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  • DemTech @ ICA 2023

    29 March 2023

    73rd ICA Poster

    Several members of our research team will be attending the 2023 International Communication Association conference in Toronto, where they will be presenting their latest research and engaging with other experts in the field of communication.

    As part of the conference pre-events, Yung Au will represent our team by presenting a research paper entitled “When Platforms are Gatekeepers: Exploring Metaphors of Gates and their Guardians“, co-authored by Josh Cowls and Cindy Ma, at the ICA Preconference: History of Digital Metaphors to be held on May 25, 2023.

    At the conference Yung Au will present “Data Centres on the Moon and Other Tales: A Volumetric and Elemental Analysis of the Coloniality of Digital Infrastructures” at ICA on May 26, 2023. Read the full paper here.


    Recent years have seen the expansion of data centres in mountains, deep oceans and outer space. These infrastructures claim, adapt and interrupt environments for data needs – at times prioritizing these over human and ecological needs, and often to the benefit of only a limited number of stakeholders. From this departure point, this paper explores how volumetric and elementally attuned analytical frameworks can make explicit some of the ways that colonial relations extend to digital infrastructures. The paper explores two vignettes of data centre infrastructures – in the Atacama Desert and in outer space – looking at a range of pre-existing, in-progress and speculative projects. Through this examination, it considers how these frameworks, which stem from Indigenous epistemologies, help to foreground certain processes. First, the obvious and non-obvious ways that colonial logics continue in these infrastructures. Second, understandings of how the volumetric and elemental are differently embodied – such as how thin air mediates labour – which helps to counter flattening discourses that serve to benefit certain actors. Third, the colonial futurities that are embedded in data projects such as those related to radio astronomy, the distribution of orbital flight paths and the demarcation of oceanic graveyards as well as the plans for data centres on the Moon. Finally, this paper also attends to alternative worldviews that can help to unsettle colonialist trajectories.

    The team will also be represented by Alexandra Pavliuc who will present the paper “Responding To Digital Misinformation: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Effective Countermeasures” co-authored by Aliaksandr Herasimenka, Anna George, Adrienn Lawson, Xianlingchen Wang and Philip Howard.

    Misinformation has become one of the key threats to healthy political communication in recent years, but no one is clear on what the most effective countermeasures are to misinformation. To bridge this gap, we conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of peer-reviewed research about misleading information on digital media platforms. We focus on factors that may be effective in mitigating the effects of misinformation, disinformation, and a range of related phenomena. We identify 3,303 peer review publications from the domain of politics, communication and health, 664 of which have empirical methods that make them eligible for analyses, and 412 of which satisfy the rigorous PRISMA protocols for a systematic review and 12 of which allow for aggregation through meta-analysis. The most commonly recommended solutions to the problem of misinformation include publishing corrections, literacy campaigns, content moderation, and content labeling. How effective are these interventions? Our meta-analysis from 12 publications on the effect of content labeling reveals that content labeling has a strong positive effect on the perception of political and health information published on social media platforms. In addition, exposure to corrective materials reduces the misperception of information, though this effect is less pronounced. These findings help clarify which suggested misinformation countermeasures have been researched and the effectiveness of misinformation countermeasures.

    Alexandra will also present her paper on  the online engagement of Ukranian politicians with each other during the war called “Quantifying ‘Twiplomacy’ during Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine“. Read the full paper here.


    Social media has upended how wars are fought in the twenty-first century. Leaders can share their messages at speed and scale, and engage in authentic dialogue during difficult times spent in bunkers, on the front lines, or at a negotiating table. This study employs a novel mixed-methods computational analysis applied to a unique database of politician socio-demographic attributes to understand the gendered dimensions of how international and Ukrainian politicians engage with each other on Twitter during wartime, and how ‘Twiplomacy’ translates into material support for Ukraine. Theories and literature on gendered discourse during conflict, gendered interaction strategies, and on the utility of social media in modern day diplomacy are engaged with to understand how gender, social media, and diplomacy interact during the Ukraine War.
    You can see the conference program here.

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