Research on Social Media & Politics
New technologies are improving the way that humans communicate (from SMS to social networks), meaning that news and comments can be shared and published to many other people, and indeed exposed outwith individual users' social circles. What is less understood is the way this is changing and destabilising our political processes. News media are no longer the gatekeepers and moderators of information, with the immediate and visible effect of this being the democratisation of political processes through the advent of mass communication.
This has led to major changes in the political landscapes, such as the Arab Spring revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt, in which the social media fora Facebook and Twitter played an important role in mobilising citizens.
In this way, social media has changed the way that public opinion is formed and adapted. Traditional techniques of understanding society's views, particularly in polling, have not adapted to this change, leading to some surprising results in events such as the Brexit referendum, and more recently in the 2016 US presidential election.
Working in collaboration with practicing political scientists and civil resilience and protection teams, the IDA section at the University of Glasgow have a track record in researching state-of-the-art techniques to mine social media to address a number of tasks and domains, described below.
- ESRC funded project "Explaining and Mitigating Electoral Violence" (April 2015-March 2018) (£478k).
- University of Glasgow Lord Kelvin Adam Smith PhD studentship "Who Influences Whom?: Examining Opinion Leadership and the Dissemination of Information through Social Media", (October 2014-September 2018) (£76652).
- EC FP7 funded project "SUPER: Social sensors for secUrity Assessments and Proactive EmeRgencies management" (April 2014-March 2017) (£431K for University of Glasgow).
- EC FP7 funded project "SMART: Search engine for multimediaenvironment generated content" (November 2011-October 2014) (£400K for University of Glasgow)
- EPSRC/Dstl project "ReDites: Real time, detection, tracking, monitoring and interpretation of events in social media", (July 2013-June 2014) (total £300K, £60K for University of Glasgow).
- EPSRC/Dstl project "CROSS: Real-time story detection across multiple streams", (May 2012-April 2013) (total £262K, £148K for University of Glasgow).