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Cloud Protesting through Social Media

The final (no, really) session at AoIR 2016 starts with a paper by Stefania Milan, whose interest is in online protest. She begins by noting that semiotechnologies now play an important role as brokers. The emerging protest/media configurations affect the materiality of the process of meaning construction.

Thinking through the Parameters for Online Political Discourse

The final speaker in this morning panel at AoIR 2016 is Elliot Panek, who points out that social media are only one venue for political discourse, and that different platforms support different forms and qualities of discourse. Is it possible to develop robust, lasting frameworks for understanding such discourse that are not inherently tied to specific specific platforms, then?

Second-Screen Engagement with Chilean Political Talk Shows

The next speakers at AoIR 2016 are Daniela Ibarra Herrera and Johann W. Unger, whose focus is on second-screen engagement with Chilean political talk shows. These shows often show tweets on screen, and promote their own hashtags as a form of engagement. There are current constitutional problems in Chile, as a hangover from the Pinochet dictatorship, and there are also ongoing issues with political corruption; this means that there is considerable engagement with current political debates.

Uses of WhatsApp for Political Debate in Israel

The next AoIR 2016 speaker is Neta Kligler-Vilenchik, who shifts our focus to the use of WhatsApp groups for informal political talk, especially in an Israeli context. In Israel there is a comparatively more open environment for online political talk, but also a greater propensity to violent, inciting, or racist discussion, especially in the context of major political, military, and terrorist events.

Repercussions of Commenting on News Websites in Norway

The next speaker in this AoIR 2016 session is Anders Løvlie, whose interest is in the repercussions of commenting on online newspaper sites for the commenters themselves. This is in the context of the 2011 terror attacks in Norway, which were inspired in part by a number of right-wing extremist Websites. In the aftermath, online commenting on news sites became seen as a form of bigotry, and Norwegian news sites tightened their comment moderation approaches.

Combatting Political Astroturfing

The next presenter at AoIR 2016 is Adrian Rauchfleisch, whose interest is in digital astroturfing in politics. There have been a number of documented cases of political candidates suddenly picking up substantial numbers of Twitter followers overnight, presumably both because they bought followers themselves and because their opponents created fake followers to embarrass them. There is also a Russian outfit called The Agency, posting pro-Putin comments on international news Websites that purport to be from ordinary users in the west, and similar pro-China astroturfing has also been observed. Such astroturfing is not the same as trolling: trolls are self-motivated, rather than acting as agents of defined political interests.

Social Media Use in US Political Campaigning

We start the second session this morning at AoIR 2016 with a paper by Jennifer Stromer-Galley and Patricia Rossini, whose interest is in the social media posts of presidential candidates in the U.S. election campaign in 2016. On their live tracker they are capturing the social media activities of both Clinton and Trump, and these have also been coded by content.

Networks of Propaganda on Social Media

OK, so I'm afraid I missed the first paper by Ching-ya Lin in this Social Media and Society session on journalism and propaganda because I was talking to one of the poster presenters. The second speaker is Ebru Kayaalp, who takes an actor-network theory approach to the study of the propaganda wars between the U.S. and ISIS.

Tracking the 2012 U.S. Presidential Election on Twitter

The next speaker at Social Media and Society is Christopher Mascaro, whose interest is in 'big data' on political communication online. Political discourse studies have traditionally been restrained by geographic and social access, and 'big data' from online activities can overcome some of these barriers; it also introduces some new limitations that must be considered, however.

Social Media and Collective Political Action

The closing (!) keynote of Web Science 2016 is presented by Helen Margetts from the Oxford Internet Institute. Her focus is on the use of social media for collective political action – that is, for activities undertaken by citizens with the aim of contributing to the public good. There is a strong feeling that such action is happening, but as yet not enough empirical evidence about how and why it is happening.

Even those who refuse to participate online are somehow caught up in the changes that the Internet has contributed to: our lives are intertwined with its technologies, platforms, and content. And these technosocial spaces also generate a substantial amount of transactional data about user participation that goes well beyond the sort of data – for instance about political attitudes and engagement – that were available in pre-Internet days.


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