Hi! PARIS is pleased to propose an exceptional seminar of Chris Bail, Duke University and Director of the Duke Polarization Lab.
We are delighted to welcome Chris Bail for an exceptional seminar, entitled “Creating a New Paradigm for Research on Social Media”.
ENSAE Paris, Palaiseau (amphi 250)
Creating a New Paradigm for Research on Social Media
Scholars who study social media face a range of challenges including a lack of access to high quality data and an inability to conduct experiments in real world settings. Because of these challenges, most research examines the small amount of data that social media companies make available to scholars in a descriptive manner. This situation severely limits the capacity of researchers to examine how the design of social media systems shapes human behavior. I propose a new paradigm for social media research wherein scholars collaborate to create their own social media platforms for scientific research. I present two recent field experiments conducted on such platforms to demonstrate their promise. The first field experiment examines how anonymity shapes political polarization. The second field experiment examines how gendered avatars shape political persuasion. I conclude by offering insights about how these types of platforms could be scaled to examine a much broader range of topics via an open-source software collaboration between a large group of researchers, not unlike CERN.
Chris Bail is Professor of Sociology and Public Policy at Duke University, where he directs the Polarization Lab. He studies political tribalism, extremism, and social psychology using data from social media and tools from the emerging field of computational social science. A Guggenheim Fellow and Carnegie Fellow, Chris’s writing appears in leading outlets such as Science, Nature, and the New York Times. His widely acclaimed 2021 book, Breaking the Social Media Prism, was featured in the New York Times, the New Yorker, and described as “masterful,” and “immediately relevant” by Science Magazine. His 2015 book, Terrified: How Anti-Muslim Fringe Organizations Became Mainstream, received three awards and resulted in an invitation to address the 2016 Democratic National Convention.