Event Title

Sight Unseen: Online Activism and the Circulation of Violent Images on Social Media

Presenter Information

Natalie Villasana, Oberlin College

Location

Science Center A154

Start Date

10-2-2015 4:30 PM

End Date

10-2-2015 5:50 PM

Abstract

Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms are changing how people receive news, not only about their ‘friends,’ but also about people throughout the country and abroad. In the wake of countless viral videos of state terrorism—violence committed by police officers against Black people—how has the rapid diffusion of these images and videos via social media affected how different people perceive these events? How does Twitter’s design and interface shape not only the spread of news, but also the news itself? I interrogated the relationship between the social media platform Twitter and the spread of news of police brutality by analyzing Tweets from a June 2015 incident of police assault in McKinney, Texas as well as other cases of police brutality this summer. I analyzed individual Tweets and Twitter trends to try to understand what enables an online landscape of endlessly trending anti-Black violence. While social media coverage of these events has galvanized protests in huge numbers, these images also have the potential to traumatize thousands of social media users.

Notes

Session III, Panel 5 - VIOLENCE: Perception & Reception

Major

Creative Writing; Cinema Studies

Award

Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship (MMUF)

Project Mentor(s)

Pablo Mitchell, History; Comparative American Studies
Shelley Lee, History; Comparative American Studies

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Oct 2nd, 4:30 PM Oct 2nd, 5:50 PM

Sight Unseen: Online Activism and the Circulation of Violent Images on Social Media

Science Center A154

Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms are changing how people receive news, not only about their ‘friends,’ but also about people throughout the country and abroad. In the wake of countless viral videos of state terrorism—violence committed by police officers against Black people—how has the rapid diffusion of these images and videos via social media affected how different people perceive these events? How does Twitter’s design and interface shape not only the spread of news, but also the news itself? I interrogated the relationship between the social media platform Twitter and the spread of news of police brutality by analyzing Tweets from a June 2015 incident of police assault in McKinney, Texas as well as other cases of police brutality this summer. I analyzed individual Tweets and Twitter trends to try to understand what enables an online landscape of endlessly trending anti-Black violence. While social media coverage of these events has galvanized protests in huge numbers, these images also have the potential to traumatize thousands of social media users.