2017 #SMSociety Theme: Social Media for Social Good or Evil

Our online behaviour is far from virtual–it extends our offline lives. Much social media research has identified the positive opportunities of using social media; for example, how people use social media to form support groups online, participate in political uprising, raise money for charities, extend teaching and learning outside the classroom, etc. However, mirroring offline experiences, we have also seen social media being used to spread propaganda and misinformation, recruit terrorists, live stream criminal activities, reinforce echo chambers by politicians, and perpetuate hate and oppression (such as racist, sexist, homophobic, and anti-Semitic behaviour).

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Saturday, July 29 • 11:01 - 12:30
Twitter Issue Response Hashtags As Affordances For Momentary Connectedness [FULL]

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Authors: Chamil Rathnayake and Daniel Suthers

Abstract: Online activity is commonly conceptualized in social media studies using theoretical frameworks defined for offline contexts, such as public sphere, publics, and communities. Although this approach has its merits, especially in terms of providing theoretical foundations to describe new phenomena, this approach limits conceptualization of online activity to offline behavioral patterns. This paper responds to calls for conceptual departures by theorizing Twitter issue-response hashtags as instances of ‘momentary connectedness,’ topical structures of momentary connectivity that include original tweets, retweets, “quote tweets”, reply and mention clusters, sharing via direct messages, and acts of liking. Most of these forms of uptake in Twitter issue-response spaces involve imagined audiences, making it difficult to situate them in concrete conceptual categories, such as publics and communities. Further complicating the public-private distinction, tweets that are public can enter the private realm via the option of direct messaging. Momentary connectedness accepts the multifaceted nature of Twitter hashtag networks by seeing them as constructed through multiple forms of uptake and being situated in private and public domains, thus providing a more natively digital conceptualization that recognizes the permeability of online communication across boundaries. These concepts are illustrated with a case study.

Saturday July 29, 2017 11:01 - 12:30 EDT
TRS 1-075 - 7th Flr Ted Rogers School of Management, Ryerson University 55 Dundas Street West, Toronto, ON M5G 2C9