Keeping track of all the trends and changes to social media platforms is an exhausting task, but necessary when the accuracy of media and news analysis depends on it. When we heard about a trend where social media users deliberately avoid using keywords or names in their conversations - Voldemorting, we decided to find out more about it so we (and you!) could factor it into our work.
What is it?
Voldemorting is essentially when an individual or a group deliberately avoid using certain words or phrases as a tactic to hide or silence a topic. This extends to pseudo-anonymity - the trend of users using false names on social media.
Why is this occurring?
On social media, we’re aware that our communication is often public and persistent, so we develop strategies to reconcile the different aspects of ourselves, our lives, and our personalities. Hiding behind a digital mask gives many the power to spread false news and stories without immediate retribution.
Implication on news/journalism?
Keyword and sentiment analysis might be able to tell us about communication patterns in broad strokes, but it’s incredibly difficult to factor in all the nuances of tone, sarcasm, cultural references, in-jokes, and play. Voldemorting, or deliberately avoiding a particular name or keyword, is a tactic that politically hides or silences a topic.