2017 #SMSociety Theme: Social Media for Social Good or Evil

Our online behaviour is far from virtual–it extends our offline lives. Much social media research has identified the positive opportunities of using social media; for example, how people use social media to form support groups online, participate in political uprising, raise money for charities, extend teaching and learning outside the classroom, etc. However, mirroring offline experiences, we have also seen social media being used to spread propaganda and misinformation, recruit terrorists, live stream criminal activities, reinforce echo chambers by politicians, and perpetuate hate and oppression (such as racist, sexist, homophobic, and anti-Semitic behaviour).

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Sunday, July 30 • 09:00 - 10:30
Award Ceremony & Keynote: Ron Deibert- War in the World Brain

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In 1937, H.G. Wells wrote an essay entitled the “World Brain,” in which he forecast a permanent encyclopedia accessible to all citizens of the earth simultaneously.  Should such a permanent encyclopedia every come to fruition, Wells predicted, it would dissolve all human conflict into unity.  Clearly, Wells’ assumptions were misguided.  While we have indeed created the basis for a world encyclopedia accessible by most everyone on Earth, the foundation for it is under assault.  Governments now routinely censor access to Internet resources using sophisticated censorship and deep-packet inspection systems. A vast architecture of planetary-wide surveillance has been constructed, borne out of the complementary interests of big business and Big Brother. Civil society organizations face an epidemic of targeted digital attacks from their adversaries. Heavily financed and well resourced state-backed "influence operations" poison the well of the public sphere with propaganda. Drawing from the research of the Citizen Lab (https://citizenlab.org/), I outline why and how digital technologies are contributing to and reinforcing human conflict and division, and then suggest some strategies to mitigate these trends. 

avatar for Ron Deibert

Ron Deibert

Director, Citizen Lab, University of Toronto
Ron Deibert, (OOnt, PhD, University of British Columbia) is Professor of Political Science, and Director of the Citizen Lab at the Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto. The Citizen Lab is an interdisciplinary research and development laboratory working at the intersection... Read More →

Sunday July 30, 2017 09:00 - 10:30 EDT
TRS 2-166 -8th Floor Ted Rogers School of Management, Ryerson University 55 Dundas Street West, Toronto, ON M5G 2C3