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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Sunday, July 30 • 11:01 - 12:30
Labels And Sentiment In Social Media: On The Role Of Perceived Agency In Online Discussions Of The Refugee Crisis [FULL]

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Authors: Ju-Sung Lee and Adina Nerghes

Abtract: Focusing on the recent events in the Middle East, that have pushed many to flee their countries and seek refuge in neighboring countries or in Europe, we investigate dynamics of label use in social media, the emergent patterns of labeling that can cause further disaffection and tension, and the sentiments associated with the different labels. For this, we examine key labels pertaining to the refugee/migrant crisis and their usage in the user comment thread of a highly viewed and informational video of the crisis on YouTube. The use of labels indicate that migration issues are being framed not only through labels characterizing the crisis but also by their describing individuals themselves. The sentiments associated with these labels depart from what one would normally expect; in particular, negative sentiment is attached to labels that would otherwise be deemed neutral or positive. Interestingly, both positive and negative labels exhibit increased negativity across time. Using topic modeling and sentiment analysis jointly, we discover that the latent topics of the most positive comments show more overlap than those topics of the most negative comments, which are more focused and partitioned. In terms of sentiment, we find that labels indicating some degree of perceived agency or opportunity, such as 'migrant' or 'immigrant', are embedded in less sympathetic comments than those labels indicating a need to escape war-torn regions or persecution (e.g., asylum seeker or refugee). Our study offers valuable insights into the direction of public sentiment and the nature of discussions surrounding this significant societal event as well as the nature of online opinion sharing.

Sunday July 30, 2017 11:01 - 12:30 EDT
TRS 1-073 - 7th Flr Ted Rogers School of Management, Ryerson University 55 Dundas Street West, Toronto, ON M5G 2C4