research on anti-feminist online Mormonism referenced in Salt Lake Tribune column

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I enjoy reading Natalie Brown’s columns for the Salt Lake Tribune, so it was a real honor that she referenced research that Amy Chapman and I did on the “DezNat” Twitter movement in last Saturday’s installment. In particular, Brown referenced a comment I made to the Tribune last summer that our findings highlighted anti-feminist influences on the DezNat movement (which has typically been criticized for its far right influences) and that while the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

follow up on research ethics implications of Twitter's 'general amnesty'

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This is just a few words to say that this post that I wrote back in December 2022 has suddenly become relevant. In short, some of my recent work has been on an online Mormon community that has some overlaps with the far-right. In between my collection of the data and eventual publication of our various articles, my co-author and I have noted some prominent accounts’ being suspended from Twitter. Because we work hard to not use identifiable quotes in our writing, and because of Elon Musk’s decision to unsuspend nearly all suspended accounts after taking the platform over, I’ve been checking accounts I knew to previously be suspended as we work on a new manuscript.

in memory of a mentor

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This morning, Mormon studies scholar Dr. Melissa Wei-Tsing Inouye passed away after a years-long struggle with cancer. Melissa was an amazing scholar, fantastic mentor, and just great person, and I think a lot of people—even just those who knew her professionally—are going to be spending time writing, thinking, and crying about her today and in the weeks to come. Other people will have more, and more important, things to say than I do, but I’m deeply grateful for Melissa, and I want to show that gratitude by sharing a few thoughts of my own.

religious authority, Mormonism, and Instagram

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As I hinted at in a recent linkpost, something really interesting happened this week that serves as a sort of microcosm of my research interests related to online Mormonism and religious authority. Here’s a rundown of what happened, as reported by the Salt Lake Tribune (and republished here via MSN). First, a leader of the official Latter-day Saint women’s organization gave a sermon last Sunday, one quote from which was uploaded to the official Latter-day Saint Instagram account:

🔗 linkblog: my thoughts on 'Call for Submissions: The Deleted Comments Department - Exponent II'

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Bookmarking for future research. What a fascinating (if frustrating) interplay of social media platforms and religious authority. link to “Call for Submissions: The Deleted Comments Department - Exponent II”

far-right Mormonism and the boundaries of Twitter hashtags

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There are a couple of weeks before the deadline to submit abstracts for the Mormon Social Science Association’s sessions at the 2024 meeting of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion, so I’ve been filling some nooks and crannies of my busy work week by looking at some Twitter data. Last year, I published with my colleague Amy Chapman a qualitative look at the #DezNat Twitter hashtag, which blends Mormon orthodoxy with far-right and anti-feminist thinking.

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One of the Vice journalists currently reporting on the Tim Ballard allegations just followed my (now dormant) Twitter account, and I’m going to take that as validation of my research on far-right Mormonism.

new publication: far-right and anti-feminist influences on a Mormon Twitter hashtag

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I am very happy to announce that a paper I wrote with Amy Chapman is finally published and available open access in the Journal of the Mormon Social Science Association (I have also archived a PDF of the article on my website, available at this link). Amy and I began this project in the spring/summer of 2019, so it’s a relief to finally see our first paper in print. In short, the paper is a descriptive look at tweets using the #DezNat hashtag; DezNat, short for either Deseret Nation or Deseret Nationalism (depending on who you ask) is a movement of arch-conservative Mormons on Twitter and elsewhere on the internet.

📚 bookblog: ❤️❤️❤️❤️🖤 for Eternity in the Ether: A Mormon Media History, by Gavin Feller

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I have been looking for this kind of book for a long time, and some of my recent publications would have been stronger if this had come out in time for me to reference it beforehand. It’s not perfect: Some wording is awkward and the conceptual framework (while interesting) could be stronger. However, it’s invaluable for the history it offers and I expect to cite it regularly in the future.

new(ish) publication: inauthentic accounts on teacher Twitter

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This article has been available online for nearly two years, but since I don’t have any previous posts about it, I’m happy to announce that a study of mine with Dan Krutka has just been assigned to an issue at the Journal of Research on Technology in Education. A number of years ago, Twitter released some large datasets of tweets associated with accounts created as part of various governments’ information operation efforts.

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A friend of mine who works outside academia wrote yesterday to say that she thought my most recent article made for good road trip reading, and I honestly don’t know if anyone’s ever paid a higher compliment to my research.

🔗 linkblog: my thoughts on 'Instagram Has a White Nationalist ‘Groyper’ Problem'

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I wish this weren’t as relevant as it is to my work on Mormon Twitter, but here we are. link to ‘Instagram Has a White Nationalist ‘Groyper’ Problem’

unexpected research ethics implications of Twitter's 'general amnesty' for suspended accounts

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For over three years now, I’ve been getting increasingly involved with research projects that involve the online far right in one way or another. One of the most interesting ways that I’ve developed as a researcher during this time is having to think through in greater detail my commitments to research ethics. Because my research typically focuses on public social media data, I am rarely required to obtain informed consent from those whom I study.

new publication: LGBTQ+ communities and far right social media

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I’m pleased to share that a study I contributed to—Gayservatives on Gab: LGBTQ+ Communities and Far Right Social Media—is now available (open-access!) through the Social Media + Society journal. Dr. Evan Brody is the lead author on the study, and we were lucky enough to have support from PhD student Mehroz Sajjad. Here’s the abstract for the study: In the United States, LGBTQ+ individuals are often imagined as inherently politically progressive, but this assumption overlooks the experiences of self-identified LGBTQ+ conservatives.

quoted in Salt Lake Tribune on LDS missionaries' use of social media

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Last week, I got the chance to chat with Salt Lake Tribune religion reporter Peggy Fletcher Stack about Latter-day Saint missionaries use of social media videos, and I was pleased to see the article published on Sunday. I hadn’t been paying attention to online missionary videos, but the subject fit nicely with the reading I’ve been doing on platform and platform values recently: Both kinds of accounts “are drawing from the internet/influencer cultures of these platforms,” [Greenhalgh] says.

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Just explained something I learned from studying far right spaces in Mormon social media to collaborators on a project studying queer spaces in far right social media, which is not an experience I expected when starting grad school in ed tech.

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You cannot understand online Mormonism without understanding Mormon feminism. The more I read, the clearer that becomes.

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I am not sure what I was expecting when I started looking for Mormon* content on Gab, but “we should get the missionaries on this platform” wasn’t it.

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If only I had known as a middle schooler who was uncool for not knowing who Eminem was that one day I would be explaining a “Real Slim Shady” joke in an academic research paper about how Mormons use Twitter 😂🤷🏼‍♂️

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I’m trying to succinctly describe a Latter-day Saint “solemn assembly” in an academic manuscript, and it’s a lot harder than I thought it was going to be.