Citizenfour: Internet Publics and the Imaginary of Privacy. a Content Analysis of Twitter Commentaries Around the 2015 Oscar Winning Documentary

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 11:45
Location: Hörsaal 15 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Giovanni BOCCIA ARTIERI, University of Urbino Carlo Bo, Italy
Fabio GIGLIETTO, Communication Studies & Humanities, University of Urbino Carlo Bo, Urbino, Italy
Laura GEMINI, University of Urbino Carlo Bo, Italy
The paper analyze the Twitter conversations produced by networked publics during the TV premier of Laura Poitras’s documentary Citizenfour (2014). The documentary deals with the case of the computer analyst Edward Snowden who, in 2013, leaked classified documents he had obtained from the National Security Agency detailing the extent of government surveillance of U.S. citizens. It was aired by HBO in USA (East and Pacific time) and Channel 4 in UK respectively the 23th and 25th of February 2015. We focused on the type of representations produced around the relationship between privacy and the Internet, ie the imaginary related to privacy conveyed by Snowden case. The paper thus attempt to answer the following RQ: what are the privacy’s imagery around Snowden case emerging from double screen audience of documentary Citizenfour? Based on a complete corpus of 129,000 tweets containing either the hashtags #citizenfour or Snowden or Poitras and created between 22th and 26th of February 2015, the study identified peaks in the Twitter activity (through a ‘breakout detection’) as well as what accounted for those peaks. Finally, a sample of tweets was content analyzed - using a codeset derived by DeCew*. The analysis identified the most discussed excerpts of the documentary and the way the online discussion articulated around informational, accessibility and expressive privacy during this excerpts. At the same time, we also observed significant differences between the imaginary of privacy created around the documentary by US and UK audience.

* DeCew, J. (1997). In Pursuit of privacy: Law, ethics, and the rise of technology. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.