Academics

#65: The Logics of Datafication, Algorithms, and Artificial Intelligence, with Dr. Jakob Svensson

Dr. Jakob Svensson, Associate Professor in Media and Communication at Malmö University, guests to share his research on the logics that drive how digital media operate. We discuss how algorithms and datafication are shaped by developers, and the types of biases that can occur as a result. We also talk about the political implications of artificial intelligence.

The two studies referenced in the episode are:

Study 1 (2015): The Emergence of Network Media Logic in Political Communication: A Theoretical Approach

Study 2 (2018): The End of Media Logics? On Algorithms and Agency

#64: Platform API Lockouts, Occupy Wall Street, and Transnational Activism, with Dr. Dan Mercea and Dr. Shawn Walker

Dr. Dan Mercea, Senior Lecturer in Sociology at City University of London, and Dr. Shawn Walker, Assistant Professor in Social and Behavioral Sciences in the New College at Arizona State University, guests to discuss the current state of social media research in an environment where researcher are “Locked Out” of access to platform APIs. We also talk about how social media is used in protest movements, particularly Dr. Walker’s work on Occupy Wall Street and Dr. Mercea’s work on transnational serial activists.

#63: Brexit Botnets and Hyperpartisan News Sharing on Twitter, with Dr. Marco Bastos

Dr. Marco Bastos, Senior Lecturer in Media and Communications at City University of London, discusses his research on Twitter bots and botnets in the 2016 Brexit Referendum. We talk about how to identify bots on Twitter, what these bots were sharing, and how the content they share on social media relates to the activity of human users. Later in the episode, we discuss the ethics behind researching bots and whether recent automated account crackdowns by Facebook and Twitter will improve political debates on social media.

The studies we discussed in the episode are:

The Brexit Botnet and User-Generated Hyperpartisan News

The Public Accountability of Social Platforms: Lessons from a Study on Bots and Trolls in the Brexit Campaign

#60: Political Polarization, Social Media, and News Use in the United States, with Dr. Galen Stocking

Dr. Galen Stocking, Computational Social Scientist at Pew Research Center, discusses political polarization and how it relates to social media use. We take a deep dive into how Pew Research Center measures polarization empirically, how polarization has changed over time, and how widening partisan gaps relate to citizens’ traditional and social media habits. Dr. Stocking also discusses the role of computational methods in survey research, using one of his recent studies on media sources shared on Twitter during immigration debates as a case. We also talk about Reddit, which has a relatively low user base in the United States compared to other social media platforms. Yet, Dr. Stocking’s research has uncovered that Reddit users are highly active in consuming news on the site.

Pew Research Center sources cited in the episode:

Graphic Illustration of Political Polarization 1994-2017

Political Polarization and Media Habits (2014)

Sources Shared on Twitter: A Case Study of Immigration (2018)

News Use across Social Media (2018)

Dr. Stocking’s study on Reddit (2016)

#57: The 2018 Swedish Elections and Social Media, with Dr. Anamaria Dutceac Segesten

Dr. Anamaria Dutceac Segesten, Senior Lecturer in European Studies at Lund University, guests to discuss the 2018 Swedish Elections and social media’s role in it. We break down the election results and talk about what it means for Sweden as well as the European Union.

Here are the links to the studies discussed in the episode:

Moe & Larsson’s 2014 study on Swedish politicians’ Facebook use

Jakob Svensson’s study on Swedish campaigning between elections

Kragh & Åsberg’s study on Russian disinformation via Facebook in Sweden

ComProp’s study of “junk news” during the Swedish election

#56: Facebook Ad Targeting in the 2017 British General Election, with Dr. Nick Anstead

Dr. Nick Anstead, Associate Professor in Media and Communications at the LSE, guests to discuss his new research on British parties’ Facebook ad targeting during the 2017 election. Using a data from the Chrome browser created by Who Targets Me, Dr. Anstead and his team compare the content, tone, personalization, and calls to action used in these ads. We discuss the findings of that study, as well as outline three challenges for academics studying Facebook ad targeting moving forward: the epistemological, the conceptual, and the systematic.

Read the full study here!

#55: Anti-Social Media: Does Facebook Undermine Democracy?, with Dr. Siva Vaidhyanathan

Dr. Siva Vaidhyanathan, Professor of Media Studies at the University of Virginia, joins the podcast to discuss his new book “Anti-Social Media: How Facebook Disconnects Us and Undermines Democracy” (Oxford University Press). We discuss the impact of Facebook, Google, and other tech platforms on politics and society. We also examine the ideologies of Silicon Valley executives, how their technologies are used around the globe, and look ahead to why smart speakers are increasingly becoming the battleground for FANG companies.

#53: Computational Social Science and Digital Methods in the Post-API Era, with Dr. Deen Freelon

Dr. Deen Freelon, Assoicate Professor in the School of Media and Journalism at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, discusses how researcher collect and analyze social media data to study politics. We talk about Facebook’s recent API shut-down, the new Social Science One initiative, differences between Python and R programming languages, and one of his recent reports analyzing how minority communities engage with news on Twitter.

#48: Cyberattacks on Social Media: Spear Phishing, Trolling, and Disinformation, with Dr. Arun Vishwanath

Dr. Arun Vishwanath, Associate Professor of Communication at the University of Buffalo, shares his expertise on how social media are used to conduct cyberattacks. We discuss the three key tactics that state-sponsored actors use to undermine trust in American democracy: spear phishing, trolling, and disinformation. We delve into Dr. Vishwanath’s research exploring what factors predict users’ likelihood to accept a false friend request on Facebook, what implications these types of attacks have for national security, as well discuss what governments are trying to do to stop these attacks.

#40: 2017 Year in Review: Social Media and Politics, with Dr. Anamaria Dutceac Segesten

Dr. Anamaria Dutceac Segesten, Assistant Professor in European Studies and Lund University, returns to the podcast to recap the biggest trends in social media and politics from 2017. We discuss social media’s transnationalization potential, the most shared content this year on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, as well as phishing cyberattacks and chatbots.

Here are the year in review reports from Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.