UNDER-RESEARCHED IMPACT OF SOCIAL MEDIA ALGORITHMS ON SOCIAL SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH & OTHER BIASES

2013 PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS IN THE CZECH REPUBLIC FACEBOOK CASE STUDY

FULL ARTICLE: http://bit.ly/1jKoLLY

Based on the structure vs. action sociological dilemma, the text discusses the influence of social media news feed algorithms (& other design features) on the outcomes of social scientific research, emphasizing the realm of citizen participation & (the level of participative) citizen involvement in public affairs decision making.

In the first desk-research part of the text, social media are discussed with regard to (‘offline’ & online) citizen & political participation, followed with public institutions using social media, including the employment of social media marketing & business techniques by public institutions and (both, widely used & ‘new‘) metrics & KPIs. Then, the topic of social media as a mobilization instrument is discussed, comparing traditional (questionnaire) social media survey research & case studies with social media user behavior tracking & content analysis. Two ‘categories’ of studies, ‘demonstration & protest research’ & ‘(general) online citizen/political participation’, are used to compare the outcomes of survey research and tracking & content analysis research. The structure vs. action concept & the power of algorithms debate is introduced to be followed up with the explanation of the Facebook News Feed Algorithm & social media news feed case studies referring to the ‘algorithm influence/bias‘. Other (general) social media (not only) citizen/political participation research biases are discussed as well.

The objective of the second part of the text – a research / case study, based on the findings from the theoretical part – is to verify ‘the power of algorithms model’ via investigation of Facebook political participation, using data from Facebook pages of Czech political parties covering two weeks before the 2013 Chamber of Deputies election day in the Czech Republic. The methodological issue discussed is a question whether – in addition to the common way of looking at social media as ‘tools/facilitators‘ of political participation – we should also regard social media as ‘actors & initiators‘. The text aims to conclude, how (not only) algorithmical features of different SNSs (social media networking services) reflect itself in the general citizen/political participation social media scientific research, and the related (possible but not certain) biases arising if such social media particularities are not considered.

In the ‘Dealing with the ‘power of algorithms’ issue suggestions’ final part of the text, SWOT analysis of possible approaches towards social media news feed algorithms (& other design features) is suggested.

FULL ARTICLE: http://bit.ly/1jKoLLY