Council of Europe recommendation on the impacts of digital technologies on freedom of expression now adopted by 46 member States

More than two years ago, I had the honor of being selected as one of the 13 members of a new Council of Europe expert committee on Freedom of Expression and Digital Technologies (MSI-DIG). The Council of Europe is the continent’s leading human rights organization and brings together 46 member States, including all members of the European Union and the United Kingdom. Al members are signatories to the European Convention on Human Rights, whose principles are implemented by the European Court of Human Rights..

Between 2020 and 2021, all members of the MSI-DIG committee worked very closely and benefited enormously from the input of member States and civil society stakeholders, as well as the competent and steady support of the Secretariat, to produce two key documents:

I had the pleasure and honor to serve as Co-Rapporteur, together with the fantastic Alexandra Borchardt, for the drafting of Recommendation CM/Rec(2022)13, which on the 6th of April 2022 has been adopted by the Committee of Ministers. Natali Helberger and Viktors Makarovs were invaluable as Secretary and Deputy Secretary of the Committee. The Council of Europe’s Elena Dodonova and, before her, Charlotte Altenhoener-Dion, were invaluable in helping us navigate both organizational and substantive issues.

The document aims to clarify how States and other stakeholders, including internet intermediaries, can fulfill their human rights obligations and responsibilities with regard to freedom of expression, combining legal, regulatory, administrative and practical measures. It is divided into six sections:

  1. Foundations for human rights-enhancing rule-making
  2. Digital infrastructure design
  3. Transparency
  4. Accountability and redress
  5. Education and empowerment
  6. Independent research for evidence-based rule-making

I hope this document will be useful to policymakers and regulators, private companies, and civil society actors as we all grapple with the difficult choices and trade-offs that the contemporary digital media environment entails for the preservation of human rights. Our Northern star throughout the writing of this document has always been Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which is always worth reading in full:

1. Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers. This Article shall not prevent States from requiring the licensing of broadcasting, television or cinema enterprises.
2. The exercise of these freedoms, since it carries with it duties and responsibilities, may be subject to such formalities, conditions, restrictions or penalties as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society, in the interests of national security, territorial integrity or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, for the protection of the reputation or rights of others, for preventing the disclosure of information received in confidence, or for maintaining the authority and impartiality of the judiciary.

Last week, I had the pleasure of discussing the Recommendation at the UNESCO World Press Freedom Day Global Conference 2022, held in hybrid format in Punta Del Este (Uruguay). I participated in a panel titled “Freedom of Expression during Conflicts – Curbing of war propaganda/disinformation vs. access to information on internet platforms”. The panel also featured Guy Berger (UNESCO),Eliska Pirkova (Access Now), and Ambassador Thomas Schneider (Swiss Federal Department of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communication).

New open-access article on “Partisan Blocking” published in the Journal of Communication

The Journal of Communication has just published a new article led by Johannes Kaiser (a brilliant colleague who was a post-doc at the Online Civic Culture Centre at Loughborough University with funding from the Swiss National Science Foundation), Andrew Chadwick, and myself. The article is published open access, which means everyone can freely read and download it.

In this study, based on two experiments on representative sample of social media users in Germany, we investigate how people use the “block” and “unfollow” (or “unfriend”) function on social media against their friends who report misinformation. In particular, we ask whether users use these functions differently depending on whether the friend who reports misinformation has similar or different political views to their own.

We find that, indeed, users are substantially and significantly more likely to block their friends who share misinformation if those friends have different political views to their own. We argue that these patterns, in turn, have important implications for network polarization, i.e., the degree to which the other users with whom we are in contact on social media tend to cluster based on political preferences. By disproportionately cleaning up their social media feeds from disagreeing friends who share misinformation, users may end up reducing the diversity of the content they encounter, whether accurate or not. As we argue in the conclusion:

Partisan blocking derives from a confluence of other users’ norm violations and popular social media affordances originally introduced to grant people greater control over their online experiences. Even when used by citizens to protect themselves from misinformation shared by their online friends, blocking and unfriending can end up disproportionately severing ties to politically dissimilar others. At the same time, because politically similar friends who share inaccurate content are less likely to be blocked, partisan blocking does little to solve the problem of users who continue to push misinformation to their like-minded online friends.

I also had the pleasure to speak about our research with Shraddha Chakradhar from the Nieman Lab, who wrote an excellent article that illustrates the results of our research. The final quote from the article nicely summarizes one of the key implications of our work:

“I think that probably the most important takeaway is that there are some drawbacks to the widespread assumption that one of the best ways to protect people against disinformation is to give users tools that enable them to limit contact with other people who share misinformation,” Vaccari told me. “If people applied those tools in a politically neutral way, then there would be no problem with that argument. But the problem, as this study shows, is that people apply those blocking and unfollowing tools in a way that is partisan.”

Full citation: Johannes Kaiser, Cristian Vaccari, Andrew Chadwick, Partisan Blocking: Biased Responses to Shared Misinformation Contribute to Network Polarization on Social Media, Journal of Communication, Volume 72, Issue 2, April 2022, Pages 214–240, https://doi.org/10.1093/joc/jqac002

Call for papers for the 8th annual conference of The International Journal of Press/Politics (Loughborough University, UK, 22-23 September 2022)

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Call for papers
8th Annual Conference of the International Journal of Press/Politics
Loughborough University, UK, 22-23 September 2022
Deadline for abstracts: 23 May 2022

On 22-23 September 2022, the Centre for Research in Communication and Culture at Loughborough University will host the 8th annual conference of the International Journal of Press/Politics, focused on academic research on the relationship between media and political processes around the world. Professor Maria Repnikova (Georgia State University) will deliver a keynote speech.

The deadline for submission of abstracts is 23 May 2022. Attendees will be notified of acceptance by 6 June 2022. Registration fees will be due 8 July 2022 and full papers based on accepted abstracts will be due 8 September 2022. A selection of the best full papers presented at the conference will be published in the journal after peer review. Previous journal special issues based on conference papers can be found here and here.

The conference brings together scholars conducting internationally oriented or comparative research on the intersection between news media and politics around the world. It aims to provide a forum for academics from a wide range of disciplines, countries, and methodological approaches to advance knowledge in this area.

Examples of relevant topics include, but are not limited to, the political implications of changes in media systems; the importance of different types of media for learning about and engaging with politics; the factors affecting the quality of political information and public discourse; media policy and regulation; the role of entertainment and popular culture in how people engage with current affairs; relations between political actors and journalists; the role of visuals and emotion in the production and processing of public information; the role of different kinds of media during conflicts and crises; and political communication during and beyond elections by government, political parties, interest groups, and social movements. The journal and the conference are particular interested in studies that adopt comparative approaches, represent substantial theoretical or methodological advances, or focus on parts of the world that are under-researched in the international English language academic literature.

Titles and abstracts for papers (maximum 300 words) are invited by 23 May 2022. The abstract should clearly describe the key question, the theoretical and methodological approach, the evidence presented, and the wider implications of the study for understanding the relationship between media and politics. Authors are encouraged to provide as much detail as possible about the spatial and temporal context of their study, the research design employed, the data collected, and the main results of the analyses.

Please send submissions via the online form available at https://bit.ly/IJPP2022.

The registration fee for the conference will be GBP 250, to be paid by 8 July 2022. The fee covers lunches and coffee breaks on 22 and 23 September, two conference dinners on 21 and 22 September, and farewell drinks on 23 September. A limited number of registration fee waivers will be available for early career scholars and scholars from countries that appear in Tiers B and C of the classification adopted by the International Communication Association. Applications must be made by 23 May 2022 via the abstract online submission form available at https://bit.ly/IJPP2022.

All attendees must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to attend the conference and respect the UK Government and Loughborough University policies to protect themselves and the population against COVID-19. Attendees visiting Loughborough from abroad must commit to follow the UK Government’s regulations to travel to England.

The conference is organized by Cristian Vaccari (Editor-in-Chief of IJPPand Director of CRCC). Please contact Professor Vaccari with questions at c.vaccari@lboro.ac.uk.

More about the journal, the University, and the Centre.

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The International Journal of Press/Politics is an interdisciplinary journal for the analysis and discussion of the role of the media and politics in a globalized world. The journal publishes theoretical and empirical research which analyzes the linkages between the news media and political processes and actors around the world, emphasizes international and comparative work, and links research in the fields of political communication and journalism studies, and the disciplines of political science and media and communication. The journal is published by SAGE Publications and is ranked 7th in Communication and 9th in Political Science by Journal Citation Reports.

Professor Maria Repnikova is an expert on Chinese political communication, and an Associate Professor in Global Communication at Georgia State University. She has written widely on China’s media politics, including propaganda, critical journalism, digital nationalism and soft power. Dr. Repnikova is the author of the award-winning book, Media Politics in China: Improvising Power Under Authoritarianism (Cambridge 2017), as well as the recent, Chinese Soft Power (Cambridge Global China Element Series). Her public writings have appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, and the Atlantic, amongst other publications. Other than working on China, Repnikova does comparative work on information politics in China and Russia. Most recently, she has been researching and completing a monograph on Chinese soft power in Africa, with a focus on Ethiopia. Dr. Repnikova holds a doctorate in politics from Oxford University where she was a Rhodes Scholar. In the past, she was a Wilson Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center (2020-2021), a visiting fellow at the African Studies Center at Beijing University (2019), and a post-doctoral fellow at the Annenberg School for Communication (2014-2016), amongst other positions.

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Based on a 440-acre, single-site campus at the heart of the UK, Loughborough University is ranked top 10 in every British university league table. Voted University of the Year (The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2019) and awarded Gold in the National Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), Loughborough provides a unique student experience. Loughborough University has excellent transport links to the rest of the UK. It is a short distance away from Loughborough Train station, a 15-minute drive from East Midlands Airport (near Nottingham), an hour drive from Birmingham Airport, and an hour and 15 minutes from London via train.

Since its establishment in 1991, the Centre for Research in Communication and Culture has developed into the largest research center of its kind in the UK. The Centre is proudly interdisciplinary, combining social science and humanities approaches for the rigorous exploration of the production and consumption of different forms of communication and creative texts. CRCC’s research draws on and contributes to theories and methods in cultural and media studies, sociology, politics, psychology, history and memory studies, textual, visual and computational analysis, and geography. The Centre promotes research that explores how media and cultural texts are produced, how they construct meanings, how they shape societies, and how they fit within an ever-growing creative economy.

Video of my talk at the Political Studies Association Media and Politics Group seminar

I gave a talk as part of the seminar series of the Media and Politics Group of the UK Political Studies Association. I will briefly presented our recently published book Outside the Bubble: Social Media and Political Participation in Western Democracies, coauthored with Augusto Valeriani (University of Bologna) and edited by Oxford University Press as part of the Oxford Studies in Digital Politics series.

Unlike in previous book presentations, I started by offering a brief overview of our arguments, followed by extensive discussion, competently chaired by Dr James Dennis. I am very grateful to the PSA MPG for the invitation and to all those who attended for their insightful contributions. The recording of the seminar is now available online.

Speaking at the Political Studies Association Media and Politics Group seminar – 12 Jan 22, 4-5pm GMT

Next week, I will be honored to participate in the seminar series of the Media and Politics Group of the UK Political Studies Association. In my talk, I will briefly present  our recently published book Outside the Bubble: Social Media and Political Participation in Western Democracies, coauthored with Augusto Valeriani (University of Bologna) and edited by Oxford University Press as part of the Oxford Studies in Digital Politics series.

The event is free for anyone who register and will take place on Zoom on 12 January 2022, from 4-5pm GMT. You can register for free here.

Unlike in previous book presentations, I will provide a brief overview of our arguments and most of the event will be dedicated to questions from participants. I very much look forward to discussing our work with anyone who will intervene and with Dr James Dennis, who will serve as chair.

Video of my Presentation of “Outside the Bubble: Social Media and Political Participation in Western Democracies”

Last week, I was honored to give a talk at the Center for the Study of Democratic Citizenship, which brings together six leading universities in Quebec (Concordia University, McGill University, Université Laval, Université de Montréal (UdeM), Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM), and Université TÉLUQ).

In my talk, I presented the main arguments and findings from our newly published book”Outside the Bubble: Social Media and Political Participation in Western Democracies“, coauthored with Augusto Valeriani (University of Bologna) and edited by Oxford University Press as part of the Oxford Studies in Digital Politics series.

The full video of the recording of the event is now available on YouTube. I hope you find it interesting. Many thanks to CSDC and in particular to its director, Professor Frédérick Bastien, not only for the invitation but for a very kind introduction.

Videos of the 2021 International Journal of Press/Politics Virtual Conference (13-16 September 2021)

I am delighted to share the video recordings of the 2021 conference of The International Journal of Press/Politics. A playlist that contains all the videos can be accessed here.

Day 1 – 13 September 2021

Welcome and Opening remarks 
Cristian Vaccari (Loughborough University), Editor-in-Chief of IJPP

12:35-1:50pm News and the Pandemic
Chair: Alexandra Segerberg (Uppsala University)

The Psychological Empowerment of Solutions Journalism: Perspectives from Pandemic News Users in the UK
Xin Zhao (Bournemouth University), Daniel Jackson (Bournemouth University), An Nguyen (Bournemouth University), Antje Glück (Bournemouth University)

Framing migration during the Covid-19 pandemic in South Africa: a 12-month media monitoring project
Thea de Gruchy (University of the Witwatersrand), Thulie Zikhali (University of the Witwatersrand), Jo Vearey (University of the Witwatersrand), Johanna Hanefeld (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine)

YouTube as a source of information about unproven drugs for Covid-19: The role of the mainstream media and recommendation algorithms in promoting misinformation
Felipe Bonow Soares (UFPEL/UFRGS), Igor Salgueiro (UFPEL), Carolina Bonoto (UFRGS), Otávio Vinhas (University College Dublin)

Media and Politics around the World
Chair: Edda Humprecht (University of Zurich)

The public performance of ANC political demagoguery: The case of Jacob Zuma’s ‘Arms Deal’ court appearances
Lefa Afrika (University of Cape Town)

Populism Influence on Media Content: Polarization and Professionalization in Ecuador before and during Correa’s era
Manel Palos Pons (University of California, San Diego)

Risks of COVID-19 reporting in (semi-)authoritarian states: Perceived pressures on journalists in Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan
Svetlana S. Bodrunova (St. Petersburg State University), Nikita Argylov, (Far Eastern Federal University), Aliaksandr Hradziushka (Belarusian State University), Galiya Ibrayeva, (Al-Farabi Kazakh National University)

New Perspectives on Misinformation and Disinformation
Chair: C.W. Anderson (University of Leeds, Associate Editor of IJPP)

Misinformation and Trust in Institutions in Four Countries in 2019 and 2021
Shelley Boulianne (MacEwan University), Edda Humprecht (University of Zurich)

Social media and political misinformation in the 2021 Mexico elections: Maximal panic, minimal effects
Sebastián Valenzuela (Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile), Marcelo Santos (Universidad Finis Terrae), Carlos Muñiz (Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León)

Marking the boundaries between visual and textual disinformation in a digital world: A literature synthesis and research agenda
Teresa Elena Weikmann (University of Vienna), Sophie Lecheler (University of Vienna)

Setting the agenda through misinformation: Analyzing the vote-by-mail coverage during the 2020 US elections
Jonas Kaiser (Suffolk University), Carolyn Schmitt (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), Kathryn Stapleton (Suffolk University)

Day 2 – 14 September 2021

Hearing or Ignoring the other side: Causes and Consequences
Chair: Jason Reifler (University of Exeter)

Why read news from the other side? How people’s selection and avoidance of news articles on social media increases polarization
Jakob Boggild (European University Institute)

Selective Exposure and New Political Cleavages: Political Media Use and Ideological Reinforcement Over Time
Adam Shehata (University of Gothenburg), Mats Ekström (University of Gothenburg), Per Oleskog-Tryggvasson (University of Gothenburg)

Curating political animosity? The relation of algorithmic news curation to ideological extremity and social and political intolerance
Linda Bos (University of Amsterdam), Jakob Ohme (University of Amsterdam), Artemis Tsoulos-Malakoudi (University of Amsterdam)

Debating the Normative Foundations of the News
Chair: Thea de Gruchy (University of the Witwatersrand)

“Fair and balanced”: What news audiences in four countries mean when they say they prefer impartial news
Camila Mont’Alverne (University of Oxford), Sumitra Badrinathan (University of Oxford), Amy Ross Arguedas (University of Oxford), Benjamin Toff (University of Oxford), Richard Fletcher (University of Oxford), Rasmus Kleis Nielsen (University of Oxford)

Fake News and Value Pluralism: A Liberal Response to Post-Truth Politics
Nick Anstead (London School of Economics)

“Polite Watchdog”: Kompas and Watchdog Journalism in the Post Authoritarian Indonesia
Wijayanto (Universitas Diponegoro)

Social Media and Politics
Chair: Duncan McCargo (University of Copenhagen)

(In)Civility of Campaign Videos and User Comments in Facebook: Affective Polarization and Mobilization
Taberez Ahmed Neyazi (National University of Singapore), Ozan Kuru (National University of Singapore), Subhayan Mukerjee (National University of Singapore)

The role of Facebook influencers in shaping the narratives of the Rodrigo Duterte era
Renee Karunungan (Loughborough University)

Politicians and journalists – interactive communication in social media?
Kinga Adamczewska (Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań)

Communicating Covid-19
Chair: David Smith (University of Leicester, Managing Editor of IJPP)

Pandemic Nationalism: How Exposure to Government Social Media Affects People’s Belief in COVID-19 Conspiracy Theories in China
Anfan Chen (University of Science and Technology of China), Yingdan Lu (Stanford University), Kaiping Chen (University of Wisconsin-Madison), Aaron Ng (National University of Singapore)

Understanding the Agenda of Alternative and Online Political Media Post-Corbyn and through the Covid-19 Pandemic
Declan McDowell-Naylor (Cardiff University), Stephen Cushion (Cardiff University), Richard Thomas (Swansea University)

The role of political partisanship for the relationship between trust in the news and trust in the government as sources for coronavirus information: Findings from two cross-sectional online survey studies in six countries
Anne Schulz (University of Zurich), Richard Fletcher (University of Oxford), Rasmus Kleis Nielsen (University of Oxford)

Day 3 – 15 September 2021

Media Policy between Old and New Challenges
Chair: Joyce Y.M. Nip (University of Sydney)

Content Moderation in the Digital Democracy: What’s the Problem?
Nahema Marchal (University of Zurich), Fabrizio Gilardi (University of Zurich), Emma Hoes (University of Zurich), Jonathan Kluser (University of Zurich), Meysam Alizadeh (University of Zurich), Mael Kubli (University of Zurich)

Funding Democracy: Public Media and Democratic Health in 33 Countries
Timothy Neff (University of Pennsylvania), Victor Pickard (University of Pennsylvania)

Good Journalism or Good Business? The politics of press support and news production in Taiwan
Hsiao-wen Lee (SOAS, University of London)

International Perspectives on Social Media and Political Communication
Chair: Danielle K. Brown (University of Minnesota, incoming Associate Editor of IJPP)

Exploring Digital Campaign Competence: The Role of Voter Knowledge on Data-Driven Election Campaigns
Sophie Minihold (University of Vienna and University of Amsterdam), Sophie Lecheler (University of Vienna), Claes de Vreese (University of Amsterdam), Sanne Kruikemeier (University of Amsterdam)

The gendered use of social media among political candidates in transition contexts: evidence from Tunisia
Malin Holm (Uppsala University), Yasmine Naila Skhiri (Uppsala University), Pär Zetterberg (Uppsala University)

Pandemic Politics: Microtargeting Strategies on Facebook India
Kiran Arabaghatta Basavaraj (University of Exeter), Holli A. Semetko (Emory University), Anup Kumar (Cleveland State University)

Digital Media and Politics: Dynamics and Influences
Chair: Shelley Boulianne (MacEwan University)

Incumbency, corruption, and the politics of online content regulation
Kyong Mazzaro (City University of New York)

Trolling with the Punches: How Journalists Navigate Online Harassment
Elizabeth Dubois (University of Ottawa), Chris Tenove (University of British Columbia), Sabrina Wilkinson (University of Ottawa), Trevor Deley (University of Ottawa) 

News We Can Use: Local news and civic engagement in neighbourhood chat groups online
Laszlo Horvath (Birkbeck, University of London), Joshua Blamire (University of Exeter)

Day 4 – 16 September 2021

Understanding Patterns of News Consumption, Avoidance, and Sharing
Chair: Sophie Lecheler (University of Vienna, Associate Editor of IJPP)

I Do Not (Want to) Know! An Empirical Investigation of the Relationship Between Unintentional and Intentional News Avoidance and Their Predictors
Dominika Betakova (University of Vienna), Hajo Boomgaarden (University of Vienna), Sophie Lecheler (University of Vienna), Svenja Schäfer (University of Vienna), Loes Aaldering (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam)

Neither absent nor ambient: A more holistic view of incidental exposure to news in the digital age
Ruth Palmer (IE University), Benjamin Toff (University of Minnesota and University of Oxford)

To convince, to provoke or to entertain? A study on individual motivations behind online misinformation sharing in six Western democracies
Sophie Morosoli (University of Antwerp), Peter Van Aelst (University of Antwerp), Patrick van Erkel (University of Antwerp)

Contentious Politics and Information Flows
Chair: Taberez Ahmed Neyazi (National University of Singapore)

Now is the time to protest: the eternal sunshine of a spotless polity
Ricardo Fabrino Mendonça (UFMG/INCT.DD), Nina Santos (INCT.DD)

Conventional vs. Contentious: Exploring the relationship between participation in the social movement and voting intention in Hong Kong
Pei Zhi (City University of Hong Kong)

Tale of Two Internets: How Information Flows from the US to Chinese Social Media
Yingdan Lu (Stanford University), Jack Schaefer (University of California Los Angeles), Jungseock Joo (University of California Los Angeles), Kunwoo Park (Soongsil University), Jennifer Pan (Stanford University)

Perspectives on Media Effects
Chair: Laszlo Horvath (Birkbeck, University of London)

The Other 98%: Exposure to and Effects of Political Content Beyond News: Evidence from browsing data in three countries
Magdalena Wojcieszak (University of California Davis and University of Amsterdam), Sjifra de Leeuw (University of Amsterdam), Bernhard Clemm (University of Amsterdam), Ericka Menchen-Trevino (American University)

Does corruption corrupt? The behavioral effects of mediated exposure to corruption
Israel Waismel-Manor (University of Haifa), Patricia Moy (University of Washington), Rico Neumann (University of Washington), Moran Shechnick (University of Haifa)

Does Identity Matter? Ethnicity, Religion and Effects of Negative Campaigning on the Perception of Candidates
Kelechi Amakoh (University of Amsterdam)

Digital Innovation in News: Challenges and Strategies
Chair: Declan McDowell-Naylor (Cardiff University)

The creation of algorithmic publics in authoritarian regimes: Explaining digital innovation uptake in Russian news media
Olga Dovbysh (University of Helsinki), Mariëlle Wijermars (Maastricht University and University of Helsinki)

Does political position matter? Affective engagement strategies of news providers on Facebook in post-handover Hong Kong
Joyce Y.M. Nip (University of Sydney), Benoit Berthelier (University of Sydney)

Uneasy Bedfellows: AI in the News, Platform Companies and the Issue of Journalistic Autonomy 
Felix M. Simon (University of Oxford and Columbia University)

Conclusions and farewell 
Cristian Vaccari (Loughborough University), Editor-in-Chief of IJPP

Now Published! “Outside the Bubble: Social Media and Political Participation in Western Democracies” (with Augusto Valeriani, Oxford University Press)

I am beyond delighted that our new book has now been published by Oxford University Press, as part of the Oxford Studies in Digital Politics series edited by Andy Chadwick. Written with Augusto Valeriani (University of Bologna) and made possible by a large grant funded by the Italian Ministry of Education, the book sheds light on the relationship between social media and political participation. Our analyses are based on custom-built surveys on samples representative of internet users in nine Western democracies between 2015 and 2018: Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Poland, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Based on these data, we argue that social media do indeed increase political participation in both online and face-to-face activities—and that they expand political equality across Western democracies. We find that, for the most part, social media do not constitute echo chambers or filter bubbles, as most users see a mixture of political content they agree and disagree with. Various political experiences on social media, such as engaging with supportive viewpoints, accidentally encountering political news, and being targeted by political mobilization, have positive implications for participation and active political involvement: social media allow citizens to encounter clearly identifiable political viewpoints, facilitate accidental exposure to political news, and enable political actors and ordinary citizens to reach voters with electoral messages designed to mobilize them. Moreover, political interactions occurring on social media do not only benefit citizens who are already involved, but boost participation across the board and especially among the less involved. This is because social media offer both additional participatory incentives to the already engaged and new political opportunities for the less engaged. The combined effects of these incentives, and of their different effects on citizens with different levels of involvement, is a leveling of participatory inequalities among those who are more and less involved in politics.

By adopting a comparative approach, we also show that political institutions matter since some political experiences on social media are more strongly associated with participation in majoritarian systems and in party-centric systems. But overall, the relationship between the political experiences on social media that we study and political participation looks rather similar across the nine countries we studied, which suggests that these processes may be increasingly standardized, at least in the realm of liberal Western democracies.

In sum, we argue that, while social media may contribute to many societal problems, they can help address at least two important democratic ills: citizens’ apathy towards politics, as social media expose people to information that may stimulate them to participate, and inequalities between those who choose to exercise their voice and those who remain silent, as political experiences on social media seem to make a stronger difference for citizens who are relatively less involved in politics.

Below is the Table of Contents of the book. You can order it via Oxford University Press (as paperback or hardcover) or through most online retailers, where it is also available as ebook. The book also features an extensive Online Appendix, which you can access via the Open Science Foundation.

Program of the 2021 International Journal of Press/Politics Virtual Conference (13-16 September 2021)

I am delighted to share the program of the 2021 conference of The International Journal of Press/Politics. As we did last year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic the conference will be held virtually. The online videoconferencing system will be able to host up to 300 attendees at any time. The video feed of the proceedings will be recorded and made publicly available shortly after the conference.

To celebrate the conference, we have updated our special collection on Media and Politics in the Global South and in Global Perspective, which now features 46 articles free to download until the 1st of October 2021.

Last updated 9 September 2021.

Logistics

The conference will be held via a secure Zoom link shared only with participants and attendees.

All times are British Summer Time (BST), or UTC+1 (see Time Zone Converter).

For each paper, participants will have a total of 25 minutes, which includes both the paper presentation and the live discussion. Presentation of each paper will be immediately followed by discussion of the paper.

Registration

Registration fees can be paid here. The fees are £30 for presenters and attendees £5. Payment of the registration fees is entirely voluntary for both presenters and attendees.

Those who would like to attend the conference need to sign up here. Those who sign up will receive the conference Zoom link in the morning of 13 September. The link will be shared only with conference presenters and those who signed up to attend. It will not be published anywhere.

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Monday 13 September, 12:30-5:45pm  

12:30-12:35pm Welcome and Opening remarks 

Cristian Vaccari (Loughborough University), Editor-in-Chief of IJPP

12:35-1:50pm News and the Pandemic
Chair: Alexandra Segerberg (Uppsala University)

The Psychological Empowerment of Solutions Journalism: Perspectives from Pandemic News Users in the UK
Xin Zhao (Bournemouth University), Daniel Jackson (Bournemouth University), An Nguyen (Bournemouth University), Antje Glück (Bournemouth University)

Framing migration during the Covid-19 pandemic in South Africa: a 12-month media monitoring project
Thea de Gruchy (University of the Witwatersrand), Thulie Zikhali (University of the Witwatersrand), Jo Vearey (University of the Witwatersrand), Johanna Hanefeld (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine)

YouTube as a source of information about unproven drugs for Covid-19: The role of the mainstream media and recommendation algorithms in promoting misinformation
Felipe Bonow Soares (UFPEL/UFRGS), Igor Salgueiro (UFPEL), Carolina Bonoto (UFRGS), Otávio Vinhas (University College Dublin)

1:50-3:05pm Media and Politics around the World
Chair: Edda Humprecht (University of Zurich)

The public performance of ANC political demagoguery: The case of Jacob Zuma’s ‘Arms Deal’ court appearances
Lefa Afrika (University of Cape Town)

Populism Influence on Media Content: Polarization and Professionalization in Ecuador before and during Correa’s era
Manel Palos Pons (University of California, San Diego)

Risks of COVID-19 reporting in (semi-)authoritarian states: Perceived pressures on journalists in Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan
Svetlana S. Bodrunova (St. Petersburg State University), Nikita Argylov, (Far Eastern Federal University), Aliaksandr Hradziushka (Belarusian State University), Galiya Ibrayeva, (Al-Farabi Kazakh National University)

3:05-4:45pm New Perspectives on Misinformation and Disinformation
Chair: C.W. Anderson (University of Leeds, Associate Editor of IJPP)

Misinformation and Trust in Institutions in Four Countries in 2019 and 2021
Shelley Boulianne (MacEwan University), Edda Humprecht (University of Zurich)

Social media and political misinformation in the 2021 Mexico elections: Maximal panic, minimal effects
Sebastián Valenzuela (Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile), Marcelo Santos (Universidad Finis Terrae), Carlos Muñiz (Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León)

Marking the boundaries between visual and textual disinformation in a digital world: A literature synthesis and research agenda
Teresa Elena Weikmann (University of Vienna), Sophie Lecheler (University of Vienna)

Setting the agenda through misinformation: Analyzing the vote-by-mail coverage during the 2020 US elections
Jonas Kaiser (Suffolk University), Carolyn Schmitt (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), Kathryn Stapleton (Suffolk University)

4:45-5:45pm Keynote Speech

Follow the Ad: Understanding Election Disinformation in the Digital Age
Young Mie Kim (University of Wisconsin-Madison)

Young Mie Kim is a Professor of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication and a Faculty Affiliate of the Department of Political Science. Kim is a 2019 Andrew Carnegie Fellow. Kim’s research concerns data-driven, algorithm-based, digitally mediated political communication. Kim’s recent research project, Project DATA (Digital Ad Tracking & Analysis), empirically investigates the sponsors, content, and targets of digital political campaigns across multiple platforms with a user-based, real-time, ad tracking tool that reverse engineers the algorithms of political campaigns. Kim and her team’s research, “The Stealth Media? Groups and Targets behind Divisive Issue Campaigns on Facebook,” identified “suspicious groups,” including Russian groups on Facebook. The work received the Kaid-Sanders Best Article of the Year in Political Communication (2018), awarded by the International Communication Association. Kim testified at the Federal Election Commission‘s hearings on the rulemaking of internet communication disclaimers and presented her research at the Congressional briefings on foreign interference in elections. Kim also spoke at the European Parliament on her research on data-driven political advertising and inequality in political involvement.

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Tuesday 14 September, 9:30am-2:30pm

9-30:10:45am Hearing or Ignoring the other side: Causes and Consequences
Chair: Jason Reifler (University of Exeter)

Why read news from the other side? How people’s selection and avoidance of news articles on social media increases polarization
Jakob Boggild (European University Institute)

Selective Exposure and New Political Cleavages: Political Media Use and Ideological Reinforcement Over Time
Adam Shehata (University of Gothenburg), Mats Ekström (University of Gothenburg), Per Oleskog-Tryggvasson (University of Gothenburg)

Curating political animosity? The relation of algorithmic news curation to ideological extremity and social and political intolerance
Linda Bos (University of Amsterdam), Jakob Ohme (University of Amsterdam), Artemis Tsoulos-Malakoudi (University of Amsterdam)

10:45am-12:00pm Debating the Normative Foundations of the News
Chair: Thea de Gruchy (University of the Witwatersrand)

“Fair and balanced”: What news audiences in four countries mean when they say they prefer impartial news
Camila Mont’Alverne (University of Oxford), Sumitra Badrinathan (University of Oxford), Amy Ross Arguedas (University of Oxford), Benjamin Toff (University of Oxford), Richard Fletcher (University of Oxford), Rasmus Kleis Nielsen (University of Oxford)

Fake News and Value Pluralism: A Liberal Response to Post-Truth Politics
Nick Anstead (London School of Economics)

“Polite Watchdog”: Kompas and Watchdog Journalism in the Post Authoritarian Indonesia
Wijayanto (Universitas Diponegoro)

12:00-1:15pm Social Media and Politics
Chair: Duncan McCargo (University of Copenhagen)

(In)Civility of Campaign Videos and User Comments in Facebook: Affective Polarization and Mobilization
Taberez Ahmed Neyazi (National University of Singapore), Ozan Kuru (National University of Singapore), Subhayan Mukerjee (National University of Singapore)

The role of Facebook influencers in shaping the narratives of the Rodrigo Duterte era
Renee Karunungan (Loughborough University)

Politicians and journalists – interactive communication in social media?
Kinga Adamczewska (Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań)

1:15-2:30pm Communicating Covid-19
Chair: David Smith (University of Leicester, Managing Editor of IJPP)

Pandemic Nationalism: How Exposure to Government Social Media Affects People’s Belief in COVID-19 Conspiracy Theories in China
Anfan Chen (University of Science and Technology of China), Yingdan Lu (Stanford University), Kaiping Chen (University of Wisconsin-Madison), Aaron Ng (National University of Singapore)

Understanding the Agenda of Alternative and Online Political Media Post-Corbyn and through the Covid-19 Pandemic
Declan McDowell-Naylor (Cardiff University), Stephen Cushion (Cardiff University), Richard Thomas (Swansea University)

The role of political partisanship for the relationship between trust in the news and trust in the government as sources for coronavirus information: Findings from two cross-sectional online survey studies in six countries
Anne Schulz (University of Zurich), Richard Fletcher (University of Oxford), Rasmus Kleis Nielsen (University of Oxford)

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Wednesday 15 September, 12:30-5:30pm 

12:30-1:45pm Media Policy between Old and New Challenges
Chair: Joyce Y.M. Nip (University of Sydney)

Content Moderation in the Digital Democracy: What’s the Problem?
Nahema Marchal (University of Zurich), Fabrizio Gilardi (University of Zurich), Emma Hoes (University of Zurich), Jonathan Kluser (University of Zurich), Meysam Alizadeh (University of Zurich), Mael Kubli (University of Zurich)

Funding Democracy: Public Media and Democratic Health in 33 Countries
Timothy Neff (University of Pennsylvania), Victor Pickard (University of Pennsylvania)

Good Journalism or Good Business? The politics of press support and news production in Taiwan
Hsiao-wen Lee (SOAS, University of London)

1:45-3:00pm International Perspectives on Social Media and Political Communication
Chair: Danielle K. Brown (University of Minnesota, incoming Associate Editor of IJPP)

Exploring Digital Campaign Competence: The Role of Voter Knowledge on Data-Driven Election Campaigns
Sophie Minihold (University of Vienna and University of Amsterdam), Sophie Lecheler (University of Vienna), Claes de Vreese (University of Amsterdam), Sanne Kruikemeier (University of Amsterdam)

The gendered use of social media among political candidates in transition contexts: evidence from Tunisia
Malin Holm (Uppsala University), Yasmine Naila Skhiri (Uppsala University), Pär Zetterberg (Uppsala University)

Pandemic Politics: Microtargeting Strategies on Facebook India
Kiran Arabaghatta Basavaraj (University of Exeter), Holli A. Semetko (Emory University), Anup Kumar (Cleveland State University)

3:00-4:15pm Digital Media and Politics: Dynamics and Influences
Chair: Shelley Boulianne (MacEwan University)

Incumbency, corruption, and the politics of online content regulation
Kyong Mazzaro (City University of New York)

Trolling with the Punches: How Journalists Navigate Online Harassment
Elizabeth Dubois (University of Ottawa), Chris Tenove (University of British Columbia), Sabrina Wilkinson (University of Ottawa), Trevor Deley (University of Ottawa) 

News We Can Use: Local news and civic engagement in neighbourhood chat groups online
Laszlo Horvath (Birkbeck, University of London), Joshua Blamire (University of Exeter)

4-15-5:30pm Virtual reception

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Thursday 16 September, 9:30am-2:30pm 

9:30:10-45am Understanding Patterns of News Consumption, Avoidance, and Sharing
Chair: Sophie Lecheler (University of Vienna, Associate Editor of IJPP)

I Do Not (Want to) Know! An Empirical Investigation of the Relationship Between Unintentional and Intentional News Avoidance and Their Predictors
Dominika Betakova (University of Vienna), Hajo Boomgaarden (University of Vienna), Sophie Lecheler (University of Vienna), Svenja Schäfer (University of Vienna), Loes Aaldering (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam)

Neither absent nor ambient: A more holistic view of incidental exposure to news in the digital age
Ruth Palmer (IE University), Benjamin Toff (University of Minnesota and University of Oxford)

To convince, to provoke or to entertain? A study on individual motivations behind online misinformation sharing in six Western democracies
Sophie Morosoli (University of Antwerp), Peter Van Aelst (University of Antwerp), Patrick van Erkel (University of Antwerp)

10:45am-12:00pm Contentious Politics and Information Flows
Chair: Taberez Ahmed Neyazi (National University of Singapore)

Now is the time to protest: the eternal sunshine of a spotless polity
Ricardo Fabrino Mendonça (UFMG/INCT.DD), Nina Santos (INCT.DD)

Conventional vs. Contentious: Exploring the relationship between participation in the social movement and voting intention in Hong Kong
Pei Zhi (City University of Hong Kong)

Tale of Two Internets: How Information Flows from the US to Chinese Social Media
Yingdan Lu (Stanford University), Jack Schaefer (University of California Los Angeles), Jungseock Joo (University of California Los Angeles), Kunwoo Park (Soongsil University), Jennifer Pan (Stanford University)

12:00-1:15pm Perspectives on Media Effects
Chair: Laszlo Horvath (Birkbeck, University of London)

The Other 98%: Exposure to and Effects of Political Content Beyond News: Evidence from browsing data in three countries
Magdalena Wojcieszak (University of California Davis and University of Amsterdam), Sjifra de Leeuw (University of Amsterdam), Bernhard Clemm (University of Amsterdam), Ericka Menchen-Trevino (American University)

Does corruption corrupt? The behavioral effects of mediated exposure to corruption
Israel Waismel-Manor (University of Haifa), Patricia Moy (University of Washington), Rico Neumann (University of Washington), Moran Shechnick (University of Haifa)

Does Identity Matter? Ethnicity, Religion and Effects of Negative Campaigning on the Perception of Candidates
Kelechi Amakoh (University of Amsterdam)

1-15:2:30pm Digital Innovation in News: Challenges and Strategies
Chair: Declan McDowell-Naylor (Cardiff University)

The creation of algorithmic publics in authoritarian regimes: Explaining digital innovation uptake in Russian news media
Olga Dovbysh (University of Helsinki), Mariëlle Wijermars (Maastricht University and University of Helsinki)

Does political position matter? Affective engagement strategies of news providers on Facebook in post-handover Hong Kong
Joyce Y.M. Nip (University of Sydney), Benoit Berthelier (University of Sydney)

Uneasy Bedfellows: AI in the News, Platform Companies and the Issue of Journalistic Autonomy 
Felix M. Simon (University of Oxford and Columbia University)

2:30-2:45pm Conclusions and farewell 

Cristian Vaccari Loughborough University, Editor-in-Chief of IJPP

Public Online Keynote Speech on “Outside the Bubble: Social Media and Political Participation in Western Democracies”

Next week, I very much look forward to giving the first talk about my forthcoming book, written with Augusto Valeriani, Outside the Bubble: Social Media and Political Participation in Western Democracies, to be published later this year as part of the Oxford Studies in Digital Politics series with Oxford University Press.

The talk will be online and open to everyone. To attend, please register here. It is part of an exciting conference on “Communication Power of Global Citizens and Politicians”, organized by Shelley Boulianne, Karolina Koc-Michalska, and Kari Steen-Johnsen.

I am very grateful for the invitation and even though I am sorry that we will not be meeting in person in Paris, where the conference was supposed to take place, I am very much looking forward to discussing the key ideas and results presented in the book.