Editorials - Sept. 10, 2020
Too little, too late?
Love it or hate it, Facebook and other social media sites are an important communication tool. However, the CEOs of the companies that operate the platforms have long denied any responsibility for the content generated and shared among its users.
The 2016 U.S. election and Brexit referendum in the United Kingdom demonstrated the influence these sites have on modern politics, with disinformation spread by Russian operatives and others ostensibly to further other like-minded populist nationalists into positions of power.
Last week, with another election looming, Facebook finally took action by removing a network of fake accounts set up by Russian actors who then recruited American journalists to write articles critical of Democrats. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg then went on to outline a number of changes “to secure the integrity of the U.S. elections”. The measures include banning new political ads for one week before the election and stopping posts that dissuade people from voting.
Social media companies can employ thousands to block ads and track down political organizations that spread lies, but how much manpower would it take to stop the misinformation and toxic content that spreads like wildfire among personal posts and in private groups?
The horse, as they say, is out of the barn. – DS
40 years and counting
Sept. 1 marked 40 years since Canadian hero Terry Fox ran his final kilometre of the Marathon of Hope, having to end the run prematurely just outside of Thunder Bay. Sept. 2 marked 40 years since Terry wept during a press conference as he spoke to Canadians, telling them his cancer was back and had spread to his lungs. Though beaten down by the pain, Terry refused those who offered to finish the journey for him, insisting he would do it himself one day. It was not to be and Terry would die the next summer at just 22 years of age.
That September, the first-ever Terry Fox Run was held, inspired by the Marathon of Hope. This year’s run was to be the 40th in history, benefitting the Terry Fox Foundation, which has raised over $800 million for cancer research since Terry’s death. (The run is still being held virtually, it’s worth noting.) In those 40 years, the survival rate for osteosarcoma, the form of cancer that killed Terry, has increased dramatically and many can’t help but draw a correlation between the funds raised through Fox and those hopeful advancements.
Terry’s story is uniquely Canadian. His journey was selfless and as he went about his daily run – the equivalent of a marathon per day, every day – he kept his struggles and his pain to himself. During the Marathon of Hope, Terry appeared uncomfortable with the attention he received and always shifted the spotlight to beating cancer, only becoming emotional when discussing other young people fighting cancer.
Terry’s original goal was to raise $1 million through the Marathon of Hope. He then adjusted those expectations to $10 million and then $24 million – $1 for each of Canada’s 24 million residents. Terry would see the country nearly reach his goal, raising $23 million by April of 1981, but what has happened since would have exceeded all his expectations.
While it has been 40 years, Terry’s goal remains as relevant as ever and we cannot let his light fade. On Sept. 20, get outside and run or walk for Terry – and if you can’t, donate to someone who is. – SL
With Ontario seeing not only multiple consecutive days of triple-digit increases in COVID-19 cases, but also increasing numbers each day for several days in a row, it seems that, while we’ve weathered the worst of it, we’re forgetting how we got to this point. The trend of increasing cases across Canada has some experts concerned that the second wave is either arriving or will be very shortly.
British Columbia could be in the midst of its second wave, according to some experts, as, last month, the province had more active cases on one day in August than it ever had in any other single day. Experts, according to national media outlets, say those trends are concerning.
Infectious disease expert Dr. Sumon Chakrabarti, for example, said that while the numbers are low, there is a trend, which is concerning.
Unlike say, the storms that seem to be rolling off Lake Huron with more ferocity, we do have the power to change the trends we’re seeing with rising COVID-19 numbers. We can continue to don our masks, disinfect our hands and put the health and safety of those we love first by practising physical distancing. If we don’t, then we’d better all be ready to take a step back and start another period of quarantine for fear of the safety of our families and friends.
The reality is, a lot of people and businesses won’t financially survive a second wave if it’s as devastating as the first, so we all need to remember what got us through the first wave and keep practising good hand hygiene and protecting ourselves and others. Good luck. – JDS