DMRC Friday Seminar and Book Launch

The Digital Media Research Centre Fridays Seminar Series 2018 continues on June 22 at 1 – 3pm with four exciting presentations! Join us to hear about the latest research being generated by Centre members and research students.

Please register to attend at the Eventbrite site.

After the seminar, all are welcome to stay for the launch of DMRC member Terry Flew’s new book, recently published by Palgrave: Understanding Global Media (second edition). More information is available on the DMRC website.

Event details:
Friday 22 June, 1-3pm
Room 607, Building Z9, Creative Industries Precinct, QUT Kelvin Grove Campus

Contact us at for further information.

Presentation Details:

Technology, Trust and Governance: Options for Regulating Digital Platforms

An important element of the global crisis of trust is declining trust in media, with includes trust in digital platforms as well as journalism. This has in turn led to various public enquiries into the operations of digital platform companies such as Google and Facebook, including the recent US Senate hearings and the ACCC Digital Platforms Inquiry in Australia. This presentation will look at the issues surrounding platform governance and the question of whether national media policies provide an appropriate framework for digital platform regulation that is in the public interest.

Terry Flew is Professor of Media and Communication and Assistant Dean (Research) in the Creative Industries Faculty at the Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia. His books include Understanding Global Media (Palgrave, 2018), Politics, Media and Democracy in Australia (Routledge, 2017), Global Media and National Policies: The Return of the State (Palgrave, 2016), Media Economics (Palgrave, 2015), and Global Creative Industries (Polity, 2013). He is President-Elect of the International Communications Association (ICA), becoming President in 2020.

The engaged academic: Scholars’ engagement and impact through The Conversation

Policymakers and universities are increasingly seeking to measure research impact beyond formal citation data. There is growing interest in altmetrics, which look to mainstream and social media to measure the reach of scholarly content. However, there is little research on the practices of public communication by academics – like TED talks, podcasts, blogging and participation in social media conversations on expert topics. This presentation reports on interviews with publicly-engaged scholars, emerging and established, about their use of platforms like The Conversation that operate outside the peer-review publication system, and alongside social and mainstream media to facilitate public engagement with research.

Kim Osman is a researcher at the Digital Media Research Centre at QUT. Her research centres on the creation and sharing of knowledge on digital media platforms, with a particular interest in open and collaborative spaces. Kim is interested in the informal learning that occurs on a variety of different digital media platforms, from Facebook to MOOCs, and how to better understand the dynamics of access to, and participation in, these spaces.

Following, Mentioning, Sharing: A Search for Filter Bubbles in the Australian Twittersphere

Claims that social media spaces constitute so-called ‘filter bubbles’ or ‘echo chambers’ (e.g. Pariser 2011) may play to commonplace clichés about online communities, but the empirical evidence that ordinary users experience their everyday social media environments as echo chambers remains limited. Indeed, only 23% of U.S. users on Facebook and 17% on Twitter say that their contacts’ views are similar to their own; 20% have changed their minds about an issue because of interactions on social media (Pew Center 2016). Building on large-scale, comprehensive data from a project that tracks interactions between nearly 4 million accounts in the Australian Twittersphere, this paper explores in detail the evidence from that country, analysing long-term patterns of following, interaction, and content sharing amongst clusters of accounts – and finding only few bubble tendencies. It thereby moves the present debate beyond a merely anecdotal footing, and offers a more reliable assessment of the ‘filter bubble’ threat.

Axel Bruns is an Australian Research Council Future Fellow and Professor in the Digital Media Research Centre at Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia. He is the author of Gatewatching and News Curation: Journalism, Social Media, and the Public Sphere (2018), Blogs, Wikipedia, Second Life and Beyond: From Production to Produsage (2008), and Gatewatching: Collaborative Online News Production (2005), and a co-editor of the Routledge Companion to Social Media and Politics (2016), Twitter and Society (2014), A Companion to New Media Dynamics (2012), and Uses of Blogs (2006). His current work focusses on the study of user participation in social media spaces such as Twitter, and its implications for our understanding of the contemporary public sphere, drawing especially on innovative new methods for analysing ‘big social data’.

Making progress: New methods to evaluate the formal equality of the processes that moderate images that depict women’s bodies on Instagram

There are global concerns that Instagram is arbitrarily removing images of women’s bodies and, possibly, privileging the depiction of certain body types. This is potentially in conflict with the rule of law value of formal equality that requires the consistent treatment of like cases alike. In this exploratory study, we seek to develop new methods to test for inconsistencies, including bias, in content moderation. We empirically evaluate whether a sample of 4,944 like images, which we coded into like categories of (a) Underweight, (b) Mid-Range and (c) Overweight women’s bodies, were in fact moderated alike. Despite none of these images being explicitly prohibited, we find an overall trend of inconsistent moderation; most notably, that the odds of removal for an Underweight and Mid-Range woman’s body is 2.48 and 1.56 times higher respectively than for an Overweight woman’s body. We outline possible explanations for this inconsistent trend; we explore the methodological limitations of approaches that seek to understand the ‘black box’ of content moderation with only partial access to data. Overall, we argue that the lack of visible information about moderation and the potential inconsistencies raise ongoing concerns around the formal equality of Instagram’s content moderation in practice.

Alice Witt is a PhD Candidate and Sessional Academic in the Law School, Faculty of Law at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT). She is also a member of QUT’s Digital Media Research Centre. Her PhD thesis evaluates the extent to which the moderation of images that depict women’s bodies on Instagram align with the rule of law values of certainty and equality.

Nicolas Suzor researches the regulation of networked society. He is an ARC DECRA Research Fellow in the Law School at Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia, and a Chief Investigator of QUT’s Digital Media Research Centre. His research examines the governance of the internet and social networks, the peer economy, digital copyright, and knowledge commons.

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