New Ec(h)o systems: Democracy in the Age of Social Media

The National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Otago is hosting New Ec(h)o systems: Democracy in the Age of Social Media on March 16-17th in Dunedin.

NZ Council for Civil Liberties chairperson Thomas Beagle will be appearing with Otago’s David Hood in a session entitled: The Pulse of a Nation: Measuring and managing socio-political mood swings.

When Hillary Clinton over a decade ago said that social media offered the pulse of a nation, she was ahead of her time. Today, all leading social media platforms provide near real-time insights into user behaviours, including unrest, anxieties, anger, political and personal preferences. What can be measured can, however, also be manipulated. How can we trust what the platforms feature & amplify, often for profit?  On the other hand, studying social media engagement also puts at risks civil liberties, including privacy. New forms of discrimination are possible by cross-relating choices or interactions across platforms, generating citizen scores which can determine access to basic services. Furthermore, social media algorithms discriminate in often unexpected places and ways. How can we best respond to what we can now collect at vast scale, and may drive governments towards illiberal practices?

This session will be on 17th March at 11:15am.