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NCPACS conference - complete with PM's message - affords important insights

Thursday 8 April 2021 2:40pm

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern provided a video message for the conference.

Supported by the first-of-its-kind partnership with Twitter in Aotearoa, the National Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies (NCPACS) organised the New Ec(h)o systems: Democracy in the age of social media conference on 16 and 17 March to explore the intersection of social media and democracy.

In a video message sent to the conference (above), Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern highlighted “the power of digital technology to connect and convene” and stressed that we also “need to consider and mitigate the harms technology can sometimes deliver into our institutions and lives.”

With a dozen compelling sessions the conference featured close to thirty world-renowned speakers, including Time Person of the Year Maria Ressa, Legal, Policy and Trust & Safety Lead at Twitter Vijaya Gadde, the Chief Censor of New Zealand David Shanks as well as Paul Ash, the head of the Christchurch Call.

This unprecedented, high-level participation resulted in rich discussions that also included Māori, Pasifika and youth perspectives.

Conference lead organiser Sanjana Hattotuwa said key takeaways included cautious optimism around the challenge of dealing with violent extremism online and the recognition that social media platform and governments needed to do much more to make the Internet safer. The conference also provided an opportunity for Paul Ash to chart the progress of the Christchurch Call and welcome any eventual decision by the United States to join it.

Lead-organiser Sanjana Hattotuwa image
Sanjana Hattotuwa

Sanjana Hattotuwa also provided key insights from his doctoral research at NCPACS into Twitter’s prosocial role and victim-centric content after the 2019 Christchurch massacre. With over 60 in-person attendees and over 220 Zoom participants, the conference was widely featured in domestic and international media.

“We are very proud to have held the first conference to take a holistic, whole-of-society and whole-of-government approach to information disorders affecting democracy, after the release of the Royal Commission Report on the Christchurch massacre.”

Watch the sessions on Youtube here,  read the blog Twitter - or on Facebook