If you haven’t already heard, social media is booming in Asia. China alone has over 300 million users microblogging at Weibo. Despite being subject to massive censorship, the service is used by many to spread views that are critical of the government and address issues authorities would rather not have anyone talk about. Not willing to be outdone, the government also uses Weibo to promote the party line in its attempts to influence public opinion.
By some measures, India, on the other hand, is less enthusiastic with just 150 million of the country’s 1.2 billion people online and “only” 62 million social media users. Yet, social media is a major topic of discussion for Indians at the moment, particularly with elections set May 2014. By the time the vote is held, there are estimated to be 80 million social media users. Now that politicians from every party have recognized the trend, they have expanded their online presences in an effort to win votes. At least that’s what they are doing online when they aren’t debating and voting on measures that would limit and control freedom of expression online.
Participants on the panel will discuss the development and importance of social media across Asia, focusing on China and India as examples for the region. In addition to looking at how national debates spread through blogs and issues important to the online population, the panel will also address questions of financing and the ongoing gender debate.
This panel is presented in cooperation with Deutsche Welle.