Jing Zeng (2015) How does information around acute events come into being on social media
In this digital age, as social media is emerging as a central site where information is shared and interpreted, it is essential to study information construction issues on social media sites in order to understand how social reality is constructed and identify the associated power relations that arise. There are plenty of studies taking an information-as-objective point of view, where information quality is treated as objective and can be assessed with objective standards of “truth” or “fact”. By contrast, this study emphasizes the constructed and interpretive nature of information and explores the processes through which information surrounding acute events comes into being on micro-blogs. With an attempt to conduct this analysis systematically and theoretically, this study aims to adapt the concept of interpretive communities to the digital media environment. The concept of interpretive communities has been used widely to analyze TV audiences’ interpreting activities, but has not yet been applied to microblogs. This research investigates if or not micro-blog based social groups can serve as interpretive communities, and, if so, what role might they play in the construction of information, and the social impacts that may arise. The study adapts standard microblog analysis techniques to empirically investigate users’ interpretive practices during critical events. Moreover, in order to understand how this process is entangled with the surrounding social, political, technical contexts, cases from both China (focusing on Sina Weibo) and Australia (focusing on Twitter) will be analysed.
microblogs, acute events, interpretive community