Can our society escape the social media outrage loop?

timelapse photography of steel wool fire dancing at night

You may have noticed the absence of the Irish Ladies Football Team story on Slugger the past week – it was deliberate. It would only take me five mins to fire up a post that would be guaranteed to get probably 10,000 readers and would likely generate over 1,000 comments, but to what purpose? A formula has developed around these stories. Someone says something stupid on social media, or someone does something stupid, and it is recorded and put on …

Read more…

Is social media helping to keep us stuck in the past?

I was listening to an interesting podcast recently. It was a discussion with the writer Michael Sacasas about his article – We Are Not Living in a Simulation, We Are Living In the Past. The discussion is a little heavy on philosophy, but the general gist of it is that social media is keeping us stuck as we replay the same debates over and over and never move on. You may remember I wrote something similar last month – Is …

Read more…

Is the amplification of every slight and grievance helping us?

Misinformation on the web. Illustration by Carlos PX (http://payforlayers.com/)

There is a lot of nastiness around this week. I can fully understand politicians being upset when their election posters are burned or worse they appear on bonfires as hanging effigies. But if we step back a bit the 12th has actually been fairly quiet the past few years compared to the riot fest it used to be. Correct me if I am wrong but I don’t think there were any controversial parades this year. The ever-larger bonfires are a …

Read more…

When the time is right, I’d like to hear Doug Beattie communicate what he’s learned…

What a fortnight it’s been for men in the public eye. Everyone is apparently very sorry. The Prime Minister is sorry for the parties. Damon Albarn is sorry he dared to slight the Princess of Pop, Taylor Swift. And Doug Beattie is sorry for his Tweets. All of them. All the ones we’ve seen and probably a few we’ve not, judging by the sheer volume. It has been painful to observe Doug’s catastrophic fall from grace as a woman from …

Read more…

UUP back Doug Beattie as leader. Edwin Poots issues defamation proceedings…

Doug Beattie picked the worst time possible to tweet his joke. I was checking the news to see what else to write about and there is nothing much happening locally at the moment so all the media eyes are still on the beleaguered UUP leader. People have been combing his previous Tweets and coming up with some real clangers. In case you missed it – some tweets from Doug Beattie which Belfast Live discovered. pic.twitter.com/e6XZnxSa0R — Scott Moore | Scomo …

Read more…

When it comes to social media, whatever you say, say nothing…

I imagine ex-soldier Doug Beattie would rather be under fire by the Taliban than the social media mob – the Taliban are more forgiving. I have a certain sympathy for Doug: who amongst us has never told a dodgy joke? I detected a certain reticence by Edwin Poots to put the boot in on his Nolan Show appearance. I assume Edwin and other politicians are thinking it could easily be them in the firing line. On @StephenNolan today – Ulster …

Read more…

Do politicians really need to be on social media?

social media, interaction, woman

One of the party leaders once said to me ‘I f*cking hate Twitter’ and I found it hard to disagree with them, given the abuse politicians get online. I have had a Twitter account for 13 years and I deliberately say practically nothing on it. I have also managed to avoid putting a single photo on my Instagram account. When you see what some politicians have to go through you really do wonder if it’s all worth the hassle. You …

Read more…

Freedom to express, but not freedom to incite?

Western liberal democracies pride themselves on the right to freedom of expression. But social media has within the last decade or so had a profound impact on the possibilities of political expression. The suspension of Donald Trump’s access to Twitter, Facebook and now YouTube following the assault on the Capitol on 6th January has opened up a new debate on whether this ban is contrary to the right of free speech. The irony is that Trump’s supporters have accused these …

Read more…

“Journalists have always had to have integrity”

The media are at a crossroads, with fears over the future of some of Northern Ireland’s best known newspapers. Existing trends favouring social media over print newspapers have been accelerated by the Covid-19 crisis, with additional financial pressures from a collapse in advertising revenues. This is an appropriate moment to reflect on the future of the media and on ethical responsibilities on journalists working in a post-conflict society. The latest Forward Together podcast from the Holywell Trust features an interview …

Read more…

Has Coronavirus helped us remember what the internet is really for?

Just over a week ago I was in my office at the BBC building at MediaCity in Salford. I was in the traditional end-of-project panic, trying to finish the series of radio documentaries I’ve been making for the BBC World Service. These programmes explore how digital technology and the online world has changed the ways the religious practice their faith – how mobile apps help the busy worship alone, and virtual reality church lets the remote or disabled worship with others. You can hear all four here. …

Read more…

Social media transparency data is giving real time insight on party strategy at #GE2019

The upcoming general election is the first general election in the UK where social media companies are publishing transparency data, showing which political advertisements are being displayed on the platforms, who is paying for them, and the amounts being spent. Facebook is, by far, the largest platform for social media political advertisements in the UK. In the first full week of the campaign to the 4th of November, there was £175k of spending on campaign related advertisements on the platform, …

Read more…

The NI Department of Justice #EndingTheHarm campaign viewed over a million times on Snapchat in August 2019

Transparency data released this week by ephemeral messaging app Snapchat has shown that the NI Department of Justice #EndingTheHarm campaign made over a million impressions over an 18 day period last month. The campaign, part of the Tackling Paramilitarism programme, made 1,138,048 impressions over the course of the campaign. Of the 15 organizations who had political campaigns on the social network in the UK over the course of 2019 so far, it ranked 8th in terms of impressions behind Police …

Read more…

Stephen NOLAN: Enhancing democratic debate in the era of fake news?

Stephen NOLAN: Enhancing democratic debate in the era of fake news? by Allan LEONARD 26 February 2019 As part of their engagement programme, Queen’s University Belfast hosted a lecture by radio and television personality, Stephen Nolan, who was introduced by Ryan Feeney. Much of Nolan’s lecture was an autobiography of how he has developed his career in journalism and working for the BBC. His views on the topics in the lecture title — “Enhancing the Democratic Debate in the Era …

Read more…

Just Say Momo – how the PSNI are helping to spread hoaxes and hysteria online

If you are a member of any parents’ social media groups, then you might have heard of “Momo”, apparently a game that challenges children to perform dangerous tasks. The story is often accompanied by a horrifying picture, which is actually a sculpture created by a Japanese special effects company called Link Factory. The story is a well-known hoax, and the urban legend debunking site Snopes article has an excellent article on the subject. At the time of writing, the hoax …

Read more…

Earning trust “story by story”

Earning trust “story by story”: Can we believe the media? The role of journalism in the digital age by Allan LEONARD 4 October 2018 Ulster University — along with the UK press regulatory body, Impress, and the Media, Communication and Cultural Studies Association (MeCCSA) — jointly hosted a symposium event at its Belfast campus: “Can we believe the media? The role of journalism in the digital age”. Keynote speakers were Jonathan Heawood (Chief Executive Officer, Impress) and Peter Feeney (Press …

Read more…

Rugby Rape Trial: Stop Professing Certainty

As many foresaw and as the judge warned, the rape trial involving the two Ulster and Ireland rugby players has caused a significant backlash on social media. Throughout the trial but especially once the verdict was delivered everyone seemed to become an expert and Facebook and Twitter were filled with people proclaiming to know whether the verdict reached by the jury was or was not correct and what this result should mean. On twitter, the hashtag “Ibelieveher” was taken up …

Read more…

Social media and the problem of hidden identities…

Jamie Bryson is a well known anti-agreement Loyalist activist with an interest in law, politics and writing. He is author of “My Only Crime Was Loyalty”, an account of his role in the Union Flag protests and his subsequent lengthy and complex criminal trial. There is a great hypocrisy within Northern Ireland’s social media orbit. There is also a great vacuum whereby harassment, trolling and outright abuse is viewed as ‘lovable trolling’, so long as the ‘right’ people are targeted. …

Read more…

You have to admire the Russians. They are the ultimate internet trolls…

Seems Theresa May is getting annoyed at Russian meddling in Western politics. From the BBC: Senior Russian politicians have dismissed accusations by Theresa May that Moscow has meddled in elections and carried out cyber-espionage. On Monday night, Mrs May accused Moscow of “planting fake stories” to “sow discord in the West”. She said Vladimir Putin’s government was trying to “undermine free societies”. The Russians hit back with: #UK Prime Minister @theresa_may on @Russia: “We know what you are doing”. We …

Read more…

The Conservatives have a mountain to climb to challenge Labour’s social media dominance

In the wake of this year’s snap general election, it has become apparent that age, not social class, has become the new fault line in British politics. Analysis published by YouGov highlights the woeful electoral performance by the Conservatives amongst younger voters. Amongst 18 and 19 year old voters at the 2017 general election, Labour were ahead of the Tories by a staggering 47 points (66% to 19%), and were 40 points ahead of the Conservatives with voters in their …

Read more…