Press Review April 17th 2014

Could four party talks in Geneva over the Ukrainian crisis have finally reached a compromise? The Guardian reports that the “US, Russia, Ukraine and EU agree measures including end of violence, disarming of illegal groups and amnesty for protesters.” The agreement, when implemented, could pull Ukraine back from the brink of civil- and interstate war by dismantling illegal armed groups on both sides and beginning consultations to consider devolving greater powers to the regions of eastern Ukraine, where many citizens have demanded greater autonomy from the central government in Kyiv.

According to Alex Ross, an American social media expert speaking before an audience in the European Parliament this past Wednesday 02 April 2014, “Power is shifting from hierarchies to citizens and networks of citizens.” Traditional political parties have seen their memberships steadily declining over the last several years and the upcoming May 2014 European Parliament elections are expected to have a low turnout. Ross, who previously worked for U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, said that “If you [MEPs and political parties] do not want to see your support go increasingly down, then what you need to do is be more and more aggressive about meeting new voters where they are, which is online.” The decline of traditional party structures and the ability of voters to increasingly talk back to politicians through Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit, means that politicians and parties are having a difficult time controlling the message. Matthias Luefkens, digital issues head at PR firm Burson Marsteller, says that MEPs need to be more active on social media, approach their audience honestly, write their updates themselves, and ideally have a social media team to assist them in interacting with citizens.

The Syria Conflict Mapping Project, created by scholar Cristopher McNaboe for the Carter Center, uses citizen-generated and publicly available information on social media and social network analysis to gauge the status of the Syrian Civil War, namely the balance of power between pro- and anti-government forces and who controls which regions. This information, among many uses, can be helpful for humanitarian organizations to navigate the complex security situation in the war-torn country in order to deliver aid. 

Syria Conflict Mapping Project. Courtesy of Forbes.
Syria Conflict Mapping Project. Courtesy of Forbes.

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