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Report from V Our Future Forum: Internet – no man’s land? Who is responsible for the negative effects of social media and how should they be addressed?

During the 5th edition of the largest scientific conference for young people in Poland, which took place on 12 May, one of the ten discussion panels focused on the topic: Internet – no man’s land? Who is responsible for the negative effects of social media and how should they be addressed? The discussion was moderated by Maciej Kawecki – President of the Institute. Stanisław Lem. The interview was attended by: Maciej Musiał – Actor, Rafał Masny – Internet Creator and Łukasz Gabler – Public Policy and Government Relations Manager CEE at Tik Tok.

Maciej Kawecki started the discussion with the topic of the biggest threats currently occurring on the Internet. He asked the other panelists if they thought the most dangerous were algorithms, fake news, pato streamers, or perhaps some other threats that he did not mention.

Łukasz Gabler stressed that TikTok is trying to modify its policy on algorithms by revealing their source code so that everyone can get acquainted with their operation. He noted that Tik Toka users can decide for themselves which videos they want to watch and which they want to skip, while algorithms only help them find the most interesting content.

Rafał Masny noted that TikTok is the most addictive of all social media platforms, as videos are more engaging for the audience than photos, not to mention written text. He accused Łukasz Gabler that the main goal of Tik Toka is to make a profit by monetizing the attention of users of the platform through advertising. “Every time you scroll your wall, your brain secretes dopamine, a pleasure hormone, which makes you want to stay at your phone” – emphasized the creator of the website.

Maciej Musial said that he personally does not want to arouse any controversy and tries to be cautious when using social media platforms. The young actor admitted that sometimes he uses social media for too long, but he tries to fight this bad habit. He mentioned that, in his opinion, the biggest threat associated with the development of the Internet are the information bubbles, which could best be seen in all their glory on the occasion of the 2016 US presidential campaign. “We are divided into two tribes, society is polarized like never before, soon we will not even be able to talk to each other” – concluded Maciej Musiał.

Then the President of Stanisław Lem Institute moved on to the question of the role of social media in every person’s life and asked the speakers to say a few words about the importance of social media for them personally.

Rafał Masny, with a smile on his face, admitted that he is probably the best person to answer this question, because he owes his whole career to social media, specifically to the YouTube platform. He recalled the times when together with Robert Pasut and Czarka Jóźwiak they founded the channel AbstrachujeTV, at a time when YouTube was still growing in Poland. He warned against being too skeptical about social media, as he believes that social media should be treated as a tool that can be used for both good and bad purposes.

Łukasz Gabler stressed that although many people associate TikTok with a platform where dancing teenagers publish their videos, it is really a medium where you can find a lot of valuable content. He said that partly because of his profession, he treats social media mainly in business terms, but he also mentioned that social media is also a form of entertainment for him in his spare time.

Maciej Musiał shared with the conference participants the perspective of a well-known actor, and for some people even an influencer, although he himself pointed out that he does not use that term. He stressed that for him social media is primarily a way of shaping his own image. He said actors need to be particularly careful not to be under the social stigma, and then referred to the recent incident involving well-known actor Jerzy Stuhr. “We are well known, people look at our hands, so we have to think twice before we do or say anything,” he said.

Finally, the speakers reflected on the development of social media in the future. Rafał Masny shared his fear that companies like Facebook, Twitter and TikTok will get out of our control and have such an impact on our lives that we will not be able to stop them in any way. He recalled the story of the blocking of Donald Trump’s Twitter account by the authorities and stressed that the situation had created a dangerous precedent that could be repeated in the future. “What are the limits of freedom of speech? Should a private company have the right to block the account of the President of the United States? We need to find answers to these questions as soon as possible, because if we don’t, we will wake up in a few years’ time” – argued Rafał Masny.

Łukasz Gabler noted that social media has long gone beyond the scope of business and actually covers all areas of life, from social relations to politics. “I am concerned about the political conflict between China and the US over Tik Tok. It may turn out that in a few years we will move towards a fragmentation of the social media market, which will end up with each country creating its own social media, as is currently the case in China,” he said.

Maciej Musiał expressed his hope that in the future social media will continue to allow for an adequate level of privacy. “I’m a very open and sociable person, I have many friends, I go to parties, but there are things I don’t want to share with strangers” – confessed the young actor. In closing, he instructed conference participants to use social media with their heads and remember that these virtual acquaintances will never replace their real ones.

Source: Our Future Foundation’s Report

Photo: Our Future Foundation

Maksymilian Mirecki
I am a journalist and editor in Coopernicus. I study law and international relations at University of Warsaw. I am also a host of the podcast "Maximum Dose of Knowledge".
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Maksymilian Mirecki

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