The Power of Hashtags: How the Public has Become Crucial in Creating & Amplifying Narratives

The Power of Hashtags: How the Public has Become Crucial in Creating & Amplifying Narratives

How should we deal with "ampliganda"? A commentary on the power of hashtags and narratives


In her brilliant article on disinformation and propaganda, Renee DiResta coins a term to capture a new phenomenon in the way (mid)information spreads on the internet.  She calls this ampliganda: a conflation of amplification and propaganda.

This is a useful framework to help us understand, anticipate and sometimes respond to this kind of communication, when required.

It is the deliberate and intentional promotion of specific stories (with the relevant tags and hashtags) on social media. There is nothing illegal or even necessarily wrong with the practice (as this essentially depends on the intention and strategy behind the content). However, it enables stories to spread without a top-down structure and is likely to endure as there is no way to restrict this practice for the platforms.

So if you are facing an ampliganda campaign

  1. Try to study the origins of the story and observe the networks behind them
  2. See how the story is spreading and evaluate how it might affect you
  3. If you are seeking to amplify your own positive stories, pay close attention to your network and angles that might resonate
  4. Have a clear and consistent message that can unite your story (in the form of a # on Twitter)
  5. Reach out to the more influential members of your network and active communities
  6. If your message fails to gain natural traction, try alternative versions (different hashtag, different angle)
  7. Rinse and repeat


How should we deal with #ampliganda?

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Sherita D. Gaskins-Tillett, MD

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