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#Ferguson Is Everywhere: Initiators In Emerging Counterpublic Networks

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Abstract

On the afternoon of 9 August 2014, 18-year-old Michael ‘Mike’ Brown was shot and killed by Officer Darren Wilson in the small American city of Ferguson, Missouri. Brown's body lay in the street for four and a half hours, and during that time, his neighbors and friends took to social media to express fear, confusion, and outrage. We locate early tweets about Ferguson and the use of the hashtag #Ferguson at the center of a counterpublic network that provoked and shaped public debates about race, policing, governance, and justice. Extending theory on networked publics, we examine how everyday citizens, followed by activists and journalists, influenced the #Ferguson Twitter network with a focus on emergent counterpublic structure and discursive strategy. We stress the importance of combining quantitative and qualitative methods to identify early initiators of online dissent and story framing. We argue that initiators and their discursive contributions are often missed by methods that collapse longitudinal network data into a single snapshot rather than investigating the dynamic emergence of crowdsourced elites over time.

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... The literature using CDA with automated text analysis to investigate racialized discourses constructed by and directed toward black communities does not cover immigration, but rather focuses on issues that have been identified as central to black communities, such as police profiling, racism, and black activism (Freelon et al. 2018;Jackson and Welles 2016;Rathnayake, Winter, and Buente 2018). These studies often use data from news media and social media outlets such as Twitter, identifying Twitter hashtags such as #blacklivesmatter and #Ferguson as central outlets for "black voices" and perspectives. ...
... These studies often use data from news media and social media outlets such as Twitter, identifying Twitter hashtags such as #blacklivesmatter and #Ferguson as central outlets for "black voices" and perspectives. 2 Several of these papers look at the discourse generated after a young black man -Michael Brownwas killed by police in Ferguson, MO (Freelon et al. 2018;Jackson and Welles 2016). For instance, Jackson and Welles (2016) show how Twitter postings on #Ferguson created a discourse re-affirming black lives and challenging the dominant narratives in the mainstream press. ...
... 2 Several of these papers look at the discourse generated after a young black man -Michael Brownwas killed by police in Ferguson, MO (Freelon et al. 2018;Jackson and Welles 2016). For instance, Jackson and Welles (2016) show how Twitter postings on #Ferguson created a discourse re-affirming black lives and challenging the dominant narratives in the mainstream press. By reframing and critiquing the mainstream discourse displayed in traditional news media, these groups engaged in a "black counter-discourse." ...
Article
This paper has two aims. First, we apply Bourdieu’s field theory to investigate media discourse on race and immigration, demonstrating how features of news organizations influence news content. Second, we compare contemporary natural language processing (NLP) techniques with qualitative hand-coding. Extending a previous study, we compare newspaper articles from the mainstream and black press in Atlanta. We find significant differences in both word-use and topical coverage in immigration articles aimed at the two audiences. With a focus on organizational resources and values, our quantitative approach to field theory facilitates a better understanding of the journalistic landscape.
... 114). Its "virality," understood here as a social information flow process (Nahon & Hemsley, 2013), provides further evidence of how hashtags focus attention on issues of public concern and render visible the contributions of non-elites to these conversations (Jackson & Foucault Welles, 2016;Vicari, 2017). Yet, these are ephemeral, "ad hoc publics" rather than online communities, which mobilize quickly in response to crisis events and dissipate shortly after they have addressed their information needs (Bruns & Burgess, 2015;Potts, 2014). ...
... This study used SNA to identify the key broadcasters and gatekeepers during the four peaks of #PorteOuverte activity. SNA empirically explored whether this organizational hashtag conformed to the "broadcast networks" of political-oriented Twitter streams, "hub and spoke" structures that allow non-elites to be periodically elevated into positions where they influence information flows (Jackson & Foucault Welles, 2016;Meraz & Papacharissi, 2013). Like Vicari (2017), our focus was on the "life story" of a Twitter stream and how "power roles" transfer between elite and non-elites, as well as collective and individual actors. ...
... Previous work on hashtags created during acute crises has emphasized their "democratizing" effect on crisis communication. Non-elite actors have been found to play important roles in the curation of Twitter streams in the aftermath of incidents such as terrorist attacks (Bruns et al., 2012;Jackson & Foucault Welles, 2016;Meraz & Paparachissi, 2013). Citizens increasingly turn to online platforms to address their own information needs and the digital footprint they leave often helps emergency managers allocate resources to the areas worst affected (Potts, 2014). ...
Article
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Twitter hashtags allow citizens to share vital information and make sense of acute crisis events such as terrorist attacks. They also enable those watching from afar to express their sympathy and solidarity with the victims. Perhaps the most well known of these has been #PorteOuverte (translated into English as “Open Door”), first used during the November 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris before re-emerging during subsequent atrocities in Brussels (March 2016) and Nice (July 2016). The hashtag was originally created by journalist Sylvain Lapoix in order to connect those in Paris looking for somewhere to stay with those able to offer them refuge, before reaching an international audience courtesy of its amplification by public figures and citizens based overseas. This article adds to this emergent literature by analyzing the networked gatekeeping dynamics of #PorteOuverte during the Paris terror attacks. It does so by reviewing the literature on Twitter hashtags and acute crisis events, exploring how Twitter was used during the Paris terror attacks, and presenting the results of a Social Network Analysis (SNA) of 399,256 #PorteOuverte tweets posted as the attacks unfolded on 13 November 2015. Results indicate that professional journalists were key broadcasters during four identified peaks within #PorteOuverte, helping to promote the informational hashtag and connect those directly affected. However, citizens and bloggers played an increasingly important gatekeeping function in the aftermath of events such as the Bataclan siege in Paris.
... built upon interactions among older and newer media logics-where logics are defined as technologies, genres, norms, behaviors and organizational forms-in the reflexively connected fields of media and politics" (2013,4). This altered landscape has opened up new possibilities for digital forms of feminist activism, or what have been called networked feminist counterpublics (Travers 2003;Jackson and Welles 2015). 3 While the #MeToo phenomenon continues to illustrate the potentials of these feminist counterpublics-by contesting and revising dominant frames of knowledge about gender and sexuality, and supporting feminist communities and agendas-it also raises questions about how networked feminist counterpublics can reproduce colorblind ideologies or forms of discourse in the post-Civil Rights era that deny the ongoing significance of race and end up perpetuating racial inequalities (see Bonilla-Silva 2017). ...
... For the most part, these technological innovations have generated optimism about the possibilities of networked feminist counterpublics to forge cross-national alliances and to impact mainstream public conversations at the national and local levels. 6 Sarah Brooke Foucault Welles (2015, 2016) have underscored networked counterpublics to emphasize how Twitter has been effective in discursive, affective, and ideological struggles over meaning making, especially in relation to state-based racialized violence. Alison Dahl Crossley's study of a racially diverse group of college students shows the potential of Facebook and blogs to forge online feminist communities, nurture offline networks, and recruit and engage with adversaries (2015,263). ...
... They animate concerns about the broader neoliberal context and the predilection toward "commodified private acts of rebellion" in place of more systemic anticapitalist and antiracist critiques (Mohanty 2013, 968). Thus, Jackson and Welles (2015) caution that Twitter is not a counternormative space, and even trending topics do not necessarily lead to substantive engagement by either those who have privilege or even other members of counterpublics. Furthermore, and this is equally important, networked activisms are not free from the trails of colonial and racial histories. ...
... Crowdsourced elites were originally theorized by Papacharissi and de Fatima Oliveira within the context of Twitter and the 2011 Egyptian revolution to describe the process of how bloggers, activists, and ordinary citizens gained visibility and "elite" status by being amplified by other ordinary Twitter users. Subsequently, the concept of crowdsourced elites has been used widely to explain organic grassroot amplification and the emergence of non-traditional elites on social media during other mass protests, elections, and social justice movements (Jackson & Foucault Welles, 2016;Jungherr, 2016;Papacharissi & de Fatima Oliviera, 2012). With respect to COVID-19, crowdsourced elites are key pillars in the online information ecosystem because they are the most capable of disseminating both critical health information and divisive anti-scientific opinions. ...
... The platform plays a particularly important role during breaking news events and rapidly evolving situations when mainstream media are not able to quickly adapt and provide on-the-ground, authoritative information (Hu et al., 2012), or when those outlets are blocked, restricted, or mistrusted (Howard, 2010;Papacharissi, 2009). In these information gaps, ordinary users and alternative sources are able to rise in prominence, acting as on-the-ground citizen journalists (Jackson & Foucault Welles, 2016;Lotan et al., 2011), resource coordinators (Pourebrahim et al., 2019), and afar commentators (Jackson et al., 2020;Tufekci, 2017). As traditional broadcast media outlets catch up to these events, they often rely upon these emergent sources when framing their news stories (Chadwick, 2011;Molyneux & McGregor, 2021), treating them as representatives of the ensuing online and offline conversations (McGregor, 2019). ...
... As traditional broadcast media outlets catch up to these events, they often rely upon these emergent sources when framing their news stories (Chadwick, 2011;Molyneux & McGregor, 2021), treating them as representatives of the ensuing online and offline conversations (McGregor, 2019). The synergy between social media and news media can help direct critical information (Tufekci, 2017) and shine light on important social issues (Jackson & Foucault Welles, 2016). However, while journalists can be receptive to crowdsourced stories, potentially widening the array of voices represented in mainstream media, they are also vulnerable to media manipulators who use that receptiveness to inject misinformation into still fluid and fragile situations (Lukito et al., 2020;W. ...
Article
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In the absence of clear, consistent guidelines about the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, many people use social media to learn about the virus, public health directives, vaccine distribution, and other health information. As people individually sift through a flood of information online, they collectively curate a small set of accounts, known as crowdsourced elites, that receive disproportionate attention for their COVID-19 content. However, these elites are not all created equal: not all accounts have received the same attention during the pandemic, and various demographic and ideological groups have crowdsourced their own elites. Using a mixed-methods approach with a panel of Twitter users in the United States over the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, we identify COVID-19 crowdsourced elites. We distinguish sustained amplification from episodic amplification and demonstrate that crowdsourced elites vary across demographics with respect to race, geography, and political alignment. Specifically, we show that different subpopulations preferentially amplify elites that are demographically similar to them, and that they crowdsource different types of elite accounts, such as journalists, elected officials, and medical professionals, in different proportions. In light of this variation, we discuss the potential for using the disproportionate online voice of crowdsourced COVID-19 elites to equitably promote public health information and mitigate misinformation across networked publics.
... Engagement also influences how audiences will experience the social media site. Social media spheres also offer opportunities to host counterpublics (e.g., Jackson & Foucault Welles, 2016) and empower otherwise marginalized audiences (e.g., Amichai-Hamburger et al., 2008), ultimately creating a unique environment to understand the circulation and impact of protest news coverage. ...
... While Lawrence (2000) contends that official accounts control the narratives of police behavior, this instance of most-shared coverage offers an exception to this generalization. One potential explanation for the resilience of this narrative in the most shared social media news is the counterpublics that circulate on these social media sites (e.g., Jackson & Foucault Welles, 2016). It may be the investment of these publics (e.g., Black Twitter, #BlackLivesMatter) that pave the way for magnifying coverage with unusually identified framing devices, like those that call out police behavior during protests. ...
... Findings support research that suggests social media audiences might elevate otherwise underreported narratives (e.g., Harlow et al., 2020;Jackson & Foucault Welles, 2016), signaling the democratic potential for social media spaces and audiences to disrupt, at least, parts of the persistent protest paradigm news narratives. Patterns from the most shared coverage indicated social media audiences may have been exposed to more news critical of police behavior during protests. ...
Article
Analyzing news coverage of the killing of Stephon Clark in 2018, this research contributes to the further theorization of the hierarchy of social struggle by (1) confirming the consistent use of demonizing and delegitimizing framing devices to describe Black human rights protest, and (2) illustrating that the quality of the presentation of grievances and demands must also be considered when assessing the degree to which coverage can be legitimizing for a racial justice movement. In addition, findings show selective social media sharing amplified the limited coverage about police character but amplified sensational reports of injury.
... Twitter, especially, constitutes an important site where public discourse can take shape through the use and propagation of hashtags (Jackson et al. 2020). Beyond entertainment and niche topical discussions, Twitter has been identified as a platform that can give voice to marginalised groups (Kuo 2018;Bouvier and Rosenbaum 2020) and enable civic engagement, facilitate political debate and social activism in ways that can have national as well as international political impact (Jackson and Foucault Welles 2016). ...
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In recent years, several high-profile political protests and social movements have formed on and through social media. Whereas most large-scale datasets address singular social media movements political topical discussions, or events, Tweets Across the Political Spectrum 2016-2020 (TAPS) instead provides access to social media data on a broad range of digital political issues and social movements, spanning over several years. The TAPS dataset incorporates data based on a range of high-profile and widely used hashtags, ranging from those on the far left of the political spectrum to those on the far right. Concretely, we introduce a dataset consisting of 207 million tweets, posted between 2016-01-01 TAPS is relevant for research into political debates, social movements, polarisation and more, within a range of academic fields, including for instance computational social science, sociology, political science, data science, and communication studies. The data span over an extended period during which these hashtags were frequently used, and the dataset is comprehensive enough to identify large-scale patterns and to provide possibilities for comparisons over time, within or across political issues. To our knowledge this is the only large-scale dataset which incorporates, to this degree, tweets from different social movements, political discussions, and protests on different ends of the political spectrum.
... They are also used to further political messages and ideologies. For instance, the Black Lives Matter movement [33] has made extensive use of memes, often as response to racism online or to * To appear at the 24th ACM Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing (CSCW 2021). gather broader support [45]. ...
... These findings highlight the importance of Twitter for ambient news sharing and seeking (Hermida, 2010;Marchant et al., 2016). The results also support the arguments that users mixed their opinions and feelings with their, even informing, tweets as they participated in a connective action (Jackson and Foucault Welles, 2016;Papacharissi and De Fatima Oliveira, 2012). ...
Article
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This paper investigates the structure of networked publics and their sharing practices in Persian Twitter during a period surrounding Iran’s 2017 presidential election. Building on networked gatekeeping and framing theories, we used a mixed methodological approach to analyze a dataset of 2,596,284 Persian tweets. Results revealed that Twitter provided a space for Iranians to discuss public topics. However, this space is not necessarily used by voiceless and marginalized groups; and the uses are not limited to discussing controversial issues. The growing body of conservative crowdsourced elites emerged to defend the regime’s ideology. Moreover, the dominant networked frames were shaped around normal and routine subjects in an election time. Thus, Twitter was not a platform for only seeking liberal demands. It was to some extent used to serve the regime’s political interests. Furthermore, while many ordinary users rose to prominence, mainstream media continued to act as powerful players. This study contributes to the existing literature into networked practices, digital democracy, and citizen journalism; particularly in restrictive contexts.
... Although Twitter does not make follower and following lists easily accessible, public messages between accounts can be easily identified. Research into protest movements has used such interactions between accounts to specify a network representation [19][20][21]. Other work has analyzed the network topology of hashtag topics and used information theory to identify the differences in discourse between hashtag topics [22]. ...
Article
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In September 2017, Hurricane Maria made landfall across the Caribbean region as a category 4 storm. In the aftermath, many residents of Puerto Rico were without power or clean running water for nearly a year. Using both English and Spanish tweets from September 16 to October 15 2017, we investigate discussion of Maria both on and off the island, constructing a proxy for the temporal network of communication between victims of the hurricane and others. We use information theoretic tools to compare the lexical divergence of different subgroups within the network. Lastly, we quantify temporal changes in user prominence throughout the event. We find at the global level that Spanish tweets more often contained messages of hope and a focus on those helping. At the local level, we find that information propagating among Puerto Ricans most often originated from sources local to the island, such as journalists and politicians. Critically, content from these accounts overshadows content from celebrities, global news networks, and the like for the large majority of the time period studied. Our findings reveal insight into ways social media campaigns could be deployed to disseminate relief information during similar events in the future.
... Twitter, especially, constitutes an important site where public discourse can take shape through the use and propagation of hashtags (Jackson et al. 2020). Beyond entertainment and niche topical discussions, Twitter has been identified as a platform that can give voice to marginalised groups (Kuo 2018;Bouvier and Rosenbaum 2020) and enable civic engagement, facilitate political debate and social activism in ways that can have national as well as international political impact (Jackson and Foucault Welles 2016). ...
... The set of reports people consume is conditioned by their own social networks and media consumption habits, and social media can amplify those biases by channelling material from like-minded individuals and sources. Those networks focus information flows and interpretation in distinctive communities, which then help people interpret events (Jackson & Foucault Welles, 2016). It is likely that these online communities (and their offline counterparts) held, developed, and reinforced opinions about this 'New Civil Rights Movement' (Demby, 2014) in very different ways from people in the broader American public. ...
Article
Social movement scholars have long been interested in how violence impacts movements. A primary route to that impact is through public opinion. We examine changes in public opinion – in aggregate and within population subgroups – following dramatic sequences of movement-related violence. Using survey data collected in four US cities before and after the ‘long hot summer’ of urban unrest in 1967, we examine changes in public opinion about whether rioters reacted to legitimate grievances and whether the unrest would be effective in helping the plight of Black Americans. We find that violence expanded the opinion gap between the dominant white ‘public’ and Black ‘counterpublic.’ We also find unique opinion patterns among within-race subgroups based on gender and education (Black women and college-educated whites). In effect, violence realigned the structure of public opinion allies for the Civil Rights Movement.
... 10 These leaders amplified their influence and incorporated greater complexity in their thinking by meeting policymakers and public intellectuals in the United States and abroad, including elder civil rights activists, professional athletes, and other public figures (Jackson and Foucault Welles 2016). 11 Over time, this approach mattered; during the uprisings following the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, it helped shift the national conversation toward systemic solutions (e.g., how the system of policing works, and how police departments might be radically overhauled, decommissioned, defunded, or otherwise transformed). ...
... This change can be largely attributed to the fact that social media, as Skoric, Zhu, Goh, and Pang [1] note, offer informational, expressive, and relational uses that can motivate engagement. The current social media discourse includes many studies that examine online political engagement from the perspective of activism and dissidence (e.g., [2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13]). This raises the question of whether affordances of social network sites motivate alternative politics more than more conventional forms of political engagement. ...
Article
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BACKGROUND: The rise of social media has resulted in a dramatic change in citizen engagement in political processes. This raises the question of whether affordances of social network sites motivate alternative politics more than more conventional form of political engagement. OBJECTIVE: 1) identify differences in social media uses and gratifications among four political personality types (i.e., potential dissidents, allegiants, subordinates, and the alienated), and 2) examine the extent to which political personality types can be discerned using social media uses and gratifications. METHODS: 313 United States citizens above the age of 18 completed a survey using the revised MAIN model scale to measure social media uses and gratifications. Subjects were categorised into political personality types based on the Gamson Hypothesis and Paige’s conceptualisation of actor types. We developed a multinomial logistic regression model to examine the relationship between predictors (uses and gratifications) and political personality types. RESULTS: Potential allegiants and dissidents are driven by a similar set of social media uses and gratifications as opposed to political subordinates and the alienated. CONCLUSION: Social media can provide more gratifications for potential dissidents and allegiants, ‘favouring’ personality types with high political efficacy.
... Through this combination of images, users emphasized historical continuity between the Civil Rights period and BLM, and between King, Parks, Lewis, and McKesson as black political leaders and figures. This aligns with similar findings from and Jackson and Foucault Welles (2016). Such historical connections made by users also indicate that the role of photography within the aesthetics of protest is more complex than its function as a documentary record circulated in the immediate aftermath of a protest event. ...
Chapter
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Protestors across the world use aesthetics in order to communicate their ideas and ensure their voices are heard. This book looks at protest aesthetics, which we consider to be the visual and performative elements of protest, such as images, symbols, graffiti, art, as well as the choreography of protest actions in public spaces. Through the use of social media, protestors have been able to create an alternative space for people to engage with politics that is more inclusive and participatory than traditional politics. This volume focuses on the role of visual culture in a highly mediated environment and draws on case studies from Europe, Thailand, South Africa, USA, Argentina, and the Middle East in order to demonstrate how protestors use aesthetics to communicate their demands and ideas. It examines how digital media is harnessed by protestors and argues that all protest aesthetics are performative and communicative.
... Through this combination of images, users emphasized historical continuity between the Civil Rights period and BLM, and between King, Parks, Lewis, and McKesson as black political leaders and figures. This aligns with similar findings from and Jackson and Foucault Welles (2016). Such historical connections made by users also indicate that the role of photography within the aesthetics of protest is more complex than its function as a documentary record circulated in the immediate aftermath of a protest event. ...
Chapter
Protestors across the world use aesthetics in order to communicate their ideas and ensure their voices are heard. This book looks at protest aesthetics, which we consider to be the visual and performative elements of protest, such as images, symbols, graffiti, art, as well as the choreography of protest actions in public spaces. Through the use of social media, protestors have been able to create an alternative space for people to engage with politics that is more inclusive and participatory than traditional politics. This volume focuses on the role of visual culture in a highly mediated environment and draws on case studies from Europe, Thailand, South Africa, USA, Argentina, and the Middle East in order to demonstrate how protestors use aesthetics to communicate their demands and ideas. It examines how digital media is harnessed by protestors and argues that all protest aesthetics are performative and communicative.
... They are also used to further political messages and ideologies. For instance, the Black Lives Matter movement [33] has made extensive use of memes, often as response to racism online or to * To appear at the 24th ACM Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing (CSCW 2021). gather broader support [45]. ...
Preprint
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Despite the increasingly important role played by image memes, we do not yet have a solid understanding of the elements that might make a meme go viral on social media. In this paper, we investigate what visual elements distinguish image memes that are highly viral on social media from those that do not get re-shared, across three dimensions: composition, subjects, and target audience. Drawing from research in art theory, psychology, marketing, and neuroscience, we develop a codebook to characterize image memes, and use it to annotate a set of 100 image memes collected from 4chan's Politically Incorrect Board (/pol/). On the one hand, we find that highly viral memes are more likely to use a close-up scale, contain characters, and include positive or negative emotions. On the other hand, image memes that do not present a clear subject the viewer can focus attention on, or that include long text are not likely to be re-shared by users. We train machine learning models to distinguish between image memes that are likely to go viral and those that are unlikely to be re-shared, obtaining an AUC of 0.866 on our dataset. We also show that the indicators of virality identified by our model can help characterize the most viral memes posted on mainstream online social networks too, as our classifiers are able to predict 19 out of the 20 most popular image memes posted on Twitter and Reddit between 2016 and 2018. Overall, our analysis sheds light on what indicators characterize viral and non-viral visual content online, and set the basis for developing better techniques to create or moderate content that is more likely to catch the viewer's attention.
... In fact, the framing of social issues on social media has proven to build new frames and shift the dominant narratives. The #BlackLivesMatter social movement could be considered a great example where the voice of the people usually excluded from the discourse bypassed the mainstream media, creating salience for the frames that are currently motivating political and social change (Jackson & Foucault Welles, 2016). ...
Article
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This study analyzes the general public’s framing of ‘mental health’ and critically assesses the implications of these findings. A mismatch between how people think about mental health and what messages are used in mental health campaigns may hinder attempts to improve mental health awareness and reduce stigma. We have conducted frame analysis by using a combination of topic modeling and sentiment analysis, examining 10 years of mental health-related tweets (n = 695,414). The results reveal seven distinctive mental health frames: ‘Awareness’, ‘Feelings and Problematization’, ‘Classification’, ‘Accessibility and Funding’, ‘Stigma’, ‘Service’, and ‘Youth’ (arranged by salience). In analyzing these frames, we have learned that (1) the general awareness about mental health relates to mental illness, while health and well-being framing, although present, is prone to low quality of information, (2) mental health discourse is often used to problematize social issues and externalize personal anxieties, which tends toward trivialization and, possibly, treatment delays, (3) mental health discourse often revolves around popularized mental illness (e.g., depression, anxiety, but not neurocognitive diseases), (4) the mental health ‘Stigma’ frame is not overly pronounced; it revolves around violence, fear, and madness, (5) mental health is frequently politicized, especially concerning gun laws in the US and service accessibility and funding in the UK. Additionally, some narrower frames discovered may warrant further examination. For instance, PTSD is mostly framed around veterans and suicide, ADHD around youth, and substance abuse in relation to women, teens, and impoverished.
... Likewise, although protest movements take place at specific sites (Earl et al. 2013), they are often connected translocally via social media (Bastos and Mercea 2016). Via trending hashtags, such as #MeToo (Mendes, Ringrose, and Keller 2018) or #Ferguson (Jackson and Foucault Welles 2016), these movements have formed counter public spheres. ...
Book
Driven by digitalization, transnationalization and migration, contemporary spatial arrangements seem to be currently re-figured. In order to grasp the specifics of this current socio-spatial change, the book examines a variety of subjective spatial experiences and knowledge production practices: How are emerging spatial structures conditioned by an increased interconnectedness of places and the circulation it implicates? How are spaces changing as a result of mediatization, increased mobility, globalization and social dislocation? Which forms of arrangements, spatialities and materialities underwrite these processes? How are spaces negotiated and (visually) communicated? These questions are addressed by internationally renowned scholars, all focusing on the topic of spatiality, from various disciplines, such as sociology, geography urban planning and architecture.
... During this time, Twitter played a critical role in growing BLM. While not representing the entire protest ecology, Twitter aided in providing activists with the ability to disseminate PAFs via hashtags, memes, and so on; put pressure on key decision-makers and influencers; and quickly inform the broader public as well as influence news agency accounts about real-time goings-on through retweets, link sharing, and on-the-ground citizen reporting (Clark, 2016;Jackson & Foucault Welles, 2016). Through the mediation of online articulations of Black cultural identity, often referred to by users as Black Twitter (Freelon, 2017), activists' tweets were effectually and affectually poised to serve as a springboard for the formation of the BLM counterpublic. ...
Article
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This study draws from the broad range of cross-disciplinary theories examining digitally networked action (DNA) to offer a rhetorical topology that traces the repeated patterns of communication and digital actions marking the formation and maintenance of protest counterpublics. Grounded in the concepts of collective identity building and network theory, the rhetorical characteristics and digital tactics that scholars have uncovered over the past 10 years were synthesized into a series of a priori classifications (i.e., topoi). These topoi were then applied to the exploration of how Black Lives Matter (BLM) activists used Twitter in service of protest. While the topoi constituting the topology guided the analysis, this study also details the unique and contextually specific personalized communication styles, protest action approaches, and digital affordances used by BLM advocates to constitute a movement that has brought the persistent oppression of Black individuals living in the United States to the forefront of political conversation. This approach sheds light on the elements contributing to the subject positions that encouraged others to commit to BLM as well as provides a resource for those seeking to integrate unified findings from studies focused on the nexus of digital media and social movements in their work.
... To do so, it explores the discourses that are produced when ethnoracial minorities view each other as competitors in what are perceived to be limited opportunities for participation in the media industries. Moreover, while scholarship in media studies has explored the contours of Black Twitter and Asian American Twitter, less attention has been paid to Latinx Twitter (Brock 2012(Brock , 2020de Kosnik and Feldman 2019;Florini 2014Florini , 2019Jackson and Foucault Welles 2016;Lopez 2016;Sharma 2013). This article therefore contributes to the study of ethnoracial Twitter and Latinx media studies by defining and theorizing Latinx Twitter and how it engages in media activism. ...
Article
This article explores how Latinxs have responded to the visibility of campaigns and movements such as #OscarsSoWhite. It outlines the discourses Latinxs have deployed on Twitter to justify their demands for inclusion in the media industries and how notions of competition, coalition building, and solidarity operate between various ethnoracial groups in digital media activism. The article theorizes “Latinx Twitter” and its anti-Blackness and explores the clashes this counterpublic has had with Black Twitter by analyzing the discourses surrounding the hashtags #OscarsSoWhite, #NotYourMule, and #OscarsSoWhiteAndBlack. It advances the notion of competing ethnoracialized counterpublics to explore how race and ethnicity operate relationally in the U.S. and how competition among marginalized groups impacts media activism.
... The potential for this concepts application to understand communities on social media are farreaching and have been used in this context (e.g. Bonilla &Rosa, 2015;Jackson & Foucault Welles, 2016). Social media platforms easily constitute clear examples of both publics and counterpublics. ...
... Likewise, although protest movements take place at specific sites (Earl et al. 2013), they are often connected translocally via social media (Bastos and Mercea 2016). Via trending hashtags, such as #MeToo (Mendes, Ringrose, and Keller 2018) or #Ferguson ( Jackson and Foucault Welles 2016), these movements have formed counterpublic spheres. ...
... The surge of online activity provides an unprecedented opportunity to study these patterns organically and at a large scale [44,52]. Coordinated online activity was found to fuel street protests [22,33,36], stimulate political conversation [3], model the support for a social change [30], and change traditional financial behaviours [48]. The susceptibility of millions of users to emotional manipulation [9,41] and the echochamber effect [4,17], were utilized to disseminate misinformation, discredit democratic institutions and to interfere with political processes [8,28]. ...
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Understanding collective decision making at a large-scale, and elucidating how community organization and community dynamics shape collective behavior are at the heart of social science research. In this work we study the behavior of thousands of communities with millions of active members. We define a novel task: predicting which community will undertake an unexpected, large-scale, distributed campaign. To this end, we develop a hybrid model, combining textual cues, community meta-data, and structural properties. We show how this multi-faceted model can accurately predict large-scale collective decision-making in a distributed environment. We demonstrate the applicability of our model through Reddit's r/place a large-scale online experiment in which millions of users, self-organized in thousands of communities, clashed and collaborated in an effort to realize their agenda. Our hybrid model achieves a high F1 prediction score of 0.826. We find that coarse meta-features are as important for prediction accuracy as fine-grained textual cues, while explicit structural features play a smaller role. Interpreting our model, we provide and support various social insights about the unique characteristics of the communities that participated in the r/place experiment. Our results and analysis shed light on the complex social dynamics that drive collective behavior, and on the factors that propel user coordination. The scale and the unique conditions of the r/place experiment suggest that our findings may apply in broader contexts, such as online activism, (countering) the spread of hate speech and reducing political polarization. The broader applicability of the model is demonstrated through an extensive analysis of the WallStreetBets community, their role in r/place and the GameStop short squeeze campaign of 2021.
... The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement has received extensive attention and coverage from the media and the American public (Horowitz & Livingston, 2016;Neal, 2017) and has been an organizer of domestic protests since 2013 (Garza, 2014;Harris, 2015;Taylor, 2016). The phrase has come to embody principles against police brutality in domestic (United States) Black communities (Ashburn-Nardo, Thomas, & Robinson, 2017;Bonilla & Rosa, 2015;Jackson & Welles, 2016;Rickford, 2016;Taylor, 2016) and led to widespread protests that have connected with a national consciousness on racial equity issues (Horowitz & Livingston, 2016;Neal, 2017;Tillery, 2017). The continued social mobilization to address racial equity with BLM denotes it as a social movement framework (Benford & Snow, 2000;Snow et al., 1986) that has widely inspired agents of change across nearly every societal domain (Ashburn-Nardo et al., 2017). ...
Article
This case study examines ethical leadership responses and crisis communications at a public institution of higher education in response to the Black Lives Matter movement, which occur concurrently with the COVID-19 pandemic and institutional financial crises. The Discourse of Renewal framework requires a focus on what is best for the entirety of the community, rather than simply being a strategic response that only benefits a few. The framework provides a structure for conceptualizing and considering an optimistic discourse in response to crises. A rhetorical analysis of leadership discourse examined four renewal characteristics: overall organizational learning, ethical communication, prospective visioning, and effective organizational rhetoric. Surveys and subsequent analyses of faculty, students, and staff responses provide a feedback mechanism from institutional stakeholders. Subsequent discussions explore issues of navigating stacked crises and how an ethical leadership response can help build beyond crises for the future of the organization.
... As such, increasing opportunities for people (including for far-right sympathisers) to be heard can reinforce or challenge power relations, impact our knowledge, values, and identities, and by extension even affect societal structures (see also Fairclough, 2003Fairclough, , 2010Wodak, 2015). So, the internet provides space for individual users to create their own counter-discourse and challenge established political orders, ideas, and meaning making (Cammaerts, 2009;Jackson & Foucault Welles, 2016). Thereby, the internet grants (also) the far right possibilities to provide alternative narratives to mainstream political discourse. ...
Thesis
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Background: This thesis explores the far right online beyond the study of political parties and extremist far-right sites and content. Specifically, it focuses on the proliferation of far-right discourse among ‘ordinary’ internet users in mainstream digital settings. In doing so, it aims to bring the study of far-right discourse and the enabling roles of digital platforms and influential users into dialogue. It does so by analysing what is communicated and how; where it is communicated and therein the roles of different socio-technical features associated with various online settings; and finally, by whom, focusing on particularly influential users. Methods: The thesis uses material from four different datasets of digital, user-generated content, collected at different times through different methods. These datasets have been analysed using mixed methods approaches wherein interpretative methods, primarily in the form of critical discourse analysis (CDA), have been combined with various data processing techniques, descriptive statistics, visualisations, and computational data analysis methods. Results: The thesis provides a number of findings in relation to far-right discourse, digital platforms, and online influence, respectively. In doing so it builds on the findings of previous research, illustrates unexpected and contradictory results in relation to what was previously known, and makes a number of interesting new discoveries. Overall, it begins to unravel the complex interconnectedness of far-right discourse, platforms, and influential users, and illustrates that to understand the far-right’s efforts online it is imperative to take several dimensions into account simultaneously. Conclusion: The thesis makes several contributions. First, the thesis makes a conceptual contribution by focusing on the interconnectedness of far-right efforts online. Second, it makes an empirical contribution by exploring the multifaceted grassroots or ‘non-party’ dimensions of far-right mobilisation, Finally, the thesis makes a methodological contribution through its mix of methods which illustrates how different aspects of the far right, over varying time periods, diversely sized and shaped datasets, and user constellations, can be approached to reveal broader overarching patterns as well as intricate details.
... Alternative informational actors may widely range across individuals, small groups, nontraditional media sites, platform owners, noninstitutional and institutional organizations, as well as general public [9,10]. For example, studies of Twitter discourses have reaffirmed the role of ordinary, and even marginalized, users' storytelling in shaping the outlooks of protest agendas [29]. Sometimes, networked framing is a contested process that presents fragmented frames between protest cores (i.e., seasoned activists), spectator peripherals (i.e., ordinary public members who express opinions online), and traditional influentials [30]. ...
... Alternative informational actors may widely range across individuals, small groups, nontraditional media sites, platform owners, noninstitutional and institutional organizations, as well as general public [9,10]. For example, studies of Twitter discourses have reaffirmed the role of ordinary, and even marginalized, users' storytelling in shaping the outlooks of protest agendas [29]. Sometimes, networked framing is a contested process that presents fragmented frames between protest cores (i.e., seasoned activists), spectator peripherals (i.e., ordinary public members who express opinions online), and traditional influentials [30]. ...
Conference Paper
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This study draws on networked framing and intermedia network agenda-setting theories to examine how different informational actors have framed the March for Our Lives gun control movement in 2018. This study uses the Social Science One Facebook URLs share dataset to compare network-agenda setting of different media types including offline news media, partisan sites, nonpartisan sites, advocacy/activism organizations, and social media/aggregate services. Results suggest that news media’s framing was the richest and most dynamic, suggesting their important roles in setting the gun issue as a salient public agenda. Meanwhile, emerging media expanded the scope of framing by covering race, gender, and equity issues into gun politics. The movement/activist organizational actors showed the least similarity to other media types, inviting further questions on the role of movement/activist actors in shaping public attention and agendas in the process.
Article
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Information and communication technologies occupy a central position in the Covid-19 pandemic. Public response has been deemed extremely important, with social media platforms playing a key role in both institutional and bottom-up information sharing processes. The emerging field of platform studies has shown that platforms increasingly influence how society works; however, such studies often adopt a highly Western-centric approach. By focusing on Twitter and Weibo use in the early stages of the pandemic, the paper presents an exploratory study that comparatively explores the role of the two platforms for both Western and Chinese publics. Our findings indicate that during the Covid-19 outbreak, Weibo worked as a propaganda tool to unite the Chinese people and promote public policies under the control of the government and the guidance of the mainstream media. Twitter functioned more like a public discourse platform open to personal expression, often showing the influence of defined partisan political discourses. We argue that the participatory dynamics characterising Weibo and Twitter conversations at the outbreak of the pandemic at least partially mirrored the different ‘platforms societies’ currently developing in China and the West.
Article
Through two separate surveys targeting visual professionals (VP) and citizen visual contributors (CVC), we assess their views on citizen journalists’ roles along with their views on the likelihood to act on those views (i.e., role performance intention) in order to identify associations between perception and performance. The role that perceived media credibility plays in the assessment of role conceptions and potential role performance was also examined. Findings indicate that CVC rate their roles as significantly more important than the ratings of VP on citizens’ roles. Correlation analysis points to associations between the roles but misalignment in the relationship between conceptions and performance among CVC but alignment among VP. When looking at the impact of media credibility on role conceptions and performance, it is clear that perceived media credibility plays a significant role among the views of professionals. However, media credibility is not much of a factor in the assessments by CVC. Implications are discussed.
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Through the lens of gatekeeping, this study examines how an evolving technological landscape influences the way television news journalists cover the issue of deadly, highly-publicized police shootings in the United States. Through 10 in-depth interviews of television news journalists, the author analyzes how social media, cellphones, and citizen journalists shape this narrative. Themes include a change in speed and accessibility, accuracy, and a multi-layered challenge to police authority. Practical and theoretical implications on the future digital landscape covering this topic are discussed.
Article
American public discourse is increasingly populated by the names of Black men and women killed by police, often because their deaths were caught on camera and footage of their deaths has circulated virally online. In this way they are doubly victimized, losing not only their lives but also the agency to define themselves and the ways they’d like to be remembered. At the same time, the lives of many Black victims of police violence have been commemorated using digital platforms, especially hashtags on Twitter. So what exactly does it mean to be remembered online in these contexts? To help answer this question, this article is built around a discourse analysis of 990 tweets from two such hashtags: #IfTheyGunnedMeDown and #IfIDieInPoliceCustody. In addition to pushing back against racist stereotypes and state violence, I argue that these two hashtags collect the digital claims to mnemonic freedom of thousands of Black people. The term mnemonic freedom, as I use it here, refers to the ability to ensure that the stories we tell about ourselves, and the morals and meanings of our lives, get remembered by others in the ways that we want. But more than simply that, these hashtags show how mnemonic freedom might be achieved collectively rather than individually.
Article
Various literature has examined how affordances of online media such as openness and connectivity have constituted digital counterpublics, that is, discursive arenas where members of subordinate social groups invent and circulate oppositional interpretations of their identities. At the same time, and in sharp contrast to the bilateral nature of online media, most of this literature has focused on content produced by the group members only, without addressing neither its acceptance by the hegemonic public nor the internal discursive negotiations surrounding it. Using the Facebook page “Write it down! I’m an Arab” as a case study, the current study examines the role played by reader comments in the formation of networked counterpublics. We found that reader comments expand the counterpublic sphere in two directions: vertical and horizontal. Vertically, they produce an interface between the dominant public sphere and the counterpublic sphere. Horizontally, they function as a discursive arena within the group members.
Article
Focusing on the writings of Milton and Rose Friedman, this article explicates a model of a market public as the normative mode of public engagement in a neoliberal regime of governance. The Friedmans’ market public narrowly construes conceptions of knowledge as arising from direct experience and communication as information exchange. Knowledge as direct experience supports the putative universality of self-interest and the sovereignty of individuals as exclusive public actors. Presuming a uniformity of understanding, communication as information exchange dissociates advocates from messages and contributes to the Friedmans’ view of persuasion as an individualistic mode of interaction. Connecting the Friedmans’ model to contemporary scholarly critiques of neoliberalism, I argue that this model portends significant anti-democratic consequences. Citing former U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ campaign to reorganize public education as a market, I illustrate the contemporary circulation of this model.
Article
This study applies the connective action framework and network analysis to analyze how counterpublics used social media to form cliques and mobilize support toward a local issue at the global stage. It presents a case study of the 2019 Hong Kong protest to uncover under what conditions hashtag activism can evolve into connective action. The network approach allows us to examine users and content simultaneously to identify three mechanisms underlying the movement: generative role-taking, hashtag based storytelling, and issue alignment through diverse social groups. Combining descriptive network analysis, modularity analysis, and topic modeling, we demonstrated that hashtag activists during the Hong Kong 2019 protests used different strategies of connective action to engage in information sharing and drive the emergence of connective action. (122 words)
Preprint
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This special issue interrogates the meaning and impacts of "tech ethics": the embedding of ethics into digital technology research, development, use, and governance. In response to concerns about the social harms associated with digital technologies, many individuals and institutions have articulated the need for a greater emphasis on ethics in digital technology. Yet as more groups embrace the concept of ethics, critical discourses have emerged questioning whose ethics are being centered, whether "ethics" is the appropriate frame for improving technology, and what it means to develop "ethical" technology in practice. This interdisciplinary issue takes up these questions, interrogating the relationships among ethics, technology, and society in action. This special issue engages with the normative and contested notions of ethics itself, how ethics has been integrated with technology across domains, and potential paths forward to support more just and egalitarian technology. Rather than starting from philosophical theories, the authors in this issue orient their articles around the real-world discourses and impacts of tech ethics--i.e., tech ethics in action.
Article
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Digital communication technologies, social web platforms, and mobile communication have fundamentally altered the way we communicate publicly. They have also changed our perception of space, thus making a re-calibration of a spatial perspective on public communication necessary. We argue that such a new perspective must consider the relational logic of public communication, which stands in stark contrast to the plain territorial notion of space common in communication research. Conceptualising the spatiality of public communication, we draw on Löw’s (2016) sociology of space. Her relational concept of space encourages us to pay more attention to (a) the infrastructural basis of communication, (b) the operations of synthesising the relational communication space through discursive practices, and (c) power relations that determine the accessibility of public communication. Thus, focusing on infrastructures and discursive practices means highlighting crucial socio-material preconditions of public communication and considering the effects of the power relations which are inherent in their spatialisation upon the inclusivity of public communication . This new approach serves a dual purpose: Firstly, it works as an analytical perspective to systematically account for the spatiality of public communication. Secondly, the differentiation between infrastructural spaces and spaces of discursive practices adds explanatory value to the perspective of relational communication spaces.
Article
The #Metoo movement spread globally to include women in India who were employing social media platforms to discuss their experiences in sexual abuse and harassment. This paper investigates through literature review and data collection, why #MeTooIndia demonstrates a non-inclusivity towards marginalized, and gendered bodies and narratives on the Twitter platform. This exclusion is primarily the product of increased attention to issues of sexual abuse among the Indian elite including Bollywood celebrities, journalists, politicians, and well-known media personalities who employ Twitter as a space for “coming-out.” Secondly, non-inclusivity is evidenced through lack of discussion on the question of sexual abuse, and harassment in the daily lives of Dalit, trans women, women of lower caste and class, and other marginalized and gendered communities that have vastly different experiences of sexual abuse than the elite, urban woman. Finally, exclusion is exposed through the sparsity of personal narratives under the same hashtags owing to masculine toxicity as well as the creation of unsafe spaces for gendered minorities to recount their experiences. This research employs theory of intersectionality to ultimately rethink how to design and organize feminist movements online in order to create safer, more inclusive, and intersectional spaces for feminist activism.
Article
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The past decade has witnessed a marked increase in the use of social media by politicians, most notably exemplified by the 45th President of the United States (POTUS), Donald Trump. On Twitter, POTUS messages consistently attract high levels of engagement as measured by likes, retweets, and replies. Here, we quantify the balance of these activities, also known as “ratios”, and study their dynamics as a proxy for collective political engagement in response to presidential communications. We find that raw activity counts increase during the period leading up to the 2016 election, accompanied by a regime change in the ratio of retweets-to-replies connected to the transition between campaigning and governing. For the Trump account, we find words related to fake news and the Mueller inquiry are more common in tweets with a high number of replies relative to retweets. Finally, we find that Barack Obama consistently received a higher retweet-to-reply ratio than Donald Trump. These results suggest Trump’s Twitter posts are more often controversial and subject to enduring engagement as a given news cycle unfolds.
Article
Investigations of networked public spheres often examine the structures of online platforms by studying users’ interactions. These works suggest that users’ interactions can lead to cyberbalkanization when interlocutors form homophilous communities that typically have few connections to others with opposing ideologies. Yet, rather than assuming communities are isolated, this study examines community-level interactions to reveal how communities in online discourses are more interdependent than previously theorized. Specifically, we examine how such interactions influence the evolution of topics overtime in source and target communities. Our analysis found that (a) the size of a source community (the community that initiates interactions) and a target community (the community that receives interactions), (b) the stability of the source community, and (c) the volume of mentions from a source community to a target community predicts the level of influence one community has on another’s discussion topics. We argue this has significant theoretical and practical implications. Lay Summary Political discussions online, especially those in the United States, seem to range between harmonious discussions of likeminded people and heated debates that end with few, if any, who have changed their minds. Researchers have often examined these balkanized/polarized situations by studying online communities as isolated echo chambers of opinion. Our study focuses on the interactions between online communities who have different worldviews. We examine communities engaged in the global refugee crisis. We consider how the inter-community interactions influence the agenda of the respective communities. Our longitudinal analysis on the one hand confirms previous studies, namely that intra-community interactions indeed resemble echo chambers. On the other hand, we also find that there is interdependence in the inter-community discussion topics, albeit some communities had greater influence on other communities’ discussion topics. For example, larger, more stable communities command more influence.
Article
How does collective identity form in virtual spaces and what role do hashtags play? This paper takes advantage of a unique dataset that includes surveys from activists who organized the nationally coordinated climate strikes in the US that began in spring 2019 to answer these questions. Building on the research about collective identity formation online and the role that hashtags play, we employ social network analysis to assess how collective identity forms online over three waves of protests. In particular, we analyze how activists involved in the youth climate movement used hashtags to project their collective identities and create collective narratives. Our findings show how hashtags use varied over the period of our study, in some cases indicating the formation of a thin collective identity. They also show that there are patterns in the ways hashtags are employed by activists in the movement that suggest the formation of subaltern narratives among those affiliated with youth-led groups. Our paper concludes by considering how this finding helps us understand collective identity in virtual spaces and the role that hashtags play more specifically within social movements.
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This paper examines how U.S. adults define police use-of-force and what these understandings of police violence mean for police–civilian interactions. Our findings show that public attitude is split between pro- and anti-law enforcement stances. Pro-law enforcement individuals see use-of-force as something that is part of the job for police officers, associate the term with positive emotions, and give the benefit of the doubt to police officers while engaging in victim blaming. Anti-law enforcement individuals associate the term with negative emotions, weapon imagery, injustice, racial bias, abuse of power, and harm or death. Young, democratic-leaning, lower socio-economic status individuals with prior police contact are most likely to express anti-law enforcement attitudes. Using communication accommodation theory, we recommend police officers adapt their communication to be more accommodating to the needs, concerns, and fears of civilians, particularly marginalized individuals. This approach may help create more accommodating, less violent police–civilian interactions.
Article
The explosion of Black Lives Matter protests in the mid-2010s rendered visible state violence against Black Americans, producing a barrage of images and videos of lethal police violence and the protests that followed. These images served as a powerful site of contestation about the meaning of race and racism in the United States for both movement supporters and critics. We examine these dynamics through the lens of media coverage of the pivotal 2014 killing of Michael Brown by police officer Darren Wilson and the protests that followed in Ferguson, MO. Drawing from literatures on race, visuality, and media studies, we explore how media outlets pictured the killing of Michael Brown and the protests in Ferguson, either resisting or reproducing the white racial frame through the selection of images in their coverage. We analyze the images in digital media coverage across nine ideologically diverse media outlets in the month after Brown’s death and the month following the non-indictment of Officer Wilson. Across 1,303 articles, we show that most sites did not center images of violence against Brown, preferring instead images of Brown’s life and, more commonly, protesters and law enforcement. While we found few consistent differences in image categories preferred across outlets’ ideological profiles, the specific content and tone of these images starkly diverged, with liberal sites choosing humanizing images of Brown and protesters and conservative sites favoring criminalizing images. We conclude by considering the role media images play in mediating perceptions of race and racism.
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Do social media simply reproduce political inequality between racial groups or are they powerful tools for marginalized racial groups to contest the status quo? This study examined resource-based and identity-based theoretical explanations for differences between White people and racial/ethnic minorities in political expression on social media. Across 4 nationally representative surveys collected in the United States (2016 & 2018), we found that White people (vs. Black, Asian, and sometimes Hispanic people) had a slightly higher probability of engaging in different forms of political expression on social media. However, Black people and people from some numerically smaller racial/ethnic groups were more likely than White people to engage in symbolic behaviors such as using hashtags and changing their profile picture. While there was some evidence that differences in socioeconomic status and political interest may explain White people’s higher likelihood of political expression, identity-related factors played a counter-stratifying role. Racial/ethnic minorities were more likely than White people to view their racial group as having too little influence in American politics, a perception which was in turn positively related to political expression on social media. We use our findings – and their limitations – to argue for more robust theorization and measurement in the study of race in political communication on social media.
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The increasing abundance of digital textual archives provides an opportunity for understanding human social systems. Yet the literature has not adequately considered the disparate social processes by which texts are produced. Drawing on communication theory, we identify three common processes by which documents might be detectably similar in their textual features—authors sharing subject matter, sharing goals, and sharing sources. We hypothesize that these processes produce distinct, detectable relationships between authors in different kinds of textual overlap. We develop a novel n-gram extraction technique to capture such signatures based on n-grams of different lengths. We test the hypothesis on a corpus where the author attributes are observable: the public statements of the members of the U.S. Congress. This article presents the first empirical finding that shows different social relationships are detectable through the structure of overlapping textual features. Our study has important implications for designing text modeling techniques to make sense of social phenomena from aggregate digital traces.
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"He can read my writing but he sho can't read my mind."-Zora Neale HurstonTwitter's combination of brevity, multi-platform access, and feedback mechanisms has enabled it to gain mindshare far out of proportion to its actual user base, including an extraordinary number of Black users. How best to understand Twitter's reception and uptake by Black Americans, who surprisingly comprise over a quarter of all U.S. Twitter users? This article approaches Twitter from two perspectives: an analysis of the interface and associated practices alongside critical discourse analyses of online discussions of Twitter's utility and audience. This dual analysis employs critical race and technocultural theory to understand how mainstream online authors (out-group) and Black online authors (in-group) articulate Twitter as a racial artifact employing technocultural practices. Initial findings indicate that Twitter's feature set and multi-platform presence play major roles in mediating cultural performances by Twitter users. These same features also, depending upon the racial affiliation of the discussant, mediate how those cultural performances are understood: for example, Twitter was seen as a venue for civic activism (or public sphere) or as an active facilitator of deficit-based Black cultural stereotypes. Of particular interest are the complex reactions offered by minority and mainstream commenters on the "appropriateness" of Twitter as a Black cultural outlet.
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In this essay, I make the case for choosing to examine small subsets of Big Data datasets—making big data small. Big Data allows us to produce summaries of human behavior at a scale never before possible. But in the push to produce these summaries, we risk losing sight of a secondary but equally important advantage of Big Data—the plentiful representation of minorities. Women, minorities and statistical outliers have historically been omitted from the scientific record, with problematic consequences. Big Data affords the opportunity to remedy those omissions. However, to do so, Big Data researchers must choose to examine very small subsets of otherwise large datasets. I encourage researchers to embrace an ethical, empirical and epistemological stance on Big Data that includes minorities and outliers as reference categories, rather than the exceptions to statistical norms.
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Despite the tremendous amount of attention that has been paid to the internet as a tool for civic engagement, we still have little idea how “active” is the average online activist or how social networks matter in facilitating electronic protest. In this paper, we use complete records on the donation and recruitment activity of 1.2 million members of the Save Darfur “Cause” on Facebook to provide a detailed first look at a massive online social movement. While both donation and recruitment behavior are socially patterned, the vast majority of Cause members recruited no one else into the Cause and contributed no money to it-suggesting that in the case of the Save Darfur campaign, Facebook conjured an illusion of activism rather than facilitating the real thing.
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One of the biggest news stories of 2012, the killing of Trayvon Martin, nearly disappeared from public view, initially receiving only cursory local news coverage. But the story gained attention and controversy over Martin’s death dominated headlines, airwaves, and Twitter for months, thanks to a savvy publicist working on behalf of the victim’s parents and a series of campaigns off–line and online. Using the theories of networked gatekeeping and networked framing, we map out the vast media ecosystem using quantitative data about the content generated around the Trayvon Martin story in both off–line and online media, as well as measures of engagement with the story, to trace the interrelations among mainstream media, nonprofessional and social media, and their audiences. We consider the attention and link economies among the collected media sources in order to understand who was influential when, finding that broadcast media is still important as an amplifier and gatekeeper, but that it is susceptible to media activists working through participatory or nonprofessional media to co–create the news and influence the framing of major controversies. Our findings have implications for social change organizations that seek to harness advocacy campaigns to news stories, and for scholars studying media ecology and the networked public sphere.
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This essay foregrounds how technocultural assemblages - software platforms, algorithms, digital networks and affects - are constitutive of online racialized identities. Rather than being concerned with what online identities are in terms of ethno-racial representation and signification, we can explore how they are materialized via the technologies of online platforms. The essay focuses on the micro-blogging site of Twitter and the viral phenomenon of racialized hashtags - dubbed as 'Blacktags' - for example #onlyintheghetto or #ifsantawasblack. The circulation of these racialized hashtags is analyzed as the transmission of contagious meanings and affects, such as anti/racist humour, sentiment and social commentary. Blacktags as contagious digital objects play a role in constituting the 'Black Twitter' identities they articulate and interact with. Beyond conceiving Black Twitter as a group of preconstituted users tweeting racialized hashtags, Blacktags are instrumental in producing networked subjects which have the capacity to multiply the possibilities of being raced online. Thus, ethno-racial collective behaviours on the Twitter social media platform are grasped as emergent aggregations, materialized through the contagious social relations produced by the networked propagation of Blacktags.
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Conversations on Twitter create networks with identifiable contours as people reply to and mention one another in their tweets. These conversational structures differ, depending on the subject and the people driving the conversation. Six structures are regularly observed: divided, unified, fragmented, clustered, and inward and outward hub and spoke structures. These are created as individuals choose whom to reply to or mention in their Twitter messages and the structures tell a story about the nature of the conversation.
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From the Arab Spring and los indignados in Spain, to Occupy Wall Street (and beyond), large-scale, sustained protests are using digital media in ways that go beyond sending and receiving messages. Some of these action formations contain relatively small roles for formal brick and mortar organizations. Others involve well-established advocacy organizations, in hybrid relations with other organizations, using technologies that enable personalized public engagement. Both stand in contrast to the more familiar organizationally managed and brokered action conventionally associated with social movement and issue advocacy. This article examines the organizational dynamics that emerge when communication becomes a prominent part of organizational structure. It argues that understanding such variations in large-scale action networks requires distinguishing between at least two logics that may be in play: The familiar logic of collective action associated with high levels of organizational resources and the formation of collective identities, and the less familiar logic of connective action based on personalized content sharing across media networks. In the former, introducing digital media do not change the core dynamics of the action. In the case of the latter, they do. Building on these distinctions, the article presents three ideal types of large-scale action networks that are becoming prominent in the contentious politics of the contemporary era.
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Queering and transgendering practices have been visible across the Internet since the time of multiuser domains (MUDs), MUD object oriented domains (MOOs), e-mail lists, and Web bulletins. This article maps some themes of queering in the Indian digital diaspora through an intergenerational lens, produced in the acts of online and offline coauthoring, weblogging, and reading of instances of such online queering relationally. By way of a dialogic encounter on their own blogs and employing performative writing that simulates the blogsphere, the authors look at the interplay of codes of identity through the employment of themes, language, symbols, and cultural influences in their writing. Examining the themes emerging from the specific blogs they study, the authors ask how power is shifted and relayered in these articulations and what the inviting interactional features of their writer-audience communities are that allow for certain kinds of self-expression while also shaping their performance of sexuality in these spaces.
Conference Paper
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Twitter - a microblogging service that enables users to post messages ("tweets") of up to 140 characters - supports a variety of communicative practices; participants use Twitter to converse with individuals, groups, and the public at large, so when conversations emerge, they are often experienced by broader audiences than just the interlocutors. This paper examines the practice of retweeting as a way by which participants can be "in a conversation." While retweeting has become a convention inside Twitter, participants retweet using different styles and for diverse reasons. We highlight how authorship, attribution, and communicative fidelity are negotiated in diverse ways. Using a series of case studies and empirical data, this paper maps out retweeting as a conversational practice.
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Systems as diverse as genetic networks or the world wide web are best described as networks with complex topology. A common property of many large networks is that the vertex connectivities follow a scale-free power-law distribution. This feature is found to be a consequence of the two generic mechanisms that networks expand continuously by the addition of new vertices, and new vertices attach preferentially to already well connected sites. A model based on these two ingredients reproduces the observed stationary scale-free distributions, indicating that the development of large networks is governed by robust self-organizing phenomena that go beyond the particulars of the individual systems.
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Despite the tremendous amount of attention that has been paid to the internet as a tool for civic engagement, we still have little idea how "active" is the average online activist or how social networks matter in facilitating electronic protest. In this paper, we use complete records on the donation and recruitment activity of 1.2 million members of the Save Darfur "Cause" on Facebook to provide a detailed first look at a massive online social movement. While both donation and recruitment behavior are socially patterned, the vast majority of Cause members recruited no one else into the Cause and contributed no money to it - suggesting that in the case of the Save Darfur campaign, Facebook conjured an illusion of activism rather than facilitating the real thing.
Book
Shifting understandings and ongoing conversations about race, celebrity, and protest in the twenty-first century call for a closer examination of the evolution of dissent by black celebrities and their reception in the public sphere. This book focuses on the way the mainstream and black press have covered cases of controversial political dissent by African American celebrities from Paul Robeson to Kanye West. Jackson considers the following questions: 1) What unique agency is available to celebrities with racialized identities to present critiques of American culture? 2) How have journalists in both the mainstream and black press limited or facilitated this agency through framing? What does this say about the varying role of journalism in American racial politics? 3) How have framing trends regarding these figures shifted from the mid-twentieth century to the twenty-first century? Through a series of case studies that also includes Eartha Kitt, Sister Souljah, and Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, Jackson illustrates the shifting public narratives and historical moments that both limit and enable African American celebrities in the wake of making public politicized statements that critique the accepted racial, economic, and military systems in the United States.
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In this article we investigate the hijacking of the Twitter hashtag #myNYPD following the launch of a public relations campaign by the New York City Police Department in April of 2014. Theorizing networked counterpublics, we examine how Twitter was used as a platform to generate and promote counterpublic narratives about racial profiling and police misconduct. Through a combination of large-scale network analysis and qualitative discourse analysis, we detail counterpublic structure and leadership, discursive strategies deployed by crowdsourced elites, and the reception of counterpublic activism in mainstream media. We conclude with implications for understanding the evolving nature of counterpublics, with particular consideration to the roles of new and old media in (re)shaping public debates around marginalization, profiling, and policing.
Article
This article explores the use of the Black American cultural tradition of “signifyin’” as a means of performing racial identity online. In the United States, race is deeply tied to corporeal signifiers. But, in social media, the body can be obscured or even imitated (e.g., by a deceptive avatar). Without reliable corporeal signifiers of racial difference readily apparent, Black users often perform their identities through displays of cultural competence and knowledge. The linguistic practice of “signifyin’,” which deploys figurative language, indirectness, doubleness, and wordplay as a means of conveying multiple layers of meaning, serves as a powerful resource for the performance of Black cultural identity on Twitter.
Article
This article investigates the public debate over proposed U.S. legislation designed to give prosecutors and copyright holders new tools to pursue suspected online copyright violations. We compiled, mapped, and analyzed a set of 9,757 stories published over 16 months relevant to the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act (COICA), Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), and PROTECT IP Act (PIPA). This study applies a mixed-methods approach that combines text and link analysis with human coding and informal interviews to map the evolution of the controversy over time and to analyze the mobilization, roles, and interactions of various actors. We find a vibrant, diverse, and decentralized networked public sphere that exhibited broad participation, leveraged topical expertise, and successfully reframed a debate and focused public sentiment to shape national public policy. A network of small-scale commercial tech media, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and individuals fulfilled the fourth estate function; traditional media then amplified the work of these actors. The campaign involved substantial experimentation and rapid development of mobilization strategies. We observe an increased public awareness of an agenda originating in the networked public sphere, which emerged successfully despite substantial expenditures attempting to produce a mass media narrative that favored the legislation. Moreover, we witness what we call an attention backbone, in which more trafficked sites amplify less-visible individual voices on specific subjects. The data suggest that, at least in this case, the networked public sphere enabled a dynamic public discourse that involved both individual and organizational participants and offered substantive discussion of complex issues contributing to affirmative political action.
Article
This study traces the rhythms of news storytelling on Twitter via the #egypt hashtag. Using computational discourse analysis, we examine news values and the form of news exhibited in #egypt from January 25 to February 25, 2011, pre- and post-resignation of Hosni Mubarak. Results point to a hybridity of old and newer news values, with emphasis on the drama of instantaneity, the crowdsourcing of elites, solidarity, and ambience. The resulting stream of news combines news, opinion, and emotion to the point where discerning one from the other is difficult and doing so misses the point. We offer a theory of affective news to explain the distinctive character of content produced by networked publics in times of political crisis.
Article
This study examines the framing of Egypt's January 2011 uprising in the country's state-run, independent and social media using a unique dataset of Arabic language content from newspapers and key social media posts collected during the peak of protests. Semiofficial (governmental) newspapers framed the event as “a conspiracy on the Egyptian state,” warning of economic consequence and attributing blame and responsibility for the chaos on others. Social media posts used a human interest frame defining protests as “a revolution for freedom and social justice” and independent newspapers used a combination of these frames. Findings point toward the potential roles that news media will play in shaping public opinion and demonstrate why social media have wide appeal in times of political crisis.
Article
How does the massive use of social media in contemporary protests affect the character of activist communication? Moving away from the conceptualization of social media as tools, this research explores how activist social media communication is entangled with and shaped by heterogeneous techno-cultural and political economic relations. This exploration is pursued through a case study on the social media reporting efforts of the Toronto Community Mobilization Network, which coordinated and facilitated the protests against the 2010 Toronto G-20 summit. The network urged activists to report about the protests on Twitter, YouTube, and Flickr, tagging their contributions #g20report. In addition, it set up a Facebook group and used a blog. The investigation, first, traces the hyperlink network in which the protest communication was embedded. The hyperlink analysis provides a window on the online ecology in which this communication unfolded. In addition, the examination interrogates how the particular technological architectures, related user practices, and business models of the various social platforms steered communication. This investigation shows that the use of social media brings about an acceleration of activist communication, and greatly enhances its visual character. Moreover, as activists massively embrace corporate social media, they increasingly lose control over the data they collective produce, as well as over the very architectures of the spaces through which they communicate.
Article
Political communication research in the United States, despite two decades of change in how the public receives information, follows theories that rely on definitions of citizenship from a century ago and on metaphors growing out of communication techniques and practices of five decades ago. A review of the state of news media, facing technical, labor, and economic crises, and the state of political science, illustrated through research methods, leads to a reexamination of communication at the intersection of media and politics. Political communication theory has come to rely on functional metaphors, economic background assumptions, an emphasis on method, and a legacy of structuralism. The crisis presents current theories with challenges for the representation of citizens and the press in democracy. Especially as young adults reject older forms of information, political communication can renew itself by deepening existing theory and shifting from old effects rationality to a new “media affect” sensibility.
Book
introduction to social networks, interesting the centrality chapter.
Article
Many theorists propose that there are multiple, coexisting “subaltern” counterpublic spheres. However, most discussions of these subaltern counterpublics rely on group identity markers to differentiate between these spheres and do not provide alternative means for distinguishing between subaltern public spheres. This essay presents an alternative vocabulary for multiple public spheres through an exploration of the history of the African American public sphere. Three types of marginal publics, enclave, counterpublic, and satellite, are defined as examples of how we might incorporate considerations of the kinds of resources different publics have available to them. This vocabulary facilitates more flexible descriptions of publics that are normally defined by identity and allows for more comprehensive comparisons across public spheres.
The new civil rights movement doesn't need an MLK. The Washington Post
  • D Allen
  • C Cohen
@Nettaaaaaaaa @Vandalyzm WTF?!?!?!? Explain [Tweet]. Retrieved from https
  • Autumnforhillary
Counterpublics and the state
  • R Asen
  • D C Brouwer
We are the ones we've been waiting for
  • M Bailey
  • A P Gumbs
Ferguson police just executed an unarmed 17 yr old boy that was walking to the store. Shot him 10 times smh
  • C Brewster
They released the dogs. #Ferguson #STL [Tweet]. Retrieved from https
  • J Elzie
T2G: Convert (all) Twitter mentions to Gephi format
  • D Freelon
“@stltoday: Fatal shooting by Ferguson police prompts mob reaction http://bit.ly/1oQYtJw ” “Mob”? You could also use the word "community
  • A French
@BarackObama Mr. President please, please, please say something to the American people address all the #PoliceBrutality lately! [Tweet]. Retrieved from https
  • J Hamilton
Dear President Obama: please address the use of paramilitary force in #Ferguson before addressing the passing of a celebrity. Thanks
  • S Mcgee
Someone please remind me what year it is again? #ferguson [Tweet]. Retrieved from https
  • B Muncy
@Nettaaaaaaaa YOU'RE dope. I appreciate everything you've done and shown us. Proud of you
  • T Montana
PAY ATTENTION as “teen” becomes “man,” “community becomes “mob,” and “murder” becomes “alleged shooting.” #Ferguson #medialiteracy [Tweet]. Retrieved from https
  • B Nachos
Discursive realities A handbook of media and communication research: Qualitative and quantitative methodologies
  • K C Schrøder
Fatal shooting by Ferguson police prompts mob reaction http
  • Stltoday
I remember was back when Ferguson was an all-white sundown town
  • G Taylor
The Civil Rights Act is 50 years old. These two pictures were taken 50 years apart. Behold our progress. #Ferguson [Tweet]. Retrieved from https
  • J Summers
What the fuck RT @Nettaaaaaaaa: They released the dogs #Ferguson #STL [Tweet]. Retrieved from https
  • P Vanzant
#BBUM and new media blacktivism
  • C Wardell
@BarackObama please address what's going on in #Ferguson. We the people need you
  • C White
Basically martial law is taking place in Ferguson all perimeters blocked coming and going … . National and international friends Help!!! [Tweet]. Retrieved from https
  • P Tef
  • Jackson S. J.