Astroturfing on Social Media: A Quick Introduction

astroturfing

What is astroturfing? Astroturfing is not new. Its history stretches back to the days of newspapers and pamphlets. But astroturfing has become a major important concern in today’s ‘post-truth’ information environment. The Guardian defines astroturfing as “the attempt to create an impression of widespread grassroots support for a policy, individual, or product, where little such … Read more

How Personal Branding Paved The Way For The Post-Truth Era

Over a decade ago, an idea was born that seemed innocent at the time, even ground-breaking. It was the idea of personal branding; marketing one’s own skills like a product. In this piece, I’m going to reflect on how the personal branding mindset has played a role in creating today’s polarised and tribal online environment. … Read more

Tweeting My Way Into Academia

On Twitter not long ago, someone suggested that academics should avoid using social media. He cited reasons such as distractions, narcissism, and ‘the risk of getting trolled’. I’m studying social media for my PhD and so I’m well aware of its flaws. But, like any tool, when used in the right way it can open … Read more

Imagined communities: The alt-left on Twitter

In January, I joined a team of researchers in Amsterdam to explore the online communities of ‘Alt-left’ and ‘Antifa’ using data from Twitter and Reddit. This was one of many projects all taking place as part of the Digital Methods Initiative Winter School, organised by the University of Amsterdam. In particular, we wanted to use … Read more