Region of Waterloo council is once again dealing with the aftermath of a social media post shared by the mayor of Wilmot Township.
Les Armstrong repeated his apology in front of councilors at a special meeting Tuesday morning for sharing and commenting on a “white lives matter” social media post.
Regional council unanimously accepted an integrity commissioner’s findings surrounding the issue.
“This has been a time of reflection for me and I continue that journey,” said Armstrong. “I think it’s important that my apology that I read in Wilmot council should be repeated now so it’s on the record.”
Several delegates appeared at the virtual meeting as well, with one saying they don’t believe a mandated apology is enough.
“His behaviour has tarnished the region,” said Wilmot Township resident Nigel Gordijk. “What I would like to see is your unequivocal condemnation of his conduct, describing in detail what he did wrong and explain why his actions were harmful to the public.”
Another delegate asked for regional council to undertake more cultural education.
“In what ways will the members of council work toward learning about cultures and diversity and encourage regional employees to do the same?” Said Toronto resident Alim Nathoo.
One delegate also described Armstrong as a man of good character and underscored his apologies on the matter.
“I’ve known Mayor Armstrong for over a decade and I have never heard him make a disparaging remark or racist comment,” said Baden resident Glen Mathers. “To even hint he’s racist is a shameful assault on the character of a man who is the very best of us.”
The integrity commissioner report that council accepted Tuesday found that Armstrong violated codes of conduct for the township and the region.
Investors push for social media controls ahead of U.S. inauguration – The Guardian
By Ross Kerber
BOSTON (Reuters) – Pension fund managers and religious investors on Friday asked top social media companies to step up their content control efforts to reduce the threat of violence ahead of the inauguration of U.S. President-elect Joe Biden next week.
The effort is the latest pressure on Facebook Inc, Twitter Inc and Alphabet Inc over extreme rhetoric after the storming of the U.S. Capitol last week by supporters of President Donald Trump.
In letters sent on Thursday, the investors – including New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, the Service Employees International Union and the Unitarian Universalist Association – asked for steps including disabling the coding they said tends to elevate conspiracy theories and radicalizing content, and for the companies to continue to flag content with hashtags like #Stopthesteal.
In the longer run, boards and executives must review their “business model and reliance on algorithmic decision making, which has been linked to the spread of hate and disinformation online,” the letters said.
Alphabet representatives did not respond to questions. A Facebook spokesman said it has banned over 250 white supremacist groups and enforced rules like those barring militias from organizing on its platform. A Twitter representative cited actions it has taken like suspending accounts that mainly shared QAnon content.
Violent rhetoric on social media platforms has ramped up in recent weeks as groups planned openly for the gathering in Washington, according to researchers and public postings, prompting criticism of the companies for failing to take action in advance.
Twitter and Facebook banned Trump’s accounts last week as the tech giants scrambled to crack down on Trump’s baseless claims of fraud in the U.S. presidential election.
The activist investors together manage about $390 billion in assets but own relatively small stakes in the social media companies. Top shareholders in the space so far have declined to comment on their responses including BlackRock Inc Vanguard Group Inc and Morgan Stanley.
The bans on Trump have prompted concern among other investors that users and advertisers would leave for different platforms. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said the decision was correct but set a dangerous precedent. Facebook operations chief Sheryl Sandberg has said the company has no plans to lift its ban.
(Reporting by Ross Kerber; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Raju Gopalakrishnan)
Island mayor calls for de-escalation as social media gets uglier in racism fight – Saanich News
North Cowichan Mayor Al Siebring is calling for civility on social media, even in response to racist comments he himself decried earlier this week.
According to the mayor, threats of violence in response to racist comments resulted in credible threats of suicide by the initial commenter, as well as RCMP involvement.
On Jan. 10, Siebring put a post on his public Facebook page condemning racism that has been directed toward members of Cowichan Tribes following a COVID-19 outbreak in the First Nations community. That post went viral, with more than 200,000 views and extensive media coverage. Many other provincial and even federal leaders have joined Siebring in his call for this racism to cease.
On Jan. 14, Siebring posted again about the harassment some of the posters of racist comments have since received.
According to Siebring’s post, the harassment has included messages such as “You are a disgusting human being,” “Pathetic racist,” “I hope your children catch [COVID-19] and choke,” and “I am white. You are a vile excuse for a human being and I will do everything in my power to make sure your children are removed from you.”
The individual who was targeted with those messages has reached out to Siebring to “apologize unreservedly,” the mayor said.
“This person — and to be clear, there were lots of people posting [objectionable] stuff, not just this individual — initially wrote me a private message saying: ‘I was very wrong. I feel like [expletive]… I did put up an apology which was deleted… (But) there were many remarks on that apology. Some people were going to come to my home and cut me a new [expletive]. As well, I need a huge beating. I was told I should just kill myself.”
That person wrote to the mayor again the next day, saying, “I am ready to kill myself just to save my family from being harrassed.” They have since deleted their Facebook account, and Siebring said he hasn’t been able to respond to the messages.
“But the threats of violence have precipitated RCMP involvement. And the suicidal iterations were real enough to precipitate multiple hours of people sitting with this individual to ensure they didn’t self-harm.”
“Folks, THIS HAS TO STOP,” Siebring wrote. “Racism is wrong. But so is this kind of reaction. We’re all human. We all make mistakes. And we all need to learn to apply grace and forgiveness. Please, please… let’s tone things down.”
Cowichan Tribes councillor Stephanie Atleo said she fully agrees with Siebring.
“I know in seeing some of the messages, a lot of the anger is coming from non-First Nations citizens, and I do appreciate that they’re speaking up and letting individuals know this is not OK, but there are also ways to do that that are OK and not OK. I don’t want anyone to be on suicide watch because they are being harassed.
“I think it goes both ways: whether you are spreading racist remarks or challenging them, how you challenge them says a lot about yourself, too.”
There is sometimes a tendency to “overcompensate,” Atleo said.
“People know they have to do something, and they want to do it boldly,” she noted. “But they can go over the edge and be as cruel as the original act.”
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Edmonton Police Service says senior spokesperson's social media posts promoting conspiracy theories do not reflect force's views – Edmonton Journal
Article content continued
The day after the chaos, she shared a post claiming “Antifa and BLM have there (sic) hands all over the storming of the Capitol. Definitely not MAGA that started this.” She shared other posts claiming the people who stormed the Capitol were not Trump supporters but “crisis actors” or leftists disguising themselves to create chaos.
On one of those posts, she wrote “Don’t believe the lies from the Left and their bought MSM,” referring to the mainstream media. That post was flagged by Facebook for containing false information.
On Jan. 8, she shared, with the praying hands emoji, a QAnon-tinged screed from another Facebook user about the “Deep State” which concludes “They chose Treason! They will all hang, as the result. Patriots in control! Nothing can stop what’s coming” (QAnon is a fictitious far-right conspiracy theory claiming that pedophiles running a sex-trafficking ring are plotting against Trump.)
Postmedia reached out to Mokrzan with questions regarding the Facebook posts, but she did not return repeated requests for comment.
In an emailed statement, EPS’ director of communications Michael James said supervisors became aware of the posts earlier this week.
“Given the employee’s role in the organization, their actions were promptly addressed through our internal human resources processes, and the employee has agreed to abide by the terms outlined by our human resources division,” James said.
“There is no evidence that these personal opinions have impacted the employee’s work providing information to the public, and we consider this matter concluded at this time.
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