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Verkon anonyymit keskustelut heijastavat ajan henkeä ja tarjoavat tilan sekä yhteiskuntakritiikille että vihapuheelle

Tampere University
LocationKalevantie 4, Tampere
City centre campus Main building auditorium A1 and remote connection
Date4.9.2020 13.00–16.00
Entrance feeFree of charge
Eliisa Vainikka
The growth of online hate and political manipulation have brought online discussions and social media into the public agenda. In Finland and around the world, worries have emerged about the polarization of public debate and the growing aggressiveness of public discussions.

Often, anonymously used online forums have been blamed as sources of growing hate speech. This study examines the different operational logics of social media platforms and anonymously used discussion forums, and the resulting publics formed in these online spaces.

The dissertation of M. Soc. Sc. Eliisa Vainikka consists of five sub-studies, concerning social criticism and counter-publics in online discussions, the dissemination of radical thinking and hate speech, and discussions about precarity, generalized instability in modern societies, in the intimate public of the online forum. The key concepts of the study are life politics, intimate citizenship and publics.

The study shows what kinds of environments are formed and what kinds of operational logics are in place, on one hand in popular social media platforms, and on the other, in anonymously used online forums. The main research problem is to find out, what kind of public is formed in the Ylilauta image-board forum. This question is investigated by using three more specific research questions: How do affordances of the online platform allow anti-social behaviour and hate speech? How are political discussions, politization and social criticism born in the online public? How is precarity, as a condition in today’s societies, collectively addressed in the online public?

The research material consists of discussion threads and pictures shared in the Ylilauta discussion forum, and interviews with users of the Instagram photo-sharing app. The material has been collected and analysed by using several qualitative research methods, an online ethnographic approach, grounded theory, discourse analysis and research interviews.

Circulation of content is one of the key features of online culture. It allows for both funny memes, easily spreadable online content, and ideological ideas to spread. The Ylilauta image-board also affords a space for hate speech and dissemination of radical ideologies, which is reflected in the misogyny that emerges in one of the substudies.

The study found that spaces of anonymous online communication counterbalance the more mainstream social media platforms, where visibility and work on the self are ideals.

In online discussions based on anonymity, it is possible to share negative emotions and even bring shameful issues into public scrutiny. In a sub-study of the Instagram photo sharing application, the app users interviewed, resist the power of the social media platform by adopting a variety of momentary and personal user tactics which create a sense of control and protection for the users. The preference for online platforms based on anonymity can also be understood as such a privacy tactic.

Online forums and social media sites can reflect and mirror social conditions, such as the precarious and unstable life situations of young adults, thus creating a unique emotional landscape of precarity. In the Ylilauta forum, an intimate public is formed, where issues that concern many individuals but are presented from a personal perspective can be addressed collectively.

As a platform Ylilauta has many faces, it is a site for the emotional landscape of precarity, developed through affective economy, a forum for a masculine intimate sphere, and a place for emotional work, peer support, humour and enjoyment. The idea of a “landscape of precarity” refers to a current pessimistic mood, that is rather a ubiquitous condition than something that could be pinpointed into any specific moment or event.

The doctoral dissertation of M.A. Eliisa Vainikka in the field of media research titled Prekarisaation tunnemaisema – Vastustavat taktiikat, tunnelmat ja elämänpolitiikka verkon julkisuudessa will be publicly examined in the Faculty of and Communication Sciences at Tampere University on Friday 4 September 2020 starting at 4 o'clock p.m. in the Main building auditorium A1, Kalevantie 4. The Opponent is Professor Tero Karppi from University of Toronto, Canada. The Custos will be Professor Kaarina Nikunen from  Tampere University.

Because of the coronavirus pandemia, only 50 persons can participate in the event in the auditorium. However, the event can be followed via remote connection (Zoom, meeting ID 671 8478 0829)

The dissertation is available online at

Photo: Jouni Nummela