On Tuesday August 30th (2016), it was reported that the German government had asked Facebook to remove hateful and illegal posts more quickly, as part of its corporate social responsibility. Social Media companies however are typically reluctant to be very proactive in their approach to such removal, preferring to rely on notifications from the users, because they do not want to be seen to edit the content that is shared since this might lead to them being labelled a publisher. The moment a social media company becomes a publisher it would become liable to media regulations and open to libel laws. This was also the position that Zuckerberg reaffirmed one day earlier during a Q&A in Italy where he said: “No, we’re a tech company, we’re not a media company,” Facebook builds “the tools, we do not produce any of the content.”
The POET (Public Outreach Engagement Tool) project is currently running a second round of interviews to map out how academics at the University of Nottingham are using social media in the context of public engagement, especially in regards to the Impact and Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) agendas. We previously conducted one round of interviews with science researchers, and have held a workshop to think about what the output of this tool could look like. Our project is still at the stage where we are collecting information about how social media is used by academics as part of their working day – to what extent it is used, the feelings associated with using it, whether their motivations for using it are work related, and whether this tool would be useful for any current public engagement work.
Weaponisation of artificial intelligence (AI) presents one of the greatest ethical and technological challenges in the 21st century and has been described as the third revolution in warfare, after the invention of gunpowder and nuclear weapons. Despite the vital importance of this development for modern society, legal and ethical practices, and technological turning point, there is little systematic study of public opinion on this critical issue. This interdisciplinary project addresses this gap. Our objective is to analyse what factors determine public attitudes towards the use of fully autonomous weapons. To do this, we put the public at the center of the policy debate, starting with youth engagement in political and decision-making processes.
Have you ever actually read the terms and conditions before signing up to a website or ordering something online? These long, wordy documents are a form of consumer protection designed to make sure we are fully informed when we agree to an online contract. They are supposed to ensure we are making a conscious decision to sign up to a service with full knowledge of the consequences.
The Social Media & Society conference series has been bringing together social media researchers annually since 2010. This year’s meeting in London (UK) was the first time it was held outside of Canada. For CaSMa this offered an excellent opportunity to present the results of the work Andrew Moffat at the Horizon CDT did for our POET project. Follow these links for more information about Andrew’s project, poster he presented at SM&S 16 and the report he wrote about his work.
As part of our ongoing collaboration with the Gada for the civic-engagement in the digital age project, we participated in the Connected Life 2016 conference that was held at the Oxford Internet Institute on June 20th and 21st. We were particularly interested in this conference because of the deliberate efforts by the (student) organizers to include not only academics but also activists and civic/civil-society NGOs among the speakers and discussion panels. While the first day of the conference consisted of academic talks, the second day was organized around workshops and panel discussions by activist/NGOs.
On June 16th we joined civil society organizations like Privacy International, the European Digital Rights association EDRi and various others for a half-day civil society summit organized by the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS). On the agenda were a brief overview of the “Big Issues in Privacy and Data Protection in 2016” by Joe MCNamee of EDRi followed by three one-hour sessions on “Implementation of the GDPR, consistency, flexibility, guidelines” introduced by Anna Fielder (Privacy International); “Reform of e-Privacy Directive: What’s at stake?” introduced by Prof. Ian Brown (Oxford Internet Institute); and “Necessity and proportionality and data protection” introduced by Ralf Bendrath (German Working Group on Data Retention and Digitale Gesellschaft).