Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Berlin Pub Talk

Last evening was quite eventful... an acquaintance works in political/ social media, and asked if I wanted to tag along to a discussion forum.  The topic was hate speech in social media, and how to deal with it as both an organization and individual.  It was all super interesting, with a good mixture of guest panelist monologues and audience participation (or interruption, in some cases :D ).  This was definitely a much different group of people than the groups I normally associate with... let's just say the evening was started off with the moderator welcoming the "speakers of the press"... and me shifting nervously in my chair, hoping no one would notice the stray financial analyst in the room who can't even identify the current US Secretary of Defense.

One of the most interesting discussions concerned the extent of free speech on Facebook in Germany vs. the US.  Of course it's always entertaining hearing people talk about the US, and hearing an outsider's opinion of "my" country.  Evidently there's quite a bit more tolerance of online free speech in the US than there is in Germany... so the big question for the German social media leaders is:  to what extent should an American service provider (i.e Facebook) cater to German laws?  Is it Facebook's responsibility to tailor their product based on the country in which their service is?  Or is it the country's responsibility to deal with it, create their platforms, etc.?  

Another observation is that my German definitely isn't as good as I thought it was... I feel kind of like I did when I first moved to Germany and had an extremely difficult time with the "church lingo."  These are the types of words you just aren't exposed to in school, and definitely have to learn as you go.  So this is a much-needed challenge, as I always love learning something new and haven't really been pushed or challenged on an intellectual level in a while.  Score!!  :D

Anyway.  How do you know you're in a room full of social media gurus and journalists?  By comments such as these...

*spoken in panic*  "Does anyone know what the #hashtag for tonight is?  Do we have an official #hashtag?!"

"I haven't tweeted my location tonight... I don't want any trolls showing up."

"OMG!  The Russian press office re-tweeted me!!!"

#pubtalk #socialmedia

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