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Exploring the Dark Side of Participatory Online Media: A Case Study of Metapedia(dot)org
Linnaeus University, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Department of Media and Journalism.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-2017-1117
Linnaeus University, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Department of Media and Journalism.
2014 (English)In: Communication & Mass Media Abstracts: 12th Annual International Conference on Communication and Mass Media 12-15 May 2014, Athens, Greece / [ed] Gregory T. Papanikos, 2014, 63-63 p.Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Traditional media is often described as currently being in a state of decline. Historically, it has repeatedly been pointed out that it has failed, in various ways, in its task of providing truthful and relevant news and that it has not managed to engage the public in the sort of active participation that is required in order for any democracy to thrive. Recently, much has been written about the possibilities offered by new participatory online media, such as citizen journalism, in search of alternatives to the old, struggling media channels. (Barlow, 2010; Bruns, 2010; Carpenter, 2010; Fico et al., 2013; Goode, 2009; Meadows, 2012; Reich, 2008). Online participatory media content is generally thought to be unexpensive to produce since it is performed and published by non-paid laymen. Furthermore, it can offer news, information and perspectives without the constraint of traditional media-logic and from different perspectives than traditional media. It is therefore often construed as an important alternative that could enrich public discourse. On top of that, participatory features of new media can involve citizens in the very process of producing content, and therefore has a potential to boost civic engagement in public discourse. Although careful not to dismiss the democratic possibilities of online participatory media, we argue that the focus on these aspects has, in part, guided the spotlight of research to certain areas of online participation – where it is obvious that these democratic gains have a possibility of being realised (Karlsson & Holt, 2013). In turn, other uses of participatory media, have been neglected. Examples abound on the internet, of a darker side of participation. After all, groups of people could well – and do – pool their resources, collaborate in networks, produce, share and edit content that is aimed at achieving common goals that are far from democratic. The most striking example of this is the Wikipedia-like dictionary Metapedia(dot)org. It has borrowed its collaborative and participatory structure, way of working and even layout from Wikipedia. But it has a “metapolitical purpose, to influence the mainstream debate, culture and historical view” by providing an alternative description of the world, one that is in correspondence with racist ideology. If one looks up the term “holocaust”, for example, the definition is revisionist and states that it is a fraudulent term used to spread “germanophobia”. The network behind Metapedia is clearly working according to the principles of “collective intelligence”, often mentioned in connection with the democratic potential of new participatory online media. But their aim is obviously contrary to what is often assumed about these types of media. This “dark side” of participation is in need of scholarly attention. Theoretically, it forces us as media scholars to rethink concepts such as “collective intelligence”, in order to come to terms with the ways in which participatory media are used.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014. 63-63 p.
Keyword [en]
Online participation; Far right activism; Metapedia; Metapolitics
National Category
Media Studies
Research subject
Media Studies and Journalism
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:lnu:diva-40139ISBN: 978-618-5065-38-6 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:lnu-40139DiVA: diva2:788358
Conference
12th Annual International Conference on Communication and Mass Media 12-15 May 2014, Athens, Greece
Available from: 2015-02-13 Created: 2015-02-13 Last updated: 2016-05-12Bibliographically approved

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