First Monday <p><em>First Monday</em> is one of the first openly accessible, peer–reviewed journals solely devoted to resarch about the Internet. <em>First Monday</em> has published 2,027 papers in 298 issues,&nbsp;written by 2,923 different authors over the past 24 years. No subscription fees, no submission fees, no advertisements, no fundraisers, no walls.</p> en-US <p>Authors retain copyright to their work published in <em>First Monday</em>. Please see the footer of each article for details.</p> (Edward J. Valauskas) (Nancy John) Mon, 01 Mar 2021 07:02:39 -0600 OJS 60 More than a mob: Parler as preparatory media for the U.S. Capitol storming <p>On 6 January 2021, a violent mob attacked the United States Capitol. Yet while mob suggests a chaotic and fragmented crowd, networked media had already been working to provide it with “just enough” cohesion, transforming it into a more dangerous political body. This article conceptualizes this preparatory media by examining the “free speech” social media network Parler, drawing on a corpus of ∼350,000 posts from the days leading up to and including the attack. This material empirically demonstrates how media worked to forge connections between disparate camps, to incite participants toward violent activity, and to legitimize this attack as moral or even spiritual. Preparatory media frames events, establishes targets, and sets agendas, providing a degree of order and working against disaggregation online. This temporary stabilization contributes to a more mobilized and organized public body. Rather than prosocial or emancipatory, the Capitol storming demonstrates the far darker potential of this work. Understanding this role of media and intervening within these logics provides one component for preventing future attacks.</p> Luke Munn Copyright (c) 2021 First Monday Sun, 07 Feb 2021 15:33:07 -0600 Down the bot hole: Actionable insights from a one-year analysis of bot activity on Twitter <p>Social media represent persuasive tools that have been progressively weaponized to affect beliefs, spread manipulative narratives, and sow conflicts along divergent factions. Software-controlled accounts (<em>i.e.</em>, bots) are one of the main actors associated with manipulation campaigns, especially in a political context. Uncovering the strategies behind bots’ activities is of paramount importance to detect and curb such campaigns. In this paper, we present a long term (one year) analysis of bots activity on Twitter in the run-up to the 2018 U.S. midterm elections. We identify different classes of accounts based on their nature (human vs. bot) and engagement within the online discussion and we observe that hyperactive bots played a pivotal role in the dissemination of conspiratorial narratives, while dominating the political debate in the year before the election. Our analysis, in advance of the U.S. 2020 presidential election, reveals both alarming findings of human susceptibility to bots and actionable insights that can contribute to curbing coordinated campaigns.</p> Luca Luceri, Felipe Cardoso, Silvia Giordano Copyright (c) 2021 First Monday Fri, 12 Feb 2021 11:23:04 -0600 Backgrounds and behaviors: Which students successfully identify online resources in the face of container collapse <p>In a digital environment, students have difficulty determining whether an information resource comes from a book, magazine, journal, blog, or other container, and lose the contextual information that these containers provide. This study of students from primary through graduate school looks at their ability to identify the containers of information resources, and how this ability is affected by their demographic traits, the resource features they attended to, and their behaviors during a task-based simulation. The results indicate that correct container identification requires deep engagement with a resource. Those who attended to cues such as genre and source were better able to identify container, while those who paid attention to heuristics such as its visual appearance and URL were not. Demographic characteristics, including educational cohort and first-generation student status, also had an effect.</p> Christopher Cyr, Tara Tobin Cataldo, Brittany Brannon, Amy Buhler, Ixchel Faniel, Lynn Silipigni Connaway, Joyce Kasman Valenza, Rachael Elrod, Samuel Putnam Copyright (c) 2021 First Monday Mon, 15 Feb 2021 18:34:18 -0600 How nonprofits use Facebook to craft infrastructure <p>We present findings from interviews with 23 individuals affiliated with non-profit organizations (NPOs) to understand how they deploy information and communication technologies (ICTs) in their civic engagement efforts. Existing research about NPO ICT use is often critical, but we did not find evidence that NPOs fail to use tools effectively. Rather, we detail how NPOs assemble various ICTs to create infrastructures that align with their values. Overall, we find that existing theories about technology choice (e.g., task-technology fit, uses and gratifications) do not explain the assemblages NPOs describe. We argue that the infrastructures they fashion can be explained through the lens of moral economies rather than utility. Together, the rhetorics of infrastructure and moral economies capture the motivations and constraints our participants expressed and challenge how prevailing theories of ICT use describe the non-profit landscape.</p> Libby Hemphill, A.J. Million, Ingrid Erickson Copyright (c) 2021 First Monday Wed, 17 Feb 2021 15:25:59 -0600 Hostility online: Flaming, trolling, and the public debate <p>Whereas the amount of hostility found online increases, scholarly interest in online hostility is decreasing. In this paper, I discuss three questions central to the study of online hostility, namely 1) what role the text, the speaker’s intention and the targets’ perception should play in definitions of hostility; 2) whether hostility is always destructive or if it can also be productive in public debate; and 3) how to distinguish between destructive and productive hostility. I demonstrate the difficulties in defining online hostility and argue that rather than aiming for specific definitions, we should acknowledge the situatedness of rhetorical practice and, consequently, that the effects and ethical implications of utterances depend on given situations. In doing so, I aim to encourage renewed academic interest in flaming and trolling.</p> Ida Vikøren Andersen Copyright (c) 2021 First Monday Sat, 06 Feb 2021 06:37:28 -0600 Forming an affective public online: Aggressive posts and comments in the My Stealthy Freedom movement <p>We use social psychology research on emotional selection of information to model how social movements use social media in the formation of affective publics and apply our model to Instagram post data from the <em>My Stealthy Freedom</em> anti-mandatory <em>hijab</em> movement in Iran. Thematic analysis applied to samples of posts and comments revealed six main themes, one of which, aggression, includes three subthemes related to verbal aggression and physical violence. As the level of aggression increased in Instagram videos, the level of aggression in the comments increased as well, and videos containing verbal aggression and physical violence had more likes and comments than did non-aggressive and non-violent videos. We discuss implications of these findings for research on social movements and the formation of affective publics.</p> Farinaz Basmechi, Gabe Ignatow Copyright (c) 2021 First Monday Tue, 09 Feb 2021 14:42:10 -0600 The Essential Internet: Results from a study into household internet use at the Toronto Community Housing Corporation <p>This paper presents highlights of research conducted into the Internet supported household activities of residents at the Toronto Community Housing Corporation (TCHC). The routines of residents in five distinct basic needs activity areas were examined in an effort to identify the role of the Internet in supporting these undertakings. The results indicate that the Internet can be characterized as an essential technical resource that supports the stability of TCHC households by helping to multiply and interconnect the activities that constitute household routines. By providing an explanatory model of the Internet’s role in supporting the stability of TCHC households, this research advances an argument for public intercession in the provisioning of household Internet services to help redress the digital divide in Canada’s most populous city.</p> Michel Mersereau Copyright (c) 2021 First Monday Fri, 19 Feb 2021 13:41:14 -0600 Effects of smartphones on economic and subjective quality of life <p>Popular characterizations of smartphones presume the benefits of their use. To test this, we used a national survey data (<em>n</em> = 1,261) and examined smartphone effects on economic and subjective quality of life. Preliminary analyses revealed significant associations between smartphone use and earnings as well as quality of life. Two-stage least square models, however, suggested that those associations are potentially endogenous, or can be better recognized as ‘chicken-and-egg’ causality. Subsequently, we dissected the relationships into mediating steps and found an indirect effect of a certain feature of smartphone use — texting to diverse people — on earning, signaling that benefits of smartphone are rewarded indirectly through diverse social contacts. We also found the persistent power of socio-demographics in explaining a large variance for subjective quality of life. Taken together, this study aims to take a historical snapshot of smartphone effects at its ‘critical mass’ turn and make a fuller description of how smartphones will be utilized, shedding a light on societal nature of technological benefits.</p> Yong Jin Park, Yu Won Oh Copyright (c) 2021 First Monday Wed, 24 Feb 2021 20:50:43 -0600 The summer of Harambe: The curious case of a deceased gorilla and an animal rights campaign turned online prank <p>In May 2016, a child climbed into the gorilla enclosure at the Cincinnati Zoo in Ohio. The events that followed — namely the killing of a 17-year-old silverback gorilla named Harambe in order to protect the child — made national news. The story then took on a viral life of its own as a digital meme that turned the gorilla into a pop-culture craze. But Harambe’s position as an Internet phenomenon was a curious one. Despite exhibiting all the characteristics necessary for viral success and encouraging a polyvocal discourse, the Harambe Meme never became the enduring symbol of animal rights it was created to be. Instead, it was co-opted into a widely applicable element of digital humor. While it is difficult to determine what made Harambe the tool of choice for a months-long online joke, the meme’s success as a culture jam highlights the unpredictability of the Internet and underscores users’ ability to influence the fate of digital content.</p> Brandon Storlie Copyright (c) 2021 First Monday Thu, 25 Feb 2021 15:13:34 -0600