School of Information Sciences -- Faculty Publications and Other Works

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Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology

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Since the inception of gatekeeping research in the 1940s, most studies on gatekeeping have been human‐centric, treating and studying individuals as gatekeepers, who perform their gatekeeping role using a combination of the following mechanisms: forming communities, and/or broadcasting, discovering‐searching, collecting, organizing, or protecting information. However, the nature of communication channels and how information is produced by and shared with users has fundamentally changed in the last 80 years. One significant change is the growing use of technology‐enabled metadata like hashtags when sharing information on social media. Rarely any study investigates whether hashtags can perform gatekeeping of information and what it means for information gatekeeping. This paper fills in the gap by conducting a content analysis of 77 interdisciplinary studies on hashtags and gatekeeping to confirm how they can implement six gatekeeping mechanisms. This study shows that hashtags expand our understanding of the role of technology solutions in gatekeeping and advance research on hierarchical gatekeeping. The benefits of hashtags for gatekeeping suggest that they act as “information anchors” for online communities, thereby highlighting the utility of information gatekeepers for society.

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