Educating Youngsters towards a Brighter Future. The Time is Now!

Farah Al Doori, Olga Kaferinova, Ina Krasteva, Ramona Mantescu, Eleni Myrtsioti, Ebenezer Toga, Antoni Tsekov

“A child miseducated is a child lost”, John F. Kennedy once said. Many would argue that as we live in times when all the knowledge in the world is a mouse click away. Yes and no. The rapid development of artificial intelligence and the digital technologies nowadays clearly proves that each aspect of our children’s lives will be different than ours.

Today’s pre-schoolers will join the workforce in 2035. To give them a springboard to the future, we need to ensure they possess the necessary skills to be competitive. Nothing will replace reading, writing, and arithmetic skills but mastering them only, would not guarantee a prosperous future. As we will prove below, we need to invest time, money and efforts to improve today’s kids’ digital competences. Furthermore, we need to encourage them to discover and develop their affinity in STEM subjects, regardless of their gender. Continue reading “Educating Youngsters towards a Brighter Future. The Time is Now!”

Tackling Transparency in the Facebook Era

Sofia Elanidou, Sofía Cisneros Gavín, Sarah Markewich, Pauline Ranscelot, Stefi Stampoulian, Hande Yılmaz

If we focus on solutions rather than on problems, “transparency” might be a good choice for the 2018 Word of the Year and a logical follow up to “fake news;” the 2017 winner.

Transparency Finally Takes Off,” is one of the 2018 “Predictions for Journalism” in Nieman Lab’s list via CUNY Journalism School’s Carrie Brown Smith. She says it’s time for the media to recognize the importance of showing “exactly how they work.

Continue reading “Tackling Transparency in the Facebook Era”

Russian Trolls: It Can (And Probably will) Happen Again

Aurelija Gackaitė, Rugilė Jakučionytė, Zahaid Rehman, Miriam Siemon, Xuerui Wu and Anastasia Yakubovich

Propaganda takes many shapes and forms, but in recent history, it has been masked under the guise of civic participation and political awareness on social media. This is clearly evident in the case of the 2016 US elections and the now-famous (or infamous) Russian troll factory that was seen actively trying to spread misinformation against the Hilary Clinton campaign, adding support for President Trump in the process.

Since then, several former ‘trolls’ from the Russia-based Internet Research Agency (IRA) – seen as one of the major actors in disseminating misinformation in the campaign process – have stated that they were not lured into working for IRA to push any agenda, whether related to civic participation or propaganda; they were simply incentivised through a better salary than most other writing jobs.

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Geo-Blocking is Going to be Banned in EU…But Wait! You Still Can’t Download the Foreign Songs You Like

Blerim Berisha, Yang Cao, Jan Kalina, Ikram Mallou, Thomaz Novaes, Ronald Piwele, Yin Zi

When consumers in EU countries are shouting hooray for EU’s anti-geoblocking regulation finally being passed by European Parliament earlier this year, German MEP Julia Reda undiplomatically expressed her disappointment.

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Reda is right. Geo-blocking banishment is working for e-commerce but not for access to other media. EU’s first “baby step” as she called is a great news for online shoppers to buy some goods, such as a refrigerator, some services, or for website hosting services. European consumers will enjoy a price with no difference no matter which EU member state they reside in. But if you are talking about Spotify, Netflix and TV, or any other copyrighted content like music, ebooks, and video games, sorry, the “wall” is still there. This is indeed a big bummer, and we all hate that error message telling us we are in the “wrong” country.

So, what are the main obstacles to tackle for realizing a truly no-barrier digital single market? Is it true that no one is willing to fight against powerful entertainment industry, as Reda claimed? At least EU is aware of the needs of consumers to break the “wall”, addressed that they will extend the geoblocking on copyrighted services in two years. But that sounds a bit long stretch.

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While a seamless cross-border access to popular streaming media services sound like a perfect dream to EU digital content consumers, there are indeed some substantial challenges the industry faces in order to reach such a goal. Most of online copyrighted contents in the European market are licensed on a national basis. For many digital content providers, the main reason of geoblocking is due to the expensive cost of buying copyrights covering extra geographic areas. This is even more common for smaller operators. Thus, one argument is that lifting geoblocking might bring unintended consequences to the industry and the market. The industry might suffer significant losses of revenues which will prompt uncertainty for the future, as nobody knows how long it would take for the industry to adapt to this new unrestricted cross-border access. Another concern is it might induce price arbitrage between country markets, which puts pressure on sellers to reduce price differentiation and push some prices up, others down. The price response of sellers is hard to predict and may have repercussions not only on downstream consumers but also on upstream parts of the supply chain.

Cultural diversity is considered as a strong incentive for lifting the digital content geo-blocking, because surveys indicate that one key reason people demand foreign digital content is they could not get it from the country they live in. There are about 20 million EU citizens who were born in one EU member state and live in another member state. Without geo-blocking, many of them could enjoy contents produced and licensed in their home countries. However, studies also show that the longer long-term intra-EU immigrants stay away from their country of origin, the less interest they have to buy audiovisual content of their home country. This is an important measurement for audiovisual business operators. One more concern on the unrestricted cross-border content is that there might be less investment in local production which leads to less diversity. EU citizens from the poorer countries will have to pay higher prices if they want to enjoy good quality content.

So, it seems that Mr. Ansip’s ambition will take quite some time to fulfill. But the future could be hopeful. The good news is that at least EU residents can watch streaming content they have bought in their home country while traveling in EU area, thanks to the new law. Even MEP Reda agreed that copyright is a delicate issue.  European Parliament’s economic assessment on geo-blocking prohibition shows that there will be notable economic and social welfare gains by lifting geo-blocking on audiovisual and copyrighted services, despite the risks and concerns. It will depend on the negotiation and cooperation between the public sector, the industry and society.

 

Reference

The statistics, evidences and study results used in this article are based on the analysis Extending the Scope of the Geo-Blocking Prohibition: An Economic Assessment published by European Parliament in 2017. (could put hyperlink: http://bruegel.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/IPOL_IDA2017595364_EN.pdf)

Is Staying in your Filter Bubble what you really want?

Andrea Ruiz Valencia, Nele Pärje, Maxime Paquin, Jija Bhattacharya, Alice Masoni, Christos Kampolis

The Digital Single Market (DSM) Strategy aims to overcome the fragmentation of the European market and merge 28 markets into a single digital economy. To prepare the digital grounds for the DSM to flourish, several obstacles need to be tackled, one of which revolves around the personalization of the Internet. There is a disturbing phenomenon in the way online platforms operate today, notably the way algorithms predict and select content we want to consume.

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GDPR: Societal Retribution

Merve Bektas, Yasmim Pessoa, Kaia Socha, Laura Basiacco, Justyna Zawada, Artaban Micali Drossos

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We have all undoubtedly seen this request pop up in front of our faces as we navigate literally every website we decide to surf. Let’s be honest, how many of us even know to what exactly we are agreeing to? Yet every day we put our trust in the hands of companies without knowing the specifics of their terms and conditions. The willingness to login quickly, to buy a distinct product, or book an Airbnb overpowers the one of reading the 20 pages dedicated to those terms.

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Can someone blame us for not wanting to read those tedious conditions?

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Social Media as a Promising Arena for Public Debate

Dimitra Kagioglou, Dinesh George Lourdes, Evgeniya Kreslova, Maria Oliva, Nele Mirjam Werner, Siyu Xu

Once upon a time, the political debates were provided to the public through media reporting. Now within a minute we are able to get informed instantly via social media. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Youtube are a new communication field being used by the EU Institutions to communicate with the audiences and particularly with young citizens.

Could this imply that we are in front of an alternative public sphere shaped by social media, that can rouse young citizens to engage in the EU debate? Well, potentially.

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