Accepted Paper:

Moderators on Dutch Moroccan websites  
Lenie Brouwer (Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam)

Paper short abstract:

Dutch Moroccan youths are very active users and producers of websites in the Netherlands. Compared with other immigrant groups they have launched the most websites, providing information on topical issues and Islam. The moderators play a key role in the way that these websites are run.

Paper long abstract:

Dutch Moroccan youths are very active users and producers of websites in the Netherlands. Compared with other immigrant groups they launched the most websites, providing information on topical issues and Islam but also by stimulating discussions on forums regarding their social identity as Dutch Moroccans living in a Western society. These forums have become a big success, judging by the thousands of messages that are posted daily. The majority of the visitors are young Dutch Moroccans who have discovered the endless possibilities of this new medium. In this anonymous context they raise all kinds of sensitive issues or problems that they would not dare to in public. However, the value of these forum discussions have been challenged by different parties. The National Secret Service follows discussions on the Internet, in particular those on Islam, in the context of the struggle against terrorism. According to some scholars these forums are a place for discrimination and intimidation, while others emphasize the emancipatory potential as it gives minorities a voice to express themselves. In this highly sensitive environment the moderators of these forums, who read the contributions users sent to the forum, acquire a vital role, as they are the persons who make the first selection of these messages. Not much is known about the background and intentions of these 'mediators' of new media and their daily practice of decision making. This paper will focus on the role of moderators and their significance for online discussions.

Panel W039
New mediators: culture, policy and practice in electronic governance and government