Symposium examines violence in the digital age

Published: 31 October 2017 at 15:33

Typing on a laptop

Academics will look at how social media can spread, and combat, social injustice

Academics from the UK, Ireland and the United States will gather in Cambridge on Saturday 4 November to discuss the issues of hate, misogyny and violence in the digital age.

The Digital Violence symposium will explore how online technology has changed our understanding and experience of violence – and also how social media can provide a powerful platform to tackle these issues.

The symposium is organised by Dr Tanya Horeck and Dr Tina Kendall from Anglia Ruskin University’s Department of English and Media.

Dr Horeck, who has worked with public policy makers on “revenge porn” laws in the UK, said:

“We live in an age where violent images are routinely accessed and shared through mobile devices. 

“While the spread of violence on the internet has led to a moral panic and calls for greater regulation, it is important to critically investigate this new reality where graphic images of violence – from videos of rape to the live streaming of fatal shootings – are presented on social media platforms that invite us to ‘like’, ‘share’ and ‘comment’.”

Dr Kendall, co-organiser of the event and a specialist on violence in cinema, said:

“We will also look at other types of violence carried out through practices such as trolling and cyberbullying. Recent examples of the misogyny of digital networks include the online abuse of female journalists and politicians, such as Laura Kuenssberg and Diane Abbott. 

“Speakers will discuss how the architecture of social media platforms allows the perpetration of sexist and racist abuse and also, paradoxically, how the same platforms provide the perfect tools to combat it. For example, hashtag activism such as #everydaysexism, #blacklivesmatter and #notaskingforit being used to organise people in the fight for social justice. 

“Following the recent news of Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein’s alleged sexual harassment and abuse of women in the film industry, thousands of survivors gathered through the hashtag #metoo on social media networks, demonstrating the collective power of social media in the fight against sexual violence.

“By exploring both the online circulation of violence and the attempt to combat it, one of the key aims of the Digital Violence symposium is to explore what social changes have taken place as a result of the increased visibility of injustice and brutality through digital technologies.”