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Studying Connective Action from an International Perspective

The second speakers in this ANZCA 2017 session are Andrea Carson and Luke Heemsbergen, who continue our discussion of connective political action from an international perspective. This presentation emerges from the work of the Political Organisations and Participation group in the Australian Political Studies Association (APSA). There is an overall perspective of a move away from traditional modes of engagement to a more flexible, citizen-initiated and policy-oriented engagement with politics. This has also changed practices of organisation and mobilisation to political action.

Assessing the Successes of Destroy the Joint

The first paper session at ANZCA 2017 begins with Jenna Price, who asks what winning looks like in the conduct of activist campaigns through social media; she focusses here especially on her own Destroy the Joint campaign. This was created in August 2012 and campaigns on violence against women and related issues, and was sparked by radio announcer Alan Jones's persistent, deeply misogynistic attacks on then-Prime Minister Julia Gillard at the time; it has since amassed a considerable follower base on Facebook and Twitter.

Understanding the Rise of Populist Politics

The second ANZCA 2017 keynote this morning is by Silvio Waisbord, who shifts our focus to the recent resurgence of populist politics around the world. We must study such populism beyond electoral results, however, reviewing broader structural trends in public communication, connecting to other structures and events, and identifying built-in trends that are conducive to the communicative politics that populism represents. What questions, then, should we ask about populism, communication, and the media?

Global Challenges and the Response of International Scholarly Associations

The second day of ANZCA 2017 starts with a keynote by Paula Gardner, whose focus here is on the ethical quandaries of the present day; these are exacerbated by the corporate and international dimensions of current problems. Paula is addressing this especially from the perspective of the International Communication Association, which has embarked on a course of greater internationalisation and decentralisation away from its traditional roots in the United States.

Assessing the Online Distribution of 'Fake News'

The final speaker in this ANZCA 2017 session is Scott Wright, who presents the framework for a new study on 'fake news'. He begins by asking whether there is a 'fake news' problem in Australia: the country is highly politically polarised, with decreasing satisfaction in the conventional party system; online news plays a crucial role in how citizens inform themselves; and the mainstream media system is highly concentrated. In this environment, is there still a functioning marketplace of ideas?

Factors in the Rise of Fake News

Up next at ANZCA 2017 is Sarah Baker, who again reminds us that the bending of the truth that 'fake news' alludes to is hardly new. Political propaganda has been used throughout the ages to mobilise the masses in favour of particular courses of action, but those masses have also become more adept at spotting such false stories. The latest tide of 'fake news' is again political, but also deeply connected with economic motives.

The Role of Affect in Engaging with 'Fake News'

The next presenters at ANZCA 2017 are David Nolan and Jennifer Beckett, who begin by highlighting the great moral panic about 'filter bubbles', supposedly caused by the fragmentation of media audiences. This perspective is not new, however: the dissolution of 'the' public sphere into public sphericules has been discussed since the 1990s, and this has also been seen as giving rise to new interest groups representing disadvantaged communities – so this diversification is not necessarily a negative trend.

The Long History of 'Fake News'

The final session at ANZCA 2017 is on 'fake news' and opens with a paper by with Margaret van Heekeren, who begins by highlighting the long history of false news through the ages, as well as of legislative attempts to curtail 'fake news' and mitigate its impacts. At the same time, since the late 1800s news publishers have also actively opposed such laws, regarding them as an inappropriate restriction of their ability to report the news.

Challenges in Social Media Research Ethics

The next speaker at ANZCA 2017 is Mary Simpson, who discusses the perspective of ethics review panels in addressing approvals for social media research projects. Ethics committees often remain poorly informed about social media research, and have little practical experience in such research themselves. Traditional approaches to participant engagement and consent are not necessarily well suited to research approaches that utilise APIs for data gathering.

Dealing Ethically with Social Media Data

The next speaker in this ANZCA 2017 session is Kim Barbour, whose focus is on ethical engagement with research participants in social media research. Social media research can be understood as human subjects research, yet we often do not have direct contact with the people whom we study: their communicative activities are being gathered through automated means, and the subjects are not usually even aware of this fact.

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