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Hashtag Heroes vs. Disinfo Dystopia: The Left, the Right, and the Truth about Social Media Activism
April 6, 2021 @ 2:00 pm - 3:15 pm
The Department of Communication Studies in the Moody College of Communication at The University of Texas at Austin welcomes Dr. Deen Freelon of UNC-Chapel Hill for the latest installment of the CMS Spring Colloquium Series on Truth. This event is co-Sponsored by the Center for Media Engagement.
April 6, 2:00-3:15 PM CST
Meeting ID: 995 1274 0369
Recent scholarship has generated two distinct impressions of US-based social media activism, one for the ideological left and one for the right. For the left, the dominant mode of engagement is hashtag activism, which entails coordinated online and offline protest campaigns linked by hashtagged slogans. The right channels its priorities through a densely networked, hyperpartisan media ecosystem that makes frequent use of disinformation and other false claims. The respective empirical records underlying these portrayals are very solid, yet questions remain about how exclusively these strategic repertoires cling to ideological fault lines. In particular, there appears to be little extant research on either conservative hashtag-based activism or on left-leaning disinformation. A comprehensive understanding of social media activism demands further explorations of these possibilities, especially in the critical areas of mis- and disinformation. I pay special attention to how the events of Jan. 6 are likely to change scholarly perceptions of potential asymmetries in activist tactics.
Dr. Deen Freelon is an associate professor at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Hussman School of Journalism and Media. His research covers two major areas of scholarship: 1) political expression through digital media and 2) data science and computational methods for analyzing large digital datasets. He has authored or co-authored more than 30 journal articles, book chapters and public reports, in addition to co-editing one scholarly book. He has served as principal investigator on grants from the Knight Foundation, the Spencer Foundation and the U.S. Institute of Peace. He has written research-grade software to calculate intercoder reliability for content analysis (ReCal), analyze large-scale network data from social media (TSM), and collect data from Facebook (fb_scrape_public). He formerly taught at American University in Washington, D.C.