General Anthropology Division
Volunteered - Oral Presentation Session
In today’s often toxic online environment, the maxim of “don’t feed the trolls” is frequently repeated. Some individuals, however, actively seek to do the opposite, to reach out to those spouting hatred, abuse, or extremist beliefs online in order to counter this negative content. Scholars have argued that social media removes the defined parameters of groups, sometimes resulting in tension as people with different backgrounds and speech norms collide – a process that boyd (2008) refers to as “context collapse.” Counterspeakers, however, frequently use tactics that seek to draw out or construct a sense of community within this landscape in order to use that sense of shared belonging to reinforce discourse norms. Drawing on over nine months of research with members of a collective counterspeech organization called #iamhere, this paper explores how counterspeakers conceptualize their communities and “the other” as well as how these distinctions influence their engagement strategies.