Live Seminar 44: Social Media as a Tool for Humanitarian Protection

May 10, 2012 - 9:30am - 11:00am
Online, United States



Click here to view the recording

The recent increase in social media use across the world has enabled individuals to connect with one another through new and dynamic communication pathways. These platforms — including Twitter, Facebook, and other media-sharing networks — are also significantly affecting crisis response and humanitarian policy. The particularly acute rise in social media use in disaster-affected areas underscores the relevance of social media to humanitarian action.

Despite this transition toward a fluid information network of rapid, user-generated content, the humanitarian community remains in the early stages of understanding how social media can further strengthen response mechanisms in crises. Meanwhile, affected communities are increasingly using social media to mobilize attention to their situations. For example, recent statistics indicate that the number of Facebook users in Somalia has increased by 131% over the past 6 months.

But this development also raises new challenges. In recent situations, such as the crisis in Syria, affected communities have used social media channels to undertake real-time reporting and to engage in advocacy, sometimes challenging traditional approaches to humanitarian engagement. Growing reliance on experiential on-the-ground accounts of crises has brought beneficiaries of humanitarian assistance into key policy conversations, potentially shaping a new model of participatory humanitarian action.

To better understand the complexities of this emerging trend, this upcoming Live Web Seminar examined the key developments, challenges, and critiques surrounding social media’s impact on humanitarian protection. Expert panelists and participants examined the following questions:

— How are humanitarian agencies currently using social media?
— In what ways can social media facilitate more effective humanitarian protection?
— What barriers exist to integrating social media strategies into humanitarian operations?
— What are the limitations of what social media can accomplish during humanitarian crises?

Moderated by:
Claude Bruderlein (Director, HPCR) and Dustin Lewis (Program Associate, HPCR)

Panelists included:
Jason Cone (Director of Communications, Médecins Sans Frontières)
Melissa Fleming (Head of Communications, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) 
Claudia Gonzalez (Head of Marketing, The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria) 
Daniel Stauffacher (ICT4Peace) 

In partnership with:

The Federal Department for Foreign Affairs (FDFA) formulates and coordinates Swiss foreign policy on the instructions of the Federal Council. A coherent foreign policy is a precondition for the effective protection of Swiss interests vis-à-vis foreign countries.

Sida works according to directives of the Swedish Parliament and Government to reduce poverty in the world. The overall goal of Swedish development cooperation is to contribute to making it possible for poor people to improve their living conditions.