Stroud to chair Social Science One committee

Groundbreaking Facebook partnership studies media effects on democracy

Talia Stroud, Moody College of Communication associate professor and founding director of the Center for Media Engagement, has been selected to lend her experience and expertise in examining the effects and uses of political news content to a global-reaching partnership aimed at solving society’s greatest challenges.

Talia Stroud

Stroud is chair of the North American Regional Advisory Committee for Social Science One, which partners academic researchers and the private industry to better understand social sciences.

Social Science One was unveiled on Wednesday, July 11, and its first project will be to partner with Facebook and analyze the effects of social media on democracy and elections.

“It is vital that academics work to improve our digital lives by understanding the effects of social media like Facebook,” said Stroud, a member of the Society for Teaching Excellence at The University of Texas. “Our democracy depends on respected information and deliberative exchanges among citizens.”

The groundbreaking industry-academic partnership offers researchers privacy-preserving access to Facebook data to further enlighten the study of media effects on democracy. The rise of social media platforms and change in the news media model have heightened the resonance for this scope of research.

“I think that Facebook is setting an important precedent for working with academics to address major social issues,” Stroud said.

Social Science One’s organizational structure allows academics to explore the rich amounts of information amassed by the private industry and ensures the public maintains privacy while gaining societal value.

Gary King, a Harvard professor and director of the Institute for Quantitative Social Science, and Nathaniel Persily, a Stanford law professor, are co-chairing the Social Science One research commission. Members like Stroud provide advice regarding areas of expertise.

Social Science One is also seeking research proposals, and outside institutions will also be able to apply for access to Facebook data to use in approved projects.

“It is an honor to serve as a committee chair for such an important initiative,” Stroud said.

Natalie England