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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.

Towards More Ethical Management of Online Social Interactions

The next session at ANZCA 2017 deals with social media and ethics, and starts with Jonathon Hutchinson. This needs to be tackled from a number of different perspectives. For instance, what ethical choices are being made as publishers approve or reject the comments being posted in response to their articles? What are the implications of these choices, for public debate in general and for specific groups and individuals being vilified in particular?

Skateboarding Media and Mobile Devices

Coming up next at ANZCA 2017 is Lyell Durkin, who shifts our interest to the media representations of skateboarding (now also an official sport of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games). There are many different views of skateboarding, but skateboarders themselves are regarding their practices as an art and a lifestyle; this view is also represented in the skate media emerging from the community itself.

The Visual Representation of Real Estate

Next up at ANZCA 2017 is Chris Chesher, who begins by pointing out the increasing role of real estate agents as media producers. Agents selling homes produce public representations of private spaces, portraying the home to be sold as personal and family space, and offering it up for (mediated as well as in-person) inspection. In Australia this occurs mainly through one or both of the duopoly sites Domain and RealEstate.com.au.

Online Discourses about Cycling

The next ANZCA 2017 speaker is Glen Fuller, who begins from a focus on cycling cultures. Cycling spans a number of research areas from transport and urban planning to cultural studies and health; there have been a series of national cycling strategies, which always aim to increase the number of people actively engaged in cycling, but these rarely achieve their lofty aims, and it is therefore necessary to further explore the reasons for the present stagnation.

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