Archive of ‘social media’ category

social media for research

Using Social Media for Research – November 16
12:00 – 1:00 p.m.
1314 Social Sciences

Professor Lee-Ann Kastman Breuch (Writing Studies) and Michael Beckstrand (Mixed-Methods Research Associate, LATIS) will discuss how to retrieve, prepare, and analyze social media data for research projects. Using two case studies, Lee-Ann will share examples of a grounded theory analysis of blog, Twitter, and Facebook data.  Michael will speak about the technical aspects of retrieving and managing social media data. Pizza will be provided. Learn more and register here.
This event is part of the 2018-19 Research Development Friday Roundtable Series organized by the CLA Research Development Team.

Social media and Data Visualization

Workshop materials

Number of participants: 10
Prerequisites: None
Duration: 2 days




All workshop sessions will take place 9:00 a.m. – noon, with lab time and office hours 1:30 -3:30 p.m.

Tuesday, August 22

  • Introduction to web-scraping
  • Introduction to APIs
  • Facepager
  • Activities
  • Work & get help on your own projects

Wed, August 23

  • Recap
  • Introduction to OpenRefine
  • Cleaning social media data with OpenRefine
  • Analyzing/Visualizing the social media data
    • Atlas.TI
    • Voyant
    • Gephi

more on social media for research in this IMS blog

Russian Influence Operations on Twitter

Summary This short paper lays out an attempt to measure how much activity from Russian state-operated accounts released in the dataset made available by Twitter in October 2018 was targeted at the United Kingdom. Finding UK-related Tweets is not an easy task. By applying a combination of geographic inference, keyword analysis and classification by algorithm, we identified UK-related Tweets sent by these accounts and subjected them to further qualitative and quantitative analytic techniques.

We find:

 There were three phases in Russian influence operations : under-the-radar account building, minor Brexit vote visibility, and larger-scale visibility during the London terror attacks.

 Russian influence operations linked to the UK were most visible when discussing Islam . Tweets discussing Islam over the period of terror attacks between March and June 2017 were retweeted 25 times more often than their other messages.

 The most widely-followed and visible troll account, @TEN_GOP, shared 109 Tweets related to the UK. Of these, 60 percent were related to Islam .

 The topology of tweet activity underlines the vulnerability of social media users to disinformation in the wake of a tragedy or outrage.

 Focus on the UK was a minor part of wider influence operations in this data . Of the nine million Tweets released by Twitter, 3.1 million were in English (34 percent). Of these 3.1 million, we estimate 83 thousand were in some way linked to the UK (2.7%). Those Tweets were shared 222 thousand times. It is plausible we are therefore seeing how the UK was caught up in Russian operations against the US .

 Influence operations captured in this data show attempts to falsely amplify other news sources and to take part in conversations around Islam , and rarely show attempts to spread ‘fake news’ or influence at an electoral level.

On 17 October 2018, Twitter released data about 9 million tweets from 3,841 blocked accounts affiliated with the Internet Research Agency (IRA) – a Russian organisation founded in 2013 and based in St Petersburg, accused of using social media platforms to push pro-Kremlin propaganda and influence nation states beyond their borders, as well as being tasked with spreading pro-Kremlin messaging in Russia. It is one of the first major datasets linked to state-operated accounts engaging in influence operations released by a social media platform.


This report outlines the ways in which accounts linked to the Russian Internet ResearchAgency (IRA) carried out influence operations on social media and the ways their operationsintersected with the UK.The UK plays a reasonably small part in the wider context of this data. We see two possibleexplanations: either influence operations were primarily targeted at the US and British Twitterusers were impacted as collate, or this dataset is limited to US-focused operations whereevents in the UK were highlighted in an attempt to impact US public, rather than a concertedeffort against the UK. It is plausible that such efforts al so existed but are not reflected inthis dataset.Nevertheless, the data offers a highly useful window into how Russian influence operationsare carried out, as well as highlighting the moments when we might be most vulnerable tothem.Between 2011 and 2016, these state-operated accounts were camouflaged. Through manualand automated methods, they were able to quietly build up the trappings of an active andwell-followed Twitter account before eventually pivoting into attempts to influence the widerTwitter ecosystem. Their methods included engaging in unrelated and innocuous topics ofconversation, often through automated methods, and through sharing and engaging withother, more mainstream sources of news.Although this data shows levels of electoral and party-political influence operations to berelatively low, the day of the Brexit referendum results showed how messaging originatingfrom Russian state-controlled accounts might come to be visible on June 24th 2016, we believe UK Twitter users discussing the Brexit Vote would have encountered messages originating from these accounts.As early as 2014, however, influence operations began taking part in conversations aroundIslam, and these accounts came to the fore during the three months of terror attacks thattook place between March and June 2017. In the immediate wake of these attacks, messagesrelated to Islam and circulated by Russian state-operated Twitter accounts were widelyshared, and would likely have been visible in the UK.The dataset released by Twitter begins to answer some questions about attempts by a foreignstate to interfere in British affairs online. It is notable that overt political or electoralinterference is poorly represented in this dataset: rather, we see attempts at stirring societaldivision, particularly around Islam in the UK, as the messages that resonated the most overthe period.What is perhaps most interesting about this moment is its portrayal of when we as socialmedia users are most vulnerable to the kinds of messages circulated by those looking toinfluence us. In the immediate aftermath of terror attacks, the data suggests, social mediausers were more receptive to this kind of messaging than at any other time.

It is clear that hostile states have identified the growth of online news and social media as aweak spot, and that significant effort has gone into attempting to exploit new media toinfluence its users. Understanding the ways in which these platforms have been used tospread division is an important first step to fighting it.Nevertheless, it is clear that this dataset provides just one window into the ways in whichforeign states have attempted to use online platforms as part of wider information warfare
and influence campaigns. We hope that other platforms will follow Twitter’s lead and release
similar datasets and encourage their users to proactively tackle those who would abuse theirplatforms.

more on cybersecurity in this IMS blog

WhatsApp and fake news

The three types of WhatsApp users getting Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro elected

Opinion | Fake News Is Poisoning Brazilian Politics. WhatsApp …

Facebook’s WhatsApp flooded with fake news in Brazil election

Viral WhatsApp Hoaxes Are India’s Own Fake News Crisis

Misinformation and political propaganda in the world’s largest democracy often go undetected — until they have brutal real-world impact.

WhatsApp fights fake news with Indian newspaper ads

The push follows the lynching of five men over fake messages.

more on fake news and social media in this IMS blog


Xu Zhang. (2017). The Quality of Virtual Communities: A Case Study of Chinese Overseas Students in WeChat Groups. Global Studies Journal, 10(3), 19–26.
p. 23-24.
“Netnography” has been developed for online community researchers. It is “net” plus “ethnography,” which is based on the traditional ethnography and combines with the qualitative analysis for online interactive contents forms of virtual community members. The aim of doing netnographic research is to study the subculture, interactive process and characteristics of collective behaviors of online communities (Kozinets 2009). Follow the development of Internet technology, the web–based method is more convenient and cost–effect in data collection. Members in virtual groups create a large number of interactive texts, pictures, network expressions and other original information over time, which provides an extremely rich database to researchers. Moreover, from the data collection’s point of view, this online observation method will not interfere with the whole research process, which is better than questionnaires and quantitative modeling (Moisander and Valtonen 2006). Additionally, Kozinets (2009) also pointed that netnogrpahy emphasize on the research background, observers not only focus on the text during communications but also need to pay attention to the characteristics of language, history, meaning and communication types. Even parse fonts, symbols, images and photo data. These content of studies are significant in social communication, which is called “Cultural Artifact.” On the other hand, netnography is based on traditional ethnography as a methodology; therefore it inherits the research processes of ethnographic method. Kozients (2009) reinterpreted these procedures for netnography as Firstly, to determine the research target and understand its cultural characteristics; Secondly, to collect and analyze information; Thirdly, to ensure the credibility of interpretation; Fourthly, pay attention to research ethics; Lastly, to obtain respondents feedbacks. To make my research adapting to this guidelines, I make my research process as 1. To target on Plymouth Chinese overseas students and to explain the Chinese guanxi; 2. To collect and analyze data through the existing WeChat group created by Plymouth Chinese Students and Scholars Association (CSSA); 3. To confirm the identity of key influencers in this virtual group; 4. To get feedbacks from respondent as much as possible.

What is Netnography from Harrison Hayes, LLC

Design social media images

How to Easily Design Social Media Images: 4 Free Tools

October 3, 2018

Preview Text Styles With One Touch via Adobe Spark

  • Adobe Spark is part of Adobe’s suite of creative products, bringing social media image and video creation to the web.

remove the Adobe Spark watermark with a paid Adobe Spark plan or Creative Cloud subscription, both starting at $9.99 a month.

  • Design Basic Social Media Images Quickly With Pablo

    Pablo by Buffer is a no-frills online image editor that lets you make basic social media images in seconds. So while it doesn’t have some of the features of other image editors on this list, it works in a pinch. This tool is free to use without registration, making it perfect for when you or your team needs to create a quick image. My note: not on mobiles yet, only desktop

  • Design Automatically Resizable Social Media Images With Snappa

    Snappa is a user-friendly online image maker that has templates for every social media network. In addition to social post templates, it offers banner, story, and infographic templates. This makes Snappa your one-stop shop for creating all sorts of social media content.

  • Add Simple Data Visualization Charts to Social Media Images in CanvaCanva is a free online image editor with a huge library of free templates and royalty-free images. The app has built-in templates for all of the major social networks, and you can even post directly to your social media accounts from the app.

more on social media images in this IMS blog

WeChat and blog combining social media

Parallel running of two social media from different countries: WeChat and blog for international students

Our work with Chinese students from the Confucius Institute (CI) at St. Cloud State University (SCSU) shed light on an interesting development: in the last several years, the popular Chinese social media platform WeChat dominates the social life of Chinese people, Chinese students in particular.

WeChat, like WhatsApp in Europe, Vkontakte in Russia, Weibo in China, or before its 2014 Orkut in Brazil ( seeks to create its own users’ momentum, and no differently from Facebook, expand that membership momentum from the host country to a global dominance (;  more citation comes here).

Based on the WeChat affinity of the Chinese students at the SCSU CI program, the program organizers faced difficulty applying other social media platforms, as part of the curricula of the host country. Namely, blog, as one of the widely used SM platform for creative writing (citation comes here), was contemplated as a SM platform for the Chinese students to journal their experience at the SCSU CI program. Since WeChat behaves rather like Facebook and Snapchat, the lack of opportunity to utilize widely available platform for rather lengthy narration (versus SMS/texting abilitis of Twitter and WeChat) convince the SCSU CI program organizers to seek the buy in by Chinese students into the blog initiative.

Pang (2018) builds a theory based on Ellison (2007) theory of “maintained social capital,” namely the ability of individuals to maintain values of social ties when geographically disconnected. Ping (2018) further narrows her research on Chinese students in Germany using Li and Chen (2014) findings about Ellison’s theory on students in a foreign environment and the necessity for these students to build a new circle of friends in the host country. According to Basilisco an Cha (2015), such environment was provided for Filipino students by using Facebook and Twitter.


2012 – The Most Favourable Mobile Messaging Apps among II.pdf. (n.d.). Retrieved from
Agur, C., Belair-Gagnon, V., & Frish, N. (2018). Mobile sourcing: A case study of journalistic norms and usage of chat apps. Mobile Meida and Communication, 6(1), 53–70. 10.1177/2050157917725549
Borgerson, J. L. (2016). Scalable Sociality and 'How the World Changed Social Media': conversation with Daniel Miller. Consumption, Markets & Culture.
Chen, Y. (2017). WeChat use among Chinese college students: Exploring gratifications and political engagement in China. Journal of International and Intercultural Communication, 10(1), 25–43.
de Seta, G. (n.d.-a). Old people’s emoticons and generational distinction: Chinese families on social media. Retrieved from
de Seta, G. (n.d.-b). The infrastracturalization of Chinese digital platforms: A case study of WeChat. Retrieved from
Deng, S. (n.d.). A history and analysis of CALA's social media. Retrieved from
Gu, B., & Wang, X. B. (2015). The Communication Design of WeChat: Ideological as Well as Technical Aspects of Social Media. Communication Design Quarterly, 4(1). Retrieved from
Guo, L. (2017). WeChat as a Semipublic Alternative Sphere: Exploring the Use of WeChat Among Chinese Older Adults. International Journal of Communication, 21(11). Retrieved from
Mao – 2014 – Friends and Relaxation Key Factors of Undergradua.pdf. (n.d.). Retrieved from
Mao, C. (2014). Friends and Relaxation: Key Factors of Undergraduate Students’ WeChat Using. Creative Education, 05(08), 636–640.
Marian, R. (1916). Wechat comparison with its western competitors. University of Edinburgh Business School. Retrieved from
Masi, V. D. (n.d.). The world of the Chinese apps and their influence on the new generation. Retrieved from
Odini, L. (n.d.). Can WeChat become a world-beating app? Retrieved from
Pang – 2016 – Understanding key factors affecting young people’s.pdf. (n.d.). Retrieved from’s_WeChat_usage_An_empirical_study_from_uses_and_gratifications_perspective/links/587f3f9508aed3826af5bafd/Understanding-key-factors-affecting-young-peoples-WeChat-usage-An-empirical-study-from-uses-and-gratifications-perspective.pdf
Pang, H. (2016). Understanding key factors affecting young people’s WeChat usage: an empirical study from uses and gratifications perspective. International Journal of Web Based Communities, 12(3), 262.
Pang, H. (2018). Understanding the effects of WeChat on perceived social capital and psychological well-being among Chinese international college students in Germany. Aslib Journal of Information Management, 70(3), 288–304. 10.1108/AJIM-01-2018-0003
Proksell, M., & Seta, G. de. (n.d.). A cabinet of moments: Collecting and displaying visual content from WeChat. Membrana. Retrieved from
Ranjan, R. (2017, July 26). In China, social media is shaping the public discourse on Doklam stand-off A peek into the discussions on Weibo and WeChat. China Online. Retrieved from
Ruan, L. Y., Knockel, J., Ng, J., & Crete-Nishihata, M. (n.d.). One App, Two Systems: How WeChat uses one censorship policy in China and another internationally. Retrieved from
Run Zhi Zhu – 2015 – The Influence of Social Media on Sleep Quality A .pdf. (n.d.). Retrieved from
Run Zhi Zhu, X. L. X. (2015). The Influence of Social Media on Sleep Quality: A Study of Undergraduate Students in Chongqing, China. Journal of Nursing & Care, 04(03).
Seta, G. de. (n.d.). Biaoqing: The circulation of emoticons, emoji, stickers, and custom images on Chinese digital media platforms. First Monday. Retrieved from
Sun, S. (2017). Enhancing International Students' Engagement via Social Media – A Case Study of WeChat and Chinese Students at a UK University. In INTED Proceedings. Valencia, Spain. Retrieved from
The Most Favourable Mobile Messaging Apps among IIUM Students. (2012), 3(12), 6.
Unpacking and describing interaction on Chinese WeChat: A methodological approach. (n.d.). Retrieved October 21, 2018, from
Wang et al. – 2016 – Exploring the affordances of WeChat for facilitati.pdf. (n.d.). Retrieved from
Wang, Y., Fang, W.-C., Han, J., & Chen, N.-S. (2016). Exploring the affordances of WeChat for facilitating teaching, social and cognitive presence in semi-synchronous language exchange. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology.
Wei, H., & Ke, L. (2014). “New Weapons” of Ideological and Political Education in Universities—WeChat. SHS Web of Conferences, 6, 04001.

The Young and the Digital

Watkins, S. C. (2009). The Young and the Digital: What the Migration to Social-network Sites, Games, and Anytime, Anywhere Media Means for Our Future. Beacon Press.

Book review

The young and the digital: What migration to social-networking sites, games, and anytime, anywhere media means for our future, by S. Craig Watkins

p. 1 Digital Migration: young people’s historic move to the online world
p. 8 broadband adoption in 2005-6. p. 9 before broadband, Internet was more textual then visual. p. 11 broadband more then just expand technical capabilities paved the way for profund behavioral shifts and social transformation
Broadband did not create radically new online activities. But expand a relatively small collection of early adopting technophiles into a massive but highly differentiated public of netizens, world builders, blogger, gamers, social networkers, content creators

p. 19 Social Media 101 what schools are learning about themselves and young technology users.
p. 20 DOPA (the Delete Online Predators Act), p. 21 brought the elimination of most interactive web applications from public schools and libraries. Social-Web enthusiasts strongly opposed DOPA. ALA also.
p. 24 MacArthur Foundation’s white paper: Living and Learning with New Media”
p. 30 NTIA National Telecommunications and Information Administration
p. 36 mother allowed her teenage daughter to use Facebook. The one caveat: the mother would be able to access her daughter’s profile. A common practice. A mother of a fifteen year old boy who recently started using FB occasionally looks at his page. 2007 Pew writes that “41% of today’s teens believe that their parents monitor them after they’ve gone online.” This is not unusual.
p. 41 schools cannot punish for what happened at home. But what about what happened online? Referring to social media: when kids get into disagreements via FB, it often spills over into the schools.
p. 44 sexting.
p. 47 the very well connected: friending, bonding and community in the digital age
p. 52 Malcolm Wiley and Stuart Rice 1933 argued that technology such as the automobile and telephone hastened the unraveling of the social fabric of the American life.
p. 72 phatic exchanges. Vetere, Howward and Gibbs. Brief but sencere. Katz James E and Mark Aakhus call “perpetual contact.”
p. 75 Digital Gates
How race and class distinctions are shaping the digital world
dana boyd 2007 article “Viewing American Class Divisions through FB and MySpace.”
p. 77 Hargittai Facebook is more white then MySpace.
p. 99 television and social network sites represent two fundamentally different kinds of mediated experiences. Whereas television is about watching and consuming, SNS are primarily about doing and sharing.
p. 100 Paul Eastwick and Wendi Gardner – the virtual world may not prove to be a perfect utopian gateway from the real world.
p. 103 We Play: the allure of social games, synthetic worlds and secnd lives.
p. 106 a growing number of young men are turning to interactive entertainment like games rather than television and movies as their first source for leisure and a desired choice for social interaction with their friends.
p. 131 heavy users of virtual worlds differ from the 68% of young people, who believe that online-only relationships can be as fulfilling as off-line relationships. Synthetic world users are much more likely to believe that online relationships can be just as fulfilling as off-line relationships.
p. 133 Hooked Rethinking the Internet addition debate
p. 134 valid mental disorder. Journal of American Psychiatry 2007 – Internet Addiction Disorder (IAD) for DSM-IV. P. 136 some of the problems researchers


more about youth teenagers and social media in this IMS blog

student centered social media policies

How to Craft Useful, Student-Centered Social Media Policies

By Tanner Higgin  08/09/18

Whether your school or district has officially adopted social media or not, conversations are happening in and around your school on everything from Facebook to Snapchat. Schools must reckon with this reality and commit to supporting thoughtful and critical social media use among students, teachers and administrators. If not, schools and classrooms risk everything from digital distraction to privacy violations.

Key Elements to Include in a Social Media Policy

  • Create parent opt-out forms that specifically address social media use.Avoid blanket opt-outs that generalize all technology or obfuscate how specific social media platforms will be used. (See this example by the World Privacy Forum as a starting point.)
    • Use these opt-out forms as a way to have more substantive conversations with parents about what you’re doing and why.
    • Describe what platforms are being used, where, when and how.
    • Avoid making the consequences of opt-out selections punitive (e.g., student participation in sports, theater, yearbook, etc.).
  • Establish baseline guidelines for protecting and respecting student privacy.
    • Prohibit the sharing of student faces.
    • Restrict location sharing: Train teachers and students on how to turn off geolocation features/location services on devices as well as in specific apps.
    • Minimize information shared in teacher’s social media profiles: Advise teachers to list only grade level and subject in their public profiles and not to include specific school or district information.
  • Make social media use transparent to students: Have teachers explain their social media plan, and find out how students feel about it.
  • Most important: As with any technology, attach social media use to clearly articulated goals for student learning. Emphasize in your guidelines that teachers should audit any potential use of social media in terms of student-centered pedagogy: (1) Does it forward student learning in a way impossible through other means? and (2) Is using social media in my best interests or in my students’?

Moving from Policy to Practice.

Social media policies, like policies in general, are meant to mitigate the risk and liability of institutions rather than guide and support sound pedagogy and student learning. They serve a valuable purpose, but not one that impacts classrooms. So how do we make these policies more relevant to classrooms?

First, it forces policy to get distilled into what impacts classroom instruction and administration. Second, social media changes monthly, and it’s much easier to update a faculty handbook than a policy document. Third, it allows you to align social media issues with other aspects of teaching (assessment, parent communication, etc.) versus separating it out in its own section.

more on social media in education in this IMS blog

more on social media policies in this IMS blog

1 2 3 44