Vol. 38 No. 3 (2023)
By Douaa Sheet
At first glance, there seems to be a shared mission between social media’s promise of increased dissemination of information and truth commissions’ commitment to truth, granting victims a voice, and safeguarding people’s right to information—which would suggest that the rise of the former could only empower the latter. This study suggests otherwise. I argue that social media can impede truth commissions’ liberal vision that celebrates “speaking” as synonymous with “healing” and hails publicizing victims’ testimonies as key to facilitating national reconciliation. Through a study of the Tunisian Truth and Dignity Commission’s Facebook-mediated public hearings, I analyze these platforms’ algorithmic mode of content circulation and argue that one of its less analyzed features is its “war on silence.” While “voice” has been celebrated and silence decried in human rights discourse, I analyze silence as a “gap in knowledge” and argue for its role in forging empathetic publics and mediating reconciliation.
truth commissions; public testimonies; social media; algorithms; war on silence; imagined publics; national reconciliation
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