Ilan Manor on ‘The Social Media Scare’


February, 2018

Ilan Manor, a PhD candidate at the Department of International Development at the University of Oxford, ended our conference weekend with a perceptive speech on ‘The Social Media Scare’. His keynote speech addressed the political impacts of social media, focusing on how its use affects international and national politics.

“The social media scare is different because it reduces the diversity of the information you can access. Gone are the days where we consume news from multiple news sources”

– Ilan Manor

“It is supposedly through tweets and posts that we come to know the world and construct ourselves within reality. When information is shaped by trolls and misinformation we view social media as being bad”. As a result of this, Mr. Manor told us, every mass media medium has been labelled as corrupt. Mr. Manor proceeded, we need more research in order to avoid hyperbolic discourse and to understand how offline interventions change online behaviour.

Mr. Manor argued that the influence of social media on public opinion is actually limited, despite the majority believing in its immense effect. Social media feeds are adapted per person through algorithms, so we cannot say all information reaches all people in the same way. Despite this, he provided us with the shocking statistic that almost 50% of all online comments are generated by bots. Bots flood social media with political comments that can shape our political response during times of election and referendum. In this way, social media can impact political reality by creating a false sense of reality and leading us to favour certain policies. The use of social media “for storytelling and winning over the public” then has fractured diplomacy. 

He concluded his speech by saying, “let us no longer treat social media like a mystical woman in purple. Let us recommit ourselves to critically examining both online and offline worlds and work towards rebuilding the bridges in our societies that have been so utterly disseminated over the past two years”.

Mr. Manor was our final keynote speaker of the conference weekend and was followed by a closing speech from Alex Balderstone, the founder of Warwick Congress. Thank you for attending Warwick Congress 2018.


Written by Mia Daoudi.


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