Florilège de textes sur trolling, vandalisme et discorde en ligne

Hello folks,
vous êtes sans doute arrivés ici après mon interview avec Vinvin et Jean-Marc Manach au Vinvinteur (épisode 28 : « Les trolls, ce douloureux problème ») de France 5. Ce billet vous propose un petit florilège – amoureusement concocté par Votre Dévoué – de mes articles, interviews et présentations sur le trollage, le vandalisme et les formes de la discorde en ligne. Il s’agit des textes qui ont constitué la base de la version extendend play du « Gros t’chat avec Antonio Casilli ». Ps. Tous les textes sont accessibles en ligne. La seule, remarquable, exception est représentée par le chapitre sur le trolling de mon livre Les liaisons numériques pour lequel, paraît-il, il faut encore débourser des €€€ (ou alors il faut être des lecteurs super-motivés…).

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Who are the #anarcoinsultazionisti? Insurgent trolling and the politics of discord on Twitter

[Scroll down for French translation]

Are Italian trolls uniting to oust celebrities from Twitter? At least one may think so after witnessing the birth of the satirical hashtag #anarcoinsultazionisti (“anarcho-insultationists”).

A little background. Much like his French counterpart Laurent Joffrin, Italian newsman Enrico Mentana do not like the informal style of conversations going on in social media. So he left Twitter, because he couldn’t take any more abuse from his “anonymous” followers. Laura Boldrini, the president of the Chamber of Deputies, also fulminated against such examples of “online anarchy”. Yet several public figures expressed their disapproval of their colleagues “claims of immunity”, and invited them to abide by the social codes of the potentially anarchic online platforms. But what did the so-called “anonymous Twitter users” do? They tried to make sense of this new moral panic surrounding trolling, by equating – jokingly – their behaviour to a contemporary manifestation of insurrectionary anarchism.

“’Anonymous on Twitter’ is the new ‘anarcho-insurrectionist’ ”.

There’s a fine line between this little pleasantry and the birth of the anarcho-insultationist ephemeral hashtag. The latter is a perfect implementation of the « lulz » modality of political discord, which the troll ethos is so eagerly advocating. To the Italian ear, « anonymity » and « anarchy » rhyme, like in the lyrics of Addio Lugano Bella, a famous revolutionary chant composed by Pietro Gori in 1895: “Anonymous comrades, friends who remain / the social truths do spread like strong people”. To your ear, dear reader, they probably resonate with what I previously discussed elsewhere: how trolling can be regarded as a symptom of the collapse of the public sphere. Exeunt the modern democratic ideals of civilized discourse, as well as the recognizable spokespersons developing structured arguments. Enter the inappropriate comments polluting the debate, which show that the debate itself is delusional – nothing more than a political superstition. To give you a little food for thoughts, here’s a small selection of tweets (with translation): Read more

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Slides du séminaire EHESS d’Antonio Casilli “Contre l’hypothèse de la fin de la vie privée” (20 nov. 2012)

La première séance de mon séminaire EHESS Étudier les cultures du numérique : approches théoriques et empiriques pour cette année universitaire a eu lieu le mardi 20 novembre 2012 à l’EHESS. Merci à tou(te)s les participant(e)s pour leur présence, leurs commentaires et leur enthousiasme. Voilà les slides de ma présentation.

TITRE : « Contre l’hypothèse de la ‘fin de la vie privée’ sur les médias sociaux : négociabilité et cyclicité de la privacy »

RESUME : « Au sein de la communauté internationale plusieurs voix se lèvent pour dénoncer l’érosion inexorable de la vie privée dans le  contexte des usages actuels du Web social. En s’adonnant à une surveillance mutuelle et participative, les internautes renoncent-ils volontairement à la protection de leurs données personnelles ? Cette intervention adopte une approche ethno-computationnelle des controverses relatives aux politiques de négociation des paramètres de confidentialité en ligne pour montrer que la vie privée a encore de beaux jours devant elle. Sous certaines conditions, des « cycles de privacy » se mettent en place. Au travers du travail des associations d’usagers et des organismes préposés à la défense de leurs droits, ces conditions peuvent être remplies. »

Lectures :

Susan B. Barnes (2006) A privacy paradox: Social networking in the United States, First Monday, 11 (9)

danah boyd (2008) Facebook’s Privacy Trainwreck: Exposure, Invasion, and Social Convergence, Convergence, 14 (1): 13-20

danah boyd & Eszter Hargittai (2010) Facebook privacy settings: Who cares?, First Monday, 15 (8)

Anders Albrechtslund (2008) Online Social Networking as Participatory Surveillance, First Monday, 13 (3)

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Censorship and social media: some background information

[Update July 27, 2012: so far, our study has been featured in a number of media outlets in UK, India, Algeria, US, Oman, Indonesia... These are just the ones we know of: The Daily Mail, Yahoo Lifestyle, CNN, Technorati, The Times of India, GigaOM, Buzzfeed, National Affairs, Sify News, Phys.org, Science Daily, Zee News TV India, Oman Tribune, The Free Library, L'atelier, Sciencenewsline, Le Soir d'Algérie, Tempo Indonesia. We're particularly impressed by this response, and would like to thank the researchers, journalists and activists who've been spreading the news.]

Hello everyone,

You have probably reached this page after reading in the international press about our study “Social Media Censorship in Times of Political Unrest – A Social Simulation Experiment with the UK Riots” (published in the journal Bulletin of Sociological Methodology, vol. 115, n. 1). This post will provide some background information.

Read the study

First of all, if you are interested in reading the paper, you can purchase the article from SAGE website. Anyhow, here’s a preprint version you can download for free. Just saying.

About the authors

If you are looking for the authors’ bios:

 Antonio A. Casilli, is an associate professor of Digital Humanities at Telecom ParisTech and a researcher in sociology at the Edgar Morin Centre (EHESS), Paris, France. He is the author of the social media theory book Les liaisons numériques [Digital Relationships], published by the Editions du Seuil. He blogs at Bodyspacesociety.eu, tweets as @bodyspacesoc, and is a regular commentator for Radio France Culture. You can contact him here.

 Paola Tubaro, is a senior lecturer in Economic Sociology at the Business School of the University of Greenwich, London, UK, and associate researcher at the Centre Maurice Halbwachs (CNRS) Paris, France. Economic sociologist with interest in social networks and their impact on markets, organisations, consumer choice and health, her research also includes work in the philosophy and methodology of economics and social science. Her blog is here, plus you can contact her here.

The story, so far

In the wake of the August 2011 UK uprisings, Casilli and Tubaro built a rapid response study. Using computer simulation, the investigators showed that any move by the government to censor social media was likely to result in more civil unrest, higher levels of violence, and shorter periods of social peace. Released as a joint post on their websites and subsequently available as a working paper on SSRN (Social Science Research Network), the study was widely shared online and in the press.

Such an enthusiastic response prompted them to continue their research. Presently, they are launching follow-ups and new developments, both empirical and theoretical, in other European and MENA countries. They are members of the scientific committee of Just-In-Time Sociology (JITSO), an EPFL Geneva-based program gathering international researchers that try “to understand social phenomena as they unfold”.

TEDx talk, simulations and other stuff

If you want to watch a video presentation of the study, here’s Antonio Casilli’s TEDx talk (in French, with English subtitles), “Studying censorship via social simulation”, TEDx Paris Universités, May 19, 2012.

If you want to know more about our ongoing research, Internet Censorship and Civil Unrest (ICCU), here’s the project’s wiki.

If you want to download the computer simulation, here you’ll find a detailed technical description of the model. The model file (Netlogo and Java applet versions) is available here . You should: 1) unzip and save all three files in the same directory; 2) either open the .nlogo file from your computer in Netlogo, or open the .html file in your browser).

Enjoy!

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Trollarchy in the UK: the British Defamation Bill and the delusion of the public sphere

[UPDATE 26.06.2102: A French version of this post is now available on the news website OWNI. As usual, thanks to Guillaume Ledit for translating it.]

These days, the House of Commons has been debating an amendment to the British Defamation Bill specificially designed to tackle Internet trolls. Now website owners and internet access providers will be forced to reveal the IP and personal information of users identified as authors of ‘vile messages’. It is business as usual: whenever some ICT-related news story catches the public eye, British policy makers come up with an ad hoc law. Preferably, one mindlessly disregarding privacy and free speech.

Why mainstream media are scared of trolls

In a remarkable effort to lull the general public in a false sense of understanding digital cultures, The Guardian has devoted a special session of its June 12, 2012 edition to this peculiar online phenomenon. The pièce de résistance is Zoe Williams’s What is an internet troll?. An article concocted using the usual troll news story recipe: one part pyschology professor delivering highbrow quotes about the ‘disinhibition effect’ of electronic media, one part journalist whining about today’s diminishing education standards and pervasive hate speech, two parts sad anecdotes about some celebrities we’re supposed to sympathize with. The conclusion of this tone-setting essay (“We shouldn’t call them ‘trolls’. We should call them rude people.”) is probably best rendered when pronounced with a high-pitched monty pythonesque voice, like in The Life of Brian‘s “He’s not the Messiah. He’s a very naughty boy!”.

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La simulation sociale pour combattre la censure : texte de ma conférence à TEDxParisUniversités

[UPDATE 05.06.2102: La vidéo de mon talk est désormais en ligne sur le site Web des conférences TED. Enjoy & share !]

Le samedi 19 mai j’ai été parmi les heureux conférenciers de l’édition 2012 de TEDxParisUniversités. A cette occasion, j’ai pu présenter au public français les résultats du projet ICCU (Internet Censorship and Civil Unrest) que je mène avec Paola Tubaro, enseignante-chercheuse à l’Université de Greenwich, Londres. L’accueil a été plus que chaleureux : la tweeterie m’a porté en triomphe, j’ai reçu les accolades des organisateurs et je me suis imbibé de l’enthousiasme d’étudiants et de militants de tout bord. J’exagère, mais pas tant que ça (suffit de lire le compte-rendu Storify concocté par Gayané Adourian ;). Voici donc le texte et les slides de mon intervention, en attendant la vidéo.

Aujourd’hui je vais vous parler des effets négatifs de la censure des médias sociaux, en passant par le cas des émeutes britanniques de 2011.

La censure est extrêmement difficile à étudier du point de vue des sciences sociales. Dans la mesure où elle est une interruption de flux d’information, les données relatives à ses conséquences et à son efficacité prétendue sont souvent inaccessibles aux chercheurs. C’est pourquoi nous devons nous appuyer sur une méthode innovante : la simulation sociale. Read more

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Would online censorship be effective? Evidence from two research projects proves the opposite

Hi,
you’ve probably reached this blog after listening to my interview with Jian Ghomeshi on CBC Radio Canada’s programme Q. In case you missed it, here’s the podcast:

In this post, you’ll find some background information about my ongoing research on internet censorship – mainly in collaboration with Paola Tubaro (University of Greenwich, UK) and other colleagues. Our focus is on unintended and negative effects of censorship, based on analyses of social media use conducted in the last few years.

In my latest book Les liaisons numériques. Vers une nouvelle sociabilité? [Digital Relationships. Towards a New Sociability?, Paris, Seuil, 2010] I dealt with the topic of pro-ana (short for “pro-anorexia”) and pro-mia (“pro-bulimia”) websites, blogs and forums of persons with eating disorders. The most controversial among them have gone as far as to claim that eating disorders are a choice or a lifestyle, rather than conditions. A grant from the French National Research Agency (ANR) allowed me and my colleagues to lauch ANAMIA, a large-scale study on eating disorder-oriented online communities.

ANAMIA research project – featured on Boing Boing

Since the early 2000s, fears that these websites may induce unhealthy behaviours (possibly in young and adolescent viewers), have prompted many web services to remove them, while some countries have considered outlawing them. Yet eating-disorder related Web communities continue to proliferate. They have migrated to more hidden platforms, barred entry to outsiders, concealed their true nature, and relocated in foreign countries. In a previous post published on Bodyspacesociety blog, I have dubbed this the “toothpaste tube effect“: squeezed from one service, controversial contents re-group elsewhere. Paradoxically, censorship multiplies these websites – if only because of the urge to duplicate contents for backup purposes, in case they have to shut down and move!


Mapping pro-ED websites (France, 2010-2012) – ANAMIA research project

Today, these websites are less open and less visible, though still numerous and densely connected with one another. Thus, they can still influence their users, just as before; but it has become harder for health and nutrition campaigns to locate them and reach out to their users.

Our results indicate that Internet censorship is ineffective and inefficient: it has failed to stop “negative” influences, and has made it more difficult for “positive” influences to operate.

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Et in Athenis ego: update on ongoing research on the body + riots

I know I should be in Lyon for the www12 conference with all the Internet big shots, but instead I’m taking a plane and heading to Greece. The opportunity came via an invitation to deliver a speech at the New Sensorium, an international symposium that will take place on April 20-21 at the BIOS, in Athens. If you are around, you should definitely attend! The conference deals with some of my main research foci (digital technologies, media and the body) and it is the outcome of a collaboration between the Department of Communication, Media and Culture of Panteion University and the McLuhan Program at the University of Toronto (I was their guest a few months ago).

http://entopia.org/newsensorium/

The New Sensorium symposium – BIOS, Athens (20-21 April 2012)

Just so you know my speech carries the somewhat cryptic title The Virus and the Avatar. Ways of socializing the sensible in computer culture – and if you don’t have a clue of what it’s about, here are two texts in Greek and in English that might be of help.

But this Athens trip will also be the chance to do more than a bit of field research for our ongoing ICCU (Internet Censorship and Civil Unrest) project. You might remember the project was kickstarted by this blog post about last year’s UK riots.

Our research received a lot of attention and eventually became a working paper, then an article coming up in the Bulletin of Sociological Methodology and started a number of prospective spin-offs in other nations. The Athens one is based on the idea of studying media and internet use during the Greek 2010-12 protests (and the way they are linked with the 2008 riots). Won’t go into details because I don’t want to spoil the party. But, if I manage to grasp a little wifi, I might be blogging a postcard or two from my Athenian fieldwork.

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EnemyGraph: blasphème ou ruse de l’amitié sur Facebook ?

On m’a souvent entendu parler d’amitié et d’inimitié dans les réseaux sociaux. De l’amitié à l’heure du numérique, autant dans le chapitre « Mon friend n’est pas mon ami » (v. mon ouvrage Les liaisons numériques, Paris, Seuil, p. 270-277 – que vous trouvez résumées ici) que dans plusieurs interventions publiques  détaillant les tenants et les aboutissants du friending. D’inimitié, plus récemment, dans mon effort de théoriser la conflictualité et les liens négatifs en ligne.

 Donc, quand le toujours admirable @affordanceinfo m’a signalé aujourd’hui le lancement d’EnemyGraph, une nouvelle app qui permet de déclarer des ennemis sur Facebook, j’ai fait un bond de surprise. Créé à la University of Texas par Dean Terry et ses étudiants Bradley Griffith et Harrison Massey, l’application promet de faire le contre-pied de l’ethos de l’amour et de l’amitié forcées de Facebook et de réaliser le rêve longtemps refoulé d’un bouton dislike. Mais comment ça marche ? Selon Terry le tout est basé sur la notion de « dissonance sociale », voire l’évaluation des liens existants entre usagers selon leur désignation de personnes, choses et lieux qui leur déplaisent:

EnemyGraph is an application that allows you to list your “enemies”. Any Facebook friend or user of the app can be an enemy. More importantly, you can also make any page or group on Facebook an “enemy”. This covers almost everything including people, places and things. During our testing testing triangles and q-tips were trending, along with politicians, music groups, and math.
Dean Terry EnemyGraph Facebook Application [visité 26 Mar. 12]

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Assange, corporate conspiracies, and Wikileaks ultimate contradictions

Monday, October 24th, 2011. While facing a crowd of journalists and activists gathered at London’s Frontline Club for a momentous Wikileaks press conference, Julian Assange looks nervous. Today he has to deal with the inner contradictions of his political project. No, I’m not talking about the legal consequences of his extradition case. Nor about the ongoing fratricidal struggle with his former associate Daniel Domscheit-Berg. Nor about the very polarized reactions to the whole Cablegate undertaking by the global audiences. I’m talking about this…

Yes, Julian Assange has many reasons to be nervous. After the financial blockade, the leak has been reduced to a tickle. « A handful of US finance companies have successfully blocked 95% of worldwide support for WikiLeaks ». Is there, as he implies, a conspiracy against Wikileaks? That would be ironic, as the very implementation of Wikileaks was supposed to single-handedly put an end to conspiracies (according to this seminal 2006 paper, penned by Assange himself). Well, not about as ironic as this: apparently the only way for Wikileaks to counter Bank of America and Paypal is to become as profitable as they are. Open up to « more wealthy donors ». Provide the general public with projections about donations (and, supposedly, tax deductibility). What’s next? Selling shares to new investors via an IPO? Read more

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