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Content moderation and its discontents: an international conference

Date: Friday 23rd June 2023

Time: 9:30am to 6:20pm

Venue: Shannon 1 and 2 (St Mary's University) and Online via Zoom

In recent years, content moderation on social media has become a contested topic. As forms of online extremism, harassment, and hate speech have increased on major platforms, community guidelines and AI-based detection and moderation policies have been introduced to tighten regulation, yet such plans often fall short or are actively circumvented. Many have claimed that there is an erosion of free speech in a climate of “cancel culture” in which it has allegedly become impossible to share particular viewpoints or ideas. Equally, many have disputed the existence of such developments.

This conference takes the complex relationship between the facilitation and moderation of content and particularly of content that can broadly be labelled “problematic” as a starting point.

Conference Programme

9.30-9.45am: Registration and coffee

9.45am: Introduction

  • Jacob Johanssen (St. Mary’s University), Daniela Nadj (St. Mary’s University), Susanne Benzel (Sigmund Freud Institute)

10-11.20am: Harassment and hate speech

  • Thi Gammon (King’s College London) – Hate content and online shaming of showbiz celebrities in Vietnam: The case study of Tran Thanh
  • Eirliani Abdul Rahman (Harvard University) – “You all belong in jail!” – Stochastic harassment on Twitter
  • Elizabeth Farries and Eugenia Siapera (UCD Centre for Digital Policy) – Platformed misogyny and the limits of regulation: Cancel culture and shadow banning

11.30am-12.30pm: Keynote

  • Phoebe Moore and Peter Bloom (University of Essex) – The new normal: Content moderation during and after the Pandemic

12.30-2pm: Lunch

2-3.20pm: Frameworks and methods

  • Gergely Gosztonyi (Eötvös Loránd University) and Gergely Ferenc Lendvai (Pázmány Péter Catholic University) – “Censored, cancelled, annulled” – A comprehensive, interdisciplinary overview of the legal implications and regulatory framework regarding censorship and cancel culture
  • Yang Yu (Tsinghua University), Yan Lu (Tsinghua University) and Wei Ming Ye (Peking University) – Audit the account deletion’s impact on compliant users on social media
  • Emillie V. de Keulenaar (University of Groningen) – After deplatforming: The return of trace research for the study of platform effects

3.20-3.40pm: Coffee break

3.40-5pm: Psychoanalytic approaches

  • Marilyn Charles (Austen Riggs Center) – Tyranny of the shoulds: The press towards conformity
  • Greta Kaluzeviciute (Vilnius University) – Digital archeo-analysis: ‘Digging’ past reflections, ‘shaping’ present narratives
  • Clint Burnham (Simon Fraser University) – From shitstorm to Schmittstorm: Or, no, there still is no big Other

5pm-6.20pm: Case studies

  • Max Lasse Schaefer (University of Edinburgh) – How is evidence presented and formed in an incel echo chamber?
  • Klara Avsec (Lund University) – Deplatforming and competitive victimhood
  • Alois Sieben (Simon Fraser University) – Infinite intimacy: The möbius strip of content in Mary South’s “You Will Never Be Forgotten”

6.20pm: Wine reception and dinner

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