A Balance Between Information and Transparency

December 3 2012 | 09:39 AM

The May Chidiac Foundation-Media Institute (MCF-MI) and the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) held a media conference bringing together influential figures and leading experts from across the globe.  Discussions revolved around the theme “Free Speech and Social Media” and focused on the impact of technology on social, economic and political behavior, open communication, and transparency. The conference was held on Saturday, December 1st, 2012 in Beirut, Lebanon.

The speakers consisted of senior executives from the media and communication industries in Lebanon and the region. The audience included economists, media and telecommunication experts and politicians. Hillary Clinton’s Senior Advisor for Innovation at the Unites States Department of State delivered a keynote address in which he discussed the role of social media in geopolitics in relation to the Middle East and the Arab Spring.

Ross’s speech addressed the role of social media in geopolitics and its relevance to the Arab Uprisings and Middle Eastern dynamics. Many analysts say the shift is a movement of economic and political power from the West, represented by the United States and the European Union, to the East, represented by China and India, as well as other emerging economies. Ross claims it is a power shift from ruling hierarchies to citizens. He claimed that the Arab Spring facilitated the uprisings but did not induce them, “Security without liberty is oppressive, liberty without security is dangerous”.

He claimed that the Arab Spring facilitated the uprisings but did not induce them, further adding that the new media environment favors governments that do not restrict their citizens of the freedom of communications. He, however, emphasized the need to achieve a balance, “Security without liberty is oppressive, liberty without security is dangerous”.

The session on social media and electoral campaigns aimed at shedding light on political communication over social networks as well as the usage of social media tools for influencing the electoral votes. Can the use of social networks backfire when used by public figures? Are there clear advantages of using social media compared to traditional media in political campaigning?

The conference provided a productive environment for exchanging thoughts and idea and debates seeking solutions.

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