Policy-Making Mechanisms in the Age of Social Media
- The Role of the Social Sector in Shaping Public Opinion -

The development of social media has made it possible to have direct access to the voices of ordinary people. However, social media also fragments people’s attention, and they become influenced by information received in a very short span of time. NIRA Forum 2023, “Theme 4: Policy-Making Mechanisms in the Age of Social Media,” discussed the impact of the Internet environment on the formation of public opinion, the role of traditional media, and means of ensuring that political processes are sufficiently aware of people's voices.

Opinions voiced on social media diverge significantly from generally-held opinions, and there are concerns regarding infringements of human rights and manipulation of opinion caused by exposure to false information. It is important to prevent the “atmosphere” of Japanese society from being changed by such factors. In order to counter false information, it is essential that a variety of official information should be open and constantly verifiable. It will also be necessary to promote the development of a statistical mechanism that cuts across ministries and agencies, and to improve statistical data. At the same time, the traditional media is trapped in a vicious cycle of attempting to attract readers with sensational and simplistic content, leading to further loss of its credibility. We must change this business model to ensure that the media is able to provide accurate and timely information that people need to know, regardless of their personal preferences, improve the media literacy of the public, and contribute to policy-making.

In order to reflect people's voices in policy-making, it will be vital to create finely-tuned images of the public based on granular data. A range of types of information, including market and search data, should be used to enable us to take in people’s voices, including the “silent majority,” and reflect these voices in policy. To this end, we must strengthen the “social sector,” making it an entity that understands the policy-making process and conveys people's awareness of issues to bureaucrats and politicians in a form that they are able to absorb.

*This is a translation of a paper originally published in Japanese in June, 2023.

Chairperson, NIRA /Chairman and President, Group CEO, Future Corporation
Executive Vice President, NIRA / Professor, The University of Tokyo