::fibreculture:: Call for Papers: Misinformation and Media - change of date 10/09/2018

Mathieu O'Neil mathieu.oneil at anu.edu.au
Thu May 3 04:10:57 CEST 2018

Hi all

Apologies for multiple posts. Please note change of date.




CFP: Misinformation and Media [please note date change]

Understanding the Spread of Misinformation in the Australian and US Media Fields

A Concepts and Methods Symposium organised by the News & Media Research Centre, University of Canberra

Location: Ann Harding Conference Centre

Date: Monday 10 September 2018

Symposium website: www.canberra.edu.au/misinformation-and-media-symposium<http://www.canberra.edu.au/misinformation-and-media-symposium>

Networked misinformation

Growing fragmentation in media systems has resulted in dramatically increased choice for media consumers. This process has been accelerated by the growth of digital platforms for news and information which open media spaces not only to a wider diversity of outlets but also to foreign and domestic information operations: strategic actors can sow disinformation relatively covertly, distancing their activities from their foreign or domestic patrons. We distinguish misinformation - the accidental statement of factually incorrect claims - from disinformation, which is strategic or intentional. To what extent are these activities enabled by the affordances of social media such as 'echo chambers' (media environments where people only connect with like-minded others) and 'filter bubbles' (resulting from media content being algorithmically selected to match previous consumer choices)? There has been much empirical debate as to the existence of echo chambers and filter bubbles. To the extent they exist, both phenomena result in media consumers being exposed to information that reinforces previously held beliefs. The disappearance of attitude-challenging content and attendant rise of misinformed opinion is thought to have played a role in the 2016 US Presidential election, where information untethered to reality (see for example ‘Pizzagate’) spread amongst some Republican Party supporter networks. Whether they are used by strategic actors seeking to achieve political objectives or not, echo chambers and filter bubbles challenge the functioning of the news media as a public sphere where the informed confrontation of contrasting viewpoints can lead to common understanding and agreement about what exists, and what matters. The consequences are profound: we may be arriving at a cultural moment where a significant part of the population no longer believes that facts are knowable.

Symposium aims

Are echo chambers and filter bubbles real? If they are real, to what extent do they contribute to the spread of misinformation? Are ‘filter-bursting’ strategies available? What’s it like in there, anyway? Are journalists part of the problem, or are they the solution? If journalists in the US and UK failed to anticipate Brexit and the election of Donald Trump because of filter bubbles and echo chambers, is the Australian journalistic field similarly afflicted? The Understanding the Spread of Misinformation in the Australian and US Media Fields Symposium will bring together journalists and researchers, cutting-edge computational methods and first-hand accounts of actors in the field, to assess to what extent filter bubbles and echo chambers contribute to the spread of misinformation. Suitable presentations will be invited to contribute to a journal special issue. Researchers and journalists are encouraged to address questions including, but not limited to:

* Are there echo chambers, filter bubbles and fake-news spreading hubs in the Australian media field?

* Comparative approaches: misinformation and disinformation in the Australian and US media fields, and beyond.

* How are foreign or domestic strategic actors using media spaces and to what extent and through what mechanisms are they impacting news reporting?

* Is Australia at risk of being swamped by ‘fake news’? Why or why not?

* Bubbles in the eye of the beholder: when does a belief become a conspiracy?

* Do the specific features of the Australian media field (duopolistic structure, late arrival of Cable News, public broadcasting) affect the spread of misinformation?

* What steps are journalists taking to counter the impact of social media on meaningful democratic deliberation?

* How can confirmation bias (biased information confirming previously held beliefs as plausible) be addressed?

* Is the rejection of professional journalism and expertise, common among populists who have emerged in response to neoliberalism, limited to certain sectors of the ideological spectrum? Why or why not?

* Does focusing on algorithmic filtering obscure other processes detrimental to democratic politics? Additional factors may have played a key role in the 2016 US election, such as the manipulation of recommendation systems through the exploitation of so-called ‘click-workers’ and ‘like farms’, often located in poor countries (Casilli, 2016). In 2015 it was estimated that 58% of the accounts which ‘liked’ Donald Trump’s Facebook page were fake, for example (Brown, 2015).

Key dates and submission process

Closing date for abstracts: 31 May 2018

Author notifications: 30 June 2018

Program announcement: 30 July 2018

Registration: 1 June - 30 August 2018

Please send proposal title, 500-word abstract and a short bio (100 words) for each author to mathieu.oneil at canberra.edu.au<mailto:mathieu.oneil at canberra.edu.au>

Registrations via Eventbrite will open on 1 June 2018.

Organising committee

Mathieu O’Neil, News & Media Research Centre, University of Canberra

Michael Jensen, Institute for Policy and Governance Analysis, University of Canberra

Robert Ackland, Virtual Observatory for the Study of Online Networks (VOSON) Lab, Australian National University

Amy Remeikis, Political reporter, The Guardian Australia

More information

Background literature, references, etc. available at www.canberra.edu.au/misinformation-and-media-symposium
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