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This chapter explores the unpaid digital labour of moderators and how moderation style encourages or discourages a reader’s visible participation. This chapter examines three specific case studies – affinity groups (online communities where members share in a common goal), health communities, and neighbourhood groups – and introduces sensemaking to the discussion of lurker literacies. The chapter also offers critical content analysis of the evolution of Facebook group features and the corporation’s community management training programme to offer insights into the challenges of active Facebook moderation.

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This concluding chapter explores the question: can lurking be valuable if participation is not publicly (and easily) measurable? This chapter unpacks value as a social and economic construct and discusses the impact lurking has for platforms, companies, society, and ourselves. Rather than disband the use of the term lurker, the author argues that understanding ourselves as lurkers offers the possibility of more sustainable community relationships on- and offline.

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This chapter historicizes the myth of the lurker, tracing its roots from real-world abuser to surreptitious online reader by contextualizing a range of cultural texts from 14th-century poems to 21st-century memes. Lurking is perceived as malignant when its motives resist anthropocentrism, imperialism, and capitalism. This chapter sets out to problematize the negative connotations of lurking and illuminates the ways that lurking can be an active, participatory, and valuable act.

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Ignoring lurkers can invalidate critical social science research in education, health, and psychology, which often use social media participation as part of their data collection methods. If data collection does not account for lurkers, researchers reach only 10 per cent of social media users within the confines of their study. This could compromise the validity of the results and findings, thus having a detrimental effect on health and learning outcomes for people whose care and education rely on practitioners accessing accurate data. This chapter offers concrete strategies for ways to expand datasets to include the literacy practices of lurkers. It also explores the limits of platform sponsored tools like CrowdTangle for data collection and offers suggestions for how to ethically engage with lurkers.

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Beginning with an autoethnographic overview of the author’s personal lurking habits, this introductory chapter gives an overview of the research on lurking as a normal and participatory social media act.

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Lurking as Digital Literacy Practice
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We all sometimes ‘lurk’ in online spaces without posting or engaging, just reading the posts and comments. But neither reading nor lurking are ever passive acts. In fact, readers of social media are making decisions and taking grassroots actions on multiple dimensions.

Unpacking this understudied phenomenon, this book challenges the conventional perspective of what counts as participatory online culture. Presenting lurking as a communication and literacy practice that resists dominant power structures, it offers an innovative approach to digital qualitative methods.

Unique and original in its subject, this is a call for internet researchers to broaden their methods to include lurkers’ participation and presence.

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This chapter explores the relevance of transactional and sociocultural print-based literacy theories to the digital reading experience. At the centre of this discussion is an illustration of the shifting notions of author and reader on social media and how theories of print-based literacy are necessary for understanding the efferent and aesthetic motives of readers, which includes the decision of when to engage in specific lurker literacies.

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This chapter argues that the internet is a colonized space and, within that space, lurking is a privileged participatory act. Global media literacy standards are centred on acts of public participation and must adopt a more inclusive approach. Building on the work of media literacy scholars, this chapter seeks to broaden media literacy assessment from skill development and identifying bias to include the teaching of lurker literacies as resistance to surveillance and the amplification of misinformation.

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Utilizing data from neighbourhood Facebook groups, this chapter analyses the ways that offline relationships influence online behaviour. This chapter argues that receptive reading, protective curation, and participatory restraint are lurker literacies readers engage in on social media to gratify desires to preserve their offline relationships with members of their community. Receptive reading occurs when a person wants to closely, and anonymously, read a social media commenting thread with the express purpose of understanding a divergent point of view. Protective curation is when a person reads to collect information to protect their socioeconomic status. This includes gathering information to professionally advance in one’s career and/or to maintain the perceived quality of their community life. Participatory restraint is a strategic choice whereby a person will purposefully not respond to an inflammatory social media post. A reader will purposefully refrain from commenting, liking, or sharing their dissent via publicity metrics. These efforts are sometimes taken individually and are sometimes collectively decided by a group using alternate, non-social media, communication methods.

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In the years following Qatar’s successful 2010 bid to host the FIFA World Cup 2022, there has been a significant shift in its engagement with the migrant labour rights discourse, and subsequent embarkment on significant reforms as the result of intense international scrutiny and advocacy action. The core feature of Qatar’s historically evolved transnational labour management system, Kafala, has become a key focal point of international advocacy efforts. The objective of this article is to assess the extent to which the reforms constitute a break in Qatar’s historical (that is, pre-FIFA 2022) labour management system, and thus a meaningful disruption to the social reproduction regime that allowed the Kafala system to persist. We do so by probing the institutionalisation of those reforms, with a particular focus on the agency of labour through collective worker empowerment. Drawing on interviews with key transnational actors involved in the reform process in situ, we employ the ‘established-outsider’ relations concept in our analysis of the reforms, while highlighting the remaining challenges. Our ultimate argument is that although the reforms in Qatar seek to provide more labour rights and protections, they fall short of loosening the absolute control of sponsors (kafeels) over their employees. This is due to two main reasons: the absence of strong and effective institutions to convert the legal reforms into rights in practice; and the fact that laws outside of the labour ministry, that fall under the jurisdiction of the interior ministry, are the foundation of the relationship between citizens and migrants and remain largely untouched. These double-edged limitations guarantee the social reproduction of the highly unequal labour mobility system by firmly keeping in place ‘established-outsider’ relations.

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