Featured Speakers

Tuesday, May 23
Room F 0.01

17:15-18:00

Islamophobia, #NoBanNoWallNoRaids & Resistance
Imraan Siddiqi, Hate Hurts & Arjun Sethi, Georgetown University Law Center
(via Skype)

In the age of social media, Twitter has played an integral role in combatting Islamophobia and its fallout. It has also been central to educating, organizing and mobilizing allies in response to the Trump Administration’s Executive Orders, namely the Muslim Ban, Southern wall, and immigration raids.

For example, according to the FBI’s 2015 statistics, anti-Muslim hate crimes have spiked to a level not seen since 9/11. Yet, despite this rising tide, which includes vandalism, arson and even murder, hate crime reporting remains negligible and incomplete. That’s because hate crime reporting by local law enforcement is voluntary not mandatory. Social media and new platforms such as #HateHurts are now filling this gap.

Key questions include:

  • How can Twitter and other media platforms complete and supplement inadequate hate crime tracking and reporting?
  • How has Twitter changed the nature of organizing? What opportunities exist for future growth?
  • What are the biggest prospective threats, both state and non-state, facing the Muslim community in the U.S.? Can social media help mitigate or curb these threats?
  • There is a large and well-funded Islamophobia industry in the U.S. that increasingly targets, shames, and trolls Muslim and Arab community activists online. What tools are needed to protect these activists?

Imraan Siddiqi is the Executive Director of CAIR-Arizona and the founder and editor of the #HateHurts project. He will outline several case studies where Twitter has played a central role in combatting and/or elevating stories of anti-Muslim sentiment. He also created the hashtag #NoBanNoWall, which later became a global campaign (after Trump’s announcement on immigration raids, the hashtag was modified to #NoBanNoWallNoRaids).

Arjun Sethi is a civil rights lawyer, writer, and professor based in Washington, D.C. He teaches at Georgetown University Law Center and Vanderbilt University Law School, where he focuses on criminalization and surveillance of communities of color. He will address how technology can be used to empower and embolden community organizing, resilience, and resistance.


18:30-19:30

The #Dipsaus Origin Story: From Margins to Mainstream
Ebissé Rouw & Mariam El Maslouhi in conversation with Nina Köll

Unapologetic. Smart. Cutthroat at times. And lighthearted at others. Within only one year since the formation of the collective in spring 2016, the three outspoken women of color from Dipsaus managed to cause a stir in the Dutch cultural arena. In fall 2016 they launched Dipsaus Podcast, a bi-weekly talk show touching on issues as multifarious as Afropolitanism, sex work, Beyoncé, black hair, and the US-elections. The origin story of Dipsaus, however, could not be told without Twitter. The platform first brought Anousha, Ebissé, and Mariam together on their quest to rally against dominant narratives and share their perspectives on being a person of color in The Netherlands. As a collective, Dipsaus is now successfully utilizing Twitter to put itself on the map and expand its reach. How Twitter helped Dipsaus amplify its voice and find its core audience are some of the questions we will be addressing during this talk.

Ebissé Wakjira-Rouw was in Ethiopia and lived until her 14th in Addis Ababa (2477.29m high). She subsequently emigrated to the Netherlands (-1.01m below sea level) and became Ethio-Dutch, Black and a ‘Non-Western Foreigner’. She currently works as acquisitions editor of non-fiction at AUP publishing house.

Mariam El Maslouhi is an activist based in The Netherlands. She was active on social media with the February 20th movement in Morocco for democracy during the Arab Spring. She holds a bachelor degree in Applied Psychology and is a social worker, and co-founder and presenter of Dipsaus Podcast, a podcast for and by women of color in The Netherlands.

Nina Köll is a PhD researcher at Utrecht University in the Netherlands and Junior Assistant Professor at the University College Utrecht where she coordinates the Media Studies track. Previous professional engagements as a lecturer include the University of Amsterdam, Utrecht University and Erasmus University College. Before her return to academia in 2010, she had worked as a festival director, cultural program manager, journalistic writer and editor, and jill-of-all-trades in film production. Her research fields include cinema studies, digital media arts, and science and technology studies.


Wednesday, May 24
Room C 0.17

11:45-12:45

Talking to Bots, Talking Through Bots
Nora Reed
(via Skype)

People listen to bots differently than they listen to humans, and bots can do things that humans would find tedious, time-consuming, or emotionally draining. Bots are already being set up for a variety of social justice purposes, including:

  • Posting trickles of information from large databases, such as workplace injuries, old census data, and political donation records
  • Dummy accounts that draw in trolls that search Twitter for people to yell at and make them talk to bots instead of people
  • Asking people to not use racist or transphobic words

In this presentation, we’ll go over how people tend to respond to bots like these and how their attitudes towards bots can shape what kind of information bots can usefully present. We’ll also go over a few ways to get started making your own bot with tools like Tracery and Cheap Bots Done Quick, which make it possible to create a Twitter bot without having to know how to program or use the Twitter API.

Nora Reed is a bot-maker, writer and activist who has made over 80 Twitter bots, including @thinkpiecebot, @infinite_scream and @hydratebot. Reed specializes in showing people how to use accessible tools to create Twitter bots for jokes, activism and poetry without having to learn to code or use APIs.


Room C 2.17

14:00-14:45

Our Collective Unconscious of Violence
Flavia Dzodan

A talk about Twitter as the site of violence and the rhetoric of demands of docility as a political strategy.

Flavia Dzodan is a writer who usually covers politics, race and gender in the context of European Union policies.


14:45-15:30 

Why Do I Have 20 Twitter Accounts?
Cyrus Eosphoros
(via Skype)

My name’s Cyrus Eosphoros, I’m a Mexican trans man, I’m @chrysopoetics on Twitter–and, while that is my public account, it’s also less than 5% of the accounts I’ve held credentials to. I’ve been on Twitter since I was twelve years old and in that time have had over twenty accounts–few of which were shared, and none of which were disposable. Some were for class; two for roleplay; one was while closeted; one is my actual main account, still active since June 2008. The public discourse that holds that anonymity produces abuse often demonizes pseudonymity and name-switching to go with code-switching as well; Twitter eggs may have something to hide, the logic goes, but people with multiple @s are lying.

But Twitter, alone among the trinity of blue-toned social networks that arose from the ashes of LiveJournal discourse, disparate islands of Blogger and WordPress, and clique- or topic-based early social websites, has no way to customize identity or audience for a given post. Facebook has modular privacy settings and pages; Tumblr has side blogs that can be folded under a single login. Twitter forces the creation of different accounts for different audiences and use cases, and appears to never have realized that this is a potential audience. Many individual Twitter users, especially ones who joined professionally or in the past few years, are also unfamiliar with the practice of layered accounts. Currently, encounters with someone of a different use case will happen almost entirely accidentally–unless they’re forced by the fact that Twitter’s mechanisms for surfacing content, from recommended accounts to RTs, are context-agnostic.

I’d like to discuss the use cases for “personal”–non-brand, non-trolling–accounts that don’t overlap, and the level of cultural disconnect that occurs, often in public, between distinct user subcultures where people do or don’t separate their content between accounts.


18:00-19:00

Keynote Speech

#hashtag: The History and Pitfalls of Aggregated Conversations
Jillian YorkElectronic Frontier Foundation

This talk will take a journey through the brief, global political
history of the hashtag. From #iranelection to #jan25, #whyistayed to
#blacklivesmatter, hashtags have allowed diverse groups of people to
congregate online around common beliefs and movements. The architecture
of the hashtag, meant to allow for intentional conversation, has enabled
movements…and in some cases, helped governments quash them.

Jillian C. York is a writer and activist focused on the intersection of
technology and policy. Based in Berlin, she currently serves of the
Director for International Freedom of Expression at the Electronic
Frontier Foundation, where she works on free expression, privacy, and
digital security. Jillian is a fellow at the Center for Internet & Human Rights at the
European University Viadrina and a member of the Deep Lab collective.
She serves on the Board of Directors of Global Voices Online, the IFEX
Council, the steering committee of the Web We Want, and on the Advisory
Boards of SMEX, R-Shief, and the Engine Room. With Ramzi Jaber, Jillian co-founded Onlinecensorship.org, a winner of the 2014 Knight News Challenge. She is a frequent public speaker on topics including surveillance, censorship, and the role of social media
in social change. Her writing has been published by the New York Times,
Al Jazeera, the Atlantic, the Guardian, Quartz, Slate, the Washington
Post, Foreign Policy, and Die Zeit, among others.