Critical and Ethical Studies of Digital and Social Media

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    The Impact of Online Disinformation on Democracy in Taiwan
    ( 2021-01-05) Neylan, Julian
    Is online disinformation impacting how voters view political parties? Although many scholars claim that online disinformation (or fake news) is having negative effects on democracy, there are few studies that examine the impact of online disinformation at the individual level. In this study I conducted a randomized survey of 400 Taiwanese respondents in order to assess the impact of online disinformation on their political behavior. The respondents completed one of three surveys and were exposed to either a control article or a social media post containing disinformation. Controlled exposure was found to have a significant impact on the party identification of those exposed to the post for the first time compared to those who had previously been exposed to the post. The results of this study show that disinformation can have an effect on party identification, however further studies are necessary to determine the size and direction of this effect.
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    “Ideal Speech” on Wikipedia: Balancing Social Marginalization Risks and Social Inclusion Benefits for Individuals and Groups
    ( 2021-01-05) Young, Amber ; Wigdor, Ariel
    On Wikipedia, editors use talk pages to debate whether/how to include associations with marginalized social groups in highly visible digital information. Despite efforts to promote social inclusion, digitally cocreated information on Wikipedia is vulnerable to marginalizing content. We study the case of Tim Cook’s Wikipedia biography prior to him coming out as a member of the LGBTQ community. Editors cocreating his biography discussed at length whether/how to include information about Cook’s sexual orientation. Our critical hermeneutic investigation of these discussions reveals a paradox of social inclusion. That is, efforts by activist editors to promote social inclusion at the group level may bring about the unintended consequence of marginalizing an individual. Applying critical social theories, we conclude that deference should be given to individuals over groups when collaborative decisions are made about whether to publish associations in highly visible digital information. This research highlights the complexity of governance for social inclusion online.
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    Holding Space for Voices that Do Not Speak: Design Reform of Rating Systems for Platforms in GREAT Economies
    ( 2021-01-05) Dasgupta, Anuttama ; Karhade, Prasanna ; Kathuria, Abhishek ; Konsynski, Benn
    Researchers can examine ethical implications of online rating systems to understand how they function as ‘knowledge instruments’ and affect social relations and networks connected with them. Research should address the fact that the underlying economic structures that design and deploy knowledge producing ‘technical objects’ on online platforms are not egalitarian and may create new circles of exclusion. Exploring implications of this for a starkly unequal country like India, we illustrate our ideas by integrating induction and abduction to study rating systems on a pan-India food discovery and delivery platform. Rating systems are borrowed from WEIRD contexts and our findings imply that the instrument studied here is designed to hear only some of many voices. Consequently, they might be ‘institutionalizing’ knowledge that is problematic for GREAT domains in which they are imposed. We highlight the need for decolonization of research approaches for GREAT domains and critical research of technical knowledge objects.
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    Design Triggers for Excessive Online Video Clip Watching
    ( 2021-01-05) Kloker, Simon
    Addiction in the context of information technology gained increased public interest within the last years. Only recently, companies like Apple, Google, or Instagram announced to fight “Smartphone Addiction” and integrated respective features in their systems. However, if and how such features help is still an open question. Right now, there is only a very rudimentary understanding of addictions in information systems and “IT-triggered disorders''. Even in clinical research, there is no consensus on the nature of such addictions yet. This work researches how design adaptations interfere with “Excessive Online Video Clip Watching”. We base our assumptions on the reinforcement cycle of disorder development and the Four-Component Model for Non-addictive Information Systems (4-NAIS). A study with 186 participants is performed, indicating that bridging findings from Psychology and Neurosciences to Information Systems is necessary to design information systems that are capable of tackling the problem of “IT-triggered disorders”.
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    COVID-19 Community Archives and the Platformization of Digital Cultural Memory
    ( 2021-01-05) Acker, Amelia ; Flamm, Lucy
    In this study we aim to understand how GitHub is used by COVID-19 interest groups for organizing community archives to protect their knowledge from the Chinese government’s censorship efforts. We introduce two case studies of such COVID-19 community archives published with GitHub that appeared online in early 2020. Using public GitHub repository documentation and web archive web crawls from the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine, we describe how these digital community archives emerge and exist on the platform, how knowledge of them circulated on other US based social media sites, and show strategies and tactics these volunteers used to keep these community archives alive, resist censorship, and guard the safety of these collections. We argue that these COVID-19 community archives are at risk because of their platform accessibility as much as the content they document, and that understanding how organizers use GitHub’s platform affordances is essential to theorizing how platforms are impacting approaches to preserving cultural memory.