I specialise in the study of digital activism, with a focus on five key areas:

(1) the use of social media by citizens to create and share acts of sousveillance (inverse surveillance);

(2) the ways in which digital media can be used to crowdsource crisis information;

(3) the use of new media to reduce sectarian tensions and promote better community relations in divided societies such as Northern Ireland. 

(4) Misinformation and disinformation on social media during contentious episodes

(5) Social media research ethics

Current Projects:

(1) Beyond Religion and Belief, consultancy undertaken on behalf of Nil by Mouth April 2021– March 2022.

I am working with leading Scottish anti-sectarian charity Nil by Mouth on a project exploring social media trends in west central Scotland relating to issues of sectarianism, cultural conflict and identity. This will involve a social network analysis of Twitter hashtags e.g. related to the Old Firm football rivalry, which will be combined with a qualitative study of these tweets and a content analysis of newspaper coverage of these incidents. The project will culminate in a report and presentation delivered to the Scottish Government’s Collaborative Leadership Group on Sectarianism.

(2) Remembering the Troubles on Instagram

This project qualitatively and qualitatively explores images tagged #thetroubles on Instagram. My primary focus is on the type of images shared and the comments they generate.

(3) The Ending the Harm campaign against paramilitary-style attacks in Northern Ireland.

I am investigating how social media has been deployed by the Ending the Harm campaign, which sets out to highlight the impact of PSAs upon communities in Northern Ireland. Our interview-based study will examine the factors which have shaped the campaign, and how platforms like Snapchat have been utilised to reach young people in loyalist and republican areas.

(4) Social media research ethics.

I have recently been commissioned by SAGE to write a book exploring the ethical challenges of researching online platforms. Provisionally titled “Doing Ethical Social Media Research’, it will explore the foundations of ethical decision-making, the challenges of researching ‘vulnerable groups’ and in high-risk contexts. The book is due to published in March/April 2024 and I will post updates on here between now and the delivery date.

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