Through cutting-edge research, NYU’s Center for Social Media and Politics works to understand politics, inform public policy, and strengthen democracy in the digital age.

Over the past two decades, social media and other digital technologies have transformed our society. It’s made it easier than ever to find information, engage with politics, and connect with people across the globe. But it’s also helped fuel misinformation, enable harassment, and foment polarization, presenting urgent challenges to democratic governance.

NYU’s Center for Social Media and Politics (CSMaP) is a leading academic research institute studying how this ever-shifting online environment impacts politics, policy, and democracy.

Our goals:

  • Conduct rigorous, innovative research to better understand politics in the digital age. The online media environment is massive and complex. Studying it requires a robust data infrastructure, diverse substantive expertise, and cutting-edge methodological innovation. CSMaP’s interdisciplinary group of scholars analyze how information travels online, its influence on public opinion, and its impact on political attitudes and behavior.

  • Inform public policy to strengthen democracy. Conventional wisdom on technology’s impact on democracy is often shaped by anecdotes and folk theories. But to solve the urgent democratic challenges these technologies introduce, we must have a deep and nuanced understanding of their impacts. Through innovative research, teaching, and outreach, CSMaP informs public policy and public discourse about democracy in the digital age.

  • Train the next generation of scholars. Pushing the boundaries of academic study requires a talented and cross-disciplinary group of researchers with knowledge of the latest data and social science techniques. By training students and postdocs, CSMaP develops a new generation of scholars to explore some of the biggest questions at the intersection of social media and democracy.

Our organization was founded in 2012 as the Social Media and Political Participation Lab at NYU. In 2019, we officially launched as the Center for Social Media and Politics as part of the Knight Foundation’s program to support research on information in the digital age. The Center is co-directed by Professors Richard Bonneau (on leave 2021-22), Jonathan Nagler, and Joshua A. Tucker.

Our Work

  • Academic Research

    CSMaP publishes peer-reviewed research in top academic journals and produces rigorous data reports on policy relevant topics.

  • Field Building

    We place postdocs and students in top academic and industry positions, and regularly host experts for seminars, conferences, and lab meetings.

  • Public Impact

    CSMaP informs public policy with research on pressing topics, adds scientific rigor to media coverage, and convenes leading experts for urgent conversations.

  • Tools & Method Development

    To complete our research and support the broader scholarly community, we develop open source software packages, methods, and data sets.


Philanthropy is vital to our work. Gifts and grants fund everything we do, from undertaking ambitious research to building out a talented team of researchers. Our funders provide general operating support and/or project specific support. We are extremely grateful for all the support we have received.