Header

UZH-Logo

Maintenance Infos

Conceptualizing “dark platforms”: Covid-19-related conspiracy theories on 8kun and Gab


Zeng, Jing; Schäfer, Mike S (2021). Conceptualizing “dark platforms”: Covid-19-related conspiracy theories on 8kun and Gab. Digital Journalism:Epub ahead of print.

Abstract

This study investigates how COVID-19-related content, especially conspiracy theories, is communicated on “dark platforms” — digital platforms that are less regulated and moderated, hence can be used for hosting content and content creators that may not be tolerated by their more mainstream counterparts. The objective of this study is two-fold: First, it introduces the concept of dark platforms, which differ from their mainstream counterparts in terms of content governance, user-base and technological infrastructure. Second, using 8kun and Gab as examples, this study investigates how the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has been communicated on dark platforms, with a focus on conspiracy theories. Over 60,000 COVID-19-related posts were studied to identify the most prominent conspiracy theories, their themes, and the actors who promoted them, as well as the broader information ecosystem through network analysis. While pressure on social media to deplatform conspiracy theorists continues to grow, we argue that more research needs to be done to critically investigate the impacts of further marginalizing such groups. To this end, the concept of dark platform as can serve as a heuristic device for researching a wider range of fringe platforms.

Abstract

This study investigates how COVID-19-related content, especially conspiracy theories, is communicated on “dark platforms” — digital platforms that are less regulated and moderated, hence can be used for hosting content and content creators that may not be tolerated by their more mainstream counterparts. The objective of this study is two-fold: First, it introduces the concept of dark platforms, which differ from their mainstream counterparts in terms of content governance, user-base and technological infrastructure. Second, using 8kun and Gab as examples, this study investigates how the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has been communicated on dark platforms, with a focus on conspiracy theories. Over 60,000 COVID-19-related posts were studied to identify the most prominent conspiracy theories, their themes, and the actors who promoted them, as well as the broader information ecosystem through network analysis. While pressure on social media to deplatform conspiracy theorists continues to grow, we argue that more research needs to be done to critically investigate the impacts of further marginalizing such groups. To this end, the concept of dark platform as can serve as a heuristic device for researching a wider range of fringe platforms.

Statistics

Citations

Altmetrics

Downloads

17 downloads since deposited on 03 Sep 2021
17 downloads since 12 months
Detailed statistics

Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Department of Communication and Media Research
Dewey Decimal Classification:700 Arts
Scopus Subject Areas:Social Sciences & Humanities > Communication
Uncontrolled Keywords:conspiracy theory, dark participation, Gab, 8kun, 8chan, COVID-19
Language:English
Date:16 June 2021
Deposited On:03 Sep 2021 05:03
Last Modified:04 Sep 2021 20:00
Publisher:Taylor & Francis
ISSN:2167-0811
OA Status:Hybrid
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1080/21670811.2021.1938165

Download

Hybrid Open Access

Download PDF  'Conceptualizing “dark platforms”: Covid-19-related conspiracy theories on 8kun and Gab'.
Preview
Content: Published Version
Filetype: PDF
Size: 3MB
View at publisher
Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)