Deen Freelon's research while affiliated with University of North Carolina at Charlotte and other places

Publications (47)

Article
We analyze social media activity during one of the largest protest mobilizations in U.S. history to examine ideological asymmetries in the posting of news content. Using an unprecedented combination of four datasets (tracking offline protests, social media activity, web browsing, and the reliability of news sources) we show that there is no evidenc...
Preprint
BACKGROUND mHealth technologies can be useful for providing disease self-management information and support to people with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). OBJECTIVE This study tested a self-management text messaging intervention for people with IBD. Our goal was to examine intervention feasibility, acceptability, and engagement, and to prelimina...
Article
Full-text available
Background Mobile health technologies can be useful for providing disease self-management information and support to people with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Objective The aim of this study was to test a self-management SMS text messaging intervention for people with IBD. Our goal was to examine intervention feasibility, acceptability, and en...
Article
Science rarely proceeds beyond what scientists can observe and measure, and sometimes what can be observed proceeds far ahead of scientific understanding. The twenty-first century offers such a moment in the study of human societies. A vastly larger share of behaviours is observed today than would have been imaginable at the close of the twentieth...
Preprint
Harnessing social media data for social science research entails creating measures out of the largely unstructured, noisy data that users generate on different platforms. This harnessing, particularly of data at scale, requires using methods developed in computer science. But it also typically requires integrating these methods with assessments of...
Article
Full-text available
Social media platforms rarely provide data to misinformation researchers. This is problematic as platforms play a major role in the diffusion and amplification of mis- and disinformation narratives. Scientists are often left working with partial or biased data and must rush to archive relevant data as soon as it appears on the platforms, before it...
Article
Digital media are critical for contemporary activism-even low-effort "clicktivism" is politically consequential and contributes to offline participation. We argue that in the United States and throughout the industrialized West, left- and right-wing activists use digital and legacy media differently to achieve political goals. Although left-wing ac...
Article
The recent rise of disinformation and propaganda on social media has attracted strong interest from social scientists. Research on the topic has repeatedly observed ideological asymmetries in disinformation content and reception, wherein conservatives are more likely to view, redistribute, and believe such content. However, preliminary evidence has...
Article
This introduction to the special issue “Beyond Fake News: The Politics of Disinformation” contains four main sections. In the first, we discuss the major sociopolitical factors that have allowed disinformation to flourish in recent years. Second, we review the very short history of disinformation research, devoting particular attention to two of it...
Article
Scholarly and pragmatic definitions of the term “engagement” vary drastically. This article attempts to capture the nuances of the term by exploring journalists’ roles on social media where “engagement” is supposed to be particularly prevalent. Using in-depth interviews, we gauge the attitudes of traditional political journalists as well as those w...
Article
Evidence from an analysis of Twitter data reveals that Russian social media trolls exploited racial and political identities to infiltrate distinct groups of authentic users, playing on their group identities. The groups affected spanned the ideological spectrum, suggesting the importance of coordinated counter-responses from diverse coalitions of...
Article
Full-text available
The Russian-sponsored Internet Research Agency’s (IRA) use of social media to influence U.S. political discourse is undoubtedly troubling. However, scholarly attention has focused on social media, overlooking the role that news media within the country played in amplifying false, foreign messages. In this article, we examine articles in the U.S. ne...
Article
Full-text available
There is widespread concern that Russia and other countries have launched social-media campaigns designed to increase political divisions in the United States. Though a growing number of studies analyze the strategy of such campaigns, it is not yet known how these efforts shaped the political attitudes and behaviors of Americans. We study this ques...
Preprint
People have been forming communitiesusing digital communication technologiessince long before the web as we knowit today. Social media are only the latestin a long series of digital forums thathave enabled global conversations andconnections around nearly any topicimaginable. With its emphasis on publicaccessibility and real-time contentproduction,...
Article
Most American political campaigns use social media as one component of a broader communication strategy. Campaign use of social media is typically governed by controlled interactivity, a philosophy that attempts to leverage citizens’ online behavior toward the goal of electing the candidate. One key outcome of controlled interactivity is high level...
Article
Does the uncertainty associated with post-authoritarian transitions cause political and social polarization? Does ubiquitous social media exacerbate these problems and thus make successful democratic transitions less likely? This article examines these questions in the case of Egypt between the 11 February 2011 fall of President Hosni Mubarak and t...
Article
The exercise of power has been an implicit theme in research on the use of social media for political protest, but few studies have attempted to measure social media power and its consequences directly. This study develops and measures three theoretically grounded metrics of social media power—unity, numbers, and commitment—as wielded on Twitter by...
Article
Theorists have long predicted that like-minded individuals will tend to use social media to self-segregate into enclaves and that this tendency toward homophily will increase over time. Many studies have found moment-in-time evidence of network homophily, but very few have been able to directly measure longitudinal changes in the diversity of socia...
Article
Internet centrism, the notion that online tools play substantial roles in social and political processes, is frequently invoked by journalists, pundits, and academics. Existing research has explored this idea directly in the case of protest, attempting to discern the actual magnitude of the internet’s role in protest organization and mobilization....
Article
Full-text available
How did Syria’s conflict interact with the broader wave of regional protest known as the Arab Spring? This article uses a unique, complete Twitter dataset of tweets including the word “Syria” in English or Arabic to empirically test how Syria’s conflict was discussed online. The analysis shows a high level of interaction between Syria and other Ara...
Article
Full-text available
The 2012 US Presidential debates were hybrid media events. Millions of viewers ‘dual-screened’ them, simultaneously watching their televisions and commenting on their social media feeds. In doing so, they helped transform verbal gaffes and zingers into debate-defining moments that may have influenced public opinion and media coverage. To examine th...
Article
Full-text available
This study examines civic activities under an authoritarian state - Azerbaijan - focusing on how the Internet may influence them. The role of the Internet in political and civic engagement is a subject of debate in any society. But Azerbaijan offers a unique vantage point to study the Internet's effect on engagement because it views the Internet as...
Article
This is a response to the article by Ethan Zuckerman “New Media, New Civics?” published in this issue of Policy & Internet (2014: vol. 6, issue 2). Dissatisfaction with existing governments, a broad shift to “post-representative democracy” and the rise of participatory media are leading toward the visibility of different forms of civic participatio...
Article
The widespread availability of analytical tools for Big Data offers enormous opportunities and challenges for communication researchers. In contrast to user-generated texts, digital trace data (evidence of online user activities such as hyperlinks and retweets) represent a new methodological frontier for the field. However, interpretive strategies...
Article
Uses of new media in the context of the Arab Spring have attracted scholarly attention from a wide array of disciplines. Amid the anecdotes and speculation, most of the available empirical research in this area has examined how new media have enabled participants and spectators to produce and circulate protest-related content. In contrast, the curr...
Article
Concerns over youth disengagement from conventional politics mixed with perceptions of youth aptitude for digital media have led scholars and practitioners to investigate civic Web sites as locations of potential youth learning and participation. Over the past few years, the scholarly literature on youth civic Web sites has developed a number of co...
Article
Studies of political discussions online have been dominated by approaches that focus exclusively on deliberation, ignoring other equally relevant communication norms. This study conducts a normative assessment of discussion spaces in two prominent web platforms—Twitter hashtags and newspaper comment sections devoted to particular political issues—a...
Article
Unlike 20th-century mass media, the Internet requires self-selection of content by its very nature. This has raised the normative concern that users may opt to encounter only political information and perspectives that accord with their preexisting views. This study examines the different ways that voters appropriated a new, purpose-built online en...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
We present a novel platform for supporting public deliberation on difficult decisions. ConsiderIt guides people to reflect on tradeoffs and the perspectives of others by framing interactions around pro/con points that participants create, adopt, and share. ConsiderIt surfaces the most salient pros and cons overall, while also enabling users to dril...
Article
Communication aimed at promoting civic engagement may become problematic when citizen roles undergo historic changes. In the current era, younger generations are embracing more expressive styles of actualizing citizenship defined around peer content sharing and social media, in contrast to earlier models of dutiful citizenship based on one-way comm...
Article
The character of youth civic engagement on the internet has emerged as a productive topic of study in communication research. Concurrently, a number of recent studies of online forums have found that technological design features can powerfully influence both the form and content of civic discussion. The present study integrates these previously un...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
We designed, built, and deployed ConsiderIt to support the Living Voters Guide, a website where any voter could participate in writing a voters' guide for the 2010 election in Washington. ConsiderIt is a new method of integrating the thoughts of many into a coherent form, while nudging people to consider tradeoffs of difficult decisions with an int...
Article
Research examining online political forums has until now been overwhelmingly guided by two broad perspectives: (1) a deliberative conception of democratic communication and (2) a diverse collection of incommensurable multi-sphere approaches. While these literatures have contributed many insightful observations, their disadvantages have left many in...
Article
Full-text available
Despite the fact that intercoder reliability is an indispensable validity criterion for studies that employ content analysis, currently available options for calculating it are sharply limited both in terms of the number of coefficients they offer and the range of operating systems they support. This paper introduces ReCal, an online intercoder rel...
Article
Full-text available
Abstract For many observers, the Internet offers exciting possibilities for reconnecting young people with civic life. Various studies have examined civic websites designed for youth, but no systematic framework,has emerged to assess and compare,how those sites define citizenship or what civic skill development,they offer. This study develops a fra...
Article
Over the past two decades, a considerable corpus of empirical research has emerged to underscore the importance of citizen-to-citizen political deliberation for healthy democratic societies. Thus far, the majority of these studies have examined the eects of deliberation on positive democratic outcomes such as political sophistication, sound politic...

Citations

... To fill this gap, we studied information retention about scientific research articles over time and across platforms via a novel computational measure applied to large-scale observational data on online attention to nearly 10,000 research articles. As such, our work responds directly to a recent call in the social sciences to develop new approaches that enable creating meaning from Web trace data (Lazer et al. 2021). Conducting this investigation for online mentions on platforms as varied as Twitter, Facebook, blogs, news sites, and Wikipedia is an important first, and enriches decades of literature on information diffusion (Adar and Adamic 2005;Lerman and Ghosh 2010;Keegan, Gergle, and Contractor 2013;Gilbert 2013;Goel et al. 2015;Cheng et al. 2014Cheng et al. , 2016 with the important albeit less studied aspect of cross-and multiplatform effects (for exceptions, see Leskovec, Backstrom, and Kleinberg 2009;Tan, Friggeri, and Adamic 2016;Zakhlebin and Horvát 2020). ...
... The second group of ideas focuses on developing standards for measuring the quality of the data and the model. Examples include standards for assessing reliability and validity of data (see Measurement white paper (Ladd et al., 2020)), having standard sensitivity analyses for learning and statistical models, and requiring fairness measures on models that involve human subjects. Establishing criteria for different classification and learning tasks that will use social media data is important to standardize and advance research across disciplines. ...
... At the moment of writing this chapter, most relevant data for studying disinformation online is not accessible for researchers, and an ongoing struggle between scholars, social media platforms, civil society actors, and regulators does not bode well for any such access in the near future. At the end of the day, there will however be no independent evidence on the extent of exposure to actual disinformation and fake news without this access (see also Guess & Lyons, 2020;Pasquetto et al., 2020). This access is also relevant in light of conducting comparative and non-Western research on the topic of the supply of false and misleading information. ...
... The repeated use of hashtags by large numbers of users in particular activist campaigns -especially those on the "progressive" or "left" side of the political spectrum -has come to be known under the term hashtag activism. In hashtag activist organisation, hashtags work to produce cohesive movement slogans (Freelon et al. 2020). ...
... This change has been driven by the technological revolution of the internet digitizing social, economic, political, and cultural activities across the world and generating a rich repository of digital data as a by-product. Corresponding developments in ML to help understand and interpret this data have come from computer science, computational neurosciences, econometrics, and statistics, leading to the emerging field of computational social science (Lazer et al., 2020). ...
... Although these latter two groups included political content, they did not explicitly adopt an ideological position like right and left trolls. Linvill and Warren's (2020) category assignments for each individual troll in the dataset from Twitter were reported by Freelon et al. (2020) and adopted in this project. We applied the existing category labels in Freelon et al. (2020) supplementary materials to our copy of the troll dataset. ...
... The literature using CDA with automated text analysis to investigate racialized discourses constructed by and directed toward black communities does not cover immigration, but rather focuses on issues that have been identified as central to black communities, such as police profiling, racism, and black activism (Freelon et al. 2018;Jackson and Welles 2016;Rathnayake, Winter, and Buente 2018). These studies often use data from news media and social media outlets such as Twitter, identifying Twitter hashtags such as #blacklivesmatter and #Ferguson as central outlets for "black voices" and perspectives. ...
... Organic rhetoric hatefully targeting Asian groups of people remained endemic throughout our data, yet over time, our results also demonstrate an inorganic, bot-fueled amplification of hate speech featuring a discursive pivot toward political conflict. As we discuss in our concluding sections, these findings underscore the racialized dimensions of misinformation and disinformation in and beyond the pandemic (Freelon & Wells, 2020;Kuo & Marwick, 2021;Reddi et al., 2021) and the necessity of carrying these insights forward to tackle the ongoing global crisis (Chiriboga et al., 2020;Kim & Kesari, 2021). ...
... They distinguish between the citizen orientation, in which the desire for public service predominates, and the consumer orientation, which conceives users as consumers. On the other hand, Xia et al. (2020) relate the roles of journalists on social media to their conception and involvement with audience engagement, distinguishing between those who maintain a more distant position from users and those who actively engage in an exchange relationship with it. ...
... Recently exposed Internet Research Agency, or so-called Russian troll factory, actively uses social media platforms and algorithms to promote strategic narratives to create destabilization, polarization, information chaos, and distrust (Bastos and Farkas 2019;Freelon and Lokot 2020;Linvill and Warren 2020). Among the main features of IRA trolls, researchers found intent to deceive (Badawy et al. 2019), to sow political discord, doubt, lack of trust, disagreement (Golovchenko et al. 2020;Lucas and Nimmo 2015); implement "astroturfing" with online troll accounts to mimic grassroots activities (Golovchenko et al. 2020;Peng et al. 2017;Woolley 2020). ...