Shimon Haber on Media Influence

Shimon Haber: Accountability, public discourse and social media

About freedom of speech

Shimon Haber starts explaining his review with an example of a recent, reckless statement, allegedly taken out of context which appeared in social media. As he points out, this managed to disturb the public for a short time, as this hot topic has appeared in most pages of mass media. According to Shimon, the fact that the author of the statement is a person active for many years in public life has given an extra weight to the situation. Later, even a special panel discussion was organized on this occasion. The debate was about freedom of speech, censorship of the Internet and online reputation, and while essential topics were discussed, Shimon Haber believes that in the heat of discussion some key issues were forgotten. Those issues will remain crouching somewhere hidden in all of us, relying on matter of personal decision, education or measure of restraint.

Shimon Haber

Public life of the participants

Shimon Haber thinks that the nature of functioning of public discourse should not be unfamiliar terrain, at least not to media and communications professionals and for those whose lives are monitored by the public eye. The impact of these individuals on the dissemination of ideas and the formation of public opinion is not negligible and it is part of the responsibility that each public figure has to be aware of, says Haber. A very carefully conceived statement or exposure in the media creates a particular image and sends appropriate message, while hindsight is defined as a serious faux pas.

Social media and its impact

Social media, although derived from the cyber world of William Gibson imagined as a virtual reality, which is the opposite of true reality in which we live, a world of avatars and parallel identities, is hardly to remain isolated from real life. In the twenty first century the social media represent a very important and influential way of participating and shaping public discourse, explains Shimon Haber. Although less formal and conversational by its nature and without the conventional framework and limitations of mass media, where the defined form and legality is respected, it seems that social media is not taken seriously enough, and their categories, frames and rules are often a matter of individual interpretation. Further, Shimon Haber explains that often people do not know anything about the person with which they communicate via social networks, and this encourages them to show their alter ego, their other real or imaginary me. Consciously or unconsciously the internet is seen as a playground in which are tested the limits of what is acceptable and as Shimon Haber explains in his book, virtual reality is used as a justification for the demolition and the disrespect of the agreed rules and criteria already established by the civilized interpersonal communication. In the social media, as professor Shimon Haber sees it, the awareness of the severity of the written word and the impact it can have on others are often forgotten or completely lost.

Later on Shimon Haber explains that if your profile on a social network is open to the public, you are not only talking to a circle of people that you know are "following you", but also to a potential mass audience, particularly to those who can understand what you suggest. Because of this awareness must be present. In this situation, privacy is no longer present and the social network is used as your personal mass media, i.e. newspapers, radio or television, but on the Internet. You hold all the control in your hands, because you are editing the program, but you are also responsible for its content.

The spoken word, especially in the public discourse, has always had its own weight, says Shimon Haber, social media does not change this rule. Therefore we must be aware of that.

Who is Shimon Haber?

As an author Shimon Haber has been professionally engaged in mass media and internet communication for more than 20 years and has published many journalistic articles in these areas. In the past several years, Shimon Haber is active as a lecturer at seminars and conferences as well as in the School of Web Journalism in New Jersey. Shimon graduated in Linguistics and English Literature and holds MA in mass media and mass communication.