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I spoke with Hilary Smale on ABC Perth Radio’s Focus program this morning about Coronavirus/ COVID19 and the challenges of misinformation (or what’s now called an ‘infodemic’ on social media). You can hear the program here: https://www.abc.net.au/radio/perth/programs/focus/corona-reset/12046430 (I’m on at about 29.30 in the recording).
My main advice to all social media users remains: slowing down and checking in with known credible sources *before sharing* is vital in stopping misinformation spreading rapidly online (even that sharing is done with the best of intentions).
Locally, the most reliable source remains the WA Health Department, and their specific page with up-to-date COVID19 information, here: https://ww2.health.wa.gov.au/Articles/A_E/Coronavirus
Their official daily snapshot comes in a particularly shareable visual form:
[Example of WA Health Department COVID-19 Infographic for 10 March 2020.]
Nationally, the Australian Government’s Department of Health website remains the best national resource for reliable information (despite, to be fair, a really unfriendly website): https://www.health.gov.au/health-topics/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov.
Finally, the World Health Organization (WHO) not only provides a reliable global overview but also, vitally, addresses many online rumours about COVID-19 and answers with known facts! https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public/myth-busters
[Examples of World Health Organisation Mythbusting Images, 10 March 2020.]
In reflecting on the year and my quite sporadic blogging (and that’s being generous), it occurred to me that this is in large part because of the amount of time and energy that goes into talking with journalists in the last few years. In 2014 I provided commentary for 31 media stories: 7 newspaper or online stories; 4 TV interviews; and 18 radio interviews. I also wrote a couple of Conversation pieces, and a story for Antenna. This is definitely my preferred ratio: the more radio the better, as it’s almost always live and I feel a lot more in control of the way what I say is actually reported! While is seems a bit boring and self-serving to continually report here when I’ve provided press comments (and something better suited to Twitter), I’ve nevertheless added a media section above so that my public comments are at least available in a central place beyond my CV.
My 2014 output was actually down a bit on 2013, when I was interviewed for 38 media stories (19 were print or online; 15 radio interviews; and 4 TV spots). In 2014 I was probably a little pickier about which stories I spoke on, which was influenced both by the rougher media experiences in 2013 as well as me doing a more strategic job of marking out times to focus on my academic writing only. As 2015 kicks off, I’m still going to try and be available to talk about online communication with the press, as I still firmly believe it’s important for academics to try and be public facing and engage with public debate. I’m sure I’ll tweet the better stories, but I’ll also try and keep the media section more or less up to date.
Links for December 7th 2010 through December 13th 2010:
- The state, the press and a hyperdemocracy [Unleashed (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)] – Mark Pesce provokes a much larger debate about Wikileaks … is it really ‘the press’? “WikiLeaks is the press, but not the press as we have known it. This is the press of the 21st century, the press that comes after we’re all connected. Suddenly, all of the friendliest computers have become the deadliest weapons, and we are fenced in, encircled by threats – which are also opportunities. This threat is two-sided, Janus-faced. The state finds its ability to maintain the smooth functioning of power short-circuited by the exposure of its secrets. That is a fundamental, existential threat. In the same moment, the press recognises that its ability to act has been constrained at every point: servers get shut down, domain names fail to resolve, bank accounts freeze. These are the new selection pressures on both sides, a sudden quickening of culture’s two-step.”
- The Atlantic Turns a Profit, With an Eye on the Web [NYTimes.com] – The Atlantic turns a profit by thinking digitally, and employing bloggers: “How did a 153-year-old magazine — one that first published the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” and gave voice to the abolitionist and transcendentalist movements — reinvent itself for the 21st century? By pretending it was a Silicon Valley start-up that needed to kill itself to survive. The Atlantic, the intellectual’s monthly that always seemed more comfortable as an academic exercise than a business, is on track to turn a tidy profit of $1.8 million this year. That would be the first time in at least a decade that it had not lost money. Getting there took a cultural transfusion, a dose of counterintuition and a lot of digital advertising revenue. “We imagined ourselves as a venture-capital-backed start-up in Silicon Valley whose mission was to attack and disrupt The Atlantic,” […] “In essence, we brainstormed the question, ‘What would we do if the goal was to aggressively cannibalize ourselves?’””
- Angry Birds, Flocking to Cellphones Everywhere [NYTimes.com] – “It sounds like a tough sell: a game that involves catapulting birds at elaborate fortresses constructed by evil pigs. But Angry Birds, a hit game by Rovio, a small Finnish company, is one of the unlikeliest pop-culture crazes of the year — and perhaps the first to make the leap from cellphone screens to the mainstream. Angry Birds, in which the birds seek revenge on the egg-stealing pigs, is meant to be easily played in the checkout line and during other short windows of downtime — but some players have trouble stopping. Rovio says people around the world rack up 200 million minutes of game play each day. (Put another way, that is 16 human-years of bird-throwing every hour.) The game has inspired parodies, homages and fervent testimonials. Homemade Angry Birds costumes were big hits on Halloween. Conan O’Brien demonstrated the game in a YouTube video promoting his new show, and a sketch from an Israeli TV show about a birds-and-pigs peace treaty was popular online ….”
- Assange And WikiLeaks Have Parallels With Spycatcher [SMH] – Malcolm Turnbull on Wikileaks: “Governments and politicians should be careful not to make a martyr of Assange and fools of themselves. Julia Gillard’s claim that Assange had broken Australian laws, when it is clear he has not, demonstrates how out of her depth she is. One may well ask whether her denunciations would be so shrill if the documents had been handed to a powerful newspaper group – if the contents were being dribbled out by The Australian, would she be accusing Rupert Murdoch of high crimes and misdemeanours? Assange is an Australian citizen. No matter how much the government disapproves of his actions, it should make it clear that he is entitled to return to Australia if he wishes and to receive consular assistance if the charges of sexual assault proceed in Sweden.”
- Wikileaks and the Long Haul [Clay Shirky] – Some thoughts from Clay Shiry regarding Wikileaks which are well worth reading: “Over the long haul, we will need new checks and balances for newly increased transparency — Wikileaks shouldn’t be able to operate as a law unto itself anymore than the US should be able to. In the short haul, though, Wikileaks is our Amsterdam. Whatever restrictions we eventually end up enacting, we need to keep Wikileaks alive today, while we work through the process democracies always go through to react to change. If it’s OK for a democracy to just decide to run someone off the internet for doing something they wouldn’t prosecute a newspaper for doing, the idea of an internet that further democratizes the public sphere will have taken a mortal blow.”