Social Media – Areas Of Concern

Quantifying Actionable Solutions

Core to the CSM mission is research. But aim to go further. Certainly, we need to understand the impact of our current media ecosystem on our world. How is the shift to digital accelerating conflict, impacting the social life and self-worth of a new generation of children, and leading to a breakdown of civil society and democracy?

Working with some of the best academic minds at our partner universities we aim to partner and fund complex questions. But we come to this research mission with an objective to fund questions that look to develop solutions. They need not be ‘boil the ocean’ solutions. In fact, we don’t tend to be one-size-fits-all advocates. Instead, we are looking to research solutions that can have a measurable, impactful outcomes.

Working with our partner media members, we’ll aim to connect theoretical ideas with real-world media makers and distributors.

Here’s one example of how research without actions can burry solutions in data. In April of 2022, the social psychologist and NYU Professor Jonathan Haidt published an essay in The Atlantic titled “Why the Past 10 Years of American Life Have Been Uniquely Stupid.” his answer is: social media. After Haidt’s piece was published, a Google Doc—“Social Media and Political Dysfunction: A Collaborative Review”—was made available to the public (you can read it here) The document runs to more than a hundred and fifty pages. The research is complicated, the results somewhat ambiguous. There are genuine questions that are really important, but there’s a kind of opportunity cost that is missed here. Brendan Nyhan, a political scientist at Dartmouth responded: “There’s so much focus on sweeping claims that aren’t actionable, or unfounded claims we can contradict with data, that are crowding out the harms we can demonstrate, and the things we can test, that could make social media better.”

and – best as we can tell – the actions that come out of the more than 800 research projects

A few of the researchers we admire:

Renée DiResta, the research manager at the Stanford Internet Observatory
Vasant Dhar, an Artificial Intelligence researcher and data scientist, and host of the podcast, “Brave New World
Laura Edelson – NYU Ad Observer
Brian Judge, Columbia University
Joshua Tucker, Professor of Data Science at New York University
Daniel J Rogers, Disinformation and Narrative Warfare, NYU
Daniela Stockmann, Hertie School, Berlin, Germany
Renée Cherow-O’Leary – visiting scholar at Harvard University
Claire Wardle, PhD, Brown University 

Yann LeCun – NYU Center for Data Science

Our plan:

Working with CSM fellows, to find and fund research in two ways. First, we look to find research that can be tested with in-field research to confirm conclusions. Second, we will work with our partner institutions to determine concepts that would like to test and quantify. Together, we aim to put new practices to work in real-world media environments and share the results with the media community.



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