To what extent were social media disinformation campaigns successful in impacting recent elections in the United States and Europe?

Has social media increased diversity in political participation, or has vitriolic online hate and instances of violence become a deterrent to participation? 

Have online organizing tools increased constructive advocacy, or not? 

Is regulation the solution, or can technology ultimately police itself? 

Does tech help or hurt our democracies?

These questions and many others were under debate during the first Socrates Seminar organized in Romania by the Aspen Institute Romania on May 24-26, 2019.

Having as its theme “Friend or Foe?: How Tech Is Transforming Democracy”, the seminar explored the ways in which technology is transforming democratic societies and was moderated by Dr. Mischa Thompson, Policy Advisor at the U.S. Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE, also known as the Helsinki Commission).

The participants to the seminar have various backgrounds such as diplomacy, political affairs, international relations, foreign affairs, defense policy, communication, technology, finance etc. and originate from Romania, as well as from the USA and from countries in the Black Sea region.

The opening event of the seminar took place on May 23rd, at Athénée Palace Hilton Bucharest and featured a 1-hour panel conversation, followed by a cocktail reception.

The conversation was moderated by Dr. Mischa Thompson, with guests Kamran Ullah (De Telegraaf, Managing editor, International Social Media Trainer) and Alfiaz Vaiya (Coordinator of the European Parliament Anti-racism and Diversity Intergroup – ARDI), on the theme Friend or Foe?: How Tech Is Transforming Democracy.