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Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine Represents a New, Key Stage in the Battle Against Online Misinformation

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Russia's Invasion of Ukraine Represents a New, Key Stage in the Battle Against Online Misinformation

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has marked a new inflection point for social media, and the role that it plays in the modern information ecosystem. Now, after years of dismissals about the influence of social platforms, and how social media trends can drive real world action, we’re seeing faster, more responsive approaches to potentially harmful messaging, which has played a key role in limiting the spread of misinformation, and quashing counter-narratives that have the potential to both erode support and undermine action.

Yet, at the same time, those very same shifts highlight the importance of social platforms as propaganda tools, and how they can be – and have been – used as a means to increasingly control narratives around political and cultural events.

Which begs the question – is it better to have social platforms cut off entirely for certain regions, or does that merely grant more space for government-controlled media to fill those gaps, and dictate messaging as it sees fit?

Of course, none of the platforms themselves have chosen to be cut off – both Facebook and Twitter are reportedly either limited or cut off entirely within Russia at present, due to their refusal to comply with the Kremlin’s demands to stop censoring state-affiliated media. But even so, the lack of outside information sources likely has a massive impact on how Russian citizens perceive the action in Ukraine, with various reports showing that many Russians are indeed in support of Putin’s decisions, despite almost unanimous worldwide condemnation.

But without external input, it’s quite possible that Russians are simply unaware of the global response – or at the least, they likely have a lessened perception of such. Which is a risk of Russia being cut off – now, the only information that Russians have is largely via Kremlin-controlled channels, which can’t be good for broader understanding.

At the same time, there’s not much the platforms themselves can do about this. The only option they have is to comply, and enable their platforms to be used to spread misinformation. Which also leads to the counter concern – without being able to hear the other side, how do we know that we’re getting the full story? The quashing of pro-Russian narratives means that the platforms do indeed have control over information flow, and while the suppression of such extends well beyond social media alone in this instance, it does reinforce the fact that the news and information we see can be controlled, or at least influenced, by private organizations.

In most cases, this is in line with broader government sanctions, but still, that’s at least something of a concern.

So where are we at right now?

Currently, as per latest reports:

  • Both Facebook and Twitter have been restricted or cut off in Russia, limiting the capacity for Russian users to share their perspectives beyond the nation’s borders
  • Russian state media has been banned from YouTube and TikTok for users in Europe, while both are now looking to ban uploads in Russia due to the Kremlin’s new ‘fake news’ law. Reddit has also banned links to Russian state media sites
  • Ads from Russian-based organizations have been banned on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google and Snapchat

So pro-Russian messaging is severely limited on western social media apps, and each platform continues to work hard to stop the spread of misinformation by tackling it before it can take hold.

The positive of this, as noted, is that we’re finally seeing this element taken more seriously, and we’re finally seeing platforms take more definitive, proactive stances on potentially harmful misinformation before it’s too late. Platforms dismissed trends like the rise of QAnon for far too long, despite repeated warnings, preferring to let users exercise their rights to free speech, and explaining it away as just that, just talk among niche groups. Now we know where that can lead, and it’s a major positive to see immediate reaction on misinformation in this case, which has played a big role in limiting its impact.

That, really, is what’s needed, and it feels like the key learning of the past decade of evolving social media usage.

But then again, that’s also reliant on there being a definitive truth, and for the platforms themselves to decide on such quickly. In this case, that’s clear, based on global response, but it won’t always be so straightforward.

So while social platforms are being praised for their rapid response in this instance, and it does feel like a significant point in the battle against online misinformation campaigns, it may not be indicative, as such, and it may not limit the next rising, dangerous trend.

Unless a definitive battle plan is established. What we need now is for the platforms to work together, as an industry, in partnership with third-party fact-checkers and other legal and/or academic groups, to firm up a process of making rapid decisions on potentially dangerous trends, as soon as they’re detected, in order to ensure ongoing proactive response to limit such.

It feels like we’re at the next stage in the battle, given the current action we’re seeing, but that may not be the case, and it’s important that we recognize the value of the response that we’re seeing right now, in order to define future action on the same.

But that does, inevitably, implement a level of control over ‘free speech’ online – and if we’re essentially only seeing messages that have been approved by a network of fact checkers, corporations and even government-aligned groups (in the case of regulation) is that much better than Russia or China pushing their messages via state-affiliated partners?

It seems like it is, and you would assume that the power of democracy holds more strength in this regard, with respect to allowing a level of healthy scrutiny. But it’s a question that will inevitably come up as we look to integrate lessons learned to improve online information flow.




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Meta Expands Access to Instagram’s Creator Marketplace

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Meta Expands Access to Instagram’s Creator Marketplace

Meta has announced that it’s finally expanding access to its Creator Marketplace tool, which will give more businesses the capacity to search for creators to work with on their Instagram campaigns.

Meta first launched its Creator Marketplace back in 2022, enabling U.S.-based brands to search and connect with relevant platform influencers based on a range of qualifiers, including focus topics, follower counts, location, etc.

And now, businesses in the following regions will also be able to access the tool:

  • Canada
  • Australia
  • New Zealand
  • United Kingdom
  • Japan
  • India
  • Brazil

In addition to this, Meta also says that Chinese export brands will also be invited to connect with onboarded creators in countries outside of China.

Which is interesting, considering Meta’s tenuous history with the CCP’s “Great Firewall”, but the deal here relates to Chinese businesses operating in regions outside of their homeland, which is somewhat separate to Meta’s internal dealings.

In addition to expanding access, Meta’s also rolling new machine learning-based recommendations within Creator Marketplace, which will use Instagram data to help brands more easily discover creators who are the best fit for their campaigns.

Instagram Creator Marketplace

As you can see in this example, the new recommendations will highlight accounts that have strong engagement rates in your niche, have mentioned your brand in the past, or have produced good results for similar businesses.

That could make it easier to find the right fit, or at the least, to give you more options to consider in your process.

Branded Content collaborations can be highly effective on IG, by using the established expertise and experience of creators who have already built a following in the app, and know what works, to boost your promotions.

By working with the right creators, with connection to your target audience, you can secure valuable endorsement within key communities, which can help to germinate your branding in the right communities.

Brands can check out Instagram’s creator marketplace in Meta Business Suite, with access coming to these new regions shortly.



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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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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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