Conference: The Ends of Social Media


CFP: The Ends of Social Media Symposium
November 15, 2019
University of Toronto, Canada
Plenary panel: Mél Hogan, University of Calgary and Rena Bivens, Carleton University
Deadline for proposals: July 15, 2019

“It is time to break up Facebook,” Chris Hughes, a co-founder of Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg’s Harvard roommate declared in the New York Times. The Cambridge Analytica revelations of 2018 finally changed the collective climate around social media and raised a tide of criticism. Social media is no longer conceived as a neutral platform where people come together to collaborate and build communities. Rather, it allows structural exploitation of different users and the production of their desires and needs. Social media sites are seen as entities whose goal is to make money and the critics argue that reaching this end happens with collateral damages to people, environment, infrastructure, societies, and democracy. Social media platforms have become global powers, and arguments have been made that we need to put an end to this before it is too late; we need to regulate these platforms and even break them apart. The project of the Ends of Social Media symposium is to think what are the current ends of social media; who are end users and to what ends are they useful; what does the wiring of the planet not only metaphorically but also materially from cables to satellites to data centers mean; is there a visible end for the dominance of social media in our lives; and how does social media end and what comes after?

The Ends of Social Media is a one-day event organized on November 15, 2019, at the University of Toronto. The plenary speakers for the event are Mél Hogan, University of Calgary and Rena Bivens, Carleton University.

The idea of this symposium is to bring together an interdisciplinary group of researchers, thinkers, and artists to discuss, examine and speculate on the ends of social media. The notion of the end is taken here in its plurality of meanings: the final, furthest, or most extreme part; terminal point; a goal or result that one seeks to achieve; and an ultimate state or condition. Collectively, we are seeking new ways to understand social media by approaching it from these ends rather than its beginnings or focusing on its means.

We invite papers that discuss the theme of the Ends of Social Media from theoretical, empirical, and experimental perspectives. The potential topics for discussion include (but are not limited to):

• Social media criticism
• Social media monopolies
• Social media dystopias/utopias
• Environmental costs of social media
• Burnouts, fadeaways, and disconnections of social media
• Social ends and the ends of the social
• The instrumental and intrinsic value of social media
• Hate, injustice, oppression and other ends of social media
• Social media alternatives and the centers for humane technology
• AI, weapons of math destruction, and social media
• Politics, social media, and the end of democracy
• Breakdowns, failures, accidents, and social media
• War, death, social media, and the end

We invite proposals for individual papers including abstracts (250 words) and a short bio (100 words). Proposals should be sent to by July 15th, 2019.

Notifications of acceptance will be sent out by August 15, 2019. There are on-going negotiations with publishers about an anthology based on the papers presented in this symposium. The symposium is free of charge.

The symposium is sponsored by the Jackman Humanities Institute Program for Arts, University of Toronto.

Contact: Tero Karppi
assistant professor, ICCIT, University of Toronto
tero.karppi (at)