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Depart from study or be deported? Exploring international students' crisis response to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency's (ICE) announcement on TikTok




Silwal, Urusha, author
Arthur, Tori, advisor
Humphrey, Michael, committee member
Aoki, Eric, committee member

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On July 6, 2020, Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE) announced that international students would face potential deportation if they took all-online courses in the fall while matriculated on United States university campuses. Through the lens of Media System Dependency Theory and Social Identity Theory, this study examined the crisis responses of international students between July 6-July 14, 2020, on an emerging social media app- TikTok. Despite TikTok's extensive use and thriving presence as a platform for social and political conversations, there are only a few studies on TikTok. Adopting the multimodal method of Critical Techno-Cultural Discourse Analysis (CTDA), the researcher analyzed twenty-one TikTok videos made by international students to study interface features, practices, and discourses present in the platform. The findings indicated that hashtags, green-screen effect, first-person camera view and share feature on TikTok facilitated the articulation of crisis responses of international students. Similarly, the discourse themes of humor, fear of displacement, contribution reminders, and call to action helped to understand how international students articulated their fears and concerns about the ICE announcement. Addressing the gap in TikTok literature, this study elucidated the connection between marginalized groups and their social media use at the time of crisis. This study paves a path for researchers in and beyond academia to study the connection of technology, marginalized cultural groups and social structures.


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