On-Stage talk with Glenn van Zutphen, Founder & CEO, Van Media Group (Singapore)
They cultivate their own personal brand of politics while undermining institutions and altering the laws of democratic accountability. Yet countries across the globe have seen iliberal characters rise to power and even encourage a cult of personality. Often with charming duplicity and bullying behaviour, how and why do strongmen rulers continue to appeal to their voters and how does the world deal with this continuing phenomenon?
In recent decades, we have witnessed a sharp increase in the variety of news and information sources available to us. Facing this flood of information, accompanied by humans’ natural instinct to be comforted rather than confronted, people tend to stick with the news that reinforces their beliefs. With mainstream media outlets in existential crises and societies increasingly divided not only in what they read, but even what facts they choose to believe, what is the future of news media? How can the media tide through this crisis and continue to serve its role in functioning democracies?
The past two years of COVID-19 pandemic has been considered as the “true crisis of the 21st-century”. This crisis has exposed both the strengths and weaknesses of different political regimes, but what remains steadfast is the resolve of governments, parties, politicians, and the people to continually seek fresh and strong legitimacy in governing the public, more so in solving these crises. This panel will look deeper on how certain issues influenced campaigns such as the impact of the pandemic, geopolitical ramifications, growing economic inequality, increased political polarization, and infighting within political parties.
There has been a perceived lack of interest from the next generation in political participation. However, is political participation in decline or is society just moving away from traditional methods of addressing social issues? As large-scale collective action reverberated across the globe in recent years, what is the future of social movements in influencing the way we conduct politics?
With internet driven fabrications, conspiracy theories and state sponsored propaganda flooding cyberspace, a blurring of lines has been created between entertainment and news. Research has shown that a significant portion of the Russian population supports military action in Ukraine, citing clichés of state propaganda in their reasoning. The most recent presidential elections in the Philippines was said to have been won through social media mythmaking that rewrote history. How has the internet that was once seen as a mechanism to promote knowledge, solidarity and understanding been used by leaders, spin doctors and conspiracy theorists to promote hatred, paranoia and fear?
New media has radically altered the manner in which government institutions operate and caused major disruptions in the political communication process. It possesses the capability to disseminate information directly to the public without the intervention of editorial or institutional gatekeepers, which are intrinsic to traditional legacy outlets. How has new media been used to relay political messaging to even the most disinterested citizens and enable the creation of digital public squares where opinions can be openly shared?
Digital technologies can improve or undermine democracy, depending on who controls them and how they are used. While digital media have provided platforms to empower the marginalized voices and enhance citizen engagement, concerns have also emerged on various fronts. For instance, proprietary search engine algorithms can be manipulated to influence voters. Personal data on various digital platforms can be used to analyse behaviours and preferences for crafting targeted political communications. Citizens can use digital platforms to build their own “walled gardens” which exclude those they disagree with. We are also witnessing the dominant social media platforms in both democratic and non-democratic states routinely censoring political speech. How has digital democracy evolved over the years, what are the main drivers of these changes, and how can citizens still be meaningfully practice democratic citizenship today?
Caroline’s Mansion, Level 1, St Regis Singapore, 29 Tanglin Rd, Singapore 2479111
Political polarisation is tearing at the societal fabrics of both young and mature democracies alike. The effects of polarisation stretch far beyond the political arena. With countries becoming increasingly fractured and divided from within, how can deeply polarised societies come back together to heal their divisions?
Telling stories is one of the most powerful means available to influence, teach, and inspire. Storytelling has the ability to forge connections among people and serves as a medium for strong messages to be delivered to its consumer. But with media consumption habits consistently evolving in a novel manner, how can we continue capturing the attention of our audiences and engaging them in meaningful ways? From TikTok clips, artistic films, to content on the metaverse, examine the use of various mediums to amplifying messages to the public.
The digital footprints left behind on social media platforms, search engines and discussion forums contribute to Big Data knowing more about you than you know yourself. Governments, companies and political campaigns are mining this data across platforms to better target and engage their audiences. Combined with statistical tools, it is possible to pinpoint and accurately predict the behavioural patterns of individuals and voters. How can you use Big Data to your advantage and what are the ethical issues in regards to its collection and usage?
While political correctness aims to protect the human and civic rights of particular groups within society, it has also been seen as a politicised weapon to silence and cancel opposing ideas. In an age where a social media post could unintentionally lead to career-ending consequences and social suicide, has PC culture led to over-censorship? At what point does society’s focus on political correctness infringe on free speech? How can we distinguish between controversial ideas and malicious bigotry, and what is the best way to strike the balance?
The climate crisis is one of the defining issues of our time. With the world experiencing the jarring effects of climate change, more and more people across the globe are becoming increasingly aware of the issue. But despite almost all scientists agreeing that climate change is happening, why do so many still reject the need for action? Does framing climate change simply as an “environmental issue” allow the public to treat it separate from society, politics and culture? How can we move away from the traditional “information deficit model” and communicate the climate crisis in a more effective and engaging manner?
Health misinformation is a serious threat to public health. It can fuel uncertainty, sow mistrust, lead people to reject public health measures and harm people’s health. The coronavirus pandemic has brought to the forefront the challenges of health misinformation. The panel will discuss challenges and trends of health misinformation and how information voids and echo chambers fuels misinformation online. The session will also discuss the collaboration opportunities to address health misinformation and ways to use evidence-based information to build resilience to misinformation.