“Distant Witness” Author Cited in Irish Social Conflict Study

“Distant Witness,” Author Andy Carvin continues to make waves overseas.

Carvin, the author of our 2013 book on social media’s role in the 2010 Arab Spring, was recently cited in an England university’s study of sectarian conflict in Ireland. The study found that social media is not only a means to start a revolution, but can also prevent violence by mediating peaceful discourse.

Paul Reilly, a media and communication lecturer at the UK’s University of Leicester, mentions Carvin in his recent ‘Social Media, Parades and Protest’ study on community relations in Northern Ireland, which was summarized in a recent blog post by the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Reilly analyzed Twitter activity during a July 2014 conflict between unionist and loyalist protesters with the Police Service of Northern Ireland, groups that have a history of violent conflict.

“Although there was no equivalent of the ‘crowdsourced newswire’ that emerged via NPR editor Andy Carvin’s Twitter account during the ‘Arab Spring,’” writes Reilly. “Twitter did provide users with an array of information sources courtesy of the citizen and professional journalists who were tweeting their perspectives on events as they unfolded.”

“While acknowledging that social media has often been used to reinforce divisions between rival communities in Northern Ireland,” he continues, “this study suggested that Twitter may have untapped potential in facilitating modes of communication that help defuse sectarian tensions around the marching season.”

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