I’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.
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.
I am honored an excited to speak at the 2017 Ruderman Inclusion Summit this weekend (Nov. 19-20) in Boston, MA. The Summit is one of the largest disability inclusion events in North America and brings together more than 1,000 people from a variety of sectors, including but not limited to: policy; advocacy; technology; human services; business; social justice; education; and housing, to share best practices and network. The aim is to motivate and educate attendees with the knowledge to advance inclusion of persons with disabilities in all aspects of life.
I will discuss my latest work on citizens with disabilities and online information in elections in a panel on effective political participation 15 years on from the signing of the Help America Vote Act (2002). I will be joined by commentator and political analyst Norman Ornstein, Michele Bishop of the National Disability Rights Network, and Kathy Hoell of the Statewide Nebraska Independent Living Center. Other speakers at the summit include, among others, Academy Award-winning actress and disability activist Marlee Matlin, U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan, and former President of Malawi Dr. Joyce Banda.
I am grateful to the Ruderman Family Foundation, which works to correct the injustice of exclusion of children and adults with disabilities, for inviting me to speak at this event.
The paper I proposed for the 2014 American Political Science Association’s Political Communication Section Pre-Conference was accepted as part of a panel on methodological innovation in political communication research put together by Laura Roselle of Elon University. This work discusses the methodology that myself and colleagues at the University of Glasgow and the University of Maryland devised in order to compare online search trends in elections to relevant news coverage on ‘traditional’ media outlets as part of the on-going Voter Ecology project. My presentation will touch upon all the case studies involved in the project (the U.S., the UK, Italy and Egypt) and provide a detailed overview of the different roles performed by search engines in different electoral contexts. I look forward to being back in Washington, DC for this conference, having spent several months there in 2011 doing fieldwork for my PhD. The pre-conference will take place on Wednesday Aug. 27th at George Washington University’s School of Media and Public Affairs. The programme can be found here.