Pope Francis and Aussie PM Albanese Voice Similar Views Over Youth’s Excessive Use of Social Media

pope francis vatican city RomePope Francis expressed concern that social media can take a toll on the health of today’s young people as most of them spend hours consuming content, either by way of smartphone or television.

Meanwhile, in a separate interview in Australia, incumbent Prime Minister Anthony Albanese voiced the same views as Pope Francis as he is supporting ongoing campaigns aimed at prohibiting children aged 16 years below, from using social media platforms. Apparently there is growing evidence linking heavy social media use to the harms that adversely affect the mental health of young people.

Pope Francis Points out the Seriousness of Social Media’s Role as a Source of Information

social media platfor,m logosPope Francis voiced his concerns over the impact of social media last Monday during an hour-long interview with CBS.
The Pontiff said that although social media has benefits, the people behind the platforms have a serious responsibility in carrying out its role as a source of information for all people regardless of age. As it is, there are dirty media outlets that subsist primarily on gossip and in soiling people’s reputation. Constantly exposing young people to such content will have detrimental effects on young minds.

Another issue raised by the pope about today’s communication media platforms is their capability for alienating young people. Some platforms encourage children to live in a make believe or rosy world filled with fantasies. On the other hand, there are online platforms that expose children to the harsh realities of an agressive world, which can affect the healthy development of young people’s mind.

PM Albanese supports the idea of not allowing young people aged below 16 to create social media accounts, because at a young age, they tend to excessively engage in online activities. Doing so has potentially devastating effects on the mental health of young people. He remarked that while the exchange of harsh commentaries can affect even adults, they can also produce detrimental effects in the minds of children.

TikTok’s New Q&A Tool Rolls Out for All TikTok Users

TikTok officially released its Q&A tool, to improve creator-fan interactions, allowing creators to increase the value of their roles as marketing influencers. Through the Comment section, fans can opt to ask questions instead to creators, which the latter in turn can choose to answer by way of live streams or video clips. This new Q&A feature can also help creators keep their followers as they’ll have more opportunities for communicating with them.

How TikTok’s Q&A Tool Works?

TikTok also believes that promoting community connection is important as it will make users think twice before migrating to other platforms like YouTube Shorts and Instagram Reels. Especially since the two social media platforms have succeeded in luring many TikTok users in light of the two platforms’ greater profit potentials being the leading social networks on a global scale. .

People at TikTok explained that they are making it effortless for people to interact in the platform the Q&A feature will help creators easily distinguish which are questions and which are comments. TikTok users can ask their questions through a button located in the comment section. Creators on the other hand, can respond immediately or attach a sticker to a video created in response to a Q&A that will redirect users to the original video from whence the questions originated.

Additionally, creator accounts will have a Q&A section where answers to fan queries will be compiled; whilst containing links connected the original clip that prompted the original questions related to the creator’s content.

The Problems with Facebook’s Political Ad Ban

While Twitter, Tik Tok, LinkedIn and Pinterest have already banned political ads in as early as 2019, Facebook will follow suit only in the week prior to Nov.03. Actually, the FB ban pertains only to submissions of political ads during pre-election week, but will still run those that were submitted before October 27, 2020.

FB Political Restrictions Include Redirecting/Fact-Checking Political Ads

FB’s Mark Zuckerberg sees the narrow political ad restriction as a way of strengthening measures against political ads that will try to discourage people from voting in the November general elections. The restriction includes disallowing any candidate from posting claims of unconfirmed victories by redirecting FB users to accurate sources of information about vote counts, such as the National Election Post and Reuters.

The same measures will apply to campaigns aimed at discouraging voters to go out and vote by using COVID-19 as the main reason not to do so. In his FB post last Thursday, Facebook CEO Zuckerberg said the site will redirect users to a source that provides authoritative information, as their way of blocking misleading ads related to the pandemic.

FB Political Ad Restrictions “Too Little, Too Late”

Critics are calling Facebook’s political restrictions and measures, “too little, too late.” While the ban applies only to political ads, FB users and private groups are free to post content carrying toxic messages and misleading information; including posts that allude to mail-in voting as fraudulent. As a measure and perhaps as a compromise, FB CEO Zuckerberg said the site will addimore information about mail-in voting.

Critics are saying that the ban on political ads in the week prior to election, will only leave the playing field open to right-wing FB users who follow Trump, Breitbart and Fox News. Mainly because their posts will not be considered as political ads. After all, Trump himself uses social media in sending out messages to his supporters. In fact, he has already suggested that he will continue to challenge the election results as rigged, if the outcomes do not turn out in his favor.

WFH FB Employees Stage Own Protest Actions : Calling for Ban vs Trump Inflammatory Posts

Work-from-home Facebook employees are staging virtual walkouts, while some have resigned, in protest of FB CEO’s inaction on Trump’s inflammatory posts.

Background to Trump’s Incendiary Posts and FB Employee Walkouts

The Minneapolis demonstrations that started out as a cry for justice over the senseless killing of George Floyd has spread into becoming a Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement throughout the country, and in other major cities across the globe. However, instead of acting as the nation’s leader by listening to the grievances being aired by the protesters, Trump considers the growing demonstrations as an affront to his powers as president of the U.S.

Trump Spreading Messages in Praise of Violence

Rather than spread messages of unity and calm, Trump has been posting FB content being shared by his blind supporters, in about 29.75 million Facebook accounts; followers who like himself are racists, but to which he has no control over any actions they may take to show their support for Trump.

Although Twitter used to be Trump’s go-to social media site for incendiary messages and in spreading false information, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey approved adding fact-check labels and of banning Trump tweets that only encourage violence that could have been spurred by agitators.

While local and world leaders from various sectors are denouncing Trump for threatening the use of military might and encouraging the use of brutal force, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t seem to care that Trump’s FB media posts are doing more harm than good.

The Director of Facebook’s product management, Jason Toff, had tweeted

“I am not proud of how we at Facebook are showing up.” “Majority of co-workers I have spoken to, feel the same way and we are making our voices heard.”

Timothy Aveni, an engineer who does work on Facebook’s misinformation tools, announced his decision to resign. In a post in his FB account he said FB CEO Mark Zuckerberg had vowed to us that he would draw the line at speeches that call for violence. Apparently, Aveni came to realize that Zuckerberg’s promise was a lie.

CNET Warns about Typo Errors as Gateways for Security Fails

CNET recently published an article that reiterates previous warning about Twitter hacking activities targeting accounts of famous people. When the Twitter account of an important or famous person is hacked, the accounts of hundreds of thousands of followers following that account are at risk of being directed to malicious websites.

In the CNET report, Twitter typo errors have established that hackers are focusing on Twitter typo errors in sending out tweets, specifically mentioning those made by former New York City Mayor and now Trump’s personal legal representative, Rudy Guiliani. According to CNET’s tech experts, hackers have been taking advantage of Guiliani’s typo errors in tweets. The cyber attackers buy the domain name of the mistyped address tweeted by Rudy Guiliani.

When followers of the former NY Mayor access the mistyped web address that Guiliani tweeted, they will be directed to a malicious web page designed to spread malware. The explanation further denotes that if Guiliani’s followers retweet the Twitter post containing the mistyped web address that the hackers used, hundreds of thousands more will be directed to visit the virus-infected website.

Two Notable Twitter Hacking Incidents that Previously Transpired

In August 2017, the Twitter account of Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey himself was hacked. In a matter of 18 minutes, hackers who called themselves Chuckling Squad took control of Dorsey’s account, sending malicious tweets whilst marking them with the hashtag #ChucklingHella.


Donald Trump who is known to spend most of his presidential working hours tweeting, had experienced getting his Twitter account taken over by hackers. Fortunately the hacking incident lasted for only a few seconds but enough for the hacker to post a tweet that thousand of Trump’s followers retweeted.

Apparently, just like Guiliani, Trump’s typo-error ridden tweets can also pose as security fails once hackers figure out ways on how to take advantage of Trump’s frequent misspellings.

YouTube’s Rounding-Off of Subscriber Count Takes Effect

The announcement made by Google last May 2019 about YouTube subscriber counts being rounded off to the nearest whole number, took effect Monday, September 02, 2019. The video giant intends to gradually phase out the reporting system of giving the exact-number-of-subscriber count on individual Youtube channels. However, the change will apply only to those with more than 1,000 in actual number of subscribers.

According to Google, the rationale behind the change is to promote better consistency across media places where subscriber counts are on display; accessed by way of either desktop or smartphone app. Although not a few contend that the change is mainly focused to deter comparisons made based on subscriber counts, the Google-owned video giant asserts that it is more about wanting the creators to focus largely on narrative content as a means of reaching fans; rather than just publishing something aimed at yielding hour-to-hour fluctuations in subscriber counts.

As it is, subscriber counts are regarded as veritable bases in gauging collective approval for Youtube video creators. A concept that tends to distort evaluations based on genuine user engagement and interest in viewing the video content.

Mechanics of the Round-Off Method in Reporting Subscriber Counts

Accounts affected by the modification in reporting subscriber counts, will not include those whose number of followers is less than 1,000. This denotes that if the subscriber count for a YouTube channel is 998, the number stays at 998. Rounded-off counts in thousands will start only when the number hits 1,000 or higher.

YouTube’s change has implications for third-party measurement companies like Social Blade and Tubular Labs. YouTube gives assurance that third parties using proprietary application programming interface (API) as a service, will not have access to the actual numbers because they will also be seeing, only the public-facing, rounded-off subscriber counts.

Tik Tok Faulted by UK’s ICO and NSPCC for Lack of Child Safety Controls

Tik Tok Faulted by UK’s ICO and NSPCC for Lack of Child Safety Controls

Tik Tok, the leading video-sharing app that enables users to create short videos from their smartphones, and at the same time livestream their videos via Musical. Ly, is now under scrutiny of UK media and child safety watch dogs.

In February this year, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Tik Tok was slapped a fine amounting to $5.7 million (£4.2 million) for collecting personal information of children below 13 years old without securing parental consent.

Yet the UK’s Information Commissioner’ s Office (ICO) is currently investigating Tik Tok beyond the data protection concerns raised by the FTC. The ICO is currently scrutinising the safety controls available on the app’s direct messaging system, in the wake of separate investigations being conducted by the UK’s National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC),

The NSPCC has been receiving reports that young female users of Tik Tok and its Musical.ly website, are regularly receiving intrusive replies to their video posts from individuals they do not know, whom complainants described as “creepy.”.

ICO’s scrutiny of the TIK Tok social media site confirms that its app opens avenues for adults to send private messages to children who do not even know them.

Main Issue about Tik Tok App and Its Musical.ly Social Media Site

ICO’s investigation of Tik Tok’s Musical.ly is that unlike other social media sites, which prioritises and controls feeds according to user’s privacy settings, the site by way of its “For You” feature, regularly sends feeds that practically steer users toward posts of other Tik Tok live streamers. As a result, Tik Tok users who send “creepy” messages continue to find and like more posts of younger girls, streaming similar videos, soundtracks or using similar hashtags.

According to the NSPCC, since they record a daily average of as many a 22 cyber-related sex crimes committed against children, it is quite apparent that sex offenders continue to target children by getting in touch with them through live streaming apps like Tik Tok.

NSPCC’s research found that about 10,000 of every 40,000 children ranging in ages between 7 to 16 years old, have live streamed online with people they do not know or have never met. Of those 10,000 children, one in every 20 who has live streamed online with someone they have never met had received request to take off their clothes, via live streaming.

New Pew Research Shows U.S. Teens and Parents Alike Suffer from Smartphone Addiction

A recent Pew Research Center survey involving teens ages 13 to 17 indicate that they now acknowledge their addiction to their smartphones. Fifty-two percent (52%) of those who admitted to having spent too much time engaged in online activities, said they have tried reducing mobile phone use, while fifty-seven percent (57%) said they have made attempts to limit their visits to social media sites. Recognition of the problem though also came with admitting inability to control their smartphone dependency.

Of the 743 US teens interviewed between March 7 and April 10, 2018, fifty-four percent (54%) have become self-aware that they are devoting much time on their smartphones, while forty-one percent (41%) admitted to having spent much of those smartphone time on social media. Further analysis of the survey revealed the following:

* Girls more than boys (47% vs. 35%) are inclined to focus on social media sites during smartphone online engagements.

* On the other hand, forty-one percent (41%) of the boys involved in the study, spent much of their time online playing video games using their smartphones. In contrast, only eleven percent of (11%) of girls surveyed engaged in video games.

* Forty-four (44 %) percent of all teens surveyed have formed the habit of checking for messages or notifications as soon as they wake up. Only twenty-eight percent (28%) claim that they do this only occasionally

* Of the teens surveyed, forty-two percent (42%) admitted to suffer from anxiety and loneliness when deprived of phone use, to which the study shows more girls (49%) than boys (35%) experienced such emotions.

* Thirty-one percent (31%) admitted that their use of smartphones can distract them from focusing on their study, although only eight percent (8%) say that it happens frequently.

* Half of the number of teens surveyed think their parents are also distracted from work because of cellphone use. Fourteen percent (14%) thinks that their parent’s own tendency to lose focus on work occurs often.

What U.S. Parents and Experts Say about Teen Smartphone Addiction

In conjunction with this particular teen study, Pew Research also surveyed 1,058 parents of American teens. Approximately two-thirds or 65% parents expressed worries over the excessive number of hours spent by their children on their smartphones. Fifty-seven percent (57%) of the worried parents claim they either put limits on their kids’ online engagement, or on the use of their smartphone.

However since a number of the teens involved in the study have observed that their own parents have a tendency to lose focus on their work when engaged in online activities, MIT professor Sherry Turkle said the finding raises the issue even more. She said that parents themselves must start recognizing their own problems at smartphone addiction, as their technological behavior poses as example to their children.


Former Google in-house ethicist Tristan Harris, explains that teen addiction stems from the very way tech companies designed their products. During a conference about technology addiction, Harris, who co founded the Center on Humane Technology, said that the tendency of parents and kids alike, once they click on Youtube, is to keep watching as many Youtube videos as possible. The tendency often overpowers actions they need to take in meeting whatever goals they have thought of during their waking hours.