Analyzing Social Media From A User-eye View With PIEGraph



Deen Freelon

Date and Time

November 16, 2021 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM

Deen Freelon photo along with flyer for event

Join us on November 16th for “Analyzing Social Media From A User-eye View With PIEGraph” from 12 - 1 PM PT featuring Deen Freelon, associate professor at the UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media at the University of North Carolina. This session will be moderated by Jeff Hancock, founding director of the Stanford Social Media Lab and is organized by the Cyber Policy Center’s Program on Democracy and the Internet and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation’s Cyber Initiative. 

Quantitative social media research has traditionally been conducted from what might be called a platform-centric view, wherein researchers sample, collect, and analyzed data based on one or more topic- or user-specific keywords. Such studies have yielded many valuable insights, but they convey little about individual users’ tailored social media environments—what Professor Freelon calls the user-eye view. Studies that investigate social media from a user-eye view tend to be rare because of the expense involved and a limited number of suitable tools. This talk introduces PIEGraph, a novel system for user-eye view research that offers key advantages over existing systems. PIEGraph is lightweight, scalable, open-source, OS-independent, and collects data viewable from mobile and desktop interfaces directly from APIs. The system incorporates an extensible tagging taxonomy that allows for straightforward classification of a wide range of political, social, and cultural phenomena. The presentation will focus on how Professor Freelon’s research team is using PIEGraph to examine users’ potential levels of exposure to high- and low-quality information sources across the ideological spectrum.


Deen Freelon is an associate professor at the UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media at the University of North Carolina and a principal researcher at the Center for Information, Technology, and Public Life (CITAP). His theoretical interests address how ordinary citizens use social media and other digital communication technologies for political purposes, paying particular attention to how identity characteristics (e.g. race, gender, ideology) influence these uses. Methodologically, he is interested in how computational research techniques can be used to answer some of the most fundamental questions of communication science. Freelon has worked at the forefront of political communication and computational social science for over a decade, coauthoring some of the first communication studies to apply computational methods to social media data. 

Jeff Hancock is the founding director of the Stanford Social Media Lab and is Harry and Norman Chandler Professor of Communication at Stanford University. Professor Hancock and his group work on understanding psychological and interpersonal processes in social media. The team specializes in using computational linguistics and experiments to understand how the words we use can reveal psychological and social dynamics, such as deception and trust, emotional dynamics, intimacy and relationships, and social support. Recently Professor Hancock has begun work on understanding the mental models people have about algorithms in social media, as well as working on the ethical issues associated with computational social science.


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