Social media has brought about rapid change in society, from our social interactions and complaint systems to our elections and media outlets. It is increasingly used by individuals and organizations in both the public and private sectors. Over 30% of the world’s population is on social media. We spend most of our waking hours attached to our devices, with every minute in the US, 2.1M snaps are created and 1M people are logging in to Facebook. With all this use, comes a great amount of data.
Zoufan posted her last words on Weibo on 18, March, 2012. She was suffering from a major depressive disorder, and shortly after - committed suicide. Weibo is a microblogging application, launched by Sina Corporation back in 2009, based on user relationships to share, disseminate and get information. In essence, it is similar to Twitter, although it has a number of other useful capabilities. The app has more than 400 million users (compared to Twitter’s 300 million) and features that enable the study of emotional states and responses to the topics being discussed or spread across the web.
Last year saw the launch of Social Science One—a model devised to allow academic researchers access to the huge amounts of data generated by private industry, including Facebook data which will constitute the inaugural project. This week the first grants have been announced in partnership with the Social Science Research Council. Twelve projects have been awarded grants, as over 60 researchers come together from 11 countries and 30 academic institutions to study social media’s impact upon our society and democratic systems.
Human social behavior has rapidly shifted to digital media services, whether Gmail for email, Skype for phone calls, Twitter and Facebook for micro-blogging, or WhatsApp and SMS for private messaging. This digitalization of social life offers researchers an unprecedented world of data with which to study human life and social systems. However, accessing this data has become increasingly difficult.