Conference Agenda

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Session Overview
Session
C8: Media Use in Times of Crisis
Time:
Friday, 09/Sept/2022:
3:30pm - 4:30pm

Session Chair: Otto Hellwig, Bilendi & respondi, Germany
Location: A 026

HTW Berlin, Campus Treskowallee, Treskowallee 8, 10318 Berlin

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Presentations

Stop spreading discontent: the effects of social media on discontent towards government intervention during COVID-19 in Europe

Michele Consolini, Massimiliano Mascherini

Eurofound, Ireland

Relevance & Research Question

Social media; polarisation; discontent; government interventions

COVID-19 pandemic required prompt and strong interventions from worldwide governments. Some people hailed lockdowns, while others bashed mandatory masks and vaccines. This resonated loudly on social media platforms. Social media news have a polarising effect on people’s opinion, reinforcing filter bubbles (Spohr, 2017). Similarly, social media spread more misinformation on symptoms, treatments and government intervention (Dahani & Franz, 2020). Thus, our research question is “to what extent social media news consumption impact discontent towards democracy, government and government interventions?”

Methods & Data

e-survey series; online panel

Weighted regressions were carried out. We predicted political discontent, trust in institutions and support on government intervention by preferred media outlet, time spent on social media, interpersonal trust and employment status, alongside demographics. Time series analyses were carried out as soon as Round 5 became fully available.

In April 2020 Eurofound launched its “Living, Working and Covid-19” online survey series. Five survey rounds have been completed, with the latest fielded in spring 2022. The online survey series presents both panel and cross-sectional aspects. More than 190,000 observations have been collected throughout the rounds.

Results

trust and discontent; news source; social media

Social media as preferred source and time spent on social media are predicting discontent, whereas other media outlets have a less negative or not significant effect. A similar trend is observed with institutional trust as dependent variable. Women show less discontent than men, so do employed respondents than unemployed. Data from Round 4 shows a higher level of dissatisfaction with government’s measures to tackle COVID-19 among whom preferred news outlet is social media and blogs. Trust in government strongly predicts satisfaction.

Added Value

Panel; rounds; pan-European

The panel structure allowed us to capture opinion on vaccines and trust in institutions amid a volatile period, thus drawing a clear picture of key moments the past year. We managed to collect data right before and after vaccine rollouts and easing restrictions, thus giving a timely opinion on the matters. Finally, the online survey series is the first pan-European data on the topic since Spring 2020.



Pandemic Social Media Hate Speech Analysis

Holger Lütters1, Andre Lang2

1HTW Berlin,; 2Insius, Germany

Relevance & Research Question

Hate speech has been a rising issue not only in social networks, but also in a larger scale against persons of public interest. During the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, the amount and aggressiveness has been rising to a new level, threatening prominent public health experts and virologists who become victims of their own activities in social media. Their reactions range from reporting incidents to the police to backing out of public activity. Social Media Hate Speech has therefore become a threat to the public discussion in a democratic society.

The research question is what kind, source and volume of hate speech is directed against the top public persons in the field of SARS-CoV-2 pandemic management in Germany.

Methods & Data

Most top-level health experts and politicians are active on Twitter, receiving hate speech there. The social media data of the so called “Covid heroes” (Lütters et al. 2021) is analyzed by collecting their tweets including the large number of responses. We collect all tweets directed at or replying to them in the 4th epidemic wave in 2021.

The collected tweets are analyzed for (1) hashtags and (2) other verbal expressions of hate and clustered for the different types of hate speech, such as dehumanization/demonization or violence, and intensity, which can be ranging from disagreement to death threats.

Results

We provide an overview over the hate speech extent and intensity in a crisis. We also try to find different hate patterns regarding each of the persons involved, depending on their activity type (virologist, politician) and their supposed point of view (cautious, hesitant, leading, challenging).

Added Value

As the current crisis puts our society to the test, it is most vital to know more about hate speech as one of sources negatively affecting public discussion and the active body of researchers doing their personal best under the public eye. The current highly polarized setting, discussing compulsory vaccinations and lockdowns with the main agents being in strong public focus, proves a unique chance to examine the phenomenon hate speech in detail and draw conclusions on what to expect in the future.



Handling life under fire in a multi-media environment: Israeli civilians use of Second Screens during Operation "Guardian of the Walls.”

Vered Elishar Malka, Dana Weimann-Saks, Yaron Ariel

The Max Stern Yezreel Valley College, Israel

Relevance & Research Question

The phenomenon of using smartphones and other portable devices as ‘second screen’ while watching television—has attracted significant attention over the last decade. However, although media usage is a major part of any crisis, especially when civilians are directly affected, no study has examined second screen use in times of war.

The current study examined the role that second screen usage played in the lives of Israeli citizens during the 12 days of operation "Guardian of the Walls." Focus was given to the correlations between users’ level of concern due to the war and their immediate degree of actual threat (based on their relative proximity to the war zone) and their second screen usage patterns.

Methods & Data

Data for this study was gathered from a total of 411 participants (51% women, 49% men), ranging in age from 18 to 74 years (M = 42.96, SD = 15.75). All participants were native Hebrew speakers, non-religious (71.5%), and married (56.2%). We obtained the sample from an online panel representing the distribution of the Jewish-Israeli population-based on figures obtained from the Central Bureau of Statistics.

Results

Findings indicate that the higher the actual threat level media users face, the more often they used their second screens throughout the war. Furthermore, the volume of users’ second screen usage was rising as their level of concern and their cognitive needs increased. As the degree of actual threat increased, users’ cognitive needs increased, as did their second screen usage.

Added Value

The current study contributes to our understanding of the media’s role during times of war from the point of view of civilians under threat. It indicates that as technology enables us to stay constantly connected and not limit ourselves to a single platform, people are likely to use the full variety of options available to get updates, understand the situation better, and make more informed decisions concerning their safety and well-being under threat.



 
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