OSCE and EU support use of social media to promote civic activism and political debate in Armenia

The role of new media and social networks in the social and political life in Armenia was the topic of a conference which was held today in Yerevan.

The event was co-organized by the OSCE Office in Yerevan and the non-governmental organization Region Research Centre. It is part of a project on strengthening electoral processes in Armenia to bring them in line with international standards implemented by the OSCE Office in Yerevan and funded by the European Union.

Some 80 participants, including journalists, bloggers, local and international experts, parliamentarians and political figures discussed a range of issues; social media; civic activism and transparency of political processes; the correlation between traditional and new media; as well as social media and information security.

“The emergence of social media has dramatically reshaped the ways in which we express ideas and exchange opinions. What has remained constant, irrespective of rapidly developing technology, is the need to respect ethical rules, whether communicating online or offline,” said Ambassador Andrey Sorokin, Head of OSCE Office in Yerevan, in his address to the conference participants. “I hope that today’s discussions will contribute to identifying effective mechanisms to achieve a balance between exercising the right to free expression online and respecting ethical standards.”

A comprehensive survey of Facebook users in Armenia was presented at the conference. The President of the Region Research Centre Laura Baghdasaryan said: “Today’s Facebook audience is essentially a microcosm of Armenian society; it is formed by people of all ages from varied political and social backgrounds. The survey aimed to find out more about the role of this social network in the flow of pluralistic information in Armenia, as well as its effect on various segments of the society.”

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