project period: 2014-2019
with Lea Stahel
The power of traditional media to publicly scandalize factual or alleged norm violations has been long acknowledged. With the rising influence of social media in the public arena, however, the traditional media as the gatekeeper for scandalization seems to be weakened. The role of enforcing social control was thus observed to shift to the social media arena. We expect that particularly social media facilitates new forms of collective social control. This recent development has been vividely brought into public consciousness by the online phenomena of « Shitstorms ». « Shitstorms » describe a great amount of critical comments and outrage, disseminated via social networks, blogs, and comment functions on Internet pages within a short period of time. Comments might involve critique and discussion, as well as negative and emotional offenses, potentially disconnected from the original topic of discussion (similar to « flaming »). These « storms » of critique were observed as addressing public persons, organizations, and institutions. Beyond this topic’s regular occurrence and debates in the media, it is, however, lacked in academic literature.