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
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 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.
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
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.
I have written a post for Human: Putting the Social into Science on the social media sousveillance footage recorded during the Black Lives Matter protests across the world. I argue that although this footage may not guarantee the conviction of the officers responsible caught on camera attacking protesters, it clearly provides a focal point for the broad coalition of protesters mobilised in anger at the police killing of George Floyd. Thanks to Laura Lightfinch, Sophie Armour and Victoria Wood for their help with this. The piece can be read here
Yesterday I was interviewed on the BBC Arabic news channel about the letter written to Facebook by scientists funded by the Chan-Zuckerberg Initiativein protest at the platform’s refusal to remove tweets from US President Donald Trump. Many thanks to George, Marwa and the BBC Arabic team for the invitation. A recording of the interview can be found here
I have had another op-ed published by Democratic Audit UK on the coronavirus crisis. I discuss the early findings from research conducted by Pew Research Center and Ofcom investigating how people respond to misinformation and disinformation about the virus shared on social media. Despite some signs people are factchecking using official sources, I argue that we must not be complacent in our efforts to counter false information about the pandemic. Thanks to Alice Park for her help publishing this piece. It can be accessed here