chapter  4
23 Pages

Death and social media: entanglements of policy and practice

ByMichael Arnold, Martin Gibbs, Tamara Kohn, James Meese, Bjorn Nansen

This chapter examines how the dead are remembered online, attending to the ways in which they are mediated and provided with modes of post-mortem existence via the properties of social media platforms. It is concerned with how online memorials are materially constituted and discursively governed, and we analyse these issues through two case studies, which draw on research previously published by some of the authors. The chapter focuses on the death of a young American woman, Anna Svidersky in 2006, and the second on the death of a young Australian man, Aziz Shavershian in 2011. Research on trolls suggests they operate to negate the imperative for authentic identity performance implied by the model of user participation on popular commercial social networking sites, such as Face book’s real name policy. While spamming or trolling are overt examples of socially inappropriate conduct in practices of online memorialisation, further questions emerge regarding the right of strangers to express grief online, and in what ways.