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Social Media Literacy in 2018: 9 challenges @CILIPScot

published by Jennifer Jones

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Social Media Literacy in 2018
9 challenges that are transforming the quality of online debate
Dr. Jennifer M. Jones, @jennifermjones
CILIPS Autumn Gathering, October 2018
Social Media in 2008

Technology was evolving and being adopted quickly, faster mobile broadband, smart mobile devices, information on the go. Continued commentary see as a relatively new phenomena.

 There was a sense of optimism about emerging democratic medium and tools. A transformation in how we interact with media producers (user generated content), ability to influence, more voices, access to publishing tools, new media and rise of platforms. 
Social Media in 2018
Far more users producing far more data. 90% of online data produced has been produced in the last 2 years.

Continue to improved devices, innovation & design - digital transformation, communication channels.  Expectations of services and organisations to 'digitally transform' to meet growing demands.

Misinformation, credibility and technology usage. How do we make sense of the information we are consuming and interacting with, how do we make informed decisions and stay safe (without falling out with our family and friends!)
CHALLENGES FOR ONLINE DISCOURSE
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CHALLENGES 
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Junk news, filling the gap 
Intimacy of devices, publicness of responses
Social media as a 
place to vent
CHALLENGES 
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Communicating humour, the discourse of satire
Locked to devices, spending more time online, scrolling and swiping
Performative outrage, showing you care
CHALLENGES 
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Mistrusting experts, reading sources through 3rd parties
Tribalism and pack mentality 
The privledge of anonymity 
Social media has always opportunities to talk back to media sources that were traditionally considered 'one-way' or a purely broadcast-only medium. 

From hashtag campaigns or talking back to public figures, the platform encourages audiences to 'have their say' - but with an increase in users, expecting more from their media channels, what can this do online debate?
A PLACE TO VENT
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Photo by Jason Rosewell on Unsplash
"Place to vent"
Social media and customer service: entitlement and expectations as a user  

Where is the line between 'venting' at something or someone that you've seen or read - and trolling/online hate?

Have you ever vented online, have you (or your organisation) ever been on the other end of somebody's vent?

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We access a device privately, often in silence, as we respond to its demands. We carry our devices around with us like an extension of us.

We try out ideas and identity expression, share thoughts we might not be able to speak out loud.

There is an illusion of privacy but it is entirely public, with context collapsing the minute you hit publish.


INTIMACY OF DEVICES
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"Intimacy of devices" 
one/nine/ninety, one percent making content, nine percent commenting on content, ninety percent lurking. 

Psychological anonymity when interacting with a device but feeding into wider public discourse online. 

Detachment through mediation, like being caught singing when you are in the car. 



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Photo by Shilajit D.C. on Unsplash
We've heard the term "fake news", but have we considered junk news? What is it, and how do you know your been consuming it?  
Researchers at the Oxford Internet Institute have developed an criteria for categorising junk news and its role in current online debate
JUNK NEWS NATION
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Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash
Five ways to spot junk news 
  • Professionalism: do these outlets refrain from providing clear information about real authors, editors, publishers and owners, and do they fail to publish corrections on debunked information?  
  • Style: Does the site use emotionally driven language with emotive expressions, hyperbole, misleading headlines, excessive capitalisation, unsafe generalisations and fallacies, moving images, graphic pictures and mobilising memes?
  • Credibility: Does the site rely on false information and conspiracy theories, and do they report without consulting multiple sources or using fact-checking methods?
  • Bias: Is there an ideological ‘skew’ to the site’s work and do they frequently present opinion as news?
  • Counterfeit: Is the site mimicking real news organisations, counterfeiting fonts, branding and stylistic content strategies?



Source: OII, "Outwitting a Junk News Nation: https://www.research.ox.ac.uk/Article/2018-10-15-outwitting-the-junk-news-nation [published 15/10/2018]
There are reasons to be angry. In the words of an online activist, "if you are not angry, you are not paying attention." How does this translate online? 

If we show we are angry, or to show emote about a particular subject, we are showing that we care - but how does that performative action impact public debate? 
PERFORMATIVE ACTION
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Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash
Judged not on what is said but how emotion is performed. 

The most visible emotion, the more 'legitimate' the performance is

Stems from television performance, an angry man is seen as 'passionate', an angry woman is 'emotional'

#metoo, empathy and understanding however must continue to reveal trauma and pain to be believed

Rise of personal journalism, sharing highly personal stories 

Does this lead to having to experience the trauma over & over again?
VS
PERFORMATIVE ACTION
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We are spending more and more time online, both consuming information and making content. We share personal and professional aspects of our lives. Our domestic lives are mediated through images, messages (public and private), video and our connection. 

How does more time online impact on our relationships off? 
TIME SPENT ONLINE
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Photo by Victoria Heath on Unsplash
The majority of online debate is done so via the written word. In order to communicate successfully, so that we are understood, we are developing new ways to spread ideas (memes) and express our views.

Humour (and satire) plays a big part, even more so on social media. Memes, in-jokes and false flag satire. But how can we tell a joke from reality (or both)?
COMMUNICATING HUMOUR
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Photo by Bernard Hermant on Unsplash
Before we blame bots and algorithms for the decline in the quality of public debate online, we must acknowledge the human beings behind accounts. When we use our own image, name and affiliation - we are somewhat accountable.  However, many choose to have 2-3 alternative profiles for discussing more prickly subjects - the mask of anonymity changes everything. 
THE PRIVILEGE OF ANONYMITY 
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Photo by Bernard Hermant on Unsplash
Often we are asked to build community online, around content, for campaigns and for call to actions.  
What does community mean and how existing techniques being used as part of online harassment or weaponised as part of a coordinated attack? 

We all want to belong, but what happens if belonging is what divides us? 
TRIBALISM AND GANG MENTALTIY
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In 2008, we thought that new media would bring about the death of the old, that blogs and social media would mark the end of traditional print journalism.

Journalism (as a practice) is continually evolving, long established techniques and principles underpin reporting (despite the platform) - however, in an age of misinformation, why is there a struggle to trust news producers?  
MISTRUST EXPERTS
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Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash
Photo by G. Crescoli on Unsplash
CHALLENGES FOR ONLINE DISCOURSE
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CHALLENGES FOR ONLINE DISCOURSE
CLOSING THOUGHTS




  • These are preliminary observations based on 3 months of voluntary and independent research (currently unfunded) with the intent to explore Scottish context around global issues. If you have influence, thoughts or insights, I would be interesting in having a conversation   
  • This needs to be seen as collaborative approach across sectors as social media is not going away, reflecting on our own online behaviours and our contributions to online discourse as platforms mature and user behaviours 
  • Media literacy is at the heart of understanding what is going on and how we can remain safe and continue to have dialogue about challenges to online discourse   
  • Unconference events such as #misinfocon and #credcon, ran by network organisations like Hacks/Hackers and Mozilla are continuing to get journalists, NGOs, media & information researchers and technologists, together from across the world to explore tools and methods around media literacy, credibility standards  
  • Hacks/Hackers Scotland are running #misinfocon x Scotland, 31st of Jan at Codebase Stirling - save the date 



[email protected], @jennifermjones, @hackshackersSco
Interested? 
www.jennifermjones.net, meetup.com/hackshackersscotland
THANK YOU