SMaPP: Social Media and Political Participation

 

About SMaPP

The spectacular scientific opportunities afforded by the use of social media are readily apparent when we consider the richness and precision of data on participation in elections, protests, riots, and other spontaneous political events. We are constructing comprehensive data sets of incoming and outgoing social media messages using systematically structured formats that are ideally suited to machine learning methods. We plan to integrate information on social network connectivity and a vast array of metadata on individuals and their social contacts. By developing new methods to harvest and combine these data sources effectively, it will be possible to transform the scientific study of social and political attitudes and behavior.

Every time individuals use social media, they leave behind a digital footprint of what was communicated, when it was communicated, and, to whom it was communicated. Typically, such precise estimates of these variables are available only to laboratory investigators working in artificial settings. To our knowledge, no previous research team has successfully used fine-grained social influence data such as these to predict consequential behavioral outcomes, such as attendance at a given protest or rally or the casting of a vote in an election. We are also conducting panel surveys, which are essential for drawing causal inferences about the cognitive and motivational processes whereby social media use facilitates political participation.

Our overarching goal is to forge an interdisciplinary collaboration that examines the impact of social media on political behavior by iterating through stages of model development, testing, refinement, and validation. First, from social psychology and political science we derive fundamental hypotheses about how, why, and when social media affects citizens’ cognitions and motivations with respect to political participation. Second, we express these questions as empirically testable hypotheses derived from behavioral models (e.g., with quantitative response and predictor variables). And third, drawing from biology and computer science we adapt sophisticated computational methods of approximate inference and machine learning (adapting methods developed for the analysis of Systems Biology data) to evaluate our behavioral models using extremely large social media and social network datasets.

Who We Are:  The SMaPP Laboratory was co-founded by four Principle Investigators (Rich Bonneau, John Jost, Jonathan Nagler, and Joshua A. Tucker) from Political Science, Psychology, Computer Science and Biology, and also includes contains post-docs, data scientists, graduate research associates and affiliated faculty collaborators. For a full list of SMaPP personnel see our People Page.
 

SMaPP-Global: See as well the website of SMaPP-Global, an international collection of scholars studying social media and politics affiliated with the SMaPP lab and supported by the NYU Global Institute of Advanced Study.  SMaPP-Global holds bi-annual conferences at NYU-NY (in the fall) and at NYU global sites (in the spring).


Latest SMaPP Publications

Sanovich, Sergey, Denis Stukal, and  Joshua A. Tucker. 2017. Turning the Virtual Tables: Government Strategies for Addressing Online Opposition with an Application to RussiaComparative Politics 50(3): 435-54. (Includes Online Appendix).
Jost, J. T., Barberá P., Bonneau R., Langer M., Metzger M., Nagler J., Sterling J., Tucker J.T. 2018. “How Social Media Facilitates Political Protest: Information, Motivation, and Social Networks”. Advances in Political Psychology, 39(S1): 85-118.
Denis Stukal, Sergey Sanovich, Richard Bonneau, and Joshua A. Tucker. 2017. “Detecting Bots on Russian Political Twitter.”Big Data 5(4): 310-324. (Special Issue on Computational Propaganda)
Siegel, Alexandra. 2018. “Twitter Wars: Sunni-Shia Conflict and Cooperation in the Digital Age”. In Frederic Wehrey, Beyond Sunni and Shia: The Roots of Sectarianism in a Changing Middle East  (pp. 157-180). London: Hurst Publishers.
Siegel, Alexandra and Joshua A. Tucker. 2018. “The Islamic State’s Information Warfare: Measuring the Success of ISIS’ Online Strategy”.  Journal of Language and Politics (Forthcoming).

SMaPP in the Media

PBS quotes Joshua Tucker in article about electoral college reform – By Kamala Kelkar
Why don’t Trump voters feel betrayed? Because they’re getting what they wanted – By Jan Zilinsky and Joshua Tucker on the Monkey Cage/Washington Post
Sergey Sanovich quoted in Vice News article regarding the the use of Youtube by Putin’s political opponents – By Greg Walters
Wired quotes Joshua Tucker on how Twitter uniquely affects the spread of information during political campaigns – By Alexis Sobel Fitts
Joshua Tucker quoted in US News opinion piece on Twitter’s role in protests – by James Warren
Research into Russian propaganda on social media by Joshua Tucker, Denis Stukal, and Sergey Sanovich is profiled in the Wall Street Journal – by Georgia Wells and Robert McMillan 
Research into Russian propaganda on social media by Sergey Sanovich is profiled in La Tribune – by Gregoire Normand
Sergey Sanovich quoted in La Repubblica on his research into Russian propaganda on social media – by Simone Cosimi
Sergey Sanovich’s research on Russian propaganda on social media is outlined by Salon – by Matthew Rosza
Sergey Sanovich’s research on Russian propaganda on social media is outlined in The Guardian – by Alex Hern
Joshua Tucker quoted in Deutche Welle (DW) story on add buys on Facebook from “inauthentic”, possibly Russian, sources – by Michael Knigge
Washington Post explanation of how Twitter could be used to understand Brexit- by Joshua Tucker and Alexandra Siegel
Kevin Munger’s research on reducing racial harassment online feature in New York Magazine article by Jesse Singal
Joshua Tucker quoted in New York Times story on social media and protest – by Alan Rappeport and Nick Corasaniti
SMaPP lab research featured in Economist special report on Technology and Politics
Washington Post breakdown of Twitter’s role in spreading sectarian animus- by Alexandra Siegel
Al-Modon discussion of Alexandra Siegel’s Carnegie paper on Sunni-Shia sectarianism in the digital age- by Batoul Khalil
Washington Post analysis of global response to Paris terror attacks- by Alexandra Siegel
Washington Post explanation of Twitter use during the Egyptian elections- by Alexandra Siegel
Washington Post article on the Republican presidential debate- by Joshua Tucker
Bloomberg View retrospective on coverage of the Democratic debate- by Jonathan Bernstein
Washington Post analyis of Twitter use during the Democratic debate- by Andy Guess, Jonathan Nagler and Joshua Tucker
Washington Post breakdown of Rubio’s role in the Republican debate- by Andy Guess, Jonathan Nagler and Joshua Tucker
Washington Post read on Kasich’s performance in the Republican debate- by Andy Guess, Jonathan Nagler and Joshua Tucker
Sacramento Bee article on the Missouri protests, with an interview with Joshua Tucker- by Lisa Gutierrez
NJ.com analysis of the role of social media on campus protests — by Tim Darragh
Association for Psychological Science profile’s SMaPP research into partisanship on Twitter – by Pablo Barbera
Politico article on Jeb Bush, with an interview with Josh Tucker- by Daniel J. McGraw
Newsweek opinion piece exploring the way illiberal regimes use social media- by Kevin Munger
Monkey Cage consideration of the true impact of social media on protest – by Josh Tucker
New York Times discussion of work by Pablo Barberá and the role of social media in political polarization – by Claire Cain Miller
Wired report on Pablo Barberá’s finding that social media reduces mass political polarization – by Katie Collins
Interview with Josh Tucker and Olga Onuch on LSE Ideas: “Social Media and Social Networks in the EuroMaidan Protests” (VIDEO)
Interview with Joshua Tucker on Ukraine and the work of the SMaPP lab: Voice of America: Press Conference USA – by Carol Castiel (Podcast)
Joshua Tucker on social media and the Ukraine protests in: Ukraine’s Social Media Revolution Years in the Making – by Cecily Hilleary (Voice of America)
Joshua Tucker on social media and the Ukraine protests in: Ukraine’s burning question: who’s in charge? – by Olivia Ward (Toronto Star)
Ukraine protests fueled by social media – by Marita Vlachou in Washington Square News
Tweeting the Revolution: Social Media Use and the #Euromaidan Protests – by Pablo Barbera and Megan Metzger in Huffington Post
Video of geolocated tweets in Istanbul during the protest
Is the White House Bypassing the Media on Gun Control?
Tweets in the Aftermath of the Newtown Tragedy
Tweeting tragedy: From prayer to politics – Initial emotional responses on Twitter gave way to a call for more political responses in the wake of Newtown massacre.