How do people say racist things and simultaneously refute malicious intent? Recently, one of my case studies of digital racism has focussed on the hashtag #notracist – see examples of Twitter messages above – exploring how users on social media ‘publicly’ rebuff their expressions of racism, using either shared humour or so-called real life observations to justify their stance. The sentiment “I’m not racist, but...” is increasingly heard in a climate when public expressions of explicit racism, (misogyny and homophobia) as hate speech have become less acceptable in mainstream society. Racism denial captures everyday forms of micro-aggressions which often escape our attention, yet create the conditions for legitimating cultures of online hate. The study highlights how seemingly privatised expressions of racism are entangled with their public modes of denial.
What role has social media played in recent political developments and events? What ability does it have to shape and inform public opinion? Are traditional outlets for news and current affairs losing sway?
What are the pros and cons of social media as a source of news and as a political force? Is it a democratic form empowering the masses or is it open to commercialisation, privatisation and control? What are dangers of using social media to exercise freedom of speech?
Can social media activism really lead to political change/a political movement? Is social media becoming a political force bigger and beyond its users? Do we, and should we, want it to?
A panel discussion arranged in association with the AHRC, 20 November 2012
Speakers considered how the spread of a high-speed global internet and increasing use of social media has changed the way in which global citizens interact linguistically.