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Book part
Publication date: 3 November 2014

Daniel Trottier

Social media platforms, along with networked devices and applications, enable their user base to produce, access and circulate large volumes of data. On the one hand, this…

Abstract

Purpose

Social media platforms, along with networked devices and applications, enable their user base to produce, access and circulate large volumes of data. On the one hand, this development contains an empowering potential for users, who can make otherwise obscured aspects of social life visible, and coordinate social action in accordance. Yet the preceding activities in turn render these users visible to governments as well as the multinational companies that operate these services. Between these two visions lie more nuanced accounts of individuals coordinating via social data for reactionary purposes, as well as policing and intelligence agencies struggling with the affordances of big data.

Design/methodology/approach

This chapter considers how individual users as well as police agencies respectively actualise the supposedly revolutionary and repressive potentials associated with big data. It briefly considers the broader social context in which ‘big data’ is situated, which includes the hardware, software, individuals and cultural values that render big data meaningful and useful. Then, in contrast to polarising visions of the social impact of big data, it considers two sets of practices that speak to a more ambivalent potentiality. First, recent examples suggest a kind of crowd-sourced vigilantism, where individuals rely on ubiquitous data and devices in order to reproduce law and order politics. Second, police agencies in various branches of European governments report a sense of obligation to turn to social data as a source of intelligence and evidence, yet attempts to do so are complicated by both practical and procedural challenges. A combination of case studies and in-depth interviews offers a grounded understanding of big data in practice, in contrast to commonly held visions of these technologies.

Findings

First, big data is only ever meaningful in use. While they may be contained in databases in remote locations, big data do not exist in a social vacuum. Their impact cannot be fully understood in the context of newly assembled configurations or ‘game-changing’ discourses. Instead, they are only knowable in the context of existing practices. These practices can initially be the sole remit of public discourse shaped by journalists, tech-evangelists and even academics. Yet embodied individual and institutional practices also emerge, and this may contradict or at least complicate discursive assertions. Secondly, the range of devices and practices that make up big data are engaged in a bilateral relation with these practices. They may be a platform to further reproduce relations of information exchange and power relations. Yet they may also reconfigure these relations.

Research limitations/implications

This research is limited to a sample of respondents based in the European Union, and based at a particular stage of big data and social media monitoring uptake. Subsequent research should look at how this uptake is occurring elsewhere, along with the medium to long-term implications of big data monitoring. Finally, subsequent research should consider how citizens and other social actors are coping with these emerging practices.

Originality/value

This chapter considers practices associated with big data monitoring and draws from cross-national empirical data. It stands in contrast to overly optimistic as well as well as totalising accounts of the social costs and consequences of big data. For these reasons, this chapter will be of value to scholars in internet studies, as well as privacy advocates and policymakers who are responsive to big data developments.

Details

Big Data? Qualitative Approaches to Digital Research
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78441-050-6

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Book part
Publication date: 4 June 2021

Anne Cheung

Doxing refers to the intentional public release by a third party of personal data without consent, often with the intent to humiliate, intimidate, harass, or punish the…

Abstract

Doxing refers to the intentional public release by a third party of personal data without consent, often with the intent to humiliate, intimidate, harass, or punish the individual concerned. Intuitively, it is tempting to condemn doxing as a crude form of cyber violence that weaponizes personal data. When it is used as a strategy of resistance by the powerless to hold the powerful accountable, however, a more nuanced understanding is called for. This chapter focuses on the doxing phenomenon in Hong Kong, where doxing incidents against police officers and their family members have skyrocketed since 2019 (a 75-fold increase over 2018). It contends that doxing for political purposes is closely related to digital vigilantism, signifying a loss of confidence in the ruling authority and a yearning for an alternative form of justice. The chapter therefore argues that public interest should be recognized as a legal defense in doxing cases when those discharging or entrusted with public duty are the targets. Equally, it is important to confine the categories of personal data disclosed to information necessary to reveal the alleged wrongdoer or wrongdoing. Only in this way can a fair balance be struck between privacy, freedom of expression, and public interest.

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The Emerald International Handbook of Technology Facilitated Violence and Abuse
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-83982-849-2

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Expert briefing
Publication date: 18 March 2021

Relatively low internet penetration rates (an average of 40% across the continent) and stark differences in digital access within and across states mask social media’s…

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Article
Publication date: 14 September 2015

Rebecca Whiting and Katrina Pritchard

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Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management: An International Journal, vol. 10 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1746-5648

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Book part
Publication date: 10 September 2021

Ignas Kalpokas

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Malleable, Digital, and Posthuman
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-80117-621-7

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Book part
Publication date: 23 April 2021

Sarah Lageson and Kateryna Kaplun

Purpose – In a digital environment, a simple accusation has the potential to permanently attach to a person’s identity. Our purpose here is to identify several types of…

Abstract

Purpose – In a digital environment, a simple accusation has the potential to permanently attach to a person’s identity. Our purpose here is to identify several types of accusations that persist in the internet environment: person to person accusations, media documented accusations, and accusations by the state. Approach – Using a typology of cases and legal analyses, the authors trace how accusations proliferate and persist across the internet and offer a set of social and legal explanations for the salience of public accusation online. Findings – The authors ultimately find that in contemporary society, the act of accusing increasingly replaces the desire or need for a fair and just outcome. The authors close by discussing implications for the accused and potential avenues for remedy. Originality – Our contribution bridges sociological and legal perspectives on the intersection of free speech, defamation, and digital media.

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Media and Law: Between Free Speech and Censorship
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-80071-729-9

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Book part
Publication date: 4 June 2021

Alison J. Marganski and Lisa A. Melander

While research on digital dangers has been growing, studies on their respective solutions and justice responses have not kept pace. The agathokakological nature of…

Abstract

While research on digital dangers has been growing, studies on their respective solutions and justice responses have not kept pace. The agathokakological nature of technology demands that we pay attention to not only harms associated with interconnectivity, but also the potential for technology to counter offenses and “do good.” This chapter discusses technology as both a weapon and a shield when it comes to violence against women and girls in public spaces and private places. First, we review the complex and varied manifestations of technological gender violence, ranging from the use of technology to exploit, harass, stalk, and otherwise harm women and girls in communal spaces, to offenses that occur behind closed doors. Second, we discuss justice-related responses, underscoring how women and girls have “flipped the script” when their needs are not met. By developing innovative ways to respond to the wrongs committed against them and creating alternate systems that offer a voice, victims/survivors have repurposed technology to redress harms and unite in solidarity with others in an ongoing quest for justice.

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The Emerald International Handbook of Technology Facilitated Violence and Abuse
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-83982-849-2

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Content available
Book part
Publication date: 19 May 2021

Abstract

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Crossroads of Rural Crime
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-80043-644-2

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Book part
Publication date: 26 November 2020

Brett Crawford and M. Tina Dacin

In this chapter, the authors adopt a macrofoundations perspective to explore punishment within institutional theory. Institutional theorists have long focused on a single…

Abstract

In this chapter, the authors adopt a macrofoundations perspective to explore punishment within institutional theory. Institutional theorists have long focused on a single type of punishment – retribution – including the use of sanctions, fines, and incarceration to maintain conformity. The authors expand the types of punishment that work to uphold institutions, organized by visible and hidden, and formal and informal characteristics. The four types of punishment include (1) punishment-as-retribution; (2) punishment-as-charivari; (3) punishment-as-rehabilitation; and (4) punishment-as-vigilantism. The authors develop important connections between punishment-as-charivari, which relies on shaming efforts, and burgeoning interest in organizational stigma and social evaluations. The authors also point to informal types of punishment, including punishment-as-vigilantism, to expand the variety of actors that punish wrongdoing, including actors without the legal authority to do so. Finally, the authors detail a number of questions for each type of punishment as a means to generate a future research agenda.

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Macrofoundations: Exploring the Institutionally Situated Nature of Activity
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-83909-160-5

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Book part
Publication date: 26 November 2020

Abstract

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Macrofoundations: Exploring the Institutionally Situated Nature of Activity
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-83909-160-5

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