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CASM Lab

We study how people use social media to create social change.

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Research

Overview

Understanding and Designing Social Media for Civic Engagement

Civically engaged communities experience lower rates of crime, poverty, and unemployment and higher rates of health and education. This project explores the role that social computing technologies play in helping to encourage civic engagement and builds on current research in the development of social change to produce a model of the relationship between social media and civic engagement that helps us understand in what contexts, under what conditions, and with what affordances social media can increase civic engagement. At the core of this study is an examination of how social media are used as tools for collective action.

We use a multi-method approach in this project including automated collection of social media data, interviews with social media users, and participatory design activities with people trying to improve their communities.

Team

Josh Guberman, Dr. Libby Hemphill, Xi Rao, Carol Schmitz, Xiaopei Zhang

Presentations and Publications

Research Tools and Datasets

  • Guberman, J. and Hemphill, L. (2016) Descriptors and measurements of verbal violence in tweets [data file and codebook]. doi: 10.6084/m9.figshare.3179368.

This project is sponsored by the National Science Foundation Award #1525662.

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Cyberbullying Early Warning and Response System

Cyberbullying is a widespread public health issue affecting roughly a third of teenage Internet users and often resulting in serious consequences such as physical violence, depression, and substance abuse. The goal of this project is to develop software tools to forecast imminent cyberbullying threats and vulnerabilities in online social networks. The approach will build on recent advances in natural language processing, machine learning, and social network analysis. With the resulting cross-platform tool, individuals and communities will be better equipped to intervene in cyberbullying episodes in real-time to reduce harm and improve outcomes.

Team

Dr. Aron Culotta, Josh Guberman, Dr. Libby Hemphill

The project is supported by the Nayar Prize at the Illinois Institute of Technology.

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Celebrity and Fan Interactions

Social media enable incredible changes in the relationships between producers and consumers. Our project is especially interested in the relationships between producers and consumers of film and television. We examine how celebrities and their fans use social media and the impacts of those uses. The design of our study differs from earlier work in this space and allows us to make both theoretical and methodological contributions to fan studies and social media research.

While fandom and fan behavior may seem trivial to some, the volume of fan-celebrity interactions in social media demands our attention. Fans produce incredible amounts of content on social media, and their views and opinions increasingly figure into popular conversations of social media.

The questions driving this project are

  • How do celebrities’ uses of social media impact their audiences’ behaviors (e.g., how effective are celebrities at increasing civic engagement? How do celebrities’ interactions impact viewership of their shows?)?
  • What feelings, values, and motivations underlie celebrities’ and audiences’ social media behaviors?

We use a combination of computational and qualitative research methods to address these questions. We are actively recruiting fans for an interview study. Here you can learn more about the study and volunteer to talk with us.

Team

Josh Guberman, Dr. Libby Hemphill, Xi Rao

Presentations and Publications

Research Tools and Datasets

Scripts and apps for collecting Twitter data are housed on Github. We provide tools for doing batch lookups of user ids and a Python app for setting up your own Twitter collector.

The project is supported by the Lewis College Faculty Research Support Initiative.

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