What the online hate-sphere in India can teach us

25 February 2021 DOS Distinguished Speaker Lecture

Speaker: Prof Shakuntala Banaji, London School of Economics and Political Science

Is ‘social media hate’ something technology or tech policy can fix? Prof Banaji discusses violent misinformation and those who forward it.

Historically, mainstream media has been used to embed propaganda and ideological contentions that have led to pogroms, genocide and even the holocaust. As the spread of visual and verbal hate propaganda around Muslims and migrants and the domestication of new technologies is implicated in events such as discriminatory misinformation, lynching, mobs, the acquittal of guilty police murderers, mass shootings and movements against democracy, questions abound about the ways in which social media imaginaries of hate for the “other” form, circulate and proliferate. Is ‘social media hate’ something that technology alone can fix? Is it something that tech policies on acceptable speech can fix? Some scholars are content to assume that a few malign non-state actors are shaping a generally pro-democratic media and social media sphere. Others go further and accuse less digitally literate rural users and profit-oriented platforms of doing most damage. In examining assumptions about the role of platform technologies and media literacy in discrimination and violence targeted at minoritized groups, I will attempt to present a typology of contextually based social media misinformation circulating in India, and use examples from my recent research on cultures of Hindutva fascism to examine the kinds of conclusions that can be drawn about the psychosocial profile and milieu of those who make up, receive and forward violent and hateful misinformation and disinformation on and offline. The talk will close with policy and political suggestions aimed at intervention and prevention.

About

Shakuntala Banaji

Shakuntala Banaji is Professor of Media Culture and Social Change in the department of Media and Communications at the London School of Economics and Political Science. Her current research addresses the intersection between socio-political contexts, media, identities and participation. She has led several large multi-country projects on young people, media, new technologies, schooling and democratic participation. She received one of the WhatsApp Misinformation and Social Science Research Awards for investigating the spread of mediated misinformation amongst publics in India (2018-2020). Her co-edited book Youth Active Citizenship Across Europe: Ethnographies of Participation was out with Palgrave in 2020, and she is co-authoring a new book on Social Media and Hate which is under contract with Routledge for publication in 2022.

Professor Banaji’s LSE web profile: https://www.lse.ac.uk/media-and-communications/people/academic-staff/shakuntala-banaji

Launch event of a new research cluster: Cybersecurity, Design and Human Behaviour

On 6 Nov 2020.

We are pleased to invite you to the launch of the new interdisciplinary research cluster as part of the Digital Organisation and Society research centre at Royal Holloway, University of London. Dr. Nisreen Ameen and Dr. Elizabeth Quaglia will be co-leading this new cluster, which seeks to link researchers across departments and schools. It will cover topics such as technology design and human interaction, security and privacy in the digital society, design narratives and narratives of security, user experience and advanced digital technologies, and accountability and ethics in the digital experience.

Programme

2pm Welcome by Dr. Nisreen Ameen, Dr. Elizabeth Quaglia and Prof. Gillian Symon

2.15pm Keynote by Prof. Jason Bennett Thatcher‬

Protecting a whale in a sea of fish: cybersecurity and top executives

2.45pm Keynote by Prof. Ivan Visconti

Blockchain Technology and Decentralized Contact Tracing: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

3:15pm-3:30pm Discussion and celebrations

Keynote Speakers

Professor Jason Bennett Thatcher

Professor Thatcher holds the Milton F. Stauffer Professorship in the Department of Management Information Systems at the Fox School of Business of Temple University. He also holds faculty appointments at the Technical University of Munich and the Information Technology University-Copenhagen. Jason studies individual decision-making, strategic alignment, and workforce issues as they relate to the effective and secure application of information technologies in organizations. His more recent projects direct attention to cybersecurity and social media. Jason’s work appears in journals such as MIS Quarterly, Information Systems Research, Journal of Applied Psychology, and other outlets. Jason has published (or forthcoming) 20 papers in Financial Times 50 listed journals (about once a year) since earning his PhD and 10 in MISQ, placing him in the top 35 or so active researchers in the Information Systems discipline

Professor Ivan Visconti

Ivan Visconti is a full professor of Computer Science in the Computer and Electrical Engineering and Applied Mathematics Department of the University of Salerno. His research interests focus mainly on designing provably secure and private cryptographic protocols and securing blockchains and their applications. He is the scientific coordinator at the University of Salerno for the H2020 European project “PRIViLEDGE” (Privacy-Enhancing Cryptography in Distributed Ledgers). Very recently, motivated by the Covid-19 pandemic, he has shown how to use blockchain technology both to secure and to attack digital contact tracing systems. Currently he is serving as Senior Area Editor for the IEEE Transactions on Information Forensics and Security journal. Several of his results have been published in the most competitive conferences in cryptography and theoretical computer science (i.e., STOC, FOCS, CRYPTO, EUROCRYPT, TCC).

Online Research Seminar

8th July, Joint event DOS and College of Economics and Management, Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics (NUAA), China

Speakers: Prof Lianlian Song, Dr Zhitao Xu , Dr Weishan He

Organisers: Dr Ling Xiao and Prof Hari Harindranath

Bringing together lectures and researchers from RHUL and NUAA to discuss topics of mutual interest including multiple media marketing, smart logistics and remote teaching.  This is the beginning of a  process of developing a research and teaching relationship with NUAA, with whom SBM has now agreed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).  

Notes on Digital Activism

Dr Vera Hoelscher|Lecturer in Marketing| Royal Holloway School of Business and Management

On 19 February 2020, the DOS Research Centre organised a half-day event on Digital Activism. The purpose of the day was to learn about the nature and impact of digitally enabled and enhanced mobilisation for political, economic and social change, and how research and practice can learn from and support each other in this process.  The event brought together artists, academics and practitioners who gave short talks on pertinent issues.  Below we pick out the main themes emerging from the day.

The Requirement to Combine Digital and Physical Activism

We heard first from Janet Gunter who is co-founder of the Restart Project.   The Restart Project aims to help people in repairing their electronic devices as a correction to our throwaway culture and campaigns for legislation to force businesses to produce longer lasting tech.  Janet explained how the Restart Project built its own on-line network of activists which has proven very effective for coalition building, as an organising tool for activist events and for interaction with the public. However greater visibility can have its problems and can create passive involvement so Janet argued a combination of on-line and off-line interaction is required.  Similarly, Vera Hoelscher, lecturer in Marketing at Royal Holloway, discussed her research with digital activist networks in London which noted that entirely online activism leads to a craving for physical action while entirely physical activism can be constraining and claustrophobic, therefore arguing for the qualitatively-distinct benefits of communicating in both physical and digital spaces for activist organizations.   

Innovative Ways of Giving Voice to the Invisible or Under-Represented

Kui Kihoro Mackay, PhD student in Politics at Royal Holloway, shared her experiences of #blacktwitterverse and #BlackJoy as spaces of radical resistance within the Twittersphere, demonstrating the potential for groups to appropriate the digital to counter oppression in their own terms.  Matthias Kispert, musician, artist and PhD student at the University of Westminster, demonstrated how he has used the accessibility of digital platforms to enable voice for casualised labour.  Matthias has co-produced videos with platform workers, and a number of other provocative art works that draw attention to workers’ labour conditions, demonstrating the power of the visual to bring home the activist message.  In a similar vein, Robbie Warrin discussed enabling creative ways for gigworkers to share their experiences and comment on their own lives.  Robbie and his colleagues are founders of the Invisible Worker Zine, which regularly asks for contributions from gig-economy workers that represent in narrative, poetical or visual form the everyday struggles of this fast-growing mode of working.   

Building Digital Picket Lines

This group of speakers sought to illustrate the role of the digital in supporting political action.  Torsten Geelan of the University of Leicester presented his research on the role of social media in the UCU pension debate in late 2019 (and still ongoing).  Drawing on their study which utilised data mining, Torsten argued that social media enabled mobilisation through “personalised collective action frames”, combining personal issues with collective action.  Relatedly, James Sloam, lecturer in Politics at Royal Holloway and author of Youthquake , discussed the distinctive features of online youth movements which work through authenticity rather than the bureaucratic control of traditional political parties.  Our final contributor, Mikko Laamanen, lecturer in Marketing at Royal Holloway, discussed the “F*ck off Google” (FOG) protest and its role in deterring the data giant from re-purposing an existing building in Kreuzberg, Germany, through online resistance, ‘noise events’ and local café-based actions.  On the basis of their investigations, Mikko and colleagues argue for a ‘cosmopolitan localism’ of activist movements, that is, a global networked sharing of knowledge and resources between place-based communities.

Overall, the day drew attention to the myriad approaches and concerns of digital activism, illustrating the many ways in which the digital can both enable activism and be a constraining factor.  An important discussion point that emerged from the day was how academics can best work with community activists, in particular through allowing their research to be guided by the needs of activist groups rather than seeking to impose their own research agendas.  Consequently, the DOS Research Centre will be organising further events that bring together practitioners, academics and members of the public to work on ways in which researchers can best support important social change in the digital sphere.


“Virtual PhD Conference”

5th May, 2020 DOS Conference

Organisers: Dr Nejmeh Hafezieh, Sarah Salahuddin, Shyam Krishna

An opportunity for PhD students to present a key aspect of their research to other students and academic staff and gain valuable feedback on their work.  Above all, during these unprecedented times, allows more active engagement with others in the PhD community at Royal Holloway for  community support.  Also an opportunity to learn new ways of engaging and using technologies that may soon become the new norm.  Mix of poster and seminar presentations from PhD students across all years of the PhD programme, feedback from diverse academic audience and a general question and answer session.

“Digital Health”

30th January 2020 Joint IRC, Henley Business School and DOS, Royal Holloway

Speakers:  Dr Philip Wu (DOS), Dr Vicky Weizi Li (IRC), Dr Anna Noel-Storr, Cochrane Crowd Lead and Cochrane Dementia and Cognitive Improvement Group Information Specialist, Radcliffe Department of Medicine, Oxford University

Organisers: Prof Keiichi Nakata (IRC) and Prof Niki Panteli (DOS)

A joint seminar between the Informatics Research Centre (IRC) at Henley Business School, University of Reading, and the Digital Organization and Society Research Centre (DOS), Royal Holloway.

See https://www.henley.ac.uk/events/irc-dos-joint-seminar-on-digital-health for more information

Past Events

DOS Public Events 2018-2019

10 October 2018 | DOS/TIM Seminar: Big Data Analytics Research for Sustainability, Prof. Patrick Chau, University of Hong Kong

14 November 2018 | DOS Seminar: Theorising Online Labour Markets as a Model for Organising Knowledge Work: Insights from a Comparative Case Study, Dr. Greetje Corporaal, Oxford Internet Institute

6 March 2019 | DOS Distinguished Speaker Lecture: The Digital Architecture of Time Management, Prof. Judy Wajcman, Anthony Giddens Professor of Sociology, London School of Economics

9 May 2019 | TGN/DOS Seminar: Digital Platforms and International Development, Dr. Carla Bonina, Surrey Centre for the Digital Economy, University of Surrey

16 May 2019 | CHRONOS/DOS Seminar: Robotization of Work, Prof Barbara Czarniawska, Gothenburg Research Institute, University of Gothenburg, Sweden

21 May 2019 | DOS One Day Event: Platform Work in Global Contexts, Speakers include researchers from RHUL, Oxford Internet Institute, Overseas Development Institute, University of Loughborough, and University of Leicester

5 June 2019 | DOS/KoL Seminar:The Transformative Power of Knowledge Sharing in Settings of Poverty and Social Inequality, Prof Israr Qureshi, Distinguished Academic Visitor, Australian National University

14 June 2019 | BSA/DOS One Day Conference: Surveillance in the 21st Century, Keynotes: Prof. Deborah Lupton (University of Canberra) and Prof. Lizzie Coles- Kemp (Information and Security Group, RHUL). The event is organised by Amalina Zakariah (School of Management) and Courtney Hagen Ford (School of Law).

18 June 2019  | DOS One Day Workshop: Digitisation and Sustainable Development,  Keynote: Prof. Chrisanthi Avgerou (LSE), Participants include Prof. Geoff Walsham (Cambridge), Prof. Israr Qureshi (ANU) , and researchers from University of Sheffield, Institute of Development Studies, etc.


DOS PhD Events 2018-2019

The DOS Research Centre incorporates the Friendly and Critical Support Space (FCSS) which seeks to provide a supportive community for PhD students affiliated with the Centre.

4 June 2019 | DOS PhD Workshop: Social Network Analysis, Prof Israr Qureshi, Distinguished Academic Visitor, Australian National University