Over Easter I presented work at the British Sociological Association annual conference, based on a project – led by Elizabeth Poole – that I have been working on as co-investigator along with our colleague Ed de Quincey in computer science.
The project traced the emergence and circulation of an Islamophobic hashtag – #StopIslam – on Twitter. We were particularly interested in the hashtag because it trended not due to people actively using it, but because so many people were using it to criticise hate speech. We wanted to know, then, if – despite all of its problems – Twitter could be used to support counter-narratives against hate. As this is a very topical subject, I was asked to write a brief report on our findings for the BSA after the conference, which has just appeared on their website.
Unfortunately our findings don’t provide a particularly happy picture, but there are some glimmers of hope, which we outline in our summary of the project here: https://www.britsoc.co.uk/about/latest-news/2018/may/contesting-stopislam-the-dynamics-of-online-counter-narratives-against-hate-speech/