Social media research after the fake news debacle

Date Posted: May 27, 2019 Last Modified: May 27, 2019
Social media research after the fake news debacle Photo: Animated Heaven, Flickr

This paper seeks to reintroduce contemporary critiques of social media research as they gather prominence following the fake news debacle. The main effort behind this paper is to have a larger academic discussion about issues related to social media research, both in terms of using these platforms to collect data and the type of data that is collected. The author argues for alternatives in order to battle an oncoming crisis in the field of social media research. 

  • A vast majority of current research on social media is API-driven however with the ownership of these platforms in private corporations, researchers tend to end up keeping up with the changes in the way these platforms allow data to be collected for research. The paper argues that while alternatives like returning to digital ethnography, user studies and other small data research practices exist, researchers also need to look into critiquing API driven practices.
  • The rise of privatisation of data has led to most of these platforms like Facebook walling in users and content. This has led to a rise in inactivity within the non-governmental web.
  • There have been proposals like Trevor Scholz's "platform co-operativism" in order to change the online landscape which include changes at the ownership level.
  • Another alternative is the use of Scholarly Commons instead of using social media as a primary source of data. Researcher use of social media for academics is far more widespread than the use of alternatives like and