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Digital Memory in the Post-Witness Era: How Holocaust Museums Use Social Media as New Memory Ecologies

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With the passing of the last testimonies, Holocaust remembrance and Holocaust education progressively rely on digital technologies to engage people in immersive, simulative, and even counterfactual memories of the Holocaust. This preliminary study investigates how three prominent Holocaust museums use social media to enhance the general public’s knowledge and understanding of historical and remembrance events. A mixed-method approach based on a combination of social media analytics and latent semantic analysis was used to investigate the Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube profiles of Yad Vashem, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, and the Auschwitz–Birkenau Memorial and Museum. This social media analysis adopted a combination of metrics and was focused on how these social media profiles engage the public at both the page-content and relational levels, while their communication strategies were analysed in terms of generated content, interactivity, and popularity. Latent semantic analysis was used to analyse the most frequently used hashtags and words to investigate what topics and phrases appear most often in the content posted by the three museums. Overall, the results show that the three organisations are more active on Twitter than on Facebook and Instagram, with the Auschwitz–Birkenau Museum and Memorial occupying a prominent position in Twitter discourse while Yad Vashem and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum had stronger presences on YouTube. Although the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum exhibits some interactivity with its Facebook fan community, there is a general tendency to use social media as a one-way broadcast mode of communication. Finally, the analysis of terms and hashtags revealed the centrality of “Auschwitz” as a broad topic of Holocaust discourse, overshadowing other topics, especially those related to recent events.
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Article
Digital Memory in the Post-Witness Era: How Holocaust
Museums Use Social Media as New Memory Ecologies
Stefania Manca


Citation: Manca, S. Digital Memory
in the Post-Witness Era: How
Holocaust Museums Use Social
Media as New Memory Ecologies.
Information 2021,12, 31. https://
doi.org/10.3390/info12010031
Received: 14 December 2020
Accepted: 11 January 2021
Published: 13 January 2021
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censee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.
This article is an open access article
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ditions of the Creative Commons At-
tribution (CC BY) license (https://
creativecommons.org/licenses/by/
4.0/).
Institute of Educational Technology, National Research Council of Italy, 16151 Genoa, Italy;
stefania.manca@itd.cnr.it
Abstract:
With the passing of the last testimonies, Holocaust remembrance and Holocaust education
progressively rely on digital technologies to engage people in immersive, simulative, and even
counterfactual memories of the Holocaust. This preliminary study investigates how three prominent
Holocaust museums use social media to enhance the general public’s knowledge and understand-
ing of historical and remembrance events. A mixed-method approach based on a combination of
social media analytics and latent semantic analysis was used to investigate the Facebook, Twitter,
Instagram, and YouTube profiles of Yad Vashem, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum,
and the Auschwitz–Birkenau Memorial and Museum. This social media analysis adopted a combi-
nation of metrics and was focused on how these social media profiles engage the public at both the
page-content and relational levels, while their communication strategies were analysed in terms of
generated content, interactivity, and popularity. Latent semantic analysis was used to analyse the
most frequently used hashtags and words to investigate what topics and phrases appear most often
in the content posted by the three museums. Overall, the results show that the three organisations are
more active on Twitter than on Facebook and Instagram, with the Auschwitz–Birkenau Museum and
Memorial occupying a prominent position in Twitter discourse while Yad Vashem and the United
States Holocaust Memorial Museum had stronger presences on YouTube. Although the United States
Holocaust Memorial Museum exhibits some interactivity with its Facebook fan community, there is a
general tendency to use social media as a one-way broadcast mode of communication. Finally, the
analysis of terms and hashtags revealed the centrality of “Auschwitz” as a broad topic of Holocaust
discourse, overshadowing other topics, especially those related to recent events.
Keywords:
Holocaust remembrance; social media; cultural studies; digital memory; social media
analytics; latent semantic analysis
1. Introduction
With the advent of increasingly sophisticated communication technologies and with
progressive temporal departure from the historical circumstances that marked the “destruc-
tion of European Jewry” [
1
] about 80 years ago, the employment of digital technology has
emerged as a specific topic of research in the field of Holocaust studies. As a number of
scholars have highlighted, “the cosmopolitan Holocaust memory of the new millennium is
synonymous with digital technology” [
2
] (p. 331). Efforts to save and preserve historical
archives combined with attempts to safeguard the testimonies of the last survivors have
resulted in numerous undertakings based on the use of advanced digital technologies.
The first prominent initiative came from the USC Shoah Foundation’s Institute for Visual
History and Education (formerly Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation), a
non-profit organization dedicated to recording interviews with survivors and witnesses
of the Holocaust and other genocides [
3
]. Subsequently, progressive diminishment of the
witness era [
4
] has further marked the need to preserve testimonies through digital means.
One such initiative, the New Dimensions in Testimony, gathers a collection of survivor
testimonies in interactive 3D format in a quest to safeguard the possibility of real-time,
Information 2021,12, 31. https://doi.org/10.3390/info12010031 https://www.mdpi.com/journal/information
Information 2021,12, 31 2 of 17
question-and-answer virtual dialogue with survivors to learn about and appreciate their
life experiences [
5
,
6
]. In this vein, the idea of a “virtual Holocaust memory” has advanced,
embracing both digital and non-digital memory related to the Holocaust and, at the same
time, drawing attention to the pervasive nature of the virtuality of memory itself [7].
Overall, digital culture opens up new opportunities for externalising collective mem-
ories and, in this regard, social media settings may be considered the main arenas of
mediatized memory that are increasingly globalised and transcultural [
8
10
]. Due to tech-
nological transformation and the increasingly mediated nature of communication, digital
memory is progressively becoming “unanchored” from localised contexts, making both
individual and collective memory timeless and spaceless [11,12].
In this light, Holocaust memorials, remembrance centres, and institutions have had a
solid presence on the Internet for a considerable time now, curating websites, mailing lists,
and other digital services [
13
,
14
]. Museums use and produce diverse media to transmit
and communicate memorial content, including standard printed media, multimedia pro-
ductions, (often hands-on) media stations, interactive software, and web-based material
and services. Franken-Wendelstorf, Greisinger, and Gries [
15
] explained how the “learning
location museum” has expanded into digital space. Furthermore, museums, libraries, and
related cultural institutions have started using social media for the development of digital
social archives [
16
]. Indeed, social media have become standard means by which Holocaust
museums, memorials, and institutions disseminate knowledge and reach out to the public,
e.g., for publicising upcoming local events.
Within the specific research subfield of social media memory studies [
17
], which
investigates digital memory of historical events such as those related to the Holocaust [
11
,
18
],
social media Holocaust studies have become a topic of scholarship in its own right. Some
recent projects in this area, such as Eva.Stories on Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/
eva.stories/) and the Anne Frank video diary on YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/
annefrank), have raised considerable controversy. However, the interest in engaging new
generations through novel forms of agency in relation to media witnessing and mediated
memory is not something that can be dismissed in principle, as they exemplify the co-
creation of socially mediated experiences [
19
]. Although mass culture has increasingly
become prominent in the provision of historical knowledge [
20
], some scholars argue that
traditional Holocaust memory environments, such as memorials, cinema, and television,
are no longer suitable for contemporary digital users; they see the need to “resurrect”
Holocaust commemoration, creating immersive and more engaging memories [2].
For the most part, much critical debate about social media use has focused on so-called
dark tourism at Holocaust memorial sites [
21
], namely visitors taking selfies and other tourist
photographs and subsequently sharing them on social media with hashtags [
22
24
]. By
contrast, little research has focused on proactive social media use by Holocaust institutions,
such as memorials and museums [
21
,
25
27
]. In today’s digital age, Holocaust museums act
both as physical monuments and as mediated and virtual spaces and are thus located at the
intersection between commemorative memory and mediated memory [
12
]. In this sense,
they have a multifaceted mandate that covers commemoration, engagement/education of
site visitors, enlightenment of the general public’s understanding of the past, as well as
strengthening or challenging of historical narratives [
28
]. Along with archives and libraries,
Holocaust museums are public spaces that constitute prime social “memory institutions”
and, today, represent the most significant repositories of national and community memories
of the Nazi genocide [29].
In this vein, museums position themselves at the intersection of Holocaust memory
studies and the emerging field of digital history by making content accessible beyond
the physical spaces of museums, research institutions, or archives [
25
]. However, today,
the general expansion of social media into the realm of cultural heritage, not least that
of Holocaust remembrance, also raises serious concerns about competing forms of local
and national memory, including the narratives conveyed through museums [
30
]. Despite
controversial cases of “multidirectional memory” [
31
], museums serve to reassure patrons
Information 2021,12, 31 3 of 17
thanks to the legitimacy and authority that people tend to accord to these cultural institu-
tions, especially when set against the confusion of Internet sites promoting antisemitism
and treating Holocaust denial as historical truth [29,32].
More recently, the restrictions posed by the COVID-19 pandemic on cultural institu-
tions and heritage sites have accelerated the proliferation of digital memory [
33
]; a growing
use of social media has been a natural response to the limitations posed specifically on in
situ socialisation, thereby giving impetus to a shift from complex onsite digital technology
to online social media. Various campaigns, such as #RememberingFromHome and #Shoah-
Names, were launched by Yad Vashem [
34
] to celebrate Israeli Holocaust Remembrance
Day and to foster engagement, participation, and users’ active response through sharing,
posting, and commenting, thus configuring new memory ecologies [35].
This study analyses how three Holocaust museums—Yad Vashem, the United States
Holocaust Memorial Museum, and the Auschwitz–Birkenau Memorial and Museum—use
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube to engage their communities both at the content-
page and at relational levels. The aim is to investigate what communication strategies the
three museums adopt regarding generated content, interactivity, and popularity; these are
examined in terms of typology of published content as well as engaging terms and hashtags.
2. Related Literature
Among cultural heritage institutions, museums, monuments, and memorials are
leading adopters of digital technologies for education and dissemination activities. These
institutions are early up-takers of the Internet, driven in part by the widespread push to
digitise their archives, thereby making them accessible to an increasingly wide audience.
Similarly, they have turned to social media use from the early stages [
25
,
36
]. Several
studies have focused on how social media has challenged the traditional flow of museum-
based information and have blurred the lines traditionally dividing the roles of exhibition
developers, designers, and educators [
37
]. Other studies have investigated the tensions and
synergies between traditional and modern museum practice from the perspective of ethical
issues connected to transparency, censorship, and respect for constituencies, especially
with the museum relinquishing direct control over their media content [
38
]. At the same
time, paramount importance has been stressed in encouraging different levels of public
participation, ranging from merely enjoying content to exercising more participatory roles
through the co-creation of new content. This participative turn in cultural policy relies
on the paradigm of cultural democracy, according to which diverse social groups should
obtain acknowledgement of their cultural practices and no assumption should be made of
any superior imperative in the transmission of cultural expression [39].
In this light, the different degrees of engagement with cultural heritage institutions—
attendance, interaction, and co-construction—are also reflected in their social media pres-
ence. The participatory culture imbued in social media [
40
] is also reflected in the ways
that museums act as intermediaries of historical knowledge and cultural heritage through
the exploitation of social media as sociotechnical systems and through leveraging their
affordances [
41
]. The focus of recent studies has shifted from engagement to the extent to
which social media contribute to the co-construction of dialogue between museums and
their visitors [
42
]. The idea of museums as cultural intermediaries is connected with the
concept of online value creation. This is manifest in at least three organizational forms in
which museums may engage: (1) marketing, which promotes the face of the institution;
(2) inclusivity, which nurtures a real online community; and (3) collaboration, which goes
beyond communication and promotes constructive interaction with the audience [43,44].
One of the approaches taken for measuring museums’ social media presence involves
gauging social media effectiveness by considering both content and relational communi-
cation strategies [
45
]. According to this approach, engagement is manifested in different
behaviours and communication effectiveness ought to be considered in terms of three
consumer engagement dimensions: popularity (e.g., the number of followers and likes);
generated content (e.g., the number of posts and comments); and virality (e.g., the number
Information 2021,12, 31 4 of 17
of reposts/shares) [
30
]. Other studies have investigated post writing as a tool for ascertain-
ing museum engagement and have explored engagement with posts and its distribution
by focusing on images, hashtags, and mentions [
46
]. Other techniques based on topic
modelling have been used to derive discourse topics in the content of museums’ posts and
the interactions these generated [47].
Notwithstanding the above-reported methodological approaches, to the best of our
knowledge, no research study has yet investigated social media engagement centring on
major Holocaust museums and memorials. Moreover, recent studies have shown that
research in the two subfields of Holocaust remembrance and Holocaust education are
largely underpinned by different conceptual frameworks. While the former has become a
well-established research field, there is a clear lack of empirical research on social media
use for teaching and learning about the Holocaust [
48
]. This study provides a preliminary
analysis of what type of content these three major Holocaust institutions publish on social
media and how they engage their respective online communities.
3. Rationale of the Study
Holocaust museums’ current pursuit of a dual mission—as sources of cultural heritage
and as institutions with an educational calling—is a phenomenon that is increasingly related
to their employment of digital technologies [
13
]. Social media use has the potential to reach
millions of people and the power to transform engrained memory paradigms about the
historical contexts of national socialism and the Holocaust [
49
]. Although Holocaust distortion
and trivialisation [
50
] have become increasingly pervasive on Internet sites and social media, at
the same time, social media may strengthen Holocaust knowledge and raise awareness of the
many forms of Holocaust distortion being propagated, in part thanks to ready (online) access
to accurate historical scientific knowledge on which to judge historical facts [51].
In this sense, there is a need to raise awareness about the potential that social media chan-
nels offer to museums and memorials for Holocaust education so that they can better engage
their audiences; this involves not only promoting cultural activities and initiatives but also
adopting effective social media practices for disseminating accurate historical information.
This study aims to provide a preliminary analysis of social media engagement in three
major Holocaust museums: Yad Vashem (YV) in Israel, the United States Holocaust Memo-
rial Museum (USHMM), and the Auschwitz–Birkenau Memorial and Museum (AMM)
in Poland. The reasons for focusing on these museums lie in their representativeness of
worldwide Holocaust heritage, their prominence in terms of the number of visitors they
receive annually, and their importance as agencies in the field of Holocaust education.
Moreover, despite variance in their Holocaust narratives and their differing social, cultural,
and political agendas [
52
], they are all prominent Holocaust heritage tourist sites that play
a special role in shaping the collective memory of the Holocaust [810].
Although many academic studies have investigated these museums singularly or as
part of a group of major heritage sites (e.g., [
53
56
]), very few have researched their use of
social media [
2
,
21
,
23
25
,
57
]. All three museums run active social media profiles on several
platforms in order to share news about their special events and educational initiatives as
well as to publicise important dates and ceremonies. In this endeavour, they have adopted
their own hashtags—#yadvashem, #USHMM, and #Auschwitz—to make it easy for people to
locate their official communication. Despite the advent of this stream of activity, research has
yet to produce a comprehensive overview of how these three museums use Twitter, Facebook,
Instagram, and YouTube as part of media-related learning and socially inherited memory.
Accordingly, this study aims to provide an answer to the following specific research
questions:
1. What kind of content do the three museums publish via their social media profiles?
2. What kind of interaction takes place with these profiles?
3. What types of content engage the fans/followers most?
Information 2021,12, 31 5 of 17
4. Methods and Procedure
This study adopts a mixed-method approach grounded on established methods for
social media research [
58
] and is based on social media analytics and latent semantic analy-
sis. Social media analytics are considered a powerful means not only for informing but also
for transforming “existing practices in politics, marketing, investing, product development,
entertainment, and news media” [
59
]. In cultural heritage studies on museums’ use of
social media, social media analytics have been used to evaluate the impact of museums’
events [60,61] and to extract inspiring pronouncements [62].
Social media analytics were employed to investigate the three institutions’ use of four
different social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. Specifically,
Instagram was included in this group because it “encourages conversation and empathy,
keeping the Holocaust visible in youth discourses” [
22
] (p. 160) and because it offers
a different perspective on Holocaust museums’ engagement with social media. Table 1
reports the list of profiles for the three museums investigated here.
Table 1.
List of social media profiles per museum (the date of profile creation/activation is shown in
brackets).
YV USHMM AMM
Facebook Yadvashem (11 June 2009) Holocaustmuseum
(31 October 2008)
Auschwitzmemorial
(13 October 2009)
Twitter @yadvashem (19 April 2009) @HolocaustMuseum
(28 August 2007)
@AuschwitzMuseum
(21 May 2012)
Instagram Yadvashem (April 2015) Holocaustmuseum
(July 2014)
Auschwitzmemorial
(January 2013)
YouTube YadVashem (February 2008) Holocaustmuseum
(August 2006)
AuschwitzMemorial
(September 2008)
The activity around these social media profiles was analysed in terms of (1) content
(e.g., post frequency and format, and type of information), (2) interactivity (e.g., user
response and engagement), and (3) popularity (e.g., number of fans/followers, shares, etc.).
This approach is derived from an analysis framework that distinguishes between content
and relational communication strategies and that measures the effectiveness of fan pages
and posts [45].
Unlike previous studies [
63
] that relied on the analytics provided by the Museum
Analytics website (http://www.museum-analytics.org), this study uses Fanpage Karma
(https://www.fanpagekarma.com/) as its reference social media data analysis platform
to retrieve data from Facebook pages, Twitter profiles, Instagram profiles, and YouTube
channels. Fanpage Karma is one of the leading providers of social media analytics and
monitoring. It provides valuable insights into posting metrics, strategies, and the perfor-
mance of profiles on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Pinterest. The
service allows for the creation of dashboards and benchmarks for social media profiles
as well as provides instant reports (Excel, PowerPoint, and PDF) and email updates. The
trial version provides metrics for the last 28 days for public pages, while the paid service
allows personalised timeframe setting. Table 2shows a sample of metrics considered for the
analysis. Data analysis covers two months of activity from 6th July to 7th September 2020.
Information 2021,12, 31 6 of 17
Table 2. List of metrics per platform.
Facebook Page Twitter Profile Instagram Profile YouTube Channel
Content
Number of posts
Posts per day
Link-posts (number
of posts in URL
format)
Picture-posts (number
of posts in picture
format)
Video-posts (number
of posts in video
format)
Number of tweets
Tweets per day
Picture and/or
link-tweet
New content-tweet
Number of posts
Posts per day
Picture-post
Carousel-post (post
with multiple
photos or videos
that can be viewed
by swiping or
clicking left)
Video-post
Number of videos
Interactivity
Number of comments
on posts
Number of reactions
to posts
Post interaction (%)
Engagement (%)
Fans’ posts
Fans’ posts with
comment by page
Fans’ posts with
reaction by page
Fans’ comments on
other fans’ posts
Number of likes
Number of likes per
tweet
Tweet interaction (%)
Engagement (%)
Conversations
Number of
comments
Number of
comments per post
Post interaction (%)
Engagement (%)
Number of views
Number of views per
video
Number of likes
Number of likes per
video
Number of dislikes
Number of dislikes
per video
Number of comments
Number of comments
per video
Popularity
Number of fans
Number of shares
Number of followers
Number of retweets
Average number of
retweets per tweet
Number of
followers
Follower growth
Number of
subscribers
Subscriber growth (%)
In addition to social media analytics metrics, this study also considered latent seman-
tic analysis (LSA) [
64
]. This is a technique adopted in natural language processing, in
particular distributional semantics, that analyses relationships between words; in this study,
it was employed to determine the topical structure of communication. LSA was applied
to words and hashtags to analyse what words or strings of words are most frequently
used in posts/tweets. Given the functional importance and pervasive use of hashtags
in Twitter, these have been the subject of numerous studies that highlight their status as
polysemic texts embodying multiple meanings and usages [
65
,
66
]. In this study, the aim is
to provide an overview of the topics and phrases that appear most often and to discover
which hashtags engage the fans/followers most.
5. Results
An initial analysis was conducted by inspecting social media analytics, which provided
insights about how the three museums—Yad Vashem (YV), the United States Holocaust
Memorial Museum (USHMM), and the Auschwitz–Birkenau Memorial and Museum
(AMM)—used Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube in the two-month period from
6th July to 7th September 2020. Tables 36report the analytics related to the content,
interactivity, and popularity of these three museums on the four social media platforms.
Information 2021,12, 31 7 of 17
Table 3. Content, interactivity, and popularity of museums’ Twitter profiles.
YV USHMM AMM
Content Tweets 193 147 3136
Tweets per day 3.0 2.3 49.0
Picture and/or link-tweet 143 (74.1%) 74 (50.3%) 2106 (67.2%)
New content-tweet 139 (72%) 142 (96.6%) 996 (31.8%)
Interactivity Likes 19,931 3214 4,067,181
Likes per tweet 103 220 1296
Tweet interaction (%) 0.17% 0.09% 0.15%
Engagement (%) 0.5% 0.2% 7.4%
Conversations 48% 25% 13%
Popularity Followers 79,154 322,781 1,066,133
Retweets 6654 12,763 933,186
Average number of retweets per tweet
34.5 87.4 297.6
Table 4. Content, interactivity, and popularity of museums’ Facebook pages.
YV USHMM AMM
Content Posts 32 141 73
Posts per day 0.5 2.2 1.1
Link-posts 0 (0.0%) 105 (74.5%) 3 (4.1%)
Picture-posts 22 (68.8%) 14 (9.9%) 66 (90.4%)
Video-posts 7 (21.9%) 22 (15.6%) 3 (4.1%)
Interactivity Comments on posts 2404 64,238 12,207
Reactions to posts 33,621 587,231 22,653
Post interaction (%) 0.7% 0.5% 1.1%
Engagement (%) 0.4% 1.1% 1.3%
Fans’ posts 0 143 13
Fans’ posts with comment by page 0 0 0
Fans’ posts with reaction by page 0 8 0
Fans’ comments on other fans’ posts 0 5 0
Popularity Fans 195,036 1,148,716 342,238
Shares 871 132,892 41,859
Table 5. Content, interactivity, and popularity of museums’ Instagram profiles.
YV USHMM AMM
Content Posts 53 66 63
Posts per day 0.8 1 1
Picture-post 46 (86.8%) 60 (90.9%) 63 (100.0%)
Carousel-post 7 (13.2%) 2 (3.0%) 0 (0.0%)
Video-post 0 (0.0%) 4 (6.1%) 0 (0.0%)
Interactivity Comments 2571 6,34 5966
Comments per post 49 96 95
Post interaction (%) 3.1% 3.2% 3.4%
Engagement (%) 2.5% 3.3% 3.3%
Popularity Followers 75,231 104,893 108,254
Growth 2353 5895 6049
Information 2021,12, 31 8 of 17
Table 6. Content, interactivity, and popularity of museums’ YouTube channels.
YV USHMM AMM
Content Videos 11 9 2
Interactivity Views 64,992 42,559 1865
Views per video 5908 4728 933
Likes 1161 1021 47
Likes per video 106 113 24
Dislikes
Dislikes per video 12 15 0
Comments 11 0 0
Comments per video 1 0 0
Popularity Subscribers 60,300 29,900 2700
Subscriber growth 0 0 3.8%
5.1. Content
If we look at content categories, we see that the highest number of posted content
was found on Twitter (Table 3), where out of 3476 tweets, 90.2% (N = 3136) was produced
by AMM, with an average of 49 tweets published per day. In terms of content types, in
general, more than half of the tweets contained images and/or links. While USHMM
tended to publish more original content than the other two profiles (N = 142; 96.6%), AMM
republished the most content produced by other Twitter profiles (N = 2140; 68.2%).
If we look at Facebook posts (Table 4), the situation is very varied as far as the different
types of content are concerned. The content published on Facebook is, on the other hand,
more often published by USHMM: out of 246 posts, USHMM accounts for more than half of
the content published (N = 141; 57.3%), with an average of 2.2 posts per day. While external
links are prominently a feature in USHMM content, (N = 105; 74.5%), AMM and YV (to a
lesser degree) make massive use of images (N = 66; 90.4%, and N = 22; 68.8%, respectively).
Video content is employed more frequently by YV (N = 7; 21.9%) and USHMM (N = 22;
15.6%), although to a lesser extent than images.
As far as Instagram use is concerned (Table 5), content distribution is more homoge-
neous (USHMM: N = 66, 36.3%; AMM: N = 63, 34.6%; and YV: N = 53, 29.1%). Picture-posts
account for most of the content, while YV also tends to publish a small amount of carousel-
posts (N = 7; 13.2%). The USHMM profile also includes a small percentage of video-posts
(N = 4; 6.1%).
Finally, YouTube activity (Table 5) was higher for YV (N = 11; 50%) and USHMM
(N = 9; 40.9%) than for AMM (N = 2; 9.1%), although the frequency of video posting per
day was quite low (N = 0.11). All three channels published original content.
5.2. Interactivity
Interactivity was largely investigated using analytics (e.g., the number of total com-
ments/likes or post/tweet interaction) and engagement. For Twitter (Table 3), along with a
high level of variance between the number of total likes that each profile’s content attracted,
we also found that AMM tweets tend to receive more likes than those of the other two
profiles (N = 1296 versus 220 for USHMM and 103 for YV). However, if we look at Twitter
interaction—the average number of interactions per day on a given day’s tweets in relation
to the total number of followers accrued on that same day in the selected period—we can
see that both YV and AMM report a similar percentage (0.17% and 0.15%, respectively). En-
gagement levels—the average number of interactions per day on tweets on a given day in
relation to the number of followers accrued on that same day in the selected period—were
found to differ significantly between the three profiles: AMM had the highest engagement
among the three profiles, with 7.4% versus 0.2% for USHMM and 0.5% for YV. Finally, for
the Twitter-specific metric conversations (a measure determined by the ratio of @-reply
Information 2021,12, 31 9 of 17
tweets to all tweets published in the selected period interacting with other Twitter profiles),
YV had a higher ratio (48%) than USHMM (25%) or AMM (13%).
Turning to interactivity on Facebook (Table 4), this was gauged not only by the number
of comments on posts, post interaction, and engagement but also by metrics such as the
number of posts by fans, fan posts that received comments by the profile page, fan posts
that received reactions from the profile page, and comments on user posts from other fans.
Regarding the ratio of comments per post and the ratio of reactions per post, USHMM
attracted higher activity on both counts: 64,238/141 = 455.6 and 587,231/141 = 4164.7
respectively. For post interaction—the average number of interactions per post; reactions
such as Like,Love,Hahah,Thankful,Wow,Sad, and Angry; comments; and shares on posts
made on a given day in relation to the number of fans accrued on the same day in the
selected period—AMM attracted the most activity (1.1%). This is in line with the engage-
ment metrics—the average number of interactions per day on posts made on a given day
in relation to the number of fans accrued on the same day in the selected period—with
AMM accounting for 1.3% and USHMM accounting for 1.1%. However, the situation is
different when we look at the level of users’ active posting and the number of comments
or reactions they receive. Here, there is a huge difference among the three profiles: while
users post new content almost exclusively in USHMM (N = 141) and to a minor extent in
the AMM page (N = 13), none of the users’ posts received comments by the page owner
and only a limited number of posts from USHMM page users’ posts received reactions
from the page itself (N = 8) or comments from other fans (N = 5).
Posts on Instagram were inspected in terms of the number of comments and likes,
post interaction, and engagement (Table 5). The ratio of comments per post is higher in
USHMM (6340/66 = 96.1) and AMM (5966/63 = 94.7), while the ratio of likes per post
is prevalent in AMM (218,939/63 = 3475). Post interaction metrics—the average number
of organic likes and comments per post on posts made on a given day in relation to the
number of followers accrued on the same day in the selected period—are similar in all three
profiles, ranging from YV’s 3.1% to AMM’s 3.4%. In terms of engagement—the average
number of organic likes and comments per day on posts made on a given day in relation to
the number of followers accrued on the same day in the selected period—was higher in
USHMM and AMM, corresponding to 3.3%.
Finally, YouTube interactivity was assessed mostly through views, likes and dislikes,
and comments. YV and USHMM collected higher numbers of views both globally and
per video (N = 5908 and N = 4728, respectively) against only 933 for AMM. The likes
vs. dislikes ratios are 86% for YV, 88% for USHMM, and 100% for AMM. The number of
comments was zero in the case of USHMM and AMM, while YV collected only a very
limited number of comments (N = 11).
5.3. Popularity
Popularity was measured in terms of the number of fans/followers and number
of retweets or shares. In the case of Twitter (Table 3), AMM has the highest number of
followers (N = 1,066,133), followed by USHMM (N = 322,781). This proportion is also
reflected in the average number of retweets per tweet, with 297.6 retweets per tweet for
AMM, 87.4 for USHMM, and 34.5 for YV.
Facebook popularity (Table 4) is found to be higher in USHMM, with 1,148,716 fans
and the highest number of shares (N = 132,892).
Instagram popularity (Table 5) was found to be quite similar among the three profiles, with
108,254 fans for AMM, 104,893 for USHMM, and 75,231 for YV. Follower growth, that is the
difference between the number of followers on the first and last days of the selected period, was
found to be higher for AMM and USHMM, with 6049 and 5895 additional fans, respectively.
Finally, YouTube popularity was measured via the number of subscribers and sub-
scriber growth. The most popular YouTube channel amongst these three museums is Yad
Vashem with 60,300 subscribers, followed by USHMM with 29,900 followers. Although it
Information 2021,12, 31 10 of 17
is the least popular channel with 2700 subscribers, the AMM channel grew by 3.8% during
the considered period.
5.4. Topic Content and Hashtag Analysis
A second, latent semantic analysis was conducted by inspecting the most commonly
occurring words and hashtags used to identify conversation topics on the four social media
platforms.
On Twitter, the most frequently used words by the three profiles are “educate”
(N = 1.6k), “history” (N = 1.6k), “people” (N = 1.2k), “learn” (N = 1.1k), “online” (N = 1.1k),
and “visit” (N = 1.1k). However, if we look at the profiles individually, we can see that these
words largely coincide with those most used by the AMM profile, while “Nazi” (N = 76),
“Holocaust” (N = 49), and “Jews” (N = 35) tend to prevail for USHMM and “Jews” (N = 46)
and “Holocaust” (N = 43) tend to prevail for YV.
For Twitter hashtags, Figure 1presents those most frequently used by the three Twitter
profiles. We can see that #Auschwitz is clearly the most frequently used (N = 2.6k), although
it does not attract a high level of engagement. Indeed, despite having a lower number of
occurrences, hashtags such as #theresienstadt (N = 105) and #zigeunerlager (N = 61) generate
higher engagement. Breaking down these figures by profile, we see that the use of #Auschwitz
is found only on the AMM profile, while USHMM mostly used hashtags such as #otd [on
this day] (N = 17) and #antisemitism (N = 8), while more frequently adopted hashtags on YV
were #otd [n this day] (N = 59), #martinschoeller, (N = 19) and #75survivors (N = 18).
Information 2020, 11, x FOR PEER REVIEW 11 of 18
Figure 1. Hashtags that the museums used most frequently on Twitter (relative frequency is
expressed both by text size and by colour).
For Facebook, the most popular words employed in posts were “camp” (N = 163),
“Nazi” (N = 130), “Jews” (N = 114), and Holocaust” (N = 109). In terms of differences
among the three profiles, AMM’s most frequent words were “camp” (N = 102), “prisoner”
(N = 68), and “Auschwitz” (N = 50), while USHMM’s were “Nazi” (N = 101), “Holocaust”
(N = 63), and “Jews” (N = 61) and YV’s were “Holocaust” (N = 37), “family” (N = 26), and
“Jews” (N = 26).
Looking at the use of hashtags on Facebook (Figure 2), the most frequent were
#Auschwitz (N = 45) and #backtoschool (N = 4), while the one attracting most engagement
was #antisemitism (N = 5). Broken down by institution, #Auschwitz was the most frequent
and engaging hashtag for AMM, while #antisemitism was the most popular and engaging
(N = 5) for USHMM and #backtoschool (N = 3) was that for YV.
Figure 1.
Hashtags that the museums used most frequently on Twitter (relative frequency is expressed
both by text size and by colour).
For Facebook, the most popular words employed in posts were “camp” (N = 163),
“Nazi” (N = 130), “Jews” (N = 114), and “Holocaust” (N = 109). In terms of differences
among the three profiles, AMM’s most frequent words were “camp” (N = 102), “prisoner”
(N = 68), and “Auschwitz” (N = 50), while USHMM’s were “Nazi” (N = 101), “Holocaust”
(N = 63), and “Jews” (N = 61) and YV’s were “Holocaust” (N = 37), “family” (N = 26), and
“Jews” (N = 26).
Information 2021,12, 31 11 of 17
Looking at the use of hashtags on Facebook (Figure 2), the most frequent were
#Auschwitz (N = 45) and #backtoschool (N = 4), while the one attracting most engagement
was #antisemitism (N = 5). Broken down by institution, #Auschwitz was the most frequent
and engaging hashtag for AMM, while #antisemitism was the most popular and engaging
(N = 5) for USHMM and #backtoschool (N = 3) was that for YV.
Information 2020, 11, x FOR PEER REVIEW 12 of 18
Figure 2. Hashtags that the museums used most frequently on Facebook (relative frequency is
expressed both by text size and by colour).
As for Instagram content analysis, the top words employed were “camp” (N = 120),
“Jews” (N = 117), “deported” (N = 95), “Nazi” (N = 94), and “Jewish” (N = 93): with “camp”
(N = 49) for AMM, “Nazi” (N = 88) and “Jews” (N = 57) for USHMM, and “Jews” (N = 48)
and “camp” (N = 42) for YV being the most employed.
Figure 3 shows that the most commonly used Instagram hashtag was #Holocaust (N
= 80) while the most engaging were #Auschwitz (N = 67), #history (N = 54), and
#yadvashem (N = 53). Broken down, the most popular were #Auschwitz (N = 56) for AMM;
#Holocaust (N = 28) and #history (N = 8) for USHMM; and #yadvashem (N = 53),
#Holocaust (N = 41), and #history (N = 35) for YV.
Figure 3. Hashtags that the museums used most frequently on Instagram (relative frequency is
expressed both by text size and by colour).
Figure 2.
Hashtags that the museums used most frequently on Facebook (relative frequency is
expressed both by text size and by colour).
As for Instagram content analysis, the top words employed were “camp” (N = 120),
“Jews” (N = 117), “deported” (N = 95), “Nazi” (N = 94), and “Jewish” (N = 93): with “camp”
(N = 49) for AMM, “Nazi” (N = 88) and “Jews” (N = 57) for USHMM, and “Jews” (N = 48)
and “camp” (N = 42) for YV being the most employed.
Figure 3shows that the most commonly used Instagram hashtag was #Holocaust (N =
80) while the most engaging were #Auschwitz (N = 67), #history (N = 54), and #yadvashem
(N = 53). Broken down, the most popular were #Auschwitz (N = 56) for AMM; #Holocaust
(N = 28) and #history (N = 8) for USHMM; and #yadvashem (N = 53), #Holocaust (N = 41),
and #history (N = 35) for YV.
Information 2020, 11, x FOR PEER REVIEW 12 of 18
Figure 2. Hashtags that the museums used most frequently on Facebook (relative frequency is
expressed both by text size and by colour).
As for Instagram content analysis, the top words employed were “camp” (N = 120),
“Jews” (N = 117), “deported” (N = 95), “Nazi” (N = 94), and “Jewish” (N = 93): with “camp”
(N = 49) for AMM, “Nazi” (N = 88) and “Jews” (N = 57) for USHMM, and “Jews” (N = 48)
and “camp” (N = 42) for YV being the most employed.
Figure 3 shows that the most commonly used Instagram hashtag was #Holocaust (N
= 80) while the most engaging were #Auschwitz (N = 67), #history (N = 54), and
#yadvashem (N = 53). Broken down, the most popular were #Auschwitz (N = 56) for AMM;
#Holocaust (N = 28) and #history (N = 8) for USHMM; and #yadvashem (N = 53),
#Holocaust (N = 41), and #history (N = 35) for YV.
Figure 3. Hashtags that the museums used most frequently on Instagram (relative frequency is
expressed both by text size and by colour).
Figure 3.
Hashtags that the museums used most frequently on Instagram (relative frequency is
expressed both by text size and by colour).
Information 2021,12, 31 12 of 17
Given the lack of hashtags use on YouTube, the analysis focused exclusively on
word frequency. The results show that the posted videos cover a range of topics, with a
prevalence of words such as “Holocaust” and “Auschwitz–Birkenau” (Figure 4).
Information 2020, 11, x FOR PEER REVIEW 13 of 18
Given the lack of hashtags use on YouTube, the analysis focused exclusively on word
frequency. The results show that the posted videos cover a range of topics, with a
prevalence of words such as “Holocaust” and “Auschwitz–Birkenau” (Figure 4).
Figure 4. Words that the museums used most frequently words on YouTube (relative frequency is
expressed both by text size and by colour).
6. Discussion
This study investigated how a sample of prominent Holocaust museums and
organisations use social media to engage their audience about topics related to the
Holocaust. The results of this preliminary investigation show that, in general, the three
Holocaust organisations are quite active on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube,
although with differing capacities to attract followers and to engage with them. Overall,
the three profiles are more active on Twitter than on the other two social media, and
publication date does not seem to influence the capacity to attract followers or to
frequently produce content. At the same time, notable differences emerged. While AMM’s
activity is well established, especially on Twitter, with the highest number of followers
and tweets published daily, USHMM is more (globally and daily) active and popular on
Facebook; conversely, YV seems to invest more into YouTube videos. The particular
popularity of AMM’s Twitter profile is highlighted by the high average number of
retweets per tweet. USHMM’s Facebook page has the highest number of shared posts;
they have had a presence on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube for more than 10 years now,
and this testifies to their social media commitment. This prioritisation is also reflected in
the declaration of the Auschwitz–Birkenau Memorial and Museum to invest in “a place
for discussion which is not available on the official website” [67] and to engage with
Holocaust mockers and deniers [68]. In a similar vein, the United States Holocaust
Memorial Museum has recently released a document in which they advocate the role of
social media in countering Holocaust denial and providing accurate knowledge for
history lessons [69]. Instagram adoption is a more recent phenomenon, and here, no
significant differences emerge between the three museums except for the more
pronounced growth rate for USHMM and AMM. With respect to YouTube activity, Yad
Figure 4.
Words that the museums used most frequently words on YouTube (relative frequency is
expressed both by text size and by colour).
6. Discussion
This study investigated how a sample of prominent Holocaust museums and organ-
isations use social media to engage their audience about topics related to the Holocaust.
The results of this preliminary investigation show that, in general, the three Holocaust
organisations are quite active on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, although with
differing capacities to attract followers and to engage with them. Overall, the three profiles
are more active on Twitter than on the other two social media, and publication date does
not seem to influence the capacity to attract followers or to frequently produce content. At
the same time, notable differences emerged. While AMM’s activity is well established, espe-
cially on Twitter, with the highest number of followers and tweets published daily, USHMM
is more (globally and daily) active and popular on Facebook; conversely, YV seems to
invest more into YouTube videos. The particular popularity of AMM’s Twitter profile is
highlighted by the high average number of retweets per tweet. USHMM’s Facebook page
has the highest number of shared posts; they have had a presence on Facebook, Twitter, and
YouTube for more than 10 years now, and this testifies to their social media commitment.
This prioritisation is also reflected in the declaration of the Auschwitz–Birkenau Memorial
and Museum to invest in “a place for discussion which is not available on the official
website” [
67
] and to engage with Holocaust mockers and deniers [
68
]. In a similar vein, the
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has recently released a document in which they
advocate the role of social media in countering Holocaust denial and providing accurate
knowledge for history lessons [
69
]. Instagram adoption is a more recent phenomenon, and
here, no significant differences emerge between the three museums except for the more
pronounced growth rate for USHMM and AMM. With respect to YouTube activity, Yad
Vashem has a long tradition of video production, which is also reflected in the number of
subscribers/fans and interactions related to their channel.
Regarding the first research question (content type), the data show that the three
museums tend to publish new or original contents on their social media profiles except
for AMM’s Twitter profile, where there is a prevalence of reposted (retweeted) contents
Information 2021,12, 31 13 of 17
produced by third parties. This demonstrates that the Polish museum’s Twitter profile
acts as a “bridge” among other Holocaust organisations’ profiles, thus contributing to
cross-referencing and network-building among Holocaust commemoration bodies. Further
research might investigate how social media is used for community building among
Holocaust organisations, with opportunities for the development of cooperation strategies
and experiences [
27
]. As for content media typology, AMM and YV have a stronger
tendency to publish Twitter content that contains images and/or links to external resources,
while USHMM seems to prefer textual information. This trend is also reflected to some
extent on Facebook, where USHMM tends to publish textual content accompanied by links
to external resources while YV and AMM make extensive use of images and YV of video
content. In this regard, future research might also investigate the relationship between the
use of images and visual content and user engagement, following the example set by some
recent forward-looking research studies [
46
]. Finally, as far as Instagram is concerned, the
only institution to make (limited) use of video in addition to the more standard picture
or carousel posts is USHMM. However, further research is needed to study Instagram’s
aesthetic visual communication and how Instagram grammar [
70
] encourages conversation
and empathy, especially in youth discourse [22].
In response to the second research question, interactivity was found to be globally
higher on Instagram, where no major difference emerged among the three museums in
terms of post interaction and general interactivity, although USHMM and AMM posts
seem to attract more comments. More specifically, the situation changes completely when
considering Twitter, where AMM has by far the highest engagement level, also borne out
of the high number of likes per tweet that it attracts. However, if we look at the average
number of tweet responses to tweets on a given day in relation to the number of followers
(Twitter interaction), there is no significant difference between YV and AMM, showing that
more content published does not necessarily mean more user interaction. On YouTube,
we found a significant level of passive participation, with a high number of views and
likes but no active responses in terms of comments left. However, the most interesting
outcomes from the data analysis are in regards to Facebook. The multifaceted metrics
available on Facebook activity such as the number of fan posts and interaction with these
posts allows for a deeper analysis of how content co-construction unfolds on this social
media platform. While USHMM’s Facebook page allows users to post their own photos
or other content, the other two profiles do not allow active participation in their page
content. Despite this, USHMM has a very low reaction rate to visitors’ posts and, more
generally, there is a lack of interaction among the page users themselves. This points
to a broadcast-mode use of social media, which is broadly in line with previous studies
showing a tendency towards mono-directional communication [
26
,
47
]. This trend has
been emphasised in other studies, which have highlighted the passivity of “Holocaust
institutions whose staff members prefer one-directional communication, ‘broadcasting’
a carefully shaped, widely acceptable message via social media but refusing to engage
further and bring their considerable expertise to bear on the difficult moral questions of
how to develop an appropriate communicative memory of war crimes and what political
consequences to draw from that memory” [
2
] (pp. 323–324). However, as stressed in
other studies [
24
], the way in which AMM, for instance, engages with Instagram followers
shows that it can be possible to exert less control over new channels of communication and
representation, thus allowing Holocaust-focused institutions to assume an increasingly
visible role in transnational social media Holocaust discourse. Nevertheless, further study
and more rigorous methodological approaches are required to understand how Holocaust
institutions are placing users (and their responsibility for the content they choose to post
on social media) at the centre of the debate on sociohistorical agency in the digital age.
In the case of this preliminary study, no specific evidence emerges that there has been an
erosion of institutional power over how Holocaust organisations and Holocaust memory
are presented and curated [
24
] or how social media users are exercising agency in the
co-construction of Holocaust digital memories [
42
]. Further research is needed to support
Information 2021,12, 31 14 of 17
these claims as well as to investigate how the perceived threat and actual manifestation of
antisemitic and hate speech may be factors potentially conditioning the way memorials
approach and embrace social media [26].
Finally, the third research question regards the type of content that mostly strongly
engages fans/followers. This entailed latent semantic analysis of the most frequently used
hashtags and words. The analysis has revealed a set of terms and hashtags that refer to
the basic lexicon of Holocaust history, which attests to users’ strong interest in historical
knowledge and less emphasis on the recent past or on analogies between contemporary
events and WWII history. In this light, as Kansteiner [
2
] (p. 324) has highlighted, Holocaust-
themed social media pages seem mostly to represent “a cyberspace address where [the
subscribers] can hang out with peers, pursue their genocide memory interests by adding a
thoughtful facet to their virtual selves, and then return to their comfortable lives”. Another
matter of concern relates to the centrality of Auschwitz, both as a hashtag used by Holocaust
organisations and as a broad topic of Holocaust discourse. This is reflected in the dominant
popular perception of the Holocaust in which Auschwitz and related imagery represents an
icon of the spatiality of the Jewish genocide [
71
73
]. Whether the centrality of “Auschwitz”
overshadows—and hence inhibits—topical discourses on final solution topics that are less
familiar to the wider public is an issue worthy of more in-depth future research, as is
whether it poses problems of the overall paucity of Holocaust remembrance, such as the
Holocaust by bullets [74].
7. Limitations and Conclusions
While this study has provided some useful insights based on a combination of social
media analytics and topic modelling, some limitations need to be recognised. First of all,
the study sample generated for this study covered a timespan stretching across the summer
of 2020, when museums were still struggling to adjust to the COVID-19 pandemic. Their
social media contents and publication strategies may have been influenced by contingent
circumstances, as ordinary activity was disrupted. In this respect, further research might
investigate, for instance, a possible overlap of content between Facebook and YouTube to
increase the provision of visual content due to the closure of museums. A second limitation
concerns the adoption of the Fanpage Karma analytic service, which provides metrics
and tools for analysis mostly based on a marketing approach. In future studies, other
monitoring tools may be used to compare a diverse set of metrics and indications for
engagement measures. Thirdly, there is also a need to use mixed-method approaches that
combine quantitative tools and qualitative instruments. For example, it is important to
analyse posted content through a qualitative codebook that may use predefined or inducted
categories to analyse historical content, moral lessons, or contemporary events related to
Holocaust topics. More sophisticated tools for (automatic) semantic analysis could comple-
ment a qualitative approach as such. Moreover, it will be important to consider diverse
meanings of “engagement” applying relative weighting to the metrics adopted for deter-
mining engagement and interactivity (in our case, e.g., “YouTube interactivity was assessed
mostly through views, likes and dislikes, and comments.”). These are each quite different
in the nature and level of visitor engagement with the content. Finally, the content of
visitors’ comments, which were not the object of this study, should be considered in future
research to investigate how fans/followers interact textually or with multimedia content
with institutional pages/profiles. Whatever the specific issues future research focuses on,
research based on social media data will allow “unprecedented insights in the generation
of historical consciousness because multi-platform consumption of historical content and
explicit generation of historical interpretation can be recorded in unprecedented depth and
breadth” [2] (p. 330).
Funding:
This work was supported by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA)
under grant no. 2020-792 “Countering Holocaust Distortion on Social Media. Promoting the positive
use of Internet Social Technologies for teaching and learning about the Holocaust”.
Information 2021,12, 31 15 of 17
Informed Consent Statement: Not applicable.
Data Availability Statement:
The data were obtained through a paid service and are not freely
available.
Acknowledgments:
This study was carried out as part of the author’s research project “Teaching
and learning about the Holocaust with social media: A learning ecologies perspective”—Doctoral
programme in “Education and ICT (e-learning)”, Universat Oberta de Catalunya, Spain.
Conflicts of Interest: The authors declare no conflict of interest.
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Author Biography
Stefania Manca is a Research Director at the Institute of Educational Technology of the National Research Council
of Italy. She has a Master’s Degree in Education and is a PhD student in Education and ICT (e-learning). She has been
active in the field of educational technology, technology-based learning, distance education and e-learning since 1995.
Her research interests include social media and social network sites in formal and informal learning, teacher education,
professional development, digital scholarship, and Student Voice-supported participatory practices in schools. She is
currently working on a three-year research project about the application of social media to Holocaust education from
a learning ecologies perspective. She is author of scientific publications on various topics of educational technology,
co-editor of the Italian Journal of Educational Technology (formerly TD Tecnologie Didattiche), and part of the editorial
and scientific boards of international and national journals and conferences on technology-enhanced learning.
... The activity around these social media profiles was analysed in terms of (1) content (e.g., post frequency and format, and type of information), (2) interactivity (e.g., user response and engagement), and (3) popularity (e.g., number of fans/followers, shares, etc.). This approach is derived from an analysis framework that distinguishes between content and relational communication strategies and that measures the effectiveness of fan pages and posts (see Manca, 2021b). ...
... Holocaust organisations seem to prefer one-directional communication and the broadcasting of a "carefully shaped, widely acceptable message via social media" (Kansteiner, 2017, p. 324). This 'passivity' translates into a lack of participation on social media in terms of publishing further content or comments on other users' posts, while there is a tendency in users to favour interaction made up mainly of 'likes' and shares/retweets (Manca, 2021b). ...
... Research has shown that museums already follow each other (Manca, 2021b;Rehm, Manca, & Haake, 2020), but stronger cooperation, e.g., in the context of commemorative days or joint actions, would open up further opportunities. Working with larger museums would allow "smaller" museums to attract attention and reach more users. ...
Technical Report
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Executive summary The context. Abuse, excuse, misrepresentation and manipulation of the history of the Holocaust are far from a fringe phenomenon. They have an international dimension and considerable weight (e.g., governments that seek to minimize their historical responsibility, conspiracy theorists who accuse Jews of exaggerating their suffering for financial gain, and online users who make use of imagery and language associated with the Holocaust for political, ideological, or commercial purposes unrelated to its history). As for social media, while their rise has enabled individuals and groups to connect on a global level and to gain instant access to information and knowledge, they have also allowed dissemination and spread of hateful content, including antisemitism and Holocaust denial and distortion, at an unprecedented rate. The problem. Although agencies and institutions concerned with Holocaust education and remembrance are well aware of the growing role of digital communication, there is little understanding of how small- and medium-sized Holocaust museums and memorials use social media to disseminate knowledge and memory of the Holocaust to the general public and to counter manipulation and distortion of Holocaust history. Both academic research and stakeholders have so far focused on the mission and practices of major Holocaust agencies, while neglecting to investigate the potential and critical issues that small and medium-sized museums and memorials face in both disseminating historical content and dealing with the phenomenon of distortion on social media. The contribution. This project focuses on a group of Holocaust museums and memorials located in two countries – Italy and Germany – in order to investigate their use of the main social media - Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube - for the purposes of disseminating historical content, carrying out commemorative practices and countering the spread of Holocaust distortion. The project adopts an approach that conceives social media as a positive technology both for detecting good practices and for exploring critical issues in the very use of social media themselves. The approach is based on an investigative method that employs a range of quantitative and qualitative research tools. The idea is to analyse how museums and memorials use social media to expand Holocaust knowledge and memory, especially among the younger generations, and to activate groups of users and co-creators involved in user-generated content to protect the facts about the Holocaust and mitigate the challenges of distortion. The results. The various analyses carried out in the project have revealed a number of good practices and limitations that can currently be found in the social media profiles of the surveyed museums and memorials. Furthermore, although Holocaust remembrance has become a global, transcultural phenomenon, especially within European countries, national differences also exist between different local environments. The results achieved have made it possible to identify a number of current limitations, such as a mismatch between scholarly debates and public knowledge, limited bi-directional interaction with social media users, and the provision of materials that are not generally suitable for younger generations. A number of recommendations and guidelines have also been produced, such as further expanding historical knowledge of the Holocaust, investigating users’ preconceptions and biases, promoting the digital culture of remembrance, actively involving the follower/fan communities, and networking between entities with limited resources to share good practices and plan joint activities. These are all measures that Holocaust museums and memorials may adopt to encourage the development of forms of Holocaust knowledge and remembrance that are participatory, innovative and critical.
... In the context of the Holocaust and other genocides, digitization has been processed by museums and social media for a vibrant public attraction (Manca, 2021). It has been indicated that three holocaust organizations (Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum, Yad Vashem of Israel, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum) have been very active on social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube (Manca, 2021). ...
... In the context of the Holocaust and other genocides, digitization has been processed by museums and social media for a vibrant public attraction (Manca, 2021). It has been indicated that three holocaust organizations (Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum, Yad Vashem of Israel, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum) have been very active on social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube (Manca, 2021). Overall, three profiles based on Holocaust have been more active on Twitter than the other social media. ...
... This study has included supporter and denial audiences in the field of incidents that can teach pieces of knowledge about history and memory. xli The form of social media has shown how it has been used for community building (Manca, 2021) among holocaust organizations, with many occasions for the development of collaboration tactics and experiences. Media typology, AMM (Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum) and YV (Yad Vashem of Israel) have published images and video content on Twitter. ...
Article
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This paper has amalgamated media and memory through innovative communication. This creative interaction has been done by collecting information that has been formed digitally through preservation and proper broadcasting (Jefferies, 2018). The holocaust memories have been shaped within a boundary of digital humanities through which an idea has been explored: how a relationship between media and reminiscence, lived experience and speech, materiality, and knowledge expertise influence humanity about the devaluating of the past. The paper has concentrated on the Visual History Archive (VHA) of the University of Southern California. In the 1990s, this archive was shaped after the request of Steven Spielberg (Jefferies, 2018). Spielberg was speaking with the survivors of the Holocaust during his filming of 'Schindler's List' (Jefferies, 2018). He realized the importance of his conversation with Holocaust survivors and thus collected Holocaust statements from them. Visual History Archive of the University of Southern California has the largest and most broadly accessible gathering of videotaped interviews with those fighters and other observers of the Holocaust. The paper's objective is to discuss those methods of the archive through which the memory of the Holocaust has been restored. Therefore, the discussion has focused on an interrelation between historical memory and digital bonds. The paper has been assumed through subordinate sources of data. Subordinate sources of data include academic articles, websites etc. The method of writing the essay has been taken by the description of sources, reading, gathering in-depth insights on topics, focusing on exploring ideas, summarizing, and interpreting and mainly expressed in words (documentary analysis through qualitative approach). A feature question is What is the importance of digitization of the past?
... Previous studies have shown that Holocaust memorials perform limited activity via Facebook and Twitter and the levels of engagement of their public are diverse in terms of generated content, interactivity, and popularity [60]. When investigating three major Holocaust organisations -Yad Vashem, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, and the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museumit was found that only the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum exhibits some interactivity with its Facebook fan community, while there is an overall tendency to use social media as a one-way broadcast mode of communication [61]. ...
... In this study, social media metrics analysed on FanPage Karma were derived from a set of metrics developed in previous studies [61], which are arranged into three macro-categories: content, interactivity and popularity (for a complete list of definitions of the diverse metrics, see https://academy.fanpagekarma.com/en/metrics/). For the purposes of this study, we used a simplified set of categories mostly focusing on user interactivity, content shares and popularity (Table 2). ...
... This study has sought to contribute to expanding knowledge of the use of social media by Holocaust museums through the investigation of attitudes, patterns of communication and user engagement in a large cohort of cultural institutions. In contrast to previous studies, which examined a smaller number of Holocaust museums [22][23][24][25][26]61] or in a limited geographical domain [60], the sample examined in this research study allows broader and more general considerations, as well as conclusions. ...
Article
Digital technologies and social media platforms have been used in museum communication for over a decade now, and Holocaust museums have increasingly adopted them in their modes of commemoration and provision of educational content. Nevertheless, very limited research has been conducted into the potential of social media as new memory ecologies. In this exploratory study, we conceive social media platforms as socio-technical-ecological systems whereby users develop and engage with memory practices of the Holocaust. We adopt a networked socio-ecological approach to analyse how a sample of Holocaust museums (N = 69) develop practices of digital Holocaust memory in social media. The institutions are analysed in terms of “size” (small, medium, or large), how they differ in their attitudes towards these practices, and to what extent they circulate Holocaust memory on social media. The study adopts multiple quantitative approaches and combines the results of a survey with a set of social media metrics analysing how museums engage on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube in terms of generated content, interactivity, popularity, and type of content. Results show that museums have an overall positive attitude towards social media although some concerns were expressed, mostly by smaller institutions; they tend to use mostly Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, and to share educational content and information about the museum's activities. However, despite a tendency to aggregate a large number of fans and followers, especially in the case of larger institutions, interaction with users remains limited. Prospects for more interactive participation and its implications are also discussed.
... Garaba (2012) mentions that public programming can be enhanced through the use of social media technologies. According to Lina Bountouria and Georgios Giannakopoulosa (2014) and Manca (2021), the majority of the archival services use Facebook, YouTube and blogs. As far as the updating of the social media accounts is concerned, these authors concluded that the services update their accounts according to the nature and type of each social media. ...
... As far as the updating of the social media accounts is concerned, these authors concluded that the services update their accounts according to the nature and type of each social media. For example, accounts on Facebook and Twitter seem to be frequently updated with new material, which makes sense as users visit these platforms on a regular basis (Manca, 2021). Updating frequency shows the importance each of the archival, library and museum services gives to its social media presence (Bountouria and Giannakopoulosa, 2014). ...
Article
Full-text available
Purpose Social media sites contribute significantly to nature conservation in, that they enlighten and educate those members of the public who would ordinarily not be in a position, or would not be fortunate enough to visit the park and experience the various aspects first-hand. The purpose of this paper is to showcase social media pages related to a national game reserve in South Africa. This game reserve is the largest in the country and has a wide variety of conserved fauna and flora. Design/methodology/approach The theoretical framework used is the SCOPE framework that streamlines strategy development, content choice, refinement of online engagement, choice of social media platform and evaluations of social media campaigns. Findings The findings relate to the content found on these social media pages, as well as how members of the public interact with each other and officials from the game reserve in sharing experiences related to this wilderness area. Research limitations/implications The research is related to the Kruger National Park in South Africa and is limited to three social media sites. Originality/value Through its social media presence, this South African game reserve is able to share experiences from what is effectively a living museum, as well as from its library and archives, with members of the public and allowing individual members to share their encounters with wildlife and their historical memories of this wilderness area.
... Manca adopted the experimental research method to compare AR museum guides and audio guides with nonuse guides. e influence of different guidance systems on users' art appreciation was evaluated through pre and posttests with the same content [6]. Torres-Ruiz took small and medium-sized museums in a city as an example to point out the current situation that small and medium-sized museums have a single way of displaying cultural relics. ...
Article
Full-text available
In order to improve the exhibition effect of museums and expand the display ways of digital museums, a Chinese museum scene roaming application system based on the Unity 3D virtual reality engine was proposed. 3Dmax model production software was used to complete the museum scenes and the model production, material, and lighting of collections in the museum. Through the Unity 3D virtual reality engine, the design and production of the interactive system were completed. The display and application of the scene roaming system of the Chinese museum were well realized. For the system, the fast construction of virtual scenes and fixed-point triggering (FPT) optimization were carried out. The experimental results showed that the improved method was 90.5% faster than the manual coding method in the optimization of fast virtual scene construction. After using the fixed-point triggering method, the average accuracy of the original 35 scenes was 63.9%. It was concluded that the application design could simulate the museum scene well, which had a certain reference value for the application of virtual reality simulation technology in the field of cultural heritage inheritance.
... Music under the new media makes it easier to obtain various learning resources. is new educational model subverts the traditional music education and promotes the rapid sharing of music activities [13]. In addition to openness, music learning resources can be shared through online teaching. ...
Article
Full-text available
Educational reform is essential. The revolution of multimedia technology and network technology is having a profound impact on the traditional teaching system, teaching methods, and training content. The learner-centered online learning model is rapidly developing. Research shows that, based on new media concepts and technology applications, music teaching platforms can be created and researched through limited forms of music teaching in colleges and universities and new media platforms. The survey results of the practice and role of new media in the process of assisting music teaching in colleges and universities show that most students have a positive attitude towards the new media teaching assistant method in public music courses in colleges and universities and are very interested in this method. Students’ aesthetic, analytical, expressive, and collaborative abilities are also enhanced at all levels. The average score of the test class was 8.8 points higher than that of the control class, and the average score was 10.78% higher. The results show that the application of new media in college music teaching is effective.
... Fanpage Karma (https://www.fanpagekarma.com/ (accessed on 17 March 2022)) was used to gather data from the social media pages in our case, as in similar research efforts [38,39]. Fanpage Karma tool provides several metrics for each SMP, including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and LinkedIn. ...
Article
Full-text available
Social media platforms can be used as a tool to expand awareness and the consideration of cultural heritage organizations and their activities in the digital world. These platforms produce daily behavioral analytical data that could be exploited by the administrators of libraries, archives and museums (LAMs) to improve users’ engagement with the provided published content. There are multiple papers regarding social media utilization for improving LAMs’ visibility of their activities on the Web. Nevertheless, there are no prior efforts to support social media analytics to improve users’ engagement with the content that LAMs post to social network platforms. In this paper, we propose a data-driven methodology that is capable of (a) providing a reliable assessment schema regarding LAMs Facebook performance page that involves several variables, (b) examining a more extended set of LAMs social media pages compared to other prior investigations with limited samples as case studies, and (c) understanding which are the administrators’ actions that increase the engagement of users. The results of this study constitute a solid stepping-stone both for practitioners and researchers, as the proposed methods rely on data-driven approaches for expanding the visibility of LAMs services on the Social Web.
... The new possibilities were quickly recognized by many museums and archives, where digital technology was utilized to restructure the ways in which historical evidence is stored and accessed (Shandler, 2020) and to enhance traditional ways of presenting content (Reading, 2003). Besides affecting the internal functionality of these memory institutions, the digital turn also led to the active use of online platforms by the institutions for the purposes ranging from selfpromotion to countering Holocaust denialism (Manca, 2021). ...
Article
The rise of user-generated content (UGC), such as internet memes and amateur videos, enables new possibilities for mediatization of the past. However, these possibilities can facilitate not only more diverse and less top-down engagements with memory, but also lead to its trivialization and distortion of historical facts. The latter concerns are particularly pronounced in the case of memories about mass atrocities (e.g. the Holocaust), where online media are often used to promote denialism and attack the victims’ dignity. To better understand the relationship between UGC and memory mediatization, we examine a selection of internet memes dealing with Anne Frank, an iconic Holocaust victim. Using a combination of inductive content analysis and close reading, we identify four classes of Anne Frank memes: (1) ad hominems; (2) deniers; (3) trivializers; and (4) thought provokers. Our findings demonstrate the multi-faceted functionality of memes, which are used not only to trivialize Holocaust memory, but also to reinforce canonical narratives about Anne Frank, and highlight the dependency of memes on other forms of memory mediatization, thus raising questions about the interrelations between UGC and institutionalized forms of remembrance.
Thesis
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Zusammenfassung Im Zuge der Digitalisierung sind deutschsprachige KZ-Gedenkstätten zunehmend in den Sozialen Medien präsent. Vor dem Hintergrund des historisch-politischen Bildungsauftrages von KZ-Gedenkstätten ist es von Interesse zu klären, wie die Präsenz in den Sozialen Medien für diesen genutzt wird oder werden kann. Hierbei fokussiert die vorliegende Arbeit auf die Perspektive der Mitarbeitenden aus KZ-Gedenkstätten. Das Ziel der Forschungsarbeit liegt demzufolge in der Beantwortung der Frage, wie Mitarbeitende aus KZ-Gedenkstätten die Präsenz ihrer Einrichtung in den Sozialen Medien in Bezug auf Bildungsarbeit verhandeln. Um die Forschungsfrage zu beantworten, wurden teilstandardisierte Leitfadeninterviews mit Mitarbeitenden aus deutschsprachigen KZ-Gedenkstätten geführt. Die Interviews wurden mithilfe einer Kombination der konstruktivistischen Grounded-Theory und der dokumentarischen Methode ausgewertet. Aus dem daraus entstandenen Theoriemodell wird ersichtlich, dass die Zuordnung der Sozialen Medien zur Bildungsarbeit zentral von den vorhandenen Ressourcen und der Verhandlung der Potenziale und Grenzen, die für die Nutzung gesehen werden, abhängt. Die diversen Standpunkte der Befragten, ob und wie die Sozialen Medien für Bildungsarbeit genutzt werden, zeigen, dass sich das Themenfeld des Einsatzes der Sozialen Medien in Bezug zur digitalen Bildungsarbeit in KZ-Gedenkstätten aktuell noch aktiv in einem Verhandlungsprozess befindet. Die vorliegende Studie ist sowohl als reflexiver Einblick des Status Quo für Akteur*innen in der Praxis von Interesse als auch für den weiteren erziehungswissenschaftlichen Diskurs bezüglich der Möglichkeiten von digitaler Bildungsarbeit in den Sozialen Medien. Schlüsselwörter: Gedenkstättenpädagogik; Soziale Medien; digitale Bildungsarbeit; historisch-politische Bildung; KZ-Gedenkstätten; Digitalisierung; Grounded-Theory-Methodologie; Dokumentarische Methode
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Nur wenige Studien haben bis dato untersucht, wie Holocaust-Organisationen Soziale Medien in ihrer Öffentlichkeits- und Bildungsarbeit einsetzen. Diese Studie präsentiert die Resultate einer Literaturrecherche zur Nutzung von sozialen Medien für die Holocaust-Gedenkarbeit und -Erziehung sowie die Ergebnisse einer quantitativen Vorstudie zur Twitter-Nutzung von sechs Holocaust-Museen und -Organisationen in Deutschland und Italien. To date, few studies have investigated social media use in Holocaust organizations to engage general public and to help expand their knowledge of the Holocaust. We present an overview of the literature about the usage of social media for Holocaust memorialisation and education and a preliminary study on the usage of Twitter in a sample of six Holocaust museums or organisations in Germany and Italy. Along with the results of a first quantitative analysis, we also provide indications for future research.
Article
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This study examines the relations between memory, social media experience, and testimony in the Eva Stories Instagram project. By conducting a combined visual and multimodal analysis of the stories, as well as a close analysis of the relations between social media experience and testimony, we claim that Eva Stories establishes a new responsive space for remembering the Holocaust. This space enables users to inscribe themselves into mediated Holocaust memory and to become media witnesses through the co-creation of socially mediated experiences. The self-inscription of the user is made possible by three interrelated modes of media witnessing, which continuously evoke user engagement. These new modes, we argue, indicate a new kind of agency in relation to media witnessing: the ability to testify on one's own present social media engagement with mediated memory, and become a witness to it.
Article
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As the impact of COVID-19 emerged in early 2020 and physical movement was restricted as a public health measure, digital media consumption behaviour changed dramatically. The accelerated move to online consumption increased the urgency for memory institutions such as museums to introduce new ways to digitally experience cultural collections. This research aimed to understand how memory institutions adapted during COVID-19 lockdowns by surveying the existing and novel digital resources that enabled access to cultural heritage organizations. The research was conducted during the UK lockdown period (April–July 2020) when we collected and analysed data from 83 heritage institutions in the UK and in the USA regarding the number, type, format, intended audience and intended aims of digital engagement opportunities they offered. The analysis evidences how different types of memory institutions responded to social need during the lockdown by supporting online visitors with resources such as educational material, live events and creative activities, and highlights where museums have acted effectively and where changed approaches are indicated.
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This study explores the relationship between politics and religion, resistance and community, on social media through the case study of #EmptyThePews. #EmptyThePews was created in August 2017 after the events in Charlottesville, calling users who attend Trump-supporting churches to leave those churches as a form of protest. What starts out as a call of action, becomes a polysemic online signifier for sharing stories of religious abuse, and thus a format for identity and community construction. An analysis of 250 tweets with #EmptyThePews revels five different uses of the hashtag, including highlighting racial, gender, and sexual identity-based discrimination; sharing stories of religious or sexual abuse; constructing a community and identity; and actively calling for people to empty churches. This Twitter hashtag did not facilitate an active movement of people leaving churches, but instead created a Twitter community. Giving voice and space to this community, however, can be seen as a form of resistance.
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Along with advances in communication technology that are making new forms of historical memorialization and education available, social media are researched as valuable tools for supporting forms of digital memory and for engaging students and teachers about historical knowledge and moral education. This study aims to map the current state of Holocaust remembrance and Holocaust education and to identify main topics of research in the two areas. It adopts a mixed-method approach that combines qualitative analysis with bibliometric approaches to review publications that use social media for digital memory and history education about the Holocaust. Results based on 28 publications reveal several research topics and that, despite some common theoretical references, the two subfields mostly rely on separate conceptual backgrounds. While Holocaust remembrance is a well-established research field, there are few studies and a lack of theoretical elaboration about social media use for teaching and learning about the Holocaust.