When URLs on social networks become invisible
Bias and social media logics in a cross-platform hyperlink study
Keywords:cross-platform, hyperlinks, situational analytics, tool bias, digital bias, social media logics
Extant research has addressed various concerns of representativeness in digital social research including: bias in researchers’ selection of online spaces, foci on single-platform approaches, and limited or skewed samples due to API (application programming interface) restrictions. This paper adds to that work through an illustration of tool bias towards specific social media logics (e.g., Twitter logics) in a URL-based network across/within social media sites (illustrative case study = greenwashing). These “biases” are implicit in design, mirror extant societal trends, and are reinforced through platform biases. As such, researchers using such tools (above all, non-computational scholars) may have little awareness of these subliminal influences. The paper consequently argues that (a) tool choices often fall prey to issues in representation, reinforcing existing biases on a subliminal level; and, that (b) non-platform-specific creative situational approaches (like cross-platform URL explorations) provide a much-needed understanding of wider platform dynamics that highlight such biases.
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