Leading social media researcher Dr. Crystal Abidin visited the Nordic Centre for Internet and Society on Tuesday, 12 March 2019. Crystal gave a lunch talk about Instagram's influencer culture and stressed underlying cultural and commercial dynamics. In particular, she presented her ongoing ethnographic research into social media celebrity culture in Singapore and beyond, giving rich behind-the-scenes insights into the influencer industry and its ongoing professionalization. The talk touched upon strategies such as corporate takeovers, astroturfing and clickbait, illustrating how influencers navigate the complications of authenticity and control with many examples. The presentation was well attended and ended with an engaged discussion. It also received substantial attention on Twitter. In addition to the lunch talk, Crystal gave a workshop to Bachelor students in the course "Social Networks and Communities". The students discussed their own experiences of social media culture and Crystal shared insights about her research.
The presentations are part of her ongoing research on Internet celebrity culture. More details are available in her recently published or forthcoming books "Internet Celebrity: Understanding Fame Online", "Microcelebrity around the Globe" and "Instagram".