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Social Media

It has been a tough few years for Facebook. Following Cambridge Analytica and the Russian interference in the 2016 election to ‘Definers-gate’, Myanmar, and a host of other crises, it is clear that, as Mark Zuckerberg has even now stated, ‘regulation is coming.’ Competition authorities, privacy regulators, and electoral commissions are all now grappling with the influence of big tech, but in the meantime, Facebook has begun implementing a series of much-needed policy changes and self-regulatory tweaks. In particular, transparency has emerged as a key means through which Facebook has attempted to regain the trust of the public, politicians, and regulatory authorities. These efforts are clearly no substitute for effective regulation, but have had an immediate impact that is worth …

Since the 2013 Snowden revelations, public concern over privacy issues has reached a shrill register, regularly amplified by periodic new scandals. Anxious computer owners, following the lead of Mark Zuckerberg, have taken to covering their cameras with bits of tape. Messaging services tout their end-to-end encryption. Researchers from Harvard Business School have started investigating the effectiveness of those creepy online ads that seem to know a little too much about your preferences. And behind all of these trends sits an uneasy public: according to a 2014 Pew Research Center Poll, fully 91% of Americans believe they have lost control over their personal information. Ian Bogost in The Atlantic names the enemy behind the assault on our privacy: It’s “a hazy …

Much has been written about the Austrian Parliamentary election 2017 and its aftermath. Sebastian Kurz (ÖVP) recently became Europe’s youngest head of government after reaching a coalition agreement with the right-wing FPÖ. He had cleared the path to becoming Austrian Chancellor by defeating incumbent Christian Kern (SPÖ) in a controversial election. This article examines the so-called Causa Silberstein, exploring the reasons that turned the affair into a scandal, and asking if it contributed to the defeat of the SPÖ in the Austrian Parliamentary election. The Silberstein Affair At the end of September, Austrian magazine Profil reported that Kern’s Israeli political consultant Tal Silberstein was behind two Facebook pages: ¨Wir für Sebastian Kurz¨ (¨We for Sebastian Kurz¨) and ¨Die Wahrheit über …

Digital technology has dramatically reshaped the news and media industries in the past decade. We’ve left behind a world where established news brands could rely on reaching large audiences and hence secure advertising revenues. Now there is huge uncertainty about business models, even as digital gives consumers more convenient access to news than ever before. The emergence of new players, including BuzzFeed and The Huffington Post, coupled with the growth of social networking, the introduction of smartphones and the evolution of online advertising, have contributed to a media landscape that is changing at considerable speed. We’ve been tracking the ways in which news habits online have been changing since 2012, when we launched our first survey from the Reuters Institute …
British Prime Minister David Cameron at the European Council meeting of 6th March 2014. Photo credit: The Prime Minister's Office.

The UK referendum on EU membership may be many months away but with David Cameron laying out his stall with other European leaders, we should be clear that we are embarked on the journey and already some way down the track. It is easy to think of referendums as one-shot deals but in reality they are not. Rather, referendums are long-term games and in this case the game was started in 2013. And it’s easy to think of this as a European process, but whatever grand meals may be consumed in other European capitals, this is very much a result of domestic British politics. The EU referendum is largely down to domestic drivers and the result will likely be shaped as much by the party politics between and within UK parties as by European factors.

With the failure of traditional forecasting methods to accurately predict the outcomes of the UK General Election of May 2015, can social media based predictions do any better? In this article, Andrea Ceron, Luigi Curini, and Stafano M. Iacus (University of Milan and VOICES from the Blogs) find that supervised and aggregated sentiment analysis (SASA) applied in proportional electoral systems produces the most accurate forecasts of election results.

The St Antony’s International Review (STAIR) is proud to announce the publication of its 16th issue, “Power, the State, and the Social Media Network”. The issue is available on IngentaConnect. The launch event will take place on 6 March at 6.30 pm in the Oxford Department for Politics and International Relations. In the themed section of this edition of STAIR five authors seek to shed light upon the contemporary relationship between power, the state and social media, perhaps the most pronounced and widely disseminated digital social technology the world has encountered. Supporting and affect­ing political movements from New York’s Zuccotti Park and Egypt’s Tahrir Square, “Facebook revolutions” and “Twitter revolutions” are conceived of as borne out of social media networks; they oscillate be­tween the Charybdis of an anarchic freedom and the Scylla of surveilled repression, utilized by both citizens and the state. With such power, so­cial media now holds the potential to empower and propagandize, secure and surveil, to create, and to destroy.

Much has been said of the viral Kony 2012 campaign, ‘a film and campaign by Invisible Children that aims to make Joseph Kony famous… to raise support for his arrest and set a precedent for international justice’. The last page of the Invisible Children Kony 2012 action booklet reads, ‘Joseph Kony is the worst living criminal…He remains at large because he is invisible to the world. Few know his name, even fewer know his crimes. This year we are making Joseph Kony famous, because when he is, the world will unite for justice and demand his arrest’. The Campaign The campaign kicked off with the release of a (painfully narcissistic) 30-minute film that grossly oversimplifies the conflict and the actors. …