Technology & Social Media
Understandably, many people want extremist groups and the users who support them off Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and other sites. But a strategy that relies solely on blocking extremist messages ignores not only how hard it is to censor the Internet but also the political challenges of regulating speech.
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Throughout the Social Good Summit, various panels and participants discussed social media and the impact it is having on the world today. Often social media is seen in positive light as a method of bringing individuals together to amplify action, educate people on new issues and build new networks at a cheaper transaction price. But for many, Syria represents a darker side of social media where its primary outcome is not bringing people together, but rather helps people bear witness to atrocities in the world’s most brutal conflict today.
A large part of advocating for human rights comes involves bearing witness. While we will never be able to prevent all the atrocities in the world, the hope is that by bringing these realities to light we can gather the political will to make them stop. In this regard, the media plays a huge role in how we see and understand the events around us. But as the protest movements of the last two years has highlighted, a divide between professional journalist and citizen journalism has emerged and at times, can be at odds with one another.
Since coming into office as Secretary of State in 2009, Hillary Clinton has pushed an agenda of “21stCentury Statecraft” to adapt foreign policy to the 21st century world. A major part of this agenda involves increasing and encouraging the use of connection technologies in foreign policy. The State Department is not alone in this effort as other countries increase their e-diplomacy presence. But in the wake of the protests outside U.S. embassies in the Middle East this month, one issue raised was the role of social media in addressing and responding to the situation as it unfolded.