QU seminar examines virtual influencers' grip on social fabric
November 02 2018 08:33 PM
A session from the digital identities seminar
A session from the digital identities seminar

Department of Mass Communication at the College of Arts and Sciences at Qatar University (QU) organised a scientific seminar titled “Digital Identities and Electronic Bots.” A group of professors, researchers and professionals in the communication field in Qatar attended.

The goal was to examine the political, ethical and cultural issues that rise in the field of artificial intelligence, particularly in the programming of electronic bots, which are implemented with the aim of creating propaganda and steering public opinion. 
The seminar consisted of two sessions, the first of which tackled digital identities and electronic bots and how they influence audiences. The second was entitled “Ideological Devices and Misleading Political Opinion.” The sessions discussed the extent to which electronic communication platforms are misused to sway public opinion, by way of fake IP addresses and false identities. The seminar also discussed the necessity of recognising the seriousness of such crimes and its impact on the social and political spheres.
Dr Noureddine Miladi, head of Mass Communication Department at QU, said, “The seminar tackled issues that have become our reality and we cannot ignore. That reality is the influence of the virtual domain on public opinion in both the Arab world and beyond. The seminar opened up new avenues for discussion because of the repercussions of this reality on politics and economics.”
“An essential component of our role in the Department of Mass Communication at QU, is being an active participant in the context of political, economic and social climates. Electronic bots, identities and disinformation have become a phenomenon of their own in all communities, but particularly those in the information technology field. There are many widespread examples of this such as the electronic armies working against Qatar or in other places, such as what happened in the last US presidential elections, of which the world is still facing its ramifications,” he added.
Organiser of the event Dr Abdullah al-Zein Haidari of QU said, “We are operating during interesting times, specifically in the economic and political context. Disinformation is making it difficult to make major decisions. We are trying to utilise the technology of media and communication in an effective way, to clarify the reality of situations and in turn make accurate political and social actions.”

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