CeDEM15, Day 1, Afternoon Talks (FB engagement and Liquid Feedback)

Facebook Engagement and Greek Local Governments (Amalia Triantafillidou, Georgis Lappas, Prodromos Yannas, Alexandros Kleftodimos)

How to measure effectiveness of social media in politics? Various studies tried to measure effectiveness by dimensions, f.i. transparency, participation and collaboration (Mergel 2013; other approach: Bonsón et al. 2014). The model presented was applied in the Greek context, measuring dimensions like awareness, attitude expression, engagement and advocacy. Data collection was based on 325 municipalities and took place from June to August 2014.

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28% of municipalities had an official Facebook page, 16% had a Facebook profile. How do those who have one differ from one who have none? One factor is the size of a municipality, and in fact no other significant differences could be found. There is a low exploitation of social media by Greek municipalities, which can partly be explained by bureaucracy. It is argued that the majority of municipalities should start participating in the social media arena.One reason why there was low engagement could be age related or related to the form of content posted: many municipalities only posted events and did not ask directly for engagement. Another model should provide a deeper analysis on the posts and the level of engagement of users.

Liquidfeedback and Gunther Teubner: Direct Democracy, “Social Constitutions” and Web 2.0 (Silvia De Conca)

This work is based on a law and evolutionary perspective on how e-participation and civic medias are going to influence the development of the law.

Social networks are relational structures, composed of actors (usually presented with dots). Such nodes or dots have significant characterstics, f.i. not being proportional, not being symmetrical, involving subjects that are not directly communicating and so on. The image that can be employed to explain this is one of a coral rift. This represents a problem for relational structures recognised by the law (contracts, association etc., of mostly direct and symmetrical relations). Another problem is that networks are hetero-referential (meaning they are in a certain interest – direct democracy). They are based on reciprocity. The law struggles to include networks into the law.

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With moving from networks to business networks, the law usually needs to intervene. Günther Teubner provided the first analysis on how networks interact with the law. According to G. Teubner, networks do interact with the law, but unify legal and non-legal elements. This can create a paradoxic situation, and networks are affected by those paradoxes (Teubner). There is, f.i., a clash between trust/control or law/no law, cooperation/competetion – conflicts that can potentially destroy the network. Networks solve this problem by a concept called „morphogenesis“ (which Teubner borrows from Krippendorf): Something more complex than the original, something like an „augmented reality of the law“. It contains all the elements of the paradox. The hybrid resulting of this is not completely legal and not completely illegal.

IP rights (Murray) for private law or Citizenship for public law (Rodotà) are examples of these changing concepts. Taking a closer look at voting rights, De Conca’s thesis is that social media elements are putting pressure on the law and are starting to bring hybrid elements into the law. Introducing Liquidfeedback and several of its characteristical differences (f.i. self-moderated decision making, proxy voting and transparency of the cast votes), several problems were addressed in the talk, e.g. that there is no clear instruction how to vote in proxy voting. Proxy voting is not new to the law and exists in company law and public law. Comparing those cases, in the case of Liquidfeedback, one cannot foresee whether responsibility problems will be created. Another problem is that you can not have anonymity, verifiability and using computers at the same time. („I want to trust you, but I have to control you“ and other paradoxes).

Summarising, Liquidfeedback exercises bottom-top pressure on the law. In the future voting right might include new features, but we must start to consider how we want to assess the results and how we evaluate desirability in the future. How much do we want this changes?

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