Timisoara, 18-24 June

ECIS 2022 - New Horizons in Digitally United Societies

The Dark Side of Social Media and Digital Platforms: Exploring Critical and Ethical Challenges

Relevant dates

Submission deadline: May 1, 2022
Acceptance notification: Abstracts are reviewed as they are submitted, and authors will be notified of acceptance within 48 hours of submission.
Workshop date: June 20, 2022

Submission email:

Dr Emma Forsgren, Leeds University Business School, Leeds, UK.
Dr Emma Gritt, Leeds University Business School, Leeds, UK.
Prof. Dr Lisa Giermindl, University of Applied Sciences St.Gallen, Switzerland,
Dr Helena Vallo Hult, University West and NU Hospital Group,

This full day workshop will include a combination of presentations by participants, panel discussions and a keynote speaker.

Participants are invited to submit an extended abstract of 500 words focusing on one of five themes listed, or other topics related to the workshop subject area.
The extended abstract could describe completed, ongoing or planned research related to the themes and may also be conceptual.
Accepted abstracts will be presented at the workshop.

The aim of this workshop is to bring together researchers with an interest in critical and ethical challenges associated with social media and digital platforms. The purpose is to further our understanding of the negative effects and unintended consequences of social media. The integration of social media into  everyday life and work have fundamentally changed the social practices and dynamics of how people  produce and share knowledge in novel ways, as well as connect with each other across boundaries  (e.g. Leonardi & Vaast, 2017). However, whilst previous literature has built up a strong sense for the  opportunities that emerge from interaction in these platforms, e.g. increasing innovation (Bhimani et al.,  2019), employee efficiency and performance (Kane, 2015; Sykes et al., 2014), collaboration and teamwork  (Beck et al. 2014; Forsgren & Byström 2017; Kudaravalli et al., 2017; Safadi et al., 2020) in private and  public organisations, the negative effects of these digital technologies have received far less attention.  Therefore, we believe there is a pressing need for critical research beyond the dominant discourse (Giermindl et al., 2017; Wynn & Vallo Hult 2019). As Stein and colleagues (2016, p.12) state, the field of  IS needs “a space (such as at ECIS) for more critical, reflexive questioning of the topics and methods of IS  research”. Therefore, whilst social media have been portrayed as democratic processes and ideology of  empowerment and expression, recent incidents have underpinned how social media can also be used in  damaging ways, leading to harmful consequences on people’s lives, work and for the wider society  (Baccarella et al., 2018; Fuchs, 2017; Sun et al., 2021; Zuboff, 2019). For instance, Covid-19 has highlighted an environment where misinformation can spread rapidly through social media, which potentially impacts people’s attitudes and behaviours towards the pandemic and vaccinations (Laato et al., 2020). The pandemic has also created a space where new work practices are emerging leading to more hybrid forms of work and use of digital platforms (Richter, 2020). As digital technologies and social media become increasingly important for work, there is a potential for such technologies to be used as  surveillance and monitoring of employees (Lukacs, 2017; Taylor & Dobbins, 2021). This has led to some scholars suggesting that “the dark underbelly of technology has never been so exposed” (Hassan et al., 2018, p.264). As researchers of information systems and related areas, it is our responsibility to engage in  questions that examine what makes work, life and society better (Adler, 2010), but likewise study what  does not, and in doing so, reveal the harmful effects.

The workshop has three main goals: (1) To establish an informal community of scholars interested in  critical perspectives and their contribution to the study of social media and digital platforms; (2) To learn  about each other’s ongoing research projects, and gain an understanding of the critical approaches  undertaken at present; (3) To explore future directions and set out a research agenda, including the  methodological and theoretical approaches that could be useful in doing so.

Possible themes about social media and digital platforms include but are not limited to:

  1. Control, panopticism and surveillance, e.g. the potential/experience of being watched or monitored by others (e.g. management), the fear of being controlled and how this regulates behaviour on platforms or leads to underutilisation of digital platforms.
  2. Ethics, security and privacy, e.g. concerns of data breaches, user privacy and confidentiality; information security and compliance; ethical data usage; commodification of users’ social media content and behaviour, focusing on people’s personal data and how this is being sold; trade-offs between analytics  initiatives and security/privacy concerns as well as how to assure that ethics, integrity and privacy are  upheld via policies and strategies.
  3. Blurring boundaries of private and professional, and the implication on well-being, e.g. role identity: blurring between professional versus private roles/life; shadow IT; cyberloafing and cyberslacking; problematic usage of social media and digital platforms and their undesirable impact on users’ mental  health such as negative effects on performance, social and information overload, as well as technostress.
  4. The implications of fake news and misinformation, e.g. the phenomenon of fake news and its related challenges; misinformation and ethically undesirable online practices.
  5. Possible solutions, regulations and strategies, e.g. how individuals, organisations and society can mitigate the above-described undesired or detrimental effects. Considering the numerous negative impacts of social media, (community) managers and policy-makers find themselves confronted with a complex  choice of whether these platforms should be regulated and, if so, how.


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Baccarella, C. V., Wagner, T. F., Kietzmann, J. H., & McCarthy, I. P. (2018). Social media? It’s serious!  Understanding the dark side of social media. European Management Journal, 36(4), 431-438. Beck, R., Pahlke, I., & Seebach, C. (2014). Knowledge exchange and symbolic action in social media-enabled  electronic networks of practice: A multilevel perspective on knowledge seekers and contributors. MIS  quarterly, 38(4), 1245-1270.

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Kane, G.C. (2015). Enterprise social media: Current capabilities and future possibilities. MIS Quarterly Executive,  14(1).

Kudaravalli, S., Faraj, S., & Johnson, S. L. (2017). A configural approach to coordinating expertise in software  development teams. MIS Quarterly, 41(1), 43-64.

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Lukacs, A. (2017). To post, or not to post–that is the question: Employee monitoring and employees’ right to data  protection. Masaryk University Journal of Law and Technology, 11(2), 185-214

Richter, A. (2020), Locked-down digital work. International Journal of Information Management, 55, 1021573. Safadi. H., Johnson, S. L. & Faraj, S. (2020). Core-Periphery Tension in Online Innovation Communities.  Organization Studies, 32(1).

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Sykes, T.A., Venkatesh, V. & Johnson, J.L. (2014). Enterprise system implementation and employee job  performance: Understanding the role of advice networks. MIS Quarterly, 38(1).

Taylor, C., & Dobbins, T. (2021). Social Media: A (new) contested terrain between sousveillance and surveillance in  the digital workplace. New Technology, Work and Employment, 36(3), 263-284. 

Wynn, E., & Vallo Hult, H. (2019). Qualitative and Critical Research in Information Systems and Human-Computer  Interaction: Divergent and Convergent Paths. Foundations and Trends in Information Systems, 3(1–2), 1- 233.

Zuboff, S. (2019). The Age of Surveillance Capitalism. London: Profile Books

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The 30th European Conference on Information Systems

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