Today is the last day of the Association of Internet Researchers Conference 2016 – with a couple fewer sessions but I’ll be blogging throughout.
As usual this is a liveblog so corrections, additions, etc. are welcomed.
PS-24: Rulemaking (Chair: Sandra Braman)
The DMCA Rulemaking and Digital Legal Vernaculars – Olivia G Conti, University of Wisconsin-Madison, United States of America
Apologies, I’ve joined this session late so you miss the first few minutes of what seems to have been an excellent presentation from Olivia. The work she was presenting on – the John Deere DMCA case – is part of her PhD work on how lay communities feed into lawmaking. You can see a quick overview of the case on NPR All Tech Considered and a piece on the ruling at IP Watchdog. The DMCA is the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (1998). My notes start about half-way through Olivia’s talk…
Property and ownership claims made of distinctly American values… Grounded in general ideals, evocations of the Bill of Rights. Or asking what Ben Franklin would say… Bringing the ideas of the DMCA as being contrary to the very foundations of the United Statements. Another them was the idea of once you buy something you should be able to edit as you like. Indeed a theme here is the idea of “tinkering and a liberatory endeavour”. And you see people claiming that it is a basic human right to make changes and tinker, to tweak your tractor (or whatever). Commentators are not trying to appeal to the nation state, they are trying to perform the state to make rights claims to enact the rights of the citizen in a digital world.
So, John Deere made a statement that tractro buyers have an “implied license” to their tractor, they don’t own it out right. And that raised controversies as well.
So, the final register rule was that the farmers won: they could repair their own tractors.
But the vernacular legal formations allow us to see the tensions that arise between citizens and the rights holders. And that also raises interesting issues of citizenship – and of citizenship of the state versus citizenship of the digital world.
The Case of the Missing Fair Use: A Multilingual History & Analysis of Twitter’s Policy Documentation – Amy Johnson, MIT, United States of America
This paper looks at the multilingual history and analysis of Twitter’s policy documentation. Or policies as uneven scalar tools of power alignment. And this comes from the idea of thinking of the Twitter as more than just the whole complete overarching platform. There is much research now on moderation, but understanding this type of policy allows you to understand some of the distributed nature of the platforms. Platforms draw lines when they decide which laws to tranform into policies, and then again when they think about which policies to translate.
If you look across at a list of Twitter policies, there is an English language version. Of this list it is only the Fair Use policy and the Twitter API limits that appear only in English. The API policy makes some sense, but the Fair Use policy does not. And Fair Use only appears really late – in 2014. It sets up in 2005, and many other policies come in in 2013… So what is going on?
So, here is the Twitter Fair Use Policy… Now, before I continue here, I want to say that this translation (and lack of) for this policy is unusual. Generally all companies – not just tech companies – translate into FIGS: French, Italian, German, Spanish languages. And Twitter does not do this. But this is in contrast to the translations of the platform itself. And I wanted to talk in particularly about translations into Japanese and Arabic. Now the Japanese translation came about through collaboration with a company that gave it opportunities to expand out into Japen. Arabic is not put in place until 2011, and around the Arab Spring. And the translation isn’t doen by Twitter itself but by another organisaton set up to do this. So you can see that there are other actors here playing into translations of platform and policies. So this iconic platforms are shaped in some unexpected ways.
So… I am not a lawyer but… Fair Use is a phenomenon that creates all sorts of internet lawyering. And typically there are four factors of fair use (Section 107 of US Copyright Act of 1976): purpose and character of use; nature of copyright work; amount and substantiality of portion used; effect of use on potential market for or value of copyright work. And this is very much an american law, from a legal-economic point of view. And the US is the only country that has Fair Use law.
Now there is a concept of “Fair Dealing” – mentioned in passing in Fair Use – which shares some characters. There are other countries with Fair Use law: Poland, Israel, South Korea… Well they point to the English language version. What about Japanese which has a rich reuse community on Twitter? It also points to the English policy.
So, policy are not equal in their policynesss. But why does this matter? Because this is where rule of law starts to break down… And we cannot assume that the same policies apply universally, that can’t be assumed.
But what about parody? Why bring this up? Well parody is tied up with the idea of Fair Use and creative transformation. Comedy is protected Fair Use category. And Twitter has a rich seam of parody. And indeed, if you Google for the fair use policy, the “People also ask” section has as the first question: “What is a parody account”.
Whilst Fair Use wasn’t there as a policy until 2014, parody unofficially had a policy in 2009, an official one in 2010, updates, another version in 2013 for the IPO. Biz Stone writes about, when at Google, lawyers saying about fake accounts “just say it is parody!” and the importance of parody. And indeed the parody policy has been translated much more widely than the Fair Use policy.
So, policies select bodies of law and align platforms to these bodies of law, in varying degree and depending on specific legitimation practices. Fair Use is strongly associated with US law, and embedding that in the translated policies aligns Twitter more to US law than they want to be. But parody has roots in free speech, and that is something that Twitter wishes to align itself with.
Visual Arts in Digital and Online Environments: Changing Copyright and Fair Use Practice among Institutions and Individuals Abstract – Patricia Aufderheide, Aram Sinnreich, American University, United States of America
Patricia: Aram and I have been working with the College Art Association and it brings together a wide range of professionals and practitioners in art across colleges in the US. They had a new code of conduct and we wanted to speak to them, a few months after that code of conduct was released, to see if that had changed practice and understanding. This is a group that use copyrighted work very widely. And indeed one-third of respondents avoid, abandon, or are delayed because of copyrighted work.
Aram: four-fifths of CAA members use copyrighted materials in their work, but only one fifth employ fair use to do that – most or always seek permission. And of those that use fair use there are some that always or usually use Fair Use. So there are real differences here. So, Fair Use are valued if you know about it and undestand it… but a quarter of this group aren’t sure if Fair Use is useful or not. Now there is that code of conduct. There is also some use of Creative Commons and open licenses.
Of those that use copyright materials… But 47% never use open licenses for their own work – there is a real reciprocity gap. Only 26% never use others openly licensed work. and only 10% never use others’ public domain work. Respondents value creative copying… 19 out of 20 CAA members think that creative appropriation can be “original”, and despite this group seeking permissions they also don’t feel that creative appropriation shouldn’t neccassarily require permission. This really points to an education gap within the community.
And 43% said that uncertainty about the law limits creativity. They think they would appropriate works more, they would public more, they would share work online… These mirror fair use usage!
Patricia: We surveyed this group twice in 2013 and in 2016. Much stays the same but there have been changes… In 2016, 2/3rd have heard about the code, and a third have shared that information – with peers, in teaching, with colleagues. Their associations with the concept of Fair Use are very positive.
Arem: The good news is that the code use does lead to change, even within 10 months of launch. This work was done to try and show how much impact a code of conduct has on understanding… And really there was a dramatic differences here. From the 2016 data, those who are not aware of the code, look a lot like those who are aware but have not used the code. But those who use the code, there is a real difference… And more are using fair use.
Patricia: There is one thing we did outside of the survey… There have been dramatic changes in the field. A number of universities have changed journal policies to be default Fair Use – Yale, Duke, etc. There has been a lot of change in the field. Several museums have internally changed how they create and use their materials. So, we have learned that education matters – behaviour changes with knowledge confidence. Peer support matters and validates new knowledge. Institutional action, well publicized, matters .The newest are most likely to change quickly, but the most veteran are in the best position – it is important to have those influencers on board… And teachers need to bring this into their teaching practice.
Q1) How many are artists versus other roles?
A1 – Patricia) About 15% are artists, and they tend to be more positive towards fair use.
Q2) I was curious about changes that took place…
A2 – Arem) We couldn’t ask whether the code made you change your practice… But we could ask whether they had used fair use before and after…
Q3) You’ve made this code for the US CAA, have you shared that more widely…
A3 – Patricia) Many of the CAA members work internationally, but the effectiveness of this code in the US context is that it is about interpreting US Fair Use law – it is not a legal document but it has been reviewed by lawyers. But copyright is territorial which makes this less useful internationally as a document. If copyright was more straightforward, that would be great. There are rights of quotation elsewhere, there is fair dealing… And Canadian law looks more like Fair Use. But the US is very litigious so if something passes Fair Use checking, that’s pretty good elsewhere… But otherwise it is all quite territorial.
A3 – Arem) You can see in data we hold that international practitioners have quite different attitudes to American CAA members.
Q4) You talked about the code, and changes in practice. When I talk to filmmakers and documentary makers in Germany they were aware of Fair Use rights but didn’t use them as they are dependent on TV companies buy them and want every part of rights cleared… They don’t want to hurt relationships.
A4 – Patricia) We always do studies before changes and it is always about reputation and relationship concerns… Fair Use only applies if you can obtain the materials independently… But then the question may be that will rights holders be pissed off next time you need to licence content. What everyone told me was that we can do this but it won’t make any difference…
Chair) I understand that, but that question is about use later on, and demonstration of rights clearance.
A4 – Patricia) This is where change in US errors and omissions insurance makes a difference – that protects them. The film and television makers code of conduct helped insurers engage and feel confident to provide that new type of insurance clause.
Q5) With US platforms, as someone in Norway, it can be hard to understand what you can and cannot access and use on, for instance, in YouTube. Also will algorithmic filtering processes of platforms take into account that they deal with content in different territories?
A5 – Arem) I have spoken to Google Council about that issue of filtering by law – there is no difference there… But monitoring
A5 – Amy) I have written about legal fictions before… They are useful for thinking about what a “reasonable person” – and that can be vulnerable by jury and location so writing that into policies helps to shape that.
A5 – Patricia) The jurisdiction is where you create, not where the work is from…
Q6) There is an indecency case in France which they want to try in French court, but Facebook wants it tried in US court. What might the impact on copyright be?
A6 – Arem) A great question but this type of jurisdictional law has been discussed for over 10 years without any clear conclusion.
A6 – Patricia) This is a European issue too – Germany has good exceptions and limitations, France has horrible exceptions and limitations. There is a real challenge for pan European law.
Q7) Did you look at all of impact on advocacy groups who encouraged writing in/completion of replies on DCMA. And was there any big difference between the farmers and car owners?
A7) There was a lot of discussion on the digital right to repair site, and that probably did have an impact. I did work on Net Neutrality before. But in any of those cases I take out boiler plate, and see what they add directly – but there is a whole other paper to be done on boiler plate texts and how they shape responses and terms of additional comments. It wasn’t that easy to distinguish between farmers and car owners, but it was interesting how individuals established credibility. For farmers they talked abot the value of fixing their own equipment, of being independent, of history of ownership. Car mechanics, by contrast, establish technical expertise.
Q8) As a follow up: farmers will have had a long debate over genetically modified seeds – and the right to tinker in different ways…
A8) I didn’t see that reflected in the comments, but there may well be a bigger issue around micromanagement of practices.
Q9) Olivia, I was wondering if you were considering not only the rhetorical arguements of users, what about the way the techniques and tactics they used are received on the other side… What are the effective tactics there, or locate the limits of the effectiveness of the layperson vernacular stategies?
A9) My goal was to see what frames of arguements looked most effective. I think in the case of the John Deere DCMA case that wasn’t that conclusive. It can be really hard to separate the NGO from the individual – especially when NGOs submit huge collections of individual responses. I did a case study on non-consensual pornography was more conclusive in terms of strategies that was effective. The discourses I look at don’t look like legal discourse but I look at the tone and content people use. So, on revenge porn, the law doesn’t really reflect user practice for instance.
Q10) For Amy, I was wondering… Is the problem that Fair Use isn’t translated… Or the law behind that?
A10 – Amy) I think Twitter in particular have found themselves in a weird middle space… Then the exceptions wouldn’t come up. But having it in English is the odd piece. That policy seems to speak specifically to Americans… But you could argue they are trying to impose (maybe that’s a bit too strong) on all English speaking territory. On YouTube all of the policies are translated into the same languages, including Fair Use.
Q11) I’m fascinated in vernacular understanding and then the experts who are in the round tables, who specialise in these areas. How do you see vernacular discourse use in more closed/smaller settings?
A11 – Olivia) I haven’t been able to take this up as so many of those spaces are opaque. But in the 2012 rule making there were some direct quotes from remixers. And there a suggestion around DVD use that people should videotape the TV screen… and that seemed unreasonably onorous…
Chair) Do you forsee a next stage where you get to be in those rooms and do more on that?
A11 – Olivia) I’d love to do some ethnographic studies, to get more involved.
A11 – Patricia) I was in Washington for the DMCA hearings and those are some of the most fun things I go to. I know that the documentary filmmakers have complained about cost of participating… But a technician from the industry gave 30 minutes of evidence on the 40 technical steps to handle analogue film pieces of information… And to show that it’s not actually broadcast quality. It made them gasp. It was devastating and very visual information, and they cited it in their ruling… And similarly in John Deere case the car technicians made impact. By contrast a teacher came in to explain why copying material was important for teaching, but she didn’t have either people or evidence of what the difference is in the classroom.
Q12) I have an interesting case if anyone wants to look at it, around Wikipedia’s Fair Use issues around multimedia. Volunteers take pre-emptively being stricter as they don’t want lawyers to come in on that… And the Wikipedia policies there. There is also automation through bots to delete content without clear Fair Use exception.
A12 – Arem) I’ve seen Fair Use misappropriated on Wikipedia… Copyright images used at low resolution and claimed as Fair Use…
A12- Patricia) Wikimania has all these people who don’t want to deal with law on copyright at all! Wikimedia lawyers are in an a really difficult position.
I work on open government issues and the site of my work is Grindr – a location based, mainly male, mainly gay and bi casual dating space. And where I am starting from is the idea that Grindr is killing the gay bar (or gayborhood or the gay resort town), which is part of the gay press, for instance articles on the Pines neighbourhood of Fire Island, from New York Magazine. And quotes Ghaziani, author of There Goes the Gaybourhood, that having the app means they don’t need Boystown any more… And I think this narrative comes from concerns of valuing or not valuing these gay towns, resorts, bars, and of the willingness to defend those spaces. Bumgarner (2013) argues that the app does the same thing as the bar… But that assumes that the bar/place is only there to introduce people to each other for narrow range of purposes…
And my way of thinking about this is to think of technologies in democratic ways… Sclove talks about design criteria for democratic technologies, mainly to do with local labour and contribution but this can also be overlaid on social factors as well. And I think there is a space for democratically deliberating as sex publics. Michael Warner respoonds to Andrew Sullivan by problematizing his idea that “normal” is the place for queer people to exist. There are also authors writing on design in public sex spaces as a way to improve health outcomes.
The founder of Grindr says it isn’t killing the gay bar, and indeed provides a platform for the m to advertise on. And showing a quote here of how it is used shows the wide range of use of Grindr (beyond the obvious). I don’t think that Ghaziani’s writing doesn’t talk enough about what the gayborgoods and LGBT spaces are, how they can be class and race exclusive, fitting into gentrification of public spaces… And therefore I recommend Christina Lagazzi’s book.
One of the things I want to do with this work is to think about narratives in which platforms play a part can be written about, spoken about, that allow challenges to popular discourses of technological disruption. The idea that technological disruption is exciting is prevelant, and we aren’t doing enough to challenge that. This AirBnB billboard campaign – a kind of “Fuck You” to the San Francisco authorities and the legal changes to limit their business – are a reminder that we can respond to disruption…
I’m out of time but I think we need to think critically, about social roles of technology and how technological organisations figure into that… And to acknowledge ethnography and press.
Defining space through activism (and journalism): the Paris climate summit – Adrienne Russell, University of Denver
I’ve been working with researchers around the world on the G8 Climate Summits for around ten years, and coverage around it. I’ve been looking at activists and how they kind of spunk up the sapces where meeting take place…
But let me start with an image of Black Lives Matter protestors from the Daily Mail commenting on protestors using mobile phones. It exemplifies the idea that being on your phone means that you are not fully present… If they are on their phone, that arent that serious. This fits a long term type of coverage of protests that seems to suggest that in-person protests are more effective and authentic than social media. Although our literature shows that it is both approaches in combination that is most effective. And then the issue of official versus unofficial action. Activists in the 2014 Paris protestors were especially reliant on online work as protests were banned, public spaces were closed, activists were placed under house arrests… So they had been preparing for years but their action was restricted.
So, the ways that protestors took action was through tools like Climate Games, a real time game which enable you to see real time photography, but also you could highlight surveillance… It was non-violent but called police and law enforcement “team blue”, and lobbyists and greenwashers were “team grey”!
Probably many of you saw the posters across Paris – mocking corporate ad campaigns – e.g. a VW ad saying “we are sorry we got caught”. So you saw these really interesting alternative narratives and interpretations. There was also a hostel called Place to B which became a defacto media centres for protestors, with interviews being given throughout the event. There was a hub of artists who raised issues faced in their own countries. And outside the city there was a venue where they held a mock trial of Exxon vs the People with prominent campaigners from across the globe, this was on the heals of releases showing Exxon had evidence of climate change twenty years back and ignored it. This mock trial made a real media event.
So all these events helped create an alternative narrative. And that crackdown on protest reflects how we are coming to understand this type of top-down event… And resistance through media and counter narratives to mainstream media running predictable official lines.
The cloud is a metaphor for organisational forms… And I relate that back to organisational forms of the 1960s, and to later movements, and now the idea of the cloud protest. The cloud is also an analogy for individualisation – many of the nodes are individuals, who reject pre-packaged non-negotiable identities and organisations. The cloud is a platform for the movements resources can be… But a cloud movement does not require commitment and can be quite hard to activate and mobilise.
Collective identity, in these spaces, has some particular aspects. The “cloud” is an enabler, and you can identify “we” and “them”. But social media spaces overly emphasise visibility over collective identity.
The consequences of the materiality of social media are seen in four mechanisms: centrality of performance; interpellation to fellows and opponents; expansion of the temporality of the protest; reproducability of social action. Now much of that enables new forms of collective action… But there are both positive and negative aspects. Something I won’t mention here is surveillance and consequences of that on collective action.
So, what’s the role of social media? Social media act as intermediaries, enabling speed in protest organisation and diffusion – shaping and constraining collective action too. The cloud is grounded on everyday technology, everyone has the right in his/her pockets. The cloud has the power to deeply influence not only the nature of the protest but also the tactics. Social media enables the creation of a customisable narrative.
Hate Speech and Social Media Platforms – Eugenia Siapera, Paloma Viejo Otero, Dublin City University, Ireland
Eugenia: My narrative is also not hugely positive. We wanted to look at how social media platforms themselves understand, regulate and manage hate speech on their platforms. We did this through an analysis of terms of service. And we did in-depth interviews with key informants – Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. These platforms are happy to talk to researchers but not to be quoted. We have permission from Facebook and Twitter. YouTube have told us to re-record interviews with lawyers and PR people present.
So, we had three analytical steps – looking at what constitutes hate speech means.
We found that there is no use of definitions of hate speech based on law. Instead they put in reporting mechanisms and use that to determine what is/is not hate speech.
Now, we spoke to people from Twitter and Facebook (indeed there are a number of staff members who move from one to another). The tactic at Facebook was to make rules, what will be taken down (and what won’t), hiring teams to work to apply then, and then help ensure rules are are appropriate. Twitter took a similar approach. So, the definition largely comes from what users report as hate speech rather than from external definitions or understandings.
We had assumed that the content would be manually and algorithmically assessed, but actually reports are reviewed by real people. Facebook have four teams across the world. There are native speakers – to ensure that they understand context – and they prioritise self-/harm and some other categories.
Platforms are reactively rather than proactively positioned. Take downs are not based on number of reports. Hate speech is considered in context – a compromising selfie of a young woman in the UK isn’t hates speech… Unless in India where that may impact on marriage (See Hot Girls of Mumbai – in that case they didn’t take down on that basis but did remove it directly with the ). And if in doubt they keep the content on.
Twitter talk about reluctance to share information with law enforcement, protective of users, protective of freedom of speech. They are not keen to remove someone, would prefer counter arguments. And there are also tensions created by different local regulations and the global operations of the platforms – tension is resolved by compromise (not the case for YouTube).
A Twitter employee talked about the challenges of meeting with representatives from government, where there is tension between legislation and commercial needs, and the need for consistent handling.
There is also a tension between the principled stance assumed by social media corporations that sends the user to block and protect themselves first – a focus on safety and security and personal responsibility. And they want users to feel happy and secure.
Some conclusions… Social media corporations are increasingly acquiring state-like powers. Users are conditioned to behave in ways conforming to social media corporations’ liberal ideology. Posts are “rewarded” by staying online but only if they conform to social media corporations’ version of what constitutes acceptable hate speech.
#YesAllWomen (have a collective story to tell): Feminist hashtags and the intersection of personal narratives, networked publics, and intimate citizenship – Jacqueline Ryan Vickery, University of North Texas, United States of America
The original idea here was to think about second wave feminism and the idea of sharing personal stories and make the personal political. And how that looks online. Working on Plummer’s work (2003) in this areas. All was well… And then I got stuck down the rabbit hole of publics and public discourses that are created when people share personal stories in public spaces… So I have tried to map these aspects. Thinking about the goals of hashtags and who started them as well… not something non-academics tend to look at. I also will be talking about hashtags themselves.
So I tried to think about and mapping goals, political, affective aspects, and affordances and relationships around these. The affordances of hashtags include: Curational – immediacy, reciprocity and conversationality (Papacharissi 2015); they are Polysemic – plurality, open signifiers, diverse meanings (Fiske 1987); Memetic – replicable, ever-evolving, remix, spreadable cultural information (Knobel and Lankshear 2007); Duality in communities of practice – opposing forces that drive change and creativity, local and broader for instance (Wenger 1988); Articulated subjectivities – momentarily jumping in and out of hashtags without really engaging beyond brief usage.
And how can I understand political hashtags on Twitter and their impact? Are we just sharing amongst ourselves, or can we measure that? So I want to think about agenda setting and re-framing – the hashtags I am looking at speak to a public event, or speak back to a media event that is taking place another way. We have op-option by organisations etc. And we see (strategic) essentialism. Awareness/mobilisation. Amplification/silencing of (privileged/marganlisation narratives). So #Yesallwomen is adopted by many privileged white feminists but was started by a biracial muslim women. Indeed all of the hashtags I study were started by non-white women.
So, looking at #Yesallwomen was in response to a terrible shooting and wrote a diatribe about women denying him. The person who created that hashtags left Twitter for a while but has now returned. So we do see lots of tweets that use that hashtag, responding with appropriate experiences and comments. But it became problematic, too open… This memetic affordance – a controversial male monologist used it as a title for his show, using it abusively and trolling, and beauty brands being there.
The #WhyIStayed hashtag was started by Beverley Gooden in response to commentary that a woman should have left her partner, and that media wasn’t asking why they didn’t ask why that man had beaten and abused his partner. So people shared real stories… But also a pizza company used it – though they apologised and admitted not researching first. Some found the hashtag traumatic… But others shared resources for other women here…
So, I wanted to talk about how these spaces are creating these networked publics, and they do have power to deal with changes. I also think that idea of openness, of lack of control, and the consequences of that openness. #Yesallwomen has lost its meaning to an extent, and is now a very white hashtag. But if we look at these and think of them with social theories we can think about what this means for future movements and publicness.
Internet Rules, Media Logics and Media Grammar: New Perspectives on the Relation between Technology, Organization and Power – Caja Thimm, University of Bonn, Germany
I’m going to report briefly on a long term project on Twitter funded by a range of agencies. There is also a book coming on Twitter and the European Election. So, where do we start… We have Twitter. And we have tweets in French – e.g. from Marine Le Pen – but we see Tweets in other languages too – emoticons, standard structures, but also visual storytelling – images from events.
We have politicians, witnesses, and we see other players, e.g. the police. So first of all we wanted a model for Tweets and how we can understand them. So we used the Functional Operator Model (Thimm et al 2014) – but thats descriptive – great for organising data but not for analysing and understanding platforms.
So, we started with a conference on Media Logic, an old concept from the 1970s. Media Logic offers an approach to develop parameters for a better analysis of such new forms of “media”. It defines players, objectives and power. And how players interact and what do they do (e.g. how do others conquer a hashtag for instance). Consequently you can consider media logics that are to be considered as a network of parameters.
So, what are the parameters of Media Logics that we should understand?
- Media Logic and communication cultures. For instance how politicians and political parties take into account media logic of television – production routines, presentation formats (Schulz 2004)
- Media Logic and media institutions – institutional and technological modus operandi (Hjarvard 2014)
- Media Grammar – a concept drawn from analogy of language.
So, lets think about constituents of “Media Grammar”? Periscope came out of a need, a gap… So you have Surface Grammar – visible and accessible to the user (language, semiotic signs, sounds etc). Surface Grammar is (sometimes) open to the creativity of users. It guides use through media.
(Constitutive) Property Grammar is difference. They are constitutive for the medium itself, determines the rules the functional level of the surface power. Constitutes of algorithms (not exclusively). Not accessible but for the platform itself. And surface grammar and property grammar form a reflexive feedback loop.
We also see van Dijk and Poell (2013) talking about social media as powerful institutions, so the idea of connecting social media grammar here to understand that… This opens up the focus on the open and hidden properties of social media and its interplay with communicative practices. Social media are differentiated, segmented and diverse to such a degree that it seems necessary to focus in more to gain a better idea of how we understand them as technology and society…
Q1) A general question to start off. You presented a real range of methodologies, but I didn’t hear a lot about practices and what people actually do, and how that fits into your models.
A1 – Caja) We have a six year project, millions of tweets, and we are trying to find patterns of what they do, and who does what. There are real differences in usage but still working on what those means.
A1 – Jacqueline) I think that when you look at very large hashtags, even #blacklivesmatter, you do see community participation. But the tags I’m looking at are really personal, not “Political”, these are using hashtags as a momentary act in some way, but is not really a community of practice in a sustainable movements, but some are triggering bigger movements and engagement though…
A1 – Eugenia) We see hate speech being gamed… People put outrageous posts out there to see what will happen, if they will be taen down…
Q2) I’ve been trying to find an appropriate framework… The field is so multidisciplinary… For a study I did on native american activists. We saw interest groups – discursive groups – were loosely stitched together with #indigenous. I’m sort of using the phrase “translator” to capture this. I was wondering if you had any thoughts on how we navigate this…
A2 – Caja) It’s a good question… This conference is very varied, there are so many fields… Socio-linguistics has some interesting frameworks for accommodations in Twitter. No-one seems to have published on that.
A2 – Jacqueline) I think understanding the network, the echo chamber effects, mapping of that network and how the hashtag moves, might be the way in there…
Q2) That’s what we did, but that’s also a problem… But hashtag seems to have a transformative impact too…
Q3) I wonder if we say Social Media Logic, do we loose sight of the overarching issue…
A3 – Caja) I think that Media Logic is in really early stages… It was founded in the 1970s when media was so different. But there are real power symmetries… And I hope we find a real way to bridge the two.
Q4) Many of these arguments come down to how much we trust the idea of the structure in action. Eugenia talks about creating rules iteratively around the issue. Jacqueline talked about the contested rules of play… It’s not clear of who defines those terms in the end…
A4 – Eugenia) There are certain media logics in place now… But they are fast moving as social media move to monetise, to develop, to change. Twitter launches Periscope, Facebook then launches Facebook Live! The grammar keeps on moving, aimed towards the users… Everything keeps moving…
A4 – Caja) But that’s the model. The dynamics are at the core. I do believe that media grammar on the level of small nitpicks that are magic – like the hashtag which has transgressed the platform and even the written form. But it’s about how they work, and whether there are logics inscribed.
A4 – Stefania) There is, of course, attempts made by the platform to hide the logic, and to hide the dynamics of the logic… Even at a radical activist conference who cannot imagine their activism without the platform – and that statement also comes from a belief that they understand the platform.
Q5) I study hate speech too… I came with my top five criticisms but you covered them all in your presentation! You talked about location (IP address) as a factor in hate speech, rather than jurisdiction.
A5 – Eugenia) I think they (nameless social platform) take this approach in the same way that they do for take down notices… But they only do that for France and Germany where hate speech law is very different.
A5 – Caja) There is a study that has been taking place about take downs and the impact of pressure, politics, and effect across platforms when dealing with issues in different countries.
A5 – Eugenia) Twitter has a relationship with NGOs. and have a priority to deal with their requests, sometimes automatically. But they give guidance on how to do that, but they are outsourcing that process to these users…
Q6) I was thinking about platform logics and business logics… And how the business models are part of these logics. And I was wondering if you could talk to some of the methodological issues there… And the issue of the growing powers of governments – for instance Benjamin Netanahu meeting Mark Zuckerberg and talking to him about taking down arabic journalists.
A6 – Eugenia) This is challenging… We want to research them and we want to critique them… But we don’t want to find ourselves blacklisted for doing this. Some of the people I spoke to are very sensitive about, for instance, Palestinian content and when they can take it down. Sometimes though platforms are keen to show they have the power to take down content…
Q7) For Eugenia, you had very good access to people at these platforms. Not surprised they are reluctant to be quoted… But that access is quite difficult in our experience – how did you do it.
A7) These people live in Dublin so you meet them at conferences, there are cross overs through shared interests. Once you get in it’s easier to meet and speak to them… Speaking is ok, quoting and identifying names in our work is different. But it’s not just in social media
Comment) These people really are restricted in who they can talk to… There are PR people at one platform… You ask for comparative roles and use that as a way in… You can start to sidle inside. But mainly it’s the PR people you can access… I’ve had some luck referring to role area at a given company, rather than by name.
Q8 – Stefania) I was wondering about our own roles, in this room, and the issue of agency and publics…
A8 – Jacqueline) I don’t think publics take agency away, in the communities I look at these women benefit from the publics, and of sharing… But actually what we understand as publics varies… So in some publics some talk about exclusion of, e.g. women or people of public, but there are counter publics…
A8 – Caja) Like you were saying there are mini publics and they can be public, and extend out into media and coverage. I think we have to look beyond the idea of the bubble… It’s really fragmented and we shouldn’t overlook that…
And with that, the conference is finished.
You can read the rest of my posts from this week here:
Thanks to all at AoIR for a really excellent week. I have much to think about, lots of contacts to follow up with, and lots of ideas for taking forward my own work, particularly our new YikYak project…