By Vivian Roach | Staff Writer
AEJMC professors from schools across the country invite Twitter users to discuss with them the implications on free speech from the COVID-19 pandemic live, on April 29, and May 7 at 7 p.m. CST.
Dr. Mia Moody-Ramirez, Baylor professor and chair of the journalism, public relations and new media department, explained how the “Twitter chat” will work.
Questions will be tweeted out about 20 minutes apart to give participants a chance to tweet back with their response.
They will be addressed promptly afterward by, University of Arkansas, Dr. Jerry Howard, II, Michigan State, Dr. Anastasia Konovia, University of St. Thomas, Dr. Wendy Wyatt, and DePaul University, Carolyn Bronstein and Moody-Ramirez.
In March, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Google, Microsoft, Reddit and LinkedIn issued a statement letting users know of the potential of misinformation about the virus on their platform, and what they were doing about it.
Facebook Newsroom tweeted, “We’re helping millions of people stay connected while also jointly combating fraud and misinformation about the virus, elevating authoritative content on our platform.”
Moody-Ramirez said it was brought to her attention a few weeks ago when some friends had mentioned their posts were being taken down for misinformation, notifications read, “this post goes against our community standards.”
She said along with social media platforms more willing to monitor posts, “we’ve seen people are more willing to give up some of their free speech, some things that before, they were not willing to give up.”
The twitter discussion will pose several questions such as: what are some changes in free speech since the onset of COVID-19, what are some of the global threats to free speech surrounding COVID-19 and how will the relationship play out in the end between the private sector and the government, since their collaboration on surveillance response to COVID-19.
Moody-Ramirez said they hope to also publish a white paper, an informational document to highlight the implications on free speech from the COVID-19 pandemic, in the next few months following the event. The paper will also present solutions and resources to readers, and include some of the lies and spins on the virus.
“As scholars, it is up to us to document what is going on right now. We are going to use Twitter as our platform to talk about the topic and document it,” Moody-Ramirez said. “Our ultimate goal is to get a white paper out of it that can be shared and engage people on the topic.”
Konovia said media literacy is a big topic of the discussion as well, should people know what is credible and what is not.
“Closely monitoring the spread of info that is not credible is good insofar that it protects people, but at the same time it is the question of whether it is the restriction that has to be from top down, from certain organizations like Facebook,” Konovia said. “Or is it the responsibility of the people to recognize what is correct and what is not.”