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Northeastern research finds how crucial social media can be for public movements.

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Northeastern professor Brooke Foucault Welles conducted a study on how social media played a role in the #FreeBritney movement. She worked to examine how subversive stories and movements like Britneys are born and spread around online. She analyzes how the average person plays a role in these movements and how the tabloids take longer to adopt and sustain these movements. She raises questions about how harmful conservatorships are to those with disabilities and mental health issues, especially in Britney’s case with health decisions being made for her. Welles and her PhD students found that each social media platform influences how stories are shared to different degrees, along with much more.

“It…is a serious topic beyond her celebrity to talk about what is a conservatorship. When should we be OK with it and when should we push back. What rights do people with mental health challenges or disabilities have when they’re under conservatorship?”

Brooke Foucault Welles, associate professor of communication studies at Northeaster, WGSS affiliated faculty

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