-box-pack:center;-webkit-justify-content:center;-ms-flex-pack:center;justify-content:center;-webkit-align-items:center;-webkit-box-align:center;-ms-flex-align:center;align-items:center;width:100%;height:100%;object-fit:cover;

1px transparent line

In many cases the media insisted on viewing the Chibok incident through the lens of gender violence, unwittingly providing Boko Haram with the guidance they needed to build their global brand.

Boko Haram’s use of women as suicide bombers skyrocketed after the Chibok kidnappings, according to a 2017 report by Combating Terrorism Center at West Point and Yale University, suggesting that the group adopted the tactic to grab headlines and elicit shock and awe.

It soon became the first terror group in history to use more female suicide bombers than male, sending at least 80 women to their deaths in 2017 alone.

“Through the global response to the Chibok abductions, the insurgents learned the potent symbolic value of young female bodies… that using them as bombers would attract attention,” said Hilary Matfess, co-author of the report.

‘Celebrity monster’

In February 2018, another 110 girls were kidnapped by Boko Haram from their school in the north-east town of Dapchi.

In the past few years, the government of President Muhammadu Buhari has severely curtailed Boko Haram’s impact in north-east Nigeria.

Its attacks are much fewer, their hold on international headlines lasting for hours rather than what used to be days or months. But another security crisis has risen elsewhere.

Gunmen, popularly referred to by government officials and local media as “bandits”, have been terrorising north-west Nigeria with robberies and kidnappings.

Politicians, entrepreneurs, commuters and even schoolchildren have been kidnapped at various times and released after a ransom was paid, although not on the scale seen in December when more than 300 boys were abducted from their boarding school on the outskirts of Kankara town last month.

.css-1uy4vn0-Containerheight:0;padding-bottom:56.25%;width:100%;color:#3F3F42;background-color:#EEEEEE;

.css-1d84lqw-LogoIconWrapperwidth:30%;padding-top:23.868243243243246%;margin:0 auto;color:#3F3F42;opacity:0.2;

Nigerian security agents and officials of the Kankara community stated that the boys were taken by bandits.

But when the international media swooped in and amplified the apparent link to the Chibok incident of more than six years before, Shekau must have seen an opportunity.

A whole three days after the Kankara kidnapping, Boko Haram said it was behind the attack. And, once again, many international outlets presented their platforms for this celebrity monster to dance and display. And, in the process, ran wild with a faulty narrative, ignoring all evidence to the contrary.

‘Shekau’s megalomaniac commentary’

The numerous headlines that unquestioningly attributed the Kankara kidnappings to Boko Haram failed to consider by what miracle the group had expanded from its decimated operations in the north-east to the north-west, two regions that are vast and separate.

Not even in its prime did Boko Haram brazenly operate in the north-west.

The most the militants achieved was a few, albeit deadly, suicide bomb attacks.

In a similar manner by which he fanned his popularity in 2014, Shekau fed the media with megalomaniac commentary and a video allegedly of the Kankara boys.

.css-1kgou70-ComponentWrapper-IncludeComponentWrappermargin:1.5rem 0;.css-1kgou70-ComponentWrapper-IncludeComponentWrapper iframemax-width:100%;

@media screen and (-ms-high-contrast:active),(-ms-high-contrast:none) and (min-width:599px).css-izm1x7-Id2FixWrapper imgtop:50% !important;left:50% !important;-webkit-transform:translate(-50%,-50%) !important;-ms-transform:translate(-50%,-50%) !important;transform:translate(-50%,-50%) !important;height:auto !important;

/* sc-component-id: BBCLogo__SVG-s6hgfth-0 */
.gBBCrV.gBBCrVdisplay:block;
/* sc-component-id: BurntInBBCLogo__BurntBBCLogo-s1rb43ow-0 */
.hyALyg.hyALygbackground-color:#FFF;padding:1px 2px;position:absolute;bottom:10px;right:16px;display:none;
/* sc-component-id: Img__Image-s1jp862x-0 */
.jqmiZX.jqmiZXwidth:100%;height:100%;object-fit:cover;object-position:50% 50%;position:absolute;background-size:cover;background-position-x:50%;background-position-y:50%;background-image:url(‘https://news.files.bbci.co.uk/include/idt2/assets/f79e89f8-5c0d-4f07-9083-6cc4ead98ae0’);
/* sc-component-id: Img__PicImage-s1jp862x-1 */
.dtAYqF.dtAYqFmax-width:743px;width:50%;position:relative;min-height:200px;-webkit-flex:1 1 auto;-ms-flex:1 1 auto;flex:1 1 auto;
/* sc-component-id: Img__PicImgCaption-s1jp862x-2 */
.eAaODa.eAaODamax-width:100%;position:absolute;bottom:0;left:0;color:#ffffff;background:#000000;opacity:0.7;font-family:Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif;padding:5px;word-wrap:break-word; @media (max-width:599px).eAaODa.eAaODafont-size:12px;line-height:16px; @media (min-width:600px) and (max-width:1007px).eAaODa.eAaODafont-size:13px;line-height:16px; @media (min-width:1008px).eAaODa.eAaODafont-size:12px;line-height:16px;
/* sc-component-id: PicContainer-iky41v-0 */
.htQseS.htQseSbackground-color:#F2EFEC;overflow:hidden;display:-webkit-box;display:-webkit-flex;display:-ms-flexbox;display:flex;-webkit-flex-direction:row-reverse;-ms-flex-direction:row-reverse;flex-direction:row-reverse;-webkit-flex-wrap:wrap;-ms-flex-wrap:wrap;flex-wrap:wrap;box-sizing:border-box;
/* sc-component-id: Cite-qnk335-0 */
.bHAJgM.bHAJgMcolor:#404040;font-family:Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif;font-style:normal; .bHAJgM.bHAJgM > strongfont-weight:bold; @media (max-width:599px).bHAJgM.bHAJgMfont-size:16px;line-height:20px; @media (min-width:600px) and (max-width:1007px).bHAJgM.bHAJgMfont-size:18px;line-height:22px; @media (min-width:1008px).bHAJgM.bHAJgMfont-size:16px;line-height:20px;
/* sc-component-id: PicFooter-ugmt5p-0 */
.ikzIiH.ikzIiHpadding-top:10px;font-family:Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif;
/* sc-component-id: PicQuote-s138d390-0 */
.eZwimE.eZwimEwidth:45% !important;position:relative;margin:0;word-wrap:break-word;color:#404040;font-weight:300;-webkit-flex:1 0 auto;-ms-flex:1 0 auto;flex:1 0 auto;
/* sc-component-id: PicText-k82lbm-0 */
.itIXgb.itIXgbfont-weight:100;font-family:Helvetica,Arial,sans-serif;padding:11px 0 25px 0; .itIXgb.itIXgb pmargin:0; @media (max-width:599px).itIXgb.itIXgbfont-size:18px;line-height:22px; @media (min-width:600px) and (max-width:1007px).itIXgb.itIXgbfont-size:21px;line-height:24px; @media (min-width:1008px).itIXgb.itIXgbfont-size:20px;line-height:24px;
/* sc-component-id: Quote__SVG-s1rj7ts5-0 */
.jBAUmy.jBAUmydisplay:block;
/* sc-component-id: RuleBreak__SVG-lfivii-0 */
.lazDte.lazDtedisplay:block;

html, body
margin: 0;
padding: 0;

@font-face
font-family: ‘ReithSans’;
font-display: swap;
src: url(https://news.files.bbci.co.uk/include/idt2/static/media/BBCReithSans_W_Rg.woff2) format(“woff2”);

@font-face
font-family: ‘ReithSans’;
font-display: swap;
src: url(https://news.files.bbci.co.uk/include/idt2/static/media/BBCReithSans_W_Bd.woff2) format(“woff2”);
font-weight: bold;

@font-face
font-family: ‘BBCNassim’;
font-display: swap;
src: url(https://news.files.bbci.co.uk/include/idt2/static/media/BBC-Nassim-Regular-1-55-URD-Desktop.ttf) format(“truetype”);

@font-face
font-family: ‘BBCNassim’;
font-display: swap;
src: url(https://news.files.bbci.co.uk/include/idt2/static/media/BBC-Nassim-Bold-1-55-URD-Desktop.ttf) format(“truetype”);
font-weight: bold;

@font-face
font-family: ‘Iskoola_pota_bbc’;
font-display: swap;
src: url(https://news.files.bbci.co.uk/include/idt2/static/media/iskpotaRegular.ttf) format(“truetype”);

@font-face
font-family: ‘Iskoola_pota_bbc’;
font-display: swap;
src: url(https://news.files.bbci.co.uk/include/idt2/static/media/iskpotaBold.ttf) format(“truetype”);
font-weight: bold;

@font-face
font-family: ‘Latha’;
font-display: swap;
src: url(https://news.files.bbci.co.uk/include/idt2/static/media/lathaRegular.ttf) format(“truetype”);

@font-face
font-family: ‘Latha’;
font-display: swap;
src: url(https://news.files.bbci.co.uk/include/idt2/static/media/lathaBold.ttf) format(“truetype”);
font-weight: bold;

@font-face
font-family: ‘Mangal’;
font-display: swap;
src: url(https://news.files.bbci.co.uk/include/idt2/static/media/mangalRegular.ttf) format(“truetype”);

@font-face
font-family: ‘Mangal’;
font-display: swap;
src: url(https://news.files.bbci.co.uk/include/idt2/static/media/mangalBold.ttf) format(“truetype”);
font-weight: bold;

@font-face
font-family: ‘Noto Sans CJK KR’;
font-display: swap;
src: url(https://news.files.bbci.co.uk/include/idt2/static/media/NotoSansCJKkr-Regular.otf) format(“opentype”);

@font-face
font-family: ‘Noto Sans CJK KR’;
font-display: swap;
src: url(https://news.files.bbci.co.uk/include/idt2/static/media/NotoSansCJKkr-Bold.otf) format(“opentype”);
font-weight: bold;

@font-face
font-family: ‘Noto Sans Gurmukhi’;
font-display: swap;
src: url(https://news.files.bbci.co.uk/include/idt2/static/media/NotoSansGurmukhi-Regular.ttf) format(“truetype”);

@font-face
font-family: ‘Noto Sans Gurmukhi’;
font-display: swap;
src: url(https://news.files.bbci.co.uk/include/idt2/static/media/NotoSansGurmukhi-Bold.ttf) format(“truetype”);
font-weight: bold;

@font-face
font-family: ‘Padauk’;
font-display: swap;
src: url(https://news.files.bbci.co.uk/include/idt2/static/media/PadaukRegular.ttf) format(“truetype”);

@font-face
font-family: ‘Padauk’;
font-display: swap;
src: url(https://news.files.bbci.co.uk/include/idt2/static/media/PadaukBold.ttf) format(“truetype”);
font-weight: bold;

@font-face
font-family: ‘Shonar_bangala’;
font-display: swap;
src: url(https://news.files.bbci.co.uk/include/idt2/static/media/ShonarRegular.ttf) format(“truetype”);

@font-face
font-family: ‘Shonar_bangala’;
font-display: swap;
src: url(https://news.files.bbci.co.uk/include/idt2/static/media/ShonarBold.ttf) format(“truetype”);
font-weight: bold;

@font-face
font-family: ‘NotoSansEthiopic’;
font-display: swap;
src: url(https://news.files.bbci.co.uk/include/idt2/static/media/NotoSansEthiopic-Regular.ttf) format(“truetype”);

@font-face
font-family: ‘NotoSansEthiopic’;
font-display: swap;
src: url(https://news.files.bbci.co.uk/include/idt2/static/media/NotoSansEthiopic-Bold.ttf) format(“truetype”);
font-weight: bold;

@font-face
font-family: ‘Mallanna’;
font-display: swap;
src: url(https://news.files.bbci.co.uk/include/idt2/static/media/mallanna.ttf) format(“truetype”);

Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani

Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani
The voices of the parents were drowned in the sea of global media coverage, which appeared unbending in the determination to connect this incident with Chibok”
Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani
Novelist and journalist

1px transparent line

Local media, while worried about the increasing insecurity in Nigeria, was more sceptical about the Boko Haram angle.

When Nigeria’s Cable newspaper took the time to show the video to some of the parents, many of whom do not have internet facilities and so had to rely on secondary sources to view it, they described the recording as fake.

“Why are they playing tricks on us?” the parents asked. “This video is not genuine. It does not show our children.”

Nevertheless, the voices of the parents were drowned in the sea of global media coverage, which appeared unbending in the determination to connect this incident with Chibok.

Sandals sit in the dirt following an attack on a Nigerian school

Reuters

Some international security experts suggested that while direct Boko Haram involvement seems to have been discounted, Boko Haram training, help and encouragement were involved.

Many Nigerians believe that Boko Haram took interest only after the international media covered the story. The government insisted no ransom was paid to the kidnappers, who it continued to describe as “bandits”.

Media coverage of such heinous acts is important: governments need to be encouraged to act, victims need to be remembered and memorialised and the public needs to be warned.

But all this can be done without inspiring more criminals and without providing them tutorials.

.css-h61a99-Placeholderposition:relative;display:block;padding-bottom:0.3205128205128205%;background-color:#EEEEEE;.css-h61a99-Placeholder imgoverflow:hidden;position:absolute;top:0;right:0;bottom:0;left:0;display:-webkit-box;display:-webkit-flex;display:-ms-flexbox;display:flex;-webkit-box-pack:center;-webkit-justify-content:center;-ms-flex-pack:center;justify-content:center;-webkit-align-items:center;-webkit-box-align:center;-ms-flex-align:center;align-items:center;width:100%;height:100%;object-fit:cover;

Presentational grey line

More Letters from Africa:

.css-1pzprxn-BulletListContainermargin-left:1.5rem;.css-1pzprxn-BulletListContainer *:not([hidden]):not(style) ~ *:not([hidden]):not(style)margin-top:1rem;.css-1pzprxn-BulletListContainer ullist-style-type:disc;.css-1pzprxn-BulletListContainer ollist-style-type:decimal;

Follow us on Twitter @BBCAfrica, on Facebook at BBC Africa or on Instagram at bbcafrica

.css-1mimstg-Placeholderposition:relative;display:block;padding-bottom:30.737704918032787%;background-color:#EEEEEE;.css-1mimstg-Placeholder imgoverflow:hidden;position:absolute;top:0;right:0;bottom:0;left:0;display:-webkit-box;display:-webkit-flex;display:-ms-flexbox;display:flex;-webkit-box-pack:center;-webkit-justify-content:center;-ms-flex-pack:center;justify-content:center;-webkit-align-items:center;-webkit-box-align:center;-ms-flex-align:center;align-items:center;width:100%;height:100%;object-fit:cover;

A composite image showing the BBC Africa logo and a man reading on his smartphone.

.css-kqym7f-SectionWrappermargin:1.5rem 0;padding-top:1.5rem;font-size:0.875rem;line-height:1.125rem;

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Media

Banff World Media Festival Moves Online Again – Deadline

Published

 on


The Banff World Media Festival is set to be held virtually again this year. The Canadian event will run June 14 to July 16 via an online platform due to Covid-19, organizers said Tuesday.

It is the second year in a row that the event is being held virtually due to the global pandemic. Last year’s event was due to be held at the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel in Alberta before moving online with panels featuring the likes of the cast and crew of Snowpiercer.

The festival has invested in building a new virtual industry and event hub that will allow participants to meet, screen, pitch and socialize. This will include a new Marketplace Week as well as the Rockie Awards International Program Competition and keynote sessions and industry panels.

“Great content and successful business ventures are fueled by meaningful personal connections. Banff has always been about bringing people together, and this year’s festival will do that on a grand virtual scale,” said Jenn Kuzmyk, Executive Director, Banff World Media Festival. “We believe our industry must recognize and act on its role in the movements for social, political, and environmental progress. This year’s Festival content will continue to drive conversation and action, highlighting the power that the entertainment industry has to change minds, change policy, and create opportunities for those who have historically been underrepresented.”

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Media

GUEST OPINION: Is social media complicit in the mob attack on the American capital? – The Guardian

Published

 on


Kent Bruyneel
Guest opinion


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.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Media

GUEST OPINION: Is social media complicit in the mob attack on the American capital? – TheChronicleHerald.ca

Published

 on


Kent Bruyneel
Guest opinion


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.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Trending