Share on twitter
Share on facebook
Share on linkedin
Share on whatsapp

CRO Wisdom Episode 13: Ed Peisner & Marc Berkman, OFSMS

Atul Vashistha:

Hi, everyone. Welcome to a new episode of CRO Wisdom. We have two leaders today that are focused on social media safety. From the Organization for Social Media Safety, please welcome Mark Berkman and Ed Peisner. Ed, Mark, welcome.

Ed Peisner:

Thank you.

Marc Berkman:

Thank you so much for having us.

Atul Vashistha:

Mark, Ed, the reason we asked you to join this episode was while parents and kids are dealing with social media dangers, the reality is it also has an impact on employees and their managers, but let’s first start talking about your organization. So tell us a little bit about journey of your organization and what you’re doing.

Ed Peisner:

Sure. I’ll jump into that, Mark, if you don’t mind. Four years ago, my then 14 and a half year old son, Jordan, was walking home from school. He had called me and asked me to if he could walk home from school, and of course like every Friday, I said, “Sure. Go ahead, son. I’ll see you.” And he had stopped at a local fast food restaurant just to grab some French fries with his friends. He was assaulted at this restaurant, and I got a phone call from one of his friends that said, “Somebody punched Jordan.” That was it. That was the entire phone call. I said, “Sure, I’ll be there in a minute.” I grabbed an ice pack thinking bloody nose type of incident, and I just drove down. It’s a mile from my house. And I came upon a scene that looked like it was from a movie, ambulance, fire truck, police car hoards of kids.

And I ran over to the ambulance, and Jordan was in the back. He was covered in blood, and I was shocked. I was dumbfounded. “What happened?” And the ambulance driver said, “We need to take him to the hospital. He’s got a brain bleed.” That’s it. “Get out. We’re going.” And I jumped out and saw these kids and I said, “What happened?” And they all ran over with their smartphones in hand and showed me a video of my son talking to a friend of his, and this boy walking up behind him with all his strength and might and just smashing him in the side of the head. And Jordan went down, and then you see this boy walk away. So this entire incident was filmed. And then of course, uploaded to social media where it was shared to get likes and notoriety, and who knows what? That was sort of the accidental activist that I became.

That moment is etched in my brain forever. I obviously went to the hospital. Jordan was airlifted to another hospital because of the injury. He spent six days at the hospital in the ICU. After Jordan got out, I wanted to make sure no other family experienced this. And I really didn’t know where to begin, but I did call my local assembly member in my district to find out what could we do about this. At the time, his chief of staff was Mark Berkman. Coincidentally, I called Mark about seven or eight days after Jordan had left the hospital. And Mark had seen that video within a few hours of it happening. That is that viral nature of these videos. It was in his inbox within a few hours. So I’m going to sort of segue over to Mark, and he’ll bring you up to speed to what that phone call was like and where we went from there.

Marc Berkman:

Of course. As Ed said, this video of the horrific attack was in our offices inboxes within an hour or two. And we knew intuitively in the office that this was not an isolated incident, that it was a much larger problem. And so within two to three weeks, we had met Ed, and Ed was very intent on being a part of the solution here and pivoting to start working on some of these issues. And we did some research, and we realized that every year since the birth of major social media in 2006, these incidents of what we now call social media motivated violence are attacks committed for the purpose of filming and putting on social media to get notoriety, shares, likes, views. Those have been growing exponentially, doubling every year to the point where in 2016, fast forward, you had hundreds and thousands of these videos viewed by millions and millions, many of them, young people.

And so we drafted what came to be known as Jordan’s Law, which was the first law in the nation to deter social media motivated violence, and we passed that in less than a year. But while we were working on Jordan’s Law, typically as a legislative staffer, you have a subject matter expert to turn to, an organization or association working on these issues. There was no one working on this issue. There was no one serving as a consumer protection or focused just on social media. And this is despite the fact that all of these social media related dangers around the time were becoming more and more apparent and clearly growing from cyber bullying to human trafficking. This is 2016, 2017. So the efforts of Russia to interfere in our elections through social media were also becoming apparent. All of these issues were growing and affecting and hurting millions of families, both in the US and across the world. So Ed and I decided to create the Organization for Social Media Safety, the first and only still, a consumer protection organization focused exclusively on social media to protect against all of these dangers.

Atul Vashistha:

Ed and Mark, really, what an unfortunate incident, but kudos to you for taking that and actually extending it so that so many others may never suffer that. And hopefully sets a better example and a learning moment for many others. So thank you for doing that.

John Bree:

So let me just jump in for a minute. So Mark and Ed, you mentioned 2017. So now that we’re four years into this, can you tell us about some of the initiatives or the key initiatives you’re working on right now?

I would say one, there’s a reputational risk, essentially from the employees or staff themselves. We’ve all seen these cases of something shared that goes viral, whether it contains hate speech and negatively reflects on the reputation of the company, some information about the company, or complaints about the company. That can go viral. There’s also a risk to the wellbeing company’s human resources of their staff and their people, be that from social media addiction and mental health issues.

Marc Berkman:

Of course. So I should say too, so we’re set up in the model organization. So through advocacy, working on public policies at all levels of government to enhance social media safety. We do education, so we are in schools across the country working with educators, parents, and students, teaching essential social media safety skills. And we do tech development, so working on apps and software that provide real-time protection against any and all of these dangers. One of the major initiatives we’re working on right now, both in the advocacy space, actually in all three, a lot of times in our work where we’re trying to combine as much of these initiatives and compartments as we can.

The background on this particular story, Dr. Laura Berman, who’s a nationally renowned therapist… You may have seen her on the Oprah show or the own network. Her sixteen-year-old son was home like a lot of other 16 year olds during the pandemic or all other sixteen-year-olds during the pandemic. And he was bored, and he went on Snapchat, and he connected with a drug dealer, which is an issue that has really exploded over the course of the past year. Pre pandemic, we know about a quarter of young people had seen drugs advertised on social media. We don’t have statistics now, but we would assume that number’s probably tripled.

And so he connected with a drug dealer on Snapchat, ordered some Xanax, and a lot like Uber Eats or getting a pizza, that drug dealer then comes and delivered it right to his house. So he went around the corner to pick it up. Unfortunately, the dealer had spiked the Xanax with an opiate called fentanyl, which dealers are doing these days to increase the addictiveness of the drugs that they’re selling. Unfortunately, fentanyl is lethal at very, very small doses. Sammy took the Xanax and tragically was poisoned and passed away.

And so now what we’re trying to do at the congressional level, we are working on legislation that would require platforms to open up their data and give parents a choice to use third party safety apps or parent monitoring software. Platforms like Snapchat and TikTok currently block access to those types of apps that parents can use to protect their kids, certainly from this specific danger of substance abuse and connecting with dealers. Sammy had a very mild history with cannabis that his parents were aware of. So they were tracking his use. Unfortunately, they could not do that with Snapchat. However, all of his friends, everyone in his class was using Snapchat as a communications tool. And that’s how they were maintaining their friendships and their relationships over the course of the pandemic. So they didn’t take that app away from him, but they couldn’t monitor it. They couldn’t do this necessary deterrence here. And so, unfortunately, he’s of these tragic cases that we’re trying to prevent by allowing a software to come in and giving parents an additional tool to use.

Atul Vashistha:

Mark, those are some good examples of how the dangers of social media impacting individuals and families. Mark and Ed, as you talk to individuals and enterprises out there, maybe talk a little bit about what are the risks to enterprises that you see from social media? They’re all very active in their own way, whether it’s marketing or engaging with their consumers. What risks do you see for enterprises?

Marc Berkman:

So there’s a few risks to enterprises. I would say one, there’s a reputational risk, essentially from the employees or staff themselves. We’ve all seen these cases of something shared that goes viral, whether it contains hate speech and negatively reflects on the reputation of the company, some information about the company, or complaints about the company. That can go viral. There’s also a risk to the wellbeing company’s human resources of their staff and their people, be that from social media addiction and mental health issues. Linked to that too, is loss of time. So if you have employees, especially during the pandemic that are working from home, which has a lot of benefits, we’ve found, for personnel and for companies. But if you have employees that are developing a social media addiction, a social media habit and are spending five to six hours a day on TikTok or another platform, that obviously is cutting into productivity and work. There are a number of dangers that can directly impact businesses beyond some of these other dangerous that are affecting families out there.

John Bree:

What role can an organization play in helping? I mean, I know you mentioned that you’re going to be participating with DARE, which indicates the law enforcement community is getting involved. How about organizations, I mean, major corporations, how can they support what you’re doing?

Marc Berkman:

Yes. So first of all, we love talking to people that deal with risks because this is our work and understanding how to gauge risk and protect against it and these dangers. One, at a 10,000 foot level, we want both parents and businesses and people that use social media to understand there’s three aspects to preventative safety here when it comes to these dangers. One, it’s the conversation piece, conversation slash education, making sure that people are aware of these various dangers. This substance abuse issue that we just talked about is not well-known. Body dysmorphia, trafficking, there’s a whole list of dangers that people are not aware of. So having businesses and corporations actively involved in educating and spreading that message. If you want to go through us, we certainly do corporate presentations. So work with businesses to spread that message to their employees and beyond.

There’s also policies and rules. So making it clear to staff and personnel, what are the expectations when it comes to social media safety, taking that time to share that information and share the expectations, so staff is not caught off guard. So there’s also making sure that your settings set to the extent that you have staff that are working on your technology or your software, making sure that those are calibrated and safe. Those are the three steps that we teach parents. And also three steps that we can think of as businesses, as well. So the education piece, and in terms of what business can specifically do, I mentioned the education piece, obviously funding these effort, too. We get our funding from corporations, so funding these efforts, so we can go out there and make systemic change, which also, as we mentioned is in the corporation and self-interest, as well.

Atul Vashistha:

Yeah, Mark. I was going to ask you at the end, what advice did you have for parents and managers? I think you’ve just walked us through that. Maybe a final question to you is how can we as corporate citizens, how can we as leaders in the business community, both leverage the organization for social media safety, but also support? So maybe some specific guidance for us as business leaders.

Marc Berkman:

Of course, so we do corporate talks all the time for parent groups. And we see that those companies that have parent groups that are actually working to educate their parents, particularly in the area of safety, it yields dividends, both short-term and long-term, for the company themselves. So certainly businesses have the choice to use, have the organization for social media safety come in and teach your employees how to keep their family safer on social media and how to stay safer themselves. We work with companies in terms of making sure that their own policies are maximizing safety for their employees on social media, prevent some of this reputational risk, as well. And getting involved funding wise, as I mentioned, as well, certainly helps us do this work, creates systemic change, and helps us in the long run. We also, in terms of two specific to-dos, we have a petition right now on change.org.

If you go to change.org, search for Laura Berman, or it’s Let Parents Protect is the name of the petition, and you can help our efforts to make sure that safety software, parents have the choice to use that on all social media platforms. And then finally sharing our educational resources, which you can find on our website at ofsms.org. That’s short for organization for social media safety, ofsms.org. You can share that with your staff, particularly your parents. That’s the only comprehensive resource that we’re aware of out there teaching parents how to maximize safety on social media.

Atul Vashistha:

Thank you, Mark. Maybe one final question, Ed, if you would indulge me. What would Jordan say about the efforts over the last four years?

Ed Peisner:

He’s really happy for what we’re doing. Obviously, this changed his life. This incident changed him forever. Thankfully, I have my son to hold and hug every day, but again, as I’m talking to you, I’m looking at the wall of all the things we’ve done over the last four years, many pictures of Jordan in there. He is very proud of the efforts we’re making. It’s interesting, since this happened… I have three kids. I’ve raised them on my own for many years, and they all had smartphones when they were littler, obviously to communicate back and forth. But they’ve mostly gotten rid of their social media presence. Even my oldest, who’s 21, said, “Yeah, it’s not for me anymore.” So the education piece really works. The conversation piece that Mark talked about multiple times, it works. I have those conversations with my kids to this day. And again, Jordan’s turning 19 now. And my oldest is 21. We still have these talks. So he’s with me still. That’s that’s all I can say. I’m blessed.

Atul Vashistha:

That is wonderful. Mark and Ed, thank you so much for making time for us, especially in lighting our audience on the dangers of social media, but more importantly, some practical advice in terms of how to deal with it. Thank you for that. Keep doing what you’re doing. We need more of these efforts in our world. Thank you.

Ed Peisner:

Thanks for having us.

Marc Berkman:

Thank you so much.

Share on twitter
Share on facebook
Share on linkedin
Share on whatsapp

Speakers

Ed Peisner


Founder

Organization for Social Media Safety

After a long career in business, Ed Peisner founded the Organization for Social Media Safety in 2017 after his teenage son Jordan was viciously assaulted in West Hills, CA. The attack was filmed and uploaded to social media by an associate of the attacker. Jordan was left with serious and life-long injuries from the assault. Ed decided to dedicate himself to the goal of ensuring that no other family had to endure such a terrible ordeal. Ed now proudly travels the country teaching students, parents, and educators essential social media safety skills.

Marc Berkman


CEO

Organization for Social Media Safety

Marc has a decade of experience in public policy and management serving as a senior advisor to members of Congress and the California State Assembly. During his time as a legislative aide, he developed numerous legislative initiatives, including Jordan’s Law. Marc received his JD from Columbia Law School and his BA from UC Berkeley.

Atul Vashistha


Chairman & CEO

Supply Wisdom

Atul Vashistha is recognized globally as a leading expert on globalization, governance, and risk. He has authored three best-selling books: The Offshore Nation, Globalization Wisdom and Outsourcing Wisdom. Atul pioneered the global sourcing advisory space in 1999 when he founded Neo Group and is also the founder and Chairman of Supply Wisdom. Founded in 2012 as an early warning service for business disruption risk, today, Supply Wisdom® is the market leading patented real-time and continuous risk intelligence and monitoring solution. Atul serves on the boards of the US Department of Defense Business Board (Vice Chair), IAOP, Shared Assessments, and Zemoga.

John Bree


Chief Evangelist & CRO

Supply Wisdom

John is Chief Evangelist & Chief Risk Officer with Supply Wisdom. Prior to joining Supply Wisdom, John held senior positions in New York, Tokyo, Singapore and London for Citi and Deutsche Bank covering corporate, investment, commercial and consumer banking internal and vendor operations. John is a member of the Shared Assessments US and UK Steering Committees and Co-Chair of the Financial Industry Vertical Strategy Group.

Recent Conversations

Stay Updated

We will notify you when a new conversation is posted

Recommend a Speaker