Twelve-year-old Max Lerman has been coming to Chautauqua all of his life, but this summer is different. Now, he’s not only a part of Chautauqua Institution’s physical community, but its social media community as well.
Leslie Mathis, Chautauqua Institution’s digital communication manager, believes that Twitter has the ability to create more new connections within Chautauqua Institution’s community.
Two months ago, the Princeton sociologist Janet Vertesi tested the limits of digital privacy: she attempted to conceal her pregnancy from the Internet. She told her family and friends not to post about it on social media, used the untraceable Internet browser Tor and set up a new email account on a separate server.
Go to breakfast with Margaret Atwood, and forget she is a novelist. Imagine her to be a scholar of 19th-century English literature, or medieval art, or the emergence of print culture. Imagine her as an environmentalist, a women’s rights activist, a Twitter maven, a world traveler.
In exchange for a digital identity, people have given up their privacy.
Google has kept archives of emails sent and friends’ replies for the last six years. Facebook tracks people’s activities all over the Internet, even when they are logged off. And Twitter taps into entire address books when people use the “find friends” option and archives it for 18 months.
For those who do not use Facebook or Twitter, that does not mean no one is watching them, said Dahlia Lithwick, who reports on the law and the U.S. Supreme Court as a senior editor of Slate magazine. People can be tracked by turning on their phones, using an E-ZPass or using a Starbucks card.
Social media has helped shape democracy by providing people with the means of communication to gain more access to information.
“I think it is good for democracy, because the tools of communication are in so many more people’s hands,” said Vivian Schiller, senior vice president and chief digital officer at NBC News, during Tuesday’s morning lecture.
Schiller and David Folkenflik, who served as moderator and is NPR’s media correspondent, discussed the challenges and opportunities facing digital and social media at the Amphitheater for Week Six, themed “Digital Identity.”