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Information science (social aspects)
Recognising the polarising nature of discourse today, this research analyses online discussion platforms and their potential as modern public spheres. It is particularly concerned with the importance of civility as an aspect of conversation, and whether the online environment aids in civil discourse. Twitter has been chosen as the online platform that is the focus of this study. This is to allow for a more in-depth exploration of a public sphere that exists online. Key themes that distinguish Twitter from public spheres that exist offline are discussed. These include: anonymity, public shaming, social control, and distortions. This research relies on previous academic literature to help inform its conclusions. In conjunction with this, an analysis of articles that outline significant events that happened on the site, and the tweets that appeared as a result, is undertaken. The research findings help to facilitate a more informed discussion about ideas surrounding the public sphere, and from this conclusions are drawn. In regards to each of the individual themes, the study finds that there is a struggle between discourse that is serious and dramatic on Twitter. It suggests that the overshadowing effect that the entertainment aspect of the platform has, weakens the potential for civil discourse. Ultimately, this research concludes that Twitter is not suitable as a public sphere for civil discourse because users seem to prefer it more as a space for entertainment, rather than productive debate.
Smith, N. (2019). Exploring the role of Twitter as a public sphere that facilitates civil discourse Dissertation. Techological University Dublin.