New Article on Social Media, Disability, and Mental Health in Elections

SM+S coverI’m delighted to share my latest open access article ‘Do you want to be a well-informed citizen, or do you want to be sane?’ Social Media, Disability, Mental Health and Political Marginality, which was published earlier this month in Social Media + Society. The article reviews evidence from focus groups with voters with disabilities to explore their experience with Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter during the 2016 U.S. Presidential election. From this, social media platforms emerge as both empowering tools and sources of mental health problems for this traditionally marginalized group in an increasingly polarized political context such as the U.S.

This article is part of a forthcoming special issue on Social Media and Marginality expertly edited by Katy Pearce, Amy Gonzales, and Brooke Focault-Welles.

Here is a copy of the abstract, for the full open access article click here.

This article examines the experiences of people with disabilities, a traditionally marginalized group in US politics, with social media platforms during the 2016 presidential election. Using focus groups with participants with a wide range of disabilities, the significance of YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook is discussed. Results highlight ambivalent experiences with these platforms, which support some elements of political inclusion (more accessible and more relevant election information) but at the same time also exacerbate aspects of marginality (stress, anxiety, isolation). Four coping strategies devised by participants to address digital stress (self-censorship, unfollowing/unfriending social media contacts, signing off, and taking medication) are illustrated. The relationship between these contrasting findings, social media design and affordances, as well as potential strategies to eliminate an emerging trade-off between discussing politics online and preserving mental health and social connectedness for people with disabilities are discussed.

New Article on ‘Story Banks’ in Grassroots Advocacy

4.HERO-size-2-1024x252“Mobilizing Personal Narratives: The Rise of Digital ‘Story Banking’ in U.S. Grassroots Advocacy” is a brand new article by myself, Bryan Bello (American University), Michael Vaughan (Weizenbaum Institute) and Ariadne Vromen (University of Sydney) that was recently published in the Journal of Information Technology and Politics. In this piece, which is part of a larger project on the recent evolution of digital storytelling in grassroots advocacy in both the U.S. and Australia, we offer the first definition and critical evaluation of digital story banking techniques that are increasingly popular with advocacy groups in the U.S. For a brief summary and little teaser on the full article, check out this post on the AU Center for Media and Social Impact’s blog.

Here is a copy of the abstract; for a full copy of the article click here or, if you need an open access pre-print copy, please get in touch directly:

This article interrogates digital “story banking,” a storytelling practice that has become increasingly popular among U.S. grassroots advocacy organizations. Through the examination of LinkedIn data and in-depth interviews with story banking professionals, this technique emerges as the centerpiece of the growing institutionalization, professionalization, and datafication of storytelling in progressive advocacy. Following the 2016 election, political crisis and an increasing awareness of changing information consumption patterns promoted story banking diffusion. Story banking ushers in the era of stories as data and political story on demand. Yet, political constraints currently limit story banking to a reactive approach based on news monitoring, algorithmic shortlisting of stories, and audience testing. Furthermore, an unresolved tension has emerged between the growing centralization of storytelling functions and the participatory potential of crowd-sourced story banks. The implications of these trends for progressive advocacy organizations and the groups they aim to represent are considered.

 

Call For Papers: ICA 2020 Storytelling Pre-conference

**March 2020 Update: Pre-conference Canceled**

Due to the on-going COVID-19 pandemic, we have regrettably decided to cancel this pre-conference. ICA will refund all the participants and attendees that registered in full (please note that refunds may take 6-8 weeks). Stay safe and healthy everyone!

**Deadline extended: abstracts due January 31**

Thank you for your interest in the ICA 2020 pre-conference on “Storytelling, Persuasion and Mobilization in the Digital Age” – to download the call for papers and submission instructions, click here.

To submit your abstract, click here

On a side note, you might be interested in checking out our latest article on “Story Banks” in U.S. advocacy organizations in the Journal of Information Technology and Politics (December 2019): “Mobilizing personal narratives: The rise of digital ‘story banking’ in U.S. grassroots advocacy”

Filippo Trevisan, Ariadne Vromen and Michael Vaughan

Google Trends: Instructions for Use on the Washington Post’s Monkey Cage

Last week, I published a piece on the Washington Post’s Monkey Cage blog about what Google Trends can tell us about televised debates and other important election moments (spoiler: not as much as some news coverage suggests). With insights from my research with Google Trends in the U.S., UK, and Italy, this article provides a useful resource on how to correctly interpret Google Trends data for journalists, campaign staff, and voters interested in knowing more about digital information flows related to the 2020 election campaigns.

European Ideas Network Summer University 2019

I’m delighted to be in San Sebastian-Donostia in the beautiful Basque Country over the next couple of days to speak at the 2019 European Ideas Network‘s Summer University. I am grateful to EIN and the European People’s Party Group in the European Parliament for extending an invitation to meet and discuss with its members about the challenges and next steps in the fight against online disinformation and “fake news” in Europe. In my talk, I will explore the factors that created a ‘perfect storm’ for the growth of disinformation, share some of my latest work on how U.S. organizations and campaigns are trying to contrast it, and offer some ideas for a more proactive approach to this problem.

Sport Communication & Social Justice Special Issue CFP

C&S CoverFollowing a very successful pre-conference at ICA 2019, submissions are now open for a special issue of Communication & Sport (2.395 impact factor) on the theme of “Sport Communication and Social Justice,” which I’m co-editing with Dan Jackson (Bournemouth University), Michael Silk (Bournemouth University), and Emma Pullen (Loughborough University).

Submissions will close on October 1st, 2019 – you can read and download a copy of the full call for papers hereManuscripts should be submitted through the journal’s Manuscript Central website.

New Open Access Article in International Journal of Communication

homeHeaderLogoImage_en_USMy latest article “Using the Internet to Mobilize Marginalized Groups: People with Disabilities and Digital Campaign Strategies in the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election” was recently published in the International Journal of Communication. This article discusses how the 2016 campaigns – particularly Hillary Clinton’s – tried to engage with the disability community online and draws key lessons about the inclusion of people with disabilities and other minority groups in digital election strategy planning. The full paper can be accessed freely here.

Here’s the abstract:

It is important to understand the implications of online election campaigning for groups that have been marginalized in politics. To this end, this article discusses a focus group study on digital campaigning in the 2016 U.S. presidential election with voters with a wide range of physical, mental, and communication disabilities. Digital campaigns can deepen or curtail opportunities for people with disabilities to be active citizens. Participants in this study had high expectations to learn about the candidates through new media platforms, particularly Google and YouTube. However, the 2016 campaigns seemed to struggle to understand Americans with disabilities as an emerging online constituency. This mismatch between demand and supply in online election communication is discussed with a view to illuminating the sociotechnical foundations of digital campaigning and its effect on political participation among citizens with disabilities. There are important opportunities for digital mobilization and inclusion here, but their realization is dependent on a cultural shift that values people with disabilities as full citizens.

Disability, Technology and Human Rights Panel at ISA 2019

I look forward to taking part in a special panel on disability, technology and human rights at the 2019 International Studies Association’s Convention in Toronto, Canada on Saturday March 30, 1:45pm. The panel, which is titled “Accessible Global Governance: Technological and Policy Innovation in Support of Disability, Development, and Human Rights for All,” brings together a group of research leaders in disability and human rights to discuss emerging opportunities for disability advocacy on the global scale.

This panel is sponsored by American University’s Institute on Disability and Public Policy (IDPP).

In my presentation, I will discuss some of the highlights from the first global survey of Disabled People Organizations’ (DPO) leaders about accessibility and the potential role of technology at international conferences, meetings, and events.

Panel details: Saturday March 30, 1:45pm-3:30pm, Yorkville West, Sheraton Center, Toronto

Advocacy and Personal Stories in Australia and the U.S. – Seminar at Melbourne University

I’m currently in Australia on a fieldwork trip for a new project and will present some preliminary insights at the University of Melbourne on Wednesday February 13 together with my colleague and collaborator Ariadne Vromen of the University of Sydney. This new work explores recent changes in how advocacy organizations approach storytelling and reviews the role of digital technology in the ‘datafication’ of storytelling techniques. The seminar will take place between 1:00-2:00pm in the Arts West North Wing building, room 253. We’re grateful to the Media and Communication Program and particularly Scott Wright for giving us this opportunity to discuss some of this new work.

Culture, Diversity and Inclusion Mini-Track at HICSS 52

This week I’m honored to co-chair the Culture, Diversity and Inclusion mini-track at the 52nd Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (HICSS) together with my AU colleagues Derrick Cogburn and Nanette Levinson. The mini-track includes two exciting sessions at 8:00am and 10:00am on Friday January 11th with a total of five papers focusing on issues of disability, race, and age in digital and social media.

As part of this mini-track, I’m also going to present a paper I co-authored with Derrick Cogburn on “Technology and Grassroots Inclusion in Global Governance: A Survey Study of Disability Rights Advocates and Effective Participation.” The paper discusses the first global survey of disability rights advocates about their use of technology to participate in global governance processes including both U.N. and non-U.N. international meetings, conferences, and events, as well as the use of social media to engage with disability grassroots in their respective countries. To access a free copy of the paper, click here.