“Social media has had such a bad press in the last few years. It’s been blamed for fake news, extremism, radicalisation and terrorism.” On the 16th of November Helen Margetts, Director of the Oxford Internet Institute, presented Imagine2027’s fourth talk, exploring the digital world’s relationship with equality.
She began by establishing how social media provides a platform for individuals (who may otherwise be apolitical) to engage in tiny political acts which can amount to greater societal changes – a concept explored in her book Political Turbulence. She expanded on the topic by examining how the internet further impacts economics, equalising the playing field and possibly being used to overcome inequalities in social isolation, social poverty and education.
Nevertheless, Margetts concluded her talk by emphasising the need for open access to digital data (such as information collected by social media companies or the government) for social science research to help address problems such as computational propaganda, ‘cyberwar’, filter bubbles and cyberbullying. The talk was well received and highlights were tweeted by audience members. The night ended with a Q&A where the audience were able to ask questions, including one on “whether there’s going to be any more transformation in social media” by 2027. Afterwards, Margetts kindly stayed for an interview with Anthony Carpen.