2:00pm - 2:20pm
FANGIRLS AND FAKE NEWS: DIGITAL ETHNOGRAPHY AND THE AFFECTS OF FANDOM
1University of Melbourne, Australia; 2Aarhus University, Denmark
This paper draws on a digital ethnography conducted via Twitter, of a controversial subnetwork of fans of boyband One Direction known as “Larries”. The Larry fandom is built around imagining a romantic relationship exists between One Direction band members Harry Styles and Louis Tomlinson, referred to by the portmanteau “Larry”. Imagining relationships between celebrities is a controversial practice known in fan communities as “Real Person Slash” (RPS). For this practice Larries have been framed within popular media as conspiracy theorists. Our study sought to examine whether a more complex and nuanced understanding of the fandom was possible, particularly regarding relationships and community building in this fandom. Through digital ethnographic methods, we explored how the practices of Larries create a space in which new and unexpected desires, identities, intimacies and relations are constituted. Between March and July 2018, we followed approximately 490 public accounts, kept a fieldnote diary, and conducted semi-structured interviews with seven active users via direct messenger. Conducting observations on a daily basis over an extended period as regular fans would, we became privy to the highs, lows, excitement, and tensions of the group, that may be otherwise obscured. This study raises questions about what might be missed in studying controversial groups at a macro level only. This paper considers the benefits of undertaking qualitative digital ethnographic work and discuss the affective flows of digital networks on social media that might remain obscured by other digital methods.
2:20pm - 2:40pm
“MISINFODEMICS”— UNPACKING THE CORE NARRATIVES OF MULTINATIONAL DRINK COMPANIES’ ONLINE MARKETING CAMPAIGNS AIMED AT YOUNG PEOPLE IN DEVELOPING COUNTRIES
Rhodes University, South Africa
Multinational food and drink companies have increased their social media marketing budget and efforts and some have been rewarded with increased youth consumption of highly refined snack foods and Sugar-Sweetened Beverages (SSBs) even as overall consumption of SSBs, in many more developed countries, is falling. (Brand-Miller & Barclay, 2017; Chaloupka, Powell, & Warner, 2019). This strategy seems to be working particularly well in Africa.
But at the same time, multinational companies are also waging more existential battles against a growing public awareness of the role their products play in epidemics of overweight and obesity (Du, Tugendhaft, Erzse, & Hofman, 2018; Nestle, 2018). This paper explores how ‘Big Food’ multinationals has tried to frame these debates around issues of ‘energy balance’ and highlight SSB companies’ role in promoting the exercise side of their ‘energy balance’ frame. (Ruskin, Stuckler, Serôdio, Barlow, & McKee, 2018, Nestle, 2018). This messaging, this paper argues, propagates misinformation, and is implicated in the current epidemic of poor nutrition in both developing (and developed) countries.
Using both thematic content analysis, augmented with audience reception study through focus groups sessions, this paper explores how these companies’ social media marketing combines with their more traditional marketing channels to simultaneously sell product and defend their products right to be sold untaxed and unrestricted. The paper explores how these messages resonate with young adults in Nigeria and South Africa, and finds that the SSB companies' overall campaigns and particularly the social media components, are effective in countering public health messaging.
2:40pm - 3:00pm
NAVIGATING THE POST-TRUTH ERA: TRUST, MISINFORMATION, AND CREDIBILITY ASSESSMENT ON ONLINE SOCIAL MEDIA
Cyprus University of Technology, Cyprus
As access to news is increasingly mediated through social media platforms, there are rising concerns for citizens’ ability to evaluate online information and detect potentially misleading items. While many studies have reported on how people assess the credibility of information, there are few reports on processes related to evaluating information online and people’s decision to trust and share the information with others. This paper reports on the first part of a three-phase study which aimed to gain an in-depth understanding of citizens’ practices and needs in assessing the credibility of information shared online and co-create solutions to address this problem. Data were collected from three European countries, through a survey on misinformation perceptions, focus groups, follow-up individual interviews, and co-creation activities with three stakeholder groups. The data were analyzed qualitatively, using, primarily, a grounded theory approach. Results from the citizens’ stakeholder group indicate that personal biases, emotions, time constraints, and lack of supporting technologies impacts the credibility assessment of online news. Study participants also discussed the need for increased media literacy actions, especially in youth. Based on preliminary findings we argue that we need a diversified approach to support citizens’ resilience against the spread of misinformation.
3:00pm - 3:20pm
NEWS CONSUMPTION AND YOUNG PEOPLES TRUST IN ONLINE AND SOCIAL MEDIA
FHWien der WKW University of Applied Sciences for Management & Communication, Austria
Current surveys such as the Eurobarometer 2018 and the Reuters Digital News Report 2018 show that, in Austria, people’s trust in the media as a whole is at an all-time low and for the first time, more people under the age 18 to 24 years do not trust the news than those who trust it. While online sources are trusted less than traditional media sources. The aim of this study is to analyze young people’s news consumption and trust in online and social media (i.e. their primary news sources) in Austria through personal semi-structured qualitative interviews to gain an in-depth understanding of their news consumption and trust/mistrust in a) media channels, b) sources, i.e. journalists, and c) content. The 35 interviews with young people aged 18 to 25 years reveal that media channels young people trust (the most) are traditional ones. While the sources, i.e. specific journalist, do not play a role for their trust in news. Highly relevant for perceiving news as trustworthy is the presentation of two or more (differing) voices as well as “some” data. Content in social media is generally not considered as problematic, although there is a widespread consensus that more dubious content is circulated on social media. Based on these findings, we will discuss difference in young people’s perceptions of trust in news between traditional media channels (e.g., increase of trust through the presentation of different voices) and social media (e.g., dubious information is not seen as problematic).