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HAT Forum - "The Social Media Juggernaut"

  • The 519, Rm 304 (check lobby screen to be sure) 519 Church Street Toronto, ON, M4Y 2C9 Canada (map)

Social Media has become an integral part of people’s life. Today, 3.5 billion people use social media on regular basis  - 45% of the earth population. On average, individuals spend 2.5 hours per day on social media platforms.(1)

Facebook is by far the largest social media platform with 2.4 billion active users. Facebook generated $56B in revenues and $7B in profits in 2018 (2) . As of June 16th, 2019, Facebook market capitalization exceeded $520B, the company employs 35,500 people. To put these numbers in perspective, Facebook market value equates to the total value of Canada’s oil and gas industry (3)– an industry that employs over 900,000 people. (4)

Questions:

-          How many of the people present use social media? Please explain your decision to use or abstain from using social media.

-          There has been much chatter of late about the potential danger social media poses to democracy due its role in spreading misinformation and fake news. Do you believe social media has a pernicious impact on democracy?

-          Considering that a majority of people obtain their news from social media (68% in the United States (5). Do you think information on social media should be censored? If yes, who should do the censorship? 

-          A number of studies have shown that social media can be as addictive as cocaine, with potentially 20% of users suffering such an addiction (6). Assuming these studies are correct, should using social media come with a warning label? Should we restrict social media use the same way we restrict smoking?

-          Social Media Companies like Facebook claim connecting people as their mission. Do you believe social media companies have fostered better social connections?

-          Many social media companies have been accused or mishandling or illegally sharing users private data. Do you believe social media companies have been judicious in their use and protection of users data? What can be done to improve user privacy on social media networks? Is losing our privacy a fair trade off for having social media access?

-          Multiple extreme groups have used social media platforms to spread their hate speech. Do you believe social media companies should be held responsible for the content shared on their platforms? Do you believe social media companies have a done a good job in weeding out hateful and violent content? Should social media companies be given the power to decide on what constitutes offensive content? Or should a third party do the vetting? If so, which third party?

-          What do you believe the future holds for social media? What’s next?

Reference:

1.        (https://blog.hootsuite.com/social-media-statistics-for-social-media-managers/#general

2.        https://www.statista.com/statistics/268604/annual-revenue-of-facebook/ , https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/jan/30/facebook-fourth-quarter-profits-revenues-earnings

3.        https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/daily-quotidien/180924/dq180924d-eng.htm

4.        https://www.international.gc.ca/investors-investisseurs/assets/pdfs/download/Oil_and_Gas.pdf

5.        https://blog.hubspot.com/news-trends/two-thirds-americans-still-get-news-on-social-media

https://www.civilized.life/articles/facebook-as-addictive-as-cocaine/

NOTE: The HAT Forum adheres strictly to the City of Toronto Policy on Non-Discrimination (http://www.the519.org/public/content/policy-files/The519SpaceUsePolicy.pdf)