Dr Paul Reilly
MA (St Andrews), PhD (Glasgow)
Senior Lecturer in Social Media and Digital Society
+44 114 222 2647
Full contact details
Regent Court (IS)
I was appointed Senior Lecturer in Social Media & Digital Society in the Information School at the University of Sheffield in October 2015. I was previously a lecturer in Media and Communication at the University of Leicester (November 2009- September 2015) and was a Part-Time Lecturer (Teaching only) at the University of Glasgow (2007-2010). My PhD (Glasgow, 2008) focused on the ways in which loyalist and republican groups used their websites to frame the Northern Irish peace process.
My research focuses on the study of online political communication, with a focus on three key areas: (1) the use of social media by citizens to create and share acts of sousveillance (inverse surveillance); (2) the ways in which digital media can be used to crowdsource crisis information; and (3) the use of new media to reduce sectarian tensions and promote better community relations in divided societies such as Northern Ireland.
- Officer for PGR Student Affairs, Faculty of Social Sciences (October 2016-October 2018).
- Deputy Director of Research, Information School (March 2016-September 2018)
- Member of Digital Societies Research Group
- Research interests
I have written one book on the role of the internet in conflict transformation in Northern Ireland (Framing the Troubles Online: Northern Irish Groups and Website Strategy, Manchester University Press 2011) and am currently writing my second on the role of social media in promoting positive intercommunity relations in the region (due 2016). My work has been published in a number of journals including Information, Communication & Society, New Media & Society, Policy and Internet and Urban Studies.
My current research projects include a study of how social media is used by first responders during crisis situations funded by the EU 7th Framework Programme for Research (FP7) and a Horizon 2020 funded study of how social media can be used to build community resilience against disasters. The British Academy and the Northern Ireland Community Relations Council have also funded my work on social media, parades and protest in Northern Ireland.
I have also organised a knowledge exchange seminar for the Economic Social Research Council and been an invited speaker at events organised by the Arts Marketing Association (East Midlands), the European Police College (CEPOL) and the Royal United Services Institute.
I am interested in supervising PhD research projects in the following areas:
- Crisis communication
- Digital media and peacebuilding
- Online research ethics
- Social media activism
- Social media and sousveillance
- Framing the Troubles Online Northen Irish Groups and Website Strategy. Manchester: Manchester University Press.
- View this article in WRRO Politics, Protest, Emotion: Interdisciplinary Perspectives: A Book of Blogs. Sheffield: Information School, University of Sheffield..
- PSNIRA vs. peaceful protesters? YouTube, sousveillance and the policing of the union flag protests. First Monday, 25(2). View this article in WRRO
- Photographing the ‘battlefield’: The role of ideology in photojournalist practices during the anti-austerity protests in Greece. Journalism. View this article in WRRO
- Is social media bad for mental health and wellbeing? Exploring the perspectives of adolescents. Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 23(4), 601-613. View this article in WRRO
- Potential of social media in promoting mental health in adolescents. Health Promotion International. View this article in WRRO
- Public expectations of critical infrastructure operators in times of crisis. Sustainable and Resilient Infrastructure. View this article in WRRO
- Whose Responsibility is Adolescent’s Mental Health in the UK? Perspectives of Key Stakeholders. School Mental Health. View this article in WRRO
- European expectations of disaster information provided by critical infrastructure operators. International Journal of Information Systems for Crisis Response and Management, 9(4), 23-48. View this article in WRRO
- Tweeting for Peace? Twitter and the Ardoyne parade dispute, July 2014.. First Monday, 21(11). View this article in WRRO
- Modelling large-scale evacuation of music festivals. Case Studies in Fire Safety, 5, 11-19. View this article in WRRO
- Researching protest on Facebook: developing an ethical stance for the study of Northern Irish flag protest pages. Information, Communication & Society, 19(3: Protest Communication Ecologies), 419-435. View this article in WRRO
- Every little helps? YouTube, sousveillance and the ‘anti-Tesco’ riot in Stokes Croft. New Media and Society, 17(5), 755-771. View this article in WRRO
- View this article in WRRO Screencasts in Media Studies. Journal of Excellence in Teaching and Learning.
- View this article in WRRO The right blend? The use of Blackboard to support international dissertation students. Journal of Excellence in Teaching and Learning.
- Ethical dilemmas in researching sensitive issues online: lessons from the study of British disability dissent networks. Information Communication and Society, 17(9), 1131-1146. View this article in WRRO
- The ‘Battle of Stokes Croft’ on YouTube: The Development of an Ethical Stance for the Study of Online Comments.
- Community Worker Perspectives on the Use of New Media to Reconfigure Socio-spatial Relations in Belfast. Urban Studies, 49(15), 3385-3401. View this article in WRRO
- Ethical Dilemmas in Researching Social Media Campaigns on Sensitive Personal Issues: Lessons from the Study of British Disability Dissent Networks.
- Book Review: Social Cohesion and Counter-terrorism: A Policy Contradiction?. Urban Studies, 49(2), 451-453.
- 'Anti-social' Networking in Northern Ireland: Policy Responses to Young People's Use of Social Media for Organizing Anti-social Behavior. Policy & Internet, 3(1), 135-157. View this article in WRRO
- Countering misinformation and disinformation during contentious episodes in a divided society: Tweeting the 2014 and 2015 Ardoyne parade disputes. First Monday.
- Digital media and disinformation in a deeply divided society: Reflections from ‘post-conflict’ Northern Ireland. In Kużelewska E, Trottier D, Terzis G & Kloza D (Ed.), Disinformation and Digital Media as a Challenge for Democracy (pp. 179-200). Intersentia
- Public Expectations of Social Media Use by Critical Infrastructure Operators During Crises: Lessons Learned from France, IFIP Advances in Information and Communication Technology (pp. 177-189). Springer International Publishing
- View this article in WRRO Digital weapons in a post-conflict society In Mair J, Tait R, Clark R, Snoddy R & Fowler N (Ed.), Anti-Social Media (pp. 29-34). London: Abramis.
- View this article in WRRO Twitter, dual screening and the BBC Northern Ireland Leaders’ Debate In Thorsen E, Jackson D & Lilleker D (Ed.), UK Election Analysis 2017: Media, Voters and the Campaign Poole, England: The Centre for the Study of Journalism, Culture and Community, Bournemouth University.
- Normalising or Equalising Party Competition? Assessing the Impact of the Web on Election Campaigning (pp. 529-547). SAGE Publications View this article in WRRO
- Web Search Springer Berlin Heidelberg
- Reframing Disability? Routledge
- Politics and the Internet in Comparative Context Routledge View this article in WRRO
- The Internet and Politics Routledge
- Book Review: Communication Ethics Now. Media, War & Conflict, 5(1), 87-89. View this article in WRRO
- View this article in WRRO Social Cohesion and Counter-terrorism: A Policy Contradiction?. URBAN STUDIES, 49(2), 451-453.
Conference proceedings papers
- View this article in WRRO November 2015 Paris terrorist attacks and social media use : preliminary findings from authorities, critical infrastructure operators and journalists. ISCRAM 2018 Conference Proceedings – 15th International Conference on Information Systems for Crisis Response and Management (pp 629-638). Rochester, NY, USA, 20 May 2018 - 23 May 2018.
- Enhancing critical infrastructure resilience through information-sharing: Recommendations for European critical infrastructure operators. Transforming Digital Worlds, Vol. 10766 LNCS (pp 120-125), 25 March 2018 - 28 March 2018. View this article in WRRO
- Public Expectations of Disaster Information Provided by Critical Infrastructure Operators: Lessons Learned from Barreiro, Portugal. Information Systems for Crisis Response and Management in Mediterranean Countries, Vol. 301 (pp 193-203), 18 October 2017 - 20 October 2017. View this article in WRRO
- View this article in WRRO Public expectations of social media use by critical infrastructure operators in crisis communication. 14th International Conference on Information Systems for Crisis Response and Management, 21 May 2017 - 24 May 2017.
- Should CI operators use social media to communicate with the public during crisis situations?: Lessons learned from a pilot study in Oslo Harbour. 2017 4th International Conference on Information and Communication Technologies for Disaster Management (ICT-DM), 11 December 2017 - 13 December 2017.
- SPEAK: Crisis communication during cascading disasters. Proceedings of the 6th International Disaster and Risk Conference: Integrative Risk Management - Towards Resilient Cities, IDRC Davos 2016 (pp 559-561)
- View this article in WRRO Exploring public expectations for aid from critical infrastructure operators. Critical infrastructures: Preparedness & Resilience for the Security of Citizens and Security, 52nd European Security, Reliability & Data Association Seminar, 30 May 2017 - 31 May 2017.
- Critical infrastructure operators, risk communication and community resilience. 12th International Conference on Structural Safety & Reliability, 6 August 2017 - 10 August 2017.
- View this article in WRRO CascEff Glossary and Definitions
- View this article in WRRO International Survey
- View this article in WRRO A report on the media and information flows during crisis situation
- A strategy for communication between key agencies and members of the public during crisis situations, EC FP7 CascEff Project Deliverable 3.3, European Commission FP7.
- Effects of human activities on the progression and development of large scale crises, Effects of human activities on the progression and development of large scale crises, EC FP7 CascEff Project Deliverable 3.2, European Commission FP7
- View this article in WRRO Social Media, Parades and Protest
- Research group
Current PhD students
- Paul Fenn: Social Media as a tool to enhance Higher Education learning and teaching experiences
- Jenny Hayes
Social media and adolescent mental health: A preliminary qualitative exploration of the potential use of social media for promoting mental health and wellbeing among 12-18 year olds, Wellcome Trust, Society and Ethics Scheme, £4,160 (Co-Investigator, PI: Michelle O’Reilly), January 2016 - January 2017.
This project will examine how 12-18 year olds in the East Midlands use social media to locate information on mental health and wellbeing.
IMPROVER: Improving Resilience to Crises and Disasters through Preparedness and Experiential Feedback” written in response to the EU Secure Societies call topic DRS-7-2014: Crisis management topic 7: “Crises and disaster resilience – operationalizing resilience concepts (£213,835 out of total project valued at 4.3 million euros, (WP leader and Primary Investigator), May 2015 - May 2018.
This project sets out to explore how social media can help response and recovery times during natural and human-made disasters. The Sheffield team specifically examines how community representatives and those involved in emergency management use social media to create early-warning systems that can be activated during such events. They will identify examples of good practice for information dissemination to the public during crises. These will be used to develop a communication strategy for emergency services and incident managers that will raise public awareness about the risks associated with these events.
CascEff: Modelling of dependencies and cascading effects for emergency management in crisis situations’, Seventh Framework Programme of the European Community for Research Technological Development and Demonstration Activities, European Commission, €150 807 (£115, 286.38) out of total project valued at 3, 594, 937.80 euros, (UK Work Package leader and Primary Investigator), April 2014 - April 2017. (Grant reference: FP7-SEC-2013-1).
This project sets out to identify examples of good practice for public communication during both natural and human-made crises. It focuses on how citizen and professional journalists have contributed to the information flows that emerge during such incidents. A series of European case studies such as the Floods in South-West England (UK), the Project X Haren riot (The Netherlands), and the Pukkelpop Festival disaster (Belgium) will be examined as part of this study. The Sheffield team will draw on this research to develop a series of bespoke communication strategies for all relevant agencies (including police and fire and rescue services) involved in the management of these incidents.
YouTube, sousveillance and the policing of union flag protests in Northern Ireland, British Academy, £7,300 (PI), June 2014 - June 2015.
This project explored whether the use of social media for sousveillance (inverse surveillance) had the potential to elicit support for these groups, whose narratives do not always feature in mainstream media coverage of civil disturbances. This was achieved through an in-depth thematic analysis of the comments posted under videos which were presumably shared on YouTube in order to hold the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) to account for their ‘heavy-handed’ policing of the protests.
Transformative Networks: Social media, Parades and Protests, Northern Ireland Community Relations Council, £12000 (PI with Orna Young), March – December 2014.
This project explored the role of social media in providing accurate, real-time information to residents affected by controversial parades and protests in Northern Ireland. It also identified ways in which stakeholders such as local residents’ groups can use these sites to reduce intercommunal tensions and improve community relations in contested areas such as North Belfast. I was responsible for the collection and analysis of Twitter data during the 12th July Orange Order parades in Northern Ireland in 2014.
Mediating Disability in Broken Britain: The Role the Media Plays, (2012) Economic Social and Research Council Festival of Social Science (RES-622-26-532), £1680 (PI)
This event brought together academics, activists and policymakers to explore the UK media portrayals of disability issues.
- Teaching interests
I am module coordinator for two modules: INF6034 Digital Advocacy and INF6545 Research Methods and Dissertation Preparation (Distance Learning). I have also contributed lectures to several modules including SCS6078 Researching Digital Society, INF6400 Information Systems and the Information Society, and INF6025 Information Governance. I am jointly coordinate the School’s Learning and Teaching Coach scheme with Dr. Peter Stordy.
My teaching focuses upon the role of social media in contemporary activist and protest campaigns, the role of ICTs in peacebuilding initiatives, and the communication strategies deployed by key stakeholders (e.g. police, fire and rescue services) during human-made and natural disasters. I have achieved a number of teaching awards and qualifications over the past five years.
- JISC 50 most influential UK Higher Education professionals using social media (awarded October 2015)
- Leicester Students’ Union Superstar Award (awarded May 2015)
- University of Leicester Teaching Fellowship (awarded January 2014)
Qualifications & Accreditations
- Senior Fellow, Higher Education Academy (July 2015)
- Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice in Higher Education (Distinction, awarded March 2013)
- Fellow, Higher Education Academy (November 2012)
- Screencasts in Engineering, University of Leicester Teaching Enhancement Fund, £2002.00 (Co-Investigator, Primary Investigator, Hugo Williams).
- The right blend? The use of Blackboard to support postgraduate dissertation students University of Leicester Teaching Enhancement Fund, £760 (PI)
- Assessing the use of Screencasts in the teaching and learning of media and communication studies (2012), University of Leicester Teaching Enhancement Fund, £1336.40 (PI)
For more information on these projects, see www.screencastsinmediastudies.wordpress.com
- Professional activities
- Reilly, P. (2017) Social media, citizen empowerment and crisis communication during the 2014 UK Floods, invited presentation at ESRC CASCADE-NET Seminar, The role of civil society’s agency in governance and contingency planning: citizenship, participation and social learning, University of Sheffield, 1 December.
- Reilly, P., Serafinelli, E., Petersen, L., and Fallou, L. (2017) Enhancing critical infrastructure resilience through effective crisis communication: identifying best practices for European CI Operators, invited presentation to Information School, University of Sheffield, 15 November.
- Reilly, P. (2017) Twitter, affective publics and contentious parades in divided societies: The 2014 and 2015 Ardoyne parade disputes, Invited presentation to Faculty of Media and Communication, Bournemouth University, 24 May.
- Reilly, P. (2016) Summary of research interests, Invited presentation to Library and Information Societies research group, Information School, University of Sheffield, 9 June.
- Reilly, P. (2016) YouTube, sousveillance and the policing of the 2013 flag protests in Northern Ireland, invited presentation to Social Media and Politics symposium, Ulster University, Belfast, 3 June
- Reilly, P. (2015) Screencasts in Media Studies, invited presentation as part of symposium ‘EAP Lecturers and subject specific lecturers at University of Leicester, British Association of Lecturers in English for Academic Purposes Annual Conference, University of Leicester, 18 April.
- Reilly, P. (2015) Tweeting the Twelfth: How citizens used Twitter during the Orange Order parades in July 2014, Media and Democracy Group, University of Leicester, 25th March.
- Reilly, P. (2015) Social media, citizen empowerment and crisis communication during the 2014 UK Floods, Risk and Social Media, Association française pour la prévention des catastrophes naturals (AFPN), Bâtiment Bienvenue, Cité Descartes, Marne-la-Vallée, 24 January.
- Reilly, P. (2014) Invited interview at Reportage Club, Documentary Media Month, Leicester, 26 November.
- Reilly, P. (2014) The mobile phone: a tool for sousveillance? The Social World in 100 Objects, ESRC Festival of Social Science, New Walk Museum, 7 November.
- Reilly, P (2014) Invited presentation at Holistic Approaches to Reducing Marginalisation: An Irish Perspective, RCUK Partnership for Conflict, Crime & Security Research, Durham University, 26 September.
- Reilly, P (2014) Summary of research interests, Invited presentation to Scoping Questions of Privacy, Surveillance and Governance, Digital Society Network, University of Sheffield, 16 July.
- Reilly, P (2013) Social media and Northern Irish politics: an overview, Invited presentation at Transformative Networks? Social media, politics and protests, University of Ulster, Belfast Campus, 10 December.
- Reilly, P (2013) Invited Participant in New Media, New Politics: Social media and conflict transformation in Northern Ireland, Roundtable, Political Studies Association of Ireland Annual Conference, Trinity College Dublin, 18-19 October.
- Reilly, P (2013) Social media, sousveillance and riots: Challenges for UK Police Forces, invited presentation to Social Media and Crowds, European Police College Webinar, 3 July.
- Reilly, P (2013) Social media, sousveillance and civil unrest in the UK, invited presentation to Birmingham Centre for Media and Cultural Research, Birmingham City University, 5 June.
- Reilly, P (2012) Social media and Social unrest: Challenges and Opportunities for UK Police, Invited presentation to Global MSC Security Seminar ‘ CCTV Budget Cuts & the Riots – How Did We Adapt? Bristol Marriott Royal Hotel, Bristol, 6 March.
- Reilly, P (2012) invited Participant in Urban Operations- How the military can contribute to achieving effect in the urban environment, Exercise AGILE WARRIOR, Royal United Services Institute, London, 12 February.
- Reilly, P (2011) Policing and Social Media, Invited presentation to Westminster eForum Keynote Seminar eCrime, cyber-threats and protecting critical infrastructure, Princess Alexandra Hall, Royal Over-Seas League, Over-Seas House, Park Place, St James's Street, London, 24 November.
- Reilly, P. (2010) Facebook for Peace? An exploration of the dialogic potential of Web 2.0 in Northern Irish interface areas, Invited seminar presentation to Geography Department, University of Leicester, Leicester, 27 May.
- Reilly, P. (2010) Invited Poster Presentation and Participation in, Mapping the Impact of Online Information on the Political, Economic and Social Sphere, Google HQ, London, 1 March
Selected Media Appearances:
- Social Media and Politics Podcast #69: Protests and Demonstrations in Northern Ireland, 13 January 2019.
- Gander, K. Psychologists discover deluded people and religious fundamentalists more likely to believe fake news, Newsweek, 30 October 2018.
- Sharman, D. Local journalists playing 'critical role' in 'fake news' fight, new study says, Hold the Front Page, 30 August 2018.
- Social media’s not all bad- It is saving lives in disaster zones, op-ed, Irish Examiner, 27 August 2018.
- Opinion: Social media’s not all bad- it’s saving lives in disasters,World is One News, 23 August 2018.
- Nestor, H. Vero: ad-free social media that puts privacy first, Canvas8, 19 March 2018.
- BBC Radio Leicester Afternoon show with Jonathan Lampon, interview on nomophobia, 22 August 2017.
- BBC Radio Leicester Afternoon show with Jonathan Lampon, Interview on oversharing on social media, 12 June 2017.
- Is the medium more important than the message? Communicating with disaster affected populations in the Information Age, France Forum, December 2016.
- Pickles, J.S. The far right and false imagery The National Student, 2 February 2016.
- Pickles, N (Twitter UK Public Policy Manager) Amplifying voices of respect and tolerance across Northern Ireland, 26 January 2016.
- BBC Good Morning Ulster, Northern Ireland Community Relations Council Twitter study mentioned during interview with Twitter UK Public Policy Manager Nick Pickles, 22 January 2016.
- Politicians: Share sites are double-edged sword, The Sun (Northern Ireland edition), 5 May 2015.
- How Twitter is defusing sectarian tensions, Belfast Telegraph, 31 March 2015.
- BBC Radio Leicester breakfast show with Jim Davis and Jo Hayward, Interview about role of social media in 2015 UK General Election, 30 March 2015.
- Brenda Leyland: Did the press act responsibly when reporting the abuse directed at Kate and Gerry McCann? Leicester Mercury, 7 October 2014.
- Disaster media could aid decisions, Professional Security, 15 August 2014.
- Tweets that trapped Tattenham Corner armed robbers, BBC News, 13 June 2014.
- A survey of British newspaper readership: online paid-for content loses popularity, Guanming Daily, 24 February 2014.
- A new, different kind of ‘troubles’ in Northern Ireland, Christian Science Monitor, 5 February 2013, Interview on use of social media during flag protests.
- Gary Lineker’s son taunted by Twitter troll, Leicester Mercury, 3 August 2012.
- Twitter, the Snoopers Charter and Online Privacy, World Financial Review, Op-ed on Twitter and privacy, 25 July 2012.
- Social media empowers student protests in Montreal, Montreal Gazette, Interview about social media and protests, 21 May 2012.
- Twitter did not incite people to riot, claims study, Leicester Mercury, 9 December 2011.
- Social media doubled edged sword in protests, CorpComms, 17 October 2011.
- BBC Radio Leicester lunchtime show with Jonathan Lampon, Interview about growth in social media usage worldwide, 12 August 2011.
- BBC Radio Manchester, Alan Beswick at Breakfast, Interview about social media use during English riots, 15 September 2011.
- Policing: Social media and flash mobs, The Current (with Jim Brown), Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, interview about role of social media during English riots, 10 August 2011.
- Associate Editor, Palgrave Communications (October 2017-present)
- Member, Accelerating Change in Global Governance, International Studies Association Working Group (February 2017- present)
- Member, Association of Internet Researchers (AoIR) Ethics Working Group (March 2017 -present)
- Member, Ethics Committee, FashionBrain: Understanding Europe’s Fashion Data Universe, European Commission Horizon 2020 project, February 2017 – present)
- Co-Editor, Online Information Review (June- November 2016)
- Member, Editorial Board, For(e)dialogue, University of Leicester (April 2016 – present)
- Member, Academic Friends of European Peacebuilding Liaison Office (December 2015- present)
- Member, Advisory Board, LEGaSi, Cooperation Ireland (December 2014- September 2015).
- Member, Scientific Board, Communication and Media Research Center (2014- present)
- Co-convenor of IDeoGRAMS research cluster, University of Leicester (2011-13).
- Member of Technology-Enhanced Learning Group, College of Social Sciences, University of Leicester (2013)
- Member of the European Consortium for Political Research (ECPR) Internet and Politics Standing Group, and European Communication Research and Education Association (ECREA).
- Reviewed submissions for journals including Children’s Geographies, Information, Communication & Society, Media, War & Conflict, Journal of Information Technology and Politics, New Media & Society, Peace & Change: A Journal of Peace Research, Policy and Internet and Visual Communication.
I have also reviewed research grant proposals for the ESRC and monograph submissions for the Media and Communication series at Polity Press and SAGE.