Connect with us
Advertisement

Coke Zero (Tolerance)

More than 400 companies,  including Coca-Cola, Adidas, Ford and Lego, have vowed to halt advertising on Facebook, in a growing protest over how it handles hate speech and other harmful content.

The campaign, Stop Hate for Profit and launched two weeks ago takes aim at Facebook’s advertising juggernaut, which accounted for more than 98% of the company’s nearly $70 billion revenue last year. The stated goal is  “to force [CEO] Mark Zuckerberg to address the effect that Facebook has had on our society.”  The advertising boycott is also extended to Facebook’s sister platform Instagram.

Microsoft was the first big name to publicly sign up and other corporations coming on board include retail chain Target, Dunkin’ Donuts  and automaker Volkswagen said “Hate and dangerous online misinformation should not go unchecked. We expect our advertising partners to reflect our values, and Volkswagen — as well as other companies — must hold them to the same standards we demand of ourselves”.

Facebook disputes the idea that it financially benefits from toxic content.  “We have absolutely no incentive to tolerate hate speech,” Nick Clegg, Facebook’s Vice President of Global Affairs and Communication, told CNN . “We don’t like it, our users don’t like it. Advertisers understandably don’t like it.”

The company says it spends billions of dollars on safety and works with outside groups to review its policies, claiming nearly 90% of hate speech is removed by automated systems. “That’s why we’ll continue to redouble our efforts, because we have a zero-tolerance approach to hate speech.

Unfortunately, zero tolerance doesn’t mean zero occurrence.”, said Clegg. He’s not alone. Apple CEO Tim Cook is all for this censorship, stating “ it’s a sin to not ban certain people …We only have one message for those who seek to push hate, division, and violence: You have no home here.”

A whole lot of virtue signalling going on, to misquote Little Richard, but what’s it all about?  Quite simply, it hinges on whether social media platforms are classified as tech companies or publishers and thereby hangs a huge global tale.

The companies initially claimed the former but in a few test cases this was challenged and they were warned that they must take responsibility for anything and everything posted by their billions of followers in much the same way as a media CEO would be  expected to take full responsibility for the content of their newspapers, magazines, radio and television broadcasts and so on.

But the counter argument is that social media sites do not hire trained media experts, nor is it their responsibility to police everything posted by the public.  Rather those posting should take personal responsibility for what they write and if they transgress publishing laws it is they who should face the consequences.

Add to that mix the concept of free speech versus censorship and you will see this is a very foggy area indeed.  Consider this argument posted on the Do-Op (Difference of Opinion) site.

“This is a new era of communication. A 2018 survey showed that teenagers prefer conversing via social media platforms over talking on the phone at a rate of 3 to 1. Over 69% of American adults have social media accounts, and nearly all who do use it as a source of news. Social media is no longer a game played by a small niche of people; it is a primary form of communication.

However, social media differs from the rest of the above mentioned methods in a particularly crucial way. Twitter and Facebook users are subject to the whims of the companies’ employees who may censor any post or poster they choose.

If someone at Twitter disagrees with journalist Meghan Murphy’s statement that “men aren’t women,” they delete her account. If someone at Facebook feels that an excerpt from America’s Declaration of Independence constitutes hate speech, then they will delete that as well.

Instead of being the hubs of free speech that they should have been, social media companies have chosen to monitor, police, and censor their sites in a way that would be considered unthinkable for any other method of communication. Can you imagine being told that you could no longer make a call because the phone company disagreed with your politics?

This is the reality of social media. By selectively censoring and banning people from their sites, they have assumed control over a prominent means of modern communication. They have declared ownership of their customers’ words. And by doing so, they have also assumed the blame for each and every awful word spoken by their users.”

Thus far in America, social media companies have been shielded against repercussions for content posted on their sites by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which protects “interactive computer service(s)” from being treated as publishers, based on Congress’s initial findings that “the Internet and other interactive computer services offer a forum for a true diversity of political discourse, unique opportunities for cultural development, and myriad avenues for intellectual activity.”

But a lot has changed since 1998. Twitter is now openly banning people based on their political beliefs, something which is arguably prohibited by law in several U.S. states. YouTube and Google are censoring videos. Facebook is being accused not only of allowing “fake news,” but of knowingly creating it. These are no longer the impartial forums once envisioned by Congress.

In Europe in 2016, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube (Google), and Microsoft signed a code of conduct with the EU requiring them to remove all instances of “hate speech” within 24 hours of their being reported. The EU was unsatisfied with the results, and so in 2017, they drew up a plan to force them to do this under penalty of law.  Germany  – home of VW (see above) jumped at the chance to get on board, imposing a fine of up to 50 million euro to transgressors. Virtue signalling or Teutonic totalitarianism?

Do_op again. 

To allow such a significant aspect of modern communication to be monitored and censored by a handful of CEOs is to once again relegate significance to the “elite.”

It is to create the kind of ideological echo chamber that free speech laws were specifically designed to prevent. Controversial opinions cannot be relegated to those in power, as great ideas most certainly are not. But these ideas will never be heard without free platforms to elevate those that hold them.

Some will speak falsehoods. Some will speak hate. Some will even speak “violence.” But the dangers of free speech are greatly outweighed by the consequences of censorship. There is no such thing as an “objective” censor; it is too difficult for any person or group to escape their own biases enough to discern between an opinion that is “wrong” and one that is simply “different.”

Social media companies are, or should be, the platform on which the average citizen stands. It’s time for them to start acting the part.

All censorship, by its very nature is subjective and here’s the other side of this coin.  Should Coca Cola or VW control the thoughts and opinions of those who drink their sodas or drive their cars?  And if they could, would that be a world you really want to inhabit?

Continue Reading

Columns

The Daring Dozen at Bari

8th December 2020
JEFF---Batswana-smoke-unit

Seventy-seven years ago, on the evening of December 2, 1943, the Germans launched a surprise air raid on allied shipping in the Italian port of Bari, which was then the key supply centre for the British 8th army’s advance in Italy.

The attack was spearheaded by 105 Junkers JU88 bombers under the overall command of the infamous Air Marshal Wolfram von Richthofen (who had initially achieved international notoriety during the Spanish Civil War for his aerial bombardment of Guernica). In a little over an hour the German aircraft succeeded in sinking 28 transport and cargo ships, while further inflicting massive damage to the harbour’s facilities, resulting in the port being effectively put out of action for two months.

Over two thousand ground personnel were killed during the raid, with the release of a secret supply of mustard gas aboard one of the destroyed ships contributing to the death toll, as well as subsequent military and civilian casualties. The extent of the later is a controversy due to the fact that the American and British governments subsequently covered up the presence of the gas for decades.

At least five Batswana were killed and seven critically wounded during the raid, with one of the wounded being miraculously rescued floating unconscious out to sea with a head wound. He had been given up for dead when he returned to his unit fourteen days later. The fatalities and casualties all occurred when the enemy hit an ammunition ship adjacent to where 24 Batswana members of the African Pioneer Corps (APC) 1979 Smoke Company where posted.

Thereafter, the dozen surviving members of the unit distinguished themselves for their efficiency in putting up and maintaining smokescreens in their sector, which was credited with saving additional shipping. For his personal heroism in rallying his men following the initial explosions Company Corporal Chitu Bakombi was awarded the British Empire Medal, while his superior officer, Lieutenant N.F. Moor was later given an M.B.E.

Continue Reading

Columns

A Strong Marriage Bond Needs Two

8th December 2020

Remember: bricks and cement are used to build a house, but mutual love, respect and companionship are used to build a HOME. And amongst His signs is this: He creates for you mates out of your own kind, so that you may find contentment (Sukoon) with them, and He engenders love and tenderness between you; in this behold, there are signs (messages) indeed for people who reflect and think (Quran 30:21).

This verse talks about contentment; this implies companionship, of their being together, sharing together, supporting one another and creating a home of peace. This verse also talks about love between them; this love is both physical and emotional. For love to exist it must be built on the foundation of a mutually supportive relationship guided by respect and tenderness. As the Quran says; ‘they are like garments for you, and you are garments for them (Quran 2:187)’. That means spouses should provide each other with comfort, intimacy and protection just as clothing protects, warms and dignifies the body.

In Islam marriage is considered an ‘ibaadah’, (an act of pleasing Allah) because it is about a commitment made to each other, that is built on mutual love, interdependence, integrity, trust, respect, companionship and harmony towards each other. It is about building of a home on an Islamic foundation in which peace and tranquillity reigns wherein your offspring are raised in an atmosphere conducive to a moral and upright upbringing so that when we all stand before Him (Allah) on that Promised Day, He will be pleased with them all.

Most marriages start out with great hopes and rosy dreams; spouses are truly committed to making their marriages work. However, as the pressures of life mount, many marriages change over time and it is quite common for some of them to run into problems and start to flounder as the reality of living with a spouse that does not meet with one’s pre-conceived ‘expectations’. However, with hard work and dedication, couples can keep their marriages strong and enjoyable. How is it done? What does it take to create a long-lasting, satisfying marriage?

Below are some of the points that have been taken from a marriage guidance article I read recently and adapted for this purposes.

POSITIVITY
Spouses should have far more positive than negative interactions. If there is too much negativity — criticizing, demanding, name-calling, holding grudges, etc. — the relationship will suffer. However, if there is never any negativity, it probably means that frustrations and grievances are not getting ‘air time’ and unresolved tension is accumulating inside one or both partners waiting to ‘explode’ one day.

“Let not some men among you laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor let some women laugh at others: it may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): nor defame nor be sarcastic to each other, nor call each other by (offensive) nicknames.” (49:11)

We all have our individual faults though we may not see them nor want to admit to them but we will easily identify them in others. The key is balance between the two extremes and being supportive of one another. To foster positivity in a marriage that help make them stable and happy, being affectionate, truly listening to each other, taking joy in each other’s achievements and being playful are just a few examples of positive interactions.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “The believers who show the most perfect faith are those who have the best character and the best of you are those who are best to their wives”

UNDERSTANDING

Another characteristic of happy marriages is empathy; understanding your spouses’ perspective by putting oneself in his or her shoes. By showing that understanding and identifying with your spouse is important for relationship satisfaction. Spouses are more likely to feel good about their marriage and if their partner expresses empathy towards them. Husbands and wives are more content in their relationships when they feel that their partners understand their thoughts and feelings.

Successful married couples grow with each other; it simply isn’t wise to put any person in charge of your happiness. You must be happy with yourself before anyone else can be.  You are responsible for your actions, your attitudes and your happiness. Your spouse just enhances those things in your life. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “Treat your women well and be kind to them for they are your partners and committed helpers.”

COMMITMENT

Successful marriages involve both spouses’ commitment to the relationship. The married couple should learn the art of compromise and this usually takes years. The largest parts of compromise are openness to the other’s point of view and good communication when differences arise.

When two people are truly dedicated to making their marriage work, despite the unavoidable challenges and obstacles that come, they are much more likely to have a relationship that lasts. Husbands and wives who only focus on themselves and their own desires are not as likely to find joy and satisfaction in their relationships.

ACCEPTANCE

Another basic need in a relationship is each partner wants to feel valued and respected. When people feel that their spouses truly accept them for who they are, they are usually more secure and confident in their relationships. Often, there is conflict in marriage because partners cannot accept the individual preferences of their spouses and try to demand change from one another. When one person tries to force change from another, he or she is usually met with resistance.

However, change is much more likely to occur when spouses respect differences and accept each other unconditionally. Basic acceptance is vital to a happy marriage. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “It is the generous (in character) who is good to women, and it is the wicked who insults them.”
“Overlook (any human faults) with gracious forgiveness.” (Quran 15:85)

COMPASSION, MUTUAL LOVE AND RESPECT

Other important components of successful marriages are love, compassion and respect for each other. The fact is, as time passes and life becomes increasingly complicated, the marriage is often stressed and suffers as a result. A happy and successful marriage is based on equality. When one or the other dominates strongly, intimacy is replaced by fear of displeasing.

It is all too easy for spouses to lose touch with each other and neglect the love and romance that once came so easily. It is vital that husbands and wives continue to cultivate love and respect for each other throughout their lives. If they do, it is highly likely that their relationships will remain happy and satisfying. Move beyond the fantasy and unrealistic expectations and realize that marriage is about making a conscious choice to love and care for your spouse-even when you do not feel like it.

Seldom can one love someone for whom we have no respect. This also means that we have to learn to overlook and forgive the mistakes of one’s partner. In other words write the good about your partner in stone and the bad in dust, so that when the wind comes it blows away the bad and only the good remains.

Paramount of all, marriage must be based on the teachings of the Noble Qur’an and the teachings and guidance of our Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). To grow spiritually in your marriage requires that you learn to be less selfish and more loving, even during times of conflict. A marriage needs love, support, tolerance, honesty, respect, humility, realistic expectations and a sense of humour to be successful.

Continue Reading

Columns

Chronic Joblessness: How to Help Curtail it

30th November 2020
Motswana woman

The past week or two has been a mixed grill of briefs in so far as the national employment picture is concerned. BDC just injected a further P64 million in Kromberg & Schubert, the automotive cable manufacturer and exporter, to help keep it afloat in the face of the COVID-19-engendered global economic apocalypse. The financial lifeline, which follows an earlier P36 million way back in 2017, hopefully guarantees the jobs of 2500, maybe for another year or two.

It was also reported that a bulb manufacturing company, which is two years old and is youth-led, is making waves in Selibe Phikwe. Called Bulb Word, it is the only bulb manufacturing operation in Botswana and employs 60 people. The figure is not insignificant in a town that had 5000 jobs offloaded in one fell swoop when BCL closed shop in 2016 under seemingly contrived circumstances, so that as I write, two or three buyers have submitted bids to acquire and exhume it from its stage-managed grave.

This content is locked

Login To Unlock The Content!

Continue Reading
Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!