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Social media experts will explore how the medium has become a powerful tool for the good (wealth creation, social justice), the bad (cyber/con artists, viral infections) and the ugly (fabricated news, thought police) at the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Business’ 24th annual International Business Forum.

“The Global Influence of Social Media On Business, Politics and Culture: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly,” sponsored by Universal Corp., takes place Wednesday, Oct. 24, from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. in the University Student Commons Ballroom, 907 Floyd Ave. A reception will follow in the School of Business atrium, 301 W. Main St.

Advances in internet technology and social media bring opportunities and challenges. In business, the internet allows companies to be “born-global,” and social media facilitates international commerce from day one. Politically, the internet and social media disseminate ancient and modern ideologies to the masses instantly. Culturally, they can spread understanding and tolerance or bigotry and prejudice.

This year’s panelists are Emerson T. Brooking, a Washington, D.C.-based writer and student of international security policy; John Worthington, CEO of IBT Online; Christina Dick, a 2010 graduate of the VCU Robertson School of Media and Culture and founder of TFB Agency, a marketing consultancy with a focus on social media; and entrepreneur Butch Sarma, director of the VCU Executive MBA program and instructor of digital marketing.

“I hope a clear perspective will be painted in the forum, one that allows all to understand both the virtuous and malevolent sides of social media,” said moderator Van Wood, Ph.D., the Philip Morris Endowed Chair in International Business, a professor of marketing and director of the VCU Center for International Business Advancement. “Today we may blame Facebook and Twitter or web racketeers in Russia for the spread of misinformation, but at some level it comes down to each of us having the baseline ability to discern fact from fiction and truth from fabrication. 

“Likewise, it is incumbent upon us all to have some level of social media skill to do well, while also doing good. Indeed, having a well-informed social media citizenry may be as important to our survival and prosperity as having clean air and water.”

VCU established the International Business Forum in 1994 to make students, faculty and the community at large more aware of global commerce and the related international forces that shape business, political and cultural environments.

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