Research Projects

Current Projects

Unpacking Social Media Browsing Behaviors

Collaborator: Nicole EllisonSarita Schoenebeck, and Robin Brewer

Browsing behaviors–consuming content on social media–are often characterized as “passive” and associated with negative outcomes in both research literature and popular press. This project seeks to challenge this characterization and point out cases where browsing is not passive and can be beneficial.

We are trying to answer this question from multiple approaches. First, we are designing a survey that aims to measure passive vs. active browsing. Moreover, we are investigating whether active browsing–actually paying attention and registering the information for conversations with someone–can have varying associations with different types of relationships (close vs. not close; communicate frequently vs. infrequently).

Second, we are launching an eye-tracking study to understand how people are distributing their attention when browsing Facebook News Feed. We are also combining this eye tracking data with survey responses and qualitative interviews.

Past Projects

Private Responses for Public Sharing: Understanding Stories in Social Media

Collaborator: Nancy Baym

This is my internship research project at Microsoft Research Social Media Collective. With close to a billion users, social media Stories are predicted to overtake sharing via public feeds in the near future. Sharing via Stories differs from most forms of public social media in its ephemerality and the privacy of its response mechanisms—breaking from the norm of public feedback (e.g. “likes” and “comments”) that have come to characterize social media communication. To explore the relationship between the absence of persistent visible feedback in Stories and self-presentation and relational development, we conducted interviews (N = 22) and surveys (N = 96). We find that users experience Stories as lower pressure than other post genres. Though they expect fewer responses, the responses occasionally facilitate extended conversations. Finally, the act of viewing itself takes on new significance when made known to the sharer. Our findings point to the importance of effort and attention in how people think of responses on social media.

Social Media Relational Maintenance in the Communication Channel Ecology

Collaborators: Nicole Ellison, Xuan Zhao, and Cliff Lampe

Utilizing a mixed-methods approach, we combined qualitative interviews of people’s usage of social media—as contextualized in their usage of other communication channels—and quantitative survey data of users social media behaviors and perceived benefits. The focal point of analysis is users’ relational maintenance behaviors and related social capital processes.

I presented on this work at the Grace Hopper Conference 2016.

Identity Shift on Social Media

Collaborator: Nicole Ellison

How does our public self-presentation influence our own self-perception? This is the question of my pre-candicacy project. I conducted an experimental study investigating identity shift–the process whereby people adjust their self-perception after presenting themselves a certain way publicly–in the social network site environment.

Beyond the Black Box: Understanding & Designing for Users’ Expectations of Algorithms

PI: Christian Sandvig

I helped design a nationally-representative survey to understand people’s understandings and expectations of algorithms, particularly on social media platforms.

Availability, Quality of Everyday Interactions, and Social Capital

Collaborators: Joe BayerNicole EllisonEmily Falk, and Sarita Schoenebeck

We collected three types of data: (1) survey measurements of a range of socio-personality variables, such as availability preferences and Big 5, (2) ESM surveys capturing aspects of everyday interactions, such as enjoyment and channel, and (3) users’ Facebook network data. With this set of data, we gained insights into the interrelationships among individuals’ social-personality tendencies, characteristics of of everyday interaction, and social capital outcomes.

This work was accepted for presentation at ICA (Top Paper Award) and as a journal article for Information, Communication, and Society.

Teenagers’ Anonymous Online Interactions via

Collaborators: Nicole Ellison, Lindsay Blackwell, & Cliff Lampe

We interviewed teenagers about their usage of the anonymous Q&A site, centering on their perceptions of and practices on the site. The affordances of situate the ability to be anonymous in a known context—prominently the high school social context. We uncovered several implications for teens’ social and identity processes through the site.

We published an article in Social Media + Society featuring this work and presented a paper at the International Communication Association Conference 2016.