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  • 1.
    Al-Saqaf, Walid
    Södertörns högskola, Institutionen för samhällsvetenskaper, Journalistik.
    A blockchain-based fact-checking registry: Enhancing trust in the fact-checkers2019Konferensbidrag (Övrigt vetenskapligt)
    Abstract [en]

    This paper introduces a project to build a blockchain-based registry for fact checks. It describes why the project was initiated and briefly argues for the use of blockchain to store fact checks compared to traditional storage methods. The project uses the Fact Check Assistant web application that was developed to streamline fact checking processes for individual fact checkers whether they work independently or as part of an institution or project.

    The paper is a mere introduction with in-depth research expected to follow so as to assess the project and identify what worked and what didn’t after the implementation of the project.

    The project is essentially an experiment to see if blockchain technology can help make fact checking processes more reliable and effective.

  • 2. Al-Saqaf, Walid
    Breaking digital firewalls: Analyzing internet censorship and circumvention in the Arab world2014Doktorsavhandling, monografi (Övrigt vetenskapligt)
    Abstract [en]

    This dissertation explores the role of Internet censorship and circumvention in the Arab world as well as Arabs’ views on the limits to free speech on the Internet.

    The project involves the creation of an Internet censorship circumvention tool named Alkasir that allows users to report and access certain types of censored websites. The study covers the Arab world at large with special focus on Egypt, Syria, Tunisia, and Yemen.

    This work is of interdisciplinary nature and draws on the disciplines of media and communication studies and computer science. It uses a pioneering experimental approach by placing Alkasir in the hands of willing users who automatically feed a server with data about usage patterns without storing any of their personal information.

    In addition to the analysis of Alkasir usage data, Web surveys were used to learn about any technical and nontechnical Internet censorship practices that Arab users and content producers may have been exposed to. The study also aims at learning about users’ experiences with circumvention tools and how such tools could be improved.

    The study found that users have successfully reported and accessed hundreds of censored social networking, news, dissident, multimedia and other websites. The survey results show that while most Arab informants disapprove censoring online anti-government political content, the majority support the censoring of other types of content such as pornography, hate speech, and anti-religion material.

    Most informants indicated that circumvention tools should be free of charge, fast and reliable. An increase in awareness among survey respondents of the need for privacy and anonymity features in circumvention solutions was observed.

  • 3. Al-Saqaf, Walid
    Circumventing Internet Censorship in the Arab World2012Ingår i: Liberation technology: social media and the struggle for democracy / [ed] Larry Diamond and Marc F. Plattner, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2012, s. 124-138Kapitel i bok, del av antologi (Övrigt vetenskapligt)
    Abstract [en]

    A book chapter describing how censorship patterns emerged in the Arab world during and just before the Arab Spring with some highlights of the early research done around censorship circumvention.

  • 4.
    Al-Saqaf, Walid
    Södertörns högskola, Institutionen för samhällsvetenskaper, Journalistik.
    How to Extract and Analyze Twitter Data for Social Science Research2022Övrigt (Refereegranskat)
    Abstract [en]

    As a social networking and microblogging platform that allows communication with short messages, Twitter has the potential of being used by social scientists to study users, uses, and societal communication and networking online. This How-to Guide introduces practical steps on how to gather and analyze Twitter data to answer research questions of interest. The guide starts with a discussion of the value that studying Twitter brings to social scientists while noting some of the main challenges and limitations. Thereafter, the guide introduces general principles that need to be understood prior to doing Twitter research. Those principles are meant to help guide the researcher in creating a proper research design starting with formulating the research questions, moving to the stage of identifying the most effective methods for data gathering, and ending with the analysis stage to answer those questions. Readers who wish to explore the field are encouraged to apply the main guidelines presented in this guide to case studies using tools that allow the extraction and analysis of Twitter data.

  • 5.
    Al-Saqaf, Walid
    Södertörns högskola, Institutionen för samhällsvetenskaper, Journalistik.
    How to Extract and Analyze Twitter Data Using Mecodify2022Övrigt (Refereegranskat)
    Abstract [en]

    As a social networking and microblogging platform that allows communication with short messages, Twitter has the potential of being used by social scientists to study users, uses, and societal communication and networking online. This How-to Guide introduces practical steps on how to extract and analyze Twitter data using the Mecodify open-source tool as a demonstration of using one of the widely used tools to do Twitter research. The intention behind using just one tool is to shorten the reader’s learning curve through a brief but practical introduction to an established open-source tool that is meant to make Twitter research more intuitive and easier to do. Readers who wish to explore the field further are encouraged to experiment with other tools that have richer features such as advanced correlation and regression analysis and artificial intelligence-driven natural language processing, which are beyond the scope of this guide.

  • 6. Al-Saqaf, Walid
    Internet Censorship Circumvention Tools: Escaping the Control of the Syrian Regime2016Ingår i: Media and Communication, E-ISSN 2183-2439, Vol. 4, nr 1, s. 39-50Artikel i tidskrift (Refereegranskat)
    Abstract [en]

    Studies have shown that authoritarian regimes tend to censor the media to limit potential threats to the status quo. While such censorship practices were traditionally aimed at broadcast and print media, the emergence of the Internet and social media in particular, prompted some authoritarian regimes, such as the Assad regime in Syria, to try and exert a similar level of censorship on the Internet as well. During the Arab Spring, the Syrian regime blocked hundreds of websites that provided social networking, news, and other services. Taking Syria as a case study, this paper examines whether Internet censorship succeeded in preventing Internet users from reaching censored online content during 2010−2012. By analyzing the use of Alkasir, a censorship circumvention tool created by the author, the paper provides empirical evidence demonstrating that users were in fact able to bypass censorship and access blocked websites. The findings demonstrate that censorship circumvention tools constituted a threat to the information control systems of authoritarian regimes, highlighting the potential of such tools to promote online freedom of expression in countries where Internet censorship is prevalent.

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  • 7.
    Al-Saqaf, Walid
    Stockholm University.
    The Internet is Weakening Authoritarian States’ Information Control: Syria as a case study2016Ingår i: Freedom of Expression and Media in Transition:: Studies and Reflections in the Digital Age / [ed] Ulla Carlsson, Gothenburg: Nordicom, 2016, s. 135-143Kapitel i bok, del av antologi (Övrigt vetenskapligt)
    Abstract [en]

    Previous research has identified information control as one of the most common traits of authoritarian regimes. With the advent of the Internet, however, attempts the ability to maintain a total blackout of selected types of information, such as anti-regime messages, dissident videos, etc., has weakenedve weakened. This article uses Syria as a case study to illustrate that despite the country’s regime’s pervasive Internet censorship methods of blocking dozens of websites, access to those websites remained possible. This was due to the emergence of censorship circumvention tools, which the present author argues are a form of liberation technology.

  • 8.
    Al-Saqaf, Walid
    et al.
    Södertörns högskola, Institutionen för samhällsvetenskaper, Journalistik.
    Berglez, Peter
    Jönköping University, Sweden.
    Analysing Twitter Discourse on Extreme Events and Climate Change Using Quantitative Research Methods and Applying Theoretical Interpretations2022Övrigt (Refereegranskat)
    Abstract [en]

    This method case study describes how we extracted and analyzed data from Twitter as part of a research project to investigate how users connected climate change to extreme weather events during 2008–2017. The paper describes how the open-source tool, Mecodify, was used as a fundamental part of the method to download data from Twitter and identify key insights through tables, graphs and machine-readable files. The paper goes into detail to describe the steps that were taken from the building the search query to analyzing, aggregating, and visualizing the data used to describe the findings. Although Mecodify facilitated the process significantly, the paper highlights some of the challenges that were confronted during different research stages and how they were overcome. The aim is to provide social media researchers with some useful insights for their own research.

  • 9.
    Al-Saqaf, Walid
    et al.
    Södertörns högskola, Institutionen för samhällsvetenskaper, Journalistik.
    Berglez, Peter
    Jönköping University, Sweden.
    How Do Social Media Users Link Different Types of Extreme Events to Climate Change?: A Study of Twitter During 2008–20172019Ingår i: Journal of Extreme Events, ISSN 2345-7376, Vol. 06, nr 02, artikel-id 1950002Artikel i tidskrift (Refereegranskat)
    Abstract [en]

    This study examines how three types of extreme events (heat waves, droughts, floods) are mentioned together with climate change on social media. English-language Twitter use during 2008–2017 is analyzed, based on 1,127,996 tweets (including retweets). Frequencies and spikes of activity are compared and theoretically interpreted as reflecting complex relations between the extreme event factor (the occurrence of an extreme event); the media ecology factor (climate-change oriented statements/actions in the overall media landscape) and the digital action factor (activities on Twitter). Flooding was found to be by far the most tweeted of the three in connection to climate change, followed by droughts and heat waves. It also led when comparing spikes of activity. The dominance of floods is highly prevalent from 2014 onwards, triggered by flooding events (extreme event factor), the climate science controversy in US politics (media ecology factor) and the viral power of celebrities’ tweets (digital action factor).

  • 10.
    Al-Saqaf, Walid
    et al.
    Södertörns högskola, Institutionen för samhällsvetenskaper, Journalistik.
    Christian, Christensen
    Stockholm University, Sweden.
    Tweeting in Precarious Times: Comparing Twitter Use During the 2013 General Election in Kenya and the 2012 Presidential Election in Egypt2019Ingår i: Media, Communication and the Struggle for Democratic Change: Case Studies on Contested Transitions / [ed] Katrin Voltmer, Christian Christensen, Nicole Stremlau, Irene Neverla, Barbara Thomass, Nebojša Vladisavljević, Herman Wasserman, Cham: Springer Publishing Company, 2019, s. 133-157Kapitel i bok, del av antologi (Refereegranskat)
    Abstract [en]

    Despite the emergence of several studies on Twitter's network effect during election processes, very few took a comparative approach to examine the social media platform's use in emerging democracies with high levels of political parallelism. This study helps bridge this gap through a thorough Twitter network analysis regarding two different presidential elections: the 2012 presidential election in Egypt and the 2013 Kenyan presidential election. While the two case studies had intense activity levels, there were clear distinctions. In Egypt, the pan-Arab mainstream media helped drive much of the interaction affirming their dominant traditional gatekeeper role. Kenya's case however showed greater levels of citizenry participation, stronger networks, and less reliance on mainstream media, which show signs of 'disintermediation'.

  • 11.
    Al-Saqaf, Walid
    et al.
    Södertörns högskola, Institutionen för samhällsvetenskaper, Journalistik.
    Picha Edwardsson, Malin
    Södertörns högskola, Institutionen för samhällsvetenskaper, Journalistik.
    Could blockchain save journalism? : An explorative study of blockchain’s potential to make journalism a more sustainable business2019Ingår i: Blockchain and Web 3.0: Social, Economic, and Technological Challenges / [ed] Massimo Ragnedda & Giuseppe Destefanis, London: Routledge, 2019, 1, s. 97-113Kapitel i bok, del av antologi (Refereegranskat)
    Abstract [en]

    Ever since the Bitcoin phenomenon gained momentum in recent years, much has been written about blockchain applications and prospects in the FinTech industry, business and healthcare. Yet, very little if any scholarly work has been done to study how the peer-to-peer, decentralized and highly disruptive blockchain technology may impact or be used by news media and journalists. This article is an effort to contribute to the body of scholarship on journalism as well as distributed ledger technologies (DLTs) by exploring blockchain’s potential applications and challenges when dealing with journalism's most fundamental pillars such as fact checking, data gathering and analysis.

    The study explores two case studies demonstrating distinct uses of permissionless blockchains. The first revolves around blockchains as a source of information that could be used by data journalists to extract valuable insights regarding payment transactions and network formation as illustrated by the investigative reporting done on the 2017 WannaCry ransomware attack.

    The second case study is around the use of the technology as a basis for revolutionizing journalism as an industry by leveraging the technology’s core characteristics, namely decentralisation, immutability and transparency. The latter case study will look into two ongoing journalistic projects namely the Distributed News Network and Civil, which promise allowing the creation and management of content without centralized control or even a centralized newsroom in ways that could effectively limit the spread of fake news and propaganda.

    The paper analyses the objectives, methods and limitations of the case studies and uses interviews and content analysis of empirical data obtained from primary sources. By reflecting on Rogers’ theory of the diffusion of innovation, the study assesses the impact of blockchains in comparison to other earlier technologies such as the diffusion of the Internet.

    It is hoped that the conclusions drawn from this study could help inform journalists and media about the potential uses and limitations of blockchain technology in journalism as well as initiate a scholarly curiosity with a futuristic outlook to understanding the role of cutting edge and disruptive technologies on society.

  • 12.
    Al-Saqaf, Walid
    et al.
    Södertörns högskola, Institutionen för samhällsvetenskaper, Journalistik.
    Seidler, Nicolas
    Internet Society International, Geneva, Switzerland.
    Blockchain technology for social impact: opportunities and challenges ahead2017Ingår i: Journal of Cyber Policy, ISSN 2373-8871, Vol. 2, nr 3, s. 338-354Artikel i tidskrift (Refereegranskat)
    Abstract [en]

    While much has already been written about blockchain applications and prospects in the FinTech industry, little research has been done to explore blockchain technology’s user-centric paradigm in enabling various applications beyond banking. This article is an effort to contribute to that body of scholarship by exploring blockchain technology’s potential applications, and their limits, in areas that intersect with social impact, including human rights. This article explores whether blockchain technology and its core operational principles – such as decentralisation, transparency, equality and accountability – could play a role in limiting undue online surveillance, censorship and human rights abuses that are facilitated by the increasing reliance on a few entities that control access to information online. By doing so, this article aims at initiating a scholarly curiosity to understand what is possible and what is to be concerned about when it comes to the potential impact of blockchain technology on society.

  • 13.
    Berglez, Peter
    et al.
    Jönköping University, Sweden.
    Al-Saqaf, Walid
    Södertörns högskola, Institutionen för samhällsvetenskaper, Journalistik.
    Extreme weather and climate change: social media results, 2008–20172021Ingår i: Environmental Hazards: Human and Policy Dimensions, ISSN 1747-7891, E-ISSN 1878-0059, Vol. 20, nr 4, s. 382-399Artikel i tidskrift (Refereegranskat)
    Abstract [en]

    The link between extreme weather and climate change is being highlighted in ever more countries. Increased public understanding of this issue is essential for policymaking, both in terms of climate change mitigation and adaptation. As social media are becoming central to the exchange of information in society, the purpose is to analyze what generates intensified attention to the connection between extreme weather and climate change in digital communication. This is done by examining periods of intensified co-occurrence of mentions of extreme weather and climate change on English-language Twitter (N = 948,993). Our quantitative analysis suggests that during the period 2008–2017 the years 2010, 2011 and 2017 exhibit a considerable increase in ‘causality discourse’, i.e. tweets that articulate the topic of climate change + extreme weather, in comparison with earlier years. These periods of significant growth are interpreted as involving dynamic relationships between three factors, namely mediated highlighting of previous or ongoing extreme-weather events (extreme-event factor); connection of extreme weather to climate change by traditional media or other intermediaries (media-driven science communication factor); and actions of individual users (digital-action factor). Through a qualitative discourse analysis, how these factors jointly generate increasing attention to ‘causality discourse’ is more closely explored for the case of 2017.

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  • 14.
    Nygren, Gunnar
    et al.
    Södertörns högskola, Institutionen för samhällsvetenskaper, Journalistik.
    Widholm, Andreas
    Södertörns högskola, Institutionen för samhällsvetenskaper, Journalistik.
    Taradai, Daria (Medarbetare/bidragsgivare)
    Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, Ukraine.
    Orlova, Dariya (Medarbetare/bidragsgivare)
    Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, Ukraine.
    Ukraina och informationskrigets nya vägar: Sociala medier, krigsrapportering och desinformation2024 (uppl. 1)Bok (Övrigt vetenskapligt)
    Abstract [sv]

    Sociala medier spelar en central roll i nyhetsflödet från kriget i Ukraina. Både som källor och som plattformar för distribution och cirkulation av innehåll. I de sociala medieflödena finns viktiga vittnesskildringar från människor som befinner sig i krigets centrum, men också desinformation och konspirationsteorier. I Ukraina har den sociala medieplattformen Telegram blivit den viktigaste källan till information för många människor, trots att den har ryska rötter. 

    Den här boken undersöker nyhetsflödet från kriget i Ukraina, men också människors medieanvändning och förtroende för den information de möter genom olika typer av medier. Den är resultatet av ett samarbete mellan svenska och ukrainska forskare som analyserat tusentals artiklar och uppdateringar på sociala medier, gjort intervjuer med medieanvändare i Ukraina, och analyserat svenska folkets nyhetskonsumtion. Allt detta lägger grunden för en analys av ett nytt och framväxande hybridmediesystem, där traditionella, alternativa, och sociala medier konkurrerar om människors uppmärksamhet, men också ger olika bilder av krigets orsaker och konsekvenser. 

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    Ukraina och informationskrigets nya vägar: Sociala medier, krigsrapportering och desinformation
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  • 15.
    Picha Edwardsson, Malin
    et al.
    Södertörns högskola, Institutionen för samhällsvetenskaper, Journalistik.
    Al-Saqaf, Walid
    Södertörns högskola, Institutionen för samhällsvetenskaper, Journalistik.
    Drivers and Barriers for Using Blockchain Technology to Create a Global Fact-Checking Database2022Ingår i: Online Journal of Communication and Media Technologies, E-ISSN 1986-3497, Vol. 12, nr 4, artikel-id e202228Artikel i tidskrift (Refereegranskat)
    Abstract [en]

    A core concept within journalism is the demand for correctness and the ability to double-check news and its sources (Kovach & Rosenstiel, 2014). In this paper, we reflect on the development of a prototype to study the possible use of blockchain technology to create a global secure database of fact-checks that is open to the public. The prototype utilized Hyperledger fabric to create a permissioned blockchain that stores fact-checks created by its users. Through automated processes using smart contracts (chain code applications), we aimed to create a solution that would improve the reliability of fact-checking and keep track of each fact-checking process for digital content, including pictures and videos.

    Our conclusion is that it is indeed possible to create a blockchain-based system that allows the establishment of a network of fact-checkers that could collectively build and maintain a globally accessible fact-checking database. However, based on technical developments and the evaluation performed by the professional fact-checkers and data journalists in our study, we conclude that the cost, complexity, and rapid technological changes required in this domain indicate that blockchain technology is not yet ready to be directly applied to fact-checking processes in a real-world scenario.

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    fulltext
  • 16.
    Picha Edwardsson, Malin
    et al.
    Södertörns högskola, Institutionen för samhällsvetenskaper, Journalistik.
    Al-Saqaf, Walid
    Södertörns högskola, Institutionen för samhällsvetenskaper, Journalistik.
    Journalistiken i framtiden – trender och spaningar2020Ingår i: Vad är journalistik?: En antologi av journalistiklärare på Södertörns högskola / [ed] Elin Gardeström & Hanna Sofia Rehnberg, Huddinge: Södertörns högskola, 2020, s. 125-131Kapitel i bok, del av antologi (Övrigt vetenskapligt)
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    Journalistiken i framtiden – trender och spaningar
  • 17.
    Picha Edwardsson, Malin
    et al.
    Södertörns högskola, Institutionen för samhällsvetenskaper, Journalistik.
    Al-Saqaf, Walid
    Södertörns högskola, Institutionen för samhällsvetenskaper, Journalistik.
    Nygren, Gunnar
    Södertörns högskola, Institutionen för samhällsvetenskaper, Journalistik.
    Verification of Digital Sources in Swedish Newsrooms — A Technical Issue or a Question of Newsroom Culture?2023Ingår i: Journalism Practice, ISSN 1751-2786, E-ISSN 1751-2794, Vol. 17, nr 8, s. 1678-1695Artikel i tidskrift (Refereegranskat)
    Abstract [en]

    This article analyses and discusses attitudes and practices concerning verification among Swedish journalists. The research results are based on a survey of more than 800 Swedish journalists about their attitudes towards verification (Journalist 2018) and a design project where a prototype for verification in newsrooms – the Fact Check Assistant (FCA) – was developed and evaluated. The results of the survey show a lack of routines when it comes to verifying content from social media and blogs and considerable uncertainty among journalists about whether this kind of verification is possible.

    The development of the prototype initially created reactions of interest and curiosity from the newsroom staff. Gradually, however, the degree of scepticism about its usability increased. A lack of time and a lack of knowledge were two of the obstacles to introducing new verification routines. It is not enough to introduce new digital tools, according to the journalists. Management must also allocate time for training. The paper’s ultimate conclusion is that changing journalists’ and editors’ attitudes towards verification in this digital age appears to be guided by newsroom culture rather than technical solutions.

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  • 18.
    Sorensen, Lone
    et al.
    University of Huddersfield, Huddersfield, UK.
    Ford, Heather
    University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia.
    Al-Saqaf, Walid
    Södertörns högskola, Institutionen för samhällsvetenskaper, Journalistik.
    Bosch, Tanja
    University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa.
    Dialogue of the Deaf: Listening on Twitter and Democratic Responsiveness during the 2015 South African State of the Nation Address2019Ingår i: Media, Communication and the Struggle for Democratic Change: Case Studies on Contested Transitions / [ed] Katrin Voltmer, Christian Christensen, Nicole Stremlau, Irene Neverla, Barbara Thomass, Nebojša Vladisavljević, Herman Wasserman, Cham: Springer Publishing Company, 2019, s. 229-254Kapitel i bok, del av antologi (Refereegranskat)
    Abstract [en]

    This chapter investigates the use of social media as a channel of communication between citizens and government. It draws on the concept of ‘listening’ in democratic communication (Couldry, N., Why Voice Matters: Culture and Politics After Neoliberalism. Los Angeles, CA: Sage, 2010; Dobson, A., Listening for Democracy: Recognition, Representation, Reconciliation. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014). In the run-up to the 2015 State of the Nation Address, the South African presidency conducted a listening exercise on Twitter, which failed on all counts. Combining quantitative and qualitative analyses of Twitter conversations, the chapter evaluates the quality of listening and identifies the reasons for the collapse of the conversation. The findings suggest that while poorly performed listening campaigns can result in spiralling frustration among citizens, social media platforms like Twitter can also provide opportunities for governments to listen in a manner that serves a more positive relationship with citizens.

  • 19.
    Turunen, Jaakko
    et al.
    Södertörns högskola, Institutionen för samhällsvetenskaper, Socialt arbete.
    Werther, Steffen
    Södertörns högskola, Institutionen för historia och samtidsstudier, Samtidshistoriska institutet.
    Al-Saqaf, Walid
    Södertörns högskola, Institutionen för samhällsvetenskaper, Journalistik.
    Performing control in the Swedish Twitter sphere or: How a 1920s' Russian linguist helps us understand dynamics of digital authority2022Ingår i: Frontiers in Political Science, E-ISSN 2673-3145, Vol. 4, artikel-id 946985Artikel i tidskrift (Refereegranskat)
    Abstract [en]

    Social media has created new public spheres that provide alternative sources of social and political authority. Such “digital authority” has conventionally been interpreted in metric terms, without qualitative distinctions. Based on Twitter data from four different Swedish state agencies during the first 15 months of the COVID-19 crisis, this paper looks at the different kinds of modes of interaction Twitter enables and their impact on state agencies digital authority. Theoretically this paper applies Valentin Voloshinov's classical theory on reported speech, developed in the 1920s, to the concept of digital authority in the Twitter-sphere of the 2020s. Besides these theoretical contributions to media and communication studies, the main findings are that retweets are generally used to affirm and spread information thus strengthening the digital authority of the origin of the tweet whilst replies and quote-tweets are used to undermine the credibility of the sender and the content of the original tweet, often by resorting to irony. As the COVID-19 crisis prolongs, we observe increasing share of critical commentary and diminishing overall attention to government actors in Sweden. The roles of different state agencies are mirrored by the type of interaction they generate. This article also shows the usefulness of qualitative study of social media interaction in order to reveal the dynamics of digital authority construed in social media.

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