The impact of social media in political debate | Mark Shephard | TEDxGlasgow

if you're as old as me and I'm feeling increasingly old you'll remember that I will I grew up and there we had about two or three TV channels and we'd all go into school the following day and we'd all watched the same stuff it was kind of top-down we were told what to watch we all were able to communicate and connect with that today we've got hundreds of not thousands of different channels lots of different social media and I guess what I'm concerned about is this little you know one little group over here having their own little discussion in the yes camp one little group over here having a discussion in the no camp and the idea is you know should we're not connecting as we possibly should there has been talk of connection today it was very interesting to see some common themes coming out in these presentations and we know that social media can have an impact there was a well-placed tweet during the Irish presidential election which arguably altered the course of that election we know from our work as well the work that we've been doing we've been looking at this with schoolchildren and also with university students and we found that the school children are more malleable they're more likely to moderate their opinions when they are confronted with lots of different types of information now social media is not a bad thing per se it's also very very useful I find it very very useful to find out sometimes news ahead of you hearing it on news sites I find out about government people will provide links to government documents so there's lots of really really useful stuff out there and what we're trying to do with our research is to try and see we've looked at over 5,000 comments online and we want we try to pull out some of the pitfalls and things that can go wrong so let's have a little look at the vitriol that is out there because there are some things that we're concerned about so this the opening slide there of what we The Flaming keys so it's hashtag flaming keys there's kind of thee I enjoyed getting my little paint set out and painting those little flames for the yes and the no camp before I took that photograph I realized I did really have to clean that keyboard quite a lot because it was it wasn't quite as clean as that when I took that photograph the this is how bad some of the stuff gets and I spent five minutes looking during the week on Twitter I've anonymized these I'm not interested in who said them I'm not interested in which side they were from I'm just interested in showing you that it can get bad out there and this is the kind of stuff that is out there now this is on kind of a more free site where there's less moderation on a moderated site it can still be pretty bad a little bit more humor here arguably but you know still not very nice at all I mean there are some really good ones out there as well but they're not this is not very nice if we're honest it's you know it's it's anti Scottish and it's you know it's humorous but it's not very nice and you know what we came up with was a series of teaching exercises that we took into the classroom to get people to think critically about social media and how to engage with it and how to go online and inter interact so there are several things exercise is designed to get people to look out for things and then I suddenly thought why are we just doing this for the classroom because if we actually look at what's going on online it seems to me that everybody should know about this information and what I'm trying to do is get across this message and the reason I wanted to do TEDx was to get this out and this isn't just about the Scottish referendum this is important whether it's Democrats versus Republicans in America anywhere where there are political differences of opinion we need to think about some of the things that I'm going to tell you about before we go online so I'm going to start with tweeting and this happens probably now during the day we've not been drinking we're in a good mood and everything is cogent and it's all going along quite nicely it's not going too badly this was an observation we very quickly formed when we were looking at what data to pay and what data to analyze and we realized that the longer the evening went on the more loose people got with their vocabulary and the more they engaged in tipsy tweeting I am guilty of many of these things I am going to show you today I'm try we're all human beings tipsy tweeting I am very dreadful at this one I'll be tweeting during the day and you'll be posting things on Facebook and I'll have a beer and I just want to know about my notifications it's you know you gotta go check on Twitter what has anyone retweeted hope you're retweeting me now the the so I want to know what my notifications I'm absolutely desperate to see if anyone likes what I'm doing if they don't like me do I need to find more friends do I need to take better photographs say better things you get kind of a little bit it all gets wrapped up and you have to take care so it's there in the amber warning color of tipsy tweeting please do take care if you we've all probably done this I'm sure you can all many of you can register with this the one you should probably disconnect the phone is so there's three types of tweeting we've gone from tweeting – tipsy tweeting – tanked tweeting so we can do hashtag tipsy tweeting hashtag tanked tweeting this really just keep your phone on for emergency purposes probably get in a taxi or just turn it off and go to bed this is we've all well hopefully I've not had too many of these occasions but there are others occasions where you wake up the following day and you go well what did I really reply to that person and was it what I hoped I had done I hope I haven't put my foot in it so the big picture message that I want you to take home one of them is don't drink and digit yeah don't um we've got don't drink and drive we've got don't drink and dial this is don't drink and digit the research that we've done helped us inspire these five F's to avoid which we put together as a series of teaching exercises but I want to communicate those to you now the first one we've come across before is the foul so the first F to avoid is the foul and this one we've known we've looked at people's reactions to these different posts and when it's really foul it really winds people up it gets people agitated and polarized and people spin into these kind of you know it can get quite quite nasty so avoid being foul is our one piece of main advice the second one is the false category and these examples are examples so the Scots are anti English that is an example of a fallacious post you might find one or two people you might come across one person who is that way you can't then aggregate that up to 5.3 million people and say they're all like that and the same is true of the English you know you can't come across one English person you dislike and then say that they're all like that so the English can't accept other opinions you might find one English person who a couple of Ingush people you can't do that but it's not all of them okay so we need to move on beyond that and I you know it's the kind of class the other things in terms of false now I always whenever I'm on an airplane I always like you know when the the stewards and the stewardesses are asked to cross-check so you've got to go across and check the doors this way yeah and then the other end they swap sides and they cross check the other side this is kind of what we advise doing is that you should cross-check your information so you might find something that's really juicy and you think I'm going to retweet that but cross-check with the other side or triangulate with other different news sources to see what different people are saying about that particular point to see how much resonance or truth there is in it it's also very very easy to write a false a tweet or a false post because we're being encouraged to condense this into 140 characters or a few words some of the most interesting things I've seen are people who they go up to their word limit and then they finish point one and then they repost another comment with point two and they just keep their right their essay of course they're using the rules quite intriguingly but look out for false posts it's very very easy to fall in that trap the next one I had a researcher from Ireland and he said mark what does react mean and you've got to be careful using we all know it means Alex and in reference to often used in reference to Alex salmon but a lot of people when that is mentioned who might be communicating from England or from Wales they might not know what this term means and so therefore they are confused be I come up with plenty of words that are foggy but they're just for my own little subgroup of people who I'm trying to amuse I think there's one or two of them in here I use when something is about ninety percent fabulous but about 10 percent delinquent I call it fabulous and and so there there are little words that I create just for my little friends amusement but when I'm go trying to communicate with other people I'll try and haul those back and make sure that I'm not using fabula one okay I think that should be a word there's plenty of other ones you can come up with the next one hopefully I'm not guilty of this is flannel probably am but it's where someone goes on and they just they post the same thing over and over they keep nitpicking and making the same point or they don't really add to the debate and these are often the first people who what they'll do is they'll say right that's it I'm off I'm never coming back I'm never going to talk again on this site and then about to post later they're back and they're saying the same thing and they just won't shut up so do think about making your points concisely and you know do think about the irritation of multiple posts I always think that when I'm posting on Facebook thinking have I really done too many pictures today there's kind of that built in mechanism on your phone where three pictures suddenly alters how they look and that's probably enough and you probably shouldn't post anymore the last one I'd like to cover is flaming I probably flame a little bit with fabula newand but here's an example with more pandas in the zoo in Edinburgh Zoo than Tory MPs so here it is a case of somebody and they've been flaming flaming refers to when something is uppercase so lots of kind of shouty uppercase language or multiple question marks multiple exclamation marks and there's kind of a theory out there that once you get up to about five exclamation mark you might be wearing your underpants on your head that kind of thing so just look out for flaming and going over the top because it can wind people up you also need to think about using words like Lal as well because Lowell can mean laughs out loud to many people but it also means lots of love to some people so if someone has just died you do not want to be sending them a message with Lowell where they think it means laugh out loud and you meant lots of love so be very very careful if your flaming the big picture message I want to get out there is you know we're not on this planet long and we've all got to live together and no matter what happens let's just focus on some of the issues let's focus on some of the theories and practices and focus on the pros and cons of those and not get it not let's not let it get personal we often see a lot of attacks on politicians on institutions political parties I don't think that's particularly productive let's focus on what they're trying to get across you know everyone's trying to design better Scotland or a better world as far as I can see it they've just got a different route to that better Scotland or better world and it's up to us to make a decision as to which way we want to choose that thank you very very much

Maurice Vega

9 Responses

  1. this didn't really touch on how social media has a big impact on politics. just basically told you what not to do such as don't be foul about politicians. very unhelpful

  2. Wtf this was a waste of time. How about if a certain subject or person triggers you then don't be a fucking idiot and engage with them? The solution isn't 1000's of censorship rules. The solution is using common sense and not engaging in shitty conversation.

  3. I feel as though this is more of a "what not to write on Twitter to avoid offending people" talk, as opposed to what impact social media has on political debate.

  4. This is a condascending load of drivel. Shale is right, if this is "sort" of research funded by my ESRC dolla dolla, ill be phoning up to complain. This fat buffoon tells us nothing. Dr Sheepherd and his cronies would recognise flaming if they i spelt it out for them. Dont waste your time listening to this A load of horsedung

  5. If this is the sort of "research" funded by the ESRC, I want my money back. Patronising and saying absolutely nothing about the "impact of social media in political debate". I am not sure Professor Shephard would recognise deliberate flaming if he comes across it… it isn't just USING CAPS!!!!

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