In social networks you must be who you say you are

Image and the question of privacy on social networks was the theme of the first talk in the "What Young People Think About..." series organised together with Casa Amèrica Catalunya.

A new series of talks organised by Casa Amèrica Catalunya in collaboration with DIPLOCAT began today. Entitled "What Young People Think About...", the series will include three talks addressing issues that are important for teenagers, focusing on their opinions and concerns. The day began with a talk by Francesc Montserrat, activities coordinator at Casa Amèrica, who highlighted the interest of his own organisation and of DIPLOCAT in organising activities aimed at building bridges across the Atlantic Ocean, from Catalonia to Latin America and vice versa.

On this occasion, the topic was "what young people think about image and privacy", and featured two speakers with a keen interest in the use of social networks and the world of the internet. Eduard Costa, Catalan singer-songwriter, founding member of the pop band Els Amics de les Arts until 2018 and multidisciplinary artist, teamed up with Mexican journalist Lucía Corona, international relations graduate and specialist in cybersecurity, the environment and international politics who works for the digital media platform Telokwento, to discuss the subject with a group of 11-12 year olds from the Escola Patronat Domènech de Gràcia.

Costa, emphasising the professional side of his work, opened the conversation by explaining how he uses social networks from the user's point of view, and the benefits they have brought to him as an artist. He began by taking the example of the cover for his latest album as an example, which shows him singing with a broccoli in his hand. In his opinion, on social networks "you are who you say you are" and said that he chooses elements that give a natural feel, and transmit a sense of joy. "The internet is rather a like a play" he says, it gives you the chance to express yourself and share what you create very fast (breaking with more institutionalised mechanisms like record labels, publishers, etc.) and at the same time it enables you to connect with an infinite amount of hugely diverse content in line with your own tastes. He also spoke out in support of artificial Intelligence (AI) as a very useful creative tool, one that is capable of expanding both creativity and capabilities. Eduard stressed that the important thing on social networks is having something to say, and that your image is aligned with whatever it is that you want to communicate. He warned young people not to pay too much attention to either the positive or negative comments in general, as in his view, comments are a limiting, as is exposing his private life. Finally, he sang a song with the young people in the audience which was recorded, in this way creating a "web footprint".

Corona on the other hand presented a more technical approach to social networks, and talked about how to safeguard your image. She started off by explaining that there has been a change in the way people get their information in Mexico. Whereas in the past their main source of information was television, it is now the social networks, and this has accelerated the emergence of new digital media offerings, such as the platform she herself works on. These media make it possible to communicate more quickly and in a more informal way and so to have greater appeal to young people, hence the importance of the networks in her opinion. Lucía asked the audience which social networks they used most often, and the vast majority named Instagram, TikTok and YouTube, together with others. She highlighted the advantages of using the networks to connect with family, make friends, obtain information, share ideas and even to showcase your CV. However, she also highlighted the disadvantages and risks involved when you share "too much" of your life, warning that when you post a photo online, that image then becomes the property of the platform in question, at which point you can no longer control what people will make of whatever you have posted. And that the network's algorithms are constantly at work, even when you are not online, working to show you engaging content. The journalist prompted the audience to reflect on how many followers they had, and how many of those they would invite to their homes to talk to them and help them see that it can be important to set your profile to "private" so that you have greater control, prioritising "quality over quantity". Along the same lines, she offered some advice regarding what you choose to publish ("will I regret it?") and to read the platforms' privacy policies.

At the end of her presentation, Corona focused on a new challenge: AI. A useful tool, but one that at the same time is open to misuse. This is why we should always question what we see on the networks and highlight the value of digital journalism as a tool for combating disinformation, she said.

To conclude the session, the lively participative audience took the opportunity to ask all sorts of questions, and to share their concerns in a relaxed dialogue with the speakers.

The "What Young People Think About..." series will continue with two more talks; one focused on the importance of practising sport, and doing so in an environment characterised by respect and equality, and the other on the benefits to be gained from reading books.