NUS Greater Good Series – Social Media, Impact on Singapore Society

rsz_groupWith about 96% of Singaporean internet users owning at least one social media account, and spending a daily average of more than two hours on social media, the impact of social media on society is something that researchers are most keen on studying.

At the National University of Singapore (NUS) Greater Good Series titled Social Media, Impact on Singapore Society, Professor Robbie Goh, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS), provided an apt description of the digital content publishing and sharing landscape today, before introducing the three panellists for the event.

“Social media in Singapore has been used to highlight social fault lines – Singaporeans versus foreigners, elites versus so called ‘common people’, ‘doxing’ and vigilantism. It can inspire people with altruistic action but can also propagate dangerous falsehoods. It can turn little known people into celebrities, at least for a while, and turn the tide against certain celebrities. Social media is clearly a hugely important phenomenon of society today,” shared Prof Goh.

While Assistant Professor Elmie Nekmat, Department of Communications and New Media at FASS, shared examples of how social media is used in Singapore, Associate Professor Choo Hyekyung, Department of Social Work, FASS, focussed on its harmful impact on youth and their social health.

rsz_christelWeighing in on the issue as well was FASS alumna Ms Christel Quek (’13), one of Singapore’s leading digital strategists. Ms Quek started interning in the social media industry whilst studying, and eventually founded and set up Brandwatch in Asia, a social media monitoring company. She left the business three years ago, and is today, the Co-founder and Chief Commercial Officer of BOLT, an interactive media platform that provides entertainment and content to emerging markets.

Sharing her vast experience, Ms Quek revealed, “We realised that there is much valuable insight to be gained through the sharing of experiences and stories on social media. When we are able to extract the signals from the noise, we could effectively use social media for social good.”

It is indeed an area that requires more education for the general public and nuanced treatment from policy makers, and also a key area that FASS is advancing research on.

Prof Goh added, “While there are no easy answers in this current and early stage of evolution, it is important to turn our analytical lenses on it, particularly from multidisciplinary perspectives.”