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Social networks : A place for civil dispute

no, the German policy not to underestimate the Internet. If a proof is necessary, so it Green has provided-Chairman Robert Habeck to the beginning of the year,

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Social networks : A place for civil dispute

no, the German policy not to underestimate the Internet. If a proof is necessary, so it Green has provided-Chairman Robert Habeck to the beginning of the year, as he logged out of Twitter and Facebook. The response to his digital "Detox campaign" was among politicians and journalists are strikingly large.

Habeck justified his step with his role as a Concerned and responsible: He had become with his family, the victim of a data Klaus. At the same time, he saw in his Video for the Thuringia election in an error – triggered by Twitter, as he himself admitted. In February, Angela Merkel moved, as you lock your personal Facebook profile.

gone are The days when German politicians, their Absence in the network has been accused of. In the election campaign of 2017 the members of the Bundestag were to be found almost complete in the social media. Almost two-thirds were on Facebook and Twitter. Only three percent were without an Account. As the result of a study by the Hamburg Hans-Bredow-Institute. Now, who is – or the social media of the back turn.

Whether it brings the individual politicians a lot, is quite questionable. The only study, it was examined whether the candidates by way of their Online activities, votes, is almost ten years old. The finding of the münster-based researchers at the time: It brings almost no votes. This may now be different. The hard evidence is.

Significant dependencies

But not only politics, but also journalism in the social media: The Online editorial offices of press and broadcasting work channel in Germany, and primarily use Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and Instagram. There, they will shift many tasks, such as Publishing, Research, discussion, and the audience-Monitoring.

in order To embark in a significant dependence of the platforms, the operators define rules and conditions for Success. Their activities are increasingly determined by foreign. This is also true for public broadcasting, the uses, especially with its youth offer "wireless" on the social media. As a means against the "generation of demolition" is to be reached for the young audience where they are staying.

politics and journalism are falling further and further into a dilemma: on the one Hand, they use social media as communication channels for their own purposes and thus increase their importance for the formation of public opinion. On the other hand, you should cast a critical eye on the platform operator, their market power increases.

the audience Also contributes to this, as the Numbers of the "Digital News Report, 2018" occupy Nearly a third of online users in Germany at the Internet as a main news source. Only the TV is more important. Seven percent receive their news primarily from social media. Among the 19 - to 24-Year-old, a fifth-informed even the primarily on Facebook, Youtube and WhatsApp.

Social media are not only an important source of news, but also a scene, where in the meantime significant parts of the media-related events take place. Whether it is a Franck ribéry's Steak with gold leaf, or the vacation photos of the Bavarian Green party boss Katharina Schulze on Instagram – editors here to find your topics, make them on the mass media.

The interplay between journalism, social media, and the audience is always more on the Agenda. This is particularly obvious in the case of Twitter. Only four percent of the German population use Twitter at least weekly, the results of the last year's ARD/ZDF-Online-study. However, Tweets are often the occasion for reporting, because politicians and journalists use the service intensively. Virtuoso operates the Donald Trump of this game, also the AfD benefited from it.

lesson Habeck

The case Habeck is an educational piece on risks and side-effects of social media on the loss of control in the digital environment and the uncertainty of their own actions. One must keep always before our eyes: humanity is historically, it's a completely new way, now that, in principle, each public and, potentially, a global audience reach it can occur intentionally or unintentionally, for Good and for Bad.

This property is but at the same time, unlike in the traditional mass media are largely unregulated. Although the press and radio reach a constant to a large audience, but its use is restrained by legal and professional standards. The freedom of the media is connected to your claim in accordance with the responsibility to audiences and society. In addition, their effect is reasonably predictable: it is formed by the direct contact with the public, their causality is linear and well-researched.

Much less predictable, however, is the dynamics of the interaction chains, which are initiated in social media and far-reaching effects. Difficult to understand the operation of the Algorithms, which include human activities mitbeeinflu. Greater, as would be expected, must be the responsibility of the platform operator – but there is a lack. Their business model is based on the collection and analysis of data to conduct forecasts.

The mere Win of attention, in order to gain even more data, it promotes a "radical indifference" to the quality of the information, such as the Harvard Professor Shoshana Zuboff in her book "The age of surveillance capitalism" criticized. The result are collateral damage for democracy and society.

Incorrect rewards for the political discourse

The platform logic creates a false reward system for political discourse. Social media are a kind of Bad-mood-Generator for the community and can influence, indirectly, also elections. The company, which observed herself in the mirror of the media, one gets a distorted picture. Who wants to stand out, you must trenchant, provocative, aggressive, negative, and quick to communicate.

This atmosphere of "the great petulance" (Bernhard Pörksen) is the opposite of what is considered Ideal of political discourse, namely, the diverse, respectful, rational and in-depth exchange of arguments. The self-doubt and the willingness to be of better arguments, to convince, to form the core of a deliberative understanding of Public.

In the Internet collapse the contexts that help in the everyday world, in situations, to understand and to behave appropriately. Where – as in many Places on the Internet – all of these notes and rules are missing, it can lead to the undercutting of competition that is difficult to stop. This encourages populist forces on the Right and Left, the benefit of anger, fear and boundaries. For a rule, injuries, significant premiums can be on the Internet once:

That Fake News spread further and faster than verified reports that has been proven in a study, published in 2018 in "Science". However, not only a higher attention value beckons as a reward, but also the applause of the Anxious for the brave rule-breakers. Rules are interpreted as censorship and an expression of a repressive system. Is imagined a kind of self-defense situation, to justify extraordinary means.

room for Propaganda

Because in social media, in many cases, there is no "Gatekeeper" to check the quality, also opens up significant scope for Propaganda. Timothy Snyder, Eastern Europe expert at Yale, shows in his book "the road to freedom", as the Russian side, democracies are destabilized. He traces in detail the disinformation campaign in the war against Ukraine. Thus he also speaks to those critics, the German media has accused anti-Russian attitude.

How can we stop the downward spiral of more and more aggressive speech and counter-speech? To let provocations go unanswered, advises the Motto: "Don't feed the troll!" The Oxford educational historian, Timothy Garton Ash recommends in his book, "freedom of speech", a "robust Civility", so no large sensitivity and arousal readiness. Legally can be a maximum of minimum standards to establish how the network enforcement of the law has been attempted.

Desirable positive would, in addition, counter-models, i.e., places of civilized dispute, and outside of the platforms. This is a task of journalism, and especially of public broadcasting, so his job is to promote the process of free individual and public formation of opinion.

More about

Mourn 2.5 million Followers? Angela Merkel is leaving Facebook

Joachim Huber

Christoph Neuberger is Professor for communication science with a focus on "media change" at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University of Munich.

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