Earlier this week I recorded material for TWR-UK, for The Political Exchange Podcast. The story was triggered by an article in The Economist, questioning whether social media threatens democracy. Here’s the recording from the session (original on TWR-UK site):

Here’s my notes in preparation:

How have you felt observing negative stories about the negative impact of social media on democracy?

What are the positives of social media when it comes to engaging with politics?

Have you any thoughts about how we can harness the positives and leave some of the negatives behind

Some research finds that any effects of online news on political participation – such as voting, advocacy or self-expression – still depend on traditional factors such as how interested in politics someone is to begin with. Other studies find that exposure to information, even for audiences that are not seeking it, can increase political participation, at least online. But research also suggests that the increase occurs mostly among those already interested in news and politics.” “One study found that those who avoid conflict tend to dislike political posts. Those who say they enjoy conflict, on the other hand, post political content more frequently. This study concluded that young voters are open to political information on social media only when it is presented in a civil manner.”

What would you define as the major threats to democracy from social media?

We often hear about #fakenews. How can we diagnose a fake news story when we see it?

How do you feel about the quote in the article in the Economist about how social media ‘reinforces bias’ and ‘aggravate partisanship’?

Is it a bit unfair to call a site like Facebook a place where ‘pettiness, scandal and outrage’ are rife?

Encouragement for Christians who want to be politically engaged online?

“Well, for a start, there are lots of biblical reasons to do so. Voting recognises the equality of all people and their right to speak and be heard (Deuteronomy 10:17-19). What is more voting is a simple yet significant way we can do something about politics in our nation (Psalms 34:14). And it is one way that we can obey God’s command to seek the good of those around us and our nation as a whole (Jeremiah 29: 5-6).” *Can demonstrate how Biblical thinking impacts the specific policies that we wish to support – demonstrate intelligent engagement.

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