We are delighted to announce the list of accepted panel and paper submissions for the 2013 Social Media & Society Conference. We have a great line-up of presentations by researchers and practitioners from 60+ institutions hailing from 15 different countries! General registration is now open and the conference program is available.

Start: Saturday, September 14 at 8:30am. End: Sunday, September 15 at 4:00pm.


Panels | Papers | Posters


Dr. Sharad Goel (Senior Researcher at Microsoft Research) – “Going Viral” and the Structure of Online Diffusion

Abstract: New products, ideas, norms and behaviors are often thought to propagate through a person-to-person diffusion process analogous to the spread of an infectious disease. Until recently, however, it has been prohibitively difficult to directly observe this process, and thus to rigorously quantify or characterize the structure of information cascades. In one of the largest studies to date, we describe the diffusion structure of billions of events across several domains. We find that the vast majority of cascades are small, and are described by a handful of simple tree structures that terminate within one degree of an initial adopting “seed.” While large cascades are extremely rare, the scale of our data allows us to investigate even the one-in-a-million events. To study these rare, large cascades, we develop a formal measure of what we label “structural virality” that interpolates between two extremes: content that gains its popularity through a single, large broadcast, and that which grows via a multi-generational cascade where any one individual is directly responsible for only a fraction of the total adoption. We find that the very largest observed events nearly always exhibit high structural virality, providing some of the first direct evidence that many of the most popular products and ideas grow through person-to-person diffusion. However, medium-sized events — having thousands of adopters — exhibit surprising structural diversity, and are seen to grow both through broadcast and viral means. Finally, we show that our empirical results are largely consistent with an SIR model of contagion on a scale-free network, reminiscent of previous work on the long-term persistence of computer viruses.

 Sharad Goel - Senior Researcher at Microsoft Research Bio: Sharad Goel is a Senior Researcher at Microsoft Research – New York City, where he works in the general area of computational social science, an emerging discipline at the intersection of computer science, statistics, and the social sciences. He is particularly interested in large-scale empirical analyzes that address questions motivated by sociology and economics. Sharad holds a PhD in Applied Mathematics and a Masters in Computer Science from Cornell, and a BS in Mathematics from the University of Chicago. Following postdoctoral positions in the math departments at Stanford and the University of Southern California, he worked in the Microeconomics and Social Systems group at Yahoo! Research.


“Revisiting Engagement in an Age of Social Media”, Mary Francoli (Carleton University, Canada), Daniel Pare (University of Ottawa, Canada), Josh Greenberg (Carleton University, Canada) and Fenwick McKelvey (University of Washington, United States)

  • There are myriad ongoing debates about the potential of the Internet and social media to serve as catalysts for improving the health of democracies by facilitating increased citizen engagement in civic and political affairs. In recent years the uses of social media, in particular, has given rise to a range of questions concerning the nature of engagement and how it is measured or studied. This panel will examine what it means to be engaged in an age of social media.

“Social Media’s Impact on Being Virtually Human”, Gray Graffam (University of Toronto, Canada), David Harris Smith (McMaster University, Canada), Stephen Gennaro (York University, Canada)

  • How does the nature and choice of social media affect the social structures of being virtually human? How do various approaches of social theory reveal the striking commonalities and profound differences of our communications and social interactions across a broad range of technologies and platforms, e.g. cell phones, social networking sites, virtual worlds (massively multiplayer online role playing games), and dating websites. This panel investigates these questions and examines the extent to which the human dimensions of being virtual require us to continue to evolve our understanding and framing of social theory.

“Hybrid Social Movements: OWS, Social Media, and New Practices of Participatory Democracy”. Averie Macdonald, Christina Nitsou, Dr. Megan Boler, Emil Marmol and Jennie Phillips (University of Toronto, Canada)

  • Through a series of interviews with female participants in the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement, our research investigates “hybrid” models of activist organizing which blur such distinctions as social/political, offline/online, and social movement/social outcry. Presenting our initial findings from a three-year SSHRC-funded research project entitled “Social Media in the Hands of Young Citizens,” our panel outlines new visions and practices of participatory democracy. The project investigates motivations of first-time and veteran OWS participants, focusing on uses of social media by young citizens, and within the context of current global uprisings and protests, explores what constitutes social movements as distinct from social outcry.



Theme: Academia

“Tweeting to learn: An exploration of Twitter-based learning during conferences”, Sarah Gilbert and Drew Paulin (University of British Columbia, Canada).

“A Comparison on using social media in a professional experience course”, Xiao Hu and Samuel K.W. Chu (University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong).

“Social media use during study from a distance: Integral experiences that counter a trend to digital dualism”, Jeffrey Keefer (New York University/Visiting Nurse Service of New York, United States).

“College students’ uses and perceptions of YouTube as an information resource to support university courses”, Abdullah Almobarraz (Imam University, Saudi Arabia).


Theme: Identity

“Facebook as a decontextualized environment: Young people’s experiences of navigating LGBTQ identity on a social networking site”, Stefanie Duguay (University of Oxford, United Kingdom).

“Motley Crue’s online autobiographical project”, Helene Laurin (University of Ottawa, Canada).

“Socially quantified self: Networked branded identity”, Jenna Jacobson (University of Toronto, Canada).

“Networked identities vs. institutional identities”, Bonnie Stewart (University of Prince Edward Island, Canada).


Theme: Marketing & Studies of Influence

“Rotten to the core: A case study of Applebee’s PR meltdown on Facebook”, Desirae Johnson (Kennesaw State University, United States).

“A study of social media user characteristics and usage”, Ramesh Venkat (St. Mary’s University, Canada).

“Connecting theory to social technology platforms: A framework for measuring influence in context”, Sean Goggins (University of Missouri, United States).


Theme: Online Communities

“Monetizing the mommy: Community and the commodification of motherhood in blogs”, Andrea Hunter (Concordia University, Canada).

“Detecting and studying networked communities: A qualitative exploration into the potential of big data”, Wifak Gueddana (London School of Economics and Political Science, United Kingdom).

“Working on my online cred: A case study of Quebec women’s blogging”, Laurence Clennett-Sirois (University of Sussex, United Kingdom).

“Online community building in an academic context: A university library case study”, Scott Young and Doralyn Rossmann (Montana State University, United States).

“Strengthening offline ties online: Social media, games & family bonding”, Kelly Boudreau and Mia Consalvo (Concordia University, Canada).

“Characterizing two Twitter smoking cessation groups using semantic network analysis”, Ashley Sanders-Jackson (University of California San Francisco, United States), Judith Prochaska (Stanford University, United States) and Connie Pechmann (University of California Irvine, United States).

“Canadian military spouses and the virtual frontline: zones of resistance or status quo support networks?”, Kanina Holmes (Carleton University, Canada).

“Girls and their social media practices: Critical readings on sexual health and policy making from the ground up” Claudia Mitchell (McGill University), John Murray (Youth, the Arts, HIV & AIDS Network)


Theme: Organizations

“Followers, users and friends: Social media hype and reality within the Google, Facebook, and Twitter blogs 2006-2011”, Jaigris Hodson (Ryerson University, Canada).

“Are we there yet? A comparison of micro-blogging activities in public organizations from a community engagement perspective”, Mary Cavanagh (University of Ottawa, Canada) and Luanne Freund (University of British Columbia, Canada).

“The practice of network journalism by “less ‘elite'” newsprint outlets”, David Montez (Florida State University, United States).


Theme: Political and Social Engagement

“Twitter talk in the U.S. Senate: A network approach”, James Cook (University of Maine, United States).

“An ethnographic study of the re-conceptualization of opinion leadership via Twitter amongst Egyptian revolutionaries in the post-Jan25 revolution era” Hend Abd Almotagally (Cairo University, Egypt).

“Identifying the opinion leader: Influence, Twitter, and Canadian politics”, Elizabeth Dubois (University of Oxford, United Kingdom) and Devin Gaffney (Little Bird, United States).

“Social media & trust: Investigating Canadian government use of social media”, Elizabeth Shaffer (University of British Columbia, Canada).

“Social movements, activism and its impact on deliberative democracy”, Leocadia Diaz Romero (Universidad de Murcia, Spain).

“Political microblogging and elections in Nigeria”, Presley Ifukor (University of Muenster, Germany).

“Selfies and Avatars for Change”, Mona Kasra (University of Texas at Dallas, United States).




The research poster session provides an interactive forum for authors to discuss their research.

Note: The poster session will be scheduled on Saturday (September 14, 2013) afternoon.

Note to Presenters: Posters should be no larger than 4 ft wide by 3 ft high. Poster boards and push pins will be supplied.


“An Exploratory Functional Analysis of Presidential Campaign Twitter Use”, David Montez (Florida State University, United States)

“Analyzing spatial, social, and semantic dimensions of user interactions with collections on Flickr”, Olga Buchel, Diane Rasmussen (University of Western Ontario, Canada), Margaret Kipp, Jihee Beak and Inkyung Choi (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, United States).

“Coordinating boundaries around personal information – A confirmatory factor analysis of the communication privacy management measure in online social networks”, Bobbi Morrison (St. Francis Xavier University, Canada).

“Exploring emergent research ethics and attitudes towards privacy on”, Robert Douglas Ferguson (McGill University, Canada).

“For better or worse? Social media & intimacy”, Alison Marganski (Virginia Wesleyan College, United States).

“How individuals use the power of social media against companies?”, Venus Hosseinali Mirza (Polytechnique Montreal and CIRANO, Canada), Nathalie de Marcellis-Warin (Polytechnique Montreal and CIRANO, Canada) and Thierry Warin (HEC Montreal and CIRANO, Canada).

“Is it getting better? A case study of social media for social change”, Funda Kivran-Swaine (Rutgers University, United States) and Nicole A. Cooke (University of Illinois, United States).

“It’s hot in here: Twitter as data source of understanding perceptions of heat and drought hazards”, Darren Purcell (University of Oklahoma, United States) and Kristen de Beurs (University of Oklahoma, United States).

“Making a discussion go viral: The “I Love Ladies” initiative on YouTube”, Christine Olson (University of Massachusetts Amherst, United States).

“Memories in Action: Social Network Sites as Emergent Biographical Archives”, Gabriella Taddeo (Politecnicoo di Torino, Italy)

“Modeling Influencers in social network”, Igor Kanovsky (Max Stern Academic College of Emek Yezreel, Israel) and Omer Yaari (Max Stern Academic College of Emek Yezreel, Israel).

“Persuading through organizational storytelling: A case study”, Melanie Brister (Mount Saint Vincent University, Canada), Caleb Langdon (Mount Saint Vincent University, Canada), Shawnee Shepherd (Mount Saint Vincent University, Canada) and Alla Kushniryk (Mount Saint Vincent University, Canada).

“Phenomenology to capture essence of social media world”, Christiana Houck (Capella University, United States).

“Playing local: An exploratory study of the marketing practices of independent Edmonton musicians in the digital age”, Kirsten Bauer (University of Alberta, Canada).

“Rethinking Digital Democracy”, Casey Tesfaye (Georgetown University, United States)

“Sooner or later?: The diffusion and adoption of social media metrics to measure scholarly productivity in LIS faculty”, Heidi Julien (University at Buffalo, United States) and Laurie Bonnici (University of Alabama, United States)

“The Influence of Social Media on E-Commerce Sites”, Elham Alghamdi, Keith Lawson and Bonnie MacKay (Dalhousie University, Canada)

“The Northern Gateway Pipeline Debate: Mapping Media Frames, Risk Perceptions, and Voting Preferences in a Risk Society”, Amanda Oldring (Simon Fraser University, Canada)

“The importance of social media in the work-related serendipitous digital environment”, Lori McCay-Peet (Dalhousie University, Canada).

“The visible and invisible in iconic experience: Rethinking the Marionian iconicity through Stephen Antonako’s sacred spaces”, Adrian Gorea (Concordia University, Canada).

“To tweet or not to tweet: The legal implications of social media in a global world”, Lisa Macklem (University of Western Ontario, Canada).

“Virtual Tibet: Maintaining religious community, authority, and identity through internet networks”, Christopher Helland (Dalhousie University, Canada).