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Networks of Representation: The Right to Be Forgotten

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Tellef S. Raabe.

One of the most pervasive concepts today in the social sciences is that of the network. The Internet, the brain, the structure of society, what you do to get a job…it is hard to find a concept not seen via networks. Though there has been an uptick in critical sociological work that interrogates such discourse, there is still an urgent need for empirical research that dives into the plural realities of a ‘networked society’—particularly from those viewpoints that are historically and structurally underrepresented.

This talk will empirically ground an exploration of ‘networked discussion’, focusing on a controversial human right that is all about network position: the right to be forgotten (RTBF). As a disputed data protection concept that was codified in Europe in 2014, the RTBF can be framed variously as concerning personhood via personal data, the public/private divide in a ‘networked society’, the responsibilities of various institutions when it comes to data privacy…all mixed in with human rights discourse and geopolitics. It is a topic ripe for exploring which voices are visible—who is represented in this debate—given the many interested parties. Using mixed methods (interviews, text analysis, and hyperlink network mapping), I examine in particular the impacts of gender, language, and region on conceptualizing, framing and visibility in the RTBF discussion between 2014 and 2016. I also explore the notion of visibility as a key aspect of representation and participation in the networked society.

This talk is part of the Cambridge Technology & New Media Research Cluster series.

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