tv The Media Show BBC News July 20, 2021 1:30am-2:01am BST
hello again, you were watching bbc news. the headlines, the international olympic committee has described the delay tokyo 2020 games is the most complex games ever held, with just three days until the official start, there have been more positive coronavirus tests as the athletes have arrived, forcing some to self isolate and others to withdraw. the british prime minister's formative advisor dominic cummings has accused boris johnson of putting politics ahead of people �*s' lives during the pandemic in response, downing street said mrjohnson had taken the necessary action to protect lives and livelihoods guided by the best scientific advice. fires have fled across russia i met a heat wave, tearing through more than one and a half million hectares in the siberian region. in the capital, flights were suspended due to bad visibility. those are the headlines.
now on bbc news, is the media show. after the torrent of racial abuse that england's footballers suffered after that penalty shoot—out, you might wonder why they'd want to be on social media at all. do the benefits of direct access to the fans and being able to tell their own unedited story outweigh the really horrifying negatives? and what about the platforms themselves? why can't they quash the abuse more effectively? it is an example of much broader issues around the power and accountability of social media giants, and that is the subject a behind—the—scenes book written by two new york times journalists about facebook. so, let me introduce you to our guests. firstly to new york and to sheera frenkel. sheera, you've called your book
the ugly truth, which means, i guess, that you're not secretary of the mark zuckerberg fan club. i wonder what facebook makes of you. have they been in touch with you directly about what they think of the book? in the weeks leading up to the publication of the book, facebook was in touch with us multiple times a day. there were days where it was dozens of times a day. they made it very clear that they objected to many things in the book, which was interesting because we had gone through a four—month fact checking process with them in which we had gone over every detail and every scene and really given them every chance to respond. but it was only when the book was actually printed and about to hit the shelves that they seemed to sort of realise that this was going to be hitting the public soon. and then, it was going to, i think, raise a lot of concerns about the way the company has been run. we'll hear more about that later. celia kong, the cover of your book, actually, has a list of apologies from facebook, things like,
"we never meant to upset you, we need to do better." what is it they're apologising for? they're apologising for a whole history of mistakes and scandals and promises to do better. we thought the real power of putting those quotes in the back of the book, "i'm sorry, i'm sorry, i'm sorry," from sheryl sandberg and mark zuckerberg, really actually gave readers a sense of what would be in the book, which is a very powerful pattern of mistake, apology, promises to do better, wash, rinse and repeat — that cycle over and over again. that, really, is one of the most powerful things that we took away from our reporting, that surprised us, which was this kind of pattern for this very powerful company. great, well, we'll hear more about that later on. also with us today are three sports journalists. henry winter is chief football writer for the times. henry, england player tyrone mings used social media to criticise the home secretary, priti patel. he accused her of stoking the fire of racism. and so, keir starmer quoted that social media post
in prime minister's questions. i wonder if that means that you find that you are fighting to keep politicaljournalists off your turf at the moment. well, not really because i- think if you look at the cover, it's certainly- from the print media with the echoing the sentiments of the supporters _ and the players in particular. you mentioned tyrone mings and the way he put away - priti patel with his veryl succinct message to her when she had a go earlier in the tournament about. players' gesture politics by taking a knee. - i think what you saw| with the racist abuse of the three black players i who missed penalties shows why players will take a knee. and also, particularly- with tyrone mings, and i've interviewed him on this subject — he's a very eloquent, - intelligent individual — i and it was tyrone mings who on his england debut inl bulgaria was racially abused. and his family had travelled . out to see their son make this debut, and he was racially
abused by a minimum - of 50 bulgarians. so, he's very aware of the l racist issues in this country and in other countries far more than many politicians. - well, mayowa quadri is a freelance football writer and a broadcaster. he's also editorial officer at versus, which describes itself as a platform championing the future of football. mayowa, i know you don't have the backing of a major newspaper like the times, for example, so i imagine that you don't get the same access to top players, or do you? and i wonder how helpful footballers' social media profiles are to you. we do to a certain extent. i think ultimately, that has come across social media. i feel that a lot more footballers are going to be in control of the narrative around themselves and tell authentic stories. i mean, print does an amazing job, but of course, broadcasters traditionally are focused on the result and the matter of facts of the game, whereas new media can focus on societal issues, personal habits and things that footballers really
want to talk about. for instance, someone like rashford, jaden sancho, these young footballers who are really in touch with their culture and where they come from. versus enables them to speak about that. well, joey d'urso is investigations writer for the atlantic, covering football. sorry — for athletic, rather — not atlantic. and joey, you've been investigating social media and football for quite a long time now. obviously, online racism towards sportspeople isn't new, but can you give us an idea of the scale of the abusive social media messages and comments that were aimed at england's footballers this week? yeah, so it'sjust everywhere and it's really depressing and it's really dark. soon as those three black players missed their penalties on sunday night, they were inundated with the most horrendous kind of abuse, things like monkey emojis. the kind of ways that people get around these filters because they know if they use
certain slur words that the social media filters will pick them out, whereas maybe emojis are harder. people do things like direct messages on instagram, which are harder to filter than the comment feed. i did a story a few months ago about fantasy premier league, a game where you pick your favourite players and you win points and stuff, and we found thousands of accounts with nazi names and things like that, the most depraved stuff. it'sjust everywhere, and every time the sites say, "we're going to do more," it's never quite enough and they never... it continues. there's something quite dark in human nature that makes people want to do that after these players, who were heroes, who were brave, who played brilliantly for their country — someone like saka who was fantastic in his tournament — to shout at him with racial abuse isjust awful. what social media sites do is never quite enough. sheera and cecilia will probably be able to speak more to this, but in my eyes, what they need to do
is spend more money on human moderators because the automatic algorithms are not working. they need to put their hands in their extremely deep pockets and pay more people to do better at this, but that's obviously a very expensive solution. mayowa quadri, is this something that you were actually expecting when events unfolded on sunday night? 100%. at first dawned on me probably before this. i just thought to myself, it could go absolutely soui’. against liverpool very early on, and it's something that people just come to expect. i think the situation in particular was even harder because it's the first major final for england. you've got loads of people out going to watch the game because you've not have this moment before. i personally had to message friends after the first penalty saying leave now, because i don't know what's going to happen. we saw reports of some
of the incidents happening across the country, which were just inexcusable. it's completely wrong. so, that feeling, it's not a new feeling, but ultimately for black players to fall short of what they want to achieve. they're going to be racially abuse, and it makes me almost laughed because imagine if all of those penalties had gone in, the same people who use them would be celebrating and we would've never known. not that we would've never known, but it would've been completely hidden in the split moment. you can see the true reality stuff like cecilia, your dayjob is tech and regulation correspondent for the new york times. ijust wondered, the prime minister said that fans who post race of utes will be banned from matches, but i wonder, is that going to be enough? will there not be a better option to prevent racial abuse being posted?
i wonder if it isn't that quite simple. it seems to me that you could stop these platforms posting this kind of abuse because footballers are verified, and if the message has got their name in it, it wouldn't get through. what's stopping facebook and the rest of them doing that? is that their principles around free speech, or have i oversimplified the technicalities of moderation? definitely, there's a very strong free speech. there's also a very convenient event for facebook's business model. we cover that in our book. a lot of the decisions were focused on growth. and growth of the business and growth of revenues and profits. as one of your guest said, we should not have been surprised to see the racial epithets that were thrown out during the game. but time and time again, what facebook has shown is that they don't look at, not even just
around the corner, but what's in front of them. they are focused on a different metric. free speech is absolutely an important thing. i think governments around the world. i think it's a way that facebook goes about moderating their content, it's also filled with holes. there's a lot of problems on that. they rely heavily on reports. if you have 3 billion users around the world, and even if you do have tens of thousands of human moderators and ai, you will never be able to suppress the amount of hate speech and misinformation and harmful content that surfaces. it's always after—the—fact. the racial epithets were already said and they were already amplified, which is important by facebook. there's a real problem, even the structure and approach.
i just wanted to add one thing to what you said, which is as one of your previous guests was talking, ifound myself nodding and shaking my head. this tactic of using emojis and using emoticons as a way of baiting hate speech has been used for years. we have an entire chapter of our book about myanmar, and how facebook was told over and over what was happening with hate speech. butjust by using little emojis and gifs, people are able to evade some of that censorship facebook said it would impose to prevent real—world violence in the streets there. despite knowing that this is happening, despite knowing these emojis and whatnot are invented on the fly each time to try and perpetuate hate speech, facebook cannot seem to get a handle on it. ijust have a statement here from facebook, who own instagram. they told us no one should have to experience racist abuse
anywhere, and they don't it on instagram. they quickly removed comments on sunday and will continue to take action against those who break their rules. mayowa, i wanted to ask you why a footballer would want to be on social media. can you explain the upside for them? there are many. you don't have to look any further than marcus rashford. he managed to galvanise the nation that there was a massive issue with food poverty in the country. he was able to speak to his fans via social media. you can look at other footballers who enable, jordan henderson, in terms of everything he speaks about. he has been able to do that because he can use his social media. there's been times where he wasn't playing because he's injured.
he's used lent his instagram handle to communities for that publicity. we had a broadcast where the narrative was based on what was cut out. whereas with social media, you can control that. you can look at christian john for example. he's got millions and millions and millions of followers. but his value is much more than just him playing, so that brings him personal wealth. there are so many different reasons why you would want to have social media presence. we've seen situations where because of what we're talking about, footballers have gone away from social media because they thought to themselves, why would i be so open and accessible if i'm going to be abused? the current example is deirdre henri. until something is done about this platform, he won't be on there. there are benefits, but there is a negative side. this negative side that keeps popping up, it
just confuses me because it's almost to say how could you see there's not anything that can be done? it really confuses me. we see all the time at the moment, a covid notificaion will come up straight away, and i'm not trying to compare the two situations, but they put things into place to make sure they can instantly react to stuff. why is that not the case for other situations? especially when, and this is the most recent situation, but the monkey emojis, it's almost as if they've completely forgotten. imagine how any black person reading that feels. that's the element that's not spoken in out enough. henry? the bill came in in march. certainly, the draught of it. it's not simply about i online abuse, there are other elements. one of the key things| which comes onto the statute books, the government can find that the tech giant, -
10% of their annual global turn over and they have been - could be charged for allowing hate speech on their- platforms. there's such an extra i debate here about how whether there are - platforms or publishers. if they are deemed as i publishers, they should absolutely be charged. if someone says what marcus rashford and saka have said, they would be putj it away. just back to the point | about the other things that get set on social media, l which the tech giants are very quick and taking down. if a football fan had tweeted l a picture of the players, taken
off the television or on his . iphone, and posted on social media, twitter would've taken it down within seconds. - so, this feeling that... there is a feeling. particularly amongst the players that they are not acting quickly enough. - but they also use social media and they do see there's an upside to it. i just think a lot of newspapers wouldn't, for example, have written an awful lot about footballer charity, whereas now we can see they can directly use social media to talk about that. after the match, - i got messages from players that were slightly. worried about the narrative playing out on tv about them. so, i don't think the two sides that i work in - and the players don't i work together on these. henry, would players actually ask you, how do you think this tweet will play out? should i say something on social media about this? would you advise them like that? no, i would suggest...
because theyjust sayl how will this play out? obviously, they have a very much football related - social media profile, but they also see the flip side, - positive side, of social media forthem in their campaign. but also, let's notl forget commercial. when he did his deal- from arsenal, there were certain clauses in his deal- where he was able to retweet. i don't know the exact number, but i think it's about two a - week. so, huge commercial interest for them. i for their sponsors and clubs too. - i'm just interested in that. you've written tweets for players, so are they often written
by journalists. that is very rare, maybe had one l in the last 24 hours. it's not that common, but it makes- sense. the world we live in, - there's nothing between you pressing send on your- iphone and my back page. because we take the news quite rightly, l and because there's so much support for the players. - i haven't seen such a bond before. - we know they have . been racially abused. we know that these players . are going to walk off the pitch because they're disgusted with the racist abuse. - it's been going on for 30 or 40 years in - football. i think it's an excellent point because it brings up on this idea that we
tap into, that there is a contradiction in social media. it can connect us all. it can be used as a force for good, but at the same time, it can spread abuse and disinformation. sheera frenkel and cecilia kang have been investigating for years and they not written about it. — now written about it in a book. to facebook employees. you said in the book that you spoke to 400 of them. you write about how so many of them have nondisclosure agreements, and we know about that. you said some of them were putting their careers at risk. yet you've managed to give us a ringside seat on a lot of the biggest crises in facebook over the last five years. there have been quite a few. why did people speak to you?
i wonder if you're a journalist and you pick up the phone and say hello, ceo, do you want to chat? they would run a mile. how did you do it? i think a lot want to sea change. they're not unhappy with the company per se, but they're unhappy with the decisions made by the top leaders, mark zuckerberg and such. a lot of people weren't willing to talk to us. we had to dig and dig and dig, many of them felt compelled to talk to us, especially last year, when there is so much to turmult. they were seeing president trump test the site. test policies, cross lines in policies and ethics. they want to see change. facebook has this narrative.
in statements, a lot of the people who spoke to us were disgruntled or mad. they say it's not true. many of the people are there still. the majority of the people are still there and want to see change. they're speaking to us not because they're angry or they feel like they've been demoted or anything. it's because they feel like that's, by speaking to us, it's the only way the curtain can be pulled back behind a company that is so incredibly powerful. a ubiquitous platform that affects fans around the world, as well as governments and so many countries, 3.4 billion across all of its apps. that includes whatsapp and instagram. they want to make sure that this tool is used in a way that's healthy and safe for people around the
world in democracy. sheera, ijust want to pick up on one of your book's examples. you talk about the storming of the capitol. talk about what facebook knew that day? people started to form facebook groups called stop the steal where they were telling americans the election had been stolen through donald trump. facebook watch from their offices as those groups came through. so they knew that this momentum had real power, and in the months leading up to january the 6th, they watched as that movement became more and more extreme. the day before the riots, journalist including myself send them e—mails with photographs of assault rifles
posted to facebook pages, and asked if they would take those group down. what is your plan here? that's partly what we wanted to document, what was their plan? i think people reading the book will be shocked to find there was no plan. you write in the book that executives considered getting mark zuckerberg to get in touch with donald trump, but they didn't. why not? they were worried it would leak to the press. many things did in 2020, as cecilia said. employees were unhappy with the leadership decisions, and they felt if mark zuckerberg called trump, he would seem complicit. rather than have that happen, they advocated against it. we do have a quote from a facebook spokesman that says our team are vigilant in the content that violated our policies leading up to january the 6th. we were prepared for this and to be more aggressive than any other company. they have took down tens of thousands of qanon pages, groups and accounts
from their app. cecilia, after the riots, president trump was banned by facebook, but how did the company come to that decision? well, there was a lot of internal debate on what to do with president trump. of course, this was after a whole four years of trump testing the site. they finally decided to not necessarily, not actually permanently ban him, but give him essentially the timeout, a two—week "you cannot be on the site." let's take this final decision to what they created, which is a facebook oversight. they describe it as a supreme court third body that makes decisions on content moderation. and by doing that, they were essentially kicking the can down the road. they were absolving themselves of having to make a really tough political decision. after that, two months later, the oversight
board kicked that decision back to facebook, and it was very smart because they said, you can't possibly expect us to make a final call on president trump when you don't even have policies put in place. you don't have actual laws, internal rules, and how you deal with figures like trump. figure that out first and make your decision, is what they said. there's a recurring theme. steve hoffman of reddit was clear he didn't want to make editorial decisions himself. it seems you are saying facebook has a similar policy. if tech giants don't want to do this, who should? of course tech giants don't want to do it. it is not good business for them to make editorial decisions. it's much easier to take an approach that platforms should be regulated, government should come up with regulation, because they know that most governments across the world are not very sophisticated and how they think about regulation. if a government creates a rule that facebook can have specific types of speech on the platform, that
gives facebook a line in the sand that it has to adhere to. one thing that i was struck by earlier in facebook�*s statements was how similar it was to what we catalogue on the back of the book, the apologies facebook has been making for over a decade. it is still making and in some places, the language is almost identical. there's so much more we could talk about, but i'm afraid that's it for today. thank you very much to all my guests. sheera frenkel and cecilia kang, tojoey d'urso and to henry winter. i'll be back same time next week. goodbye.
hello again. monday was another hot and sunny day for the majority of us, but there were a few storms that popped up. one or two affecting sussex and kent, there were a few storms in south wales for a time and there was one in the veil of york but otherwise we have skies like these can be the majority of us having dry, sunny and hot day. and talking of heat, the met office have issued their first extreme heat warning. well, these warnings only started being issued injune and this is just the first hot spell we have seen. but this area, it represents an area of concern to the met office where we could see some impacts from the heat whether that be impacts to health or indeed infrastructure, things like trains might need to go slightly slower due to the tracks heating up in this hot weather. that kind of thing. at the moment there's not too much going on,
i am sarah live in tokyo where the 32nd modern olympics begins in three days time. the international olympic committee as international olympic committee more athletes ari are as more athletes arrive there are more positive tests. we will also take you through the athletes to keep your eye on and some of the new sports you will be able to watch during the tokyo olympics. and i am david in london. in other news the british prime minister �*s former chief adviser dominic cummings accuses borisjohnson of putting politics ahead of people's lives during the pandemic. also president biden and dozens of western allies accused china of overseeing a