Data craft: a theory/methods package for critical internet studies
We illustrate how platform companies’ responses to disinformation campaigns are at odds with the interests of researchers, civil society, policy-makers, and journalists, limiting the capacity to audit the role that platforms play in political discourse. To show how platforms’ data archives of ‘coordinated inauthentic behavior’ prevent researchers from examining the contexts of manipulation, we present two case studies of disinformation campaigns related to the Black Lives Matter Movement. We demonstrate how data craft – the exploitation of metrics, metadata, and recommendation engines – played a prominent role attracting audiences to these disinformation campaigns. Additionally, we offer some investigative techniques for researchers to employ data craft in their own research of the disinformation. We conclude by proposing new avenues for research for the field of Critical Internet Studies.
Document Type: Research Article
Affiliations: 1: School of Information, University of Texas, Austin, USA 2: Technology and Social Change, Shorenstein Center for Media, Politics and Public Policy, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, Cambridge, USA
Publication date: September 19, 2019