'Social media is nothing more than digital coffee place,' says political scientist

Science - Technology
Wed, 6 Dec 2023 8:04 GMT
The power of social media to bring about a “revolution” has diminished and it has turned into a "digital coffee place," a political scientist said.
'Social media is nothing more than digital coffee place,' says political scientist

'Social media can only influence, change politics in collaboration with private sector, government, and other media actors,' senior lecturer at Lund University tells Anadolu.

The power of social media to bring about a “revolution” has diminished and it has turned into a "digital coffee place," a political scientist said.

Speaking to Anadolu, Anamaria Dutceac Segesten, a senior lecturer in European Studies at Lund University in Sweden, said that social media can only influence politics in collaboration with private sector, government, and other media actors.

Pointing out the importance of communication as a strategic element in public diplomacy, Segesten said that social media is an important digital platform in this context.

"It was a new technology that kind of held the seeds for positive transformation, for democracy, for improvement. But I think now we don't think of it this way anymore," she said.

She said that social media has become a normalized technology, adding: "We as scientists, for example, know that social media by itself cannot have an independent effect. It may affect politics or communication only in a bigger context with the help of other elements."

Emphasizing that social media alone does not have an impact, Segesten said: "If we are on social media and we are citizens and we just discuss about politics or discuss about our community, our neighborhood in our city, just us talking is not going to lead to anything. But if we get the mayor, if we get some companies, some industries to listen to what we have to say, then we can really together change something."

"Social media as a space of discussion is nothing more but a digital coffee place. But social media together with other actors like the private sector, the government, other media as well, they together can change and affect politics," she added.

Pointing out that artificial intelligence is now more on the agenda as a new technology, Segesten said that although this technology causes problems such as deep fakes or content manipulation, it also contains solutions for these issues.

'States can do a lot in fight against disinformation'

Addressing the fight against disinformation, Segesten underlined that "states can do a lot."


"In a sense, they can spend a lot of resources to educate citizens in media literacy. To have an educated citizen is a citizen that is immune to receiving manipulated false information," she said, adding it is the first step in the fight against disinformation.

She continued: "Step two is also to empower independent and free media, journalists that can do independent work and find the truth without being affected by political interests. And for that also takes some preparation and skills which are training citizens, educators, journalists, and state communicators, public service communicators, to identify potential errors, falsities."

"And finally, because it's something that I am working with at the moment, even artificial intelligence technologies can be used to detect and fact-check problems, detect media manipulations, and improve the quality of information generally," she said.

Segesten mentioned that the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the European Commission, and some other major organizations have created guidelines for the use of reliable artificial intelligence, saying: "So, for transparent, accountable, and informed consent-based artificial intelligence, there are some principles we can follow. It is possible to create technologies that work for good, not for bad."

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