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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.
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Accepted version of: Manca, S., Passarelli, M., & Rehm, M. (2022). Exploring tensions in Holocaust
museumsmodes of commemoration and interaction on social media. Technology in Society, 68,
Exploring Tensions in Holocaust Museums Modes of Commemoration and
Interaction on Social Media
Stefania Manca*, Marcello Passarelli*, Martin Rehm**
*Institute of Educational Technology, National Research Council of Italy
** Institute for Educational Consulting, Weingarten University of Education
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.
Keywords: Holocaust museums, Social media, Cultural heritage, Digital Holocaust Memory, Social media
analytics, Survey.
With the progressive passing of the generation that witnessed and experienced the Holocaust (Wieviorka,
2006), new modes of Holocaust commemoration and representation have been emerging for some time now
(Popescu & Schult, 2015). Holocaust memory has been increasingly relying on digital technologies to engage
people in immersive, simulative, or counterfactual memories of the Jewish genocide and the atrocities
committed against other groups of victims by Nazi Germany and its collaborators (Garde-Hansen, Hoskins, &
Reading, 2009; Kansteiner, 2017). The idea of a “virtual Holocaust memory” has been advanced to embrace
both digital and non-digital memory related to the Holocaust and to draw attention to the collaborative
nature of current forms of memory (Walden, 2019), to the point that, according to some (Kansteiner, 2017),
the memory of the Holocaust is regarded as entirely digital. Indeed, today digital Holocaust memory,
education and research are increasingly entangled with history and developments in media (Walden, 2021b).
If digital technologies are shaping new memory ecologies (Hoskins, 2016; 2018), social media and the
participatory culture of which they are imbued (Jenkins, Ford & Green, 2013) are contributing to the
emergence of new forms of Holocaust commemoration. In this sense, we are witnessing the transition from
the “era of the witness” (Wieviorka, 2006) to the “era of the user” (Ebbrecht-Hartmann & Henig, 2021;
Hogervorst, 2020), where users are encouraged to choose from a large number of testimonies and navigate
the wide range of resources available. Besides, the new memory ecology generated by social media
participation provides a form of “multidirectional memory” of the Holocaust (Rothberg, 2009), which opens
up new communication modes. Projects such as Eva.Stories on Instagram
( and the Anne Frank video diary on YouTube
( mark a paradigm shift in social media memory. Although the former
has raised numerous controversies for its insisted use of selfie aesthetics, hashtags and geo-tagging, it
nonetheless offers new ways of translating previous forms of mediated Holocaust memory (Young, 2002)
into social media patterns (Henig & Ebbrecht-Hartmann, 2020).
Holocaust museums, memorials, and remembrance centres are the most notable gatekeepers responsible
for preserving the memory of the Holocaust, and key institutions in implementing Holocaust and global
citizenship education. Museums and memorials play a significant role as “lieux de mémoire” (Nora, 1989) -
whether physical or virtual - in establishing the presence of the past and specific experiential connections to
the past (Ebbrecht-Hartmann, 2021). In this respect, they are located at the intersection between
commemorative memory as physical monuments and mediated memory as mediated and virtual spaces
(O’Connor, 2019). In this regard, Holocaust museums can be considered particular “lieux de mémoire” for
their epistemic or knowledge-creation function in mediating memory of the past (Morrow, 2016).
More recently, Holocaust museums have been subjected to the disruptions that the COVID-19 pandemic has
brought in many ways to the day-to-day operation of museums and cultural institutions (Agostino, Arnaboldi,
& Lampis, 2020; Samaroudi, Rodriguez Echavarria, & Perry, 2020). At the same time, the pandemic has
accelerated the willingness of Holocaust memorials to experiment and engage with the use of social media,
which has led to an intensification of the ongoing generational change and broader opportunities for
experimenting with digital media (Ebbrecht-Hartmann, 2021; Walden, 2021c). Practical examples of this
evolution became manifest in Spring 2020, when hashtags such as #RememberingFromHome, #ShoahNames
- used in coincidence with YomHaShoah in Israel - #DigitalMemorials, #ClosedButOpen, and #Liberation1945,
all became quite popular during the Holocaust commemoration ceremonies marking the end of the
Holocaust and liberation from the camps.
However, despite the recent growth of digital technology in Holocaust memory and education, the extent to
which Holocaust museums utilize social media as an integral part of communication and educational
practices remains to be fully understood. While several studies have yielded interesting results on remarkable
individual institutions (Dalziel, 2016; Lundrigan, 2020; Manikowska, 2020; Wight, 2020; Zalewska, 2017), little
is known about the global situation, and specifically about the attitudes and practices of a large group of
institutions engaged in developing practices of Holocaust memory in social media. In this study, we
specifically focus on Holocaust museums as they are defined by the Encyclopaedia Britannica: “any of several
educational institutions and research centres dedicated to preserving the experiences of people who were
victimized by the Nazis and their collaborators during the Holocaust (193345)” (Parrott-Sheffer, 2019, n.a.).
The museums sampled here cover a variety of commemorative entities involved in preserving the memory
of the Holocaust and of the crimes committed during WWII.
The study deploys different theoretical lenses that consider social media for Holocaust memory as socio-
technical-ecological systems (Manca, 2017; van Dijck, 2013) whereby users develop and engage with
practices of Holocaust memory. The field of study is characterised by an increasing entanglement between
diverse actants material and non-material, human and non-human which contribute to define Holocaust
memory and education both in the living world and in the digital space (Walden, 2021b). Specifically, we
focus on the microlevel of communication protocols and interface interaction between users and social
media profiles. We seek to establish the extent of museums’ social media engagement and interaction based
on the most recurrent type of social media content and to determine how the size of a Holocaust museum
affects its inclination to circulate Holocaust memory on social media.
Theoretical Background
Social Media as Socio-Technical-Ecological Systems
According to socio-technical approaches to the design and use of technologies (Bijker, Hughes, & Pinch, 1987;
Williams & Edge, 1996), information technologies can be considered as systems which are shaped by both
social forces and technological features. They are the result of interactions and negotiations between
technology, users and organizational contexts (Huysman & Wulf, 2006). In this light, digital scholarship
practices that occur on academic social network sites, for instance, have been conceptualized as a complex
techno-cultural system that includes technological innovations and dominant cultural values (Stewart, 2015).
More generally, some scholars have proposed an approach that combines emergent user practices and
content with the platform’s organizational level to study social media and social network sites as
microsystems (van Dijck, 2013). In this approach, social media are systems that encompass coevolving
networks of people and technologies with economic infrastructure and legal-political governance, and blend
techno-cultural and political economy views. This interconnection is illustrated in a two-layered approach
that analyses social media platforms as socio-economic structures and techno-cultural constructs (van Dijck,
2013). Further derivations of this approach have resulted in conceptualising a third level that explicitly
encompasses the individual use of social platforms and the ways in which single users exploit these sites for
specific purposes (Manca, 2017). The interaction functionalities provided by social media include following,
posting comments, expressing a reaction through a like or an emoji, and replying to comments by other
users, in addition to those posted on the page or profile. Advanced features for network connectivity include
the ability to share by commenting on content, to build a network of contacts and to boost reputation and
identity in terms of visibility (Haythornthwaite, 2005).
An interrelation can be seen between sociality and digital platforms like social media, as well as between
systemic and individual employment of these platforms. Similarly, digital technologies and social media can
be considered interrelated to the digital memory of the Holocaust. Some scholars have drawn attention to
the need to consider Digital Holocaust Memory as a field of studies where digital humanities, computer
science and media and cultural studies converge (Walden, 2021b). In this inter- and multidisciplinary
perspective, issues arise such as “how might surveillance capitalism affect online Holocaust memory
projects?” or “to what extent do social media enable potential visitors to become ethical and active co-
producers of memory within participatory cultures?” (Walden, 2021b, p. 4). In digital Holocaust memory, the
different actants working at different levels in the “digital” environment computation, interface, institution,
user experience, and cultural contexts are all entangled and interact with other actants on the same or
distinct levels. However, while traditional approaches tend to distinguish between different types of
interactivity - human-computer interface and participatory culture (Jenkins, Ford & Green, 2013) recent
developments call for the adoption of the notion of intra-action instead of interactivity (Calleja, 2011). As
already stressed in early studies about digital interactivity in memory culture, there is a conflation of
interactivity with agency (Reading, 2003), which is especially advocated today to highlight the creative
dimension of ethical and educational encounters with the past (Walden, 2021a). In this sense, participation
is more about granting users agency and less about considering them already as actants of memory and social
change (Jenkins, Ford & Green, 2013; Walden, 2021a). According to this perspective, Holocaust memory may
be considered as a digital phenomenon or intra-action between a multitude of actants, which “emerges
through the meeting of operations, processes, sites, materials, and people, some of which with a direct
relationship” to the complexity of the Holocaust memoryscape (Walden, 2021a, p. 291).
The idea that digital Holocaust memory is not fixed but constantly evolving and emerging has been
investigated in several studies. Among these, for instance, one study has analysed how filtering and ranking
algorithms and search engines shape individual perception of the visual historical content of the Holocaust
(Makhortykh, Urman, & Ulloa, 2021), another study has investigated how content creators on YouTube
document their visits to the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum in vlog form (Łysak, 2021), and another has
focused on the use of Virtual Interactive Holocaust Survivor Testimony (VIHST) in place of live survivor
testimony (Marcus et al., 2021). Less emphasis has been placed on building ecological memory in social
systems and, specifically, on understanding widespread use of social media for Holocaust memory. By
“ecological memory” (Bruce, 1985), we mean the study of memory as it operates in digital platforms through
which users develop practices of Holocaust memory.
In this study, we will focus on the social media presence of cultural heritage institutions such as Holocaust
museums, which deploy historical content and remembrance practice of the Holocaust, and how users
engage in these platforms. The participatory culture imbued in social media (Jenkins, Ford & Green, 2013) is
reflected in the ways in which museums act as intermediaries of historical knowledge and cultural heritage
through the exploitation of social media as socio-technical systems and through leveraging their affordances
In the next section, we provide an overview of social media use by cultural institutions with particular regard
to the problems and tensions emerging in the participatory turn of Holocaust museums.
The Connected Museum and The Tensions that Arise
For over a decade now, social media have been at the forefront of museums’ communication spaces (Russo,
Watkins, Kelly, & Chan, 2008). They are supposed to challenge and change museum practice because of their
participatory nature and their social activism and democratizing practices (Janes & Sandell, 2019; Reynolds,
2020; Wong, 2012). Social media are also challenging the traditional flow of museum-based information and
exposing tensions and synergies when the museums relinquish direct control over their media content
(Gonzales, 2017; Wong, 2011). The “participative turn” and the democratisation process, which have been
accelerated exponentially by social media (Arnaboldi & Diaz Lema, 2021; Bonet & Négrier, 2018), are
resulting in pressure on museum leaders and their internal organization for greater readiness to change
(Booth, Ogundipe, & Røyseng, 2020).
In the social media era, the “connected museum” is taking shape as a new hybrid place in which physical and
virtual exhibition spaces are evolving into digital ones, and conversations taking place on social media are
reconfiguring traditional forms of visitor engagement and learning, outreach, and inclusion (Drotner &
Schrøder, 2014). The focus of recent studies has shifted to the extent to which museums and audiences are
co-constructing one another while using particular modes of communication and discursive genres that serve
to generate mutual online positionings (Gronemann, Kristiansen, & Drotner, 2015). The idea of museums as
cultural intermediaries is also connected with the concept of online value creation, which is manifest in the
diverse organizational forms in which museums may engage: marketing, which promotes the image of the
institution; inclusivity, which nurtures a real online community; and collaboration, which goes beyond
communication and promotes constructive interaction with the audience (Kidd, 2011; Padilla-Meléndez &
del Águila-Obra, 2013).
At all these different levels, Holocaust museums are using social media ecologically as instruments of
promotion, education, and global scale outreach (Manikowska, 2020). A notable example is provided by the
Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum, which is one of the pioneers in the use of social media among
Holocaust memory institutions. Identified as the “most recognizable symbol and place of genocide in the
world” (Manikowska, 2020, p. 235), the Museum uses social media to reinforce educational programmes and
commemoration events by informing the online community about the everyday history of the camp and
involving followers and fans in celebrations, events and anniversaries. In line with the common approach to
teaching and learning about the Holocaust, based on humanizing Holocaust statistics (Foster, Pearce, &
Pettigrew, 2020; Gray, 2014), the framework of a Twitter project includes the publication of a short note
about an Auschwitz prisoner who was born or died on that given day.
However, despite the increasing role of digital technologies and social media in converting museums to
hybrid spaces that go beyond the “physical” boundaries of the physical/virtual museum, there are many
challenges the “connected museum” is still facing. Recent studies have shown, for instance, that lack of
technical and digital competencies among museum staff prevents the museum from offering real-time data
for visitor entertainment and interaction, and dialogue between the museum and its online visitors (Agostino
& Arnaboldi, 2021). A number of museum leaders perceive social media as conflicting with museum functions
and values; this attitude is mainly found among those with the fewest available resources for social media
activities, who are also less likely to commit to social media engagement (Booth, Ogundipe, & Røyseng, 2020).
In other cases, a significant social media presence does not automatically ensure high levels of interaction
with the museum’s online followers, unless features that allow online reactions from the public are provided
(Arnaboldi & Diaz Lema, 2021). Getting involved in users’ conversations, instead of merely providing
interaction, is at the core of user engagement (Camarero, Garrido, & San Jose, 2018). Analysis of social media
posts tend to show museums’ social media communication as still unilateral and promotional in all cases,
including the case of anchor museums (Ruggiero, Lombardi, & Russo, 2021).
More tensions behind limited interactivity have also been reported in the case of Holocaust museums.
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 (Manca, 2019). When investigating three major Holocaust organisations - Yad Vashem, the United
States Holocaust Memorial Museum, and the AuschwitzBirkenau Memorial and Museum it 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 (Manca, 2021b).
One of the factors for limiting interaction with users may be ascribed to the phenomena of Holocaust denial,
distortion and misinformation which are found to be increasingly pervasive on Internet sites and social
media. Institutions such as the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum, which have made it their mission
to “battle against Holocaust denial, misinformation, glorification, and other forms of human rights violations
referring to Auschwitz which are eagerly spread via social media” (Manikowska, 2020, p. 241), has launched
a Twitter campaign against Holocaust denial and antisemitism which has attracted notable response from
social media users, for instance in the recent campaign against #POVholocaust memes by young users who
pretended to be Holocaust victims as part of a TikTok challenge (Fink, 2020). However, although Holocaust
museums are rightly concerned about the rising visualisation of Holocaust distortion and denial, and
antisemitism online, resulting in tensions between institutional and amateur online memory in social media
(Walden, 2021c), according to some authors (Walden, 2021b), the produser culture of social media should
not be undermined and users should be encouraged to feel empowered to contribute to political, social and
memory discourses.
In this study, we explore how patterns of content distribution and institutional practices of Holocaust
memory by Holocaust museums may collide with users’ need to be actively engaged in the development of
grass-roots memory practices. In this light, specific engagement and interaction metrics are used to
investigate the level reached by users’ interaction and participation in memory practice (Jacobsen & Beer,
Rationale and Research Questions
In this study we adopt a socio-ecological perspective to analyse the complex interactions between users and
social media environments (Steinberg, 2001). This ecological perspective offers a lens to simultaneously
analyse individual and contextual systems and their interdependent relationships through multiple
interrelated systems that influence each other (Bronfenbrenner, 1979; Bronfenbrenner & Morris, 1998). A
networked approach has been conceptualised to emphasise how ecological systems are an overlapping
arrangement of structures in which the direct and indirect social interactions of participants are connected
to each other (Neal & Neal, 2013). In this light, a networked socio-ecological approach to social media focuses
on the relationships between individuals and the socio-technical systems implemented by social media
platforms conceived as ecological environments, where diverse structures overlap directly or indirectly by
the social interactions of the participants.
Working on this conceptual approach, we examine how a comprehensive sample of Holocaust museums
engage on social media platforms intended as ecological systems. Specific focus is on analysing how they
produce patterns of Holocaust memory in terms of interactivity, generated content and popularity. Banking
on the results of a survey and a set of social media metrics and data-driven methods, the study also seeks to
analyse the relationship between the museums’ attitudes towards social media and users’ engagement. A
further aim is to observe possible differences between three groups of museums in terms of their size (small,
medium, large). Specific research questions are:
1) What attitudes and communication patterns do Holocaust museums have regarding their social
media channels?
2) What are the levels of activity, interaction and popularity in the social media profiles of the various
Sampling and Procedures
A list of 227 museums and memorials was derived from the International Directory of Holocaust
Organizations of the Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA)
an intergovernmental organization founded in 1998 which unites governments and experts to strengthen,
advance and promote Holocaust education, research and remembrance worldwide. With over 40 member
countries, the IHRA is considered the most important transnational organisation in this field. As of 4 February
2021, the directory list, which includes survivor organizations, educational and research institutions and
historical sites from 44 countries, comprised 896 organisations. The list was further inspected and only
organisations labelled as museums or memorials were selected. A functioning email address was
identified for 203 of the 227 institutions, and an email invitation to participate in a survey was addressed to
these institutions.
The survey was implemented online through LimeSurvey (, an open-source
platform, and invitations to fill in the questionnaire were sent out via email by the software. Data were
collected in the period 12th February-22nd April 2021. After one month, a first reminder was sent to help
increase response rate and a second reminder was sent after three weeks. Although no incentive was offered
for participation, respondents were, however, told that they would be informed of the results. The full results
are available at Manca (2021c).
The final sample of respondents is composed of 69 institutions, which correspond to 34.0% of the invited
recipients. The 69 museums/memorials were subsequently classified into small (SM), medium (MM) or large
(LM) institutions mostly according to their international, national or local reach. Unlike previous studies
(Morrow, 2016) which have proposed a Holocaust museum taxonomy in terms of national, regional and local
standing, we considered that many Holocaust institutions qualify as international for their prominence in the
field and for attracting thousands of international visitors every year (Wight, 2020). In this sense, Holocaust
memorials such as the Gedenkstätte Bergen-Belsen in Germany or the Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights
Museum in the USA, for instance, are considered “large” museums, along with notable institutions like the
Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, Yad Vashem or the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
(USHMM). Two coders independently classified the 69 respondent institutions into the three categories on
the basis of their standing at international/national/local level and the physical size of each
museum/memorial. Initial coding resulted in Cohen’s k = .84 (Capozzoli, McSweeney, & Sinha, 1999), while
disagreements were resolved through discussion until a total consensus was reached.
The coding process resulted in the following classification: 34 (49.3%) museums were classified as SM (e.g.,
Beit Theresienstadt; Muzeum-Miejsce Pamięci KL Plaszow w Krakowie; Mahn-und Gedenkstätten Wöbbelin;
KZ-Gedenk- und Begegnungsstätte Ladelund); 20 (29.0%) as MM (e.g., Jasenovac Memorial Site; Shoah
Memorial of Milan; The Florida Holocaust Museum; Herinneringscentrum Kamp Westerbork); and 15 (21.7%)
as LM (e.g., The Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum; United States Holocaust Memorial Museum; Yad
Vashem; Gedenkstätte Bergen-Belsen). With regard to their geographical distribution, 25 (36.2%) are located
in Germany, 9 (13.0%) in the United States, 7 (10.1%) in Italy, while the others are distributed across a wide
variety of countries in South America, Western and Eastern Europe, the Middle-East and South Africa. The
69 organisations have the same geographical distribution as the full list of invited institutions (p = .945 for
Fisher’s exact test for count data), which means that the sample comprises a high proportion of institutions
based in Germany, USA, and Italy (N=25, 9, and 6, respectively).
The museums that declared they do not use social media (N=8; 11.6%) are all SM located in Germany or
Austria. The remaining 61 (88.4%) museums reported using at least one social media profile between
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube, with an average of 2.9 channels (SD=1.4), and with 36 (59.0%)
institutions having used them for over three years. Facebook is the most frequently used platform (N=53;
86.9% use it daily or weekly), followed by Instagram (N=38; 62.3%, weekly and daily use), Twitter (N=28;
45.9%, weekly and daily use) and YouTube (N=23; 37.7% of monthly use). Blogs are used only by 10
institutions (16.4% of monthly use), while platforms such as LinkedIn (N=15; 24.6%), Pinterest (N=5; 8.2%),
Flickr (N=5; 8.2%) and Snapchat/TikTok (N=1; 1.6%) are only used in a small number of cases.
We then searched the Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube profiles of the 61 museums using social
media and analysed them according to a set of metrics offered by FanPage Karma
(, a service platform which provides valuable insights into posting metrics,
strategies, and profile performance on various social media platforms. Unfortunately, FanPage Karma only
analyses business or professional social media profiles, therefore not all selected profiles were analysed. Our
analysis was thus focused on the profiles in Table 1.
Table 1. Number of institutions investigated through FanPage Karma.
20 (76.9%)
20 (100.0%)
15 (100.0%)
55 (90.2%)
Fisher exact test, p=.007
9 (34.6%)
13 (65.0%)
12 (80.0%)
34 (55.7%)
Fisher exact test, p=.009
7 (26.9%)
14 (70.0%)
12 (80.0%)
33 (54.1%)
Fisher exact test, p=.001
11 (42.3%)
16 (80.0%)
13 (86.7%)
40 (65.6%)
Fisher exact test, p=.004
For each social platform examined, we observed that almost all LM institutions had an active page, while
several of the SM institutions had no active page on some of the platforms (especially Instagram and Twitter).
This analysis considered social media activity in the timespan 1 February-30 April 2021.
Instruments and Analysis
In the light of the research stance outlined in section Rationale and Research Questions, we adopt a mixed
method approach that relies on the primary importance of the question asked rather than the methods,
and […] the use of multiple methods of data collection to inform the problems under study (Creswell & Plano
Clark, 2017, p. 41). Accordingly, we adopted a variety of different quantitative tools given that, in a mixed
method approach, researchers combine diverse elements of research approaches [...] for the broad
purposes of breadth and depth of understanding and corroboration (Johnson et al., 2007, p. 123).
Specifically, we combined the results of a survey directed at institutions’ managers with metrics derived from
social media analytics, allowing us to explore attitudes, modes of commemoration, and social media
The questionnaire was developed from previous studies and based on indications available on the social
media profiles and websites of the institutions involved. In particular, two studies (Booth, Ogundipe, &
Røyseng, 2020; Samaroudi, Rodriguez Echavarria, & Perry, 2020) provided the basis for exploring attitudes
to the organisational change required by the use of social media.
The questionnaire consists of 22 items of various nature (multiple choice questions, Likert-type questions,
short open-ended questions), grouped into three main sections. The first section collects background
information about the museum/memorial and its communication channels; the second section investigates
the museum/memorial’s experience in social media use; the third section is dedicated to the impact that the
COVID-19 pandemic has had on the museum/memorial’s activities. Only the Museums/Memorials that
declared they use social media were asked to answer the questions in the second and third sections.
However, participants were encouraged to engage at least in the first part of the survey in order to collect
information on the possible reasons why social media are not currently used.
For the purposes of this study, we used data collected through the questions regarding attitudes and the
type of content that museums tend to distribute on social media. Specifically, attitudes were measured
through 14 items using a five-point agree-disagree response scale. The items all broadly refer to attitudes
towards social media, and their Cronbach’s alpha (.78) could be considered satisfactory for a unidimensional
scale (Cortina, 1993). However, the set of items was not validated as a single measure of attitudes towards
social media since we opted for considering each item separately as a single item indicator of the narrow
facet of the construct described by the item itself.
Content type was assessed through a number of subcategories - Educational contents; Educational events;
Museum/Memorial activities and service communications; Material intended to counter Holocaust
distortion; Hashtag campaigns; and Fundraising campaigns - and respondents were asked about frequency
of publication of this type of content across all platforms (1=Never; 2=Rarely; 3=Sometimes; 4=Often; 5=Very
In social media research, analytics are considered a powerful means not only for providing information about
social media activity, but also for transforming “existing practices in politics, marketing, investing, product
development, entertainment, and news media” (Lassen, la Cour, L., & Vatrapu, 2018, p. 328). In particular,
the use of voluminous and structured social media data is able to generate actionable insights of strategic
value for incremental value co-creation (Adikari, Burnett, Sedera, de Silva, & Alahakoon, 2021).
In studies focusing on museums’ use of social media, social media analytics have been used to evaluate the
impact of museums’ events and extract inspiring pronouncements (Gerrard, Sykora, & Jackson, 2017). In this
study, social media analytics are also used to solve some of the biases the study can have when administering
a survey-based research methodology (Kar & Dwivedi, 2020).
Recent approaches have suggested that measuring museums’ social media presence involves gauging social
media effectiveness by considering both content and relational communication strategies (Camarero,
Garrido, & San Jose, 2018). According to this approach, engagement may be expressed in terms of three
consumer 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 of reposts/shares).
In this study, social media metrics analysed on FanPage Karma were derived from a set of metrics developed
in previous studies (Manca, 2021b), which are arranged into three macro-categories: content, interactivity
and popularity (for a complete list of definitions of the diverse metrics, see For the purposes of this study, we used a simplified set
of categories mostly focusing on user interactivity, content shares and popularity (Table 2). We also decided
to investigate English language use as an indicator of internationalisation (Bartolini, 2015).
Table 2. List of metrics per platform.
Facebook page
Twitter profile
Instagram profile
YouTube channel
Number of
Posts per day
Number of
Tweets per day
Number of
new content-
Tweets per day
(new content)
Number of
Posts per day
Number of videos
Comments per
Reactions per
interaction (%)
Posts per fan
Comments on
posts by fans
Fans’ posts
with reaction
by page
comments on
posts by fans
Number of
Number of
likes per tweet
interaction (%)
Number of
Number of
comments per
interaction (%)
Number of views
Number of views
per video
Number of likes
Number of likes
per video
Number of
Number of
dislikes per video
Number of
Number of
comments per
Post interaction
Shares per
Number of
number of
retweets per
Number of
Number of
Number of
We primarily used descriptive statistics to summarize the characteristics of the sample and inferential
statistics to elaborate data in order to provide answers to the research questions. The IBM Statistical Package
for Social Sciences (SPSS 23.0) and the software statistics package R 4.0.2 were used. Differences across
institution size categories between the three groups were analysed using ANOVA, and multiple comparisons
were corrected using Tukey’s HSD method for comparing a family of 3 estimates (Abdi & Williams, 2010).
As social media metrics are frequently distributed according to a power-law distribution (Gadepally & Kepner,
2015), distribution is decidedly non-normal, as reflected by the magnitude of the differences between means
and medians. However, a simple logarithmic transformation can normalize these distributions (Baeza-Yates
& Saez-Trumper, 2015; Mascaro, Little, Hughes, Uowolo, & Schnitzer, 2013; Raban & Rabin, 2009), which
allowed us to use Tukey’s HSD-corrected ANOVAs for data analysis.
Finally, in order to investigate the languages used by the various Holocaust museums, all collected data were
imported into the software statistics package R 4.0.2 and subsequently analysed using the cld3 library,
published and maintained by Jeroen Ooms at the University of California, Berkeley. The underlying algorithm
relies on a neural network, based on Googles Compact Language Detector, and automatically identifies the
language in designated pieces of textual data.
In this section, we present the results obtained in response to the two research questions and focus
specifically on analyses carried out to identify possible differences between the three size-based groups (LM,
MM, and SM).
Attitudes and Patterns of Use
Table 3 shows that museums value social media as a very important innovation. In particular, they consider
social media: beneficial for the future of museums (M=4.5±0.8) - with MM tending to greater agreement
than SM (p=.045); as important means for outreach (M=4.5±0.8); and a welcome change (M=4.3±0.8). Social
media also provide museums with the freedom to try new things (M=4.2±0.8) - with MM tending to agree
more than SM (p=.018) - and are considered a worthwhile investment (M=4.1±0.8) - with greater agreement
found in MM over SM (p=.046) - and should be used to counter Holocaust distortion (M=4.1±0.9). However,
these considerations are accompanied by a number of concerns, such as awareness of the need for a well-
defined social media policy (M=4.4±0.7), that dedicated resources for social media need to be set aside
(M=3.8±1.1), and that social media requires more resources than the museum can currently afford
(M=3.5±1.2). On the other hand, very few believe that social media divert museum resources from their
primary function (M=1.9±1.0) - with greater agreement found in SM over MM (p=.005) and LM (p=.028) - or
that they have usurped the role of museums (M=1.8±0.9) - with SM that tend to agree more than MM
(p=.022) and LM (p=.015). The item “Time spent by the museum’s communication department on social
media would be better used elsewhere” (M=1.8±1.0) raised greater agreement in SM than in LM (p=.021).
Finally, respondents are eager to support innovative social media projects (M=3.8±1.1) and to have the best
social media presence if compared to all other museums (M=3.2±1.2).
Table 3. Attitudes towards social media (mean ± SD (median)).
If the museum uses social media, the
museum will benefit in the future
4.2±1.0 (4.0)
4.8±.4 (5.0)
4.7±.5 (5.0)
4.5±.8 (5.0)
Medium >
small (p = .045)
Social media is a welcome change for the
4.2±.9 (4.0)
4.6±.6 (5.0)
4.1±1.0 (4.0)
4.3±.8 (4.0)
Social media is an important means for
museum outreach
4.3±.9 (4.5)
4.7±.6 (5.0)
4.7±.6 (5.0)
4.5±.8 (5.0)
Museums need to have a defined social
media policy
4.3±.9 (4.5)
4.8±.4 (5.0)
4.4±.6 (4.0)
4.4±.7 (5.0)
Social media distracts museum’s resources
from its primary function
2.3±1.1 (2.0)
1.5±.7 (1.0)
1.6±.6 (2.0)
1.9±1.0 (2.0)
Small >
medium (p =
.005), small >
large (p = .028)
Digital media has usurped the role of
2.1±1.0 (2.0)
1.5±.6 (1.0)
1.4±.6 (1.0)
1.8±.9 (2.0)
Small >
medium (p =
.022), small >
large (p = .015)
The museum has to set aside dedicated
resources for social media
3.6±1.0 (4.0)
3.8±1.4 (4.0)
4.4±.6 (4.0)
3.8±1.1 (4.0)
Social media provide museums with the
freedom to try new things
4.0±.8 (4.0)
4.6±.6 (5.0)
4.3±.8 (5.0)
4.2±.8 (4.0)
Medium >
small (p = .018)
Social media requires more resources than
the museum can currently employ on them
3.4±1.2 (4.0)
3.6±1.1 (3.5)
3.6±1.3 (4.0)
3.5±1.2 (4.0)
We want our museum to have the best
social media presence, compared to all
other museums
2.8±1.2 (3.0)
3.6±1.2 (4.0)
3.3±.9 (3.0)
3.2±1.2 (3.0)
We are eager to support innovative social
media projects at our museum
3.7±1.1 (4.0)
3.9±1.2 (4.0)
4.0±1.1 (4.0)
3.8±1.1 (4.0)
Expending resources on social media
communication is a worthwhile investment
3.9±.8 (4.0)
4.5±.8 (5.0)
4.3±.6 (4.0)
4.1±.8 (4.0)
Medium >
small (p = .046)
Any time spent by the museum’s
communication department on social
media would be better used elsewhere
2.1±1.1 (2.0)
1.6±1.0 (1.0)
1.3±.5 (1.0)
1.8±1.0 (1.0)
Small > large (p
= .021)
Museums should use social media to
counter Holocaust distortion
4.1±1.0 (4.0)
4.2±0.8 (4.0)
4.0±0.8 (4.0)
4.1±0.9 (4.0)
In terms of communication patterns, results reported in Table 4 show that the sampled institutions mainly
tend to publish educational contents (e.g., historical content, moral education content, personal stories of
victims/survivors) (M=4.2±1.0), information about museum/memorial activities and service communications
(M=4.0±1.0), and information about educational events (e.g., workshops, conferences, podcasts, webinars,
virtual/audio tours) (M=3.9±1.1). In terms of size, LM tend to publish more educational content than SM
(p=.025), while for all other content types differences are not statistically significant. When comparing
content types via repeated-measures ANOVA and Tukey’s HSD method for multiple comparison adjustment,
we observed that type of content tends to cluster into three categories. The most commonly posted types
are educational content, educational events, and information about activities (p < .001 when compared with
other types, non-significant differences when compared to each other). Less commonly posted content
includes hashtag campaigns and materials intended to counter Holocaust distortion (p < .001 when compared
with other types, non-significant differences when compared to each other). At the very bottom, the least
frequently published type of content are fundraising campaigns (p < .001 for all comparisons).
Table 4. Types of content (mean ± SD (median)).
Educational contents (e.g.,
historical content, moral
education content, personal
stories of victims/survivors)
Large >
small (p =
Educational events (e.g.,
workshops, conferences,
podcasts, webinars,
virtual/audio tours)
Museum/memorial activities
and service communications
(e.g., information about
Museum operation)
Material intended to counter
Holocaust distortion
Hashtags campaigns
Fundraising campaigns
Content Published, Interaction and Popularity
Analysis of social media metrics has revealed that most museums mainly focus on Facebook (N=55) and
YouTube (N=40) rather than Twitter (N=34) and Instagram (N=33), although with various levels of content
sharing, interaction and popularity.
These analyses show that, on Facebook (Table 5), LM (p=.008) and MM (p=.030) tend to publish more content
than SM, while no significant difference was found for the proportion of content in English. The number of
comments and reactions per post was found to be higher in LM than in MM (p=.033 and p=.008, respectively)
and SM (p<.001, p<.001). In terms of metrics of interaction, while post interaction was not significantly
different between the three groups, engagement was found to be higher in LM than in MM (p=.006) and SM
(p<.001). Moreover, the number of users’ posts published is higher in LM than in MM (p=.019) and SM
(p=.036). However, posts by fans with reactions by page and with comments by page were found to be not
significantly different in the three groups. Finally, as for popularity, LM’s posts tend to be shared more than
those by MM (p=.002) and SM (p<.001), while LM are those with the highest number of fans from the three
groups (p=.039, p<.001), with MM having a higher number than SM (p=.002).
Table 5. Content, interactivity and popularity of museums’ Facebook pages (mean ± SD (median)).
Total (N=55)
F(df), p-value
Post-hoc analysis
Number of
F(2,52) = 5.75,
p = .006
Medium > small (p
= .030), large >
small (p = .008)
Content in
English (%)
F(2,49) = 1.85,
p = .168
Comments per
9 (1.7)
F(2,52) = 9.20,
p < .001
Large > small (p <
.001), large >
medium (p = .033)
Reactions per
6 (27.3)
F(2,52) =
14.06, p < .001
Large > small (p <
.001), large >
medium (p = .008)
Post interaction
3 (.02)
1 (.01)
1 (.01)
.01±.02 (.01)
F(2,52) = 3.34,
p = .043
Engagement (%)
2 (.08)
8 (.08)
9 (.47)
.31±.37 (.21)
F(2,52) =
10.62, p < .001
Large > small (p <
.001), large >
medium (p = .006)
Posts by fans
0 (.0)
0.0 (.0)
5.6±26.6 (.0)
F(2,52) = 4.23,
p = .020
Large > small (p =
Comments on
posts by fans
1 (.0)
.9 (.0)
3.3±10.7 (.0)
F(2,52) = 4.59,
p = .015
Large > small (p =
.036), large >
medium (p = .019)
Fans’ posts with
reaction by
8 (.0)
.6±4.6 (.0)
F(2,52) = 1.91,
p = .158
comments on
posts by fans
.0±.0 (.0)
Shares per post
4 (2.4)
9 (6.4)
F(2,52) =
14.35, p < .001
Large > small (p <
.001), large >
medium (p = .002)
Number of fans
F(2,52) =
17.94, p < .001
Medium > small (p
= .002), large >
small (p < .001),
large > medium (p
= .039)
Looking at Twitter (Table 6), LM tend to tweet more than SM (p=.017), and to publish more new content-
tweet than MM (p=.037) and SM (p=.010). However, no significant difference was found for English language
use. As for interactivity, LM tend to receive more likes than MM (p=.008) and SM (p=.002), as well as more
likes per tweet (p=.020, p=.005). However, when analysing metrics such as Twitter interaction, Engagement
and Conversations, no difference was found between the three groups. Finally, in terms of popularity, LM
tend to receive an average number of retweets per tweet which is higher than in MM (p=.008) or SM (p=.002),
while MM (p=.014) and LM (p<.001) have a higher number of followers than SM.
Table 6. Content, interactivity and popularity of museums’ Twitter profiles (mean ± SD (median)).
F(df), p-
Number of tweets
7.2 (66.5)
F(2,31) =
5.72, p =
Large > small (p
= .017)
Number of new content-
F(2,31) =
4.80, p =
Large > small (p
= .010), large >
medium (p =
Content in English (%)
75 (.00)
F(2,22) =
2.59, p =
Number of likes
F(2,31) =
8.69, p =
Large > small (p
= .002), large >
medium (p =
Number of likes per
9.0 (6.3)
F(2,31) =
6.90, p =
Large > small (p
= .005), large >
medium (p =
Tweet interaction (%)
F(2,31) =
3.27, p =
Engagement (%)
F(2,31) =
2.78, p =
.3±.3 (.2)
F(2,31) =
.58, p =
Average number of
retweets per tweet
3 (1.7)
F(2,31) =
8.22, p =
Large > small (p
= .002), large >
medium (p =
Number of followers
F(2,31) =
12.56, p
< .001
Medium > small
(p = .014), large
> small (p < .001)
As far as Instagram profiles (Table 7) are concerned, while no difference was found in terms of number of
posts, LM tend to use English language more than SM (p=.014). In terms of interactivity, no significant
difference was found for number of comments, number of comments per post, post interaction and
engagement. Finally, LM were found to be the most popular, with the highest number of fans compared to
the MM (p=.018) and SM (p=.001).
Table 7. Content. interactivity and popularity of museums’ Instagram profiles (mean ± SD
F(df), p-
Number of posts
.2 (10.0)
.1 (25.5)
3 (28.0)
F(2,30) =
1.57, p =
Content in English (%)
0 (.00)
87 (.00)
F(2,28) =
4.61, p =
Large >
small (p =
Number of comments
.4 (4.0)
.2 (14.0)
F(2,30) =
2.42, p =
Number of comments per
3 (2.1)
F(2,30) =
3.78, p =
Post interaction (%)
7 (3.66)
F(2,30) =
.62, p =
Engagement (%)
F(2, 30) =
2.64, p =
Number of fans
F(2,30) =
8.68, p =
Large >
small (p =
large >
(p = .018)
Finally, as for YouTube (Table 8), LM tend to publish more videos than SM (p=.038), although no difference
was found for English language use. In terms of interactivity, while no difference was found for number of
views and number of views per video, videos posted by LM tend to receive more likes (p=.028), and a higher
number of dislikes (p=.010) and comments (p=.043) than those by SM. No difference was found for number
of likes, dislikes and comments per video, as well as for video interaction. Finally, LM tend to have a higher
number of subscribers than MM (p=.047) and SM (p<.001).
Table 8. Content. interactivity and popularity of museums’ YouTube channels (mean ± SD
F(df), p-
Number of videos
.8 (14.0)
F(2,37) =
3.52, p =
Large >
small, p =
Content in English (%)
.55 (.00)
83 (.00)
F(2,29) =
.96, p =
Number of views
F(2,37) =
2.38, p =
Number of views per video
.8 (83.0)
F(2,37) =
1.24, p =
Number of likes
0.2 (14.0)
F(2,37) =
3.87, p =
Large >
small (p =
Number of likes per video
.9 (2.2)
.5 (6.0)
F(2,37) =
1.77, p =
Number of dislikes
.0 (3.0)
F(2,37) =
5.14, p =
Large >
small (p =
Number of dislikes per
.7±2.4 (.0)
F(2,37) =
1.85, p =
Number of comments
9.2 (4.0)
F(2,37) =
3.97, p =
Large >
small (p =
Number of comments per
.7±2.3 (.0)
F(2,37) =
1.03, p =
Post interaction (%)
0 (.00)
4 (.00)
F(2,37) =
1.18, p =
Number of subscribers
F(2,34) =
10.27, p <
Large >
small (p <
large >
(p = .047)
In order to further investigate museums and memorials’ usage patterns and effectiveness on social media,
we examined Spearman’s correlations between several key social media metrics. Specifically, within each
social media channel we analysed the associations between number of fans, number of posts (or videos, in
the case of YouTube) and number of comments per post (or, in the case of Twitter, number of likes). These
metrics can be considered indicators of popularity, interactivity, and amount of content provided,
respectively. The associations are reported in Table 9.
Table 9. Spearman’s correlations between key social media metrics for each social media channel.
Correlations in bold are statistically significant for α = .05.
Number of fans
Number of
Number of posts
Comments per post
Number of posts
Likes per tweet
Number of posts
Comments per post
Number of videos
Comments per video
*In the case of YouTube, 'posts' refers to 'videos'.
These results suggest that the number of posts (i.e., the amount of page activity) is associated with a higher
number of fans for Facebook and Twitter, while no association is present for Instagram and YouTube.
The number of fans and the number of comments per post are highly correlated for Facebook, Twitter, and
Instagram, as expected, while no correlation is present for YouTube. This is probably due to the fact that the
average number of comments per video in the sample is very low (see Table 8).
Lastly, the number of posts is associated with the number of comments per post for Instagram and YouTube,
but not for Facebook and Twitter (although, in the case of Twitter, the correlation is moderate and bordering
We subsequently correlated the number of fans, the number of posts, and the number of comments per post
across social media. Results are reported in Table 10.
Table 10. Spearman’s correlations between key social media metrics across social media channels.
Correlations in bold are statistically significant for α = .05.
Number of fans
Number of posts/videos
Number of comments/likes
per post/tweet
These results show that popularity is highly associated between all social media channels: institutions that
are popular on a social media platform are very likely to be popular on all social media. The amount of
institutional activity conducted through social media platforms, however, is not associated. This suggests that
institutions tend to concentrate their efforts on a limited number of platforms, rather than trying to be active
on all of them. The only exceptions seem to be Facebook and Instagram, possibly due to the ease of porting
content across these two platforms (which are run by the same company). Finally, as for user activity, we
observe moderate correlations between all platforms except for YouTube.
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 (Dalziel, 2016; Lundrigan, 2020; Manca, 2021b; Manikowska, 2020; Wight, 2020, Zalewska, 2017)
or in a limited geographical domain (Manca, 2019), the sample examined in this research study allows
broader and more general considerations, as well as conclusions.
Through a triangulation of methodological tools based on quantitative data, social media for Holocaust
memory explored in this study have been regarded as socio-technical-ecological systems in which digital
memory practices are entangled with living world memory practices (Walden, 2021b). The adoption of a
networked socio-ecological approach has made it possible to explore the micro-level dimensions of both
museum and user engagement in the co-construction of intra-actions related to the development of digital
Holocaust memories (Drotner & Schrøder, 2014; Reading, 2003; Walden, 2021a).
Regarding the first research question, which investigated attitudes and communication patterns, Holocaust
museums seem to have embraced social media as one of the most important tools available for
communicating with the public. It appears that Facebook and Instagram are the predominately used social
media platforms, while YouTube is found quite useful. Unlike other studies that have investigated users’
propensity to interact with museums in social media (Ruggiero, Lombardi, & Russo, 2021), here we have
primarily focused on museums’ attitudes and intentions. We found that overall attitude towards social
media, despite noticeable differences between the museums, is overwhelmingly favourable. Results from
survey items investigating attitudes paint a consistent picture in which large and medium-sized institutions
tend to view social media more favourably than smaller museums, but even small institutions demonstrate
overall favourable attitudes. Still, the concerns expressed by the latter - such as conflicting roles and lack of
resources - need careful consideration. Previous studies show that museums with the fewest available
resources for social media activities are also less likely to commit to social media engagement (Booth,
Ogundipe, & Røyseng, 2020). In our sample, this is also evidenced by the fact that the only institutions that
reported not using social media are all small museums. These institutions have limited staff, a highly localized
audience and possibly low technological and digital skills, which are required for social media communication.
As stressed in previous studies (Agostino & Arnaboldi, 2021), lack of social media competencies prevents
museums from offering real-time data for visitor entertainment and interaction, as well as dialogue between
the museum and its online visitors. Future studies should examine in greater detail the obstacles that prevent
smaller Holocaust institutions from embracing social media as part of an ongoing generational change
accelerated by the pandemic (Ebbrecht-Hartmann, 2021). They should also investigate the factors that keep
larger ones from expanding their plethora of platforms and diversifying their communication strategies
according to the perceived key target audiences of each platform. However, as reported in recent studies
(Barrutia & Echebarria, 2021), the COVID-19 pandemic is accelerating the digital transformation of many
sectors and a progressive ability to use ICT can be expected also in those museums that so far have had fewer
resources at their disposal. In this light, future studies should also consider how functional and emotional
values, which underpin the marketing strategies of cultural institutions as well, drive the choice of which
social platforms to invest in most (Kato, 2021). In this sense, as social media use and social media validation
positively influence public entities’ brand value (Nguyen, Tran, & Baker, 2021), museums are likely to invest
more in the use and monitoring of these platforms. As highlighted recently, even though the central core of
these memory institutions remains their educational mission and their function in mediating memory of the
past (Morrow, 2016), it is important to stress that professionalization and commercialization of museums
and memorials of genocide and crimes against humanity have become requirements for “making the past
present” and “the local global” (Björkdahl & Kappler, 2019).
As for the type of content being published, respondents report that educational content, information
regarding educational events, and information regarding institutional activities are the most frequently
posted types of content, consistently with museums’ role as providers of education and awareness regarding
the Holocaust. Hashtag campaigns, which are commonly used on Twitter and Instagram but not so much on
Facebook, are not very frequent in postings by these museums, probably for the very reason that their
prevalent platform is Facebook. However, it is expected that this mode of communication may increase in
the future, as underlined by other initiatives in the field of cultural heritage (Uimonen, 2020) and in recent
initiatives by Holocaust organisations (Walden, 2021b). Materials countering Holocaust distortion are also
infrequently posted, which is in contrast with museums’ shared commitment to counter Holocaust distortion,
and may be related to the concerns about politicization and political attacks (Manikowska, 2020). However,
future investigation is needed to understand how marketing strategies combine with the educational mission
in general and specifically with the purpose of countering distortion in social media. In addition, we found
that fundraising campaigns are rarely posted on social media, although they are expected to grow in the near
future as they can also be seen as a powerful mode of outreach (Barnes, 2019). Finally, institutions of all sizes
seem to post all types of content with the same frequency, with the exception of educational content, which
is more frequently shared by larger institutions, possibly because its production requires resources and effort
(Booth, Ogundipe, & Røyseng, 2020).
In terms of the second research question, which analysed levels of activity, user interaction and popularity,
a number of social media metrics were used to extract patterns of shared content, interactivity and
popularity, and to counter possible biases while administering a survey-based research methodology (Kar &
Dwivedi, 2020). Although there may be concerns about using metrics to derive meaningful information about
memory of the past on social media, social media spaces have facilitated the counting of memories and have
moved into the domain of remembrance (Jacobsen & Beer, 2021). This has become particularly significant in
the field of memory studies and specifically in Holocaust memory (Garde-Hansen, Hoskins, & Reading, 2009;
Hoskins, 2018), in which digital and non-digital memory related to the Holocaust are increasingly intertwined,
with one shaping the other (Kansteiner, 2017; Walden, 2019). In this perspective, if Holocaust memory may
be considered as a digital phenomenon or intra-action between a multitude of actants (Walden, 2021a),
where communication protocols and interface interaction between users and social media profiles are all
entangled and contribute to the development of digital Holocaust memory in specific cultural contexts
(Walden, 2021b), it is important to investigate what happens at the micro-level of user experience.
If we look at content metrics for the various platforms examined, it emerges that the amount of content
published on the three most interactive platforms (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) shows similar trends,
except for activity on Twitter, which is more intense for larger institutions. This discrepancy can be explained
not only by the more dynamic nature of Twitter, which acts as a quick way to disseminate information (Ahn,
Son, & Chung, 2021), but also by the greater 'political' and civic engagement that large institutions tend to
have on this platform (Meier, Bazo, & Elsweiler, 2022; Waeterloos, Walrave, & Ponnet, 2021). In line with
previous studies (Manca, 2021b), the case of the Auschwitz-Birkenau museum is emblematic for the
preponderance of tweets it attracts compared to the other two large institutions analysed (Yad Vashem and
the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum), testifying to the intense activity of the Polish museum in
conducting Twitter campaigns against Holocaust denial and antisemitism (Manikowska, 2020).
Interestingly, when considering the languages being used by the different museums, no significant
differences by institution size were found in terms of English being used as the main language for
communication. For example, the Facebook page of the Buchenwald Memorial, despite its size, publishes
close to none of its content in English, relying on Facebooks’ built-in automatic translation. Yet, English
continues to be a dominant language in the context of the investigated social media channels. Consequently,
in order to further contribute to the “virtual Holocaust memory” (Walden, 2019), one might expect that
museums - and especially large institutions with an international audience - would decide to post at least
part of their information and materials in English, so as to enable a wider audience to read and understand
their contributions (Bartolini, 2015).
Regarding Interaction metrics, Facebook posts tend to receive more reactions than Twitter posts, although
great diversity in terms of reactions/likes was observed across the three groups. Post interaction was found
to be higher on Instagram than on the other three platforms. This is also in line with the metrics of
Engagement, which is found to be greater on Instagram. One explanation might be that, on Instagram, user
experience is enhanced by widespread use of pictures, short videos and stories, contributing to a higher rate
of engagement than on Facebook and Twitter and more average interactions per post, as also reported in
previous studies (Manca, 2021b) and in other research areas (Casaló, Flavián, & Ibáñez-Sánchez, 2017; Gruzd,
Lannigan, & Quigley, 2018). However, further research is still needed to investigate how the format of a post,
its language and its content all affect the level and nature of user engagement with the content (Laor &
Steinfeld, 2018), as well as how high accessibility influences remoted people across the diverse countries
(Laor, 2019).
If we look at popularity metrics, large museums are a “high card” that tends to aggregate most of the interest.
With the exception of the Auschwitz-Birkenau museum’s Twitter profile, which accounts for more than one
million followers, most of the following is on Facebook. However, we also found that the popularity of an
institution’s Instagram page or YouTube channel is more likely to be led by the institution’s offline fame than
by its level of activity. For example, the three most outstanding institutions in terms of fans/posts ratio on
Instagram are the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, the concentration camp memorial site of Dachau, and
Anne Frank’s house – all widely known institutions, whose fame alone may lead to attracting a larger number
of fans even with relatively little online activity. The level of activity, however, is associated to the number of
fans for Facebook and Twitter, which means that these social media dynamics could probably reward a bit
more those institutions that show an active involvement in managing their institutional page. This is also
highlighted by the fact that for Instagram and YouTube the amount of content does not promote page
popularity, but it does increase the amount of interactivity (although, as noted, for YouTube interactivity is
usually very low). In the case of Facebook, this association does not occur, perhaps suggesting that
Facebook’s readership is relatively more passive: easier to engage on a superficial level (subscribing to the
page), but harder to engage on a deeper level (having post conversations). Although this tendency has been
analysed as a general phenomenon (Ellison, Triu, Schoenebeck, Brewer, & Israni, 2020), future studies
should investigate what is the main target group interested in following these types of pages and profiles,
and their socio-demographic characteristics.
Despite considerable numbers of fans and followers, overall engagement and interaction remain low on all
analysed platforms, and the percentage of comments and reactions from Facebook pages with respect to
user comments is equally low. Comments and interactions were found to be particularly scarse on YouTube,
where comments are often disabled, and users are overall far less likely to leave comments (Liao & Mak,
2019). If interaction with users remains limited, as reported in previous studies (Manca, 2019; 2021b) and in
the cultural heritage sector (Arnaboldi & Diaz Lema, 2021; Capriotti, Carretón, & Castillo, 2016), the
management of contentious contents is still a complex and delicate issue for this type of museum, mainly
preoccupied with limiting cases of denial, distortion, misuse, and superficial representations. Some scholars
have emphasised the “passivity” of Holocaust institutions, resulting from fear of trivialization or distortion,
and the risk of harbouring conflicting memories (de Smale, 2020; Katz, 2016), which might in turn have
brought about an over-cautious attitude by Holocaust agencies in soliciting users’ interaction. These
institutions would prefer one-directional communication and the broadcasting of a “carefully shaped, widely
acceptable message via social media” (Kansteiner, 2017, p. 324).
However, new memory ecologies developed in digital technologies are starting to question this cautiousness
concerning the interactive and participatory potentials of social media use (Maben & Gearhart, 2018).
Memory ecologies heavily rely on the participation of users, by implicating them in the process (Hoskins,
2016; 2018). While Holocaust museums act as gatekeepers of Holocaust memory or as “Holocaust police”
(Dalziel, 2021), they are also expected to overcome their hesitancy about the produser culture of social
media (Jenkins, Ford & Green, 2013) and enable potential visitors to become ethical and active co-producers
of memory within participatory cultures (Walden, 2021b). As recently stated, it has become a priority “to find
constructive ways to negotiate between necessary security measures and still encouraging critical thinking
and networking within and beyond these events” (Walden, 2021c, p. 12).
Increasing digitalization will probably result in a “paradigm shift” (Zalewska, 2017) and new forms of
Holocaust memory will be observed in the future (Ebbrecht-Hartmann, 2021). Further studies should monitor
these transformations, which were already apparent in recent Instagram projects (Henig & Ebbrecht-
Hartmann, 2020). As stressed by Ebbrecht-Hartmann and Divon (2020), in their provocative title “Let TikTok
Creators Pretend to Be Victims of the Nazis. It Strengthens Holocaust Memory”, however, “a new, creative
and necessary kind of testimony is emerging” (p. n.a.). There is much we need to understand even about
these “provocative” forms of Holocaust remembrance, especially created by younger generations.
Limitations and Conclusions
Along with the positive insights outlined above, a number of limitations need to be highlighted. The difficulty
in obtaining a higher number of answers might have been caused by using the institutions’ general email
address (e.g. info@), which in times of lockdown and prolonged museum closure may not have been checked
regularly. Furthermore, the study sample generated for this review was self-selected and hence possibly
biased in terms of (either positive or negative) interest and perceived importance of the topic. Another
limitation of the study is strictly derived from the research method, based on self-reporting and quantitative
analyses. Although we have highlighted the growing importance of metrics usage in assessing the
engagement and reconstruction of the digital past in multiple ways (Jacobsen & Beer, 2021), future studies
should also adopt mixed-method research approaches that combine computational and data-driven
methods with narrative approaches based on ethnographic and auto-ethnographic observations, content
analysis and other qualitative research methods (Kozinets, 2020). In this light, interviews with museums’
social media staff and heads of communication, along with investigation of the views of users through
targeted surveys, may help to obtain a broader and more complete picture of digital memory practices and
learning benefits on issues concerning memory of the past and its relevance for the present. Content analysis
may contribute to exploring the content of social media engagement and the nature of online interaction in
greater detail, by investigating the most frequent kinds of debate that occur in social media and how social
media content is framed within each museum.
Another line of research that deserves greater attention is that of learning. The IHRA (2019), for example,
recommends deploying social media in Holocaust education, which may pave the way for engaging forms of
teaching and learning about the subject. As stressed in recent reviews, although Holocaust remembrance is
a well-established research field, very few studies or theoretical works are available about social media use
for Holocaust teaching and learning (Manca, 2021a). This is of paramount importance if we consider that
museums are playing an increasingly important role in out-of-school and informal learning (Ennes, 2021) and
that education, whether in formal or informal learning settings, remains at the heart of Holocaust museums
Credit author statement
Stefania Manca: Conceptualisation, Methodology, Formal analysis, Funding acquisition, Project
administration, Resources, Data curation, Supervision, Writing original draft, Writing review & editing,
Marcello Passarelli: Conceptualisation, Methodology, Formal analysis, Data curation, Software, Writing
review & editing, Martin Rehm: Conceptualisation, Methodology, Formal analysis, Data curation, Software,
Writing review & editing
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”.
The authors would like to thank Ilaria Bortolotti for her contribution to the conceptualisation and
implementation of the questionnaire
Declaration of Conflicting Interests
The authors declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect to the research, authorship, and/or
publication of this article.
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... Other works show great variance in the way former concentration and extermination camps' use Facebook and Twitter, with many showing limited activity and diverse levels of public engagement in terms of generated content, interactivity, and popularity (Manca 2019). More recently, investigation of attitudes towards social media by a sample of 69 Holocaust museums across the world revealed museums have an overall positive attitude, although concerns were expressed by smaller institutions (Manca, Passarelli, and Rehm 2022). Overall, museums mostly tend to use Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, and to share educational content and information about the museum's activities. ...
... Further studies show that Facebook is considered the preferred platform for more detailed 'historical narration' featuring lengthy description of events and people, while Instagram appears to be more appealing as a platform for live events and sharing pictures, stories and videos captured either by Museum visitors or by the institutions themselves (Dalziel 2021). However, studies focusing on larger institutions (Manca, Passarelli, and Rehm 2022) reveal that these are more active on Twitter than on Facebook and Instagram, with the Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum and Memorial occupying a prominent position in Twitter discourse given it has over 1.3 million followers (Manca 2021b;Dalziel 2021). Overall, Twitter is preferred when engaging with other institutions but also for promoting online resources, such as virtual tours and educational resources, or for getting involved in political conversations locally and internationally (Dalziel 2021). ...
... 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 degree of engagement with fan pages and posts (Camarero, Garrido, and San Jose 2018;Manca 2021b;Manca, Passarelli, and Rehm 2022). ...
This study takes a social-technical systems approach to investigate how national and transnational memory of the Holocaust are intertwined on the social media profiles of a set of Italian museums and memorials. We examine how Italy’s four most important Holocaust museums and memorials use social media as ecosystems to provide historical content and engage their audiences in digital remembrance about the Holocaust on four social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube. Results show that posts on Facebook led to a higher volume of interactivity and positive responses than posts on the other platforms, while user activity in terms of creating new posts remains low on all four platforms. The four institutions tend to address a national audience and interweave transnational Holocaust memorial themes with distinctively national ones. Although the examined social media profiles demonstrate that museums and memorials are reliable sources of historical and trustworthy information through which they shape memory ecologies, their use reflects a conservational attitude, with a preference for a target audience over the age of 25, expressed both in the choice of platforms adopted and in the mostly one-way communication approach employed. The paper outlines implications for further social media practice in Digital Holocaust Memory.
... The management of contentious contents is still a complex and delicate issue for Holocaust museums, which are mainly preoccupied with limiting cases of denial, distortion, misuse, and superficial representations. However, scholars have also emphasised the "passivity" of Holocaust institutions, resulting from fear of trivialization or distortion and the risk of harbouring conflicting memories, which might in turn have brought about an over-cautious attitude by Holocaust agencies in soliciting users' interaction (Manca, Passarelli & Rehm, 2022;Walden, 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). ...
... Fear of trivialization or distortion and the risk of harbouring conflicting memories are always in the background. The limited type of user interaction, mainly consisting of likes and shares, highlights a general "passivity" of Holocaust institutions (Kansteiner, 2017) and a lack of engagement with social media users (Manca, Passarelli & Rehm, 2022;Walden, 2021b). If the Holocaust is to continue to be a landmark in the history of the 20th century for new generations as well, it will be important "to find constructive ways to negotiate between necessary security measures and still encouraging critical thinking and networking within and beyond these events" (Walden, 2021b, page 12). ...
... For a detailed report of this study, seeManca, Passarelli & Rehm (2022). ...
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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.
... Instagram is one of the most commonly used social media platforms, with 63% of its users spread globally (Akkaş et al., 2020;Ali, 2021;Manca et al., 2022;Nirmalasari & Liliani, 2022). Oliveira (2022) stated that this platform enables individuals to post images and short videos, write and read captions in photo descriptions, remark, and send direct messages (Oliveira et al., 2022). ...
... Instagram, which is gaining more popularity worldwide, is considered a potential tool in language learning and instruction (Ali, 2021;Manca et al., 2022). Few scientific studies have analyzed the role and use of this platform in the language learning environment, specifically in writing activities. ...
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The purpose of this research is to examine students' habits in using Instagram and their perceptions of the platform's feed-based tasks and peer feedback in English learning. This is online research with data collected from four meetings of Instagram feed-based tasks and peer feedback through a questionnaire with a Likert scale, focus group interviews, and observation. The purposive sampling method was used to determine the sample size of 56 law students. The data collected were analyzed using the mixed method with SPSS program 26 and Miles and Huberman's (2019) thematic analysis. The results showed that most students were familiar with Instagram and accessed it to share and obtain information, making it possible to flip it into an L2 learning tool. Students' poor English skills impacted their lack of motivation, interest, and confidence in participating in flipping Instagram as a medium of writing activities using feed-based tasks. On the other hand, peer feedback increased their motivation to interact with friends using English. Therefore, EFL teachers, learners, and material developers need to consider Instagram as a MALL tool for feed-based tasks and peer feedback for L2 classes due to its positive impact on collaborative and interactive activities.
... interaZione BidireZionale liMitata Con Gli Utenti dei soCial Media la gestione dei contenuti controversi è ancora una questione complessa e delicata per i musei della shoah, che si preoccupano soprattutto di limitare i casi di negazione, distorsione, uso improprio e rappresentazioni superficiali. Tuttavia, gli studiosi hanno anche sottolineato la "passività" delle istituzioni della shoah, dovuta al timore di banalizzazione o distorsione e al rischio di ospitare memorie conflittuali, che potrebbe a sua volta aver portato a un atteggiamento troppo cauto da parte degli enti della Shoah nel sollecitare l'interazione degli utenti (Manca, Passarelli & rehm, 2022;Walden, 2021b). le organizzazioni per la shoah sembrano preferire una comunicazione unidirezionale e la diffusione di un "messaggio accuratamente modellato e ampiamente accettabile attraverso i social media" (Kansteiner, 2017, p. 324). ...
Technical Report
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Abusi, scuse, travisamenti e manipolazioni della storia della Shoah si possono riscontrare a tutti i livelli della società. Si tratta di un fenomeno tutt'altro che marginale: se ne possono trovare esempi nei governi che cercano di minimizzare la loro responsabilità storica, nei teorici della cospirazione che accusano gli ebrei di esagerare le loro sofferenze a scopo di lucro e negli utenti online che fanno uso di immagini e linguaggio associati alla Shoah per scopi politici, ideologici o commerciali che non hanno legami con la sua storia. Indipendentemente dalla sua forma, la distorsione della Shoah e i suoi potenziali effetti diretti o indiretti - antisemitismo, negazione della Shoah, miti cospirativi e nazionalismo estremo - hanno una dimensione e una rilevanza internazionale e pertanto richiedono una risposta internazionale. Per quanto riguarda i social media, se da un lato la loro ascesa ha permesso a individui e gruppi di connettersi a livello globale e di avere accesso istantaneo a informazioni e conoscenze, dall'altro hanno consentito l’esponenziale diffusione e la divulgazione di contenuti carichi d’odio, tra cui l'antisemitismo e la negazione e distorsione della Shoah. Il presente rapporto intende fornire ai musei e ai memoriali della Shoah una serie di linee guida e raccomandazioni per contrastare il fenomeno della distorsione della Shoah sui canali dei social media. Poiché queste istituzioni si configurano come pilastri sempre più importanti contro la distorsione della Shoah, esse non solo hanno molteplici opportunità di salvaguardare la documentazione storica ma hanno anche bisogno di aiuto per affrontare le sfide poste da coloro che distorcono la verità. In quest'ottica, il rapporto evidenzia diverse azioni che i memoriali e i musei della Shoah possono intraprendere per contribuire a ridurre l'impatto delle diverse forme di distorsione della Shoah sui social media. A differenza della negazione della Shoah, cioè il tentativo di cancellare la Shoah dalla storia, la distorsione della Shoah giustifica, minimizza o travisa la Shoah in una varietà di modi utilizzando vari mezzi di comunicazione non sempre facilmente identificabili. Mentre vi è un ampio consenso sul fatto che la negazione della Shoah sia alimentata dall'antisemitismo, la distorsione della Shoah è considerata una forma di antisemitismo secondario o una manipolazione della storia della Shoah e della sua memoria per vari scopi. Sebbene la narrazione storica irresponsabile e abusiva possa riguardare qualsiasi evento storico, oggi il numero di mutazioni e distorsioni della storia della Shoah sta crescendo e sta progressivamente assumendo diverse forme dilaganti. Poiché non esistono misure uniche e generali contro tutte le forme di distorsione, dovranno essere attuate diverse azioni specifiche a seconda del contesto geografico o sociale.
... The management of contentious contents is still a complex and delicate issue for Holocaust museums, which are mainly preoccupied with limiting cases of denial, distortion, misuse, and superficial representations. However, scholars have also emphasised the "passivity" of Holocaust institutions, resulting from fear of trivialization or distortion and the risk of harbouring conflicting memories, which might in turn have brought about an over-cautious attitude by Holocaust agencies in soliciting users' interaction (Manca, Passarelli & Rehm, 2022;Walden, 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). ...
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Abuse, excuse, misrepresentation and manipulation of the history of the Holocaust can be found at all levels of society. This is far from a fringe phenomenon: examples may be found in 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. Regardless of its form, Holocaust distortion and its potential direct or indirect effects – antisemitism, Holocaust denial, conspiracy myths and extreme nationalism – have an international dimension and relevance, and require an international response. As for social media, while their rise has enabled individuals and groups to connect on a global level and to have instant access to information and knowledge, they have also allowed spread and dissemination of hateful content, including antisemitism and Holocaust denial and distortion at an unprecedented rate. This report aims to provide Holocaust museums and memorials with a set of guidelines and recommendations to counter the phenomenon of Holocaust distortion on social media channels. As these institutions are increasingly important bulwarks against Holocaust distortion, they have manifold opportunities for safeguarding the historical record and need help to face the challenges posed by those who distort the truth. In this light, the report highlights several actions that Holocaust memorials and museums can take to help reduce the impact of different forms of Holocaust distortion on social media. Unlike Holocaust denial – the attempt to erase the Holocaust from history – Holocaust distortion excuses, minimizes, or misrepresents the Holocaust in a variety of ways and through various media which are not always readily identifiable. While there is broad agreement that Holocaust denial is fuelled by antisemitism, Holocaust distortion is either considered a form of secondary antisemitism or manipulation of Holocaust history and its memory for various purposes. Although irresponsible and abusive history may affect any historical event, today the number of mutations and distortions of Holocaust history are growing and are progressively assuming diverse rampant forms. As there are no single, general measures against all forms of distortion, several specific actions will have to be implemented depending on the geographical or social context.
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FÜR WEN SIND DIESE LEITLINIEN UND EMPFEHLUNGEN GEDACHT? Dieser Bericht soll Holocaust-Museen und -Gedenkstätten eine Reihe von Leitlinien und Empfehlungen an die Hand geben, um dem Phänomen der Holocaust-Verzerrung auf Social-Media- Kanälen zu begegnen. Da diese Einrichtungen zunehmend wichtige Eckpfeiler gegen die Verzerrung des Holocausts darstellen, haben sie vielfältige Herausforderungen, aber auch Möglichkeiten, die historische Überlieferung zu schützen, und benötigen Unterstützung, um den Herausforderungen, die von denjenigen ausgehen, die die Wahrheit verzerren, zu begegnen. Vor diesem Hintergrund hebt der Bericht mehrere Maßnahmen hervor, die Gedenkstätten und Museen ergreifen können, um die Auswirkungen der verschiedenen Formen der Holocaust-Verzerrung in den sozialen Medien zu verringern. WARUM IST DIE VERZERRUNG DES HOLOCAUSTS EIN ANLIEGEN DER ZIVILGESELLSCHAFT? Missbrauch, Ausreden, falsche Darstellungen und Manipulationen der Geschichte des Holocausts sind auf allen Ebenen der Gesellschaft zu finden. Dabei handelt es sich keineswegs um ein Randphänomen: Beispiele finden sich bei Regierungen, die versuchen, ihre historische Verantwortung zu minimieren, bei Verschwörungstheoretikern, welche jüdische Gemeinschaften mit Anschuldigungen konfrontieren ihr Leid zu ihrem Vorteil zu übertreiben, und bei Online-NutzerInnen, welche die mit dem Holocaust assoziierte Bilder und Sprache für politische, ideologische oder kommerzielle Zwecke verwenden, die nichts mit der Geschichte zu tun haben. Unabhängig von ihrer Form haben die Verzerrung des Holocausts und ihre potenziellen direkten oder indirekten Auswirkungen - Antisemitismus, Holocaust-Leugnung, Verschwörungsmythen und extremer Nationalismus - eine internationale Dimension und Relevanz, welche eine internationale Reaktion erfordern. Was die sozialen Medien anbelangt, so haben diese zwar Einzelpersonen und Gruppen die Möglichkeit gegeben, sich auf globaler Ebene zu vernetzen und sofortigen Zugang zu Informationen und Wissen zu erhalten, aber sie haben auch die Verbreitung von hasserfüllten Inhalten, einschließlich Antisemitismus, Holocaust-Leugnung und -Verzerrung in einem noch nie dagewesenen Ausmaß ermöglicht. WAS SIND DIE HERAUSFORDERUNGEN BEI DER BEKÄMPFUNG DER HOLOCAUST-VERZERRUNG? Im Gegensatz zur Holocaust-Leugnung - dem Versuch, den Holocaust aus der Geschichte zu löschen - wird bei der Holocaust-Verzerrung, welche nicht immer leicht zu identifizieren ist, der Holocaust auf unterschiedliche Weise in Medien entschuldigt, verharmlost oder falsch dargestellt. Während weitgehend Einigkeit darüber besteht, dass die Leugnung des Holocausts durch Antisemitismus genährt wird, wird die Verzerrung des Holocausts entweder als eine Form des “sekundären Antisemitismus” oder als Manipulation der Geschichte des Holocausts und seiner Erinnerung zu unterschiedlichen Zwecken betrachtet. Obwohl missbräuchliche Geschichtsdarstellungen jedes historische Ereignis betreffen können, nimmt die Zahl Verzerrungen der Geschichte des Holocausts heute zu, wobei verschiedene Formen der Verzerrungen identifiziert werden können. Da es keine einzelne, generelle Maßnahme gegen alle Formen der Verzerrung gibt, müssen je nach geografischem oder sozialem Kontext verschiedene, spezifische Maßnahmen ergriffen werden. WAS KÖNNEN GEDENKSTÄTTEN UND MUSEEN TUN, UM DER VERZERRUNG DES HOLOCAUSTS IN DEN SOZIALEN MEDIEN ENTGEGENZUWIRKEN? Die Frage nach den Maßnahmen, mit denen Museen und Materialien zu diesem Zweck ausgestattet werden können, erfordert einen komplexen, ganzheitlichen Ansatz. Obwohl keine der Maßnahmen das Problem in Gänze lösen oder eingrenzen kann, ist es wichtig zu betonen, dass Museen und Gedenkstätten mehrere Maßnahmen zur Verfügung haben: Sie können dazu beitragen, das Wissen über den Holocaust vor allem bei jungen Menschen zu erweitern, indem sie Inhalte bereitstellen, welche den sprachlichen und medialen Gewohnheiten Jugendlicher entsprechen; sie können die Gemeinschaft der Social Media Fans und FollowerInnen aktiv einbeziehen, indem sie in die Schaffung eines ein sicheren und kooperativen Umfelds einbeziehen; sie können sich auf nationale oder lokale Besonderheiten der Verzerrung des Holocausts konzentrieren; sie können den Unterschied zwischen absichtlicher Verzerrung und Verzerrung aufgrund mangelnden Wissens erkennen; sie können in die berufliche Entwicklung und Weiterbildung des Personals investieren und sie können die internationale Zusammenarbeit und den Austausch durch den Aufbau von Netzwerken zwischen Gedenkstätten und Museen sowie mit anderen Holocaust-Einrichtungen, stärken.
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Content creators on YouTube have started documenting their visits to the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum in vlog form. This social media format has enabled influencers to assume the role of popular historian, endowing their trips with a sense of moral responsibility. Critical tools should be applied not only to content analysis but also to metadata and various methods of curating visibility on the platform. Additionally, mechanisms of self-promotion and the fate of official narratives of commemoration in an era of user-generated content are of interest. Is this new cohort of popular history practitioners a welcome development in the field of commemoration?
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A fundamental tenet of democracy is that political parties present policy alternatives, such that the public can participate in the decision-making process. Parties, however, strategically control public discussion by emphasising topics that they believe will highlight their strengths in voters’ minds. Political strategy has been studied for decades, mostly by manually annotating and analysing party statements, press coverage, or TV ads. Here we build on recent work in the areas of computational social science and eDemocracy, which studied these concepts computationally with social media. We operationalize issue engagement and related political science theories to measure and quantify politicians’ communication behavior using more than 366k Tweets posted by over 1,000 prominent German politicians in the 2017 election year. To this end, we first identify issues in posted Tweets by utilising a hashtag-based approach well known in the literature. This method allows several prominent issues featuring in the political debate on Twitter that year to be identified. We show that different political parties engage to a larger or lesser extent with these issues. The findings reveal differing social media strategies by parties located at different sides of the political left-right scale, in terms of which issues they engage with, how confrontational they are and how their strategies evolve in the lead-up to the election. Whereas previous work has analysed the general public’s use of Twitter or politicians’ communication in terms of cross-party polarisation, this is the first study of political science theories, relating to issue engagement, using politicians’ social media data.
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The COVID-19 pandemic has induced a process of digital acceleration and has likely changed the attitudes of local public managers toward information and communication technology (ICT). While this attitude change has been reasonably argued, it has not been systematically measured. This study narrows this gap by measuring the attitudes of public managers before and after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Overall, this study finds that the pandemic has led public managers to be more confident in the capacity of ICT to help cities achieve their economic, social, and environmental goals and respond to challenges. Both explicit and implicit measures confirmed attitude changes. The explicit measures also indicated that the change in public managers’ attitude toward ICT was similar to their change in attitude toward scientific progress and greater than their change in attitude toward other issues that have played a major role during the pandemic, namely, climate change, citizen participation, and privacy.
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By filtering and ranking information, search engines shape how individuals perceive both the present and past events. However, these information curation mechanisms are prone to malperformance that can misinform their users. In this article, we examine how search malperformance can influence representation of traumatic past by investigating image search outputs of six search engines in relation to the Holocaust in English and Russian. Our findings indicate that besides two common themes - commemoration and liberation of camps - there is substantial variation in visual representation of the Holocaust between search engines and languages. We also observe several instances of search malperformance, including content propagating antisemitism and Holocaust denial, misattributed images, and disproportionate visibility of specific Holocaust aspects that might result in its distorted perception by the public.
This article explores the pedagogical challenges and ethical dilemmas related to the use of Virtual Interactive Holocaust Survivor Testimony (VIHST) in place of live survivor testimony. The National Holocaust Centre and Museum (UK) uses 3D interactive digital as an attempt to replicate the meaningful learning experiences of listening to a live survivor. Data was collected through interviews with survivors and museum staff. Key findings include how survivors are chosen to participate, whether testimonies can or should be edited for pedagogical purposes, and challenges associated with virtual testimony that do not exist with live survivor testimony.
This editorial introduces this special edition of Holocaust Studies, which reflects on how bringing concerns central to the fields of Digital Media, Communication and Cultural Studies to bear on Holocaust Studies raises significant questions that could help inform memory and educational initiatives for the future. The editorial contextualizes the increasing visibility of denial and distortion online within algorithmic, participatory, and gaming cultures, that have the potential to benefit memory activism as much as they draw attention to dangerous alternative rhetoric. Nevertheless, it also highlights a need to think more carefully about the complicity of educators, curators, and researchers in unethical digital practices. Before introducing the contributions to this special edition of Holocaust Studies, it then briefly reflects on some of the trends that Holocaust organizations adopted during the Covid-19 Pandemic. This special edition, perhaps, offers more questions than answers, but establishing the right questions is an important step towards expanding the disciplinary boundaries of ‘Holocaust Studies’, so that it is befitting of the digital age.
This chapter explores the implications of the selfie-perspective for Holocaust memory in the digital age. We analyse sequences from the Israeli documentary film, #Uploading_Holocaust (2016), which were taken during visits at memorial sites. We argue that such audio-visual self-representations communicate the complex relationship between individual subject positions, a presumably meaningful past, and contemporary modes of commemoration. We also claim that the creators of such videos often aim to inscribe themselves into memory culture, while at the same time struggling with the emotional complexity of their encounters with memorial sites. In doing so, they integrate the memory of past events into their present social media lives. We describe this interplay of mnemonic self-inscription and the integration of memories by means of digital technology, as i-Memory: a term that interlinks the subjective adaptation of digital commemorative practices with interactive modes of engagement with history, through memorial sites.
Immersion and interactivity have become cliché terms to describe digital initiatives, promoted by tech innovators as the uniqueness of digital interventions it is no surprise that they dominate in promotional material for digital Holocaust memory projects. This chapter provides an archaeological rummage through both historical and contemporary uses of these terms in order to draw attention to their problematic and sometimes contradictory uses. It argues that ‘immersion’ and ‘interactivity’ are far less radical and innovative than the tech industry likes to tell us, and actually rather useless terms for helping us conceptualise what digital media can do for Holocaust memory. Inspired by the work of Barad and Hansen, the afterword for this collection proposes instead that imagining projects in terms of ‘intra-action’ and ‘mixed reality’ can help drive forward digital Holocaust memory futures in productive ways that particularly foreground the entanglement introduced in Chap. 1 as crucial to understanding this memoryscape.
This chapter introduces the idea of thinking about digital Holocaust memory, education and research through the lens of entanglement. Holocaust memory, education and research are increasingly intertwining fields in which researchers become producers of digital memory and education initiatives, and such projects involve the creation of new, replicable methodologies for developing technology for doing memory and education and assessing its impact for users. Digital practice in these fields is also a deeply entangled phenomenon involving constantly evolving relationships between computational logics, programs and software, interfaces, users, and wider traditions of media representation, museological, archival and memory practices, and emerging characteristics of digital cultures. None of these elements works independently of the others. Digital Holocaust memory, education and research are produced as constant negotiations between a complex and ever-expanding number of both human and nonhuman actants.
In 2009, the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum took the experimental initiative of creating a Facebook page; since then, it has established accounts on other social media platforms, such as Instagram and Twitter, and is now followed by more than one million users across these networks. This chapter investigates the ways in which the Museum utilises social media, particularly with regard to its authority as an institution and site of Holocaust education and remembrance. On one hand, the Museum has fostered an online virtual community where Auschwitz victims are commemorated, the ethics of remembrance are discussed, and users’ feedback is sought and acknowledged. On the other hand, the institution uses social media to fact-check and criticise certain representations of Auschwitz, suggesting only those explicitly approved by the Museum are acceptable. This demonstrates a wider Museum dichotomy between retaining traditional, didactic practices and establishing contemporary, participatory ones.