Panel 2 - Social Media
Matías Valderrama (PGR, Centre for Interdisciplinary Methodologies)
Yanbo Huang (PGT, Centre for Interdisciplinary Methodologies)
Keywords: Meme, Online Antagonism, Web 2.0, Discourse and stereotype, Orientalism
Digital memes have occupied a crucial place on the Internet and on social media. The characteristics of Web 2.0 have been well combined with the original features of meme, which leads to an increasing interest in creating and circulating Internet meme. However, many ideologies and online hate may be disseminated by Internet meme through a humorous approach. As discussed by Philips and Milner (2017, 2021), the so-call Internet culture is white and male centric and various excuses have been used to justify their antagonistic behaviour toward marginalised group, such as women and ethnic minority. When expressing this antagonism, humours can be a powerful tool, as it creates an in-group who understands and appreciates the humour and an out-group who may be the target of humour or do not understand the logic behind them. Nowadays, many memes on TikTok or Twitter use Chinese-related material, such as Chinese politics, songs and celebrity, as their source material and create various memes. However, these memes may contain various kinds of Sinological-orientalism, which is an ideology that treats China as “other” and reflects popular stereotypes about Chinese people. Meanwhile, the Internet also fuses this propagation, that the Internet facilitates the decontextualization of the original content, which leads to more confusion and misunderstanding. Meanwhile, the attention economy and algorithm may favour these stereotypical contents which leads to more discussion. This study will use discourse and semiotic analysis to analyse some memes which originated from Chinese songs and politics, which will answer the question how the creation and circulation of these memes reflect the orientalism and what role digital technology plays in this process.
The moderating role of users’ subjective well-being on discontinuous usage of social media: Dual-system theory
Haiyue Luo (PGT, Warwick Business School)
Keywords: social media, dual-system theory, system1, system2, discontinuous usage, moderator, subjective well-being (OSWB)
With the pervasiveness of social media, the world has been digitalized, and the internet has immersed almost every corner of human life. The technostress, which is the unbalanced relationship between humans and Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), representing in users feel hard to adapt to new technologies in a healthy manner (Tarafdar et al., 2007), became a crucial topic. The positive relationship between technostress and discontinuous usage intention on social media has been well-researched, but its moderating effect remains blank. Lee (2016) denoted that innovativeness and users’ perceived usefulness might be the inhibiting factor of users’ discontinuous behaviour. Thus, users’ subjective well-being (SWB) provides a novel and overarching angle to explore the moderating role of inhibition abandon usage.
In the context of dual-system theory, this paper aims to discuss SWB works in the emotion-generation stage, behaviour-control stage or both by combining dual-system theory. The dual-system theory demonstrates two different areas of the human brain; one is impulsive and unconscious (system1), while the other is reflective and conscious (system2) (Kahneman & Frederick 2002, Stanovich 1999). In this study, I hypothesise that SWB can instantly alleviate users' negative feelings, which belongs to system1; if SWB can not remove all negative feelings but focus more on the instrumentality of social media, it belongs to system2. Hence, the theoretical framework is set.
To classify the negative emotions as comprehensive as possible, I adopt the classification from Bayer et al. (2020), in which they split negative emotions into doubt, loneliness, envy and distraction, respectively corresponding to the main four social media attributes. However, there is no robust literature about online subjective well-being (OSWB) and its classification. Therefore, I adopt specific sociology theories, containing social support, social presence, etc., and learn from Seligman’s opinion (2012) to split OSWB further.
In conclusion, this research aims to discover the underlying mechanism of how subjective well-being works to alleviate users’ negative feelings in order to constrain their discontinuous usage intention. Learning from dual-system theory, this study also combines with cognition process in IS research, expanding the scope of IS research into the psychology field. The research crosses many disciplines, containing information systems, psychology and sociology.
Trends in the pervasiveness of Central Bank conspiracy theories and their consequences for monetary policy: Mining 'Bank of England' Twitter
James Sanders (PGT, Warwick Business School)
Keywords: conspiracy, twitter, central banks, modelling
This study analyses a large dataset of tweets to identify trends in the popularity of conspiracy theories relating to the Bank of England. Independent central banks have long been targets for populist leaders. For example, Donald Trump has referred to central bankers at the Federal Reserve as “boneheads” and pressured the FOMC to keep rates low. Existing literature has shown that individuals in support of populist ideals are more likely to also exhibit conspiratorial tendencies, particularly when those theories are proliferated and legitimised by populist leaders and media. To gauge the pervasiveness of conspiracy theories I extract a 10% sample of all tweets since 2012 that explicitly mention the Bank of England. I describe this data set using a Biterm Topic Model, an unsupervised machine learning model that splits texts into discrete topics and is specialised for short texts. The key methodological challenge for this study is how to capture the amount of conspiratorial rhetoric. To this end, I use two approaches. Firstly, a dictionary-led approach where tweets are classified conspiratorial or not in a binary fashion based upon the presence of a predefined list of phrases. Secondly, a word embeddings approach where tweets are compared to a ground-truth conspiratorial text and given a continuous score between 0 and 1. I find some evidence in support of a growing fraction of tweets being conspiratorial in nature, with a particular uptick around 2015/16. This coincides with the rise of Donald Trump in the US and Brexit in the UK which may support the association between conspiracy and populism. The increased conspiratorial sentiment towards independent central banks reinforces populist calls to end central bank independence, leads to the muddying of central bank communications, and increases physical and cyber risks.
Jack Wilson (PGR, Centre for Interdisciplinary Methodologies)
Keywords: QAnon, Archives, Epistemology, Methodology, Media Theory
While already growing at a rapid clip, the COVID-19 pandemic presented conditions wherein the conspiracy theory QAnon could explode, with its articulations moving beyond the marginal platforms of 4chan and 8kun (née ‘8chan’) and the distributed oeuvres of conspiracy entrepreneurs to a globe/platform-spanning phenomenon (see De Zeeuw et al., 2020; O’Connor et al., 2020; Zadrozny & Collins, 2018). Situating the pandemic within its sprawling imaginary of a satanic cabal attempting to thwart Donald Trump’s efforts to ‘Make America Great Again’ – QAnon’s influence could be seen across anti-lockdown and anti-vaccine messaging, and this no more so than in the refrain ‘do your own research.’ This presentation asks what it means to ‘do your own research’ within QAnon, specifically, how individuals ‘research’ the conspiracy theory’s ur-text: Q drops. Q drops are cryptic missives from Q (the alleged Trump insider who is QAnon’s central figure) and are made exclusively to the anarchic and unarchived image boards of 4chan and 8kun. Given that much of what passes for ‘research’ within QAnon is the interpretation of Q drops in terms of contemporary – and historical – events and public figures, several Q drop archives have emerged. Through an analysis of three such archives (QAnon.pub, QMap.pub, and QAgg.news), this presentation will illustrate how QAnon’s ‘research’ practices go far beyond simple hermeneutics – and in this sense into ominous territory with regard to the already fraught epistemic terrain of our post-pandemic world.