Emanuele Arielli

Sharing as Speech Act

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: Speech Act Theory; Social Media; Attention; Misinformation; Defamation; Sharing.

Social media platforms allow users to perform different speech acts: status updates could be assertives, a like is an expressive, a friendship request is a directive, and so on. But sharing (or "retweeting") seems to lack a fixed illocutive status: this explains why present controversies concerning the sharing of misinformation have been debated in legal procedure and discussed from the point of view of personal responsibility without reaching a general consensus. The premise of this paper is that the diffusion of false or unwarranted information could be better analyzed if we consider sharing a precisely definable speech act. I will describe some dominant interpretations of the act of sharing that are not, however, sufficient to fully explain it. As an alternative, it will be shown that there is a specific illocutive structure of the act of sharing, which not only consists in asserting the "shareworthiness" or the relevance of a content, but is primarily comparable to an "attention-orienting" directive.

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