May 18, 2022

Syracuse University iSchool Project Tracks Election 2016 Social Media, Software Code Available via Github

From the Syracuse University iSchool:

As the 2016 presidential candidates kick off their campaigns, School of Information Studies (iSchool) professor Jenny Stromer-Galley is ready to follow their social media posts, tracking what the candidates say and how the public reacts. Stromer-Galley is working with an interdisciplinary team to collect tweets and hashtags on Twitter, as well as the posts, likes, and shares on Facebook, and conduct analysis. This work is part of the digital politics project of the Behavior, Information, Technology, and Society (BITS) Laboratory, which was established at the iSchool last October, providing a dedicated space and facilities for online network research. “Campaigns are now using social media as one of the many tools for persuading people to vote and for attacking opponents,” Stromer-Galley says. “Social media, more than TV advertising, also enable a campaign to encourage supporters to work for it.”


Stromer-Galley shares her interest in political science with her collaborators on the project, iSchool professors Jeff Hemsley, whose expertise is data collection and analysis; and Bryan Semaan, who specializes in human and computer interactions and social computing. During the gubernatorial races last year, they collected 1,147,257 tweets and more than 10,000 Facebook posts from candidate pages to analyze. “The knowledge that we create from this study adds another great sense to the collective knowledge of society about how humans interact and about politicians who are humans,” Hemsley says. “We get a deeper


To collect social media data, Hemsley has developed a data-gathering tool named Social Media Tracker, Analyzer, and Collector Toolkit at Syracuse (STACKS), which he initially built as a doctoral student at the University of Washington and continues to refine. It provides researchers with a robust and easy-to-use platform for gathering and storing large amounts of data from social media sites. Available as an open source code on GitHub, STACKS allows researchers without programming backgrounds to manage social media data through its web interface.

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STACKS Overview Video

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