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Bharath Ganesh

Oxford Internet Institute at University of Oxford

Bharath is a political geographer at Oxford Internet Institute at the University of Oxford focusing on data science and local government, and the ethics and politics of researching violent online extremism.

Anticipating the unforeseen consequences of dynamic user-centred websites

In this talk, I explore a few questions about the unforeseen consequences that dynamic user-centred websites, which allow users to post, create, and share content, are having on society.

In particular, I focus on the ways in which these websites—particularly social media—have been hijacked to support hate, extremism, and in some cases, political violence. At their inception, social media websites and many commentators believed that these technologies were democratizing in that they allowed more people to have a voice and reach an audience. While this has happened, it has also enabled highly regressive, racist, and violent voices to foment hate to larger, transnational audiences. This has had a clear, if unforeseen, impact on geopolitics and public debate across countries, though my talk will focus on Europe and North America.

The talk seeks to encourage developers to think critically about the design of dynamic user-centred websites drawing on a programme of research into the online cultures of hate.