CSMaP is a leading academic research institute studying the ever-shifting online environment at scale. We publish peer-reviewed research in top academic journals, produce rigorous reports and analyses on policy relevant topics, and develop open source tools and methods to support the broader scholarly community.

Academic Research

  • Journal Article

    Digital Town Square? Nextdoor's Offline Contexts and Online Discourse

    Journal of Quantitative Description: Digital Media, 2024

    View Article View abstract

    There is scant quantitative research describing Nextdoor, the world's largest and most important hyperlocal social media network. Due to its localized structure, Nextdoor data are notoriously difficult to collect and work with. We build multiple datasets that allow us to generate descriptive analyses of the platform's offline contexts and online content. We first create a comprehensive dataset of all Nextdoor neighborhoods joined with U.S. Census data, which we analyze at the community-level (block-group). Our findings suggests that Nextdoor is primarily used in communities where the populations are whiter, more educated, more likely to own a home, and with higher levels of average income, potentially impacting the platform's ability to create new opportunities for social capital formation and citizen engagement. At the same time, Nextdoor neighborhoods are more likely to have active government agency accounts---and law enforcement agencies in particular---where offline communities are more urban, have larger nonwhite populations, greater income inequality, and higher average home values. We then build a convenience sample of 30 Nextdoor neighborhoods, for which we collect daily posts and comments appearing in the feed (115,716 posts and 163,903 comments), as well as associated metadata. Among the accounts for which we collected posts and comments, posts seeking or offering services were the most frequent, while those reporting potentially suspicious people or activities received the highest average number of comments. Taken together, our study describes the ecosystem of and discussion on Nextdoor, as well as introduces data for quantitatively studying the platform.

    Date Posted

    May 29, 2024

  • Working Paper

    Misinformation Exposure Beyond Traditional Feeds: Evidence from a WhatsApp Deactivation Experiment in Brazil

    Working Paper, May 2024

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    In most advanced democracies, concerns about the spread of misinformation are typically associated with feed-based social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook. These platforms also account for the vast majority of research on the topic. However, in most of the world, particularly in Global South countries, misinformation often reaches citizens through social media messaging apps, particularly WhatsApp. To fill the resulting gap in the literature, we conducted a multimedia deactivation experiment to test the impact of reducing exposure to potential sources of misinformation on WhatsApp during the weeks leading up to the 2022 Presidential election in Brazil. We find that this intervention significantly reduced participants’ exposure to false rumors circulating widely during the election. However, consistent with theories of mass media minimal effects, a short-term reduction in exposure to misinformation ahead of the election did not lead to significant changes in belief accuracy, political polarization, or well-being.

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Reports & Analysis

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Data Collections & Tools

As part of our project to construct comprehensive data sets and to empirically test hypotheses related to social media and politics, we have developed a suite of open-source tools and modeling processes.