Social Media & Civic Engagement Panel Discussion
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Social Media & Civic Engagement Panel Discussion


hello thanks so much for coming to our panel discussion of social media and citizenship I’ve done a lot of teaching on social media and civility so forgive that but we will be hearing about civility among other topics related to senses citizenship like social media I’m Dr. Kara Kendall-Morwick I’m in the english department here at Washburn and I’m really pleased to be able to introduce our panelists and to moderate the conversation to follow so I’ll go in the order of which they’re going to give their opening remarks and then we’ll hear a little bit from each panelist and then we’ll have lots of time for conversation and questions from the audience just before I get to that I wanted to briefly remind people or give you a heads-up about another fantastic WUmesterr opportunity happening on campus next week we’re going to have Dr. Koritha Mitchell as a guest she’ll be delivering the annual Lincoln lecture that’s gonna take place Thursday February 27th at 7 p.m. and that will be in the Washburn and Theatre and is open to the public so we hope to see many of you there so to church our panelists for today Maria Stoker professor of mass media here at Washburn originally from Bulgaria her research focuses on the study of media systems in Eastern Europe various aspects of the gender problematic and most recently the social impact of new communication technologies she has published research in the Howard Journal of communications and the International Journal of communication among others one of her recent publications is an edited volume on women in politics the media perspectives from Nations in transition from Bloomsbury Dr. Ashley Muddiman who received her PhD from the University of Texas at Austin is an assistant professor in communication studies at the University of Kansas as well as faculty research associate with the Center for media engagement her research explores political media effects specifically that was related to digital news and political instability she studied how people select news stories to read digital news and social media spaces has examined instability in the New York Times comment section which I imagine is a rich source of data it has investigated ways to encourage people to overcome person bias when interacting with digital news in addition to her theoretical work Dr. Muddiman has developed innovative research designs including a new method for researchers to use when analyzing textual content in large data sets her work regularly appears in top academic publications in communication and media fields and has been recognized with the words from divisions of the National Communication Association and the American Political Science Association and finally we’ll have Dr. Joseph Kendall-Warwick he’s an assistant professor of computer science at Missouri Western State University he grew up in Ohio and earned his PhD at Indiana University studying artificial intelligence since then Joseph has worked for many small colleges tech firms and tech volunteer organizations across the Midwest his research interests include the sociological impact of technology particularly Identity Management machine learning and open source software so join me in welcoming our panelists good afternoon I’m just going to stand up because it appears to be easier to switch slides this way and I chose to make it more visual because I’m never sure who is part of the audience and I always think that it’s easier to keep Millennials attention when there’s something big and flashy but it’s also a quick way to provide some visual data so the way the way I was kind of thinking of starting my remarks today was largely centered around my passion for the truth right and just journalism’s objectives truly to serve the truth and journalists are trained to do that they’re professionals in doing that and that is something that entitles me into the profession of journalism and mass media I was born in Bulgaria and lived during communist time and it was really hard for me to live in a society where we all participated in one big life and I was trained to open the present lies and we all knew that it was a lie yet we openly consented to participating in this lie so that may be very sensitive to knowing the truth and talking about the truth so as soon as the Berlin Wall fell I was just enamored by the profession of journalism to me that was the natural choice I just showed up in our in our kitchen I clearly remember this and I told my grandparents I want be a journalist and that’s it and they never questioned that I think they truly understood this but that’s what journalists do and journalists you know as a profession you know a lot could be said about the importance of you know journalism or Free Press in these days free media for democracy and journalists role to be you know keep government and and when I was in journalism school we were constantly exposed to the court you see above by Thomas Jefferson that clearly indicates the importance of a free press of a functioning press for democracy and there’s a lot of conversations still happening about that topic till today but I think we agree that good decision-making depends on really people having reliable accurate facts put in a meaningful context and in fact that’s part of what I’m trying to establish they provide some context for our discussions and conversations and it doesn’t necessarily just relate to topic of politics but it could relate to any type of important decision in life you know whether to vaccinate your kids or not or whether you know we want to trust information on global warming for example so good decision-making then might be program vital part of our conversation at least that’s what I was thinking and of course we live in a new media ecosystem there’s so much written about and Millennials people born in the 90s and you know early 2000 they have not experienced anything else so there have been you know the digital natives yes yet there has been a lot written about the naivete of the digital natives at the same time and you know one of the problems with what what we’re experiencing and one will probably talk about is the fact that this new digital system has also allowed for enormous void of data to be produced this is a infographic from MIT Digital lab and it just gives us a quick visual representation of how much data is produced on a daily basis and it’s just something that’s each time I look at the actual data I find it pretty you know impressive it’ll it always just it’s hard for me to imagine unless I really think about five million laptops you know just it’s the equivalent of five million laptops or 90 years example of HD video but this is the environment we’re currently living in where we have so much information and so much content generated by users and I think we’ll soon have the opportunity to hear about user-generated content and user identities as well that we are starting to see a more and more research and attention being paid to what captures our attention there’s just way too much happening so the ability to actually capture information attention and maintain that attention becomes a vital and there’s also conversations about you know whether the average person is these days acting as a journalist and that is probably something that we could be addressing as part of the you know our conversation as well but the core of this is you know a concept that research has been examined and have been talking about for a while now centering around the idea of attention economy right where attention is truly a valued resource and most of that valid content is the one that actually attracts attention because we measure success even of media organizations or other platforms by pageviews so what attracts then a pageview that is pretty much knowable sensational emotional type of content and unfortunately mainstream media we’re forced to adapt to these techniques as well which then leads us to some of the issues that relate to media being vulnerable to manipulation as well but a lot of things have changed in the past 20 years between decline of local news less fact-checking by journalists less investigative reporting a lot of sensationalism certainly reporting without content context and some observers actually talked about unfinished digital revolution because we’re experiencing as we speak today so for 2016 the word of the year was post truth and this is the definition but we have all of these events that I just kind of briefly touched upon as powerful drivers of this post truth environment if you wish and some would say well this is not you right this has been happening for a while from the outset especially with daily newspapers we have yellow press we also have Orson Welles and his invasion of Mars radio broadcast so these are just powerful reminders that some of these realities have existed for a while yet I believe that the communication revolution is were quite novel dynamics that are also producing novel effects and I think that that’s what a lot of the research applies on things we’ll talk about or concentrate on so in this powerful dynamic we have you know political lying we have bad manners we have fake news we have operative facts we have a president who openly criticizes media when he doesn’t agree with the content of the reports and calls mainstream media and mainstream reports fake news all these challenged basic democratic norms and really undermine open and heuristic communication among citizens if I have to be asked about my opinion so a little bit more data from Pew Center research when I appreciate at this point of our conversation about these harsh realities is that more and more people are starting to think in a more nuanced and critical ways of fake news or misinformation radition for me the conversation is reaching the level where we hear more and more about it and it’s not just confined to narrow circles of academics because for a while I believe that’s where it existed and when I first started talking about that in my classes it was just like what do you mean and now students millenials younger people’s kind of aware of this they’re even aware of the five facts of misinformation and they’re listed in this graphic but the reason why and misinformation persist is because well it makes money and we have very well-documented reports at this point how made up information makes money wonderful particularly you resonated when he was from Macedonia because Macedonia borders Bulgaria and these young you know very intelligent youth were generally they were in charge of 140 websites generating you know false information and there was no partisan bias behind it it was strictly a way for them to make money you know they had no opportunities extremely intelligent on challenge like well we’re just gonna figure out a different way to make money but of course we have digital technology and we’ll hear a little bit more about that that kind of facilitates the spread of misinformation and of course I think to me the most interesting aspect has been the public’s lack and any effort or rather very low interest at least at the very beginning about what was happening so very quickly to go through this these the misinformation and trust and polarization are interconnected you could think of it as a vicious cycle where the truth is becoming more and more difficult to locate and it really creates a lot of confusion and leaves readers doubting everything including real news but the more people are persuaded traditional media not delivering the truth the more they turn to partisan or alternative sources of information then that action in turn pretty much reinforces and validates their own which is selective selective exposure and selective attention and then there’s more being more and more talk about information tribalism which in turn worsens polarization of course so just quickly Americans are finally realizing that you know make up made-up news is a problem and they see it as more important than a lot of other issues and they are also recognizing that it has detrimental effects that it has a real consequences and to me this is actually significant progress that we’re finally having a debate about it and we’re trying to work on solutions towards it as well I wish I had the solution I wish we had a magic button that I can press and fix it clearly that’s not where we’re at at this point there have been various solutions offered towards this problem and it’s a very complex problem indeed but I really think that we should establish certain things one of them is we cannot control the production of information simply that’s just not gonna work and no algorithm for example or could or should attempt to police the line of Meishan second we have to start understanding better how people consume information has been very interesting research that is not my area but I always find it very interesting to how people prioritize and consume information for example and how that can equip them with better ways you know finding misinformation and then in turn becoming more information learnt and then the American public agrees and that was interestingly the type of research arrived in my mailbox yesterday that the solution to the problem I’m not necessarily to analyst but they want journalists to fix they really want they see journalists as the ones who should be fixing the problem and I find this very interesting because that relates directly to my field and the truth of the matter is that journalists have been working and there have been some attempts some more notable at census of last year about during this can indeed find that fight that issue but I think I’m gonna stop at this point so that we could have the opportunity to expand the dialogue thank you hi everybody thanks so much for having me I’ve actually never been on Washburn’s campus so this is lovely and a great excuse to be here and to be part of this conversation I’m also going to be talking about the lovely optimistic a problem of incivility on so we started with misinformation and talking about instability but I want to talk both about some of the potential problems about engaging in instant engagement on social media and engaging in politics on social media how incivility plays a role in that but then also talked about how there might be some opportunities and how it’s not all bad either all of the bad stuff is pretty bad and I got I’m happy to answer any questions after after we give a bit of an introduction so first of all I just want to very briefly when I say instability that means a lot of different things to a lot of different people I I won’t go too much into it although that’s part of my research as well so I’m happy to answer questions about it but I’ll say in the space of social media and digital communication what people often mean when they’re talking about incivility is its use of profanity and obscenity and name-calling and harassment all the way up to using racist and sexist and homophobic slurs and that type of thing again it’s not the only kind of incivility but in this space that’s often what’s meant when we’re talking about instabilities so a lot of what I’ll be talking about is focused on that kind of language and I’ll also mention that people react to incivility in very different ways it’s not that everybody sees things that people might perceive isms and uncivil and then they’re like oh no that’s awful some people actually get more engaged in politics when they see people attacking each other and other people kind of shut down so again what I’ll be talking about are kind of overall trends but I want to make sure it’s clear that there are different reactions based on different people from different types groups and power dynamics are really important in things as well so those are all important things to think about that all also be kind of talking generally about some of the effects so some of the downsides of this kind of language I think there’s not one good survey of how much incivility is on every different type of social media account or in my case a lot of the research I’ve done has been in in comment sections of news spaces which is a type of social space as well even though it’s not always necessarily Facebook but the studies that happen suggest that there’s somewhere between 10 to 15% of comments on new section air on news organizations sites or stuff on some social media accounts – so this is not we remember more of it but it’s not quite as prevalent as what people might think but that doesn’t mean that it can’t affect a lot of different things so for instance some of the negatives and some of the risks when I when I say a risk of participating in the public sphere online one of the risks is that if you put yourself out there you can be getting some of these things thrown back at you so an example of this just from yesterday or the day before some political science professor who I’m connected with on Twitter wrote an op-ed for the New York Times or Washington Post and I I don’t even remember exactly what the op-ed was about but she was posting on Twitter some of the hate mail she was getting in response and some of the tweets she was getting in response to a you know relatively you thought out you know you can disagree with it but like relatively thought out a piece of scholarship and she was showing all of these really terrible terrible things very uh there was like transphobia and thanks for another and she you know like all of this stuff that had nothing to do with her um and so that’s a risk and it’s a risk that’s not shared equally that people who get the worst of it tend to be women people of color women of color tend to get the worst of that even though men who participate in this way also do get hate mail it’s not quite as sexually oriented or there may not be rape threats and things in there so uh participating gets harder if you are in public and that’s the kind of response you’re getting so that’s one of the really risky and negative sides of this type of language and this does happen in social media spaces spaces quite often the other thing that’s some important are interesting to think about is the risk of not just to the person who’s doing something but also to website that’s posting information so for instance on news websites I if you know they might post a new story and if the comments on that news story are uncivil even if the story itself was a pretty balanced type of story if the comments on that news story are uncivil the people who read that story and see the comments tend to think more negatively about the news organization and they also tend to think in more polarized ways about the article itself too so there’s not just the risk of the people who are getting this thrown at them feeling negative and negative ways and having that affect their mental health and things there’s also a risk to candidates both political candidates to have uncivil spaces or to new sites that have any simple spaces so that’s also something that people have to deal with in in these areas so those are just two of the negatives but there were clearly others but on the other side what makes incivility tricky is that again like I kind of mentioned sometimes incivility actually increases participation rates or increases engagement with political information so one of the studies that I worked on was on we Holly and I who works at the University of Texas and we were doing this with the center for media engagement did a study where we were analyzing the contents of the comment sections of the New York Times and we looked at the kinds of information that site visitors were recommending so the New York Times like button essentially as I recommend and we found that if a comment had uncivil words so again name-calling and that kind of thing and they had words that indicated partisanship and so so the president’s name because the this data set was from about 2010 to 2013 so if bomb was mentioned or George W. Bush was mentioned or something comments that have both of those things actually got the most engagement and got the most recommendations so on one hand we could think of that as a negative thing of like oh no why are people engaging with us but on the other hand not all communication about politics is nice and thoughtful and rational and maybe it shouldn’t be all the time either so i that it might not always be a bad thing for some amount of incivility if it gets if it gets people to engage with news comment content or political content if they might not otherwise so i that’s one thing to be thinking about another potential positive is that those were comments in a comment section but I’ve also done some research looking at when digital news covers politicians behaving unseemly toward each other so like Congress people fighting with each other or yelling at people and that kind of thing I have some preliminary evidence suggesting that people don’t don’t actually want to read that and so it might not be as attention-getting as some news organizations thank you it is I say preliminary because I think I need to do a lot more research and we need to do a lot more research on it but that’s actually I found that interesting that people seem to think that it was not a good thing when news was covering it they wanted to see more coverage of things of politicians working together and trying to solve problems instead of looking like petty kids in schoolyard fighting each other so I thought that was interesting and then one last thing I’ll mention is that a recent study I’ve been working on with a colleague who is now at the she’s now a postdoc at Stanford her name’s Emily VanDoon and we again this is also funded by his for media engagement research but she and I have worked looking at a project where we were seeing how what kinds of things affected people’s perceptions that a comment section or social social space for a news organization was uncivil and we found that when people felt connected with the other people in a comment section they thought that section was more civil and this could kind of go two ways on one hand sweet we didn’t know the direction of this relationship but on one hand it could be that when spaces are more civil people feel more connected to the communities there and so that’s something that a plaque or a social media platform can take away or a comment section could take away to their room could take away to say we need to make our space more civil so people feel more welcomed but on the other hand it could also mean that when people feel connected to each other they’re more okay when some when people push boundaries sometimes and that’s also not a terrible thing I mean the thing I think about there is playing like pickup basketball or pickup soccer people trash talk each other all the time but that’s not necessarily a bad thing there’s a community there that they’re building together and so there’s something about having a community space that might inoculate people against the worst types of incivility it might make these space more civil and when it’s not there’s still norms that people follow and they might feel the they might feel the need to follow those norms to stay connected with their communities so I think that’s a really interesting place to go is to figure out what is it that makes a community space online feel connected rather than having people kind of feel disconnected and feeling like it’s more okay to send these really terrible emails to people and instead of thinking that kind of space how can we make people feel connected in a way that hopefully makes a space more welcoming to a people of a lot of different a lot of different backgrounds so again happy to talk more about any of this or other things as well thank you so my background was mentioned in artificial intelligence but and you know I think when I first started with those kinds of studies a lot of how people perceive our official intelligence was different than it than it is now but most of the people would think of it you know the Terminator or something but it was it was you know like kind of a joke in the back of people’s mind about the impact that something like that would happen as you know over the last decade or so now a is in the forefront of a lot of people’s minds when they hear the word algorithm and shudder right so you know in the same sense that engineers working on the atomic bomb for instance had to grapple with issues of ethics right when we’re developing this technology what are we unleashing that sort of thing same thing kind of struck me as I was going through these studies and Missouri Western we’ve been expanding more into cybersecurity in those sorts of areas it’s not been finding my niche within those studies and I think really with my background in AI and thinking about policy and Identity Management and that sort of thing I found kind of a natural hole so I wanted to talk a little bit about the fabric underneath some of what we’ve been discussing and how the medium impacts some of these other issues and so generally when when we’re working to influence each other were engaging in citizenship and how that influence flows from from us downstream to those most immediately impacted like our friends and family or colleagues you know will have the greatest impact on on them but it moves past towards other people right so we’ve got tributaries going into streams towards hubs of influence right where we get to politicians and celebrities or you know social media influencers and those types of people and this kind of concept is really a cornerstone in a lot of how social media has developed over the last few decades so going way back to the route of the search engine Wars and how Google essentially one that were you know there’s a couple Stanford graduate students that thought about how we do academic publishing right so a similar sort of phenomena where if you are a big name and academic publishing is because other people have cited your work and perhaps some of those people who have been citing your work have also been cited by other big names and so on and so forth and we we’ve this sort of tapestry of influence right so they tapped into that when they develop the Google search engine instead of searching for pages on the internet that happened to have a lot of keywords that you’re looking for which was fairly common with how other search engine would work Google looked at what pages with those keywords were linking to your site right so how many pages were linking into your site and lending their their influence right towards those search results or essentially you know they look at a link from one site to another kind of the same way we look at a like button right now so and then beyond that you know we do also work with this directly social aspect of it when we you know hit the like button or rate someone from Airbnb or whatnot you know that will use that data to also determine you know how to make recommendations to users and and then beyond that even when you’re not explicitly making your endorsement sometimes you’re kind of making an endorsement you might not even be aware of so for instance YouTube and many many social media sites will work with collaborative filching collaborative filtering and other similar algorithms that will determine for instance take a look at your interests and someone else’s interests and determined that you ever with them in the sense that you have similar interests in something that person beat you that you’re related to is interested in that you have not expressed an interest in might be something worth recommending to you right so of course a lot of these things can be exploited I’ll talk a little bit about that in a moment but it’s really underlying all of these things is the concept of identity right if who is person a versus person being where is the line drawn between them so identity and a lot of in most social media environments is drawn by Fiat right so you are who you say you are because Facebook says wherever you stay two are right so essentially this is all kind of a walled garden approach a spent environment that Facebook has quite a bit order I’m picking on Facebook but really any of these social media companies has quite a bit of control over and essentially when we see some of these influence campaigns that have been in the news recently forming you could just get on there and say on Joe America you know you should all dislike each other and this sort of thing we can quickly pick up on a lot of those fakes if we look and see oh this person has no friends and this person is you know clearly just an account someone made stuff on there but it gets more sophisticated when you start applying this idea of networking right so early on in the 2016 this information campaign you wouldn’t notice perhaps some divisive comments from an account and look at their friends and they would have a collection of friends who are all friends with each other and saying nice things about each other but this is all fake right so it was developed to mimic the sort of social network that we see naturally being developed on Facebook so you know a lot of people criticize some of these companies for allowing this sort of thing to happen and and really I would say technologically we have the tools to detect this or and do something about it it’s not really that hard to apply artificial intelligence and in a way that can you know discover some of these networks because they have novel features that organic kinds of social connections do not so the question is you know why it hasn’t has been done more well there are there are some worries you just mentioned that you know when we apply out where those when you think about know how much bigger we do it versus how much matter everything wind up and there’s also the question of what are the motivations of these companies so and when we’re looking at a private approach to handling social media the motivations are different than they would be from our own you know social interactions from making friends just in the normal human way that we all do right so my interest is kind of thinking about identity in a in a broader perspective than just this fiat identity that a company like Facebook would offer and considering how more open approaches could impact in perhaps in some ways negatively and in other ways positively the the sort of situation you’ll find ourselves right in right now because of this new technology that has provided a medium for this sort of experiment we’ve seen over the last and particularly a lot of step aid so I saw a comment earlier today basically if you that a lot of you might have heard if you are an especially lever leverage at Facebook in particular if you’re not paying for something you are the product so and that’s a critique of you know these free services we get online from for-profit companies that will you know we see some of these problems manifest in but worry about that from people like me who advocate for open solutions and open source software and that sort of thing is that that also sort of depresses interest in in those kinds of solutions because you don’t necessarily pay for those either but there’s a different sort of model to that approach and you know if you want an example of and I’m not saying that there are no problems of its way you want an example to see how identity can be managed in a more decentralized way and not enough the out sort of way then you can look at things like Bitcoin right where you decide this is a person and they have this money but there is no single entity that deems that as so right so it interests me very much as we move forward and we see how other open technologies have had impacts on other industries or other kind of realms and how does it translate into what we’re looking at with citizenship online in particular in social media so that’s my perspective on it and you know we’ll go ahead now and open it up to questions I am sorry I don’t know your name Ashley actually you you said uncivil comments in the managing the brand even if they’re not aimed at the brand there have been a couple of studies that suggest okay do you think that is planned by some of the people that do the uncivil comments that’s a really good question I mean it the the studies that I’ve seen haven’t looked into any of that at all and at least those comments in those studies were not you know they weren’t questioning journalism or anything like that so I think it’s probably possible because there are definitely these groups like you were talking about there are these groups that are malignant actors and they’re trying to do these things but I think some of it is not necessarily the point that people just they see something and they have a desire to express their opinion about it and they do and maybe not in a way that we wish they would um so I think it could be a mix i I haven’t seen any exact data but it could be a mix of those things with the disinformation campaigns – they try to exploit existing fissures right so this is something new that we’re noticing they might even fear that that’s another avenue of sowing mistrust and I can’t be that point to of the that if they do figure it out there is a lot of distrust in news for both good reasons and not-so-good reasons that exists and had I think just like trust in pretty much every other Institute national institution trusted news has been plummeting since the 70s and it’s at a very low right now although it does depend on partisanship Democrats test tend to trust news media broadly much more than Republicans do but that would be a that people could start exploiting if they haven’t already it is something that could could happen my question was kind of along those lines are we getting more skeptical because I feel like I yeah it’s like I don’t believe that until I get facts but I can confirm it or deny it so as a species are we kind of getting more skeptical I think there is probably an evidence the points in that direction especially this juncture where we are you know as I said the information tribalism it’s just a great kind of example of that of what’s happening there’s just so much data and a pew has generated a lot of it indicating how this trusting where of each other levels of trust and interestingly many years ago my dissertation was about social capital and the erosion of social capital I was like okay that’s it you know we’re done in here it is more and more research and links to you know social media and all these new Adventists to the original social capital and that’s moving action on a global level there is so much evidence in you know eroding trust in media on a global level not just within the United States the World Economic Forum has a very interesting kind of information on that and I think what it leads to is ultimately we’re lacking common spaces you know where we could exchange ideas and information so we are in our own there’s so many studies that you’ve got visual very stark visual representations that’s one thing that I was thinking of my dad so we’re like we exist in our own information bubbles or in could change burners or worlds and at this point there we don’t even want live next to people who are not like us so it has vast ramifications they’re not just in the political arena but from what I’ve seen the data I’ve seen a research I’ve seen it’s just actually translates to all our existence and I think just adding to this and the idea of people being more skeptical there’s I’ve seen a couple of studies to that suggest that when people hear or read discussions about fake news or misinformation then they do become more skeptical but they’re not actually any better at determining whether something is me or not so the skepticism might not be bad but we need to figure out how to direct it in a way that actually helps us because these disinformation campaigns in part are to make us not trust anything so if we don’t trust anything then nothing’s real so we don’t have to listen to anybody and then people can kind of do whatever they want and there might be some evidence that that actually does work so we need to help or and I I don’t again I don’t have the answer but I think we have enough evidence at this point to say it isn’t front like we need people to be skeptical but not so skeptical that they can’t figure out what is real or not and that I think this place we need to figure out something and relatively quickly it would be pretty good yeah yeah and I don’t want to like when I talk about different media in which we can in different ways we can control the media I do think that our the medium I I’m not necessarily trying to sell anyone on one thing or another but we do see about you know the vast majority of how we interact online is through this kind of one mode and we haven’t seen a lot of other ways of approaching that and I you know I think this is fairly common knowledge it’s not something I’m an expert in certainly more so but the fact that people don’t really necessarily act the same way online as they do in person and the value of working but I’ve noticed I think in the past decade as people recognize this right like on Facebook people are jerks been in person and it’s a little different but we have a conversation pronounced that touches on you know political issues or ethics or whatnot in my classroom and at first everyone’s kind of afraid that it’ll become an online chatroom right that when it comes up that everyone will start screaming whatever their perspective is at each other but that I really impractical I think respectful ways of working these issues out in person and we have seen online and I think that’s someone on to us that you know technical people and not providing a medium that we can use to also have that kind of discussion online but it’s something that I do have hope for that as we consider more ideas can change I wonder if any of you are considering in your own work or know of scholars who are considering thinking about instability and the upcoming election and just what’s happening politically right now in general whether or not rhetoric and spin and media is actually going to have an effect on who turns out and show that what the poll and the election comes that can take a little staff mostly what I’m drawing from here is not necessarily my research but research I’ve seen about political advertising which may or may not totally translate to the social media space because this is a little bit more all-encompassing and the social the social media space has well I’ll end with a positive social media trend with the social pressure but um actually net so political advertising I it seems like there’s been a ton of research on it it’s really hard to figure out exactly what the affects of the messaging it just because there’s so many other things happening in a campaign at the same time but it seems like there’s a small effect of advertising that I actually increases turnout even if it’s negative people hate negative ads but the evidence seems to suggest that it actually does work a little except in very very narrow cases like there is maybe a tiny bit of evidence that if negative advertising comes at the very end of the campaign and it’s against and there’s the group of people who haven’t quite made up their decision like two weeks they made up their minds and they like one person a little bit that they’re not totally sure if they’re voting for them and they see a bunch of negative advertising those people might not vote at that point but it’s a very small group but sometimes that can change an election so I imagine that something like that might also be the case in digital ads but I would not expect any kind of major like actually there there’s been all of this discussion of like did did all the Facebook ads change the 2016 election and I given what I’ve seen about advertising in general my thought is probably not because ants just tend to reinforce what we already think it doesn’t manipulate us if I were a Clinton supporter I was not going to vote for Trump if I saw a bunch of online ads so I think there there are effects and we need to be worrying about them and we need to study them but they’re probably not as big and scary as what it sounds like if you’re listening to news coverage about about them I said I would end on a positive when there has been some research on get-out-the-vote efforts and so for instance Facebook did an experimental study with some academics a number of years ago at this point where they put in some of you might have seen this on Facebook where they put something on the top of your face newsfeed where it says I you can click a button that says I voted or I registered to vote and then when you do that you show up in other people’s news feeds as saying like do you want to register here are all of your friends that registered and that actually does seem to increase registration and possibly even voter turnout a little bit so there are actually some aspects of the social space that can pressure people into doing things we might want them to but then the messaging might sometimes have some negative effects but I would say and elections most of these effects are very small because partisanship just drives so much that partisanship and habit of actual voguing I mean just extend that also when we talk about discouraging you know turnout in different ways it’s if you look at some of the reports on look some of the reports that just came I was reading up on you know what what’s happening in the news right now and they’re working you know efforts towards depressing turnout in some groups by you know kind of reducing their faith in the system or whatnot but part of that also was just you know raising the effort or the part of effort that they would have to go through to phone at all right so I by sowing misinformation not just about like a candidate’s you know stated goals or but but more just where do you vote quarter like messing with registrations and that sort of thing and trying to influence the result that way so that’s I don’t know anything about how successful that has been but but it is at least a concern that isn’t raised just wanna kind of the cocktail of this and just kind of you know post a question of whether we should be teaching civility I think that’s a really interesting question I’ll come at it from a little bit different perspective but I actually co-authored an article saying we should not try to get rid of incivility online so that so I think maybe teaching like there are places where there are strategies where it can be helpful but I actually I do think that in certain types of incivility can be useful in certain settings and then if I would never want to say incivility should be eradicated in part because who gets to define it it’s often if we’re thinking Facebook and Twitter they are the ones who pull things off and they have not I have not seen them do that in a way that I would make that makes me want to trust them in the future so just one example that you know they have their nudity like you’re not you’re not supposed to put new pictures okay and it’s one of the things that will get your images pulled down off of Facebook and Twitter pretty quickly and the downside to that even even in that case where I don’t totally disagree with like the pornographic side of it but the downside to that is that a lot of women who were trying to do to post pictures of themselves breastfeeding we’re getting pulled off because it was technically showing like they technically fit the definition of nudity of pornography and I kind of think the same about instability I think that instead of trying to say like that’s uncivil this is civil like trying to figure out and this is a much harder thing to do to try to figure out how can you build these how can you build this how can you build those we try at Tysons Trump size how can you build a community in which people have more leeway and how they act and but that they’re acting in ways that keep that community in mind and keep the goodwill of the people around them in mind I think that’s much stronger it’s also just much harder a little more about that so I think also with a major frustration for people on that front too it’s just the fact that it’s so opaque how that’s handled and I just really you know not to beat a dead horse but want to turn people under the idea that that’s not necessarily how it has to be it you know under a different kind of model users could have more say in how that sort of policing is done you could come to sort of a community agreement about how even if it’s at an algorithmic level right an algorithm can still be an agreement among multiple people for instance some people might like in a strict algorithm that would reduce breast feeding pictures or whatnot and for themselves but that they don’t need to enforce it on other people necessarily right whereas when Facebook makes a decision that’s it for everybody right so I think I can speak right on it but doesn’t that then turn around and isolate people and doesn’t bring them together in yeah yeah and I think this is yeah what people speak they’re saying but I agree and a danger with distributed social media is also that when you give you know people it’s it’s sort of the tyranny of the majority issue right if a lot of people decide something that would be immoral and that’s what’s going to happen right so if there are ways in which you know you can have one entity like Facebook saying what the rules aren’t have problems whether you can have problems when the ground up as well so yeah that can be an issue I just wanna kind of adds to the discussion of you know my kind of what I was referring to at the end of you know my presentation was saying that you know you think that journalists can fix this and you know and and one of the things that I see as an effort and it’s a rather not noble effort so I’m very interested in seeing more and more kind of experiments and that is you know journalists always try to take you know report it to two sides of the story and we’ve always know there isn’t well only two sides of the story of course the truth is you know sometimes more complex if you wish without trying to really go into philosophical discussion of that but with journalists they’re realizing that the very traditional way of reporting the story were there’s just two sides he said she said on this side that side is actually contributing to polarization and they are experimenting with noble ways of engaging the audience because that’s the key you know you want us to engage the audience without appearing to take sides so there has been more effort in local news in news hubs creating these types of experimental ways of doing that as a way of addressing the crisis of mistrust and disinformation and its ability to I should say that’s our time so again big thanks to our presenter for coming we have some handouts with more information about other room master events around the table here so feel free to grab some on your way out

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