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nalakagunawardene.com
We the People
in the Social Media Age
Reflections
By Nalaka Gunawardene
Columnist & New Media/Watcher
At the
4th Media Development Conference
Yangon, Myanmar: 10 Dec 2015
nalakagunawardene.com
I’ve been asked to give a
Asian regional perspective on…
 Impact of social media in today’s social
landscapes
 Role of social media at elections
 Bloggers and other social media activists
 Nexus between conventional and social
media in Asia’s media landscape
 Importance of media literacy & cyber
literacy
nalakagunawardene.com
We’re in a #FB dominated land…
But Social media isn’t just #FB!
nalakagunawardene.com
Whatever Social Media platform…
Key qualities in interactions
 No permissions needed: open & candid
expression of ideas; no authorisations!
 Short & spontaneous: few words; many
abbreviations, emoti-cons & images
 Relaxed & easy going: nothing formal,
stiff or deferential (no Holy Cows!)
 Fleeting: much of it transient (but SM
content can be aggregated, analysed &
data-mined by researchers)
nalakagunawardene.com
Millions of Conversations:
A Global Cacophony!
Useful starting point…but not enough
for lasting social or political change!
nalakagunawardene.com
What does social media mean for
empowering citizens?
 SM can broaden (deepen?) conversations
on topics of public interest
 Citizens can engage govt officials via SM
 Useful as part of advocacy toolkit of social
& political activists
 But SM is NOT a substitute for organised
civic action for democracy, governance or
economic reforms
 Also need physical engagement!
nalakagunawardene.com
‘Clicktivism’ has its limits!
Sometimes we need to go beyond…
nalakagunawardene.com
SM mobilisation + Real World action
 Social Change (repeat many times?)
Climate marches on 29 Nov 2015 involved 675,000+ in over
2,000 cities worldwide. Inspired by Avaaz.org @Avaaz
Some SM campaigns succeed
better than others: WHY?
http://www.brownpoliticalreview.org/2014/11/political-
hashtagging-is-online-activism-effective/
Social Media & Elections:
Key Asian trends since 2010
 Helping reverse youth apathy on politics
 Youth discuss election issues, manifestos &
governance on SM  do these affect their
voting choices? (Study more!)
 Politicians & political parties scramble to
promote themselves on SM: BUT it’s not just a
numbers game: ENGAGEMENT matters!
 Rise of new class of cyber political activists: not
(necessarily) affiliated with any parties; instead
advocating cleaner politics & good gov.
nalakagunawardene.com
Social Media and Elections:
What is happening in Asia?
 Social Media and Elections in
Asia-Pacific – The Growing
Power of the Youth Vote
 Pub: Konrad-Adenauer-
Stiftung’s Media Programme
Asia in Singapore; Nov 2013
 Editors: Alastair Carthew &
Simon Winkelmann
 Full book is free online:
http://www.kas.de/wf/doc/kas_
35939-1522-2-30.pdf?
131105090233
nalakagunawardene.com
SM Campaign urged Sri Lanka
citizens to vote in 2 key elections
Voter turnout as %
of total registered voters:
Presidential Election:
8 Jan 2015: 82.52%
Parliamentary Election:
17 Aug 2015: 77.66%
nalakagunawardene.com
Bloggers & Tweeps: Pushing limits
of mainstream media (MSM)
 Across Asia, bloggers complementing or
compensating for mainstream media:
 Sustaining interest/pressure for key reforms
 Taking up taboo topics (e.g. LGBT rights)
 Amplifying grassroots/marginalised voices
 SM users not yet threatening MSM markets
but in coming years, they well might!
 I prefer to see MSM+SM collaborating in
public interest: enough issues to cover
nalakagunawardene.com
Media’s job: “Comfort the afflicted
& afflict the comfortable”
Can SM-using
activists and
citizen
journalists
bring new
meaning to
social
purpose of
media?
nalakagunawardene.com
Asian Govts using social media
to engage citizens for…
 Delivering basic info & citizen services
 Making govt more transparent
 Consulting citizens on policy reforms
 Crowd-sourcing ideas for specific
projects (e.g. Smart Cities)
 Alerting & warnings during crises
(disasters, epidemics, conflicts)
 Sharing national joys & grief
nalakagunawardene.com
India: SM loving PM!
Transforming government
nalakagunawardene.com
What’s the social impact and
influence? Need more studies!
nalakagunawardene.com
World Leaders with most Twitter followers,
April 2015: What does this mean 4 politics?
http://twiplomacy.com/blog/the-twiplomacy-top-
twenty-twitterati/
As Social Media use increases,
challenges also arise…
 Hate speech on SM  spread of racial,
religious & other abuse (easy to share)
 Anonymity/psendonymity means users can &
do express without much/any restraint
 Identity theft: growing problem: FB account
hijacking common, due to user carelessness
 Privacy loss: Is this inevitable in SM world?
 SM addiction  social & psychiatric problems
for some (not all) individuals
nalakagunawardene.com
Ethical challenges of social media:
Needs measured response…
 Don’t blame the platforms: they mirror or
amplify good & bad in our societies!
 Study more: We need social science
research to understand SM-driven culture
 Generalisations are not possible, nor good
 SM misuses always get disproportionately
high publicity  distorts total picture
 Don’t throw SM ‘baby’ out with
bathwater!
nalakagunawardene.com
Wanted, Urgent!
More Cyber Literacy
knowing how to use Web
with caution & responsibility
More Cyber Civility: using
Web and social media with
respect and courtesy for all
More Cyber Innovation
finding creative web/app
based solutions for social &
economic problems
nalakagunawardene.com
Let’s RECLAIM Social Media
for the Public Interest!
 We the users can - and do -
shape SM conversations
 Don’t just complain: get in
there & join the SM
cacophony: INFLUENCE it!
 Use open platforms (like
Twitter) + public
pages/groups on FB
 Don’t leave it all to trolls!
nalakagunawardene.com
Thank You!
Keep talking with me @NalakaG
nalakagunawardene.com

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We the People in the Social Media Age – by Nalaka Gunawardene, Yangon - 10 Dec 2015

  • 1. nalakagunawardene.com We the People in the Social Media Age Reflections By Nalaka Gunawardene Columnist & New Media/Watcher At the 4th Media Development Conference Yangon, Myanmar: 10 Dec 2015 nalakagunawardene.com
  • 2. I’ve been asked to give a Asian regional perspective on…  Impact of social media in today’s social landscapes  Role of social media at elections  Bloggers and other social media activists  Nexus between conventional and social media in Asia’s media landscape  Importance of media literacy & cyber literacy nalakagunawardene.com
  • 3. We’re in a #FB dominated land… But Social media isn’t just #FB! nalakagunawardene.com
  • 4. Whatever Social Media platform… Key qualities in interactions  No permissions needed: open & candid expression of ideas; no authorisations!  Short & spontaneous: few words; many abbreviations, emoti-cons & images  Relaxed & easy going: nothing formal, stiff or deferential (no Holy Cows!)  Fleeting: much of it transient (but SM content can be aggregated, analysed & data-mined by researchers) nalakagunawardene.com
  • 5. Millions of Conversations: A Global Cacophony! Useful starting point…but not enough for lasting social or political change! nalakagunawardene.com
  • 6. What does social media mean for empowering citizens?  SM can broaden (deepen?) conversations on topics of public interest  Citizens can engage govt officials via SM  Useful as part of advocacy toolkit of social & political activists  But SM is NOT a substitute for organised civic action for democracy, governance or economic reforms  Also need physical engagement! nalakagunawardene.com
  • 7. ‘Clicktivism’ has its limits! Sometimes we need to go beyond… nalakagunawardene.com
  • 8. SM mobilisation + Real World action  Social Change (repeat many times?) Climate marches on 29 Nov 2015 involved 675,000+ in over 2,000 cities worldwide. Inspired by Avaaz.org @Avaaz
  • 9. Some SM campaigns succeed better than others: WHY? http://www.brownpoliticalreview.org/2014/11/political- hashtagging-is-online-activism-effective/
  • 10. Social Media & Elections: Key Asian trends since 2010  Helping reverse youth apathy on politics  Youth discuss election issues, manifestos & governance on SM  do these affect their voting choices? (Study more!)  Politicians & political parties scramble to promote themselves on SM: BUT it’s not just a numbers game: ENGAGEMENT matters!  Rise of new class of cyber political activists: not (necessarily) affiliated with any parties; instead advocating cleaner politics & good gov. nalakagunawardene.com
  • 11. Social Media and Elections: What is happening in Asia?  Social Media and Elections in Asia-Pacific – The Growing Power of the Youth Vote  Pub: Konrad-Adenauer- Stiftung’s Media Programme Asia in Singapore; Nov 2013  Editors: Alastair Carthew & Simon Winkelmann  Full book is free online: http://www.kas.de/wf/doc/kas_ 35939-1522-2-30.pdf? 131105090233 nalakagunawardene.com
  • 12. SM Campaign urged Sri Lanka citizens to vote in 2 key elections Voter turnout as % of total registered voters: Presidential Election: 8 Jan 2015: 82.52% Parliamentary Election: 17 Aug 2015: 77.66% nalakagunawardene.com
  • 13. Bloggers & Tweeps: Pushing limits of mainstream media (MSM)  Across Asia, bloggers complementing or compensating for mainstream media:  Sustaining interest/pressure for key reforms  Taking up taboo topics (e.g. LGBT rights)  Amplifying grassroots/marginalised voices  SM users not yet threatening MSM markets but in coming years, they well might!  I prefer to see MSM+SM collaborating in public interest: enough issues to cover nalakagunawardene.com
  • 14. Media’s job: “Comfort the afflicted & afflict the comfortable” Can SM-using activists and citizen journalists bring new meaning to social purpose of media? nalakagunawardene.com
  • 15. Asian Govts using social media to engage citizens for…  Delivering basic info & citizen services  Making govt more transparent  Consulting citizens on policy reforms  Crowd-sourcing ideas for specific projects (e.g. Smart Cities)  Alerting & warnings during crises (disasters, epidemics, conflicts)  Sharing national joys & grief nalakagunawardene.com
  • 16. India: SM loving PM! Transforming government nalakagunawardene.com
  • 17. What’s the social impact and influence? Need more studies! nalakagunawardene.com
  • 18. World Leaders with most Twitter followers, April 2015: What does this mean 4 politics? http://twiplomacy.com/blog/the-twiplomacy-top- twenty-twitterati/
  • 19. As Social Media use increases, challenges also arise…  Hate speech on SM  spread of racial, religious & other abuse (easy to share)  Anonymity/psendonymity means users can & do express without much/any restraint  Identity theft: growing problem: FB account hijacking common, due to user carelessness  Privacy loss: Is this inevitable in SM world?  SM addiction  social & psychiatric problems for some (not all) individuals nalakagunawardene.com
  • 20. Ethical challenges of social media: Needs measured response…  Don’t blame the platforms: they mirror or amplify good & bad in our societies!  Study more: We need social science research to understand SM-driven culture  Generalisations are not possible, nor good  SM misuses always get disproportionately high publicity  distorts total picture  Don’t throw SM ‘baby’ out with bathwater! nalakagunawardene.com
  • 21. Wanted, Urgent! More Cyber Literacy knowing how to use Web with caution & responsibility More Cyber Civility: using Web and social media with respect and courtesy for all More Cyber Innovation finding creative web/app based solutions for social & economic problems nalakagunawardene.com
  • 22. Let’s RECLAIM Social Media for the Public Interest!  We the users can - and do - shape SM conversations  Don’t just complain: get in there & join the SM cacophony: INFLUENCE it!  Use open platforms (like Twitter) + public pages/groups on FB  Don’t leave it all to trolls! nalakagunawardene.com
  • 23. Thank You! Keep talking with me @NalakaG nalakagunawardene.com