Presentation at AoIR Life 2020 conference

#AoIR 2020 Life Conference, 26-31 October 2020.

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.

Suay Ozkula summarises our AoIR 2020 paper

MeCCSA 2020 presentation

I attended the annual MeCCSA conference  at the University of Brighton last week, which brought together a very diverse group of Media, Communication and Cultural Studies researchers to discuss its core theme ‘Media Interactions and Environments.’

My paper, ‘Peace on Facebook? Problematising social media as spaces for intergroup contact in divided societies’, critically evaluated the cyber optimist notion that ICTs might facilitate more associative models of peacebuilding in contemporary societies. Using examples such as Peace on Facebook, I argued that the corporate logic of social media has significant implications for efforts to foster positive intergroup contact in deeply-divided societies. Online platforms are not benign actors and they turbocharge mis-and disinformation that contributes to sectarian violence in countries such as India and Northern Ireland.  The slides can be found below:

 

#SocMedHE19 Virtual presentation on Twitter and Higher Education teaching

Unfortunately I am unable to attend today’s Social Media for Learning in Higher Education conference at Edge Hill University. Thanks to the conference organisers for allowing me to submit a virtual presentation.  The screencast can be found here and the abstract and slides for my talk are below:

‘Curation, Connectivity and Creativity: Reflections on using Twitter to teach Digital Activism

Dr. Paul Reilly, University of Sheffield

 

How can teachers leverage the connective affordances of Twitter to enhance student learning within Higher Education? How do students respond to content shared on module hashtags? In this virtual presentation, I will consider these questions by discussing my own experience of using Twitter in my Digital Activism modules over the past five years. During this period, I created hashtags such as #actandprotest and #digiadvocates in order to curate digital resources for my students at Leicester and Sheffield, as well as to encourage them to share relevant news items, blogs, and research papers at appropriate points during the course. I will reflect on what I refer to as the three ‘C’s of using Twitter in the context of Higher Education. First, the microblogging site provides unprecedented opportunities for the curation of resources. In the case of my Digital Activism teaching, real-time case studies such as Occupy Wall Street and the ‘Arab Spring’ were integrated into sessions through the use of Twitter to share links to blogs and news media coverage. Second, there is the connection with students who were using links shared on these hashtags to deepen their knowledge about theories such as connective action. Some even went as far as to use #actandprotest and #digiadvocates to share resources they had found with their classmates (and me). Finally, there is the ability to showcase the creativity of the students studying Digital Activism. For example, subvertisements (remixed logos of corporations that critique consumerism) were shared under #digiadvocates with the consent of the students who created them. This received very positive feedback from the class, as well as academics and students who were not enrolled in the module but were following the  hashtag. The presentation concludes by considering how Twitter may be used to support student learning in the future.

The conference programme can be found here and you can follow on Twitter using #SocMedHe19

Paper presented at iConference 2018

My Research Assistant Rebecca Stevenson will be presenting preliminary results from our EC H2020 project IMPROVER at the 2018 iConference this week. This paper will discuss some of our recommended guidelines for effective crisis communication by critical infrastructure operators. The abstract can be found below:

Enhancing Critical Infrastructure resilience through information-sharing: Recommendations for European Critical Infrastructure Operators

Paul Reilly1, Elisa Serafinelli1, Rebecca Hannah Stevenson1, Laura Petersen2, Laure Fallou2

1University of Sheffield, United Kingdom; 2European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre (EMSC)

This paper explores how critical infrastructure (CI) resilience can be improved through effective crisis communication between CI operators and members of the public. Drawing on academic and practice-based research into crisis and risk communication, as well as the results of 31 interviews conducted with key stakeholders from across Europe, the AESOP guidelines are proposed for enhancing the communication and information-sharing strategies of CI operators. These emphasise the importance of integrating both traditional and digital media into a multi-channel communication strategy that facilitates dialogue between CI operators and key stakeholders including emergency management organisations and representatives of local communities. The information-seeking behaviours of citizens should be evaluated by these organisations in order to ensure that this messaging reaches key demographics in disaster-vulnerable areas. This paper concludes by examining how post-disaster learning should be incorporated into a flexible framework for crisis and risk communication that manages public expectations about the time needed to restore services in the aftermath of large-scale incidents.

 

Rebecca’s presentation will take place in Lecture Theatre 5 in the Diamond on 28 March (09:00-10:30). The full paper can be accessed here

 

Presenting two papers at MeCCSA 2018

This week I will be presenting two papers at the MeCCSA conference , which will be held at London South Bank University (10-12 January). The first one builds on my research on social media and contentious politics in Northern Ireland, with the second based on data collected as part of the Horizon 2020 project IMPROVER.

The programme for the conference can be found here and the abstracts of my two talks can be found below:

1)Reilly, P. Loyalists against Democracy: Assessing the role of social media parody accounts in contentious Northern Irish politics

Abstract:

Parody accounts on social media have emerged as one of the key focal points for the debate of contentious political issues in Northern Ireland over the past five years. Some commentators have praised these accounts for providing a voice for the ‘silent majority,’ while others have condemned what they view as their crude stereotyping of working-class loyalist communities. Yet, there remains little empirical research exploring the contribution of these accounts to political discourses. This paper sets out to address this issue by exploring the social media presence of the most prominent parody group, Loyalists Against Democracy (or LADFLEG). A thematic analysis of posts taken from its Facebook (N=35,721) and Twitter accounts (N=3,587) was conducted between December 2012 and October 2013. This covered contentious episodes such as the protests and rioting prompted by the decision to alter the protocol on the flying of the union flag over Belfast City Hall and the campaign to sack Health Minister Edwin Poots due to his refusal to overturn the ban on blood donation from gay and bisexual men. Results suggest LADFLEG used social media for a variety of purposes, ranging from the shaming of loyalists for posting offensive hate speech online to holding elected representatives to account. By October 2013 the group was playing a prominent role in factchecking politicians such as Poots and increasing the response rate for the petition to remove him from office. In this respect, LADFLEG had evolved from being an observer of contentious politics into a more active participant.

2)Reilly, P., Serafinelli, E., Petersen, L., Fallou, L. & Havarneanu, G. Terrorism, Twitter and Vernacular Creativity: #PorteOuverte and the November 2015 Paris Terror Attacks

Abstract:

Twitter has emerged as a key platform for citizens during terrorist attacks, not only as a
source of information but also as an outlet for providing support for victims. Citizen
responses to such incidents on the microblogging site often demonstrate what Burgess
(2008) refers to as ‘vernacular creativity’, with hashtags and memes used to express
solidarity with those directly affected. This paper explores one such incident, namely the
terror attacks by ISIS militants in Paris on 13 November 2015, which resulted in 130 fatalities and left several hundred wounded. The saturation of mobile phone networks left many citizens stranded and unable to tell their families and loved ones that they were safe. It was in this context that journalists such as Sylvain Lapoix urged citizens to use the hashtag#PorteOuverte if they were looking for shelter or able to offer refuge to others. This study explores the efficacy of this initiative by presenting a review of the literature on social media and disaster response, an overview of the role of Twitter during the Paris attacks, and a thematic analysis of eight interviews conducted with key stakeholders who were actively involved in the response to the atrocities. Results indicate that professional journalists played a key role in raising public awareness of #PorteOuverte and connecting people affected by the terror attacks. While the site may encourage vernacular creativity amongst citizens, the participation of public figures in these campaigns appears essential if they are to bring support to those directly affected by crises.