Global Agenda Council on Social Media 2012-2014
Social media is changing rapidly. New companies, tools and apps appear all the time, with varying degrees of success. Many are now offshoots of or mergers with established platforms. The launch of Twitter’s new #music service and Facebook’s takeover of Instagram are examples. Generally, Facebook still dominates the sphere. The website accounts for 83% of the time people spend on social media websites in the United States, according to comScore. That said, other players are starting to carve out space. Tumblr and Pinterest – two platforms that encourage image sharing – make up almost 8% of online social networking. This reflects the growing interest in visual media, a trend underlined by the global boom in online video.
What the Council is doing about it
The Global Agenda Council on Social Media believes social media can have a significant positive impact. By giving a platform to anyone who wants to use it, it has the potential to open and democratize societies. But social media can also create an illusion of community, diversity, power and freedom. In addition, it is unclear where – if anywhere – the limits of communication lie. Social media may give disproportionate exposure to radicalized voices.
The Council has been examining the tension between identity and anonymity. On the one hand, people can use social media to develop distinct communities and connections. Often these emerge anonymously. In the transgender community, for example, people can use anonymity as a protective cover with which to explore their identities. But if societies are to build systems and commerce based on trust, online identities must at times be authentic. The Council has also investigated social media literacy. Social media can narrow or influence the world view of their users in ways those users do not always understand. For example, algorithms built into social media contain formula biases that foreground news from people who match the user’s profile while filtering out comments from people who might offer a different perspective.
“That said, other players are starting to carve out space. Tumblr and Pinterest – two platforms that encourage image sharing – make up almost 8% of online social networking. This reflects the growing interest in visual media, a trend underlined by the global boom in online video.”
Over the next year, the Council plans to explore challenges relating to time, networks and impact on individuals, societies and groups. The Council hopes to ensure that understanding is not limited to a small cross-section of society, and seeks to develop an output that will reflect this ambition.
To get involved please contact
Research Analyst: Stefan Hall, Global Agenda Councils, firstname.lastname@example.org
Council Manager: Alejandra Guzman, Senior Manager, Media, Entertainment and Information Industries, email@example.com
Forum Lead: Diana El-Azar, Senior Director, Media, Entertainment and Information Industries, firstname.lastname@example.org