December 2, 2022

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The Edge

#TheHolocaust on Social Media

The Instagram account @eva.stories is a social media project produced by Israeli tech entrepreneur Mati Kochavi. It launched on May 1, 2019, the day before Yom HaShoah, Israel’s annual Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day.

Across 24 hours, 70 “Stories” were posted covering four months of Eva’s life from February 13, when she received the diary, to May 1944. The project culminated in her transport to Auschwitz in June 1944.

Designated a “personal blog,” the account exists as an archive on Instagram. Thirty-one Story Highlights can be watched on demand.

Rachel Schaff takes a close look at this and other online projects that rouse urgent, unresolved questions about social media aesthetics and politics in Holocaust memorialization.

Read the full analysis on The Edge.

Media Negligence and Hate Costs LGBTQ Lives

On Sunday, November 20, five people were killed and more than 20 injured in a shooting at the LGBTQ nightclub Club Q in Colorado Springs, Colorado, as the club hosted a drag show and planned a drag brunch the following morning to honor Transgender Day of Remembrance. The attack came amid a right-wing media campaign against drag shows, framing them as a threat to children and civilization.

Media Matters has documented months of content on social and news media smearing drag events with claims that they’re a plot to sexualize children, comparisons to cancer, and calls for an “aggressive” approach to “fighting it.”

The media has normalized violent right-wing rhetoric such as this, and it has persisted after the shooting, imperiling more lives.

Read the full report on The Edge.

How Demagogues Harness Social Media

Despite clear visual evidence to the contrary, former President Donald Trump insisted that his inauguration crowd had been larger than the one at President Obama’s inauguration in 2008. In a series of experiments done after the event, voters were shown photos of each and asked to identify which crowd size was larger.

Hillary Clinton voters and non-voters overwhelmingly chose the Obama photo. Between 11% and 26% of Trump voters chose the Trump photo.

It’s not that these voters couldn’t discern the obvious crowd size difference. It’s that their choice was an act of “participatory propaganda,” said Stephan Lewandowsky, chair of the Department of Cognitive Psychology at the University of Bristol in England. It was “a way of expressing their support for their champion in the moment.”

Read more from Lewandowsky’s talk on The Edge.

How Native Advertising Misleads Readers and Damages Credibility

In 2019, the Massachusetts Attorney General sued Exxon Mobil for deceiving state residents about the company’s contributions to climate change. One exhibit in the lawsuit was a piece of “native advertising,” paid content disguised as a news article, in The New York Times where the oil company discussed “The Future of Energy.”

“So this is concerning,” Dr. Michelle A. Amazeen said. “What is Exxon Mobil saying in their native advertisements? Does it contradict what The New York Times newsroom is saying?”

During a recent talk hosted by the Shorenstein Center for Media, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School, Dr. Michelle A. Amazeen shared her research that demonstrated how poor enforcement and standardization of native advertising damages journalistic integrity and muddles real reporting.

Read more from Amazeen’s talk on The Edge.

The Case for Transparency Over Objectivity

Earlier this month, James Geary, an editor at Nieman Reports, published a letter calling into question the role of objectivity in journalism after two stories misreported information involving crime and Black residents of two cities.

Geary said “these two stories are connected by journalism’s inconsistent definitions — and selective applications — of objectivity.” He also claimed that journalists’ personal connections to individual stories does not always negatively impact the quality of the reporting and would actually lead to more transparent engagement with readers.

Read more from Geary on The Edge.

In Other News

1. QAnon, white nationalists and hate speech: Experts reveal how the floodgates opened on Elon Musk’s Twitter | The Independent

2. The GOP Can’t Hide From Extremism | The Atlantic

3. Prosecutor Says Trump ‘Knew Exactly What Was Going On’ With Exec’s Tax Fraud Scheme | HuffPost

4. Ukraine war: EU set to approve cap on price of Russian oil | BBC

5. #ClimateScam: denialism claims flooding Twitter have scientists worried| The Guardian

Read previous Briefs and more from independent media on the PCIM website and The Edge, and follow PCIM on social media: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

The Indy Brief is edited by Jeremy Lovelett.