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Climate disinfo surges in denial, conspiracy comeback

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Climate disinfo surges in denial, conspiracy comeback

Activists of Extinction Rebellion hold a ‘die-in’ for climate action in Boston in July 2022 – Copyright AFP/File Joseph Prezioso

Roland LLOYD PARRY

False information about climate change flourished online over the past year, researchers say, with denialist social media posts and conspiracy theories surging after US environmental reforms and Elon Musk’s Twitter takeover.

“What really surprised us this year was to see a resurgence in language that is reminiscent of the 1980s: phrases like ‘climate hoax’ and ‘climate scam’ that deny the phenomenon of climate change,” said Jennie King, head of civic action at the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, a London-based digital research group.

Popular topics included the false claims that CO2 does not cause climate change or that global warming is not caused by human activity, said Climate Action Against Disinformation (CAAD), a coalition of campaigners, in a report.

“Let me expose what the climate scam is actually all about,” read one of the most-shared tweets, cited in another survey by US non-profit Advance Democracy, Inc (ADI).

“It is a wealth transfer from you — to the global elite.”

– Twitter disinfo surge –

An analysis of Twitter messages — carried out for AFP by two computational social scientists at City, University of London — counted 1.1 million tweets or retweets using strong climate-sceptic terms in 2022.

Watchdogs are urging social media platforms to tackle climate disinformation – Copyright AFP Robyn Beck

That was nearly twice the figure for 2021, said researchers Max Falkenberg and Andrea Baronchelli. They found climate denial posts peaked in December, the month after Tesla billionaire Musk took over the platform.

Use of the denialist hashtag #ClimateScam surged on Twitter from July, according to analyses by CAAD and the US-based campaign group Center For Countering Digital Hate (CCDH).

For weeks it was the top suggested search term on the site for users typing “climate”.

CAAD said the reason for that was “unclear”, though one major user of the term appeared to be an automated account, possibly indicating that a malignant bot was churning it out.

ADI noted that July saw US President Joe Biden secure support for a major climate spending bill — subject of numerous “climate scam” tweets — plus a heatwave in the United States and Europe.

Climate denial posts also peaked during the COP27 climate summit in November.

– Blue-tick deniers –

A quarter of all the strongly climate-sceptic tweets came from just 10 accounts, including Canadian right-wing populist party leader Maxime Bernier and Paul Joseph Watson, editor of conspiracy-theory website InfoWars, the City research showed.

CCDH pointed the finger at Musk, who reinstated numerous banned Twitter accounts and allowed users to pay for a blue tick — a mark previously reserved for accredited “verified” users in the public eye.

“Elon Musk’s decision to open up his platform for hate and disinformation has led to an explosion in climate disinformation on the platform,” said Callum Hood, CCDH’s head of research.

Musk himself tweeted in August 2022: “I do think global warming is a major risk.”

Musk has also created a $100 million dollar prize for technology innovations shown to be effective in removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

But prolific climate change contrarians -– such as blogger Tony Heller and former coal executive Steve Milloy — have hailed him in their tweets.

– Conspiracy theories –

An analysis by Advance Democracy seen by AFP found the number of Twitter posts “using climate change denialism terms” more than tripled from 2021 to 2022, reaching over 900,000.

On TikTok, views of videos using hashtags associated with climate change denialism increased by 4.9 million, it said.

On YouTube, climate change denial videos got hundreds of thousands of views, with searches for them bringing up adverts for climate-denial products.

YouTube spokesperson Elena Hernandez told AFP that in response to the claim, certain climate-denial ads had been taken down.

TikTok and Twitter did not respond to requests for comment.

On Facebook, meanwhile, ADI found the number of such posts decreased compared to 2021, in line with overall climate change claims.

– Culture wars –

The CAAD report said climate content regularly features alongside other misleading claims on “electoral fraud, vaccinations, the COVID-19 pandemic, migration, and child trafficking rings run by so-called ‘elites’.”

Jennie King of ISD said: “We are definitely seeing a rise of out-and-out conspiracism. Climate is the latest vector in the culture wars.”

Given the reports by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change showing that human carbon emissions are heating the planet, raising the risk of floods, droughts and heatwaves, CCDH’s Hood emphasised the urgency of restricting the reach of misinformation.

“We would encourage platforms to think about the real harm that is caused by climate change,” Hood said, “so people who repeatedly spread demonstrably false information about climate are not granted the sort of reach that we see them getting.”

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X Faces Restrictions in India and Pakistan Amid Government Orders for Content Removals

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New Report Finds That X May Be Inflating its Ad Performance Results

X is facing new challenges in both India and neighboring Pakistan, with the Indian Government calling on X to censor specified accounts to counter unrest, and Pakistani officials seemingly blocking access to X altogether, amid accusations of vote rigging in its recent election.

Firstly, in India. As confirmed by X, the Indian Government has issued a new order for X to ban users that it has identified as prompting civil disobedience.

As per X:

“The Indian government has issued executive orders requiring X to act on specific accounts and posts, subject to potential penalties including significant fines and imprisonment. In compliance with the orders, we will withhold these accounts and posts in India alone; however, we disagree with these actions and maintain that freedom of expression should extend to these posts.”

X says that even though it is moving to fulfill these orders, it will also continue to challenge the Indian Government’s bans through whatever legal means it has available.

It’s not the first time that the Indian Government has demanded specific censorship from the platform, with both X and previous Twitter management being called upon to remove certain comments and users who’ve gone against official rulings.

Last year, X was forced to remove a BBC documentary that was critical of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi after it was banned in the nation, which many used as an example to highlight X’s inability to uphold its own free speech approach.  

Twitter, meanwhile, was served with a non-compliance notice in 2021 for refusing to action similar account takedown demands from the Indian Government. In that instance, which directly related to civil unrest, India threatened to shut down Twitter entirely in response, while it also suggested that the company’s Indian staff could face up to seven years jail time for failing to comply.

As such, Twitter was effectively forced to action India’s requests, in order to protect its staff (note: The Indian Government has denied that any such threats occurred).

Both incidents serve as reminders of how authoritarian regimes will look to control mass communication platforms, like Twitter and X, in order to manage messaging, and combat noncompliance.

Pakistan, too, has a long history of seeking to control social platforms, though more notably due to “inappropriate content”, as opposed to what users are saying. Pakistan, which is a Muslim country, has banned various apps, at different times, in response to concerns about content, though in this latest instance, it does seem to be taking a leaf out of India’s book in using bans to quell civil unrest.

X will now have to find a way to maintain an adequate balance between adhering to such requests, while upholding its own “free speech” ethos, though X owner Elon Musk has been clear from the start that his free speech push will not go beyond the bounds of local laws in each region.

So while Twitter has challenged India’s requests in the past, and X has vowed to seek further legal clarification around the same, it will be aligning with the Indian government’s requests, and removing users and content in line with their requirements.

Does that mean that X isn’t willing to stand its ground on its much lauded open speech approach?

No, not when the alternative is to see X banned entirely, which would eliminate all speech for the impacted individuals, and reduce all protests against government action.

And no matter what your opinion of X may be, it is still a highly influential platform, in many ways, which is why officials are still looking to control the discussion in the app.

Though the bigger for question for Elon specifically is how such actions could impact his other businesses.

Tesla is still working to get into the emerging Indian market, which could become a huge sales opportunity for the company. Tesla’s been working with the Indian Government to enact new concessions on import duties, in order to bring its vehicles to market, and it’d be interesting to know whether Indian officials have used such as a lever to pressure action at X.

Based on what we know, it does seem like X would have little choice either way, but it’s another consideration in this instance, which could cause some uncomfortable internal discussions around the same.



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How I Landed Job Interviews Without Experience

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Working 9 to 5 Emily In Paris?width=398&height=256&fit=crop&auto=webp

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Wilfrid Laurier chapter.

As a university student, entering the workplace can be a difficult transition for more than one reason. For starters, simply finding a job to get experience on your resume and begin your career can be one of the most difficult parts. Most jobs want you to have experience, but you can’t get experience without experience in the first place! In previous years, I was unsuccessful in landing summer internships in hopes to kickstart my career. This year, I decided to do my research and do everything possible to land interviews because I knew once I got to that point, I could sell myself into the position. Here are my tips on how to at least get to the interview portion of the stressful job search process.

Finding Jobs

First off, you need to be able to find jobs in your field. As a communication studies student, I was searching for public relations, marketing and social media focused jobs. I used a few search engines in order to find them. I began on Indeed, making my job search varied by using “Summer 2024 student internship” as a starter, and going more specific into marketing, social media and public relations after. Indeed was helpful, however, it seemed very limited. I then went to Google with the same searches. This led to a few more job search websites that gave me a few more job postings. My final place to search was LinkedIn. Prior to this year, I wasn’t using the platform for my job search. Getting a 30-day free trial of LinkedIn Premium helped tremendously, as they give more specific job postings based on your profile as well as tips and tricks to updating your profile to match with those hiring. One thing to remember if you’re looking for a summer job is to start looking early. I applied from January through February, searching for new postings almost daily. I also kept a spreadsheet in Notion to keep track of jobs I’d applied to, the status of if I’d heard back and links to the company websites for future reference once an interview was in place. Keeping this organized will allow you to not only know which jobs you apply to, but how long it’s been and whether you’ve heard back or not.

Resume and Cover Letter

Your resume and cover letter are extremely important because with many applicants, hiring managers may only glance or skim through both. You want your resume to look clean upon first sight, nothing too flashy or dramatic and preferably on a single page. Highlight your education, job experience and skills and abilities without writing too much or too little. I found that once I summarized my roles to two or three points each, I became more successful in landing interviews. If you have stellar grades, adding your transcript to applications is always something to consider, as even if you have little to no experience, your dedication to school may assist you in this. As someone with only retail experience wishing to enter a whole new field, making sure my roles reflected leadership skills, collaboration and possibly marketing skills was important. Any extracurriculars that may highlight the field you wish to enter and apply to is also a key feature to reflect in a resume. As for a cover letter, there are so many templates online as to how to make your cover letter look clean and professional by adding the company’s address, hiring manager’s name and your signature at the bottom. If you’re someone with no experience, talk about personal projects. I ran a TikTok account for years where I discussed books and collaborated with publishing companies and I found that when I had put that information in my cover letter, more companies reached out to me for interviews. The way you shape your interests and extracurriculars is a make it or break for a cover letter.

Keep On Trying

Landing an interview is a long process sometimes. It can become disheartening seeing friends around you land interviews and jobs in their fields as you continuously apply. I’d nearly given up a few weeks in, with no emails or updates on jobs I applied to. But I kept trying, getting feedback on my cover letters, resume and profiles throughout the process and ended up receiving interviews for multiple companies within the same week. The job market is a combination of experience, how you shape yourself through a resume and connections you may have. Don’t be too hard on yourself if it’s taken longer than you wished to land an interview. With a few hours a week dedicated to the search and writing of cover letters, you’ll have interview requests in no time.

Whether you’ve just graduated, are currently in school or just want to kickstart your career, job searching can be a scary thing. With dedication and constant feedback, you’ll become more and more sure of yourself and ability to get the jobs you want. Good luck on the job search and remember all good things come with time.

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LinkedIn Shares New Insights into How Public Group Posts are Distributed

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LinkedIn Shares New Insights into How Public Group Posts are Distributed

Could LinkedIn groups be making a comeback?

I mean, probably not. Long gone are the Halcyon days of robust LinkedIn groups, most of which have since been overrun by spammers and scammers looking to get attention at all costs, which has rendered most groups, and group notifications, as spam themselves.

But maybe, there is a way for LinkedIn to get at least some groups back on track.

Maybe.

Today, LinkedIn has published a new overview of the work that it’s put into building public groups, which is an option that LinkedIn’s still in the process of rolling out to all users.

Public groups, as the name suggests, are wholly viewable by members and non-members, as opposed to having to join a group to see what’s happening within it. Up till a year ago, LinkedIn users could only create “listed” or “unlisted” groups, with listed communities showing up in relevant searches, and unlisted ones hidden from non-member view. So you could find a listed group, but you’d still have to join it to get a view of the discussions happening within. But with public groups, they’re both listed and the content is viewable.

Which, according to LinkedIn, has been a positive:

Over the last few years, the Groups product has evolved significantly across feed, notifications, creators, group discovery, content moderation, and other domains of organizer tooling. In continuation of these improvements, we launched public groups to help non-group members see valuable conversations happening in groups, and to help group organizers and creators foster more engagement and a stronger community. This has led to a 35% increase in daily group contributors and a more than 10% incremental increase in joins in these groups.

Which makes sense. Enabling users to view what’s happening within groups, especially highly active, well-moderated ones, is going to attract more members. But it is also interesting to consider whether there might be value in switching your group to public, and making it more of a focus.

Within the new technical overview, LinkedIn explains that public group posts are eligible to be distributed in member timelines, as well as their expanded networks.

“For posts created inside public group, we set the distribution to MAIN_FEED to allow for distribution on the home feed to group members, first degree connections of the author, and first degree connections of any members who react/comment/repost on the post. This helps increase distribution of public group posts.”

That could facilitate good distribution for public feed posts, and could help to increase engagement within your LinkedIn group.

As you can see in this example, another strong lure is that only group members can comment on a public group post. Anyone can react to a public group update, but you have to actually join the community, which you can do via the CTA, to participate in the discussion.

In combination, this could be a powerful way to maximize group engagement, and depending on where that fits into your strategy, it could put more emphasis on LinkedIn groups as a means to broaden connection and community.

Though, as noted, many soured on LinkedIn groups long ago, once the spammers settled in. Back in 2018, LinkedIn actually tried to initiate a groups refresh, with new regulations around spam, and limits on notifications about groups activity, to discourage misuse.

That, seemingly, didn’t have a huge impact, but as LinkedIn notes, it has continued to update its group rules and processes, in order to make it a more compelling product.

Could it be worthy of consideration once again?

There are definitely things to like here, and for those who already have active LinkedIn groups, making the switch to “Public” could have some benefit.

I do think that LinkedIn groups require strong moderation to maximize their value, and establishing a core focus statement for your group, and what it’s for, is also essential to help to guide your direction.

But maybe, they’re worth a look once again.

Maybe.

You can read more about LinkedIn’s latest public groups updates here.

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