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What role do social media play in endangering or promoting social cohesion?

What role do social media play in endangering or promoting social cohesion?

Around 50 international academics from the field of social media research discussed the question of what role social and online media play in endangering or promoting social cohesion and what methods can be used to research these issues. The international symposium entitled "Indicators of Social Cohesion in Social Media and Online Media" was organized by the Social Media Observatory (SMO) of the Hamburg section of the Research Institute Social Cohesion (RISC). Research in this area faces major challenges: These include data protection issues, limited data access by platforms, the need for highly specialized computer skills and cost-intensive analysis options.

The symposium opened in Hamburg's Betahaus with a context collapse, an alternative keynote format to promote networking and discussion among the participants. In their keynote speech, Dr. Mykola Makhortykh (University of Bern) and Dr. Aleksandra Urman (University of Zurich) spoke about how social media strengthens or undermines social cohesion in Russia in the context of Russia's war in the Ukraine. Dr. Meg Jing Zeng (Utrecht University) shed light on activism and polarization within the Chinese digital diaspora.

Further keynotes were given by speakers from Australia, Denmark and the Netherlands: Prof. Dr. Axel Bruns (Queensland University of Technology) spoke about dynamics of destructive polarization in mainstream and social media using the example of the Australian referendum "Voice to Parliament". Prof. Dr. Lena Frischlich (University of Southern Denmark) gave an overview of new challenges for social cohesion through alternative news and platforms as well as the spread of conspiracy theories and presented strategies for promoting democratic resilience for discussion. Prof. Dr. Petter Törnberg (University of Amsterdam) argued in his keynote that social media drives polarization by creating structures and dynamics that pit users against each other, creating a tribalized form of political discourse. The symposium was organized by Dr. Felix Victor MünchDr. Gregor WiedemannJan Rau, PD Dr. Jan-Hinrik Schmidt and Dr. Wiebke Schoon.

In the picture from left to right: Talisa Schwall, Dr. Eckehard Olbrich, Prof. Dr. Axel Bruns, Yuru Li, Philipp Kessling, Prof. Dr. Meg Jing Zeng, Dr. Mike Farjam, Dr. Felix Victor Münch, Patrick Zerrer, Paul Pressmann, Hendrik Meyer


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