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Social Media

Black Twitter's Engagement with #Scandal

The final presentation for AoIR 2015 is by Dayna Chatman and Kevin Driscoll, whose focus is on the communities and modes of social TV engagement with specific television texts. Their focus here is especially also on "black Twitter", a particular subset of the US Twitter population that has emerged in recent years: black American users on Twitter have been identified as a distinct group.

But black Twitter is actually a discursive phenomenon that is driven predominantly but not exclusively by black users in the US. The existence of this black Twitter community was detected especially through Twitter's trending topics, whose underlying algorithms were by accident especially well suited to detect the themes emerging from black Twitter, while "white Twitter" topics were not as prominently features.

Television Co-Creation with Social Media Users: #7DaysLater

The next speaker in our AoIR 2015 panel is Jonathon Hutchinson, who zooms in to a specific transmedia programme screened by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, #7DaysLater. The premise of the show is to create comedy programming within seven days, and to incorporate social media engagement practices into the show.

Such viewing is more than just subsequent watercooler discussions – it's about viewer co-creation practices. The challenge is to break through the noise barrier on social media, and to find the techniques for encouraging audience participation, especially in the context of a public service broadcaster.

Developing More Advanced Television Engagement Metrics for Twitter

The final AoIR 2015 session is our panel on social television, and starts with a co-authored paper presented by Darryl Woodford (slides to follow soon below).

Darryl begins by noting that raw social media engagement numbers for television are useful only to an extent: they are usually not normalised to account for specific factors, and simply offer raw quantities.

Nielsen SocialGuide's Twitter engagement statistics for social media follow that pattern, for example, and obviously shows on major TV channels do better than those on niche cable channels. Beamly's social media rankings are skewed by the Twitter terms they track: any tweet containing the letters 'yr' is counted as engagement with The Young and the Restless, for example, which is obviously wrong.

The Global Demographics of Twitter

This final morning at AoIR 2015 opens with my paper with Darryl Woodford and Troy Sadkowsky which explores the global Twitter userbase. Our slides are below:

The Problems with Unmasking Online Trolls

The final AoIR 2015 speaker for today is Emily van der Nagel, whose interest is in the unmasking of prominent Reddit troll Violentacrez. There are thousands of Reddit sections that provide a space for the formation of various communities, some of which are highly confrontational and offensive.

The moderator of one of these spaces, Violentacrez, was recently unmasked by an investigative blogger – a process known as doxing –, and this is seen as destructive and a form of violence by Reddit users themselves. The unmasking practice is similar to the Chinese "human flesh search engine", a form of public shaming through online media.

Mechanisms for Self-Disclosure on Facebook

The next speaker at AoIR 2015 is Brady Robards, whose interest is in mapping changes in disclosure practices through sustained Facebook use. User presence on Facebook is constituted by both synchronous and asynchronous disclosure, through various communication mechanisms and governing algorithms. Disclosure practices have changed over time as Facebook itself has also changed.

Brady's project builds on a series of interviews with 20-something-year-old users (i.e. users at a critical age in identity formation). Information on their identity disclosure practices is informative of larger patterns.

In general, in the idealised self-presentation, the positive is always recorded over the negative, emphasising moments of celebration – but this is complicated by more 'authentic' presentations of the self in the moment, by users as well as their friends: the self is thus also co-constructed.

The Challenges of Expressing Online Identity

Next up at AoIR 2015 is Sonia Vivienne, whose focus is on self-exposure and social surveillance. She suggests that in using social media we are creating an exhibition of the self: the story of social presence builds on the perpetual connectedness of contemporary life, the intimate publics which emerge through this, and the networked private spheres that arise from it.

Intimate citizenship involves asserting the right to chose what we do with our bodies and identities; networked identity and privacy is negotiated and mediated, whether we are pseudonymous or not. There are both risks and rewards in establishing and expressing an online identity.

The Intimate Surveillance of Young Children

The final AoIR 2015 session for today starts with Tama Leaver, whose focus is on the sharing of very early childhood images as a form of co-created online identity. There are a number of approaches to understanding online identity: the networked self is persistent, replicable, scalable, and owned; identity is always under construction, and never complete, and it is also generated by users other than ourselves – identity is co-created.

Users have internet footprints (their purposeful presence) as well as digital shadows, created by others, and these turn into social media rivers that we as users try to curate. This leads to the content-generated user. Individual agency is central in all this: the presumption is that identity should be able to be controlled and curated by the user. There is also a shift towards 'real name' policies in major social media platforms, which have a range of intended and unintended consequences.

From Worker-Generated Content in China to Hong Kong's Umbrella Revolution

The AoIR 2015 keynote today is by Jack Linchuan Qiu, whose begins by highlighting the contributions Asian communication and Internet researchers and practitioners have made to their fields, from very early research publications to Korea. citizen journalism site OhmyNews, Chinese Internet giant Alibaba, and most recently the incomplete "umbrella revolution" in Hong Kong.

But Asia is also the industrial base of the global digital revolution, and in this it remains part of the global south. Here, classic 19th century-style industrial struggles take place using 21st-century communication technologies. The problems around Apple iPhone manufacturer Foxconn represent just the tip of the iceberg for these kinds of struggles.

To illustrate this, Jack discusses the picture of a handwritten protest poem which was posted to a tree in the manufacturing town Dongguan, and was shared virally using social media. Transmitted through social media, this is an expression of digital activism, similar to so many other campaigns around the world. But in Asia it also has a special meaning, as it represents workers armed with smart phones challenging the Chinese social and industrial model. The recent tidal wave of social media use amongst Chinese workers is just as important to study as the Arab Spring uprisings.


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