Hate for profit

I saw an interesting interview with a number of people on the news. The question was “Where do you get your news?” All of the people interviewed responded with “Social Media”.

Now, this was a small group of people and they weren’t scientifically selected and yet I had a sense that they are representative of a lot of people. After all, so many people walk around connected via their smartphone and so it only makes sense to turn there for news. Sure, you could download the CBC or CTV or Global or any other news application. But, unless you make a specific effort, it doesn’t happen.

For many, true hard news isn’t necessary to get along; a quick snapshot is often enough to give you a sense of what’s happening. Or, find out what is trending on social media.

Traditional Media have to pay the bills and a large part of that comes from advertising. We all know that. The same thing goes for Social Media. Those in education have been struggling for years working with students to drill home the message of media literacy.

Traditional Media outlets have earned our trust over the years. But, this Social Media is a different thing. Anyone, including me, can become a publisher of content. You’d have to have been in hiding the past while to realize that two of the biggest enterprises – Twitter and Facebook have been taking on the challenges.

In traditional media, it’s easy to say “I’d like to buy advertising on the 6:00 news”. Social Media is different. Therein lies the actions of the #StopHateForProfit movement. The movement is explained and tracked at: https://www.stophateforprofit.org/. In particular, there is a large and growing list of companies, big and small, that are standing up and pausing their purchasing of advertising on Facebook.

Scroll through the list (it’s a long one) here. You’ll see some pretty big names like Best Buy, Colgate-Palmolive, Dockers, Mozilla, Pfizer, SodaStream, Unilever and that’s just the tip of this financial iceberg.

So, if you’re accustomed to seeing those pieces of advertising when you visit Facebook and wondering what happened, reading and understanding with this list of companies shows what’s going on. The concept of media literacy has been something that we’ve wrestled with for years; this is an attempt to force Facebook to take action to stop the spread as it applies to hate.

Will this make an impact? I think many people are hoping so. Facebook does rely on advertising sales. This is an attempt to hit them in the pocketbook.

Will it work?

4 thoughts on “Hate for profit

  1. Good morning Doug!

    It is so important that folks (adults and kids) develop the Media Literacy skills that allow them to critically interpret formal and informal channels of “news.”

    That everyone now has an opportunity to share their voice is a significant benefit of the connected world. There are many stories and viewpoints that can be promoted and shared without requiring access to the “fifth estate,” as has historically been the case. The Arab Spring, Occupied, #MeToo, and Black Lives Matter movements are important examples of political engagements that have been empowered and amplified via social media.

    Sadly, with this opportunity, there also comes a flood of drivel and negativity that requires careful parsing — and frequently these days — avoidance and disengagement. I am not a heavy user of Facebook, so I am less aware/targeted/influenced of/by the forces at play there, but I think it is an important development that companies are withdrawing their financial advertising from the platform. Media channels have a responsibility to objectively report the truth, and avoid sharing falsehoods, propaganda, and hate. Everyone needs to know how to differentiate editorials from base facts, but it is all too easy for some folks to buy into the spin at some news channels put on their “truth,“ and the ability to discern such a bias is so important. If and when the readership see a problem with a media source, it is important to let that source know. In this case, companies are expressing their displeasure with Facebook’s avoidance, and so they are voting with their feet, or in this case, their pocketbooks.

    I have definitely noticed a terrible uptick in the amount of crap-trending items on Twitter. On any given day, 2 to 4 of the top five trending items are either bot-generated character assassinations, or reports of coverage related to negative things going on in the world. It’s one thing to be informed, but it’s another to find yourself constantly worrying about the political situation down south, or the pandemic, or latest fall of someone in the public eye. I continue to use Twitter to follow/communicate with educators–but make a conscious effort to avoid getting sucked into the trending garbage. It’s nice that Twitter has taken to flagging certain tweets–not censoring them, but trying to mitigate against the falsehoods being claimed.

    It’s not an easy situation to navigate, and definitely highlights the importance of educating the world’s children so that they can learn to interpret what the experience make appropriate decisions …


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