Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and WeChat are playing both a positive and negative role in social cohesion, conflict dynamics, and broader social issues. Social media can incite hatred and violence, fuel polarization, and build support for authoritarian leaders. Social media can also help people combat hate speech, increase awareness through online dialogue and accurate information, and empower social movements to support democracy and social change. Yet few understand how social media works, how it uses a new “surveillance economy” and the extent of the threats social media poses to societies around the world. Understanding social media algorithms, bots, echo chambers, and the “attention economy” require a new set of capacities.
The Toda Peace Institute’s programme on Social Media and Peacebuilding aims to achieve the following goals:
- To increase public understanding of the role of social media in both promoting hate and division, and in fostering greater understanding and democracy
- To foster greater skill and capacity to use social media to support social cohesion, democracy and peace processes.
- To document the positive and negative impact of social media on conflict dynamics in communities and countries around the world
- To provide a menu of creative options for addressing social media threats, including recommendations for civil society, governments, and the technology and finance sectors.
- To foster greater communication and joint problem solving between technology companies, governments, the financial sector and peacebuilding organisations