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Science Pub Will Focus on “Social Media’s Political Dark Side”

By Dan Campbell

Social media has been used - and abused - by political and activist groups for years. It now encompasses everything from fake news to conspiracy theories to widespread surveillance and manipulation by hostile foreign governments and presents a threat to our democracy.

Old Dominion University's Science Pubs continues online with the second event in its fall 2020 series with "Social Media's Political Dark Side," scheduled for 7 p.m. Oct. 14. It will be conducted using the Zoom platform. Folks are asked to RSVP by Oct. 12 and will be emailed a Zoom link.

The featured researcher will be Ted Gournelos, associate professor of communication and theatre arts and program director of strategic communication. Gournelos will discuss echo chambers and spirals of silence existing at the individual level. The negative effects on our mental health and communities will also be examined.

"Most of us know that social media can make us frustrated, angry and unhappy," Gournelos said. "We compare ourselves to it, we find out family and friends aren't who we thought they were, we get into fights about things we can't change. But we often forget that we're being manipulated into this, and that it's big business."

Strategies of government, social media companies, individuals and communities to reduce the negative elements will also be discussed.

Audience members will once again have to get creative for this Science Pub and supply their own beverages.

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