The Challenges and Pitfalls of Aggregating Social Media Data

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Presentation 1 from 3rd Socio-Cultural Data Summit

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The Challenges and Pitfalls of Aggregating Social Media Data

  1. 1. The Challenges and Pitfalls of Aggregating Social Media Data Prepared for: NDU Data Summit 27 November 2012Institute for the Study of Violent Groups
  2. 2. Overview• Social Media Panacea (Don’t believe the hype!)• What question are you trying to answer?• Indications and Warning vs Research/Analysis• Mexico Case Study• Understand the media environment in area of interest
  3. 3. Social Media Panacea• Social Media is a “Silver Bullet”• Crowd sourced opinion data• Can provide Indications and Warning• “Social Media is going to be able to tell me what is going on the ground in Mexico!”
  4. 4. Mexico Case Study
  5. 5. Searching Social Media Data
  6. 6. Questions/Insights After the Mexico Study• What is the data processing time and storage requirements?• Was the data pipe size adequate to answer research question?• Was the collection profile effective?• Is their US person data present?• Who in Mexico is using social media?• What different demographic groups are using which social media platforms (FB, twitter, youtube, etc)?
  7. 7. Social Media Next Steps• MX study left us wanting a country level social media baseline• Started looking at traditional media outlets used SM platforms• Create an index of traditional media outlets and their SM handles• Convene roundtable discussions with media professionals and academics
  8. 8. Hurdles• There is more disagreement than agreement among experts about social media, and virtually no expertise about social media in the developing world• No academic discipline “owns” social media• There are no databases or indices available – public or private – that we could locate
  9. 9. Initial Findings• Gap between what can remotely by collected from Internet searches and what actually constitutes the media in these countries.• Facebook is king• Twitter is misunderstood in developing countries and generally disliked; the exception is highly-functioning, usually Western- educated elites• Mobile device proliferation is changing social media usage• Social media, and Facebook in particular, is generally not seen as a good source of information in these countries, especially when compared to traditional media• Most foreign government organizations do not have a solid strategy for using social media• Cross-national comparisons are very difficult to meaningfully interpret; most of the interesting findings are country-specific.
  10. 10. Wrap Up• Be a skeptic and ask hard questions• Social media is not one size fits all• Why are you collecting social media data? – Indications & Warning vs Research/Analysis
  11. 11. Questions & Discussion Carlo Pecori Program Manager Institute for the Study of Violent Groups University of New Haven cpecori@isvg.org

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