(No.179) Segregation in Internet Communications and Online Social Networking: Causes, Consequences, and Potential Solutions

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Workshop Theme: 
Security, Openness and Privacy
Theme Question: 

What impact can security and governance issues have on the Internet and human rights?

Concise Description of Workshop: 

Proposal: This workshop will provide an opportunity for representatives from the various stakeholder groups to analyze implications of the current phenomena that online social networking sites have actually replicated class and racial segregations that are observed in physical space. These representatives will then collaborate to determine whether or not action should be taken to interfere in this trend, and if so, which of the stakeholders should interfere and how they could do so. Background: In 2011, Danah Boyd published her findings that online social networking sites have actually replicated class and racial segregations that are observed in physical space in her article “White flight in networked publics: how race and class shaped American teen engagement with MySpace and Facebook.” The article reported that social media users’ Facebook and MySpace activities have replicated the “white flight” migrations of white middle and high income individuals out of American cities in the twentieth century. These migrations left cities populated by low income ethnic and racial minorities. The result has been profound disparity in the tax bases, business opportunities, and educational opportunities between the inner city and suburbs. Like white flight, this kind of disparity could also recreate itself through online social segregation. Why Relevant to IGF: Social networking sites play a constantly increasing role in individuals’ daily lives—Influencing the way they connect and communicate with others, shop, and receive information. Segregation along class and racial lines will form sub-networks within the aggregate online social networking community. These sub-networks will, in turn, create divisions in access to online information and resources along these lines as well. For example, Alondra Nelson and Jeong Won Hwang have found that race influences trends in YouTube use. Unequal access to resources available on the internet may disadvantage historically disadvantaged populations in the online networking experience. In countries where internet and social media use is just beginning, provisions may need be taken to prevent this kind of systematic segregation and ensure that all individuals to have full and equal access to the internet and its resources. Structure of Workshops: This workshop will have two parts: Analysis and Solutions. Prior to the workshop each panelist will have been given a brief outlining the issue from the perspective of an outside third party observer. Analysis: First, each panelist will have the opportunity to react to the brief and discuss the impacts of this phenomenon on society. Second, each representative will analyse whether or not his/her stakeholder group can play a role in limiting or terminating the phenomenon in countries with active online social networking communities. Second, each representative will analyse whether or not his/her stakeholder group can play a role in preventing the phenomenon in countries with developing online social networking communities. Solutions: The representatives will brainstorm in collaboration to develop multifaceted solutions to both the reduction and prevention of this phenomenon that include as many stakeholder groups as possible. The solutions should outline specific actions each stakeholder group can take and establish relevant parties to involve in the process. In order to raise awareness of the problem and facilitate the implementation of the panelists' solutions, the panelists will be asked to compile their solutions into a guidebook that can be circulated to additional relevant parties and the public after the workshop. Hopefully, the panelists organizations, other relevant parties, and a more aware public can work together to implement the solutions after the IGF workshop.

Backgroung Paper: 
Organiser(s) Name: 

1) RedIdeas.org -- Civil Society -- US – a non-profit organization committed to “improving the human condition” by funding young social entrepreneurs’ innovative and socially conscious start-up business proposals. 2) Social Business Consulting Group -- NGO -- US – a non-profit consulting firm for socially conscious businesses throughout the world. Committed to promoting business use of internet technology and social media. 

Previous Workshop(s): 


Submitted Workshop Panelists: 

Ali Hamed, Mr: Private Sector, US President at All Things Go; Managing Partner at C&C Consulting Invited Scott Murphy, Mr: Government, US Former US Congressman, Co-founder of Small World Software Invited Emily Sutanto, Ms: Private Sector, Indonesia BloomAgro Invited Jeremy Malcolm, Mr: Civil Society, Malaysia Consumers International Not Invited Dana Boyd, Ms: Private Sector, US Microsoft Invited Joonas Mäkinen, Mr: Civil Socity, Finland Electronic Frontier Finland, Pirate Youth of Finland Confirmed Chanida Susumpow, Ms: Academia, Thailand Red Ideas Invited

Name of Remote Moderator(s): 
Carolyn Krupski