De invloed van sociale media op natuurbeheer

Thomas Mattijssen, Bas Breman & Tim Stevens

sociale media, maatschappelijk debat, natuurbeleid, Oostvaardersplassen

Oostvaardersplassen on social media. The influence of social media on nature management

Social media, public debate, nature policy, Oostvaardersplassen

In this article, we describe the role of social media in public debates and policy-making through a case study of a Dutch nature reserve: Oostvaardersplassen. The management of this reserve is based on ‘natural processes’ and leads to high mortality rates of large herbivores – which triggers public protests.

In our social media analysis from 2013 to 2018, we differentiate three phases: 1) an undercurrent of opposition 2) public uproar, and 3) a structural debate. We reflect on the role of social media through four affordances of social media: dissemination; group formation; self-organization and interpretation. First, social media played a key role in the creation and dissemination of news. Second, people with diverse backgrounds easily joined for a common cause and attacked those deemed responsible. Third, social media formed an essential platform for the organization of offline activities, such as protest, petitions and funding. Fourth, social media was interpreted, analyzed and referred to by policy makers and journalists, creating a self-referential system through which social media gained importance. We conclude that although the results of social media analysis do not ref lect public opinion, social media do impact public debates and policies and raise questions for democratic nature management.

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