In this work, we investigate whether and how the presence of political hashtags in social media news articles influences the way people discuss news content. Specifically, we examine how political hashtags in news posts act as a design characteristic that affects the quality of online discourse. We use a randomized control experiment to assess how the presence versus absence of political hashtags (particularly the most prevalently used #MeToo and #BlackLivesMatter) in social media news posts shapes discourse across a general audience (n=3205). Key findings show differences in topical focus, emotional tone of discourse, and rhetorical styles between commenters who were shown news posts with political hashtags versus those shown news posts without the hashtags. Compared to the control group, those shown hashtagged news posts heavily focus on the politics of the hashtag, use more words associated with fear, anger, and disgust in their comments, and exhibit black-and-white rhetoric and less emotionally temperate expressions in their arguments.
Social media provides a critical communication platform for political figures, but also makes them easy targets for harassment. In this paper, we characterize users who adversarially interact with political figures on Twitter using mixed-method techniques. The analysis is based on a dataset of 400 thousand users' 1.2 million replies to 756 candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives in the two months leading up to the 2018 midterm elections. We show that among moderately active users, adversarial activity is associated with decreased centrality in the social graph and increased attention to candidates from the opposing party. When compared to users who are similarly active, highly adversarial users tend to engage in fewer supportive interactions with their own party's candidates and express negativity in their user profiles. Our results can inform the design of platform moderation mechanisms to support political figures countering online harassment.
We examine a leaderless social movement characterized by participants' autonomy and the absence of leaders and organizations. We conducted a participant observation study of the Anti-ELAB movement in Hong Kong. Focusing on the organization of a protest march, we collected thousands of lines of discourse in the LIHKG Forum and the Telegram instant messaging system. Our grounded theory analysis revealed hundreds of groups acting within a symbiotic network. Participants promoted an ethos of empowering individual participants and groups to act autonomously. At the same time, participants' extensive use of hyperlinks and polls orchestrated a coherent social movement. We discuss how this novel formation can mediate successful leaderless movements.
This paper documents the experiences of those living under state surveillance. We interviewed our participants about how they lived under threat, and how it changed their technology practices. Our participants spanned three groups - journalists who reported from countries where their activities were illegal; activists who took part in civil disobedience, and individuals who worked in illegal activities that would have likely led to prosecution. In our analysis we cover four themes: first, 'the imagined surveillant'. Second, the danger and dependencies of technology use, third, their coping strategies, and lastly how belonging to a group can protect but also expose. In our discussion we cover how we can design for dissidents, and how to deal with the difficult questions this raises. We conclude by advocating for research that takes into account a critical view of the state in HCI and more broadly for an anti-surveillance stance in the design of technologies.
As concerns have grown regarding harmful content spread on social media, platform mechanisms for content moderation have become increasingly significant. However, many existing platform governance structures lack formal processes for democratic participation by users of the platform. Drawing inspiration from constitutional jury trials in many legal systems, this paper proposes digital juries as a civics-oriented approach for adjudicating content moderation cases. Building on existing theoretical models of jury decision-making, we outline a 5-stage model characterizing the space of design considerations in a digital jury process. We implement two examples of jury designs involving blind-voting and deliberation. From users who participate in our jury implementations, we gather informed judgments of the democratic legitimacy of a jury process for content moderation. We find that digital juries are perceived as more procedurally just than existing common platform moderation practices, but also find disagreement over whether jury decisions should be enforced or used as recommendations.