Global Trends 2030: The Individual vs. The State: Who Will Have the Upper Hand in 2030?

Jared Cohen, Director, Google Ideas; Adjunct Senior Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations
Hisham Kassem, Founding Publisher, Al-Masry Al-Youm Newspaper
Marne Levine, Vice President of Global Public Policy, Facebook
Moderated by Dr. Banning Garrett, Director, Strategic Foresight Initiative, Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security, Atlantic Council

Social media and its impacts on individual empowerment, security, information verification, and societal structure were the main topics of discussion.

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Read the National Intelligence Council’s Global Trends 2030: Alternative Worlds report

Read the Atlantic Council’s Envisioning 2030: US Strategy for a Post-Western World report

Mr. Kassem spoke at length about the way social media changed not only his industry, but also the political course of his nation, by giving individuals and non-state actors the means to voice and broadcast their opinions. Mr. Cohen speculated about future governmental efforts at censorship of the Internet and of social media in particular, imagining censorship unions and some nations punching above their weight in these efforts due to a concentration of cyber power. Ms. Levine elaborated on both points by emphasizing the role of social media in influencing opinion. She provided numerous statistics about the ways in which news about world events, entertainment, food, and more are increasingly spread through networks of online friends and acquaintances, practically affecting policy.

In response to questions, panelists engaged with the issue of digital incitement, with Mr. Kassem noting that the lack of mainstream space to voice dissent in the Middle East often resulted in an angrier online environment. Mr. Cohen cautioned that governments would try to replicate laws of the physical world in digital space but would fail, with the likelihood of major upheaval if they are unable to distinguish real security threats from regular digital noise.


Transcript by
Federal News Service
Washington, D.C.

BANNING GARRETT: Well, welcome to the next session here of our Global Trends conference. I’m Banning Garrett. I’m director of the Strategic Foresight Initiative at the Atlantic Council. And I’ve had the great privilege and honor to work with Mat Burrows over the last six, seven years on the “Global Trends” reports, traveling around the world. It’s been a really terrific and education and I would even say, at times, fun experience doing that.

So I’m really glad you’re all here and we have this panel now. And as we were talking about it before the panel started, it’s titled as “The Individual vs. the State,” but maybe we want to broaden that out to the individual in cooperation with the state as well. So, it’s – we don’t want to totally polarize but I do think it’s somewhat useful to look back on the sort of tension between the state and the individual, should we say; underlay the relationship between citizens and states for, I guess, of all of history or back to the tribe and earlier eras. And then in the 20th century we end up with this very polarized situation with communism and fascism on one side with a sort of totalitarian view and effort to control the citizen, and then democracy trying to put – on the other side of the struggle. We know how it – we know how that one came out.

But it’s interesting that the whole notion of democracy was having rights to be protected by the state, protection from the state; the right to choose and change leaders. In the United States, this was, I think, the most extreme form in the sense that there’s at least the founding myth that we actually created the state. We gave the state powers and we can take them away as the people, which I think is quite different than Europe, where people wrested power from the state and from the monarchies and tried to get more and more protection for the individual and more and more rights. But even in the U.S., we still now have the voices raising fears of the socialist state that’s going to take away their freedom. So this struggle sort of goes on and on. It has and it will continue.

But I think that one of the reasons that this panel is interesting is because we’re really asking that, in part, is the situation changed? And Mat yesterday in laying out the “Global Trends” report and talking about individual empowerment noted that, you know, we’re in a new era of a huge expansion of the middle class – perhaps from 1 billion to 3 billion by 2030. That’s driven in part by education, much better health, much – you know, hugely increased economies which are both driven by and result in the rise of the middle class. And of course we talk a lot about the new technologies – from social media, smartphones, all that. And I might add even 3D printing is empowering the individual as well to become almost – you’re an individual designer and manufacturer – something that was completely impossible in the past.

So, this is a very different era that we’re entering into, I think. And I think that’s why this panel is very interesting. Because with so many different things are going on, we of course have been looking at the Arab Spring and Occupy Wall Street; all the new means of communications; all that change that we’ve seen. And very – as William Gibson once said: The future is already here – it’s just not evenly distributed. That we see things at various stages in various parts of the world.

So, I think first I just want to introduce our extraordinary panel today. We have an amazing group of people. Jared Cohen, on my far left there, is the director of Google Ideas. That is described as a new entity at Google aiming to reframe and act on old challenges as news – in new and innovative ways. Jared is also an adjunct senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations where he focuses on terrorism and counter-radicalization, the impact of connection technologies and 21st century statecraft. Previously, Jared served on the State Department’s Policy Planning staff. He’s also author of “Children of Jihad,” “One Hundred Days of Silence,” and, coming out April 23rd – put your orders in – “The New Digital Age.”

As far as I know, he has not written a book on Berlin in 1961.


JARED COHEN: I heard it was great.

MR. GARRETT: (Chuckles.) Marne Levine is vice president for Global Public Policy at Facebook and oversees the company’s efforts to work with governments and NGOs and train them and inform them about this new technology. Marne is no stranger to Washington, like Jared. She joined Facebook, I think, what, two – what, two-and-a-half years ago? – and before that was in the Obama administration. She worked as chief of staff for National Economic Council and for Larry Summers. Prior to that, she was working with Larry at Harvard, and where she earlier received an MBA. And Jared and I, from Stanford, will forgive her for that. But you know, the “Stanford of the East” as we always called it out there. (Laughter.)

And then Hisham Kassem is an independent reporter and founder of Al-Masry Al-youm – or, Egypt Today – Egypt’s only independent newspaper. He’s one of Egypt’s most prominent publishers and democracy activists, and former vice president of the liberal opposition Tomorrow Party. He’s also a member of the advisory board of the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East. And he served as chairman of the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights and has done many extraordinary and brave things in Egypt that hopefully will be discussed as well.

So, with that, I’d like to just frame a couple questions that I think we’d like to look into. I mean, and remember, we’re trying to envision out to 2030; not just look at what is going on today. And so the question of the balance between the state and the individual: Is it going to shift toward the individual even in currently authoritarian states? Are we going to see new technologies that allow the state to have more control, which may or may not be the case? Will there be sort of a new – really new relationship between the state and individuals, with the individuals playing a bigger role in managing public life through new technologies, through mobilization? And in fact, maybe even a blurring between the state and the individual in many cases as the individuals in society take more – play more of a role at doing things the state in the past did.

And on the international level, will the state’s prerogatives be significantly curtailed by the empowerment of individuals and nonstate actors? Or will they play a bigger role in solving global problems – which was suggested in the Global Trends report – in a nonstate actor’s world? And more of a kind of, again, blurring of responsibilities: Where does the state end and the individual begin? Maybe a different – very different relationship going forward.

And then we of course will want to talk about the threats posed to security by small groups and individuals with access to highly lethal technologies – from bioware weapons to cyber drones, precision-strike – all kinds of wonderful goodies being created in our new-technology world that allow the individuals to do all kinds of really nasty things as well as some very good things. And I think just the last piece of interest to me is, like, will there be new – as we look down the road at new technologies that may develop – and I don’t mean we need a technology discussion, per se – will this actually change things even more in terms of this whole question of the relationship of the individual to the state; the empowered individual or the empowered group.

So, with that, I’ll go to Jared, maybe, to start. I think five minutes of sort of opening comments to get us started.

MR. COHEN: Sounds good, Banning.

Thank you very much and thank you to the Atlantic Council. It’s really an honor and a privilege to be here. Let me start with some general observations, which is, currently today you have 2 billion people connected to the Internet. To me, the biggest change by 2030 is that in the next, you know, decade, 5 billion new people are going to connect to the Internet. The next 5 billion people who connect to the Internet are connecting in the parts of the world ridden with the greatest number of challenges, where conflict is the most prevalent, where violence exists in a far more pervasive way than it does with the first 2 billion. So, the way to think about this is it’s not Islamabad coming online. It’s FATA and Baluchistan coming online – and what are the implications of that?

But let me start with something more positive, which is with 5 billion new people connecting to the Internet, we know that there are certain untold benefits for citizens of the future. Perhaps one of the most striking changes is going to be the advent of simultaneous instant translation capability that picks up our mannerisms, our accents, and it allows an individual in Burma to have a conversation that’s simultaneously translated with an individual in Venezuela. We’ll be able to fully explore the cross-cultural and geographic collaborations and interactions that have never been before possible in history. 3D printing will create an entirely new wave of secondary markets. We’re going to see virtual urbanization happen at a faster pace than physical urbanization as individuals in rural environments have access to the marketplace of ideas even without having to physically move. Innovations in health are going to allow individuals to swallow a pill that, you know, if they’re not feeling well, that is able to detect certain symptoms, simultaneously send them to their smartphone and make a recommendation about what might be wrong with them, where the local doctor is, and what appointments are available. These are just some of the extraordinary things that are on – are on the horizon.

Now, there are certain things that technology won’t do for citizens. Obviously, we know it will make them more efficient, the quality of life will improve and there’ll be more opportunities. But at the end of the day, the impoverished will still be impoverished, the sick will still be sick, and those that are at risk of physical violence will find that, you know, as useful as a smartphone is, it doesn’t stop war, it doesn’t stop sexual- and gender-based violence, it doesn’t stop a lot of the threats that we see in different environments.

But the purpose of this session is to talk about 2030. And so let me bit a little bit more provocative and let me sort of move towards states because I think this is where there’s greater uncertainty. I think the story of citizens is a little bit easier to understand in the future. The challenge that states of the future will encounter is the number of virtual citizens that they have will far outnumber the number of physical citizens they have. And while I don’t reject the notion that states will still be the dominant unit in the international system, I do believe that as General Cartwright said yesterday, we’re about to enter a very turbulent transition where the most democratic states to the most repressive states will find that they’re going to go in one generation from the vast majority of their population not being connected to the vast majority of their population being connected. And it’s going to happen very fast and it’s going to happen in very unpredictable ways.

I believe that cyberspace is the world’s largest ungoverned space. Now, again, there’s many benefits to that but there’s many challenges to that for a state. So, states are not going to cease to be the most powerful actor in the international system but they’re going to find that some of their power begins to erode and they’re going to find it’s not a question of will they have the power; it’s a question of, how much power will they have?

Now, the first challenge that states will experience as they go through this turbulent transition is they’re going to try to replicate the laws of the physical world in cyberspace. That’s going to be basically impossible. It’s not going to prevent them from trying, but they’re going to find that it’s hard enough to enforce laws in the physical world let alone in this giant, ungoverned transnational space. So, let me be even a little bit more provocative here – and I’m looking at Barry because he’s giving me, you know, signals to do so. (Laughter.)

My view is the natural reaction for states that will occur as a result of them not being able to replicate these laws will be the Balkanization of the Internet. And I don’t mean separate Internets. What I mean is a different Internet experience in different societies based on how they filter, and we’re already seeing this today with the first 2 billion. And there’s lots of different ways that states filter out information to create a specialized Internet experience.

You know, the obvious – an apparent category to us is the blatant states like China, states like Iran, that, you know, are sort of unabashed in terms of how they censor the Internet and how they filter. Then you have states like Turkey that sort of follow a more sheepish model, which is they try to couch it as “parental controls,” but under parental controls also comes curbing political dissent. And then you have the third category, which is the politically acceptable, and Germany is a good example of this as they filter out neo-Nazi and hate speech. And so those are sort of the three models for filtering, but in the future this is going to happen all across the world.

Now, what’s the consequence of the Balkanization of the Internet? The first consequence is that states will band together to edit the web in collaboration. So, you can imagine an autocratic cyberunion forming between countries like, you know, Venezuela, you know, Russia, some of the Middle Eastern countries, some of the African countries, where they all agree to filter out certain content. You can imagine a collection of states that are particularly fond of their, you know, Founding Father agreeing to filter out negative things about each other’s Founding Father. So this is sort of – you know, the new way of doing alliances in cyber space is around collective editing.

The second consequence – and I think this is the one with the real geopolitical implications – is that in the future, every state will have two foreign policies and two domestic policies – one for the physical world and one for the virtual world – and at times, they’ll actually be in contradiction with one another. So, if you think about it, today there’s a number of states that physically function as allies but in cyberspace engage in truly adversarial behavior.

Now, my view is the true testament of power in the future is not just what a state can do in the physical world but what a state is able to do and get away with in cyberspace. You know, ultimately, both citizens and states are going to increasingly split their time between the physical and the virtual world, and how they sort of do that dance and how they exert power in both is ultimately going to result in what their overall – their overall influence is. So, you may have some states that are physically very weak but have tremendous cybersecurity capability. Or you may have some states that are physical pariahs but have one of the most effective cyberkinetic capabilities in the international system, in which they’ll punch above their weight in cyberspace but they might, you know, sort of not function very effectively in the physical world.

And I’ve probably reached my five minutes, so I’ll just sort of tease two other things which we’ll get to later. To me, the two most disruptive things to the state in the present and the future will be terrorism and revolution, and I look forward to talking about how technology will transform both of those.

MR. GARRETT: Great. Marne, please. Thank you, Jared.

MARNE LEVINE: So, first of all, thank you for having me here, too, and I want to congratulate you on the “Global Trends 2030” report, which was certainly very interesting and provocative and stimulating to be able to think about what’s coming in the future. And I certainly found that it was heartening to see that the trend is towards individual empowerment, and that’s been my experience working at Facebook.

Jared sort of talking about – he talked about the theoretical and what’s going to happen in 2030. But to really understand 2030, I actually think that we’re at this critical moment right now, right here, this, like, inflection point where we’re seeing all of these things that Jared just described coming to a head. And so what will happen in 2030 really matters now. So, let me just – let me just talk about a couple things.

Jared talked about some of these macrostatistics and what the projections are. With Facebook, which was started in 2004, we now have a billion users using Facebook. It took eight years to have a billion people using Facebook. We have 600 million people using Facebook on mobile. And that means that people are connected through a device that they carry with them all the time. So, never before have we ever been so connected to each other, to knowledge and to information. And that has profound consequences for how we relate to each other, how we relate to governments and the opportunities that exist. And the opportunities come in the form of economic opportunity, social opportunities and political opportunity.

When it comes to economic opportunity, we’ve analyzed – or, there have been others who have analyzed the effect of a platform like Facebook has where you have all of these connections. It creates a lot of economic opportunity where there wasn’t opportunity before. The University of Maryland did a study and analyzed that the Facebook platform – that the app economy has resulted in roughly 230,000 jobs in the U.S. and about $15 billion in economic value in the U.S. The same kind of analysis was done by Deloitte in Europe and found that roughly 230,000 jobs were created in European countries and about $15 billion – 15 billion euro of economic value was created through this – through the Facebook platform as well. So this – so, the kinds of economic opportunities that exist through Facebook will only continue to grow as long as these connections – as long as these connections can happen.

In terms of – in terms of social opportunity, one of the more interesting elements of a more connected, open world is the kind of effect that – the kind of influence that people can have on each other. And we’ve seen that in all kinds of different ways. We see that when – that you can – that if a friend tells you to check out a restaurant or to see a movie, you’re more likely to do that because you have a trusted friend who tells you that. And the same can be said about social issues.

So, if you find that your friend is conserving energy, you are going to be much more inclined to figure out ways to also try to conserve energy. And so you can have a kind of global consciousness that develops out of this. And when it comes to civic engagement and civic activity, you’re 57 percent more likely to go to a rally or to – or to vote if a friend tells you about this. And you saw that when there – when the tsunami earthquake happened in Japan, it can also be through these connections that people come together in a common cause to raise money, to get important information to each other and to, again, inform each other about ways to get involved around causes. So, a kind of global consciousness has evolved through these connections around the world when you have a – one of the biggest borderless global communities that has emerged and is no longer constrained by borders of a county.

And, finally, when we talk about this sort of individual versus state, there are – the individual certainly has had opportunity through platforms like Facebook or Twitter or Google and just being connected through the Internet. You have – it used to be that individuals didn’t have any kind of a voice and that platforms like Facebook have given individuals voice where they haven’t had it before.

In 2008, Oscar Morales was an engineer who decided that he was tired of some of the ways that the FARC was behaving – kidnapping, lying. And so one man, one guy who wasn’t necessarily part of an important family, who wasn’t – didn’t necessarily have incredible means at his disposal but was able to sit in a room and organize and mobilize people around a common cause. And that happened by shifting power from institutions to individuals.

So, individuals certainly have had – there has been a shift to empower individuals. But the same can be said about governments. And what we are finding is that it’s no longer about – it’s no longer just a question of whether governments will use social media to connect to individual, but they’re using social media to be able to have a two-way dialogue with individuals. It’s not individuals versus the state, necessarily. It’s individuals with the state and collaborating and conversing and talking.

In the UAE, Sheikh Mohammed was trying to figure out what they should do to celebrate Ramadan. And he crowdsourced a set of ideas from citizens. And citizens said: Let’s create an orphanage. And so he gets – he got an idea to create an orphanage and that’s what – and that’s what he did. So that kind of communication, the two-way dialogue that occurs between governments and people will only increase in the future. But just going back to the beginning of what it was that I said is that we’re at this crossroads right now when you have individuals who are feeling empowered by using tools like Facebook, social technologies like Facebook, governments – when there’s kind of profound changes occurring, governments get nervous. And governments look for ways to try to control these forces. And it’s not necessarily only governments that you would – that you would think are trying to do this. But it’s countries like Brazil who haven’t quite figured out their frameworks and their approach yet; countries like India who have had more of their roots in democratic traditions and have – and are a democracy.

And so right now as we sit here in this room, there are representatives from every country sitting in Dubai at the World Conference on International Telecommunications meeting, a U.N.-sponsored meeting. And what they are trying to decide is whether the Internet should be regulated. And so there’s a struggle that’s going on between governments and people in terms of whether there should be some kind of regulation or control over content and control in the way that people connect and the kinds of things that they’re able to share and that kind of free expression.

And so what comes out of that, it may be that nothing will come out of these meetings right now. It may be that something – something that seems relatively innocuous but actually gives cover for the future and will affect things in 2020, 2030. But what I know now is something that Jared said, which is that this is the start of something where representatives from countries around the world are trying to come together to sort out how to do this collectively. And how we do that will be – will be very consequential for how much empowerment the individual has when it comes to 2030.

MR. GARRETT: Thank you, Marne. Very interesting. Hisham.

HISHAM KASSEM: Thank you, Banning. Good morning, everybody. It’s fascinating to be here. I’m really enjoying the debates. And I want to extend my thanks to the Atlantic Council as well.

Now, I would like to share with you remarks and observations on the Internet, basically, and the Arab Spring – my experiences there. In no way am I trying to say anything conclusive because this is going to take a long time. I still don’t know why Egyptians rose against Mubarak. After 7,000 years what happened, okay, for – (laughter) – the masses to step out? And it will take years, and this is an issue that certainly will take a long time before, you know – there’s not enough market research and it’s – the whole thing is quite novel.

But here are my observations. Before I get into that, for the record, I come from mainstream media. Now, new media has changed everything for us. We are linear in our work, and if there is, for example, a political leader assassinated, that will be the first issue in the news bulletin. And then possibly a story about a kitten that got trapped on a tree. And that comes on the back page like as, you know, a piece of entertainment or a final piece on the news, you know, to put a smile on everybody’s face. But with social media, we could find on Facebook or on Google video that that is the most-watched video and that the assassination of the political leader comes second or third or fourth. Now, I need to keep my eyes on that so I don’t – I’m not forced into early retirement – (laughter) – or changing jobs. However, if I’m running a paper or a TV station and the first story is about the kitten and the second – everybody on the shift is going to get fired – (laughter) – okay and I would hope that the board of directors don’t fire me, okay. But I will have no second thought. Everybody loses his job. That’s what.

The second remark is – and one of the WikiLeaks, I’m quoted as saying that Mubarak’s opposition from which I came from is almost dead. And the only place where there is opposition for Mubarak is the Facebook-Google-Twitter generation. That’s on a leaked State Department cable.

Now, just going back to – now, on 24 January, if you asked me what was going to happen tomorrow, I said, no, no idea. And when people were annoyed at me – you know, you’re supposed to be an analyst; go on, give us an idea – I simply answered and said if you gave a hundred analysts a fact sheet on Tunisia and told them tomorrow a street trader is going to go set himself on fire in front of a government building, what chances are there that the Arab Spring – and I think it’s bigger than the Arab Spring; I think it’s going to extend to Iran and further – will occur? A hundred will say zero chance.

However, on 28 January, after I saw what happened, I joined the demonstrations for the first time but we up in the morning and found that Mubarak used the kill switch. He shut off the Internet and mobile phone connections. Now, here is one question: Did that make people get together? Had he kept the Internet on, would people have sat in the comfort of their homes, you know, tweeting and writing statuses, et cetera, instead of deciding to physically go meet? Unanswered question. I don’t think we’ll – it’s going to be a long time before we can answer that question.

Now, once the Internet was returned a week later, it empowered everybody. People felt he was threatened by it and that they got their way and so started using it extensively. And I remember the first status I wrote on Facebook was “I never had an idea – I never imagined that when I signed up for my Facebook profile I was signing for the tool that would finish Mubarak.” Okay, and that was everything led me to believe that. however, that was challenged later on 19 March when we had our referendum on whether the constitution should be drafted first or elections first. Now, I was for elections first because I refused that the military select a committee to draft a constitution. But Facebook and Twitter became really Soviet. It was dangerous to say that you are going to vote “yes.” And I remember on a status or a tweet saying: You know, guys, I am going to vote “yes,” however I’m really concerned that you notify the prosecutor general against me or somebody presses charges because I’m doing that.

And I really began to think there’s going to be a landslide vote of “no,” but it was the opposite direction. And so we started questioning for the first time did social media trigger off people as we, you know, initially believed? Anyway – I’m just trying to get so much in.

MR. GARRETT: Well, you’ve raised an interesting question about the relationship between the mainstream media and social media –

MR. KASSEM: Yes, yes, yeah.

MR. GARRETT: – that I think is really worth exploring.

MR. KASSEM: Yes, now, again, we have weak media. After 60 years of military rule, our media is extremely weak. The first independent daily in 50 years was Al-Masry Al-youm, like Banning said earlier. And social media began to set the agenda for mainstream media, okay. And that was extremely dangerous, and part of this information meltdown that is happening now in the Arab region or wherever there’s been an uprising. And, you know, right now, Egypt is boiling again, and I get up in the morning and I want to check and find out what’s happening, and I do resort to – about 60 percent of my information will come from social media – okay. Facebook statuses, via YouTube videos, et cetera. But it’s because of my ability to verify but for regular folk who are not, you know, professionally employed in the media, it can have the counter effect, you see.

Anyway, to conclude, do I think that eventually the individual will prevail? I have enough evidence in front of me to say that that would be very dangerous, and that the establishment has to prevail, and social media would contribute and be a major source of information. I’ll leave it at that.

MR. GARRETT: That’s a very – you know, one of the things that you implied, and Marne, is this question of trust. And it can kind of work in many different ways. I mean, one is: My friends say that this is a good movie, this is a good company to deal with, this is a cause I should donate to; I should go out and conserve energy. And because my friend said it, I’m much more likely to do it and then trust that, well, their judgment is good. And therefore I think it has a very positive impact on governance and involvement of people and getting people to do things, but they don’t really trust – I mean, the power company sends you something that says: Pay another X number of dollars per month and we’ll get green energy that you’re actually paying for rather than fossil fuels. You kind of ignore it. But if your friend said that they’re doing it, then maybe you’d start to sign up. So, you could spread some things very positively.

But the other part of the trust is you could start trusting conspiracy theories. You could start trusting completely untrue things that are spread by your friends or the media that you trust – you deal with all the time. And so this can be very viral. I mean, I think we’ve seen that in this country on a number of – from birther movements and all the other – many other things that have gone on here where a group of people expands really rapidly to a large group, starts spreading things; because my friend said it, then I start to believe it. Or I think Facebook is now the largest – biggest source of news for people in the United States, I believe. And their friends post to Facebook, they see what they post, so we know this whole niche thing. So this is, I think, a phenomena and I don’t know how it’s going to play out, but it has – it’s very two-sided. But I don’t know if any of you want to comment on that, but I think it’s an interesting problem going forward.

Go ahead.

MS. LEVINE: Well, I think that, I mean, what you say is true – that there’s so much information. I mean, if you just sort of look at the evolution of the Internet when you had – you had so much information and then Google came along and provided a search engine to help you be able to find the kind of information that you needed. But that information was sort of the wisdom of crowds. It was, you know, how many people linked to something. And that is useful for what you want to – that can be useful. It can be very useful. But in a world where you have a lot of information and you’re trying to sort through things, it’s also useful to be able to have your friends help sort out what information might be helpful or might be interesting to you. So, that’s where the – that’s where the trust part comes out.

I think that on a service like Facebook, you have a combination of different kinds of friends. So, you have your very good friends, but you – and those are called, sort of, “strong ties,” but you also have some weaker ties on Facebook who are not necessarily your five or your 10 closest friends, and they often serve as a source of information for you. So, it doesn’t necessarily – sort of implicit in your question is whether – is whether there’s a kind of echo chamber that forms of your own views or whether they – whether you’re biased towards only kinds of information that your friends are giving you. but you really can be exposed to a wider array of information and be able to sort through that.

And in some sense – and I think there was a study – I think it was in – well, I can come back on this if anybody’s actually interested in it – that your weaker ties actually help influence much of what it is that you’re interested in rather than just the stronger ties. So, I think by having an array of information, you’re able to sort through some of this stuff and pick out what is of interest and of importance to you.

MR. GARRETT: Do you want to comment on that, Jared?

MR. COHEN: Yeah, I think what’s interesting is the increased visibility that we have. And this pertains to revolutions, to conflicts, to just getting news. I mean, it’s – people often say, wow, the world is really violent. Well, actually, it’s less violent than it’s ever been; we just see every little bad thing that happens in any corner of the globe. And by the way, I would argue that that visibility is a good thing because it heightens awareness and therefore heightens accountability. It doesn’t mean that deeds will always be punished but it does mean that if individuals are engaged in hostile activity, it is harder to get away with it; it is harder to do it than in a complete blackout.

I think the real question in the future is going to be who verifies all of this, right? if we go back to the next-5-billion trend, that’s 5 billion new people generating enormous amounts of content. Believe me, they’ll be really excited about having devices to generate lots of content. It’s the amount of information that will be out there will be so overwhelming that at a certain point someone is going to have to verify it.

I think this is going to be a very important role that the mainstream media plays but I also think that there’s going to be an important role that non-media stakeholders play. So you can imagine in a situation where there’s a conflict, you don’t just send in human rights monitors and you don’t just send in the Red Cross, you send in international verification monitors who actually go on the ground and make sure that the – you know, sort of – you know, help determine, you know, which individuals on the ground arte actually generating, you know, credible video, verified video, verified content.

MR. GARRETT: (Inaudible.) And looking at Egypt, how does that play out there? Who verifies the information that spreads so rapidly now through the social media as well as the –

MR. KASSEM: Unfortunately, you know, no good job is being done of that, OK? But the amount, again, of information that is coming through for people who can personally verify is amazing. And I just watched this gruesome video of an actor – I don’t want to get into it – by the – President Morsi’s supporters this morning. And without social media it would have not been there, because somebody basically was using a phone, filmed it and put it on. Or the fact that the attacks on the demonstrators who were protesting outside his office, that was again social media, and it went on mainstream media from there. And a lot of what is happening – Syria, for example – a lot of it is really coming through the citizen journalist who resorts to social media to post his whatever, information. And then we take it from there. So the amount of bad-quality footage that we’re seeing now on TV – but it’s the only footage available.

MR. GARRETT: So the social – the regular media is responding to the social media, and it’s setting the agenda. And this is, you know – how does government start to play in and build trust in dealing with people on information? In other words, one of the interesting things about this whole process is transparency. I mean, as an individual you’ll have digital exhaust the rest of your life. So everything you’ve ever done is going to be out there and available for people. This has – it means two things to me. One is we’ve – all going to live in glass houses, because everybody is going to have something embarrassing that’s online somewhere. So we have to be a little more tolerant. And secondly, it would seem to generate good behavior. I mean, you have an incentive not to do bad things that are going to follow you the rest of your life. And people won’t want to work with you or hire you or deal with you. This would seem to have an impact on corporations and governments and NGOs – that they have to be careful because they’re living more and more in a glass house. How do you think this is going to play out for governments?

MR. COHEN: So I actually think that this is an interesting dictator’s dilemma of the future, right, which is you’re going to – in the future, you’re going to have a lot more noise. You’re going to have a lot of manifestations of digital activity that look like maybe they could be the next revolution, the next major protest. And you know, the challenge for any regime in the future is they’re going to have to distinguish between what’s noise and what’s real, and make sure that they don’t overreact to something that’s just noise and don’t underreact to something that’s in fact real.

And at the end of the day, where we’re going to see the most change is where they get it wrong. An overreaction, as Hisham mentioned in the case of you know – many of these cases in the Middle East and North Africa, it had a huge impact. I actually do believe that had Mubarak not shut down the networks he might still be in power. I was in Tahrir Square during the revolution, and I asked a number of people on the streets why they went there. And a number of them said, you know, this wasn’t my fight. And then Mubarak took away the Internet and my mobile device and he really pissed me off. (Laughter.) Or, you know, I talked to another young kid who said: What was I going to do? Sit at home in my house where I share a room with a couple of siblings with a computer that wasn’t working and a phone that wasn’t working? I wanted to actually see what was happening. And so I think this question of noise is going to be very interesting in how leaders and governments deal with that noise and figure out what to actually react to.

I’ll tell you a very – a very good story that was shared to me by the prime minister of Singapore, about curry. There was a conflict between a Singaporean of Indian descent and a Singaporean of Chinese descent over cooking curry in a hallway that they shared. And they got in this big disagreement. And in typical Singaporean fashion they hired a mediator, and the mediator worked it out and it was all fine.

Anyway, two years later, the mediator went public with her story and it played into certain numbers of the opposition’s concerns about foreigners coming in and taking jobs in Singapore. Anyway, they declared – you know, online they declared this national day of cooking curry, and the prime minister said that they hadn’t actually – you know, they didn’t sort of think much of it because what could possibly happen with people being upset about curry? Anyway, long story short, it ended up with all of these people in the streets, one of the largest modern-day demonstrations in Singapore, all because of something that started with cooking curry.

And what you learn from that is in the future revolutionary triggers are going to be much easier to find. And it’s always going to be these sorts of unpredictable, catalytic events or incidents that, you know, end up surprising everybody including governments. And maybe it will be curry and maybe it will be something more substantive, although I do like curry. (Laughter.)

MR. GARRETT: But it’s the butterflies – Lorenzo’s butterfly that flaps its wings in the Amazon and sets off a tornado in Texas. But this is Mohamed Bouazizi on December 17th – what, two years ago – immolating himself in Tunisia, and the hurricane is still blowing through the Middle East. So I think you’re right: This is a complexity problem for all of us.

Did you want to comment?

MS. LEVINE: Yeah, I think it’s really interesting to see though how governments are using tools like this to try and get a pulse. And there are all these new examples of different kinds of models that are emerging, and that’s why it’s not necessarily about the individual versus the state or the state versus the individual and how these collaborations can work.

So let me just give you a couple examples. One example that I think is really interesting – and just to show you, even coming out of the Obama administration, that I am a bipartisan now – is that Majority Leader Eric Cantor came up with a thing called the “Citizen Cosponsor” act. And what this is, is that it allows you to download this app, they list all the legislation that is coming up, and then you as a citizen can cosponsor or “like” that piece of legislation. And so let’s say it was the Clean Water Act. You would then, you know, appear as a cosponsor of this – of this Clean Water Act legislation and you would get regular updates about it. And then the Majority Leader’s Office can sort of see – can kind of take a pulse on what’s happening, where the interest lies and how – and how it’s going. So there are applications like that that are forming that will evolve over time, and policymakers can get more information and develop a better pulse on what’s happening.

There are other things like AMBER Alerts. You know, it used to be that you would put if there was a missing child that it was on the back of a – of a milk carton, and then you got a flier in the mail that showed you a photograph of somebody. But now what we do – now what we have is, in connection with law enforcement and the Department of Justice, we’ve created a partnership where we’ve created a page for each state and an AMBER Alert on Facebook and you see the pictures. And so it can be – law enforcement thinks it’s the difference – it shrinks the distance and the time between finding out about a missing or exploited child and being able to engage citizens to actually help law enforcement find a missing child. So it’s that kind of collaboration.

I’ve given you two kinds of U.S. examples, but there are examples around the world of how this is – about how this is happening. And where the – where the threat comes – where the tension comes is when you deny – when countries sort of say, we’re going to cut off access or we’re going to – or we’re going to put parameters around what kind of engagement we’re going to have. In general, whether there’s noise or not, the noise is much better than cutting off the discussion or cutting off the two-way, kind of, dialogue that can occur between governments and citizens. And I think that Egypt is the perfect example of that. It was the will of people who – of courageous people going out into the streets, but it was also – technology was a part of it but it was very much about people and how technology was amplifying the voices of the people that were there because they didn’t have the ability to communicate with the government in other ways. They’d either march with their feet or use services like Facebook or Twitter to be able to communicate.

MR. KASSEM: (Inaudible.) I think verification will remain with mainstream media because we – in mainstream media, there is always a desk of newsgatherers who are monitoring all the social media as a source. But we always need to verify it. Now, media can create wars, recessions, and people in the end will always go to a publication or a channel that can be sued for information. But when information comes from, say, BlueMonkey – you know, he’s tweeted something or put something on – how much can you rely on that?

I worked in the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry and I was assigned to look into incitement in media. Incitement is a felony. It has very clear standards you need to differentiate between it and derogatory language, otherwise you bring down the ceiling of free expression. And when I started working, nothing in mainstream media was incitement – and incitement as in the case of Rwanda or Kosovo or Sri Lanka. But when I went to social media, I was horrified. And Bahrain is a timber box. And if a regional war breaks out, I think it’s going – it will break out from Bahrain. And the recommendation I made to them was allow the opposition – because it was really lopsided: Six papers owned by the regime and one paper by the opposition, and broadcasts strictly in the hands of the regime, OK? And my recommendation was, careful, this is where it could start a war – social media. So allow more space for mainstream media, and basically give them a voice.

MR. GARRETT: That’s very interesting. As you have more and more people online expressing their voices in places like China, and they can’t stop that. And so if you think you’re controlling information, you’re really not. It’s spreading anyway. And I think we need to go – Chris Nelson had a question back there, and then we’ve got some various questions. I’m sorry we’ve waited so long.

Q: (Off mic) – you’re talking about, in a sense, how people like you make a living – (off mic) –

MR. GARRETT: Yeah, identify yourself.

Q: Yeah – Chris Nelson, Nelson Report. And something of a practitioner. What you’re really talking about is who is going to mediate? It isn’t just verifying whether it’s a conspiracy theory or did the guy from Mars really arrive, you’re talking about how do institutions, how do modern media, including Facebook – do you mediate so it isn’t taken over by the crazies and the birthers and all that? And I’m interested to know if you guys are addressing it in that way, is there – is there a way that Facebook or Google or anybody else says, no, wait a minute, this isn’t right. We all know how we used to do it. You know, we’d read Dave Ignatius or we’re grab a paper that Banning Garrett wrote, right? Well, in the future, how is that going to work? Is it going to work the same way? And I think the implications for governance are pretty clear.

In some ways, the world you’re describing is a world of direct participatory democracy. Well, you know, we don’t have that in this country. It wasn’t set up that way. It’s a representative democracy. You’re supposed to trust the mediators to figure out what the best thing to do. You know, the Founders would listen to this conversation and have a heart attack. Now, we might be right and they may have been wrong, but by god it’s changing. So, what does it mean if in effect representative democracy no longer works that way? Or is that the mediator? Thank you.

MR. GARRETT: A very good question. Who would like to comment on that?

MR. COHEN: Yeah, I’ll make a technology observation, which is part of the reason why you’re even asking this question is because today’s technologies are the first technologies that allow any individual to own, develop and disseminate their own content without having to rely on an intermediary.

Q: Do you have anybody’s – (off mic)?

MR. COHEN: So I think we’re in this stage right now where it looks like, you know, gone are the days where there’s intermediaries. But I actually think that, you know, the amount of content, again, is going to be so significant that we’re going to see a resurfacing of intermediaries around curation, around verification, around a lot of these things. My view is, where there’s a problem, there’s a company that’s going to fill that gap, there’s a startup that’s going to fill that gap.

Part of the reason I’m not actually that worried is twofold. One, there’s a lot of young people looking to build startups to address exactly what you’re talking about. And I have a lot of confidence that people will figure it out and they’ll make a lot of money in the process.

The second observation is I’m still not convinced that social media is what we should be blaming here. I’m convinced that we maybe are getting more visibility into the popular sentiments of larger numbers of people and maybe we just don’t like what we see. You know, there’s an argument out there that people like to make that, you know, technology just reinforces views. No, I actually think a back-alley mosque in a slum of Riyadh to actually reinforce views because there’s no challenging of opinions, there’s no sort of – there’s no semblance of critical thinking. All the schools are rogue memorization. You know, you might not like what you hear online but the reality is you can challenge it. Other people can challenge it.

And by the way, even if you’re the most close-minded, judgmental person on earth, you cannot avoid finding something in your newsfeed or in your RSS feed is essentially something that you disagree with. So, it’s really difficult to be close-minded in isolation now. We just may not like sort of a lot of the popular sentiments that we’re seeing.

MR. GARRETT: Anybody in the real – I know the back has trouble –

(Cross talk.)

MR. GARRETT: Oh, you, I’m sorry – yes, please, go ahead.

MR. KASSEM: See, from my experience and what I saw, I think it will improve representative democracy but democracy can only be representative because what happened in my case, I left Tahrir one day after Mubarak was out and said it’s time to build this country. We got rid of Mubarak. But social media allowed for something called permanent revolution. And you had kids who were sitting there on Twitter and Facebook and trying to form a Cabinet and nominating people.

And I was saying I made myself very unpopular with these young revolutionaries who originally saw me as one of the hard-core Mubarak opposition but they were horrified in me because I was saying it’s time to build a country. You can’t go on in this permanent revolution where you think you can make a policy on social media. But they were there nominating ministers, et cetera. So it can be a hint to the policymaker but it can’t be a way to form a Cabinet. I remember telling them: Boys, if you’re looking for a minister of interior or chief of the police, I am very happy to take the job and I promise I will send you every fire engine in town twice a day to unload its tank on you in Tahrir – (laughter) – so that you cool off and sober up a little.


MR. GARRETT: Is there anybody in the back? Way back there? Yeah, I think we’ve got to have a representative of the back end of this wall.

Q: Hi, Jeff Lightfoot with the Atlantic Council, and I actually wanted to get a shot right back to that question because is it not true – I’m a little bit of a skeptic here. Is it not true that while these young people were tweeting, the Muslim Brotherhood was out canvassing? And this is an 80-year-old institution that has existed in Egypt far before Facebook and Google, and that’s who’s controlling Egypt today – not the Facebook crowd. Isn’t it that correct?

MR. KASSEM: Well, yes, certainly. You know, that’s what I was telling them recently – like, well done, 007. Look at what happened. We ended up – because I was telling them it’s time to get into politics. Go join parties instead of sitting there on social media becoming your only occupation, and voicing your opinions. No, you need to parallel that with some organizational entities. And now there is that awareness. More of them are enrolling into parties and become disciplined and realizing, you know, OK, it’s very nice to sit there and say, unacceptable, never again, but it needs to be translated into something practical.

MS. LEVINE: But that – it was never meant to be that the Facebook crowd was going to sort of come into power and govern. I mean, you – technology can be an aid, can enhance, can help to influence. But you still – and citizens aren’t necessary stepping into different roles. You need – it can only happen with institutional reform with an empowered civil society and with leadership. And without those things, then you’re not going to have a working, functioning kind of government in society. So, I – it was never meant to be a complete – that Facebook was going to somehow become the government.

MR. COHEN: If I could – if I could just build on what Marne said, which I completely agree with, I think part of the challenge you have with these – the advent of these tools and their incorporation into revolutions is the barriers of entry have been lowered. So, somebody can be a full-time activist, a part-time activist, an anonymous activist or an activist using their real name. And what’s happening is the new sort of modern way of doing revolution is producing a lot of celebrities but not very many new leaders who have different last names and can run for president and actually win. And a lot of these societies where these revolutions are taking place don’t really have much of a history of institutions besides the religious institutions.

I think part of the other challenge you have – building on this point of leadership because I think this is probably the biggest challenge we’re going to face with this accelerated pace of revolutions is it used to be that you were a leader first and then you became public figure. Now we’ve reversed it and you become a public figure and then maybe you become a leader down the line. My concern is that the accelerated pace of movement-making is actually going to retard leadership development. You know, if you think about Mandela, Lech Walesa, you know, it took decades and decades of these – decades and decades for these men to actually develop the credentials and the credibility and the experience such that when they actually emerged and became known, they were ready to take – they were ready to take the country forward.

So the question is, we’re still going to have technology kind of creating space for all these unlikely leaders. What are we actually going to do to backfill them with the leadership skills that they actually need to be the next generation of leaders? And maybe in 10 years we’ll go back through YouTube or go back through the tapes and we’ll look at sort of who did what during the Arab Spring, and it’ll be interesting to look at who’s actually developed leadership skills versus who has sort of kind of disappeared off the face of the earth. And so I think we have to get at this question of leadership but at the end of the day, technology can’t replace the need for credible new leaders and functioning institutions.

MR. GARRETT: Jon Stewart on “The Daily Show” last week said: I want to introduce my next guest. He’s the boss from New Jersey. And the joke of course wasn’t it wasn’t really Bruce Springsteen; it was Chris Christie. And that’s the issue you’re raising is, is “the boss,” Springsteen, far more famous than Chris Christie – and have a bigger Twitter follower and become a national leader and then be expected to be a political leader – or is it going to be somebody who’s really been out in the trenches running a government and then emerge on the national scene as a political leader? A very interesting question.

Harlan – and I know you’ve been patient here.

Q: Is there a microphone – (off mic) –

MS. : It’s coming.

MR. GARRETT: I think you can do “news for cows,” if you remember – (name inaudible).

Q: I’m Harlan Ullman. An observation, then a question. In 1902 and 1903, the Royal United Services Institute held a really fascinating conference called 1920. And if you read the reports from that particular conference, they were looking at these technological miracles – radio, nuclear power, Einstein, the airplane. You could actually send a message around the world through the underground cable that took 10 minutes. And the conclusions were that interdependence was going to make war impossible because of economic linkages. And the number-one danger at that stage was terrorists because all heads of state – kings, queens and so forth – are getting knocked off. And it’s very interesting to think about over 100 years ago and wonder how much has really changed except in the speed of things.

My question is this however: If you look at the 20th century, in many ways, that was a century of personalities. On the positive side of the ledger, you had Teddy Roosevelt, you had Franklin Roosevelt, you had Churchill, you had Eisenhower; you had people like that. On the negative side, you have Hitler, you have Lenin, you have Stalin. And on the ambivalent side, you have Mao, Dung (ph) and Joe (ph). My question is, as you look forward in this debate between the individual and the state, we see in the 21st century so far, basically, personalities of celebrities, with the exception of Osama bin Laden, who probably had the most impact of any individual.

When you think about the future, tell me how you come out with the role of individuals. Are we going to see great leaders as we saw in the 20th century or are we going to be stuck with celebrities and people like bin Laden who are going to be dominating the politics?

MS. LEVINE: Want to start?

MR. : No.


MR. COHEN: Why don’t you talk about the individual and I’ll talk about terrorism?

MS. LEVINE: It’s a great question. You know, I am – I think that I’m optimistic that you will see – that you will see great leaders. I think the origins of the leadership may be different than where they came from before. So you might see – I mean, in a country even like the United States, you might see people starting in Silicon Valley or something; somebody who is part of creating something big, and then moving – and creating a following and empowering individuals in that way.

I mean, if you think about it, what is leadership about? Leadership is about becoming – being part of something that’s bigger than yourself, having some kind of following and being able to influence them to do, hopefully, good things. that’s the positive form of leadership. You also highlighted some other kinds of negative – people who have had impact in leadership positions but it hasn’t necessarily been positive.

So you might see people coming from different backgrounds than you have traditionally seen. It may not be that people go straight into government or come out of academic institutions. It may be that you come – they come from more nontraditional areas. But I’m – but I’m optimistic about that and I think that some of the tools that have emerged through technology allow people to understand what people want, need, and to be able to collaborate in ways that they haven’t been able to before to come up with solutions to big problems.

And I was saying earlier, when we were back and – before we came out here, I mean, one of the reasons that I went into government when I did was – from an early age, was that I was interesting in finding broad-scale policy solutions to help people. Like, really to help people. Right now what you see is that it’s really difficult to get things done in government. Different parties are sparring with each other, people have different – aren’t necessarily motivated by – they’re motivated by politics and not necessary by policy and finding exactly what the right solution is for people. I think you can use – I think you can use certain kinds of platforms and technologies to address some of these broad-scale societal issues – around health, around education, around energy and the environment – that you haven’t been able to do before.

And the example that I used back there – and then I’ll stop – is that – you know, take organ donation. In the United States, you have roughly 115,000 or 113,000 people a day who are waiting for an organ and it’s the difference between life and death for them. Of those, 18 die a day. This is a solvable problem. We just need to generate more organs, so you have to have more organ donors. And the way that you can influence that is by having people influence other people. And so one thing that we did with Facebook is we allowed people to say when they’ve become an organ donor and then others see that and then they become – they post that they’ve become an organ donor. And it makes it faster and easier for people to sign up, and so this is a kind of problem that can be solved.

So will there be great leaders? I think so, yes. And will they come from the traditional places that you’ve seen before? Maybe they’ll come from other places.

MR. GARRETT: I think you heard it first here: Mark Zuckerberg for president. I think that’s what we’re going to see. (Laughter.)

Now, I think we’re nearing the end here, so I think I need to have final comments from Jared and –

MS. LEVINE: Well, you’re not going to get the terrorism?

MR. GARRETT: Well, he can make your final comment about terrorism but we’re way over time, so I want to –

MR. COHEN: I’ll be – I’ll just be very, very –

MR. GARRETT: – I’m trying to be good here.

MR. COHEN: I’ll be very quick and then I’ll shorten my final – my final comment. You know, I think that the profile of who is a terrorist is going to change in the future. And I think Nigeria offers a very interesting case study for this. So you have – in the north, you have Boko Haram, which is a horrific traditional terrorist organization with almost – in a part of the country where there’s almost no connectivity to the Internet. In the southern part of the country, in Lagos, you have some of the best 4019 criminal scammers in the entire world, who do have plenty of access to the Internet. Eventually, Nigeria is going to be completely connected and what you will have is two anti-establishment communities joining up. And you have a scary situation where we’re not talking about coordinated – just coordinate physical attacks or just coordinate cyberattacks, but actually coordinated attacks across two different dimensions.

I think the future terrorist organization, it’s not going to be so much who’s their leader but who’s their chief technology officer. I also think an interesting question to ask is, you know, when FATA is completely connected and we learn about a ring of cyberterrorists operating in South Waziristan and we get intelligence on a particular plan that they’re looking to undertake, will we see the first drone strike against cyberterrorists? I don’t know. But in terms of concluding remarks, there’s an obscure American inventor who is so obscure that his name escapes me now, who had a very wise quote where he said we should all be concerned about the future because we’re going to have to spend our time there. And I think that quote holds very much true.

My last comment is we often sort of speculate about will the future be multipolar, nonpolar, unipolar, whatever other sort of polar – you know, sort of pronoun you could – you know, you could add to it.

MR. : Polar bears.

But my view is that the way that we have to think about the future is we’re entering into a multidimensional moment where the world is as much virtual as it is physical. Understanding a state’s power will be determined by what they do in cyberspace and what they do in the physical world. Understanding the power of an individual will be determined by their ability to manage what seems to be a virtual entourage of identities and content about them. So, the way that we have to think about power and influence in the future has to take into account factors across both the physical and virtual dimensions.

MR. GARRETT: Did you want to make a final comment?

MS. LEVINE: Yeah, thank you again for convening this forum and for allowing us to talk about this. I really enjoyed it.

And I would just go back to something that I said at the beginning, which is – which is this: We kind of take for granted in some ways what a free and open Internet means and what having access to these kinds of tools means. But you heard today that when a country uses a kill switch and turns that off, what that means for the individual and what that means for the state. And it doesn’t mean goodness on either side. And so that thing that we talk about which we’ve sort of come to take for granted – the open and free Internet, the free association, the ability to connect, the ability to share, being connected to knowledge and information cannot be taken for granted. And if I leave you with one message today, it would be: Don’t take it for granted.

And so when you see as we try to sort of figure out what goes on in the – what’s going to happen in the future, we need to look now at the countries that are struggling to figure out how they’re going to try to control and manage this to get – to get control over people, to get control over ideas that they don’t necessarily – that feel threatening to them. Because what those countries do, what those countries in the middle do will really influence and impact people’s access to these tools that can be used for really great – really great and powerful things – change.

MR. KASSEM: OK. I’m a very conservative person in the way I conduct my work. And, you know, if a reporter tells me that he has a hunch, I’d say you need more than a hunch to follow that story, OK.

I joined Facebook in 2007. One of my nieces or nephews sent me an invitation. And I didn’t know what Facebook was about, and I just thought, well, I know I don’t want to embarrass her; sure, here’s a profile. And then eventually the more I found out, I started seeing this nightmare of social media on the whole and it was very irritating for me. (Laughter.) And in lots of cases you read something and you say, you know, shut up, disappear, go away – (laughter) – et cetera.

But then I began to ask the question to myself: Why did Facebook and Twitter and all forms of citizen journalism and self-expression appear? And it was because I realized there was a need for it. People needed a venue to be able to express themselves directly. They did not necessarily think that reading an article I wrote that vents their anger is a way for self-expression. And so it really began to change things for me and I started committing myself to merge, work together, and allow for a greater voice for all the public.

MR. GARRETT: I think we’re – what we’ve seen today in this discussion is that it’s a very volatile world forward. Very uncertain, and there’ll be a lot of experiments on this relationship between social media and governance, the individual and the state.

Mao had a poem that he liked to quote. It was about the Cultural Revolution. But the line I like is that: The tree prefers calm, but the wind will not subside. And if anything, that characterizes what we seem to be looking forward the next 20 years – is it’s going to be very uncertain, the wind is going to keep blowing, and how these will work out, these relationships we talked about. Probably different in very – every country is going to be a little different. There’ll be a lot of social experimentation, a lot of desire for the wind to subside and have stability, but we’re probably not going to get that.

Jared, Marne, Hisham, thank you very, very much for I think a stimulating panel. (Applause.)

MS. : Ladies and gentlemen, please remain in your seats. The next panel will start momentarily. Please remain in your seats.


Related Experts: Harlan Ullman