Digital and Social Media

Permanent URI for this community

Digital and social media have established their importance to society, being an important venue for work and play, entertainment and education, news and politics. Streamed music and video have replaced physical media such as CDs or DVDs. Email, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram are preferred modes of contact and have even emerged as venues for announcing policy. Online information sources compete with and threaten traditional news media, with profound societal impact. The COVID–19 crisis only accelerated these on-going trends. Understanding these developments and their implications is thus a critical challenge for researchers and the public.

To address this challenge, the Digital and Social Media (DSM) track covers a broad range of topics, disciplines and approaches, bringing together researchers to share and discuss cutting-edge research. This year, the track includes 51 papers organized into 11 minitracks.

Four minitracks gather research on different types of digital or social media.

Mediated Conversation: studies of digitally-persistent conversation and its implications for diverse forms of human interaction; that raises new socio-technical, ethical, pedagogical, linguistic and social questions; and that suggests new methods, perspectives, and design approaches for these systems. The nine papers in this minitrack cover topics ranging from how collaborations with non-journalistic partners may be altering the mission of journalistic organizations, the use of emojis in political campaign communications and impact of politeness on conversational outcomes in mobile dating apps.

Games and Gaming: digital games and sociality, e.g., papers investigating sociability, social practices, communities, use of social affordances or other related social dimensions. The six papers in this minitrack explore a range of topics, such as how platform tools for discoverability and moderation influence female Twitch streamers’ presentations of themselves as game players, young children’s information needs and their seeking and discovery behaviors while playing a Switch game and personality configurations explaining high or low cheating intention in games.

Streaming Media in Entertainment: fosters understanding of the production and usage of, and user participation in social live streaming services. The three papers in this minitrack identify motivations that satisfy the emotional needs of lurkers on video platforms and emotions promoting re-creation intentions, find difference in viewers’ online community engagement between YouTube and Bilibili, and present a content analysis of cover images on the Bilibili video-sharing platform.

Digital and Social Media in Enterprise: studies of the use of social media in organizations, along with the opportunities and challenges addressing issues related to the role of enterprise social media in work. The three papers in this minitrack address the challenges employees face in using Enterprise Social Media, effects of negative and positive wording within sustainability campaigns on social media and the role of different types of social media on the development of guanxi.

Three minitracks advance methodology for research on DSM.

Data Analytics, Data Mining and Machine Learning for Social Media: research that brings together DSM and data analytics, data mining and machine learning, including quantitative, theoretical and applied approaches. The eleven papers in this minitrack explore topics such as text mining of online doctor reviews to extract underlying sentiment scores, an analysis of the quality of investment advice from Reddit's WallStreetBets and an analysis of the impact of review depth on review helpfulness.

Digital Methods: methodological issues and approaches to conducting research with digital and social media data, e.g., new methods for data collection and analysis, dealing with the distinctive features of these data, approaches to data management. The two papers in this minitrack address the usefulness of online reviews from a configurational perspective and an application of epidemiological modeling to assess the effect of bots in disseminating opposing viewpoints related to COVID- 19 on Twitter.

Network Analysis of Digital and Social Media: research that uses network analysis to better understand DSM use, revealing the underlying structures and dynamic interactions among network components. The three papers in this minitrack develop a novel graph generative model, identify hidden communities of interest with topic-based networks of authors and examine the role of Twitter followers and followees in the adoption of innovations.

Finally, the papers in four minitracks examine a particular phenomenon or related phenomena as it or they unfold in the setting of DSM.

Decision Making in Online Social Networks: explores, extends and challenges existing knowledge of decision making in online social communities and networks. The three papers in this minitrack investigate the role of online social networks and communities in influencing arts and crafts hobbyists’ decisions, social contagion in churn in online physical activity challenges and factors affecting the effect of in-group favoritism on conformity behavior.

Human-centered Digital Privacy Solutions for Digital and Social Media: bridges the gap in privacy research between algorithmic development (automated decisionmaking systems, fair, accountable, and transparent systems) and human-centered approaches (usability studies, surveys, user interviews). The paper in this minitrack examines smartphone users’ privacy mental models.

Culture, Identity and Inclusion: interrogates how social media are being adopted in diverse communities and the new norms and practices that emerge from this use, with a focus on culture and identity. The seven papers in this minitrack address topics including the impact of race on experience on Tinder, resilience and communal empathy-building tactics in three professional development communities on Reddit and how cultural dimensions affect individuals’ smartphone addictive behavior.

Critical and Ethical Studies of Digital and Social Media: addresses two themes: 1) critical interrogations of the role of DSM in supporting existing power structures or realigning power for underrepresented or social marginalized groups, and 2) ethical issues associated with doing research on DSM. The three papers in this minitrack address ethical and power-based implications of conducting remote and participatory research in a refugee camp, social media content moderators’ mental models and support needs and human-machine configurations for data labelling in a Bangalore-based AI start-up.

Looking across the minitracks, the power of social media data for answering pressing social question is apparent in many of the papers. A welcome observation is the increasing diversity of social media platforms and real-world settings being studied. In sum, the track offers a home for research on diverse types of DSM, in diverse settings, with diverse methods and examining diverse phenomena, but joined by an interest in these novel media.

Kevin Crowston
School of Information Studies
Syracuse University