Bergen Media Use Research Group

Hidden in Plain Sight: Microcelebrities navigating visibility and surveillance on Twitter

Image of person's right fist held in the air.
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Welcome to a lunch seminar with Özlem Demirkol Tønnesen, organized by Bergen media Use Research Group.


On social media, microcelebrities and influencers play various roles and hold immense power as “focusers of attention” (Tufekci, 2013). This project was formed as an intervention to the growing interest these content creators receive in academic research for their ability to guide their audiences towards products and lifestyles they promote, while the similar effects they may produce when sharing political opinions, viewpoints and behaviors are neglected.

This talk is based on Özlem's PhD research into Turkish Twitter microcelebrities and how they express antigovernment viewpoints and navigate the tensions between self-expression and self-preservation under an authoritarian regimese. Drawing from an analysis of tweets by 97 microcelebrity accounts in the 3-months leading up to the 2018 Turkish elections, she discusses how these accounts consider sharing political opinions and news as a duty despite apparent risks and express their thoughts through a narration of everyday life and daily events by formulating a language that is understood by subgroups who are acclimated to the platform culture. 

Speaker: Özlem Demirkol Tønnesen

Özlem Demirkol Tønnesen is a Postdoctoral Researcher with the ERC project PREPARE - Distributed and prepared. A new theory of citizens` public connection networks in the age of datafication. She completed her PhD at the University of Southampton, which explored the use of Twitter by microcelebrity accounts dissenting against the authoritarian leaning Turkish government during the 2018 Turkish Elections.