Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival (FLEFF) and the Park Center for Independent Media hosted a book launch for “The Social Media Debate: An Analysis of the Social, Psychological, and Cultural Effects of Social Media, a book that aims to show the debates surrounding the negative and positive impacts of social media on society.

Editor Devan Rosen, a professor in the Department of Arts, Science and Media Studies, spoke about the book with two of the contributing authors, Ysabel Gerrard and Francesca Sobande, at noon March 23 via Zoom. The book has 14 chapters which consist of works by 23 authors, including Rosen.

“We have these social media platforms that allow us to connect with the ones we love, find resources that are better than our networks, and in many ways, live a better life,” Rosen said. “But in that same window, our democracies are imploding, we have misinformation, realities are happening everywhere, and we have a world of people who are becoming chronically addicted to these different platforms.”

Rosen noted social media has enabled the spread of disinformation, which has had negative impacts on society, such as the uprising that occurred on January 6, 2021 at the United States Capitol.

Currently, society sees misinformation spreading about the Russian-Ukrainian war. According to Forbes, misinformation is normal during wars, but it has happened more than usual during this conflict. Much of the misinformation is seen on social media and comes from third parties.

“We see a regime under [Vladimir] Putin is using social media to create horrific misinformation that fuels this invasion,” Rosen said. “But it’s the exact same platform that allows the people of Ukraine to coordinate to find each other for help and to really try to sustain their sustenance in this invasion.”

Gerrard, lecturer in Ddigital mmedia and ssociety at the University of Sheffield, said it’s important to remember that there are positives to social media.

“It’s really easy to fall into this trap of only thinking about the harms, the consequences and the problems. [of social media]”, said Gerard. “And because they are so powerful, they are so alive, we talk about them all the time. But there are also the advantages of social media, we benefit from it in many ways. It’s really hard to find that balance.

Raza Rumi, director of the Park Center for Independent Media, moderated the event and asked Rosen if misinformation, particularly about the Russian-Ukrainian war, could have long-term harmful consequences.term effects.

“We have a war on the ground, but there is also a social media war on the side, where so much disinformation via TikTok is being spread by Russian bots,” Rumi said.

Rosen said manipulation of information by governments is nothing new, but because of social media, misinformation is being dispersed at speeds that are difficult, if not impossible, to combat.

“Governments can very easily manipulate what people can see and understand here,” Rosen said. “It’s very efficient and it’s very fast. It’s very new. If we look at mainstream media, it was a bit slower. It was easier to check. We could have independent media existing in cohorts.

Gerrard said the social media debate is not just a debate to be tackled in academic terms, but in societal terms. Indeed, it has a great impact on everyday life. Gerard said this as society has learned to deal with issues raised by television and radio such as mental health, body image and bullying, it must now come to terms with the role of social media in these topics. A 2018 Pew Research Center Survey of American teens have found that one in six teens has experienced at least one form of abusive behavior online.

“It forces us to ask really serious questions about the best ways to moderate it. [social media]. I think the debates we have about mental health, body image, bullying that we’ve been talking about…all of these debates have happened in the past, but there’s something new here,” Gerrard said. .

Gerrard said she thinks it’s essential for schools to develop better educational and social media safety tools.

Sobande, lecturer in Ddigital mmedia sstudies at Cardiff University, discussed the need for media literacy.

“Quite often when people start to learn things like media, framing, editorialization, narrativization…and the filtered nature of media representations,” Sobande said. “All of these different forms of media power need to be part of education as early as possible.”