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Center for Social Media Responsibility names Hemphill to leadership role

Tuesday, 12/08/2020

ANN ARBOR—The University of Michigan Center for Social Media Responsibility has appointed School of Information faculty member Libby Hemphill to the position of associate director.

Paul Resnick, center director and the Michael D. Cohen Collegiate Professor of Information, said the addition of Hemphill will allow the organization to expand its efforts in media platform accountability and the analysis of various user experiences.

"We are pleased to welcome Libby to our leadership team," he said. "Our center's work will greatly benefit from her expertise in studying social media behavior and data and her interest in making meaningful, transparent comparisons of the experiences different groups of users have on various platforms."  

Hemphill, an associate professor in the school, has research interests in the democratic potential and failures of social media and ways to facilitate the analysis of groups, and differences between groups, within the realm of social media. Her research focuses on specific populations and their behaviors, especially politicians and political extremists.

"I look forward to exploring how we can help platforms recognize the ways in which various groups might change their behaviors in order to exploit the platforms' features and mechanisms," Hemphill said. "At the same time, I'm excited about finding ways to amplify the positive effects of social media, like connection, discussion, and social support, and providing users and platforms with information and metrics to recognize changes over time."

Hemphill has served on the center’s faculty council since its inception. She has done related work in social media data preservation and access.

Established by the School of Information in 2018, the Center for Social Media Responsibility has a mission to help social media platforms meet their public responsibilities. It articulates principles, creates metrics and tools that monitor progress, and helps platform providers, journalists, policymakers and the public to be better producers, consumers and distributors of information. 

One of the tools created early on by the center with outside partners was an Iffy Quotient that measures the progress of social media sites to limit the spread of misinformation. The tool quantifies the fraction of the most popular URLs on Facebook and Twitter coming from iffy sites—those that often publish misinformation. It has been used to measure content during elections, the COVID-19 pandemic and recent racial unrest.

Libby Hemphill

Center for Social Media Responsibility

- Michigan News