Current Projects

How much can we trust self-reported measures of social media use?

Although the discipline has heavily relied on self-reported measure of social media use, criticisms have prevailed about the validity of such measures. Particularly in this high-choice media environment it’s extremely difficult to reasonably expect survey respondents to accurately recall their social media use.  This project ambitiously creates an app to crawl users’ Facebook activities and compared the digital footprint data against self-reports of the correspondent Facebook account owners.  This project will assess the bias inherent self-reports and revisit a number of important social questions with news kinds of data.

Principle Investigator:  S. Mo Jang

Co-investigator: Hongrui Zhang (U South Carolina, app developer) 

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Fake news literacy

This project focuses on the ability to identify fake news, so-called ‘fake news literacy,’ and examines how it is related to demographics characteristics, various media literacy scales, and other key social variables. First, this study investigates how the characteristics of socio-demographics leads to disparities in fake news literacy. The theoretical motivation of this investigation is to import insights from the digital divide literature into fake news phenomenon. Second, this research explores whether existing literacy measures (e.g., media literacy, digital literacy, information literacy) are related to fake news identification. The outcome of this examination will inform us what kinds of knowledge or skill sets are most required for competent news consumers in an era of post-truth. Finally, this study further identifies social variables that lead to the achievement of fake news literacy. These variables include social capital, information seeking behavior, political interest, and online and offline discussion about fake news.

Principle Investigator:  S. Mo Jang

Co-investigator: Tara Mortensen, Jingjing Liu (U South Carolina)

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Blame game:  How do traditional and new media shift blame from one to another?

When a crisis occurs, the ruling government/incumbent party are the primary target to blame.  The association between the crisis and “who is responsible” is mostly established by the mass media (but now, social media as well).  From the government’s perspective, one way to avoid this negative association is to shift blame to someone else.  This study aims to investigate the relationship between the amount of media attention to association (crisis and government) and the amount of media attention to association (crisis and scape goat).  Negative relationship would suggest that media attention to scape goat displaces media attention to the government concerning the responsibility for the crisis.  This relationship is examined in both traditional news media and user generated media.   This study also explores the intermedia agenda setting hypothesis.

Principle Investigator:  S. Mo Jang

Co-investigator: Yong Jin Park (Howard University)

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Politicization of Science:  Partisan cues that matter

The politicization of science issues poses a critical challenge to scientist communities and policy decisions.  Climate change is a well-known example.  But how much the partisan endorsement contributes to opinion polarization about controversial and even non-controversial science issues?  For example, if Trump criticizes a scientific findings that have been rigorously established, would this sway public opinion among Republicans? Also, what if we show an article that Trump firmly endorse climate change?  Would this help?

Principle Investigator:  S. Mo Jang

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Misinformation online about vaccine and autism link.  

Despite increasing concerns about false information online, we continue to have little idea of how traditional news outlets and social media amplify the vaccine controversy. By examining the information flow of unsubstantiated claims across media outlets, we will have better understanding of the myth circulation among the general public.

Principle Investigator:  S. Mo Jang 

Co-investigators: Brooke Mckeever, Robert Mckeever, Joon Kim (U South Carolina)

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How much do young mobile users know about information and location privacy?

Using a mixed design of quantitative and qualitative inquiries, this study examined levels of mobile-based information literacy among young adults across a range of socio-demographic factors, characteristics of mobile use, and mobile familiarity.  The findings will have implications for consumer policy.

Principle Investigator:  Yongjin Park (Howard University)

Co-investigator: S. Mo Jang

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