Sifting Fact from Fiction: The Role of Social Media in Conflict

This Blogs & Bullets meeting brought together the companies that sift through and sell this data with the activists that create it and the policy-makers who use it. The event looked at the cutting-edge of technologies for analysis with experts from around the world in an effort to expand our ability to harness these new platforms for conflict management and peacebuilding. 

From the war in Libya to the elections in Nigeria, speculation abounds about the power of new media for social change – spawning a cottage industry of “expert” analysis of the data from social networks, which then influences government policy and public perceptions. 

This Blogs & Bullets meeting brought together the companies and experts who sift through the data with activists that create it and policy-makers who use it. The event looked at the cutting-edge of research technologies and predictive analytics in an effort to expand our ability to harness these new platforms for conflict management and peacebuilding. This event was co-hosted by USIP and George Washington University. 

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  •  George Washington University

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Image courtesy: Bill Fitz-Patrick

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Agenda: 

9:00 - 9:15: Opening Remarks

  • Sheldon Himelfarb, USIP

9:15 - 9:45: Blogs and Bullets II 

  • Sean Aday, Henry Farrell, Marc Lynch, and John Sides (George Washington University) 
  • Brian Eoff, Bit.Ly
  • Deen Freelon, American University

9:45 - 11:00:  New Trends in Data Mining and Analysis

  • Cosma Shalizi, Carnegie Mellon University, moderator
  • Rohini Srihari, University of Buffalo, Janya Inc.
  • Fadl al-Tarzi, News Group, Dubai
  • Bruce Etling, Berkman Center 
  • John Kelly, Morningside Analytics

11:00 - 11:15 Break

11:15 - 12:00: Digital Activism and Political Change: Practitioners 

  • Sheldon Himelfarb, USIP, moderator
  • Sultan al-Qassemi, @sultanalqassemi
  • Andy Carvin, NPR
  • Mary Joyce, Meta Activism Project 

12:00 - 1:00: New Media’s Role in Peace, Protest, and Political Upheaval

  • Sheldon Himelfarb, USIP, moderator
  • Marc Lynch, George Washington University
  • Clay Shirky, New York University
  • Alec Ross, U.S. State Department
  • Jillian York, International Freedom of Expression