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When teams' social media feeds got real, made friends and started beefing – ESPN

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What’s snarky, self-deprecating and smack-talking all at once? Well, your favorite team’s social media accounts, of course.

It’s a fine line that accounts have to walk, especially in 2020, but when they do it correctly, it makes internet magic. And in a year when sports fans have had to find a new way to love their teams from afar, it makes sense that account managers have had to dig into the depths of their creative brains to connect with their fans.

And, with bowl season underway, the College Football Playoff on Friday, the NFL entering its final week of the regular season and the NBA into its second week of its season, it’s peak time for the team social media accounts.

“You know, I think, one of the most important things we do is just read the room. In our case, our room is millions of followers and a fan base and also what’s going on in the world,” Rael Enteen, senior director of social media for the Washington Football Team, told ESPN. More than 1.2 million people follow the team on Twitter. Another 900,000 on Instagram.

“So the best thing we can do is be reactive … you know, really think through everything and not make rash decisions,” he explained.

He and Astasia Williams, the team’s senior social media manager, have had wins left and right during the 2020-21 NFL season. They could, with a another win in Week 17 against the Philadelphia Eagles, be taking their show into the playoffs.

They are one of the many examples among pro and college sports teams creating a voice and personality with their social media accounts.

Finding your voice

Williams joined the Washington Football Team in February 2020, a few months after Ron Rivera was hired and a few weeks before Ohio State’s Chase Young was drafted No. 2 overall in the NFL draft.

Since then, Washington’s voice across social media has completely changed, focusing on speaking to and representing residents in the DMV (that’s District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia for those who don’t know — but if you follow the team’s accounts, you know) who have been fans of the team through losses and off-field turmoil.

“We have all this new era stuff coming up — we want to match our social voice to that,” Williams said. “And so we did this tonality test in the beginning and we were trying out different slang, different words, talking with fans and engaging with them in the comments and replies to catch the vibes of where our fans were. And we just kind of took the results from that and we went along with it.”

Compared to last year, Williams said the team is all-in on having fun, making pop culture references, talking about music and fashion and making sure the players are known for more than just what they do on the field.

“That’s what we want to continue to do,” Williams said. “And that’s what we want to do as we continue to grow our brand.”

So while Enteen and Williams had a brand they had to mold, Alyssa Girardi and Gordon Weigers had a different job to do: build a new brand.

Founded as an expansion team, the Vegas Golden Knights began playing just three seasons ago, in the 2017-18 NHL season. Interacting and engaging with fans who are likely new hockey fans while living in Las Vegas is something the team has been consistently focused on since its inception.

“So in the first season, that was a huge emphasis for us just because we were coming to a city, not knowing what the base knowledge of the sport was. That we were bringing your sport to a new city that did not have [an] established NHL team before,” Girardi, senior manager of communications and content, told ESPN.

Pop culture, they have realized, has been a big win on their social channels since they burst into the Twitter spotlight in 2017 — which means referencing favorite TV shows old and new whenever possible.

In December 2018, the Knights were quick to welcome Seattle as a new expansion team and the Knights’ account was finally able to press “send” on a favorite tweet that had been sitting in the drafts.

One specific reply defines why social media is so important to the team: A history teacher, not a hockey fan, tweeted back at the team calling it one of the best things on the internet lately.

Making friends…

In 2018, the Golden Knights’ social media accounts met a friend — the UMBC Retrievers. The two accounts bonded over being underdogs — and real dogs, because, duh, this is the Internet — during March Madness.

During that spring’s NCAA tournament, UMBC became the first No. 16 seed to beat a No. 1 seed, the Virginia Cavaliers, in the tournament. During the game, the team’s Twitter account became a place to challenge haters, acknowledge history and then absolutely revel in the moment.

A month later, the Golden Knights had just clinched the Pacific Division, on their way to the Stanley Cup final, surprising the NHL world and becoming BFF with a fellow underdog team in a totally different sport.

Since going viral in 2018 with his tweets, Zach Seidel is still in charge of UMBC’s social media — Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. He’s still having fun, he’s still showing personality.

“… It’s important to show that you’re not, you know, just robots,” Seidel said. “I do think there’s a fine line between being mean to the other team and having some fun. But I do think it’s a great thing because, you know, now you see all the kids with social media, posting fun stuff about it, and I really think it’s great that it’s really showing the fun side of it and the personalities of it.”

… And enemies

Sure, there’s a lot of fun. However, some teams don’t get along in real life and won’t on social media either. The year-round smack talk that defines rivalries carries over to teams’ digital avatars.

When the 2019 NFL schedule was released, the Atlanta Falcons used their video to take a shot at their rival, the New Orleans Saints. The previous season, the Saints lost in the NFC Championship to the Los Angeles Rams after a seemingly obvious pass interference penalty was not called.

Watch for the ram to gallop in and take out the band member.

And when former Falcons receiver Roddy White tweeted his criticism about Saints coach Sean Payton playing Taysom Hill at QB this season, Payton was quick to respond.

But the NFC South rivals weren’t the only ones spilling their beefs all over social media. Big Ten football was particularly snarky this season.

Maryland took shots at Penn State:

Then, after Illinois defeated Nebraska, the team’s account tweeted, “Good game Nebraska. Thanks for bringing back B1G football.”

Nebraska was one of three Big Ten teams that voted against a league proposal to cancel the season during the coronavirus pandemic and then was one of the most vocal advocates to restart the season. Illinois eventually deleted the tweet.

The WNBA’s Connecticut Sun are known for taking things personally online.

Even recently, as the Sacramento Kings started 2-0 in the new NBA season, they started feeling themselves on Twitter, only to be trolled after losing to the Phoenix Suns.

Being with the fans, digitally

Beefs aside, most of the teams, including the Washington Football Team’s social media managers said, are there for their fans.

They represent a region or a brand. Or they let one fan feel good that the people in their team’s front office feel as passionately about rivalries as they do.

It’s truly all about having fun, Girardi, the Golden Knights’ communications manager said. Providing laughs and levity — especially during this time, is what is most important to the Golden Knights’ accounts right now.

“We like to really toe the line between being informative but being the friend that people are watching the game. We want people to be on our social channels and feel like we’re a friend that they’re watching the game with,” Girardi said.

“You know some people are watching the game alone, so let’s be kind of a friend and let’s interact with those people and let’s provide some laughs and some commentary.”

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Scientists launch social media campaign to counter COVID-19 misinformation – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News

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TORONTO — Scientists and health experts are launching a nationwide campaign to counter misinformation about COVID-19 and related vaccines.

The .ScienceUpFirst initiative is an awareness and engagement campaign that will use social media to debunk incorrect information and boost science-based content.

The campaign team says in a news release that it emerged from conversations between Nova Scotia Sen. Stan Kutcher and Timothy Caulfield, Canadian research chair in health law and policy at the University of Alberta.

The initiative is now being led by the Canadian Association of Science Centres, COVID-19 Resources Canada, and the Health Law Institute at the University of Alberta.

Anyone interested in participating can follow ↕scienceupfirst and use the .ScienceUpFirst hashtag on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, and tag the account to amplify science-based posts and alert it to misinformation posts.

The campaign says there is a marked rise in misinformation and conspiracy theories related to COVID-19 vaccines, virus transmission and government response, and it represents a threat to the health and safety of Canadians.

“Misinformation is a dire, imminent threat to the lives of all Canadians and is proven to be one of the factors fueling COVID-19 infections, and dissuading Canadians from getting vaccinated,” says Caulfield.

“The .ScienceUpFirst initiative seeks to help fill an urgent need to beat back misinformation with the truth, and save lives.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 25, 2021.

 

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Scientists launch social media campaign to counter COVID-19 misinformation – Richmond News

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TORONTO — Scientists and health experts are launching a nationwide campaign to counter misinformation about COVID-19 and related vaccines.

The #ScienceUpFirst initiative is an awareness and engagement campaign that will use social media to debunk incorrect information and boost science-based content.

The campaign team says in a news release that it emerged from conversations between Nova Scotia Sen. Stan Kutcher and Timothy Caulfield, Canadian research chair in health law and policy at the University of Alberta.

The initiative is now being led by the Canadian Association of Science Centres, COVID-19 Resources Canada, and the Health Law Institute at the University of Alberta.

Anyone interested in participating can follow @scienceupfirst and use the #ScienceUpFirst hashtag on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, and tag the account to amplify science-based posts and alert it to misinformation posts.

The campaign says there is a marked rise in misinformation and conspiracy theories related to COVID-19 vaccines, virus transmission and government response, and it represents a threat to the health and safety of Canadians.

“Misinformation is a dire, imminent threat to the lives of all Canadians and is proven to be one of the factors fueling COVID-19 infections, and dissuading Canadians from getting vaccinated,” says Caulfield. 

“The #ScienceUpFirst initiative seeks to help fill an urgent need to beat back misinformation with the truth, and save lives.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 25, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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Canadians support government crackdown on hate and racism on social media, poll finds – Global News

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A poll conducted in the wake of the storming of the U.S. Capitol by Donald Trump supporters and far-right groups has found that most Canadians want government action against online hate.

Commissioned by the Canadian Race Relations Foundation, the poll results also show that almost three-quarters of Canadians are concerned about the rise of right-wing extremism and terrorism.

The results were released Monday by the CRRF, a Crown corporation, as the Liberal government is preparing to introduce measures to regulate social media content.

“The fact that most Canadians see this as a problem is all the more reason why our government needs to make online hate speech regulation a policy priority,” said Mohammed Hashim, the foundation’s executive director.

Read more:
Neo-Nazis, extremists capitalizing on COVID-19, declassified CSIS documents say

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During the 2019 federal election, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he would require social media companies to remove illegal content such as hate speech within 24 hours or face “significant financial penalties.”

The pledge remains unfulfilled, but the government said last week it would soon introduce legislation to regulate internet content.

Under the proposal, online platforms would have to “monitor and eliminate illegal content,” said Canadian Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault’s spokesperson Camille Gagné-Raynauld.

“That includes hate speech, terrorist propaganda, violent content, child sexual exploitation and the non-consensual sharing of intimate images,” she said.

“We will also ensure that victims are heard and protected by providing them with a simplified, safe and independent complaint process.”


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Pressure on social media companies to crack down on hate


Pressure on social media companies to crack down on hate – Mar 15, 2019

The Abacus Data poll, which surveyed 2,000 Canadians between Jan. 15 and 18, reported that 58 per cent felt hateful content on the internet was increasing, and 60 per cent wanted greater federal regulation.

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Support for requiring social media companies to remove racist or hateful content within one day was pegged at 80%, while 10 per cent were opposed, the poll said.

It also reported approval of other measures, such as requiring social media companies to remove users who shared racist or hateful content on their platforms.

Read more:
How the Toronto-registered websites of al-Qaeda and the Pakistani Taliban were taken down

Facebook, Twitter and other tech giants have responded to major incidents of extremist violence such as the New Zealand mosque attacks by deplatforming users for violating their rules.

The siege at the U.S. Capitol during the confirmation of President Joe Biden’s election victory triggered another purge of far-right groups like the Proud Boys from mainstream platforms.

But Bernie Farber, chair of the Canadian Anti-Hate Network, said allowing companies to police themselves had not worked.

“They self-regulate and they’re not doing a good job,” he said.

He said right-wing extremists were exploiting online platforms, which he called a “tool for some of the most pernicious hate groups on the continent and around the world.”

“They exist only because they are able to use these platforms,” he said. “That is why they’re growing. That is why we saw what happened in Washington. There have to be rules.”

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Read more:
Over 6,600 right-wing extremist social media channels, accounts linked to Canada, study finds

Twenty-five per cent of those polled were extremely concerned about the rise of right-wing extremism and terrorism, while 23 per cent were very concerned, 23 per cent were somewhat concerned and 20 per cent were “not that concerned.”

Youths aged 18 to 29, racialized Canadians and those on the political left were most likely to be concerned. Among the political right, 60 per cent were concerned and 36 per cent unconcerned about the issue.

The poll found that a third had seen online content inciting violence, while six per cent had experienced it. For racialized Canadians, the figures were significantly higher, at 41 per cent and 11 per cent.

“Across every item, racialized Canadians are more likely to report experiencing or seeing content online,” the poll said.

Overall, 49 per cent thought online hate and racism was a “big problem,” while 44 per cent considered it a “minor” problem. Youths and left-leaning Canadians were most likely to see it as a problem.

“We are encouraged that Canadians appear to be willing to support a strong framework for ensuring we minimize hate and harassment — even in the darkest corners of virtual society,” Hashim said.

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The poll’s margin of error was 2.2 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

Stewart.Bell@globalnews.ca

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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