Emre Yetgin and Co-Authors Receive Research Article Acceptance
Emre Yetgin, Visiting Affiliate Assistant Professor of Information Systems and Operations Management, and co-authors have received acceptance of their research article, "Are Social Media Emancipatory or Hegemonic? Societal Effects of Mass Media Digitization in the Case of the SOPA Discourse," to the prestigious journal Management Information Systems Quarterly. SOPA, the Stop Online Piracy Act, was a controversial bill designed to expand US law enforcement into copyright infringement and online trafficking in counterfeit goods. While opponents (including Wikipedia and Google) said that the proposed legislation threatened free speech and led web blackouts in protest, supporters (including the Recording Industry Association of American) said that it would help protect intellectual property especially internationally. One of the issues was that internet providers would have been responsible for monitoring internet traffic and blocking websites that were suspected of infringement.
Social media in the form of websites such as Facebook provide mass media digitization posing novel societal opportunities and challenges that researchers are beginning to note. This article builds on and extends research on digital versus traditional communication media to study how and to what extent social media – one form of digital mass media – are emancipatory, i.e., permitting wide-spread participation in public discourse and surfacing of diverse perspectives, versus hegemonic, i.e., contributing to ideological control by a few. In the case of SOPA, it is interesting that organizations that opposed the legislation controlled the media over which discourse occurred. The findings of the research reveal a paradoxical effect of social media: they are emancipatory with regard to certain structural constraints, but hegemonic with regard to content restriction. Lean social media such as Twitter mitigate these structural advantages and exacerbate content restriction. These findings suggest that, as with traditional media, some inevitable evils accompany the societal benefits of social media.