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Once used mainly by teens and young millennials, Instagram continues to grow as one of the most popular social media platforms. As of June 2018, Instagram had reached one billion monthly active users. More than 500 million use the platform daily.
Free Press and four allies have filed a lawsuit (27 August 2020) challenging an order against social media companies. The US District Court, Northern District of California, will hear a complaint against President Trump’s “Executive Order on Preventing Online Censorship”, which targets online platforms with a range of official reprisals – including threats to their established legal immunity, investigation by government enforcement agencies, and the loss of significant government spending – for engaging in constitutionally protected speech, including combating misinformation online.
Media freedom is the freedom to protest. “Hong Kong has long been respected as a powerful global economic hub and lively political and democratic space, supported by a proud and strong independent media. Yet the imposition of the new national security law… has undermined fundamental rights and freedom of expression… and severely damages Hong Kong’s autonomy,” says a statement published by the International Federation of Journalists on 19 August 2020. It was signed by eight leading organisations supporting media freedom.
A new law in Tanzania tightens controls on cooperation between local and international media outlets. Under new regulations announced by the Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority, which came into force on 10 August 2020, local media must now seek government permission to broadcast foreign content. They will be responsible for any perceived “offence” contained in that content.
There are laws about what can be seen or said in public. So why don’t they apply to social media? In principle they do. The problem is enforcing them. In part it’s a problem of scale.
There is nothing new about hate speech. What has changed is the mode of delivery. In Nazi Germany, it was state-controlled newspapers and radio. At the time of the genocide in Rwanda, it was a radio station run by the Hutu government. Today, it is social media, until recently largely unregulated.
Last year the South African president elevated the epidemic of violence against women to national crisis level following pressure from activists, promising to put in place a public national register of offenders, a review of cold cases and harsher penalties for perpetrators.
No apologies for quoting at length from “The Media Isn’t Ready to Cover Climate Apartheid” by Michelle García (The Nation, 17 June 2020). While praising the public service ethic of many media outlets, whose coverage of the Covid-19 pandemic has been exemplary, she notes an apparent reticence or inability to delve in depth into its impact on the most marginalized. She also questions media preparedness for the greater crisis to follow:
[caption id="attachment_26456" align="alignleft" width="300"] Image: United Nations COVID-19 response[/caption] In times of disaster, the need to engage with affected communities to ensure useful, timely and accurate information is mutually shared is increasingly recognised as essential.
A group of 153 academics, writers, and social activists published a letter in Harper’s Magazine (7 July 2020) expressing concern that “a new set of moral attitudes and political commitments” are tending “to weaken norms of open debate and toleration of differences in favor of ideological conformity”.
Tags: surveillance, wearables, monitoring tools, privacy Electronic tagging has always been controversial. Today it is being touted in the name of health security.