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Why social media is a ‘missed opportunity’ as coronavirus spreads among young people – Global News

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It was more than one month ago that Canada’s top doctor (somewhat jokingly) said she would be “game” to use TikTok to appeal to young people about the coronavirus.

At the time, Dr. Theresa Tam and Health Minister Patty Hajdu discussed a forthcoming campaign that would target youth, educating them about the pandemic and their role in it. But so far, experts say there is little to show for it.

Read more:
Social media users more likely to believe false coronavirus information, study shows

The “Healthy Canadians” YouTube page has two 16-second videos depicting the risks of going to a party, the corresponding Facebook page is spattered with infographics and links to federal press conferences, and the Instagram page uses word-focused graphics like “you are my bubble” and “scrub-a-dub-dub” to remind people of public health recommendations.

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But are these reaching young people, who are now leading infection rates?

“I don’t think we’re doing a great job,” said Colin Furness, a professor at the University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health.

“Parents with young kids are getting the message. Older folks are getting the message. So what do you say to someone in their 20s who’s probably not going to get all that sick, whose summer has been dented, whose dating life has been wrecked? It’s a hard sell… It’s a nut we haven’t cracked.”






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New study suggests social media feeds source of COVID-19 fake news


New study suggests social media feeds source of COVID-19 fake news

Health tips at fingertips

Social media education and appeals are a “missed opportunity” to get that message across, said Shana MacDonald, a communications professor at the University of Waterloo.

“It’s the quickest and easiest way to disseminate the information because that’s where their attention is going,” she said. “We’re vying for their attention in a world where it’s constantly being distracted and taken in many different directions.”

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During an Aug. 21 press conference, Hadju acknowledged that using digital tools to engage young people is a “complex area… because we know youth are usually on the cutting edge of cultural changes.”

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She said young people are involved in the work the government is doing to attract their peers online and that focus groups have been held on a variety of different concepts.

Read more:
Introducing social media to children during the COVID-19 crisis

In a statement Wednesday, a spokesperson from Health Canada told Global News the agency is “finalizing creative concepts using visuals and media platforms that best resonate with youth.”

“This includes using testimonials of youth who have contracted COVID-19 and promoting the videos on popular platforms that have a high number of users in the targeted demographic, including Snapchat, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest,” the statement read.

The spokesperson said the Health Canada hopes to have a strategic marketing campaign planned for later this fall.

But Furness worries a national campaign, at this stage in the pandemic, won’t be laser-focused enough.

“We have to be saying different things. The characteristics, the demographics, what young people are specifically getting up to… it all matters,” he said.

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“Let’s talk about how you behave on the ferries in B.C., and let’s talk about bars in Montreal.”


Click to play video 'Should we be using social media to fight the surge of COVID-19 in younger people?'



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Should we be using social media to fight the surge of COVID-19 in younger people?


Should we be using social media to fight the surge of COVID-19 in younger people?

All eyes on TikTok

Dr. Naheed Dosani can’t understand why social media hasn’t been a priority in messaging.

The palliative care physician and health justice activist saw potential in the digital world from the onset of the pandemic. He turned to TikTok — the fastest-growing social media app on the market.

Using quintessential TikTok trends music and trends, Dosani made a video reminding people to wash their hands, avoid touching their face and stay home if sick. The video was viewed more than 100,000 times.

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“I’m able to reach a typically younger generation with short, concise messages that really hit,” he told Global News.

“We need to remember that the main way messages are being delivered is during afternoon press conferences. Most of the young people I know don’t watch the press conferences.”

His latest TikTok makes that exact point — that public health messaging should be on TikTok and Instagram during COVID-19.

“We need to modernize our approach to communication when we think about this demographic,” he said.

“These platforms work because you feel a connection… So long as that message is scientific, evidence-based and up to date, we have the opportunity to educate people on the virus and prevention strategies, but also nuanced aspects about what COVID-19 is doing to our society so that people feel a collective responsibility to care.”

@dr.naheeddMinimize the number of people you interact with. Wear a mask. Physically distance. Stay safe y’all! ❤️ ##publichealth ##edutok ##tiktokdoc ##fyp♬ New Soul (Remix) #2 – Various Artists

The content itself can be tricky. Dosani capitalizes on popular songs, text boxes, and some dry humour to get his point across.

That might be the magic touch, said MacDonald.

“If you look directly at what circulates on these platforms within a youth demographic, it is humour,” she said, adding that memes even have the ability to get complex types of information across.

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“Certainly there are people in the government who are young enough to be able to produce content that won’t be rejected by a younger group.”

TikTok is also a low-cost option to spread the word, MacDonald added, which cash-strapped governments might be able to capitalize on more easily. She said the app itself has been “proactive” about coronavirus-related content, adding a banner to the bottom of videos about the virus that takes users to a page of videos from official sources like the World Health Organization, Oxfam and the World Economic Forum.

“This extends beyond the pandemic. It’s something we want to look at going forward,” she said.

Read more:
Coronavirus misinformation is spreading — what is Canada doing about it?

Consistent messaging

Youth messaging is “not just a Canadian problem,” said Furness, but “finger-wagging” from politicians and public health figures in response hasn’t helped.

He recognized that unmonitored parties and large indoor gatherings, often involving young people, have contributed to climbing cases, but choosing the shaming route won’t reach them.

“We’ve said explicitly that you can go to a bar with your friends and party with close contact and no masks. We’ve said that. But then we say, ‘But don’t do it in your living room,’” Furness said.

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“It’s not a sustainable message, it’s not coherent. We need to find a way to make it clear.”

To resonate, the message needs to not only be consistent, but engaging, positive and “present on the platforms that people use and love,” said Dasani.

“Rather than reinventing the wheel, why not have clinicians, health workers who are on these platforms get the information out there to turn the tide of this pandemic among youth,” he said.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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US designates six more Chinese media outlets as foreign missions – Al Jazeera English

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US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday the United States was designating the US operations of six more China-based media companies as foreign missions, a move he said was aimed at pushing back against communist propaganda.

Pompeo also told a State Department news conference that the US would launch a dialogue on China with the European Union on Friday and that on Sunday he would begin a trip to India, Sri Lanka, the Maldives and Indonesia.

He said he expected the meetings would include discussions about how “free nations can work together to thwart threats posed by the Chinese Communist Party”.

The State Department named the newly designated publications as the Yicai Global, Jiefang Daily, the Xinmin Evening News, Social Sciences in China Press, the Beijing Review, and the Economic Daily. This means 15 Chinese media outlets have now been classified as foreign missions by US authorities.

The designation requires the outlets to inform the State Department of their personnel rosters and property holdings.

The move is the latest US step to curb Chinese activity in the United States in the run-up to the November 3 presidential election, in which President Donald Trump has made a tough approach to China a key theme of his campaign for a second term.

Pompeo said the decision was part of efforts to push back against “Chinese communist propaganda efforts” in the US.

“They are also substantially owned, or effectively controlled by a foreign government,” he said.

“We are not placing any restrictions on what these outlets can publish in the United States; we simply want to ensure that American people, consumers of information can differentiate between news written by a free press and propaganda distributed by the Chinese Communist Party itself. Not the same thing.”

China’s embassy did not comment immediately.

The editor-in-chief of the state-backed Global Times newspaper said in a tweet that the US had “gone too far” and that China would retaliate.

“As long as Chinese media outlets suffer actual harm, Beijing will definitely retaliate, and US media outlets’ operation in HK could be included in retaliation list,” Hu Xijin said.

As Trump, Pompeo and other officials have ramped up criticism of China for its handling of the coronavirus pandemic, the US government has also steadily increased pressure on Beijing’s interests in the US.

As well as the restrictions on state media, they have imposed sanctions on Chinese officials, companies and government agencies for their actions in Tibet, Taiwan, Hong Kong and the South China Sea.

Since the beginning of the year, the Trump administration has closed China’s consulate in Houston, indicted several Chinese citizens on espionage charges, imposed strict limits on the travel of Chinese diplomats, restricted the number of Chinese journalists allowed in the US and issued stern warnings to US academic and scientific institutions over the alleged influence of the Confucius Institutes that promote educational and cultural links.

The Confucius Institutes have also been required to register as official missions of a foreign government.

So far this year, the US has designated 15 Chinese media outlets as foreign missions. Before Wednesday, those included the Xinhua News Agency, China Global Television Network (CGTN), China Radio International, China Daily Distribution Corporation, Hai Tian Development USA, China Central Television, China News Service, the People’s Daily, and the Global Times newspaper.

In response, China expelled about a dozen US newspaper correspondents with the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post.

Some media rights advocates, while accepting that Chinese outlets are beholden to the state, have voiced unease about the US measures, saying that they give Beijing a pretext to expel journalists who have done valuable investigative work on human rights and the origins of COVID-19.

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How social media companies will handle post-U.S. election scenarios – Reuters Canada

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(Reuters) – In the run-up to the U.S. vote in November, social media companies like Facebook Inc and Twitter have announced new rules for various post-election scenarios.

FILE PHOTO: People cast their ballots for the upcoming presidential elections as early voting begins in Ann Arbor, Michigan, U.S., September 24, 2020. REUTERS/Emily Elconin/File Photo

The companies, which have been criticized by social media researchers and lawmakers over the enforcement of their content policies, have laid out plans for how they will handle candidates claiming victory before results are certified or calls for election-related violence.

Here is how major social media companies plan to approach election challenges:

FACEBOOK

If candidates or campaigns make premature victory claims, Facebook said it will add labels to the content and show notifications in news feeds with information about the state of the race. Posts from presidential candidates contesting the official outcome will also get a label showing the declared winner’s name.

The company, which says it removes content and disables accounts when it believes there are risks of physical harm or direct threats to public safety, has also announced crackdowns on militia movements using the platform in recent months. In September, it said it had “break-glass” options to restrict users if the election becomes chaotic or violent.

TWITTER

Twitter said that it will remove or attach warning labels to any claims of victory before the results are certified, or misleading claims inciting “unlawful conduct to prevent a peaceful transfer of power or orderly succession.”

It will also label or remove unverified claims about the outcome that could undermine faith in the election process, like claims about vote tallying or results certification. Twitter also bans threats of violence against an individual or group.

YOUTUBE

YouTube, the video service of Alphabet Inc, bans certain types of election misinformation, like incorrect voting dates, but it does not have a rule against premature claims of victory. A spokeswoman said in this scenario YouTube would show authoritative information and context alongside videos.

YouTube says it removes content that incites people to commit violent acts against individuals or a defined group of people.

REDDIT

A Reddit spokeswoman said information seeking to mislead on or misrepresent election results would be removed from the site. She said it also bans content that encourages, glorifies or incites violence against individuals or groups.

TIKTOK

The Chinese-owned video app says it will make any content that prematurely claims victory less discoverable on the platform and will add banners on videos to say that results have not been officially announced.

Asked about how it would handle videos that contest election results, TikTok spokeswoman said it would work with fact-checking partners and would remove false content or limit its distribution if it was unverified or the fact-check was inconclusive. She said TikTok removes videos that seek to incite violence.

OTHER PLATFORMS

Twitch, Amazon.com Inc’s live-streaming platform, will not take action on premature claims of victory or content contesting election results.

Snap Inc said it would remove such claims from Snapchat, while Pinterest said it would remove or limit the distribution of premature claims of victory.

Snap and Twitch said they would remove content that encourages or threatens physical violence, while Pinterest said it would remove or limit the distribution of content inciting election-related violence.

Reporting by Elizabeth Culliford; Editing by Greg Mitchell and Aurora Ellis

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Pompeo says U.S. designates six more Chinese media firms as foreign missions – Reuters

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced on Wednesday the State Department was designating the U.S. operations of six more China-based media companies as foreign missions, a move he said was aimed at pushing back against communist propaganda.

FILE PHOTO: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library, Thursday, July 23, 2020, in Yorba Linda, California. Ashley Landis/Pool via REUTERS

Pompeo also told a State Department news conference the United States would launch a dialogue on China with the European Union on Friday and that on Sunday he would begin a trip to India, Sri Lanka, the Maldives and Indonesia.

He said he expected the meetings would include discussions about how “free nations can work together to thwart threats posed by the Chinese Communist Party.”

The State Department named the newly designated publications as the Yicai Global, Jiefang Daily, the Xinmin Evening News, Social Sciences in China Press, the Beijing Review, and the Economic Daily. It brought to 15 the number of Chinese media outlets so designated this year.

It was the latest U.S. step to curb Chinese activity in the United States in the run-up to the Nov. 3 presidential election, in which President Donald Trump has made a tough approach to China a key foreign policy theme.

Pompeo said the move was part of efforts to push back against “Chinese communist propaganda efforts” in the United States.

“They are also substantially owned, or effectively controlled by a foreign government,” he said.

“We are not placing any restrictions on what these outlets can publish in the United States; we simply want to ensure that American people, consumers of information can differentiate between news written by a free press and propaganda distributed by the Chinese Communist Party itself. Not the same thing.”

The State Department has previously required Chinese media outlets to register as foreign missions and announced in March it was cutting the number of journalists allowed to work at U.S. offices of major Chinese media outlets to 100 from 160.

In response, China expelled about a dozen American correspondents with the New York Times, News Corp’s Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post.

The United States also said last month it would require senior Chinese diplomats to get State Department approval before visiting U.S. university campuses or holding cultural events with more than 50 people outside mission grounds.

China’s embassy did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Washington designated four major Chinese media outlets as foreign embassies in June and five in February. The designation requires the outlets to inform the U.S. State Department of their personnel rosters and real-estate holdings.

Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk, Doina Chiacu and David Brunnstrom; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and Andrea Ricci

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