A new paper (open access!) is out: Digital Animal Advocacy: A Study on Facebook Communication Styles of Italian Animal Rights Organizations and their Followers’ Reactions.
The paper analyzes the Facebook communication of the Italian galaxy of Italian animal advocates by using a text-mining approach, and reflects on the role of social media in promoting specific political approaches to animal rights.
The social media ecology does not change or construct the different positions of different sectors of animal advocacy, but contributes to amplify their distances, favoring the visibility or, using the term adopted by Dijck and Poell (2013), the ‘popularity’ of some groups over others. It is no coincidence that mainstream AAOs, which have greater financial and professional resources at their disposal, also have Facebook pages with the highest number of followers (Tab. 3), nor that they are clearly fully aware of the possibilities of exploiting the algorithms that preside over the distribution of the most popular content (…) in order to hack the social media attention economy (…) by calling on the concerted efforts of well-organized armies of web-activists.
From this perspective, Italian animal advocacy reflects a lack of democracy in digital platforms and is a further proof of the adage ‘the rich get richer and the poor get poorer’ (Merton, 1968). At least for the moment, the horizontal and democratic nature of Internet-based communication that is hoped for (in the case of anarchist AAOs) or explicitly claimed as already existent and widespread (in the case of anti-political AAOs) is absent (…)