Communication Dysfunctions and Social Threats Associated with Digital Social Platforms

A special issue of Social Sciences (ISSN 2076-0760).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 October 2023) | Viewed by 7200

Special Issue Editor


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Guest Editor
Faculty of Social Sciences, Universidad de Salamanca, 37008 Salamanca, Spain
Interests: analysis of media and social networks; news frames; visual frames; media and immigration; disinformation; hate speech; computational methods applied in social sciences

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The new digital platforms have had numerous positive implications, but they have also generated new social threats, in addition to having aggravated some that already existed. Within digital environments, it is in social media where new communication dysfunctions seem to have a greater presence and more serious consequences, due to immediacy, anonymity, global reach, and the larger scale of communication processes. This new situation could seem positive because it favors participation and the free and immediate transmission of information, something that could improve democratic processes. However, social networks seem to be contributing especially to the deterioration of the quality and veracity of information, as well as empathic and pro-social behaviors, and, with it, social peace and democratic quality. In fact, some authors consider that social media are becoming less social every day (Bartlett et al., 2014). Undoubtedly, there are many accounts that misuse these new platforms, taking advantage of their potential to spread hoaxes and/or toxic speech on a large scale, to promote confrontation and intolerance, or even to directly harass and/or threaten other individuals or minorities groups. Behind some of these accounts, there are automated bots (Shao et al., 2016), which manage to make their speeches go viral. However, the vast majority belong to real people who have antisocial and potentially criminal behaviours, often hiding behind fake accounts and acting like trolls. 

All this has made some traditional social threats associated with communication processes now acquire a greater scope and a more worrying dimension (Miró Llinares, 2016). The main ones and more studied would be misinformation and fake news, hate speech and ideological and political polarization. However, these are not the only problems that take place in these social media, but in recent years new and even more worrying practices have proliferated that threaten the dignity and integrity of individuals and constitute a serious attack on coexistence. Some of these would be cyber-harassment, cyber-stalking, cyberbullying, sexting, sextortion or grooming, but they are not the only ones. 

It is clear then that, even having innumerable positive implications for society, social media have allowed the proliferation and aggravation of many social problems that seriously threaten social peace. For this reason, it is necessary to rethink the use made of these platforms and develop new methods that help us identify, study and monitor these behaviors, as well as new strategies and solutions to control and counteract them.  

This call seeks contributions that address these lines of action, from studies that analyze and describe the risks and threats related to social platforms and the main victims and affected groups to those that explore and review the main causes and implications, and, especially, those that raise new social and methodological strategies to combat them or lessen their most negative consequences. 

References

Bartlett, Jamie, Jeremy Reffin, Noelle Rumball, and Sarah Williamson. 2014. Anti social media. Online available: http://cilvektiesibas.org.lv/site/record/docs/2014/03/19/DEMOS_Anti-social_Media.pdf (accessed on 31 Jan 2023).

Shao, Chengcheng, Giovanni Luca Ciampaglia, Alessandro Flammini, and Filippo Menczer. 2016. Hoaxy: A platform for tracking online misinformation. In Proceedings of the 25th International Conference Companion on World Wide Web, pp. 745–50. https://doi.org/10.1145/2872518.2890098.

Llinares, Fernando Miró. 2016. Taxonomía de la comunicación violenta y el discurso del odio en Internet. IDP. Revista de Internet, Derecho y Política 22: 82–107.

Dr. Javier Jiménez Amores
Guest Editor

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Keywords

  • social media
  • social threat
  • misinformation
  • fake news
  • hate speech
  • cyber-hate
  • cyber-harassment
  • cyber-stalking
  • sexting
  • sextortion grooming

Published Papers (5 papers)

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14 pages, 282 KiB  
Article
Trust in Anonymous News? How Users Navigate Political News Channels on Russian Telegram
by Anna Litvinenko and Anna Smoliarova
Soc. Sci. 2024, 13(4), 180; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci13040180 - 22 Mar 2024
Viewed by 1084
Abstract
The paper explores the phenomenon of anonymous news channels on Russian Telegram, which have become increasingly popular in recent years. Drawing on 25 self-confrontation interviews, we answer the following questions: Do users trust anonymous news? If not, why do they keep using this [...] Read more.
The paper explores the phenomenon of anonymous news channels on Russian Telegram, which have become increasingly popular in recent years. Drawing on 25 self-confrontation interviews, we answer the following questions: Do users trust anonymous news? If not, why do they keep using this information source? How does a restrictive socio-political context influence users’ trust in alternative news sources? Our results show that, in Russia, the concept of trust is linked to the normative democratic understanding of journalistic functions. At the same time, many users believe that trust in media is not at all necessary and develop individual strategies to navigate a “chaos of narratives”. The paper discusses Telegram’s role in shaping trust or distrust in news. Full article
18 pages, 1476 KiB  
Article
Is There a “Green Moral”? How Young People’s Moral Attributes Define Engagement with Narratives about Climate Change
by Edson Capoano, Alice Dutra Balbé and Pedro Rodrigues Costa
Soc. Sci. 2024, 13(3), 145; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci13030145 - 5 Mar 2024
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1162
Abstract
This paper discusses the relationship between morality and engagement focused on the narratives about climate change. The goal of our research is to understand whether moral grounds identified in individuals and in narratives can influence youth’s engagement in environmental debate and news consumption [...] Read more.
This paper discusses the relationship between morality and engagement focused on the narratives about climate change. The goal of our research is to understand whether moral grounds identified in individuals and in narratives can influence youth’s engagement in environmental debate and news consumption on climate change. Recognizing that people’s perceptions of climate change are related to several factors, such as ideas, cultures, and values, we sought to understand whether there is a “green morality” or a prevalence of more responsive moral attributes in individuals when they are exposed to thinking about the environment. We use the Moral Foundations Theory to analyze comments on the environmental news on Twitter and a questionnaire adapted to the environment on moral grounds. The data were collected from Brazil and Portugal between 2021 and 2022. The overall results showed a high incidence of responses with Care/Harm and Fairness/Cheating, and an average incidence of responses related to Loyalty/Betrayal and Authority/Subversion. The results indicate that youngsters show a more prominent moral to care and environmental harm, as well as justice and responsibility, which may influence their interest in the consumption of environmental news and future engagement. In addition, there are factors, such as political issues, that can influence moral values and engagement. Full article
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24 pages, 494 KiB  
Article
Hate-Speech Countering by Immigrant and Pro-Immigrant Associations in Almeria (Spain)
by Pilar Rodriguez Martinez, Lucía Martinez Joya and Francisco Villegas Lirola
Soc. Sci. 2024, 13(1), 33; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci13010033 - 2 Jan 2024
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Abstract
In recent years, there has been an exponential increase in anti-immigrant hate speech on social media. Drawing on interviews with 15 immigrant associations and 11 pro-immigrant associations in the southern Spanish province of Almería, as well as digital ethnography, this article explores strategies [...] Read more.
In recent years, there has been an exponential increase in anti-immigrant hate speech on social media. Drawing on interviews with 15 immigrant associations and 11 pro-immigrant associations in the southern Spanish province of Almería, as well as digital ethnography, this article explores strategies used by immigrant and pro-immigrant associations to counter hate speech. The rise of this hate speech, disseminated mainly by far-right parties, has occurred at a time when many immigrant associations have little or no access to social media platforms. However, members of all these associations (immigrant and pro-immigrant) are aware of the perverse effects of these discourses, as they have either received them on their personal social media platforms or experienced abhorrent hate-speech attacks against their members and/or users. Despite their difficulties in navigating the “glocaline political arena”, they have participated in a number of projects and developed tools that allow them to generate a counter-discourse. We identify and explore the richness and diversity of these online campaigns and activities, highlighting the difficulties that immigrant associations—compared to pro-immigrant ones—face in navigating the glocaline political arena. Full article
16 pages, 1934 KiB  
Article
One’s Heaven Can Be Another’s Hell: A Mixed Analysis of Portuguese Nationalist Fanpages
by Branco Di Fátima and José Ricardo Carvalheiro
Soc. Sci. 2024, 13(1), 29; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci13010029 - 28 Dec 2023
Viewed by 1211
Abstract
This paper analyzes the processes of racialization in Portuguese right-wing political movements through two prominent nationalist fanpages. It employs a mixed-methods approach that includes both quantitative and qualitative official data. The sample covers 72 months, from January 2017 to December 2020, encompassing a [...] Read more.
This paper analyzes the processes of racialization in Portuguese right-wing political movements through two prominent nationalist fanpages. It employs a mixed-methods approach that includes both quantitative and qualitative official data. The sample covers 72 months, from January 2017 to December 2020, encompassing a total of 3670 posts on Facebook. The main findings reveal that the fanpages utilize different discursive strategies, sometimes focusing on publishing static images and other times on sharing news links. From these publications, the fanpages garnered more than 1.4 million interactions, demonstrating consistent growth in their follower bases over the years. Emotional responses played a significant role in the interactions, particularly with Love, Sad, and Angry reactions standing out. The results also reveal that Portuguese nationalism maintains a dual ideology concerning race: ethno-exclusivism and ethno-pluralism. This observation affirms the dual nature of nationalist fanpages, where narrative elements converge and diverge based on the intended goal. Thus, individuals from Africa and Afro-descendants can be portrayed as both national heroes and social scum. Full article
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Review

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12 pages, 259 KiB  
Review
From the Initial Celebration to the Current Disappointment, the Evolution of the Internet beyond Determinisms
by Ezequiel Ramon-Pinat and Ludovico Longhi
Soc. Sci. 2024, 13(2), 99; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci13020099 - 6 Feb 2024
Viewed by 1126
Abstract
In the first phase, the eruption of the Internet was embraced by academics who saw it as a way of involving young people in politics who had suffered from disaffection and rejection. They emphasized its emancipatory, horizontal, and participatory qualities. Decades later, a [...] Read more.
In the first phase, the eruption of the Internet was embraced by academics who saw it as a way of involving young people in politics who had suffered from disaffection and rejection. They emphasized its emancipatory, horizontal, and participatory qualities. Decades later, a wave of disenchantment, apathy, and rejection of platforms has swept through the academy. The previous generation of technological determinists, who welcomed it with open arms, left the arena to their counterparts: the ones that claimed that we had no chance of participation and perpetuated industrial age exploitation. In this article, we will present the two opposite visions, but first, we will briefly review the Internet’s beginnings, its motivations, and its technical characteristics in order to better understand the two antagonistic positions. Full article
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