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13th Hamburg Media Symposium: Influence and Responsibility of Social Media Content Creators

13th Hamburg Media Symposium: Influence and Responsibility of Social Media Content Creators

About 200 guests came to the Hamburg Chamber of Commerce on 30 May 2023 to discuss the social significance of social media content creators with experts from academia and practice. The theme of this year's event was "Just Saving the World for a Moment? Influence and Responsibility of Social Media Content Creators". It was moderated by HBI Director Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Schulz.

After the welcome address by Michaela Beck, Managing Director of the Hamburg Chamber of Commerce, three lectures followed, which approached the symposium topic from the perspectives of communication science, media policy and media law. Dr. Paula Nitschke from the University of Augsburg mapped the field of social media content creators as new media actors and focused on the DFG project "Politische Online-Influencer:innen als Intermediäre: Neue Konstellationen in der politischen Kommunikation" [Political Online Influencers as Intermediaries: New Constellations in Political Communication]. Hamburg's Senator for Culture and Media, Dr. Carsten Brosda, explained the challenges of media policy in dealing with influencers, and the lawyer Leo Roß from the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich addressed the regulatory challenges. In his keynote speech, Brosda emphasised that "digitalisation turns us all into potential authors. It thus leads to a highly individualised media diversity and undoubtedly also to a fundamental upheaval of the public sphere. The limits of freedom of expression, defined by clear principles and norms, apply here as well."

Hannah Immler and Leonie Wunderlich from the Leibniz Institute for Media Research (HBI) explained that influencers are often the only source of news, especially for the younger audience. The study findings of the two media researchers show that influencers also succeed in reaching followers who otherwise tend to stay away from political news offerings. More information on the study presented by Hannah Immler can be found here. More information on the study presented by Leonie Wunderlich can be found here.

Influencers could therefore integrate followers who are not in touch with information into the social discourse. However, the prerequisite is that influencers are aware of their influence on the formation of opinion and live up to it by acting transparently and with appropriate care. Eva-Maria Sommer, Director of the Media Authority Hamburg/Schleswig-Holstein (MA HSH), Dr Carsten Brosda, Dr Paula Nitschke and Leo Roß discussed this in a subsequent panel moderated by PD Dr. Jan-Hinrik Schmidt. "We rightly expect a lot of professionalism from influencers," said Eva-Maria Sommer. "A self-commitment to adhere to common values such as truth-orientation and transparency would be an important signal. For this, we need to create framework conditions in a constructive dialogue that also reward such a professional ethos."

In the second part of the event, the content creators themselves had their say. Anja Lapčević (Conscious Influence Hub, Kingfluencer, Zurich), Elisabeth Koblitz (Newsfluencer, Hamburg) and Fabian Grischkat (Digital Creator, Berlin) discussed market relevance, newsfluencing and self-commitment with moderator Kim Torster (Business Insider, Bremen) and the audience. Berlin-based influencer Fabian Grischkat was convinced that young people do want to consume news. "The news just needs to be prepared in a more target group-oriented way". He spoke out clearly in favour of labelling political advertising: "I would find it terrible, also in view of the next federal election, if we had party-funded influencers who don't make this clear.”

The 13th Hamburg Media Symposium was organised by the Leibniz Institute for Media Research | Hans-Bredow-Institut (HBI), the Hamburg section of the Research Institute Social Cohesion (RISC), the Media Authority Hamburg/Schleswig-Holstein (MA HSH) and the Hamburg Chamber of Commerce. The symposium was recorded by TIDE - Hamburg's citizens' channel and education channel - and will be broadcast on the channel's programme (Part 1: June 25, 7 pm; Part 2: July 2, 7 pm). The recording will also be available on TIDE's YouTube channel (link to follow).
To the programme of the event
Photo: Hamburg Chamber of Commerce/Ulrich Perrey; from left to right: Eva-Maria Sommer, Jan-Hinrik Schmidt, Leo Roß, Wolfgang Schulz, Carsten Brosda, Anja Lapčević, bottom row: Michaela Beck, Paula Nitschke, Kim Torster, Leonie Wunderlich, Hannah Immler.


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