DMRC researchers Jean Burgess and Axel Bruns have participated in the launch of the EU-funded RISE SMA – Social Media Analytics for Society and Crisis Communication project at the University of Essen-Duisburg in April. The RISE_SMA consortium is an international group of universities looking to address critical questions relating to the role of social media in natural disasters, political crises, and every day public communication.
QUT is one of only two Australian universities (along with the University of Sydney) to be invited to participate in the project. DMRC researchers will work specifically in the areas of practical and methodological questions of assessing the impact of social media on society.
Social media channels are becoming increasingly important – and not only since President Trump began to use them to express his opinions and make official announcements. Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook have changed social communication enormously. Professor Stefan Stieglitz of the University of Duisburg-Essen, the coordinator of RISE_SMA, says “the positive side is that social media promote public discourse. However, fake news and social bots are also increasingly jeopardising social cohesion in many countries.”
Theoretical approaches and methods for analysing social media data are all the more important, therefore. The growing role of social media as fast information sources for citizens and emergency services becomes apparent, for example, during natural disasters or efforts to find missing persons. RISE_SMA aims to improve data analytics in order to filter for relevant information and process it more effectively.
The project will be carried out by nine participating institutions in Europe, Australia, Latin America and Southeast Asia and coordinated by the University of Duisburg-Essen. This interdisciplinary network will receive nearly €1.2m in funding from the EU by 2022. It includes leading researchers, technology companies and political stakeholders. Participating institutions include Leiden University (Netherlands), the University of Agder (Norway), the University of Sydney (Australia), QUT (Australia), UNISINOS (Brazil) and the University of Padjadjaran (Indonesia) as well as the software development company Virtimo in Berlin and the municipality of Kristiansand (Norway).
More information about the RISE_SMA project can be found on the project website: https://social-media-analytics.org/