Travel Scholarships for #AoIR2018

In order to increase the diversity of participation in the annual AoIR conferences, the Association of Internet Researchers makes available several conference fee waivers and travel stipends each year. These stipends are mostly funded through the generosity of our membership.

Applications are invited from authors whose proposals have already been accepted via the conference reviewing process, as well as by PhD students applying to the Doctoral Colloquium.

All applications should be emailed directly to the Association Coordinator, Michelle Gardner (ac [at] AoIR [dot] org), and must be received by 20 May 2018. Late applications cannot be considered.

Applications should include (1) a short (2-page) CV and (2) a statement no longer than 2 pages that must include the following information:

  1. A brief description of how the author’s presentation or contribution to the #AoIR2018 conference will uniquely articulate and/or represent a distinctive perspective (e.g., of persons and/or cultures) otherwise unlikely to be represented at the conference.
  2. An explanation of the author’s distinctive circumstances that would warrant a fee waiver, and an indication that the applicant will be able to make effective use of the funds. These may include, but are by no means limited to: exceptionally limited financial resources (e.g., as a graduate student or scholar in a non-OECD country, as a disabled person on a limited income, etc.); exceptional limits on institutional support otherwise normally available (e.g., travel funds, grant funds, etc.); other exceptional circumstances that render the usual AoIR conference fees an insurmountable obstacle to attending the conference in order to present the author’s work. Please include any information on access you have to additional funding.

AoIR membership is encouraged but is not a requirement for the application.

Applicants may also include a letter of support from someone familiar with their circumstances, special needs, etc. Such a letter is not a requirement.

Applications will be reviewed by the AoIR Executive Committee.

Fee waivers and travel stipends of up to $500 (with one stipend of up to $1,500) will be awarded. Awards are intended to reimburse participants for expenses incurred and will be paid out after the conference. The awardee is required to provide expense receipts to AoIR in order access travel stipends.

Decisions are made on the basis of the Executive Committee’s collective judgment as to which presentations will make the most distinctive contribution to the AoIR conference. Priority will be given to applicants who have not previously received a travel award from AoIR. In order to respect and protect the privacy of the applicants, all Executive Committee discussions and deliberations will be held in strict confidence.

The AoIR Executive Committee regretfully acknowledges that there may be more meritorious applications than we will be able to award and support. Nonetheless, we hope that awarded fee waivers and travel stipends will not only assist deserving scholars and researchers, but also enrich the #AoIR2018 conference for all attendees.

Facebook Shuts the Gate after the Horse Has Bolted, and Hurts Real Research in the Process

A public response from leading members of the Internet research community.

In reaction to the Cambridge Analytica controversy, Facebook has recently announced a substantial tightening of access restrictions to the Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) of Facebook, Instagram, and other platforms it owns. Other platform providers are likely to follow suit. The APIs are the means through which third parties access data on these platforms, such as when banking, retail, or even dating apps like Tinder access Facebook data to verify the identity of their users.

While these changes may generate some positive publicity for the company and its beleaguered CEO Mark Zuckerberg, they are likely to compound the real problem, further diminishing transparency and opportunities for independent oversight. The net effect of the new API restrictions is to lock out third parties and consolidate Facebook’s position as the main analytics and advertising broker. Contrary to popular belief, these changes are as much about strengthening Facebook’s business model of data control as they are about actually improving data privacy for users.

Collateral Damage

Up to now, thousands of social scientists around the world have also been using API data from Facebook and other social media platforms to study various online communities and to independently and rigorously investigate the impact of such platforms on our media and society. Such research is undertaken in the public interest and is often overseen by the research ethics review boards of universities and/or by national data protection agencies.

Indeed, research ethics have been a consistent concern in the Internet research community for the past two decades already. The leading international community of researchers in the field, the Association of Internet Researchers (AoIR), has regularly published detailed, gradually evolving research ethics guidelines since 2002, paying particularly close attention to the ethics of social media research.

As researchers at leading international research organisations, we are deeply concerned about the collateral impacts of the new API access rules implemented by Facebook and other platforms. Read more ›

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ICS Special Issue for #AoIR2017

AoIR is grateful each year for the hard work of the editors of our special conference issue of Information, Communication & Society. For #AoIR2017 our editors were Koen Leurs, Assistant Professor in Gender & Postcolonial Studies, Utrecht University, and Alison Harvey, Lecturer in Media and Communication, University of Leicester.

For the last 10 years, Information, Communication & Society has published a special issue including some highlights from the annual Association of Internet Researchers (AoIR) conference. This, the 11th special issue, continues in the tradition of sharing rigorous, interdisciplinary, critical research from the event. #AoIR2017 was themed on ‘Networked Publics’ and took place from 18 to 21 October in Estonia in the Baltic region of Northern Europe. The conference was hosted by the programme chair Andra Siibak, Professor of Media Studies at the University of Tartu, and facilitated by the Institute of Social Studies and the Centre for the Information Society. Held at the Dorpat Convention Center in picturesque downtown Tartu, the conference drew together attendees from a broad range of national, disciplinary, and methodological backgrounds, and we present here a selection of papers reflecting this broadness and diversity of internet research. Three hundred and thirty-eight participants from 29 countries participated in #AoIR2017, and the programme included the presentation of 129 papers, alongside 18 pre-constituted panels, 4 fishbowl sessions, 10 roundtables, an experimental session, 9 pre-conference workshops and a doctoral colloquium. The pre-conferences focused on topics ranging from visual social media research to digital methods to academic freedom to sessions dedicated to the experiences of early career researchers. This special issue is pleased to share the emphasis on the diverging and contradictory consequences of the formation of networked publics. We have chosen to focus in particular on studies of publics that scrutinize how they may exacerbate injustices or work towards social justice.

The #AoIR2017 issue can be accessed here.

We are happy to welcome back Alison Harvey along with Cornelius Puschmann, Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society, to edit the #AoIR2018 ICS Special Issue.

All AoIR Members have access to our previous special issues by logging into their membership and looking under the Members tab.