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Hashtag heroes vs. disinfo dystopia: The left, the right, and the truth about social media activism

With Dr Deen Freelon, and Felix M. Simon
Recorded:
19 May 2021
Speakers:
With Dr Deen Freelon, and Felix M. Simon
Filming venue:

Online Webinar

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.

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