Charlotte Street Partners

DAILY BRIEFING

DAILY BRIEFING

Everything in moderation

Written by Charlie Clegg, senior associate
Edited by Kevin Pringle, partner
13 May 2021

Good morning,

Before the internet, one could, effectively, self-censor one’s media intake. Of course, television, newspapers, and magazines would occasionally turn up disturbing content. But it was easier to tune out, skip a page, or look away

For all that users can self-segregate into belief-affirming silos, social media retains its power to throw up distressing content. It would be a lot worse if not for an army of content moderators.

Software is increasingly able to filter disturbing content, yet the task is still largely the domain of human moderators. A barrage of appalling content is their nine to five. While, for example, Facebook employs some moderators in house, many other jobs are outsourced.

In a job that taxes employees’ mental health, support has too often proven weak. One employment contract for moderators in Ireland states: “I understand that exposure to this content may give me post traumatic stress disorder”.

The Irish parliament has become the first in the world to investigate the experiences of online content moderators. With support from the campaign group Foxglove and from the Communication Workers’ Union, one moderator, Isabella Plunkett, appeared before the Joint Committee on Enterprise, Trade and Employment yesterday. She told the committee how limited welfare provision was not enough to prevent the images she’d seen in work from appearing in her dreams.

Governments and legislatures worldwide are reviewing how they handle the power of digital media. More must look at the conditions of content moderators. The UK government this week committed to legislation aimed at protecting young people from online harms. The scrutiny of this legislation gives parliament, the press, and the public an opportunity to consider the safety of those who keep others safe online.

Even when we don’t seek it, the internet can be a disturbing place. It’s time to think more about those who make sure it isn’t a lot worse.

News

The UN has warned of “full-scale war” as Hamas militants have launched dozens of rockets in response to Israeli air raids on the Gaza strip. The attacks come amid rising violence between Jews and Arabs in Jerusalem since Monday.

The UK government has faced criticism for delaying the start of the inquiry into the government’s handling of the pandemic until next year. Prime minister Boris Johnson claimed the delay to the spring of 2022 was appropriate, as Covid cases may go up over winter.

Johnson yesterday indicated that the UK government’s advice to work from home if possible will be scrapped after 21 June if restrictions are successfully eased. The guidelines had been under review. However, it is now believed the UK government wants to see a return to in-person work as soon as practicable.

Business and economy

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has announced the electric vehicle manufacturer will no longer accept cryptocurrency. Tesla had announced it would accept cryptocurrencies in March but backtracked over environmental concerns about the energy used in “mining” bitcoin. The move has seen a 10% drop in the value of cryptocurrencies along with a drop in Tesla’s share price.

The Association of Professional Staffing Companies has found vacancies for permanent positions were up 90% year-on-year last month, while contract roles were up 83%. The association claimed the boost was to be expected due to the dearth of advertised positions at the height of lockdown last year.

Ben Murray, chief executive of Maritime UK, has claimed the UK government has one opportunity to make the UK a green shipbuilding power. Murray claimed the UK cannot compete with manufacturers of large vessels but can increasingly develop specialised ships. (£)

Columns of note

A growing number of figures in the UK government see an environmental and Covid-safety case for making COP26 virtual. In the Guardian, Fiona Harvey compares online climate summits like President Biden’s event last month to in-person events like the Durban and Paris COPs. Harvey claims the format of the former allowed a “whitewash” by polluting states. If COP26 is to avoid the same fate, Harvey suggests, it must take place in person.

As Steinway offers £127,000 for a self-playing piano, James Marriott observes the habits of the wealthy and claims a decline of creativity can be traced from the middle classes up. In The Times, Marriott notes the increasing focus among middle class people on a narrow range of skills and argues this results in a fall in creativity and personal fulfilment. (£)

Cartoon source: The Times

Markets

What happened yesterday?

On Wall Street, the S&P 500, which hit an all-time high last Friday, dropped 1.7% at lunchtime in New York, bringing the blue-chip index’s fall for the week to over three per cent. The Nasdaq Composite lost 2.3% to trade more than seven per cent below its record close on 27 April.

The fall has been caused by the announcement that US inflation has reached a 13-year high, heightening concerns that the Federal Reserve will adopt tighter monetary measures. The dollar, as measured against a basket of trading partners’ currencies, rose 0.7%.

In Europe, a 1.7% rise in Brent crude to $69.69 saw the FTSE 100, which has a large concentration of energy stocks, close up 0.8%. The pan-European Stoxx 600 index gained 0.3% while its oil and gas sub-index gaining two per cent.

In company news?

BMW has announced plans for a limited series of hydrogen cell SUVs to be rolled out from 2022.

A fifth of shareholders at estate agent Savills have revolted over the company’s pay schedule, which offered bonuses to leading executives despite the company’s failure to meet its profit targets.

What’s happening today?

Finals
Burberry
E-therapeutics

Interims
Brewin Dolphin
Grainger plc
Ten Life

Q1 Results
Vaalco Energy
Valeura Energy

Trading Announcements
Beazley
Conduit Hldg
ContourGlobal
Hargreaves Lansdown

AGMs
Access Intelligence
Balfour Beatty
Conduit Hldg  
Direct Line      
Elementis
Empresaria Group      
Eurocell
Hiscox
Igas Energy
Kenmare Resources
Luceco
Merchants Trust
Moneysupermarket.Com
Ocado
One Media
Prudential
Quilter
Rolls-Royce Holdings
Serinus Energy
SIG
Spire Healthcare
The Schiehalli.
TI Fluid Systems
Unite
Valeura Energy

Int. economic announcements
(13:30) Continuing Claims (US)
(13:30) Initial Jobless Claims (US)
(13:30) Producer Price Index (US)

Source: Financial Times

did you know

Norman Lloyd, who died on Tuesday aged 106, was the last surviving cast member of Orson Welles’ 1937 production of Julius Caesar.

Parliamentary highlights

House of Commons

Business statement
Business questions to the Leader of the House

Ministerial statement
Findings of the Ballymurphy Inquest

Debate
Debate on the Queen’s Speech (Day 3): A bright future for the next generation

House of Lords 

Statements
Violence in Israel and Palestine
Covid-19 update

Private notice question
High speed trains: disruption to services

Debate on the address
Constitution and the Union

Scottish Parliament 

Members’ oaths and affirmations

Election of the presiding officer

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