I have an essay in Human:Putting the Social into Science on the need for cross and multi-platform research to understand contemporary social movements such as Black Lives Matter. Drawing on my forthcoming book Digital Contention in a Divided Society, I argue that we need to move away from studies involving the ‘low-hanging fruit’ of Twitter hashtags to explore how activist content is distributed across online platforms. Thanks to Laura Lightfinch and Victoria Wood for their help with this. The piece can be read here
Suay Ozkula, Jenny Hayes and I have a paper at the AoIR Life 2020 conference this month. Suay has created a short video summarising the paper, which can be found on the AoIR 2020 playlist.
The title and abstract can be found below:
Ozkula, S., Reilly, P.J. and Hayes, J. (2020) Easy Data, usual suspects, same old places? A systematic review of methodological approaches in digital activism research, 1995-2019, Selected Papers in Internet Research 2020. Research from the Annual Conference of the Association of Internet Researchers.
Burgess and Bruns (2015) have linked the computational turn in social media research to a rise in studies that focus exclusively on ‘easy’ data, such as the ‘low hanging fruit’ provided by Twitter hashtags. This paper set out to explore whether this preponderance of easy data and studies focused on the 2011-12 protests is evident in research between 1995 and 2019 through a systematic review of digital activism literature (N = 1444). A particular focus of the review was the extent to which digital activism research revolved around the use of computational digital methods, case studies based in Europe and North America and data gathered from single online platforms (e.g. Twitter). The review showed that most of these studies focused on social movements, campaigns, activists, and parties based in the United Kingdom and United States, and were conducted by researchers based in universities in these countries. In contrast, there were relatively few articles addressing activism, institutions and platforms in non-Western /Global South contexts with the exception of the Arab Spring in 2011. In terms of methodological approaches, traditional research methods and big data digital methods studies were prevalent. In response to the easy data hypothesis, the study found that Twitter was the most researched platform in the corpus, but that digital methods were not as commonly deployed in these articles as traditional methods. Thus, the paper concludes argues in favor of greater diversity in digital activism research in terms of its methods, participants, and countries of origin.
I have received the proofs for my new book Digital Contention in a Divided Society: Social media, parades and protests in Northern Ireland, due to be published by Manchester University Press on 1 February 2020.
Here is a brief description of the book:
How are platforms such as Facebook and Twitter used by citizens to frame contentious parades and protests in ‘post-conflict’ Northern Ireland? What do these contentious episodes tell us about the potential of information and communication technologies to promote positive intergroup contact in the deeply divided society?
These issues are addressed in what is the first in-depth qualitative exploration of how social media were used during the union flag protests (December 2012-March 2013) and the Ardoyne parade disputes (July 2014 and 2015). The book focuses on the extent to which affective publics, mobilised and connected via expressions of solidarity on social media, appear to escalate or de-escalate sectarian tensions caused by these hybrid media events. It also explores whether citizen activity on these online platforms has the potential to contribute to peacebuilding in Northern Ireland.
The book will be available in both print and eBook format and can be pre-ordered here
Yesterday I received the contract for my next book. ‘Doing Ethical Social Media Research’ will be published by SAGE in 2022. This book will explore the foundations of ethical decision-making, the perspectives of researchers on how to conduct ethical social media research, and how to address these issues when researching high-risk contexts and contentious issues.
The book will be a hybrid research methods text aimed at students, researchers and anybody with an interest in social media research. It will include summaries of key issues and exercises for those wanting to learn more about digital research ethics.
Many thanks to Michael Ainsley at SAGE for all his help in getting this contract over the line, and for the thoughtful and generous feedback of all the reviewers.
I look forward to working on this project with Michael and the team in 2021. I will try to post updates on here throughout the next 18 months.
This morning I was interviewed by Toby Foster on BBC Radio Sheffield about the misinformation and disinformation about COVID-19 circulating on social media. We talked about how we as citizens should respond to false and misleading information online and how governments and social media companies might take stronger action to address it.
Many thanks to Toby, Katie and Robert at BBC Radio Sheffield for their help with this- enjoyed it!
The interview can be listened to here
This morning I did a couple of radio interviews about US celebrities joining the Stop Hate for Profit boycott of Facebook and Instagram in order to force them to take stronger action against hate speech and disinformation. On BBC Good Morning Ulster, Naomh McElhatton and I discussed whether these boycotts were an effective way to raise awareness of this issue. The segment can be listened to here
On The Breakfast Show on BBC Radio Foyle, I spoke to Anna Curran about the issues raised by this campaign and how we can better regulate hate speech and disinformation. This interview can be listed to here
Thanks to Anne Jordan and Dean McLaughlin for the invitation.
I am delighted to announce that the National Teaching Forum launches this week. Funded by Advance HE, the NTR is an open-access online database where educators can share resources, ideas, and examples of best practice in teaching.
Supported by my Sheffield colleagues Xin Zhao and Paul Fenn, I will be the curator of the ICTs and intercultural learning section. We are looking for presentations, research papers, infographics, data visualisations and any other examples of how educators use ICTs to improve classroom engagement and educational outcomes of international students.
Information on how to submit your work to the NTR can be found here
Many thanks to the fantastic Dawne Irving-Bell for bringing this all together and for the opportunity to participate in what should be an excellent repository of resources for all educators.
This morning I was interviewed by Elliot Webb on BBC Hereford & Worcester’s Breakfast show. We discussed the impact of Russian disinformation campaigns on social mediaand whether the UK government needs to do more to regulate online platforms in light of the findings from the Russia report.
Many thanks to Elliot, Toni and the team. The interview can be listened to here
Yesterday I was in conversation with Rob Watson for the Decentered Media Podcast. We discussed what lessons we can learn from the public health communication campaigns during the pandemic, the future of local journalism, and the ways in which communities can be empowered during future crises. Many thanks to Rob for the opportunity.
The podcast can be accessed here
Delighted to receive my copy of Disinformation and Digital Media as a challenge for Democracy this morning. My chapter ‘Digital Disinformation in a deeply divided society: reflections from Northern Ireland” draws on myresearch over two decades on how digital media is used to frame contentious politics in Northern Ireland. I argue that digital disinformation around contentious episodes are likely to thrive due to the failure of political elites to address conflict-legacy issues. I argue that the current genre of information disorders have much in common with the propaganda deployed by both elite and non-elite actors during the conflict.
The book can be purchased here.
Many thanks to Georgios Terzis, Dariusz Kloza, Elzbieta Kuzelewska, Daniel Trottier for editing this excellent contribution to an important field.