Social Media Studies

Social Media Studies




Social Media Studies (SMS) is a network of social science and humanistic researchers, part of the Microsoft Research labs in New England. It includes full-time researchers, postdocs, interns, and visitors. Begun in 2009, the researchers who now lead the initiative are: Nancy Baym, Tarleton Gillespie, and Mary Gray. Our primary purpose is to provide rich contextual understanding into the social and cultural dynamics that underpin social media technologies. Our work spans several disciplines: anthropology, communication, economics, information, law, media studies, women’s studies, science & technology studies, and sociology.

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Blogs & more

The Humans Working Behind the AI Curtain

Just how artificial is Artificial Intelligence? Facebook created a PR firestorm last summer when reporters discovered a human “editorial team” – rather than just unbiased algorithms – selecting stories for its trending topics section. The revelation highlighted an elephant in the room of our tech world…

The Harvard Business Review | January 7, 2017

In the news

When Algorithms Think You Want to Die.

Opinion: Social media platforms not only host troubling images of suicide and self-harm, they end up recommending it to the people most vulnerable to it…

Wired | February 21, 2019

Facebook’s blueprint needs a blueprint.

Mark Zuckerberg’s plan for an independent council to review controversial content moderation decisions leaves some important questions unanswered…

Slate | November 16, 2018

A Little Less Conversation

Some people thought the trans-Atlantic cable would bring world peace. It didn’t….

Slate | October 31, 2018