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Understanding the ways missing and murdered Indigenous women are framed and handled by social media users

Author(s): Taima Moeke-Pickering, Sheila Cote-Meek, Ann Pegoraro

In: Media International Australia, Vol 169, No 1, 2018, pp. 54-64

Hashtags such as #timesup and #metoo illustrate the growing international concerns about the sexual violation of women. The media plays a large role in promoting negative racial and gender ideologies about Indigenous women. In Canada, where there is a national crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women (MMIW), researchers have collected data from social media and identified how degrading texts about Indigenous women perpetuate a racialized violent discourse. Many Indigenous peoples, including Indigenous youth, have smart phones and/or other ways to access social media, so they too are exposed to the discourse that subjugates, vilifies and dehumanizes Indigenous women, many of whom are family or community members. The authors’ research investigates the messages shared through the hashtag ‘#MMIW’ and identifies a reframing by hashtag users. The results indicate how social media play a role in perpetuating stereotypes about Indigenous peoples, but also how they can be used to combat those messages.