It's a social world, after all

Posted on: January 4, 2012

Last month, the Quello Center for Telecommunication Management and Law organized a much-needed discussion on social media policy.

"The Goverrnance of Social Media" workshop held in Washington, D.C. featured almost 40 panelists, speakers and moderators from around the country talking about topics vital to our businesses and organizations today, including legal and policy issues of social media and the implications of social media to reach communications policy goals. More than 70 attended the event, including senior representatives from government agencies like the FCC and FTC, policy advisors and analysts from companies including Facebook and Google, as well as representatives from groups including the CTIA, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Free Press, TechFreedom and the New America Foundation

Social media have become an integral part of daily life and a driver for business. In addition, businesses based on social media have become a major economic force, and many services, including governmental ones, now have a social component. This new technology has brought societal and economic changes, which inevitably lead to legal and policy issues and questions. 

Faculty members in our college have a rich history of tackling the challenging societal issues that emerge with new technologies. We have conducted important work with many of these issues posed by technology, such as consumer protection, online safety for minors, privacy, intellectual property protection, rights of speakers and publishers, and potential abuses of economic power. Social media has evolved from a fad to a part of most Americans’ lives. 

I congratulate faculty members Steve Wildman and Jonathan Obar of the Quello Center for leading this effort. As Dr. Wildman said, "The workshop was organized in response to our observation that while social media have come to pervasively influence the economy, politics and the character of social relationships, law and policy in the United States have not yet begun to respond to the challenges posed by social media in a coherent and systematic fashion. This is the first attempt by anyone to do something of this nature and scope."

The Quello Center workshop was a necessary step in the right direction as we grapple with technology questions. Researchers from the Quello Center made great strides by gathering experts from around the country for a focused discussion. Social media has the potential to drive prosperity, innovation, and civic engagement. The possibilities are amazing and the social media scholarship and research being conducted here is vital for the future.

What social media challenges or questions do you have? I look forward to your insights and feedback. Email me at pwhitten@msu.edu.

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