Social Media: A Force for Good or Evil?

Earlier this week I had the pleasure of hosting a debate at Sheffield Hallam University for charity, a part of 24 hours of debate. The topic of debate I selected was to look at whether social media had been a positive or negative invention. The attendees were mostly undergraduate students, so I was really interested to get their thoughts on this topic.

social media force for good or evil

Before kicking off the debate I broke down the current usage of social media such as:

Of an estimated global population of 7.524 billion – there are 3.028 billion total social media users (37% of the total population).
• That the average mobile phone user spends 2 hours on their phone a day, and touches their phone 2,617 times a day.

In order to have an informed debate I outlined some benefits of social media such as:

Ability to Connect: we now have the ability to connect with one another from across the world.

Used in Education: across academia social media is used for teaching and for scholarly communication.

Marketing: social media has created a number of jobs in a marketing context, and helped small business thrive.

 • Politics and Political Change: social media has been credited as being influential during political uprisings.

• Awareness: it is possible to rapidly raise awareness for causes. We can think of the Ice bucket challenge as an example of how social media can be used to raise awareness.

• Emergency and Crisis Situations: in times of crisis data from social media platforms can be leveraged, and this has the potential to save lives.

I also considered some of the limitations of social media such as:

• Cyberbullying / Mental Health: there is the issue of virtual bullying, and potential negative mental health among users.

• Hacking: there are a number of cases where identity theft has occurred, and this has had a disastrous effect on people’s lives. Private photographs can also be stolen.

• Addiction: social media platforms are designed to be addictive, and there may be people who are addicted to the platforms without knowing.

• Unknown effects: there could also be a number of unknown consequences of using social media platforms that we are not currently aware of.

After providing an overview of a number of strengthens and limitations I then looked to consider some questions to be debated which were as followed:

• Do the benefits of social media outweigh the limitations?

In the discussion some thought that the benefits of social media did outweigh the limitations whereas others thought the opposite. Overall, however, there was agreement that there were more benefits that social media platforms offered. Particularly in the ability to connect with one another, create events, and socialise. Though this answer could reflect the views of the audience discussing the topic i.e., undergraduate students.

• Is social media making us less social?

There appeared to be strong agreement that social media had made younger generations less social. Discussion would then turn to whether it is the role of parents to ensure children were not spending too much time on social media. This then lead on to discussions around the digital divide and how parents may not fully understand the risks of these platforms themselves to be able to keep on top of things.

• Has social media had a positive or negative effect on society?

There was disagreement but the overall consensus was that social media platforms were here to stay. Therefore, the delegates argued that there should be more regulation and guidance for children who may be using these platforms. There were also sentiments expressed by delegates noting that we probably do not know all of the effects social media has had among society.

• What effect have social media had on our mental health?

There was agreement that social media platforms had the potential to cause negative mental health among users. An example was provided of a case of private photographs of a teenager being spread around social media without their consent and the damage that this can cause. Some argued that the challenges posed by social media have always existed in society. Others argued that although this may be the case social media has increased the speed in which information can be spread.

• Have social media companies unfairly exploited our desire to connect with one another?

There was disagreement because some thought that social media companies had operated fairly and lawfully. Whereas others argued that the terms and conditions of social media platforms were so long that many were not reading them. Others thought that people should be reading the terms and conditions of social media platforms more regularly.

• Is social media going to change how people live their lives e.g., a comment made when young and naïve can come back to haunt.

There was disagreement among the delegates and one delegate suggested that comments made after a certain age e.g., 16 should be public knowledge for certain professions such as politics. However, this was not a popular view. Most thought that it would not be fair to judge someone for comments that they might make when they are young. The discussion then revolved around how it would be possible to educate younger generations more.

Overall it was an interesting discussion and a range of opinions were discussed. It appeared that the consensus was that social media, on the whole, had more good elements but that care was needed by younger generation using the platforms.

Earn a Certificate in Social Media Analysis from Boston University

Making Social Media Matter is back for Autumn 2017 and I can announce that this time around I am the opening keynote!  See my abstract below.

This talk provides an overview of a number of emerging social listening and digital engagement tools such as Visibrain, Audiense, Echosec, Social Elephants, NodeXL, and DiscoverText among others. It will provide an overview of a number of tools that are freely available to academic researchers such as Mozdeh, Chorus, TAGS, COSMOS, and Netlytic among others. The talk will highlight a number of different research methods that have been utilised by academic researchers, such as machine learning, sentiment analysis, network analysis, and content and thematic analysis which can be utilised to be applied to the domains of commercial data analytics as well as academic research. The talk also touches on the diverse potentials of social data for organisations from forecasting, detecting crisis events, and as an early warning system for organisational threats.

The event is a 3-day, hands on, workshop which takes place at Boston University College of Communication from October 20 to October 22. The workshop is organised by Jacob Groshek, who has published a number of research outputs related to research on communication technology, politics, and society.

Who is the event for?

Anyone who works with social media data! This could include professionals such as those in the media, researchers, scientists, and research students. Moreover, anyone with a general interest in social media as a source of research data will benefit from attending the event! No computational background is required, and you will gain new knowledge on network analysis, geolocation, as well as machine learning.

What will you learn from the workshop?

The workshop will cover the theoretical bases of working with big data, and the workshop also includes access to some amazing data platforms such as the Boston University Twitter Collection and Analysis Toolkit (BU-TCAT).  I have used this toolkit for a number of years, and it is one of the best platforms available to researchers. The workshop will also cover the fundamentals of using Gephi.

What will you gain from the event?

Boston University will award delegates with a Certificate in Social Media Analysis: Principals and Practices for Big Data. This is a very valuable certification as Boston University is an internationally recognised, ranked and respected very highly in world-university rankings. Moreover, you will gain access to BU-TCAT,  an exclusive tool which is not available to the general public.

How much does it cost?

The workshop is affordably priced and the pricing structure is as followed:

  • Professionals: $1,485
  • Nonprofit / faculty: $1,285
  • BU faculty and staff: $1,085
  • Students (verified by valid student ID): $885

If the code  is used this can provide a generous 15% discount of the final fee.

Where do I register?

You can read more about the workshop, and register by following this link.

Delivered a talk on social media research ethics at a CERN workshop in Geneva

Myself and Professor Peter Bath, pictured below, from the Health Informatics Research Group, recently delivered a talk at a CERN workshop in GenevaThe talk was based on the industry and academic perspectives on social media research ethics, and the also talk highlighted the approach that has been undertaken by the University of Sheffield.

AAA cern 1

I also presented a poster my PhD research during the CERN workshop, as pictured below.

BBB cern 2

 

Delivered a workshop at SITraN to the Society of Spanish Researchers in the United Kingdom on Communicating Science through Social Media

On Saturday the 13th of May I delivered a talk on communicating science through social media in collaboration with the University of Sheffield. I shared my experiences on how I reached readers in over 136 countries and how I received over 250 thousand page hits across a number of channels within the first two years my PhD. My slides for the talk can be found here.

LSE impact

The event had an extremely good turnout for a Saturday afternoon, and the atmosphere of the Society of Spanish Researchers in the United Kingdom was very lively and friendly. I would like to thank the organisers and especially Margarita Segovia Roldan and Jacobo Elies Gomez pictured below.

TALK PICS

I was also very happy to receive a gift of  Spanish Picual Extra Virgin Olive Oil. This was the first time I had received a gift after a talk. The Spanish Society of Research is awesome! Gracias!

TALK PICS.png

Making Social Media Data Matter is back for 2017!

workshop12345

What is Making Social Media Data Matter?

This is the catchy name to a 3-day, hands on, workshop which takes place at Boston University College of Communication from May 31st to June 2nd, in 2017. The workshop is organised by Jacob Groshek, who has published a number of very high quality research outputs related to research on communication technology, politics, and society. You can be sure you are learning from the best.

Who is the event for?

Anyone who works with social media data! This could include professionals such as those in the media, researchers, scientists, and research students. Moreover, anyone with a general interest in social media as a source of research data will benefit from attending the event! No computational background is required, and you will gain new knowledge on network analysis, geolocation, as well as machine learning.

What will you learn from the workshop?

The workshop will cover the theoretical bases of working with big data, and the workshop also includes access to some amazing data platforms such as the Boston University Twitter Collection and Analysis Toolkit (BU-TCAT).  I have used this toolkit for a number of years, and it is one of the best platforms available to researchers. The workshop will also cover the fundamentals of using Gephi.

What will you gain from the event?

Boston University will award delegates with a Certificate in Social Media Analysis: Principals and Practices for Big Data. This is a very valuable certification as Boston University is an internationally recognised, ranked and respected very highly in world-university rankings. Moreover, you will gain access to BU-TCAT,  an exclusive tool which is not available to the general public.

How much does it cost?

The workshop is affordably priced and will cost $1225/£978 for Professionals, $885/£706 for BU Alumni, faculty, and staff. For students the price is set at $685/£547. Please note that a valid student ID will be require in order to register.

Where do I register?

You can read more about the workshop, and register by following this link.

 

 

Power of Social Media: Summer School in Central Europe

I am pleased to announce a 3-day intensive Summer School taking place in Vodice, Croatia, located in Central Europe.  The event has been co-organised with Technology Entrepreneurship Senior Lecturer, Sergej Lugovic

There is a lot of social media content out there on the Web. It’s a constant stream, and it can be difficult to make sense of all of the data. Social media analytics has evolved over time and it is now time to think outside of the box. By attending our event you will be able to address the following questions:

  • How are you being mentioned on social media?
  • Who are the influencers in a topic close to your brand – do they follow your brand?
  • What tools should your organisation be using for social media monitoring? Are you currently paying too much?
  • How can you use social media as a method of identifying influencers? Are they real influencers?
  • Who is replying to your tweets? Are the replies positive or negative in sentiment?
  • What can programming languages offer your social media accounts?
  • Is your organisation currently maximizing the potential of machine learning, social network analysis, and audience targeting?
  • Is your organisation aware of all the potential uses of social media data?

Learn about software such as:

 

 Register here

BECOME EXPERT