Despite the sustained media attention surrounding internet trolling, academic studies investigating its occurrence are rare. This study aimed to provide a case study analysis of the behaviours and strategies of a group of alleged Twitter trolls referred to as the anti-McCanns due to their continual abuse of Kate and Gerry McCann as well as those who support them and thus identify as pro-McCann. The way in which language was used to construct the anti-McCanns group identity, enhance in-group cohesion and facilitate out-group disassociation from the pro-Mccann group was additionally explored, given that previous research has implicated group processes in the propagation of aggressive online conduct. A multi-method approach involving a combination of ethnographic observations and the collection of online commentary was employed. The data was then analysed using quantitative content analysis and discourse analysis, which indicated that language was utilised in a variety of ways by the anti-McCanns to construct a salient group identity and negatively stereotype and disassociate from the pro-McCann group. Findings additionally revealed that several strategies were employed by the anti-McCann trolls to provoke and derogate members of the pro-McCann group, supporting previous findings which have linked trolling to both western media culture and the characteristics of anti-social personality disorder. The implications of these findings both theoretical and practical are discussed, alongside recommendations for future research.
John Synnott, Andria Coulias, Maria Ioannou (2017). Online Trolling: The Case of Madeleine McCann. Computers in Human Behavior.
Brain–Computer Interface–Based Communication in the Completely Locked-In State
Ujwal Chaudhary , Bin Xia, Stefano Silvoni, Leonardo G. Cohen & Niels Birbaumer
Despite partial success, communication has remained impossible for persons suffering from complete motor paralysis but intact cognitive and emotional processing, a state called complete locked-in state (CLIS). Based on a motor learning theoretical context and on the failure of neuroelectric brain–computer interface (BCI) communication attempts in CLIS, we here report BCI communication using functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) and an implicit attentional processing procedure. Four patients suffering from advanced amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)—two of them in permanent CLIS and two entering the CLIS without reliable means of communication—learned to answer personal questions with known answers and open questions all requiring a “yes” or “no” thought using frontocentral oxygenation changes measured with fNIRS. Three patients completed more than 46 sessions spread over several weeks, and one patient (patient W) completed 20 sessions. Online fNIRS classification of personal questions with known answers and open questions using linear support vector machine (SVM) resulted in an above-chance-level correct response rate over 70%. Electroencephalographic oscillations and electrooculographic signals did not exceed the chance-level threshold for correct communication despite occasional differences between the physiological signals representing a “yes” or “no” response. However, electroencephalogram (EEG) changes in the theta-frequency band correlated with inferior communication performance, probably because of decreased vigilance and attention. If replicated with ALS patients in CLIS, these positive results could indicate the first step towards abolition of complete locked-in states, at least for ALS.
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e-minters Online Social Architects: Recognition of Informal Learning in Communities of Interest
As an attempt for informal learning recognition in online Communities of Interest, theory in this chapter was extracted from a dialogue between the members of the e-mint community on lurkers, newcomers and online groupz-ware. Twenty-eight e-mint members offered practical insights for usability and sociability issues towards online communities. Additional theoretical support to the concepts is provided based on social psychology, education, management and communication studies. The theoretical framework that supports Informal Learning and Communities of Interest draws on late 19th century and middle 20th century theories as these were the eras of new approaches related to masses’ interaction. A new methodological framework for data extraction and data analysis is introduced using software-based Social Network Analysis and Content Analysis, on the cluster of messages about lurkers, newcomers and the features of online groupz-ware.
Niki Lambropoulos (In Press). e-minters Online Social Architects: Recognition of Informal Learning in Communities of Interest. International Journal of Internet Trolling and Online Participation.
Overcoming the Legal Challenges of News Reporting: A Case Study of a Start-Up News Corporation
When one thinks of barriers to setting up a news corporation, one might think in terms of the costs of machinery and staffing. This case study of a start-up news corporation called Crocels News shows that the biggest cost can be in resolving legal disputes, most significantly from news articles scrutinising public bodies and their staff. This chapter investigates the difficulties faced by Crocels News in providing news content. By considering the legal correspondence received, the chapter provides insights into some of the problems all news services are likely to experience if they do not have access to the huge legal budgets of the established news corporations. The findings are particularly worrying for emerging forms of news reporting, such as citizen journalism. The chapter therefore proposes changes in statute so that case law that protects free speech is more easily enforced.
Jonathan Bishop (2017). Overcoming the Legal Challenges of News Reporting: A Case Study of a Start-Up News Corporation. In N. Mhiripiri, & T. Chari (Eds.), Media Law, Ethics, and Policy in the Digital Age (pp. 146-163). Hershey, PA: IGI
Developing and Validating the “This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things Scale”: Optimising Political Online Communities for Internet Trolling
Internet trolling describes the posting of any content on the Internet which is provocative or offensive, which is different from the original meaning online in the 1990s, referring to the posting of messages for humourous effect. Those systems operators (sysops) who run online communities are being targeted because of abuse posted on their platforms. Political discussion groups are some of the most prone to trolling, whether consensual or unwanted. Many such websites ara open for anyone to join, meaning when some members post messages they know are offensive but legal, others might find grossly offensive, meaning these messages could be illegal. This paper develops a questionnaire called the This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things Scale (TIWWCHNT-20), which aims to help sysops better plan the development of online communities to take account of different users’ capacity to be offended, and for users to self-assess whether they will be suited to an online community. The scale is discussed in relation to different Internet posting techniques where different users will act differently.
Exploring the Counting of Ballot Papers Using “Delegated Transferable Vote”: Implications for Local and National Elections in the United Kingdom
Jonathan Bishop and Mark Beech
Delegated transferable voting (DTV) refers to an approach to counting votes in elections that extends non-preferential voting systems like First Past The Post (FPTP) to include a transferable element similar to Single Transferable Voting (STV) but instead of voters indicating who they wish their votes to go to on an individual level they entrust that decision in the candidate they vote for, who could be from a small political party that might otherwise be deemed a “wasted vote” under first-past-the-post systems where the candidate they least want could win by having the most votes but still have less than 50% of the popular vote. This chapter discusses how DTV might work in practice through an auto-ethnographic approach in which the authors play an active part in elections in order to test the approach. The elections contested in the UK included to local council level in the Pontypridd area and national elections to the UK Parliament and Welsh Assembly. The potential impact of DTV on these election and method of campaigning used at some of these elections might have had on the voting outcome are discussed.
Jonathan Bishop & Mark Beech (2017). Exploring the Counting of Ballot Papers Using “Delegated Transferable Vote”: Implications for Local and National Elections in the United Kingdom. In Y. Ibrahim (Ed.), Politics, Protest, and Empowerment in Digital Spaces (pp. 227-243). Hershey, PA: IGI Global. Available online: http://resources.crocels.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/4/counting-ballot-papers-using-dtv.pdf
The role of affective computing for ensuring safety in at-risk educational environments: The development of ‘VoisJet’ and ‘VoisEye’ for forensic phonetical analysis
Jonathan Bishop and Darren Bellenger
This paper presents an introduction to the use of affective computing in at-risk educational environments, such as those that schools located in areas where there is armed conflict and for the safeguarding of children and at-risk adults more generally. This paper has discussed the improvement of the EigenFace based facial emotion recognition by continually streamlining the facial dataset used and its application in at-risk educational environments. One of these mimics the authors’ EigenFaces library and appears to have better performance in poor lighting and poor camera situations, making it possibly better for drone use. It is therefore paramount that as the authors develop the system further that they keep each component separate, in case it is decided to utilise commercial libraries (e.g. Microsoft Project Oxford) for certain aspects. A structure such as VoisOver that allows for third party technologies to be plugged in would mean the authors’ code can remain separate from that of third party plug-ins, namely specific algorithms for identifying the core 12 emotion sets the authors have devised in contexts that might not even have been considered yet. Such algorithms could work with the system described in this paper to make its operation in at-risk educational environments even more possible.
Trolling the trolls: Online forum users constructions of the nature and properties of trolling
Bryn Alexander Coles & Melanie West
Trolling’ refers to a specific type of malicious online behaviour, intended to disrupt interactions, aggravate interactional partners and lure them into fruitless argumentation. However, as with other categories, both ‘troll’ and ‘trolling’ may have multiple, inconsistent and incompatible meanings, depending upon the context in which the term is used and the aims of the person using the term. Drawing data from 14 online fora and newspaper comment threads, this paper explores how online users mobilise and make use of the term ‘troll’. Data was analysed from a discursive psychological perspective. Four repertoires describing trolls were identified in posters online messages: 1) that trolls are easily identifiable, 2) nostalgia, 3) vigilantism and 4) that trolls are nasty. Analysis also revealed that despite repertoire 01, identifying trolls is not a simple and straight-forward task. Similarly to any other rhetorical category, there are tensions inherent in posters accounts of nature and acceptability of trolling. Neither the category ‘troll’ nor the action of ‘trolling’ has a single, fixed meaning. Either action may be presented as desirable or undesirable, depending upon the aims of the poster at the time of posting.
The Blasé Nature of Retraction Watch’s Editorial Policies and the Risk to Sinking Journalistic Standards
Jaime A. Teixeira da Silva
Retraction Watch is a distinctly anti-science blog whose primary objective is to smear scientists who hold errors or retractions to their names. Self-appointed watchdogs, Dr. Ivan Oransky and Dr. Adam Marcus lead this profitable charity, which is falsely projected as an “aid-science” project. Claiming to represent the highest standards of science journalism, Oransky and Marcus oversee – with very hawkish eyes – a small team of journalists, who are in charge of researching cases and reporting them. On average, one can observe roughly one blog post every two days in recent months. This indicates that the research required to complete each story takes place under strain, and may thus involve errors. Scientists are very familiar with errors, and there are strict guidelines in dealing with them during the publication process. In science publishing, the process is somewhat bureaucratic and a formal request must be made to the journal and publisher, usually through the editor-in-chief, and a carefully vetted and worded erratum, or corrigendum, is then published. Retraction Watch’s Oransky and Marcus hold scientists to extremely high standards, and anything less than perfection is subjected to ridicule on their blog. Yet, what happens when Retraction Watch errs? This letter aims to highlight a single recent case study in which highly observant readers of a Retraction Watch story pointed out errors in the title and possible ambiguities. Rather than issuing a formal retraction of their old title, or a formal correction (erratum), the Retraction Watch leadership simply changed the title, and even though it was “loosely” acknowledged by Retraction Watch staff as “Fixed, thanks!” in the comment section, this attitude is blasé, and the method of correction is unsatisfactory and unprofessional. Scientists must hold Retraction Watch accountable for their errors, and any unprofessionally processed story, or correction, must be publicly exposed, to increase accountability. The Retraction Watch web-page, and thus its parent organization, The Center for Scientific Integrity, is receiving hundreds of thousands of US$ from at least one philanthropic organization, in support of its anti-science rhetoric, and thus the individuals that make up Retraction Watch must be held accountable for their occasionally poorly vetted and unscrutinized journalistic practices.
Jaime A. Teixeira da Silva (2016). The Blasé Nature of Retraction Watch’s Editorial Policies and the Risk to Sinking Journalistic Standards. Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences 7 (6).
This paper is available from the Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences in PDF or HTML format.
Which personality traits are related to traditional bullying and cyberbullying? A study with the Big Five, Dark Triad and sadism
Mitch van Geel, Anouk Goemans, Fatih Toprak & Paul Vedder
Studies have shown that both Big Five and Dark Triad (Machiavellianism, narcissism, psychopathy) personality traits are related to traditional bullying and cyberbullying behaviors in adolescents as well as in adults. Increasingly, scholars call for sadism as an addition to the Dark Triad in the study of antisocial and delinquent behaviors. In the current study we analyze whether the Big Five, Dark Triad and sadism predict traditional bullying and cyberbullying. The sample consisted of 1568 participants (61.9% female), ranging in age from 16 to 21 years. Using hierarchical linear regression analyses, controlling for age and gender, it was found that agreeableness, Machiavellianism, psychopathy and sadism were significantly related to traditional bullying, and agreeableness and sadism were related to cyberbullying. Taken together, the results more firmly establish that sadism could be a predictor of antisocial behaviors, by establishing its relations with bullying and cyberbullying.
Mitch van Geel, Anouk Goemans, Fatih Toprak & Paul Vedder (2016). Which personality traits are related to traditional bullying and cyberbullying? A study with the Big Five, Dark Triad and sadism. Personality and Individual Differences.
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