Socioeconomic Inequalities in the Non/use of Facebook


Baumer, E.P.S. (2018). Socioeconomic Inequalities in the Non/use of Facebook. in Proceedings of the ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI). (Montréal, QC).


Use and non-use of technology can occur in a variety of forms. This paper analyzes data from a probabilistic sample of 1000 US households to identify predictors for four different types of use and non-use of the social media site Facebook. The results make three important contributions. First, they demonstrate that many demographic and socioeconomic predictors of social media use and non-use identified in prior studies hold with a larger, more diverse sample. Second, they show how going beyond a binary distinction between use and non-use reveals inequalities in social media use and non-use not identified in prior work. Third, they contribute to ongoing discussions about the representativeness of social media data by showing which populations are, and are not, represented in samples drawn from social media.

ACM  pre-print

A Hat Trick at GROUP

I recently had three submissions accepted to the ACM Conference on Supporting Group Work (GROUP). The first was a paper to which I contributed about online policy discussion, specifically in the context of MTurk. Among other things, this paper offers some nice empirical evidence about the importance of considering opinions with finer grained distinctions than agree vs. disagree. Second is a paper analyzing how different types of regretful experiences on Facebook can lead to different types of non-use. The main take away is that it matters less who feels the regret than who takes the action that ends up being regretted. Third is a curated collection of short design fiction pieces written by students in the class I taught this past spring. It demonstrates the efficacy of design fiction for thinking through ethical issues in computing.

What Would You Do? Design Fiction and Ethics


Baumer, E.P.S., Berrill, T., Botwinick, S.C., Gonzales, J.L., Ho, K., Kundrik, A., Kwon, L., LaRowe, T., Nguyen, C.P., Ramirez, F., Schaedler, P., Ulrich, W., Wallace, A., Wan, Y., and Weinfeld, B. (2017). What Would You Do? Design Fiction and Ethics. in Proceedings of the ACM Conference on Supporting Group Work (GROUP), Design Fiction Track. (Sanibel Island, FL).


Design fiction can be highly effective at envisioning possible futures. That envisioning enables, among other things, considering ethical implications of possible technologies. This paper highlights that capacity through a cu- rated collection of five short design fiction pieces, each accompanied by its own author statement. Spanning multiple genres, each piece highlights ethical issues in its own way. After considering the unique strategies that each piece uses to highlight ethical issues, the paper concludes with considerations of how design fiction can advance broader discussions of ethics in computing.

Regrets, I’ve Had A Few: When Regretful Experiences Do (and Don’t) Compel Users to Leave Facebook


Guha, S., Baumer, E.P.S., and Gay, G. (2017). Regrets, I’ve Had A Few: When Regretful Experiences Do (and Don’t) Compel Users to Leave Facebook. in Proceedings of the ACM Conference on Supporting Group Work (GROUP). (Sanibel Island, FL).


Previous work has explored regretful experiences on social media. In parallel, scholars have examined how people do not use social media. This paper aims to synthesize these two research areas and asks: Do regretful experiences on social media influence people to (consider) not using social media? How might this influence differ for different sorts of regretful experiences? We adopted a mixed methods approach, combining topic modeling, logistic regressions, and contingency analysis to analyze data from a web survey with a demographically representative sample of US internet users (n=515) focusing on their Facebook use. We found that experiences that arise because of users’ own actions influence actual deactivation of their Facebook account, while experiences that arise because of others’ actions lead to considerations of non-use. We discuss the implications of these findings for two theoretical areas of interest in HCI: individual agency in social media use and the networked dimensions of privacy.

Effects of Comment Curation with Opposition on Coherence in Online Policy Discussion


McInnis, B.J., Cosley, D., Baumer, E.P.S., Leshed, G. (2017). Effects of Comment Curation with Opposition on Coherence in Online Policy Discussion. in Proceedings of the ACM Conference on Supporting Group Work (GROUP). (Sanibel Island, FL).


Public concern related to a policy may span a range of topics. As a result, policy discussions struggle to deeply examine any one topic before moving to the next. In policy deliberation re- search, this is referred to as a problem of topical coherence. In an experiment, we curated the comments in a policy discussion to prioritize arguments for or against a policy proposal, and examined how this curation and participants’ initial positions of support or opposition to the policy affected the coherence of their contributions to existing topics. We found an asymmetric interaction between participants’ initial positions and comment curation: participants with different initial positions had unequal reactions to curation that foregrounded comments with which they disagreed. This asymmetry implies that the factors underlying coherence are more nuanced than prioritizing participants’ agreement or disagreement. We discuss how this finding relates to curating for coherent disagreement, and for curation more generally in deliberative processes.

When Subjects Interpret the Data: Social Media Non-use as a Case for Adapting the Delphi Method to CSCW


Baumer, E.P.S., Xu, X., Chu, C., Guha, S., and Gay, G.K. (2017). When Subjects Interpret the Data: Social Media Non-use as a Case for Adapting the Delphi Method to CSCW. in Proceedings of the ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work & Social Computing (CSCW). (Portland, OR).


This paper describes the use of the Delphi method as a means of incorporating study participants into the processes of data analysis and interpretation. As a case study, it focuses on perceptions about use and non-use of the social media site Facebook. The work presented here involves three phases. First, a large survey included both a demographically representative sample and a convenience sample. Second, a smaller follow-up survey presented results from that survey back to survey respondents. Third, a series of qualitative member checking interviews with additional survey respondents served to validate the findings of the follow-up survey. This paper demonstrates the utility of Delphi by highlighting the ways that it enables us to synthesize across these three study phases, advancing understanding of perceptions about social media use and non-use. The paper concludes by discussing the broader applicability of the Delphi method across CSCW research.

Presenting at Algorithms in Culture

Later this week, I’ll be presenting a paper at the Algorithms in Culture conference, organized by an astounding crew of veritable rock stars. I’m eagerly looking forward to it, both in terms of the the numerous fascinating sounding talks, and as a chance to get feedback on some of the questions through which I’m working around how fuse critical studies of algorithmic systems with human-computer interaction design.

Moving to Lehigh

I am thrilled to announce that I recently accepted a tenure-track position as Assistant Professor in the Computer Science & Engineering Department at Lehigh University. This position is part of a university-wide initiative called Data X. In my description, Data X acknowledges and incorporates the inherently interdisciplinary nature of data science. Lehigh made several cluster hires this past year as part of Data X, each with one faculty line in CSE and one in another department. For instance, I was part of a cluster hire between CSE and Journalism & Communication. Needless to say, this is an exceptionally perfect niche for me.

I’ll be winding down my position at Cornell and moving to Bethlehem, PA this fall, then starting at Lehigh in January.

Imagined Facebook: An exploratory study of non-users’ perceptions of social media in Rural Zambia


Wyche, S.P. and Baumer, E.P.S. (2016). Imagined Facebook: An Exploratory Study of Non-Users’ Perceptions of Social Media in Rural Zambia. New Media & Society.


This article describes an exploratory study of Facebook non-users living in rural Zambia. Drawing on evidence from 37 group interviews with mobile phone owners, we discovered that the majority of our participants were aware of, or ‘imagined’ Facebook, despite never having seen or used the site. Our analysis of how participants perceive Facebook suggests that they are interested in the communication and income-generating possibilities access to the site may provide, but that barriers prevent them from acting on these interests. This study contributes to social media research by making visible the experiences of a population whose non-use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) results from economic, infrastructural, and linguistic sources, as well as from other, hitherto less-explored areas. We discuss the practical significance of these findings, offer future research suggestions, and comment on what our respondents have not yet imagined about Facebook.


Two Papers at GROUP

Recently, I had two papers accepted for publication an the 2016 ACM Conference on Supporting Group Work (GROUP). One is a full length paper about a long-term study of a “data-as-art” installation at Cornell. The other is a note length paper essentially arguing that machine learning and grounded theory have some deep, compelling resonances. While I played a primarily supporting role on both these, I’m excited about the arguments that each is making (and appreciative of the lead authors for involving me).