Featured projects (1)

Full title project "Countering Holocaust distortion on social media. Promoting the positive use of Internet social technologies for teaching and learning about the Holocaust" - IHRA Grant no. 2020-792 In the 21st century, with the widespread availability of digital technologies, and the omnipresence of the Internet, social media has become a major tool in the dissemination of hateful content and the peddling of incitement and intolerance. Small pieces of false, hateful and offensive content can quickly spread through various communication channels and become viral. Indeed, while their rise has enabled individuals and groups to connect on a global level and to have instant access to information and knowledge, it has also allowed the spread and dissemination of hateful content, including antisemitism and Holocaust denial and distortion. In order to confront various forms of online hate, scholars have developed strategies for combating online race hate, ranging from regulation to social activism, and include advocating for private web-based corporations to play a gatekeeping role which, while exerting considerable control over the flow of information on the Internet, should counteract the phenomenon by operating at the intersection of regulation (law), corporate social responsibility and human rights. However, alongside current efforts to regulate and limit hate speech on social media, there is also a need to promote positive use of social technologies via agreements with Internet intermediaries such as Google, Twitter, YouTube, Microsoft, and Facebook, as well as through appropriate legislation. Unlike other initiatives aimed at fighting Holocaust distortion, in this proposal we focus on social media as a positive technology. The few experiences gained so far allow us to state that providing positive narratives has the advantage of avoiding the validation of distortion that can stem from directly engaging with Holocaust deniers or distorters, and activates important resources for the future to counter narratives around which distortion rumours are based. For instance, the Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism at Indiana University (2017) has released some Best Practices to Combat Antisemitism on Social Media in which they advocate the role of counter-narratives to address antisemitic messages indirectly. The working hypothesis of this project is that: Social media contributes to expand Holocaust knowledge and raise awareness about the many forms of Holocaust distortion, especially among the younger generations. While there is no clear evidence in the literature that an in-depth knowledge of the Holocaust topics is able to contain the phenomenon of Holocaust distortion, other current projects are researching the “possibilities of preparing teachers with specific professional knowledge during their basic teacher training in order to successfully confront these issues within and around the classroom”. Unlike projects aimed at providing updated professional development programs for teachers, in this project we will provide insights and recommendations on how museums and memorial sites can play a key role in safeguarding the relevant historical record, reach audiences that are prone to be subjected to hateful content, including antisemitism and Holocaust denial and distortion, and provide factually correct (basic) information about the Holocaust. As a result, this project not only contributes to enlarge the plethora of educational material for students and teachers. Furthermore, the results of this project can readily be introduced and adapted to other initiatives around this topic. From this perspective, Holocaust museums and memorials will be able to play a double role: 1) by confronting issues of anti-Semitism and Holocaust distortion in their social media profiles they can engage with their audience by providing supplementary information, replying to comments, and counteracting inflammatory, digressive or off-topic messages; 2) by providing a reliable source of information which might be beneficial to students and teachers for Holocaust projects in schools and out of school, as well as for informal learning. To achieve these aims, there is a need to raise awareness about the potential of social media channels among museums and memorials for Holocaust education so that they can engage their public not only for promoting their cultural activities and initiatives, but also by producing good practices of social media adoption as a means for disseminating accurate historical information. An extensive research about the social media profiles of ten Holocaust museums and memorials in two countries (Italy and Germany) will be conducted in order to identify best practices and limitations of social media use and to investigate how they deal with historical knowledge and memory of the WWII and the Holocaust. The results will be translated into practical guidelines and examples of use and disseminated through a number of in-presence and online events to improve museums’ and memorials’ strategies in the urgent challenge to counter the distortion of the Holocaust. Applicant: Institute of Education Technology, National Research Council of Italy, Italy Partnering Organizations: Department of Education and Psychology, University of Florence, Florence (FORLILPSI-UNIFI); Institute for Educational Consulting, University of Education of Weingarten, Weingarten (IFB-PHW)

Featured research (2)

This study takes a social-technical systems approach to investigate how national and transnational memory of the Holocaust are intertwined on the social media profiles of a set of Italian museums and memorials. We examine how Italy’s four most important Holocaust museums and memorials use social media as ecosystems to provide historical content and engage their audiences in digital remembrance about the Holocaust on four social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. Results show that posts on Facebook led to a higher volume of interactivity and positive responses than posts on the other platforms, while user activity in terms of creating new posts remains low on all four platforms. The four institutions tend to address a national audience and interweave transnational Holocaust memorial themes with distinctively national ones. Although the examined social media profiles demonstrate that museums and memorials are reliable sources of historical and trustworthy information through which they shape memory ecologies, their use reflects a conservational attitude, with a preference for a target audience over the age of 25, expressed both in the choice of platforms adopted and in the mostly one-way communication approach employed. The paper outlines implications for further social media practice in Digital Holocaust Memory.
Digital technologies and social media platforms have been used in museum communication for over a decade now, and Holocaust museums have increasingly adopted them in their modes of commemoration and provision of educational content. Nevertheless, very limited research has been conducted into the potential of social media as new memory ecologies. In this exploratory study, we conceive social media platforms as socio-technical-ecological systems whereby users develop and engage with memory practices of the Holocaust. We adopt a networked socio-ecological approach to analyse how a sample of Holocaust museums (N = 69) develop practices of digital Holocaust memory in social media. The institutions are analysed in terms of “size” (small, medium, or large), how they differ in their attitudes towards these practices, and to what extent they circulate Holocaust memory on social media. The study adopts multiple quantitative approaches and combines the results of a survey with a set of social media metrics analysing how museums engage on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube in terms of generated content, interactivity, popularity, and type of content. Results show that museums have an overall positive attitude towards social media although some concerns were expressed, mostly by smaller institutions; they tend to use mostly Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, and to share educational content and information about the museum's activities. However, despite a tendency to aggregate a large number of fans and followers, especially in the case of larger institutions, interaction with users remains limited. Prospects for more interactive participation and its implications are also discussed.

Lab head

Stefania Manca
  • Institute for Educational Technology ITD
About Stefania Manca
  • Stefania Manca has been active in the field of educational technology, technology-based learning, distance education and e-learning since 1995. Her research interests are social media and social network sites in formal and informal learning, teacher education, professional development and digital scholarship, and Student Voice-supported participatory practices at school and she is also interested in studying MOOCs, pedagogical approaches to learning analytics and big data. Her current research interest is about the use of social media for teaching and learning about the Holocaust through an informal learning approach.

Members (1)

Martin Rehm
  • Universität Regensburg
Susanne Haake
Susanne Haake
  • Not confirmed yet
Silvia Guetta
Silvia Guetta
  • Not confirmed yet