Two Pithy Quotes on Social Media & Democracy

How can worldwide social media companies ensure that their digital tools are not used to promote chaos?

Social media and the digital tools that we use every day have transported us into a strange new era. As we use these tools to work and play we tacitly  allow them to collect incredible amounts of our personal information — content that documents our lives, likes, loves, and dislikes —  and we become sitting ducks for sham news and fraudulent information. Those who possess our information, good guys or bad, can use impersonal algorithms to assess and use our data.  Read my post about using Duck, Duck Go.

Fast Company’ article, Alphabet’s Eric Schmidt On Fake News, Russia, And Information Warfare describes how Google and social media companies were caught off guard by the manipulation of their systems and the prevalence of divisive news. The October 29, 2017, article by Austin Carr contains two interesting comments by titans of digital industry, though neither of them testified at the Capitol Hill hearings.    Continue reading

Some Kids May Wish That Social Media Had Never Been Invented…

Children, at least some of them, may be getting tired of social lives dominated by social media.

An October 5, 2017, article in The Guardian, Growing Social Media Backlash Among Young People, Survey Shows, describes the results of a United Kingdom study about social networking. After surveying 5,000 students, researchers found that nearly 63 percent of young respondents are  “…disillusioned with the negative aspects of the technology, such as online abuse and fake news.”  This makes me wonder how children in other countries might respond to the same question. Continue reading

Possible Regulation for Social Media Companies?

Click on this image to go to MarketPlace and listen to the report.

Is there a possibility that government regulations may be in the future for  social media companies?

In the last ten years we’ve watched social media companies sprout up again and again. Some are enormously successful while others debut with great fanfare, only to fade into the background.

Social media organizations are often careless enforcers of their own community behavior rules and content guidelines, and they seem clueless about the need to educate users about media literacy. Moreover, many companies don’t understand enough about how 21st Century users can (and will) manipulate social media platforms. As a result, problems keep occurring — quite a few of them unanticipated.      Continue reading

Can You & Your Kids Balance Life With So Much Social Media & Tech?

Image from Pixabay.

Take a few minutes to read Five Ways Parents Can Help Kids Balance Social Media With the Real World, appearing in the July 11, 2017 Washington Post.

Written by Adrienne Wichard-Edds, the Post article offers common sense suggestion that parents can use to establish a sense of balance between digital endeavors and the rest of a family’s activities. Most of the ideas come from Ana Homayoun’s, Social Media Wellness:  Helping Tweens and Teens Thrive in an Unbalanced Digital World.                     Continue reading

Are People Well-Informed if They Only Consume News that Suits Their Point of View?

Lee Hamilton served for 34 years in Congress and was Vice Chairman of the 9-11 Commission.

Lee Hamilton served in Congress for 34 years in and was the Vice Chairman of the 9-11 Commission.

In this age of fake news news, one of today’s challenges for educators and parents is guiding young people toward an understanding of what it means to be an informed citizen.

An important responsibility is helping children, pre-adolescents, and teens learn how to identify news sources and writing that come from responsible journalistic sources.

Months before the 2016 election former Indiana Congressman Lee Hamilton penned a thoughtful commentary, Social Media Challenges Democracy, considering what is required of an informed citizen, and predicted — intentionally or otherwise — some of the questions about news consumption that citizens have asked since November 2016. It’s an excellent discussion resource for educators and others who work with youth groups.

Lee Hamilton heads The Center on Representative Government at Indiana University.

In his commentary he asks:           Continue reading

Classifying News Sources With a Venn-Diagram Mapping Strategy

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See larger image below.

How to scrutinize, classify, organize, and evaluate today’s media — as much as possible, online and off? That’s the question.

As we search for ideas that can help young people explore news sources, evaluate their preferences, examine how the media outlets identify and share facts, we mustn’t forget incorporating the the opportunity to talk with one another about the perspective that each source brings to its news-sharing. Recently I found Vanessa Otero’s interesting diagram that demonstrates how we can focus on media sources as well as consider their viewpoints and biases.

Evaluating 21st Century news is more complex than it’s ever was in the 20th Century. Reading the news is de-emphasized and watching the news is more prevalent, so we don’t interact much with information sources. The Internet and cable television channels allow opinions or made-up stories to masquerade as news sources — even when those opinions have no credible or factual source. Social media amplifies everything. Truth and expertise are incidental.                                                                             Continue reading

Is Hate Speech in the Connected World Here to Stay?

Expressing hate is so easy with just a few taps on the keyboard.

Expressing hate is takes just a few taps on a keyboard.

Hate speech has been around for a long time, but the connected world has amplified it. Sometimes hateful and threatening comments on social media and in comment sections feel like they are run-of-the-mill daily events. Sadly, Twitter, an awesome social media communications platform — one that I and many educators use and adore — has offered one of the easiest pathways for hate speech amplification. Twitter makes it easy to be “sort-of” anonymous.

For a good overview of Twitter’s online hate problems, take a few minutes to read Jim Rutenberg’s New York Times article, On Twitter, Hate Speech Bounded Only by a Character Limit. Rutenburg shares some of the hateful accusations he’s received and talks about the the challenges that Twitter faces with so much hateful, accusatory, and threatening speech. He notes that Twitter, which is no longer growing its subscriber base, is now for sale. Gutenberg speculates on who might purchase it. “You have to wonder,” he writes, “whether the cap on Twitter’s growth is tied more to that basic — and base — of human emotions: hatred.”                                                    Continue reading