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Last updated: Version 2.3 (Updated May 15, 2018).

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Friday, May 18 • 17:15 - 18:15
Has Social Media Destroyed our Information Diets and Politics?

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Recent political campaigns and processes - from Argentina to the United Kingdom - has shown there has been a sharp rise in the use of online spaces as part of spreading information (and misinformation) to sway elections and political debate. What can we do to ensure freedom of expression and free and fair elections? How can we work to ensure that social media helps to nurture a robust electoral processes rather than undermine them? How do we turn the original energy of these platforms - that led to a wave of public protests against bad politics - to foster strong, well-informed political processes.

At the heart of this is concerns around our "information diets" and how social media is choosing what we read - don't read.

People are being separated into narrow segments and flooded with media reinforcing their existing views – so-called ‘filter bubbles’. Web Foundation has run some experiments (forthcoming) that show Information each citizen receives on social media can be radically different, even if they follow the same general information sources. The result is a political discourse unanchored from a shared media reality.

At the same time, social media platforms open the door to armies of opinion shapers, human or automated, flooding users with information. In such a saturated media environment, it can be difficult to distinguish misinformation from credible journalism. And the traditional goal of an equal platform for candidates becomes an impossibility.

Add to this the fact that many of us only get our news from social media. In 2017, two-thirds of US adults read news on social media. Yet, these platforms still lack accountability and often act in ways that are damaging to their users. Recently, Facebook ran an experiment in six countries, which saw professional news coverage removed from users feeds, cutting a major source of traffic for media outlets. In some cases these changes occurred in the run-up to key elections.

The Web Foundation proposes to run a workshop to bring together different actors - governments, media (traditional and new) and civil society (from the digital and rights-based communities) to discuss ideas for what can we do to take back our "information diets" and protect our domestic political processes. The problem and solutions will be looked at from across a variety of regions.

The structure for the workshop is proposed as follows:
Part 1: Understanding our "Diets"
Welcoming remarks: Web Foundation
- 2 short presentations (5 minutes) about our "information diets" in Argentina and the United States/United Kindgom (10 minutes)
- small group discussions among participants to map experiences in their countries of their "information diets" (25 minutes)

Part 2: Breaking our "Diets"
- short presentations (5 minutes) on policy solutions and the pros/cons (10 minutes.
- open (facilitated) discussion to map policy options (25 minutes)

avatar for Renata Avila

Renata Avila

Senior Digital Rights Advisor, World Wide Web Foundation - Public Citizen Consultant
Renata Avila, (Guatemalan), is an international Human Rights lawyer, specialising in the next wave of technological challenges to preserve and advance our rights, and better understand the politics of data and their implications on trade, democracy and society. She is a 2020 Stanford... Read More →

Laura Henderson

University of Pennsylvania

raquel renno

Project Lead, Tactical Technology
Data and politics, IoT, Smart Cities, data and elections, dating apps http://ourdataourselves.tacticaltech.org

Friday May 18, 2018 17:15 - 18:15 EDT