Weekly Digest

Weekly Digest: Social Media and the Press

Welcome to The Fix’s weekly news digest! Every week, we bring you important news stories from the world of media – and try to put them in a wider context.

Reporters Without Borders, a global media watchdog, has filed a lawsuit against Facebook in France. The organisation’s statement highlights the spread of disinformation (particularly related to COVID-19) and anti-media hate speech on the platform as key reasons for the suit. 

According to Reuters, Reporters Without Borders “added that the suit… was based on the French consumer code, under which companies using deceptive commercial practices can be liable to fines of up to 10% of annual turnover.”

This move is the latest news in the growing battle between social media platforms, Facebook most notable among them, and news media along with government regulations.

More from The Fix: Weekly Digest: Tech Giants vs Governments vs Publishers / French authorities clash with Google over paying for content  

In other news concerning Facebook, The Guardian has obtained a leaked set of Facebook confidential moderation guidelines. Although the leaked documents don’t seem to contain anything particularly disastrous to the company already battered by scandals (both related and unrelated to moderation), some pieces do raise eyebrows.

For example, The Guardian’s analysis underscores that “public figures [are] considered to be permissible targets for otherwise-banned abuse” in the guidelines – its legitimate to call for the death of a celebrity unless the user purposefully exposes the targeted individual to this comment.

The documents also expose the tradeoffs the platform has to make as it tries to operate in countries under oppressive regimes – and, overall, in various countries under different legal systems. 

Some of the biggest risks major social media platforms now face come from regulators. Others, though, stem from competition. This week, Axios broke the story that former US president Donald Trump is seriously considering launching a new social network. 

According to the publication, Trump is in talks with a little-known technology company about a potential partnership. The former president has not made a final decision though. As Axios reminds, “Trump is famously averse to putting his own money into companies, preferring to license his name and use other people’s money to fund his ventures.”

More from The Fix: After Trump and record elections: what’s next for the news media? 

Over the past year, reckoning over racial inequality spread around the world. New research from the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism underlines racial inequities among top leadership in newsrooms globally.

According to the summary, “15% of the 80 top editors across the 100 brands covered [in the US, UK, Germany, Brazil, and South Africa] are non-white, despite the fact that, on average, 42% of the general population across all five countries are non-white.” In Germany and the UK, there are virtually no top newsrooms headed by non-white individuals.

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