Visible Protests in the Hybrid Media Era: Social Media, Live Streaming and Witnessing

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I’ve got a new blog post up on the FuJoMedia website, where I reflect on this Sunday’s anti-corruption protests in Russia and consider the risks and benefits of live streaming and networked social media for protest visibility.

How do protestors make themselves visible? One could argue that the whole point of a protest – a public, uncomfortable act of dissent often exemplified by occupying space and blocking streets – is to capture people’s (and governments’) attention to the point where they cannot look away. The difficulty, of course, comes when protest events and actions are mediated by mainstream news outlets who decide which frame to apply to the protests and which parts and angles of them to make visible – or invisible – to their audience. Not an ideal setup.

But in the hybrid media system, where according to Chadwick, old and new media co-exist and entangle with technologies and actors using them, visibility becomes a more complex concept. The mainstream media no longer hold a monopoly over visibility, as connected mobile devices and social media platforms afford citizens the power to capture, share and consume their own versions of what they see and experience during a protest.

Read more at the link.

 

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New Ranking Digital Rights Index Is Out

img-bannerThe Ranking Digital Rights Project has published their 2017 Corporate Accountability Index, which evaluates 22 of the world’s most powerful telecommunications, internet, and mobile companies on their public commitments and disclosed policies affecting users’ freedom of expression and privacy.

This year’s report finds that company disclosure remains inadequate across the board, and users are given little information to make choices about their security and privacy and have little control over what happens to their data. Further, most companies seem to disclose even less information about their freedom of expression policies and practices than about privacy-related ones.

I am proud to have contributed to the research for the Index and to have been a part of an important effort to increase accountability and transparency of corporations who control a large chunk of the world’s “privately owned” digital public spaces and networks.

Read a summary of the 2017 Ranking Digital Rights Corporate Accountability Index, see the report data and infographics, or download the complete report.

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Job news!

Image by sean hobson on Flickr, CC BY 2.0.

I am excited to announce that I will be starting at the School of Communications at Dublin City University in Dublin, Ireland as Lecturer in Journalism in September. Looking forward to new teaching and research challenges, a new country and community to explore, and new adventures! Thanks to the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at UMD for being my home these past four years, to Sarah Oates for being the best mentor and academic advisor, and to my family and my partner for bearing with me as I was figuring out what came next.

If you’re a fellow media and society researcher in Ireland and want to meet up, ping me!

 

 

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PhD Defense News

im-ukrainian-and-i-cant-keep-calm-9.jpgI am happy to report that on May 13, 2016, I had my doctoral dissertation defense (or what the British call viva), and that the committee found my research to be worthy. My dissertation was titled “Augmented Dissent: The Affordances of ICTs for Citizen Protest (A Case Study of the Ukraine Euromaidan Protests of 2013-2014)” and was based on interviews with Euromaidan protesters in Ukraine and beyond, as well as analysis of social media content posted by protest communities during the Euromaidan.

The defense was intense, but I got a ton of useful questions and comments, and already have new ideas pinging in my brain about where to take this research next. I am thankful to my committee members: Kalyani Chadha, Nick Diakopoulos, Sahar Khamis, and Linda Steiner, and to my wonderful advisor and mentor, Sarah Oates.

Read the abstract for my dissertation here.

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Civil Society and Internet Governance in Ukraine & Eastern Partnership

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Interested in internet governance and policy in Ukraine and Eastern Europe? Join me and a bunch of other wonderful people at the Workshop on Internet Policy in Eastern Partnership Countries hosted by the Center for Internet and Human Rights at European University Viadrina on March 8-9, 2016 in Frankfurt (Oder), Germany.

I’ll be talking about the role of civil society in promoting the internet freedom agenda in the Ukrainian internet governance discourse and how these efforts connect with the broader global network of internet freedom and human rights advocacy.

New OSCE RFoM resource on safety of female journalists online

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I am super-thrilled about this new publication launched by the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media in early February.

The compilation of essays and interview-based articles, New Challenges to Freedom of Expression: Countering Online Abuse of Female Journalists (available as a free download here) collects stories and best practices from women doing journalism and media work around the world, framing them through the prism of  the recommendations issued by the OSCE RFoM Dunja Mijatović earlier in September 2015.

“The contributions in this publication written by Criado-Perez’ and other free speech advocates show the severity and the magnitude of the abuse female journalists are subjected to,” said OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović. “Online abuse of female journalists has become a clear and present threat to journalism, free media and freedom of expression.”

The resource brings together research and case studies of the damaging effects on journalism and free speech, outlines the legal and human rights issues, and identifies key factors in the effective prevention of and response to online abuse of female journalists, as well as addressing the broader context of misogyny and violence against women and considering their root causes.

Contributors to the publication are: Zorana Antonijević, Caroline Criado-Perez, Aina Landsverk Hagen, Alison Bethel McKenzie, Elisa Lees Munoz, Snježana Milivojević, Courtney C. Radsch, Sejal Parmar, Elana Newman, Susan Drevo, Bradley Brummel, Gavin Rees, Bruce Shapiro and Becky Gardiner.

As someone who contributed to this collection through sharing my own experiences of working as a female journalist, I am convinced this resource will be an important tool and source of knowledge for other women in the field, as well as the media, policy-makers and human rights advocates.

Download the publication here.

New article! News Bots: Automating news and information dissemination on Twitter

Our new article with Nicholas Diakopoulos, News Bots: Automating news and information dissemination on Twitter,” is now out and available online in Digital Journalism. Here’s the abstract:

So-called “robot” journalism represents a shift towards the automation of journalistic tasks related to news reporting, writing, curation, and even data analysis. In this paper, we consider the extension of robot journalism to the domain of social platforms and study the use of “news bots”—automated accounts that participate in news and information dissemination on social networks. Such bots present an intriguing development opportunity for news organizations and journalists. In particular, we analyze a sample of existing news bot accounts on Twitter to understand how news bots are currently being used and to examine how using automation and algorithms may change the modern media environment. Based on our analysis, we propose a typology of news bots in the form of a design and editorial decision space that can guide designers in defining the intent, utility, and functionality of future bots. The proposed design space highlights the limits of news bots (e.g., automated commentary and opinion, algorithmic transparency and accountability) and areas where news bots may enable innovation, such as niche and local news.

IGF-USA 2015 panel: Truth and Trolls

Photo by William M Cunningham on Twitter.

Photo by William M Cunningham on Twitter.

“Truth and Trolls” was an awesome panel discussion, organized by Cloudflare at the Internet Governance Forum USA 2015 Conference in Washington, D.C. on July 16, 2015. The panel looked at ways of dealing with toxic speech while protecting free speech online.

We talked about the current state of online discussions, the difficulty of controlling those who “troll” and tried to find answers to questions like, “Are there better ways to preserve freedom of speech and civility online? Are there ways to use the Internet to fact-check posts and to ostracize or shame trolls? How could hate speech laws end up limiting free speech online?”

Other members of the panel included:

Greg Barber – Director of Digital News Project, The Washington Post
Jennifer Hanley – Director of Legal and Policy, Family Online Safety Institute
Courtney Radsch – Director of Committee to Protect Journalists
Lara A. Ballard – Special Advisor for privacy and technology in the Office of Communications and Information Policy, Bureau of Economic, Energy and Business Affairs (EEB/CIP), Department of State
Moderated by: Heather West – Public Policy, Cloudflare

Here’s a Storify summary of the panel discussion.

The Kremlin Troll Army and Ukraine’s Response to Russian Information War

Here are two recent TV appearances where I discuss the inner workings of the Kremlin’s so-called “troll army“—an organized effort to manipulate the online discourse and news agenda—as well as the odds of similar Ukrainian efforts to counteract Russia in the information war.

I joined Floriana Fossato and Ilya Klishin to talk Kremlin trolls and information manipulation with Al Jazeera English Listening Post. Here’s the full segment (not available inside the US).

I also spoke to VOA Ukrainian service during the ChasTime news show about the latest investigations of the troll headquarters and their work, as well as what Ukraine has been doing in response to the Russian efforts (video in Ukrainian).

News Bots, Anyone?

Can automated bots be successfully used in news making and journalism work? Nicholas Diakopoulos wrote a great piece for EJO about our research on “news bots” and their implications for journalists, designers, and editors.

There are obvious economic benefits to robot journalism, but aside from writing a pile of straight news articles in finance or sports could they one day serve higher-order public interest journalism? For instance, could such robot journalists bring or enhance a critical mass of attention and public pressure to important civic issues? How are such technologies going to change the public media sphere that we inhabit?

Read the whole article at EJO: Can Robots Do Public Interest Journalism?