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ICIL 2019: 9th International Conference on Information Law and Ethics

Psychological and Socio-Political Dynamics within the Web: New and Old Challenges to Information Law and Ethics

Pontificio Ateneo Sant’Anselmo and Università di Roma – Tor Vergata

11 July 2019: Pontificio Ateneo Sant’Anselmo
12 July 2019: Università di Roma – Tor Vergata
13 July 2019: Pontificio Ateneo Sant’Anselmo


Social media are playing an increasing importance in people’s Internet use. They facilitate the creation and sharing of information, ideas, career interests and other forms of expression via virtual communities and networks. Social media also carry a range of positive and negative impacts. On the positive side, social media can help improve an individual’s sense of connectedness with real or online communities, and social media can be an effective communication (or marketing) tool for corporations, entrepreneurs, nonprofit organizations, advocacy groups, political parties and governments.

At the same time, concerns have been raised about possible links between heavy social media use and depression, cyberbullying, online harassment and “trolling”. Moreover, political uses of social media have been questioned: The New York Times and The Guardian recently reported on the data breach involving Facebook and Cambridge Analytica, in which the personal information of many Facebook users was acquired for political purposes, by an external researcher who had claimed to be collecting the information for academic purposes. The majority of these individuals had not given Cambridge Analytica explicit permission to access their personal data.

Health professionals and researchers around the world also have noticed that excessive use of digital technology such as social media by adolescents and others can cause disruptions in physical and mental health such as mood disturbances; Facebook Addiction Disorder; and problems in sleeping patterns, weight gain and levels of exercise, and school performance. Research continues to demonstrate that long hours spent on mobile devices have been related to an increase in teenagers’ BMI and lack of physical activity. Moreover, excessive internet usage has been linked to lower grades, when compared to users who do not spend excessive amounts of time online, even when controls are placed on age, sex, race, parent education and personal contentment factors.

These phenomena are not new in the history of the Web, nor in the history of mass-media, but they re-emerge in new forms as long as the Web dynamically changes the way in which society shifts its online use, providing continual challenges for Information Law and Ethics.

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