Icelanders Still Love Facebook

Although Facebook and its negative impacts have been under a great deal of discussion in Iceland of late, just under 50% of Icelanders still feel positively about the social media platform. Vísir reports that a new survey conducted by EMC Rannsóknir shows that Icelandic women, upperclass Icelanders, and Icelanders who live in the countryside tend to be the most positive about Facebook. Just over 30% of Icelanders are neutral about Facebook; 20% are negative about it.

The survey was conducted from August 12-24 and examined public opinion about 65 different companies in Iceland, including Facebook. A total of 1,170 people took part.

Icelanders have long been avid internet and social media users. In 2018, the country ranked 6th in WeAreSocial.com’s global Internet Penetration Rankings, with 98% penetration.

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The same organization’s “Digital in 2018 in Northern Europe – West” report showed that last year, of the country’s 336,400 inhabitants, 270,000 (80%) were active social media users and active monthly users of Facebook. 240,000 Icelanders (71%) were active mobile social users. Facebook was Iceland’s third most visited website, just after Google and Youtube. (See the full Iceland Digital in 2018 profile here.)

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EMC Rannsóknir CEO and owner Gísli Steinar Ingólfsson said that Icelanders’ overall positivity toward Facebook was noteworthy.“In spite of the intense and negative discussion about social media and its profound impact, Facebook came out really well in comparison to many companies in Iceland. This suggests that many people put more emphasis on the positive impacts of social media than its negative ones. It will be interesting to follow developments with this in the future and see whether attitudes change with increased discussion.”

Proposal to Make Domestic Flights Part of Public Transportation

Air Iceland Connect

Domestic Icelandic flights should become part of Iceland’s public transportation system and be subsidised by the state, says Independence Party MP Vilhjálmur Árnason. RÚV reports that Vilhjálmur would like to see domestic flights receive government funding, the same way that municipal buses and ferries currently do.

The current state of the domestic flight industry was discussed by Alþingi’s Environment and Transport Committee, which met at Vilhjálmur’s request on Thursday morning. Iceland’s leading domestic airlines have been curtailing their operations, both reducing their flight frequency and selling aircraft. Representatives from Eagle Air, Air Iceland Connect, and Isavia all attended Thursday’s meeting.

Vilhjálmur argued that it is part of the government’s agenda to support public transportation. He voiced his support for what is being called ‘the Scottish solution,’ a reference to the Scottish government’s policy of subsidising “air travel to the remotest parts of the county” in order to “support and develop direct routes across Scotland to foster inward investment, stimulate local business and maintain a thriving tourism industry.”

If this system were to be put into place next year as has been proposed, the first step would be subsidising domestic air fares. “I think that it’s entirely clear that domestic flights can’t compete in this small market with the increasing number of passengers,” Vilhjálmur said. “It won’t be enough to just increase domestic flights.”

“We need to make guaranteed contributions in order to maintain some basic services,” he continued. “Create a public transportation system so that flights can maintain a set frequency and price stability. And then we’ve got to assist customers at the other end. We’ll do that via the Scottish solution.”

Government Pledges to Strengthen Manitoba’s Icelandic Studies Program

The Icelandic government has pledged to strengthen the Icelandic Department at the University of Manitoba by developing deeper connections between that institution and the University of Iceland’s Faculty of Icelandic and Comparative Cultural Studies. Mbl.is reports that among other steps taken, a lecturer position in Icelandic literature will be established at the University of Manitoba which will be partially funded by the Office of the Prime Minister in Iceland.

Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir announced the collaboration on Thursday during a speech at the Veröld, the Vigdís Finnbogadóttir Institute of Foreign Languages. During her talk, Katrín recalled her trip last year to Manitoba, where many Icelanders emigrated in the late 19th century. She said the trip had made clear to her what a strong connection Canadians with Icelandic ancestry (often known as West Icelanders) have to their Icelandic heritage.

The new lecturer will teach two classes on Icelandic literature in the Icelandic department at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, as well as advise graduate students in the department, and oversee a summer exchange program at the University of Iceland. The lecturer will also oversee possible research projects and publications in connection with the literary and cultural heritage of Icelandic emigrants and their descendants in North America.

Man Arrested for Captaining Ferry While Intoxicated

moon over Esja mountain

A man who captains the ferry between the Reykjavík harbour and the island of Víðey in Reykjavík’s Kollafjörður Bay was arrested on Wednesday night on suspicion of having operated the vessel and transporting passengers while intoxicated. Vísir reports that the man spent the evening in police custody and was set to be interrogated on Thursday afternoon.

A passenger or another ferry employee notified police about the captain’s questionable state around 7.00pm on Wednesday night. Police met the ferry as it arrived at Reykjavík harbour. A breathalyser test revealed that the captain had been drinking.

Icelandic sailing law prohibits the captaining – or even attempted captaining – of a vessel while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Violations are punishable by fine or up to two years in jail.