Earlier this year, United Nations special rapporteur Frank La Rue overwhelmingly declared access to the internet as "an indispensable tool for realizing a range of human rights, combating inequality, and accelerating development and human progress." In particular, the report focuses on the ability of the internet to facilitate communication and collaboration -- hallmark features of social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, both of which played important roles in this year's Arab Spring uprisings. This panel aims to discuss the topic of social media access for populations which are typically denied internet-based contact with other humans: prisoners, the homeless, and the urban and rural poor.
The questions the panel explores will look at whether or not the reasons these groups are denied access is in fact justified, or if instead, efforts and considerations need to be made to revisit these communities. For example:
· Are the poor denied access because the free market simply hasn't trickled down to them yet? Or should the government intervene to provide internet access as a public good?
· Is the use of social media by convicts to commit more crimes reason enough to deny 2.2 million Americans access to connections to their loved ones and family back home? Could social media be used instead to support the prison systems aims of rehabilitation and preparation for society? Can we really expect someone
9th–13th March 2012