conflict & communication online, Vol. 18, No. 1, 2019
ISSN 1618-0747




Marta Milena Barrios, Lina María Vega Estarita & Luis M. Gil
When online commentary turns into violence: The role of Twitter in slander against journalists in Colombia

The 55-year long Colombian conflict with the FARC guerrilla movement ended in 2016 with the signing of a peace agreement, which resulted in a substantial reduction in the number of victims of socio-political violence. Paradoxically, this did not improve security for journalists, who were targeted: one was killed, another suffered sexual abuse (Medicina Legal, 2016), and 262 received threats (FLIP, 2017). In a qualitative case study, we content analyzed 592 tweets in order to document how threats from a political powerholder contributed to the formation of networks engaging in verbal violence on Twitter. Results showed that attacks on freedom of the press originated from a legitimate actor, caused an extremely polarized discussion among citizens who took sides, and provoked further threats and accusations. Conciliatory positions were hard to find.


  englischer Volltext  


The authors:

Marta Milena Barrios, Ph. D. Universidad del Norte, is Associate Professor of Journalism at the undergraduate and graduate programs of Communications at Universidad del Norte in Colombia. Professor Marta Barrios' academic interests include the study of the relation between society and the informative media. Her research focuses mainly in the study of the texts produced as a result of that relation, including areas such as political conflict, gender stereotypes, and disaster risk management. Outstanding research projects include the international coverage of the war in Iraq, and letters to the editors of the press in Colombia, among others.
Address:  Universidad del Norte Kilómetro 5, Vía a Puerto Colombia Barranquilla, 0800020 Ph: (57) 3509509 ext. 4805 Cel: (57) 3106335472 Colombia.

Lina Vega-Estarita, M.Sc Universidad del Norte, is a Communications researcher with professional experience in media analysis, public opinion, and development studies. She has a Master degree in Communications from the Universidad del Norte (Colombia) and a Bachelor's degree from the same University. She has worked on several projects over the last years and participated on international conferences such as ALAIC, IAMCR and Safety for Journalist Covering Conflict and Sensitive Issues. At the same time, she has published her work in journals including Salud Uninorte, Catalan Journal of Communication & Cultural Studies, Signo & Pensamiento and Chasqui.

Luis Manuel Gil, M.A Universidad del Norte BA in Communications and Journalism, with an Erasmus Mundus MA degree in Journalism, Media and Globalization from Aarhus University (Denmark) and Hamburg University (Germany). He has experience in qualitative research of media and virtual communities, journalism, public relations and creation of digital content. In Colombia, he participated in the Colciencias Young Researcher program and was a Colfuturo Scholar; and in Europe he was awarded the Erasmus+ grant from the European Commission.