social media


Just a few days ago, I wrote about an Australian scholar expressing skepticism about the importance of Facebook as a news channel. I referred to Pew Research on the subject from 2016. Now the 2017 results are in: As of August 2017, two-thirds (67%) of Americans report that they get at least some of their news on social media – with two-in-ten doing so often, according to a new survey from Pew Research Center. This is a modest increase since early 2016, when (during the height of the presidential primaries) 62% of U.S.

A window to discuss public intellectuals

Posted on March 24, 2017  /  0 Comments

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We talk about time-bound opportunities that open up for effective policy intervention: policy windows. Similar “windows” open up in public discourse. One needs to grab them before they disappear. Of course, one can seek to expand and shape the window as well. Few days back, an online publication carried a few pieces on public intellectuals.

Communication policy in the age of Facebook: the paper

Posted on March 17, 2017  /  0 Comments

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Never a good idea to read a paper, even though one existed because I wrote it up at the request of the organizers of the Manipal conference. Here is the conclusion: The communication space has been transformed by the attention economy. Thinking on policy has changed, with policy expected to set the ground rules for all participants rather than just define the role of the state. Operational challenges are significant given the difficulties of delimiting the scope of communication policy. But even more challenging is that theory has not caught up with practice.

Social media are the public square of the 21st Century

Posted on February 28, 2017  /  0 Comments

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In 1997, twenty years ago, I wrote an overview piece on what I thought would be the “horizon” issues telecom regulators should think about. It was a book chapter in a book edited by Bill Melody: Samarajiva, R, (1997). “Telecommunication regulation in the information age,” in Telecom reform: Principles, policies and regulatory practices, ed. W. H.

How people actually use social media

Posted on March 6, 2016  /  0 Comments

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We at LIRNEasia have been more interested in the outcomes of new forms of communication, especially by those hitherto excluded, than on the modalities of communication. But that does not mean we’re uninterested. Why we post looks informative. TO SOME, Facebook, Twitter and similar social-media platforms are the acme of communication—better, even, than face-to-face conversations, since more people can be involved. Others think of them more as acne, a rash that fosters narcissism, threatens privacy and reduces intelligent discourse to the exchange of flippant memes.

Incremental improvement in networking because of social media

Posted on January 31, 2016  /  0 Comments

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Knowing the importance of networks, LIRNEasia has always probed about circles of friends and contacts and the role of ICTs in maintaining those relationships. Good to see the results of a study focusing entirely on that: The survey asked 2,000 people, chosen because they were regular social-network users, and a further 1,375 adults in full-time employment, who might or might not have been such users, how many friends they had on Facebook. The results showed, to no surprise whatsoever on the part of Dr Dunbar, that the average number of Facebook friends in the two groups were Dunbar-sized numbers: 155 and (when those who did not use Facebook at all were excluded) 187, respectively. Other details matched Dr Dunbar’s earlier work, too. This described a pair of smaller socially relevant numbers—a support clique (people you would rely on in a crisis) of about five and a sympathy group (those you would call close friends) of about 15.

Social media in Myanmar elections

Posted on December 20, 2015  /  0 Comments

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Still waiting for a systematic account, but until then, here’s a journalistic account that quotes our friend Nay Phone Latt and has a picture of him in his constituency office. Facebook has been an obvious choice for most, and the National League for Democracy, or NLD, which won a landslide victory over the Union Solidarity and Development Party, or USDP, has been particularly successful at leveraging social media as a tool. “That was how I communicated with my people and my constituency, mostly through these accounts. People would send me questions, responses and opinions via my Facebook page and account,” said Nay Phone Latt, a newly elected Yangon Region lawmaker for the NLD. “One of my friends called it ‘the silent revolution.

Instagram ad platform reveals user statistics

Posted on November 4, 2015  /  0 Comments

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Instagram facilitates photo/ video sharing and social networking. Instagram community consists of over 400 million and is one of the largest ad platforms in the world. Access to this ad platform provides access to Instagram user data. Based on this, we acquired Instagram user data on Sri Lanka, Nepal, Myanmar and Bangladesh. When comparing these four countries, Bangladesh has the highest Instagram users and Myanmar has the lowest.

Social media and people living in ideological bubbles

Posted on May 8, 2015  /  0 Comments

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Cass Sunstein wrote Republic.com in 2001. I have the book. He updated it. The basic thesis was that people would enclose themselves in ideological bubbles and not hear the other side.

Benefits and costs of mobiles in Myanmar

Posted on November 24, 2014  /  1 Comments

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For many, the only thing new about what journalists write about mobiles in Myanmar would be Myanmar. But I was thinking about the hate speech angle, which is, without question, going to be extremely significant in that country. Mobiles and social media are not the causes of hate speech; they are the enablers and accelerators of hate speech. Like in the old Yugoslavia, there would have been a lot of enmity toward “the other” in Myanmar. But the whole thing was bottled up and suppressed, not because the military government was against hate speech, but against all speech.
In a fascinating piece of writing that seamlessly moves between the “real” world of the news and the “real” world of television drama, Maureen Dowd picks up and expands upon, a stray comment from President Obama: The murderous melee that ensues is redolent of President Obama’s provocative remark at a Democratic Party fund-raiser in New York, talking about the alarming aggressions flaring up around the world and alluding to the sulfurous videos of the social-media savvy ISIS fiends beheading American journalists. “If you watch the nightly news,” the president said, “it feels like the world is falling apart.” Trying to reassure Americans who feel frightened and helpless, he posited that “the truth of the matter is that the world has always been messy. In part, we’re just noticing now because of social media and our capacity to see in intimate detail the hardships that people are going through.” Now this is a fascinating research subject.

Myanmar Parliamentarians keen to learn about ICTs

Posted on July 30, 2014  /  0 Comments

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Eighteen members of Parliament from six different political parties, including the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party and the opposition National League for Democracy, assembled before start time this past weekend for an ICT awareness program organized by the Myanmar ICT for Development Organization (MIDO) where LIRNEasia supplied the content. They then stayed engaged throughout, asked many questions and asked for more. This was a unique experience that, in our view, bodes well for the country. The harmonious interactions among politicians from different parties were impressive. But even more was the genuine interest in learning about the changes that were coming to their country.

Social media in political campaigns: Do they move votes?

Posted on July 2, 2014  /  1 Comments

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In a recent book chapter Nalaka Gunawardene and Chanuka Wattegama concluded that they had not, at least in Colombo in 2011.* Now the question is being asked again, in social media savvy Indonesia. But do retweets, likes and pageviews translate into support on election day? Conversations that start online radiate beyond the mostly urban, affluent users of social media – who are “social influencers in their environment, online and offline”, said Yose Rizal, the co-founder of PoliticaWave, an Indonesian social media monitoring group that is consulting for Jokowi’s campaign. Social media activism has already had off-line effects on the country’s politics.
I saw first hand the futility of the Mullahs’ efforts to prevent Internet access by Iranian youth when I was in Tehran at the height of the Arab Spring. But what is new is that it’s the Minister of Culture who is highlighting the hypocrisy and futility. According to “The Iran Primer,” a website and publication of the United States Institute of Peace, “Iran is one of the most tech-savvy societies in the developing world, with an estimated 28 million Internet users, led by youth,” the site says. “Iran boasts between 60,000 and 110,000 active blogs, one of the highest numbers in the Middle East, led by youth.” The Iranian authorities admit, reluctantly, that it is almost impossible to rein in Iranians who are eager to know about the outside world and know how to use alternative means to gain access to the web.

Facebook + Twitter = Weixin

Posted on January 21, 2014  /  0 Comments

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Appears Facebook will have competition in Asia. “Even if Facebook had permission, it’s probably too late,” says Wang Xiaofeng, a technology analyst at Forrester Research. “Weixin has all the functionality of Facebook and Twitter, and Chinese have already gotten used to it.” Weixin is the creation of Tencent, the Chinese Internet powerhouse known for its QQ instant messenger service and its popular online games. Tencent, which is publicly traded and is worth more than $100 billion on the Hong Kong exchange, is now seeking to strengthen that grip in social networking and expand into new areas, such as online payment and e-commerce.

China tries to control social media

Posted on September 11, 2013  /  0 Comments

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How can a person be responsible for, and have his punishment decided by, what others do? But this seems to be the thinking of the Chinese Communist Party. “They want to sever those relationships and make the relationship on Weibo atomized, just like relations in Chinese society, where everyone is just a solitary atom,” Mr. Hao said. In May, his microblog accounts on Sina and other Chinese services were deleted without any explanation.