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Civil Servants and Social Media: A minefield or the new frontier?

Lunchtime Talk by Dr Dennis GrubeDepartment of Politics and International Studies (POLIS)

The talk highlighted some of the unintended consequences of social media engagement by civil servants:  people who once 'weren't household names, even in their own housholds', are now becoming identifiable and active participants in social media. With social media literacy among them in its infancy, there are many examples of spurious use of official government Twitter handles. Should these inexperienced broadcasters be trained more widely in reputation management, and how does public perception of once anonoul collective insitutions change when individual employees become spokespersons and targets by using social media communication channels? Is trust in the efficacy and solidity of the civil service being undermined, or is it becoming more transparent and accountable?

Dennis’ research interests at POLIS focus on the study of administrative leadership, and in particular the ways in which senior civil servants contribute to public debates in countries that operate under the Westminster system of government. 


Death by 1,000 Likes: Is Social Media a Threat to Democracy?

Samantha Bradshaw, Oxford Internet Institute (OII)

The use of computational propaganda to shape public attitudes has become one of the most pressing challenges for democracy. Over the past few years, there have been several attempts by foreign operatives, political parties, and populist movements to manipulate the outcome of elections by spreading disinformation, amplifying divisive rhetoric, and micro-targeting polarizing messages to voters.
By co-opting the advertising infrastructure, algorithms, and the user agreements that support social media platforms, computational propaganda has been leveraged to sow discord, dissent, and division among citizens in democracies around the world. The talk examined the global phenomenon of social media manipulation, as well as the legal and private self-regulatory responses currently being developed to address it.


The talk was hosted by the Technology and New Media Research Cluster, Department of Sociology.



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