Project news and events


Project lead Marina Jirotka presented our Digital Wildfire findings to the BCS Oxfordshire meeting. Watch it here: 

Project team members Marina Jirotka and Helena Webb spoke about 'anti-social media' at the Oxford Science and Ideas Festival. Read more here 

December 2017 Digital Wildfire's Chief Investigator Marina Jirotka is one of the contributors to a major report prepared by academics about the safety of children online. The report calls for a digital environment that is fit for childhood and produces a number of recommendations including: education for children receiving their first smartphone; design standards to meet childhood development milestones; and the government to take account of children's views when preparing policy. The report was convened by Baroness Beeban Kidron OBE, founder of the 5 Rights campaign. More details can be found on the 5 Rights site here.

November 2017 Digital Wildfire's Adam Edwards hosted a two day workshop at Cardiff University on Emergent Technologies. The workshop brought together researchers and professionals from a range of disciplines to discuss the implications new technologies have for governance, security, policy and regulation. Adam gave a presentation on the Digital Wildfire project's findings - in particular in relation to our Delphi survey findings regarding the suitable regulation of social media. Other speakers included John Cooper QC discussing how the criminal justice system tries to adapt to the challenges posed by social media and Harry Collins on artificial intelligence and sociality. 

October 2017 
Our latest project paper in Qualitative Research 'Digitizing Sacks?Approaching social media as data' Read it here

Digital Wildfire team members took part in the MozFest 2017 meeting to build a healthier internet. Read more about it here. 

September 2017 
Digital Wildfire teams up with the UnBias project at European Researchers' Night to ask How do you take care on the Internet? For more details see here



Summer 2017

Digital Wildfire wins best paper award at WebSci17!
The ACM Web Science Conference is held yearly and brings together researchers from various disciplines to discuss the latest work in the field. This year our Digital Wildfire team submitted a paper on 'The ethical challenges of publishing Twitter data for research dissemination'. This reported on an issue we have been discussing for some time: what constitutes best practice when using Twitter data for research purposes? In particular, how can we balance our responsibility not to cause harm to participants in research with our responsibility to conduct and disseminate work on key social issues - such as the spread of hate speech on social media? Consideration of these questions challenges us to also think about what we mean by informed consent, avoidance of harm and analytic integrity. Twitter is just one example of a data source that requires careful examination of best practice; as research involving digital data becomes ever more popular, more researchers will face these ethical questions. We hoped to open up debate in this area and were therefore very pleased to win the award for the best paper at the conference. Project leader Marina Jirotka presented the paper at the conference - which was held in Troy, New York State - and received our certificates at the award ceremony. 


May 2017 
Digital Wildfire takes on Paris! 


Digital Wildfire project team members Rob Procter, William Housley and Helena Webb have made a visit to the Paris Institute of Political Studies (Sciences Po) to talk about our project findings. William Housley has recently been awarded the prestigious Vincent Wright visiting professorship and arranged for us to hold a seminar at the University’s MédiaLab.
The MédiaLab.was established in 2009 to help the social sciences and humanities take full advantage of the huge amount of data made available by digitisation. It is a centre of excellence in digital methods, media studies and social theory. Our digital seminar was a very productive opportunity to discuss our project findings and opportunities for further research with social media data. 

April 2017 
House of Lords Communications Committee Report on 'Growing up with the internet'
The House of Lords Communications Committee has just released its Report "Growing up with the internet". As reported here the Committee calls on the Government to establish a Children's Digital Champion. This would ensure a co-ordinated and sustained approach across government to advance the advocacy of children to industry. Digital Wildfire project team leader Marina Jirotka served as specialist advisor to the Committee during their work preparing this report. You can listen to Committee member Baroness Beeban Kidron discussing the report and the need to support children online here.  

Co-producing Understandings of Digital Responsibility: ‘Digital Wildfires’, Social Media and Responsible Citizenship

For the past year, members of the Digital Wildfire team have been involved in a research project that seeks to develop teachers’ and students’ understanding of responsible social media usage. Led by Carina Girvan (Lecturer in Education and member of the Digital Wildfire Steering Committee) at Cardiff University this project was funded by the British Academy. Fieldwork took place in two schools and promoted the co-production of innovative teaching and learning materials. Schools are currently caught between developing students' knowledge and understanding of responsible usage of technology, whilst governing its use. The co-production of materials provides a means to address this tension and foster a growing knowledge of digital responsibility.

To read more about the project and its findings, click here.

February 2017

Coming soon! Digital Wildfire online social media ethics resource


One of the final tasks of the Digital Wildfire project is to create an online resource that promotes the responsible use of social media. This ethics ‘toolkit’ or ‘map’ will be designed to support different groups of users to reflect on current tensions around social media and to identify opportunities for the responsible governance of digital social spaces. The resource will not provide a set of do’s and don’ts for social media but will instead recognise the complexity of the issues involved.


The resource will present:

·      findings from the Digital Wildfire project

·      case studies of controversies arising from the spread of social media

·      perspectives from key organisations and individuals involved in the management of social media content.


The resource is aimed towards professionals who are required to deal with social media content – in particular potentially harmful content – as part of their work. For instance:

·      teachers and other educators

·      law enforcement professionals

·      policy and (local) government professionals

·      staff members at anti-harassment and equality organisations

·      staff members at social media platforms


Using the resource will help these professionals to understand the ways in which harmful content can spread on social media, the consequences this content can have and the different steps that might be taken to respond to it. Users will then be able to reflect on what kinds of governance measures might be most appropriate and effective in relation to their own work. 

The resource is still being developed and we will make it available online as soon as it is ready. Until then, here is an early preview of some of the content

Preview 1: 
Policing Abusive Social Media: Enforcement and Non-Enforcement Responses to Legal, Illegal and ‘Grey’ Communications

Digital Wildfire project team member Adam Edwards summarises the results of our Policy Delphi

The third work package of the Digital Wildfires project recruited key informants about the challenges of reducing the harms associated with abusive social media communications, particularly amongst adolescents, whilst also seeking to protect the positive freedoms of speech enabled by this new technology. Given this tension, key informants from the police, criminal legal practice, education and social media platforms were asked to participate in a ‘policy Delphi’ to discuss the political and technical feasibility of policing abusive social media communications. The policy Delphi is a deliberative method in social science, which seeks to identify key points of agreement and disagreement about a problem through iterative rounds of debate and dialogue. It is an especially useful method for investigating problems about which there is a great deal of uncertainty and which are evolving rapidly, as in innovations in digital technologies such as social media, that are ‘disrupting’ established ways of thinking, such as the enforcement of criminal law as a remedy for abusive behaviour.

To read more click here.

   Preview 2:  

Digital Wildfire: Raising awareness of social media discrimination through football

Kick It Out, football’s equality and inclusion organisation, has been at the forefront of tackling discrimination in football for over 20 years. Here they explain their work involving social media.

Working throughout the football, educational and community sectors to challenge discrimination, encourage inclusive practices and campaign for positive change, Kick It Out has helped football become a more tolerant and inclusive sport.

However, there are still many issues blighting the nation’s game. With the organisation now into its third decade of existence, there are new challenges that lie in the way of making football the bastion of inclusion.

With society moving towards a digital future, the issue of discrimination has seemingly shifted from the openness of the terraces to the vast and anonymous space that is social media.

To read more click here.

January 2017 


Art Event, Academic Centre for Artistic Initiatives: AOIA, Łódź, Poland, 27-30 September 2016

In September 2016, painter Barbara Gorayska, actor Steve Hay, and photographer Simon Murison-Bowie travelled from Oxford to Łódź with a unique ‘art event’. Calling themselves the ‘Oxford Triptych’, they had designed an interdisciplinary show that encouraged visitors to self-reflect and seek own answers to fundamental questions such as ‘What is a painting to me?’ ‘What does a painting mean to me?’ or ‘Can art change the way I lead my life?’ The main area of interest was the role and personal responsibilities of each viewer as co-facilitator of value in the world and its art for themselves and all others.

AIOA provided a generous venue reconfigured into four adjacent areas that exposed and cross-referenced different aspects of a figurative painting: as a physical object, an image to be interpreted, real life of here and now, or a place where different past and present realities meet.

The art event attracted patronage of the President of Łódź City Council (Honorary), the Academic Centre for Artistic Initiatives AOIA, two Cultural Foundations: Łódź Jest Kulturą and Plaster Łódzki,
Digital Wildfire, the Arts at the Oxford Fire Station, and the I-Ex Firm. The event was well frequented and had a great educational value. To nearly 300 High School Art Students, invited by the Director of AOIA Monika Kamieńska, the event was, in their own words, impressive, incredible, superb, or totally unexpected. They were ecstatic by what they had seen, inspired to create their own art in a different way, and surprised how art could influence human lives. To one it was the best spectacle he had seen in his life with no exception. Another one composed a thank you poem where she wished that, on a road to wisdom of every human being, there would be the space for the artists to fit in.

Read more about the exhibition here.

The Children's Commissioner has released a new report that describes how vulnerable young people are online. Growing up Digital recommends that all children study digital citizenship to develop online resilience. These themes are covered in our free teaching materials for schools - available here and here

Read our article for 3 ways to stop false news spreading like wildfires

December 2016

As the project moves into its reporting phase we have spent much of the last few weeks writing up and disseminating our key findings. The main conclusions of our study relate to:


1)    The scale and breadth of the ‘problem’ of harmful content spreading on social media

Through our interviews, observations and surveys we have found that a very wide range of agencies are now having to deal with rapidly spreading social media content that is in some way inflammatory, antagonistic or provocative. This includes the police, councils, news agencies, anti-harassment organisations, anti-bullying groups and schools.

2)    The complexities and limitations of current governance

Various mechanisms currently exist to deal with social media content and/or its impact but these tend to have practical limitations. For instance, the law and governance mechanisms enacted by social media platforms (removing posts, suspending accounts etc.) are mostly retrospective – dealing with content after it has already spread and caused harm. They also tend to act on individual posts or users, rather than the multiple posts and users associated with a digital wildfire.


3)    The potential value of counter speech and user self-governance

In contrast to other governance mechanisms, we find that user self-governance has some capacity to be prospective and limit the spread of harmful content in real time. The posting of counter speech to disagree with an inflammatory comment or unsubstantiated rumour can serve to encourage others to reflect carefully before sharing or forwarding content. It also upholds rather than undermines freedom of speech. Our analysis of social media content (involving qualitative and computational approaches) suggests that multiple voices of disagreement on a Twitter conversation and function to quell hate speech. Click here for further information. 

4)    The value of education and engagement

When we ask respondents to tell us what they feel are appropriate ways forward for the responsible governance of social media, they frequently emphasise the idea of communities working together and the value of fostering responsibility on social media through education.

Recognising the value of education, we have focused much of our project impact activities on engaging with and providing resources for educators and young people. We have run two youth panel competitions and produced two sets of educational materials for secondary schools – focusing on e-safety and digital citizenship. We have also co-produced two video animations - #TakeCareOfYourDigitalSelf and Keeping Social Media Social.


Further questions and next steps

The next step for our project is the development of a ‘toolkit’ that will help users to navigate through social media policy and practice. This will be available online and more information will be posted here when it is ready. 

We are also continuing to look into certain methodological questions raised by the project. These questions challenge us to consider how we can analyse social media content in ways that are both accurate and ethical. 

The contributions of our project will continue through a number of activities. These include an impact acceleration project being lead by team member Rob Procter at the University of Warwick and Marina Jirotka’s work as specialist advisor to the House of Lords Select Committee on Communications for the Inquiry into Children and the Internet.


For more information about our project activities and findings, please contact

November 2016
Young people and social media - the value of education: We have spent a lot of time recently focusing on the challenges that children and teenagers face on social media. As 'digital natives' young people are increasingly expected to be frequent users of social media and other online sites. However these platforms are typically set up for adult users and young people can be vulnerable to various kinds of harm - for instance, being exposed to extreme content, suffering cyber bullying, or being unaware of the possible implications of their own posts. 

Education provides a valuable way to help young people reflect on the pros and cons of social media and to learn how to use these platforms safely. To support this we have dedicated a lot of project time to education impact activities.  Our video animation and education materials have been used by a large number of schools and Barbara Gorayska's art exhibition in Poland (see August/September below) was attended by a number of school groups - providing a creative means to encourage them to reflect on their digital selves. We are also collaborating with Carina Girvan at Cardiff University on a project called Co-producing Understandings of Digital Responsibility: “Digital Wildfires”, Social Media and Responsible Citizenship, that involves working with schools and young people to produce e-safety materials. 

 Recently team members Marina Jirotka and Helena Webb joined a one day symposium on Cyberspace and Ethics held at Queen Anne's School, Caversham. The symposium was attended by Key Stage 5 students from the local area, who were given the task to discuss and give presentations about a set of Ten Commandments of Computer Ethics. We were delighted to listen to and give feedback on these presentations, which dealt superbly with many of the complications and dilemmas caused by digital technologies in everyday life. We then talked about the Digital Wildfire project and the ethical dilemmas posed by social media - how can we prevent harms caused by inflammatory etc. content on social media whilst also also protecting freedom of speech? 

October 2016
Digital Wildfire has teamed up with Oxford Sparks and Jason R.C. Nurse to produce a new video animation for young people. Keeping Social Media depicts the ways that social media have revolutionised the ways we communicate. Whiles these platforms open up an unimagined volume of ideas and possibilities they also offer anonymity, which increases the chance that both children and adults may take risks and experiment with behaviours they may not consider offline. Our video describes how research can help find ways to tackle some of the challenges posed by social media and invites the viewer to consider how these digital social spaces should be regulated. You can find out more about why we made the video here and watch it below.  


Continuing our commitment to supporting and protecting young people on social media, Digital Wildfire project leader Marina Jirotka has been appointed specialist adviser to the House of Lords Select Committee on Communications inquiry into Children and the Internet. Find out more about the inquiry here

Our teaching and learning materials are available online at for free download! See here for Key stage 3 materials on e-safety and here for Key stage 4/5 materials on digital citizenship.

August/September 2016

Digital Wildfire's pro bono Artist in Residence, Barbara Gorayska, is exhibiting her work at an art event in Poland, in collaboration with actor Steve Hay and documentary photographer Simon Murison-Bowie. "The Act of Seeing: Realities in the Making” takes the viewer on a journey of discovery of how to create value in art and life for themselves and others to make the world a safer and better place. The event also includes the legacy of Barbara's previous engagement in the FRRIICT project, that promotes responsible technological innovation.

    Barbara with one of her paintings for the Digital Wildfire project.   

Marina Jirotka represented the Digital Wildfire project in the development of a Partnership for Conflict, Crime and Security (PaCCS) policy briefing on Open Source Data. "The explosive spread of Internet and Social Media services has created a cyberspace ecology that is metaphorically plagued with pitfalls to harm the innocent and fogbanks that allow criminals to operate with impunity. The global nature of this new infrastructure, crossing national and cultural boundaries, creates problems not only in terms of establishing a coherent legal framework but also in finding common ground given different attitudes to rights and values around the world such as freedom of speech or rights to anonymity...This policy briefing argues that efforts now need to be made to apply the principles of responsible innovation to this sphere of technological activity". Read the full briefing here.

 June and July 2016

Digital Wildfire at Social Media and Society 2016!
In mid July 2016 members of the Digital Wildfire team discussed the project at Social Media and Society 2016 - an international gathering of leading social media researchers from around the world. During our panel session we presented some of the key findings emerging from the project.

For instance we discussed the capacity for self governance (through counter speech, self monitoring etc.) to work as a real time form of social media regulation. We also described how various stakeholders (staff at internet companies, educationalists, police, policy makers, lawyers, members of NGOs etc.) we have spoken to as part of our project workpackages have highlighted education, community and disruption (for instance in terms of altering the choice architecture of social media platforms or limiting the access of certain groups - such as young people) as potential tools for governance that can protect against the harms caused by social media whilst upholding freedom of speech.

Team members Adam Edwards, William Housley and Helena Webb also took part in a panel session on Social Media and Social Futures. This discussed the theories, concepts, methods and ethical research practices we can draw on to understand social media and its transformative capacities in modern social life.

Youth panel competition: How can young people stay safe on social media?
After several requests from schools, we ran a second youth panel this summer. This time we asked young people aged 11-15 to send us pieces of work to answer the question "How can young people stay safe on social media?" We received 110 submissions with a fantastic range of stories, posters, poems, videos and artwork. We were very impressed with all the entries we received and our judging panel of experts has now selected the ten best as our youth panel winners. Congratulations to them! Looking at all of the entries it is clear that e-safety messages about privacy and digital footprints etc. are getting through to these young people. It is also clear that they experience online life in individual and personal ways. The work submitted provides a valuable resource for our Digital Wildfire project as we seek to identify ways to support digital maturity and resilience amongst young people. Here are our judges hard at work to select the winning entries.

The judging panel members were:
Katherine Fletcher - Co-ordinator of Cyber Security Oxford, University of Oxford (Chair of meeting)

Marina Jirotka - Principal Investigator ‘Digital Wildfire’ project, University of Oxford
Giles Lane - Artist, Designer and Researcher, Proboscis
Sarah Wilkin – Engagement Officer, University of Oxford
Leslie Haddon – Visiting Lecturer, London School of Economics
Menisha Patel– Research Associate, Human Centred Computing, University of Oxford
Anna Jӧnsson – Reporting Officer, Kick It Out
Christopher Greatorex - Regional Cyber Protect Coordinator for the South East Regional Organised Crime Cyber Crime Unit

One of our judges, Sarah Wilkin, has written an article about her experience on the panel - read it here. We will be displaying the winning competition entries on this website in due course. As a preview, here are two of our winners. First is Dominic, from Cressey College, talking about safety online and the danger of cyberbullying. Second is Niamh, from Bournemouth School for Girls, with a video textbook on internet safety. Well done to both of you for producing such good work and thank you for entering the competition!

Our teaching and learning materials are now available online! Earlier this year the Digital Wildfire project team developed two sets of e-safety learning materials in time for Safer Internet Day. These are designed for teachers to use in secondary schools and can now be downloaded for free at The materials for Key Stage 3 use our video animation to spread the message #TakeCareOfYourDigitalSelf and the materials for Key Stage 4/5 encourage reflection on digital citizenship.

Helena Webb spoke at the Go_Girl Code+Create symposium "How can we challenge inequalities in further and higher education?" to describe the Digital Wildfire project's engagement activities with young people.

May 2016

University of Oxford undergraduates take on digital wildfires!

For the past three months the Oxford members of the Digital Wildfire team (alongside our colleague Jason R.C. Nurse) have been sponsoring second year undergraduates in the Department of Computer Science to undertake project work. In keeping with the themes of the project we challenged them to create a prototype platform that could be used to help institutional users to identify and monitor provocative social media content such as rumour or inflammatory posts. Both our teams did a fantastic job and we were very pleased that one team was judged as the overall winner of the year group! This team created an online platform that can help journalists to identify rumours trending on Twitter and assess their veracity. The judging decision was made by a group of industry experts. See their app in action here:


Adam Edwards presented some of our latest project findings at the TRILcon16 at the University of Winchester. Read his abstract here and watch his presentation below.  

YouTube Video

Our ACM TOIS paper Digital Wildfires: Propagation, verification, regulation and responsible innovation" is out! Read it here.

Watch Digital Wildfire project team member Rob Procter give his TedXManchester talk on the challenges of governance in social media!

YouTube Video

In March we focused on the qualitative analysis of social media data and have also launched the second round of our Delphi panel survey. Project leader Marina Jirotka spoke about Digital Wildfire at a meeting of the Partnership for Conflict, Crime and Security Research Initiative and project researcher Helena Webb talked about the qualitative coding of tweets to students at the Oxford Internet Institute.

We have launched the Digital Wildfire project You Tube channel, which includes our videos for young people and lots of clips from our January Showcase event. Here you can see Beeban Kidron's powerful keynote address about iRights for young people.

YouTube Video

We are also continuing to support the spread of e-safety messages in schools. On March 14th we spoke about the Digital Wildfire project at a teaching and technology symposium held at the Department of Education, University of Oxford. We were joined by Mary McHale from St. Peter's RC School, Solihull. Mary spoke about her school's commitment to promoting the safe and responsible use of social media by students. The school recently held an entire safer internet week and based it on the theme of our video animation #TakeCareOfYourDigitalSelf. Students prepared #TakeCareOfYourDigitalSelf pledges - here are some images of them.              



Feb 17th Digital Wildfire project team member Adam Edwards spoke about the project at the ESRC Integrator workshop "Citizens Online: Governing the internet and the possibility of privacy" Watch Adam and other speakers at the day here.

Feb 9th Safer Internet Day The Digital Wildfire project is an official supporter of Safer Internet Day. We  contributed to the day by preparing a set of teaching and learning materials about the safe use of social media. These materials promote themes of digital citizenship and #TakeCareOfYourDigitalSelf. They are available free to secondary schools and youth groups. For more information contact 

January 12th 2016 We held our project showcase workshop at the Digital Catapult centre in London. Academics and stakeholders from policy, the police, civil society, commerce and education joined us to discuss the the spread of provocative content on social media and its impacts. It was very successful day that generated a lot of useful debate. You can read a blog post about the event here and watch some of the presentations on our You Tube channel. Watch here to see some our participants describe how they use social media, the problems they encounter with provocative content and their views on the responsible governance of social media. 

During the day we were very excited to launch our video animation #TakeCareOfYourDigitalSelf. This animation will form part of a set of teaching and learning materials we will make available to secondary schools to coincide with Safer Internet Day. These materials help to promote digital maturity and resilience in young people in their use of social media. You can see the animation here.

We also welcomed to the workshop the winners of our youth panel competition. We asked young people aged 16+ to tell us 'What makes a good digital citizen on social media?'. They answered us through essays, poems, videos, research, narratives and artwork. The quality of entries was very impressive and it was very difficult to choose only 5 winners. Those winners received their prizes yesterday and told us about the ideas behind their work. We will be displaying the youth panel entries on the website soon; here is a summary of them.


We would like to thank Santander, who provided funded to support both the video animation and the youth panel prizes.

                   Marina Jirotka opening the Digital Wildfires workshop event

                  William Housley discussing the spread of rumour on social media

Artist in residence Barbara Gorayska with one of two paintings she has produced for the Digital Wildfire project



 December 2015 

We are making preparations for the second round of the Policy Delphi survey and continuing to analyse samples of provocative and inflammatory posts on social media. We will draw on the results of our survey, social media data analysis and fieldwork on governance practices to produce guidance that will assist different users to navigate through social media policy and practice.

We continue to engage with schools to identify their concerns over the vulnerability of young people on social media and the ways in which digital maturity and resilience among young people can be fostered. As part of this we are producing a short video animation called #TakeCareOfYourDigitalSelf. This animation, plus an accompanying set of teaching and learning materials, will be made available to secondary schools in the new year. We have also recently run a youth panel in which over 16's at a small number of schools and youth organisations were invited to submit pieces of work addressing the topic 'What makes a good digital citizen on social media?' We received a very impressive set of submissions in the form of essays, personal narratives, poems, artwork and videos. These submissions highlight the continuous presence of social media in the lives of young people and the benefits and harms it brings to them. The youth panel submissions will be displayed on this website in early 2016 and the young people who produced the best 5 entries will be attending our workshop on January 12th to receive a certificate and small prize. 

November 2015 

Meredydd Williams has presented the findings of our work on 'positive wildfires' and humanitarian campaigns at the Social Media, Activism and Organisations  symposium held at Goldsmiths, University of London. Helena Webb visited the young women taking part in the Go_Girl initiative at the Department of Education, University of Oxford to talk about social media and digital citizenship. You can see their blog post about the visit here. Helena also conducted a seminar on social media and emerging ethical and regulatory controversies as part of the postgraduate Innovation and Society module at the University of Nottingham. Project leader Marina Jirotka spoke as part of a roundtable discussion at an Alan Turing Institute workshop on The Ethics of Data Science.

We are analysing responses to round 1 of our Policy Delphi survey. We are also continuing to look in detail at the properties of 'provocative' posts on social media and the responses they receive. We are asking: What are the characteristics of provocative posts?' 'In what different ways do users reply to provocative posts?' and 'Can we identify forms of user self-regulation in which social media users employ counter speech etc. to challenge or slow the spread of hate speech and rumour?'

Examples of provocative posts include messages posted by celebrity Katie Hopkins. Responses to her posts include disagreements with her opinions as well as challenges to - or attacks on - her personal credibility. We also find examples of provocative posts and responses at sentinel sites such as 'Yes you're homophobic', which retweet offensive posts in order to educate, mock or shame the original poster

October 2015 This month we are continuing to solicit the informed opinion of different experts on the appropriate regulation of social media through our Delphi panel. We are also looking in depth at examples of provocative content on social media and asking 'What are the characteristics of provocative posts?' 'In what different ways do users reply to provocative posts?' and 'Can we identify forms of user self-regulation in which social media users employ counter speech etc. to challenge or slow the spread of hate speech and rumour?'       

      Meredydd Williams (University of Oxford), who joined us for a mini-project earlier in the year has been presenting the results of his work. Here is a poster summarising his findings (click to enlarge) and a picture of Meredydd himself standing with it! Meredydd will also be presenting the findings of this mini project at the Social Media, Activism and Organisations symposium to be held at Goldsmiths, University of London in November this year.                                                
 We are also busy making preparations for various impact and dissemination activities - more details will be available soon.  

 September 2015 

We presented a paper based on our workpackage 1 findings at the ETHICOMP 2015 conference on ethics in computing. Our paper asked the question 'does the risk of digital wildfires necessitate new forms of social media governance?' You can read the text version here and you can also see a blog post written about the presentation by the CaSMa team at the University of Nottingham. 

We are continuing our work on workpackages 2 and 4, which explore the how provocative content such as hate speech and rumour spread on social media and how different stakeholder groups respond to it. As part of this we are examining examples of provocative content on social media and talking to different stakeholders from various organisations - anti-harassment groups, schools etc. - to find out how they deal with the challenges presented by the posting of provocative content. We have also launched the workpackage 3 Delphi panel which solicits the views of various experts on the appropriate regulation of social media in the context of digital wildfires.  

July and August 2015

We are continuing to work on workpackages 2 and 4, which explore the how provocative content such as hate speech and rumour spread on social media and how different stakeholder groups respond to it. As part of this we are examining examples of provocative content on social media. We are also conducting interviews with stakeholders from various organisations - anti-harassment groups, schools etc. - to find out how they deal with the challenges presented by the posting of provocative content and their views on the regulation of social media. 

On July 28th the University of Nottingham's Citizen-centric approaches to Social Media Analysis (CaSMa) research group visited the Human Centred Computing group workshop in Oxford. The CaSMa team are conducting a variety of projects that address the ethical challenges raised by the use of social media data in research. These projects also seek to design tools and services that enable users to have more control of their personal data.

Members of the CaSMa team talking about their research on social media 

The conference season is underway so we have also been busy talking about our work to different academic audiences. Project members William Housley and Adam Edwards discussed on "Social media and civil society: participation, regulation and governance" at the 2015 Conference of the Wales Institute of Social and Economic Research, Data and Methods (WISERD) held at Cardiff. At the WebSci15 conference in Oxford project leader Marina Jirotka took part in a panel discussion on ethical web science and we presented a poster summarising our project. 

        Marina Jirotka talking about ethical web science at the WebSci15 conference.                                               


Our WebSci15 project poster.       

June 2015
We are continuing to work on workpackages 2 and 4which explore the how provocative content such as hate speech and rumour spread on social media and how different stakeholder groups respond to it. We are also preparing to disseminate some of our initial project findings - including in a paper at the 2015 Conference of the Wales Institute of Social and Economic Research, Data and Methods (WISERD) and a poster at the WebSci15 conference. 

May 2015
We are working on project workpackages 2 and 4, which explore the how provocative content such as hate speech and rumour spread on social media and how different stakeholder groups respond to it. We are joined for 9 weeks by University of Oxford PhD student Meredydd Williams, who is conducting a mini-project on digital wildfires. His project investigates the possibility of 'positive wildfires' which - in contrast to the rapid spread of content that causes offline harm - spread content which has the potential to create offline benefit through solidarity messages and humanitarian campaigns etc.

April 2015

We are making preparations for data collection in workpackages 2 and 4, which explore the spread of provocative content on social media and the ways in which different stakeholder groups respond to it. 

Our project artist in residence, Barbara Gorayska, has been working on a painting on the subject of digital wildfires. Since 2007 Barbara has been exploring meanings and issues that can be communicated through the poetry of painting – with a particular interest in the interface between science and visual art. Her work is informed by her professional background in Semantics and Pragmatics of Natural Language and her academic work on Artificial Intelligence and Human-Centred Computing. She spent most of her university career investigating how people communicate and fabricate or adapt to their environments, in particular how they decide what is relevant and how their use of tools impacts on that process. The paintings inspired by digital wildfires will cover the themes of "cyber haven" and "metamorphosis". They will symbolically reference past art related to wisdom, truth and justice.

April 20th 2015 project Research Associate Helena Webb talked about Digital Wildfire at the University of Oxford Women in Computer Science Day

March 2015

We have been preparing articles and conference submissions on the topic of digital wildfires. This includes a workshop on social media research at WebSci15. We have also been making arrangements for workpackages 3 and 4 and talking to schools about our plans to prepare teaching and learning materials to promote digital maturity and resilience.

YouTube Video

March 16th 2015: Watch Digital Wildfire project member Bernd Stahl discuss censorship on social media as part of an Al-Jazeera TV debate.

March 13th 2015: Helena Webb talked about the Digital Wildfire project at a workshop on 'Ethics and Engineering' held as part of the Oxford Internet Institute's Ethics in Networked Systems research project.

January and February 2015

We have been working on project Deliverables 1 and 2. These deliverables concern the ethical and governance issues surrounding digital wildfires. We begin by discussing the characteristics of digital wildfires and the different ways in which the governance of social media might be ethically justified. We then characterise existing governance mechanisms and consider the potential for further ones. Is it necessary to introduce new mechanisms to manage provocative content on social media? What forms might these mechanisms take – changes to the law, technological changes or incentives for self-governance? What impact might new governance mechanisms have on the right to freedom of speech? Finally, we set out the ways in which our project activities can help to answer these kinds of question.

January 22nd 2015: Helena Webb and Marina Jirotka discussed the Digital Wildfire project with members of the Human Centred Computing group at the University of Oxford.

November and December 2014

We have begun the project by making arrangements for our various workpackages and recruiting members to our Steering Committee. On December 5th we held a Kick Off meeting to set out plans for the next 18 months. This meeting was attended by the project team and members of the Steering Committee.