Morning 2 at the Web Summit and it was clear that the Night Summit had taken its toll, with only a couple of hundred early birds there come 8.30am. With the RDS practically to myself and most of the talks not beginning till 9.30am I had the opportunity to check out which brands were exhibiting.
Free coffee was the order of the morning with at least ten exhibitors using high end coffee to attract the crowds. The brands that really stood out had very slick exhibition spaces that were experiential or interactive. My favourites included Aer Lingus with its airplane shell exterior, EY Entrepreneur of the Year winners Ding with an incredible screen which shows live transactions, and Electric Ireland’s Spark of Genius stand which encouraged people to write down their ideas and predictions on a board, then taking a picture of the person which appeared on a collage on-screen.
The Centre Stage kicked off with Irishwoman Anne-Marie Tomchak, the presenter of #BBCTrending, on how social media is changing conflict and the pivotal role it plays in warzones. She highlighted the importance of authenticity and verification when reporting from a conflict zone. Last July the hashtag #GazaUnderAttack was used hundreds of thousands of times, often to distribute pictures claiming to show the effects the airstrikes. A #BBCTrending analysis found that some date as far back as 2009 and others are from conflicts in Syria and Iraq. Misinformation like this can often fuel tensions, but used correctly, social media can help make a difference. In April of this year, the abduction of more than 200 schoolgirls in Nigeria led to the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls becoming an international trending phenomenon with hundreds of high profile people including Michelle Obama taking to social media to support it.
Six months later, their plight has all but been forgotten by mainstream media but a small amount of social media users have continued to keep it trending, to keep it “in the minds and hearts of the world”, according to one campaigner. This shows the importance of activism online, and the need to persist. Anne-Marie concluded by predicting that chat apps such as WhatsApp, BBM and Firechat will be the most important tools for getting information from conflict zones to the world. While other channels are being censored these are not and will be the newest social media weapons in war.