Conversations around U.S. electoral politics have centered in large part on a social networking site once designed to bring college students together. Facebook has become a source from which a significant number of voters and potential voters, at least in the U.S. context, receive news and information about candidates and political issues.

In “Designing Outrage, Programming Discord: A Critical Interface Analysis of Facebook as a Campaign Technology,” Jennifer Sano-Franchini will examine the user-experience design of Facebook as a political campaign technology. In her presentation on March 29 at 2 p.m., Sano-Franchini, an associate professor in the Virginia Tech Department of English, will offer a critical interface analysis of Facebook’s user interface, focusing on four key microinteractions: browsing, commenting, reacting, and posting.

In brief, Sano-Franchini argues that Facebook’s user interface creates spatiotemporal realities that prioritize concision, speed, curation practices that limit divergent perspectives, and the flattening of complex identities and political commitments such that they are indexable, processable, and thus, monetizable. Further, they consider how these mediated spatiotemporal realities re-shape the emotional and affective orientations through which users interact with digital content, with one another, and with the political system more generally.

The Virginia Tech Center for Humanities presents a series of talks by faculty research associates. This talk is free and open to the public. To participate, register here.

Jennifer Sano-Franchini
Jennifer Sano-Franchini

Sano-Franchini directs the Professional and Technical Writing program in the Department of English. Her research and teaching interests are in the cultural politics of design, Asian American rhetoric, user experience, and the rhetorical work of institutions.

She has published on a range of topics, including the politics of Facebook’s interface design, Asian American sonic rhetorics, and emotional labor on the academic job search in journals such as College Composition and Communication, Technical Communication, Rhetoric Review, and Enculturation. Sano-Franchini’s works also appeared in the edited collections Rhetoric and Experience Architecture, and Rhetoric and the Digital Humanities.