Is Social Media Destroying Democracy?
2019, Summit Confronting the Disinformation Age, Media + Information, Democracy
About Confronting the Disinformation Age
SFU Public Square’s 2019 Community Summit considered how the proliferation of disinformation is impacting society and challenging our capacity to make informed decisions about our economic, social, and political lives. Together, we co-created strategies to ensure stronger and healthier information ecosystems and stimulate more connected and resilient communities.
The Disinformation Age
Information is fundamental to our existence. Without it, we cannot understand or effectively respond to the events that shape our world. Throughout history, campaigns to deliberately spread false information to influence public opinion or obscure the truth have been launched by individuals, organizations, and governments. But today, we’re living in a new age of information facilitated primarily by digital technology. These advancements offer us extraordinary access to facts and data but also allow for harmful, inaccurate, and manipulated information to be created and disseminated at an unprecedented speed, scope, and scale. Falsehoods are pitted against facts in competition for our attention and technology is used to exploit our cognitive functioning without repercussion. In what is being called the “post-truth” era, the distortion of our information landscape is eroding our trust in institutions, political systems, the media, and each other.
Debaters – For
Colin Bennett received his Bachelor's and Master's degrees from the University of Wales, and his Ph.D from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Since 1986 he has taught in the Department of Political Science at the University of Victoria, where he is now Professor. His research has focused on the social implications of new information technologies. He has completed policy reports on privacy and data protection for the Canadian government, the Canadian Standards Association, the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, the European Commission, the UK Information Commissioner and others. He is currently working on a comparative research project on the use of personal data by political parties and election campaigns.
Debaters – Against
Nasma Ahmed is a technologist and community organizer based in the city we now know as Toronto. Nasma is currently the Director of the Digital Justice Lab, whose mission is to build towards a more just and equitable digital future. Digital Justice Lab is a project on the shared platform by Tides Canada Initiative. She has extensive experience working alongside the public service and the non-profit sector, focusing on technology capacity building. She was the 2017/2018 Open Web Fellow with Mozilla and Ford Foundation, through her fellowship she worked on building organizational digital security and running a youth workshop series called "Digital Future of Privacy".