This is the archived SXSW 2012 schedule. Please see the current schedule here.

Is Social Media a Human Right?

#sxsw #MediaRight

Earlier this year, United Nations special rapporteur Frank La Rue overwhelmingly declared access to the internet as "an indispensable tool for realizing a range of human rights, combating inequality, and accelerating development and human progress." In particular, the report focuses on the ability of the internet to facilitate communication and collaboration -- hallmark features of social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, both of which played important roles in this year's Arab Spring uprisings. This panel aims to discuss the topic of social media access for populations which are typically denied internet-based contact with other humans: prisoners, the homeless, and the urban and rural poor.

The questions the panel explores will look at whether or not the reasons these groups are denied access is in fact justified, or if instead, efforts and considerations need to be made to revisit these communities. For example:

· Are the poor denied access because the free market simply hasn't trickled down to them yet? Or should the government intervene to provide internet access as a public good?

· Is the use of social media by convicts to commit more crimes reason enough to deny 2.2 million Americans access to connections to their loved ones and family back home? Could social media be used instead to support the prison systems aims of rehabilitation and preparation for society? Can we really expect someone


Christian Sandvig Assoc Professor University of Illinois

Christian Sandvig is the Co-Director of the Center for People & Infrastructures. He is also Associate Professor of Communication, Media & Cinema Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a Faculty Associate of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University. He was named a "Next-Generation Leader in Technology Policy" by the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He received the Early Career Award from the US National Science Foundation for work in the area of Human-Centered Computing. He has previously appeared in The Economist, Businessweek, The New York Times, and on National Public Radio to discuss his research about the Internet and society.

Ed Lee Dir, Social Media Tribal DDB

As director of social media, Ed explores the social media landscape with clients, guiding them through the use of new technologies, providing innovative ways to engage stakeholders online and spreading social creativity. A leading blogger in the Canadian PR, social media and marketing space, Ed is fascinated with all new and online media channels and their application to communications and marketing.

In 2009, Ed was recognized by Marketing magazine as one of the “One’s to Watch,” a list which encourages and celebrates the accomplishments of talented young professionals, ages 30 and under, working in marketing, advertising or media. Ed hails from London, England, and like all good Englishmen, loves to play football and watch his favourite team, Liverpool FC, on the telly. A political film buff, Ed founded the Oxford Brookes Political Film Society, to help promote political consciousness at Oxford Brookes University.

Jason Rockwood VP, Strategy Dir Havas Digital

Jason Rockwood is Vice President, Strategy Director at Havas Digital, where he brings together his understanding of technology, consumers, and media to build energy and excitement around the world's leading brands.

Jason comes to Havas from Tribal DDB, where he was Director of Social Strategy. At Tribal, he worked on digital strategy for consumer health brands like Advil, ThermaCare, and Robitussin.

Prior to Tribal DDB, Jason was at R/GA, where he was a Social Media Strategist. In that capacity, he led social strategy for Walmart and Verizon. He has also worked with Luxottica Retail, Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society, and MIT's GAMBIT video game laboratory.

Jason has a Master of Science in Comparative Media Studies from MIT and a B.A. in Communication Studies from the University of Illinois.

Michealene Risley Activist/author/filmmaker/running for office Michealene Risley

Michealene Risley has dedicated her life to defending our rights - including our right to disagree - and has become a voice for silenced victims. Whether as a filmmaker, author, activist or entrepreneur, she has dedicated herself to illuminating injustice and helping to build safe and sustainable communities.

Born and raised in a small Michigan town, Michealene embodies the middle class values of fairness and justice. She grew up believing in an America in which everyone had fair opportunity to be whomever they wanted. Michealene aspires to leave that America to her children. A mother of three, Michealene wants her children to have all the opportunities to work hard and realize their fullest potential that our forefathers had. However, she cannot ignore the fact the current state of affairs in this nation leaves much to be desired.

Today, a broken government and a corrupt political system in Washington are silencing the voice of ordinary Americans. Most of us are disgusted with a culture in which the greed of a few corporate titans and their paid-for politicians in Washington have trampled our democracy and continues to disenfranchise large swaths of citizens. The dismal state of affairs has prompted Michealene into action once again - this time to stand up for middle-class Americans in a way that challenges conventional wisdom.

As an activist turned to politics, Michealene is running for President of the United States of America using the new electoral infrastructure to be found at AmericansElect.Org. She hopes to begin to shine a light on the TRUE issues that affect our country.

Michealene is a successful entrepreneur who has demonstrated uncommon courage and conviction to accomplish her goals. Upon hearing of the abuses committed against young girls in Zimbabwe, Risley provoked the wrath of the Mugabe government to film her latest documentary "Tapestries of Hope." Risking life and liberty (she was in fact arrested and briefly jailed for her efforts), Michealene succeeded in giving a voice to these survivors of violence, while portraying their limitless courage and resiliency in facing life after trauma.

Michealene's earlier short film "Flashcards" resulted in making available the first-ever published curriculum on incest and child abuse. She is also an accomplished writer and co-authored "This Is Not the Life I Ordered," which shares women's personal stories about life's challenges and turns them into cause for hope. She also has first-hand experiences from the Katrina disaster, where she learned much about the challenges facing our government and accomplishing tasks outside the broken infrastructure. Michealene has spoken out on important issues affecting the world. She has addressed the Unites States Congress and the United Nations, as well as at Facebook, Google, and TED events.

Michealene proudly proclaims herself to be an "activist" because she is not passive about the frightening state of affairs in our country. She is ready to launch into action and do everything in her power to push America forward on our path to success. Following in the footsteps of great activists who changed our nation, Michealene wants to bring the voice of the masses to the forefront again.

Michealene believes our nation's toughest times can give rise to the opportunities which will lead to a better future for us all. Her courage and commitment, unwavering diligence to factual debate, and uncommon willingness to speak truth to power, will harness the momentum of ordinary citizens to put America back on course toward a fairer and brighter future.

Nick Szuberla Dir

Nick Szuberla works nationally a media artist working to connect the arts, policy, and technology. He directs the human rights and dialogue project Thousand Kites, and also produces films and radio projects at Appalshop, a community-based arts organization in Appalachia.

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