Academics

#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 & ├ůsberg’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.

#39: Data, Democracy, and the Role of Technology in Politics, with Dr. Daniel Kreiss

Dr. Daniel Kreiss, Associate Professor at the School of Media and Journalism at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, joins the podcast to discuss the role of data, social media, and technology in contemporary electoral campaigning. We discuss Dr. Kreiss’ recent book, Prototype Politics, and dig into how Republicans and Democrats have built up their data infrastructures over time. We talk about the relationships between campaigns and representatives at tech firms like Facebook, Google, and Twitter, Russian intervention in US democracy, and whether regulation from governments is needed in this space moving forward.

#38: Algorithms, Social Media, and Society, with Dr. Thore Husfeldt

Dr. Thore Husfeldt, Associate Professor in computer science at IT University of Copenhagen and Professor in computer science and Lund University, is an algorithms theorist who joins the show to discuss the implications of algorithms for politics and society. We discuss how the algorithms of Facebook and Google have developed over time, how machine learning works, the upcoming European General Data Protection Regulation, and what all this means for democracy, politics, and society.

Check out the CAST IT podcast, hosted by Dr. Husfeldt.

Dr. Husfeldt’s talk on algorithms mentioned in the episode.

 

#36: Cloaked Facebook Pages, Hate Profiles, and Propaganda, with Johan Farkas

Johan Farkas, Lecturer and Researcher at the IT University of Copenhagen, joins the show to discuss his research on “cloaked Facebook pages” that spread propaganda through false identities. We talk about how cloaked Facebook pages have been used in Denmark to spread hate speech about Muslims, how a Facebook group of activists formed to combat these accounts by reporting them to Facebook, and what Facebook’s response to the reports actually was. We also get into fake news and post-truth democracy in the age of social media, and why these terms might not best describe the current media environment.