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'Hypocrite!' Affective and argumentative engagement on Twitter, following the Christchurch terrorist attack

de Quincey, Ed; Richardson, John E; Giraud, Eva Haifa; Poole, Elizabeth


John E Richardson

Eva Haifa Giraud


This article intervenes in debates about whether public-facing social media enable the rapid spread of hate speech, or whether these platforms can offer valuable opportunities to contest it. Advancing scholarship on ‘networked counter-publics’ and research emphasising the affective dimensions of digital media, we identify three different modes of counter-public contestation that coalesced on Twitter in the immediate aftermath of the Christchurch terrorist attack. Using a combined keyword and hashtag search, our research project sampled 3,099,138 tweets posted on/about the Christchurch attack and its repercussions, between 15 March 2019 and 15 April 2019. First, we examine two hashtags that trended, approaching these as nodal points for the construction of different affective responses to the terrorist attack. Second, we analyse instances where users quote-tweeted the condolences of politicians, rejecting their sentiments, arguing that the sincerity conditions of the Speech Act (condolence) were not met. Here, we focus on the ways that people invoke a discourse of indignation at either the past actions or current character of the politician, to justify rejecting their statements. Our findings illustrate a need to depart from broad narratives about how the affordances of particular social media platforms lend themselves to the circulation or contestation of hate. Instead, we argue, it is important to develop more situated empirical and conceptual approaches to interrogate how specific relationships between affective publics and structures of feeling enable or constrain political possibilities.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Dec 12, 2023
Online Publication Date Feb 12, 2024
Publication Date Feb 12, 2024
Deposit Date Jan 5, 2024
Journal Media, Culture and Society
Print ISSN 0163-4437
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Keywords Sociology and Political Science, Communication
Publisher URL