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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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Session 1C [clear filter]
Saturday, July 29
 

11:00

Session 1C: Politics I
Moderators
avatar for Priya Kumar

Priya Kumar

Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Social Media Lab, Ryerson University
@link_priya

Saturday July 29, 2017 11:00 - 12:30
TRS 1-147 - 7th Flr Ted Rogers School of Management, Ryerson University 55 Dundas Street West, Toronto, ON M5G 2C9

11:01

Battlefront Volunteers: Mapping And Deconstructing Platform-Enabled Civilian Resilience Networks In Ukraine [FULL]
Author: Olga Boichak

Abstract: The highly mediated nature of social reality causes unprecedented reliance on digital tools and platforms to handle impending crises. Human connections, forged in the process of computer-mediated interaction, lie at the core of the civilian resilience networks that operate in the wartime. The 2014 annexation of Crimea, along with the subsequent developments in eastern Ukraine, marked the beginning of the battlefront volunteer movement – an array of civilian initiatives, aimed at supporting the Ukrainian military. Using Facebook to construct elaborate social infrastructures, battlefront volunteers leveraged social media to muster physical and technological resources and help the army soldiers protect the state from an impending military threat. Apart from a growing body of social movement literature, evidence on mediated ways of civilian participation in military conflicts remains inconclusive. This paper presents a theoretical enquiry into the sociomaterial practices of the battlefront volunteer groups. Drawing upon network analysis and a set of in-depth interviews with the users involved in these initiatives, I map and deconstruct the civilian resilience networks, illuminating the role and use of Facebook in the creation of social infrastructures by battlefront volunteers.

Saturday July 29, 2017 11:01 - 12:30
TRS 1-147 - 7th Flr Ted Rogers School of Management, Ryerson University 55 Dundas Street West, Toronto, ON M5G 2C9

11:01

Identifying Political Topics In Social Media Messages: A Lexicon-Based Approach [FULL]
Authors: Sam Jackson, Feifei Zhang, Olga Boichak, Lauren Bryant, Yingya Li, Jeff Hemsley, Jennifer Stromer-Galley, Bryan Semaan and Nancy McCracken

Abstract: In this paper, we introduce a lexicon-based method for identifying political topics in social media messages. After discussing several critical shortcomings of unsupervised topic identification, we describe the lexicon-based approach. We test our lexicon on candidate-generated campaign messages in Facebook and Twitter in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The results show that this approach provides reliable results for eight of nine political topic categories. We describe steps to improve our approach and how it can be used for future research on political topics in social media messages.

Saturday July 29, 2017 11:01 - 12:30
TRS 1-147 - 7th Flr Ted Rogers School of Management, Ryerson University 55 Dundas Street West, Toronto, ON M5G 2C9

11:01

Is Twitter A Generalizable Public Sphere? A Comparison Of 2016 Presidential Campaign Issue Importance Among General And Twitter Publics [WIP]
Author: Dorian Davis 

Abstract: News media often cite Twitter and other social media metrics as measures of public opinion. This study draws on a quota sample (N=420) of U.S. adult Twitter users to determine the representativeness of the Twitter public in relation to the U.S. general population around 14 issues related to the 2016 presidential campaign, and considers implications for news media coverage of the Twitterverse and other social media populations as representations of the greater public sphere.


Saturday July 29, 2017 11:01 - 12:30
TRS 1-147 - 7th Flr Ted Rogers School of Management, Ryerson University 55 Dundas Street West, Toronto, ON M5G 2C9

11:01

Spiral Of Silence 2.0: Political Self-Censorship Among Young Facebook Users [FULL]
Authors: Christian Pieter Hoffmann and Christoph Lutz

Abstract: Do social media strengthen or weaken citizens’ political participation? Authors have found that, while lowering the cost of political engagement, social media may also foster the fragmentation of audiences and contribute to an increasingly polarized political discourse. This study applies the “spiral of silence” theory to political discourse among digital natives on the social networking platform Facebook. We hypothesize that users perceiving their online network as politically heterogeneous will be more likely to engage in self-censorship and limit their political self-expression. Previous studies have found that impression management, i.e., communication behavior geared towards projecting a socially desirable self, increases engagement in online social networks. Accordingly, we hypothesize that users geared towards impression management will be more engaged in online political discourse. We test these hypotheses based on a survey among German Facebook users under the age of 30 and using structural equation modeling. We find that network heterogeneity does indeed increase political self-censorship while impression management increases users’ willingness to speak out.

Saturday July 29, 2017 11:01 - 12:30
TRS 1-147 - 7th Flr Ted Rogers School of Management, Ryerson University 55 Dundas Street West, Toronto, ON M5G 2C9