June 25th – Member Mirko Tobias Schäfer: “A Shattered Public Sphere: How Social Media Platforms Transform Political Debate”

Once, social media was heralded as a means for emancipating citizens, for balancing power asymmetries and allowing common people to inform themselves and express their opinion. Today, we associate social media with fake news, hate speech and manipulative algorithms. The overly optimistic perception of social media was very much informed by our understanding of the public sphere and the values of citizen participation in political debates. After more than two decades of world wide web, social media has emerged as powerful brokers of attention, channelling access to information and connecting audiences. The current political arguments are characterised by hate speech, misinformation, and blatant stupidity.

But it is not enough to blame social media platforms for the current situation. We have to look at the interplay of technological affordances, economic interests and institutional change.

About the speaker: We know Mirko as a most interesting speaker with his deep insight in media, big data, influencing people. We are looking forward to have him again as a speaker on the last meeting of Rotary year 2018/2019.