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The political power of social media

Wednesday, 22 June 2011, 11.30 a.m., Room Aeltestenrat

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Nowadays anyone can support human rights at the click of a mouse. But how can social media aid the struggle to defend human rights? In countries with restricted freedom of the press, social media can help to circumvent censorship. Facebook, Twitter and other platforms create a space where everyone can make their voices heard. Another upside of social media is their potential to unite and give structure to activists and supporters pursuing common objectives.

Are Twitter, Facebook and the rest a realistic alternative to free, independent media or are they more of a supplement? Can they adequately transport a matter as complex as human rights? When do social networks fall into the sights of censors? How easily can social platforms be manipulated by cyber armies and propagandists? Who protects the privacy rights of activists within a network? Who guarantees the reliability of information?

Current debates about the political impact of social media concentrate mostly on the influence they have on mass protests which can lead to the overthrow of governments, for instance in Egypt and Tunisia. Many experts, however, say the real potential of social media lies in their ability to support civil society and the public, but that this is a process which could take years and even decades.

Recipients of the 2011 BOBs Awards and prominent Web activists will discuss the fundamental issues and efforts underway.

Moderation:
Kristin Zeier
Deutsche Welle

Panelists:
Markus Beckedahl

Mohamed Ibrahim

Altaf Ullah Khan
Associate Professor

Naveen Naqvi
Print and Broadcast Journalist

Ahmed Zidan
Student Representative for Migrant Rights (Mideast Youth)

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