Collaborative Research: HNDS-I: Digitally Accountable Public Representation

Project: Research project

Project Details


People who occupy leadership positions use the internet to communicate with relevant segments of the public. They can inspire people to do good in their communities, respond to emergencies, and give voice to many different groups. But, just like regular users, public figures can face challenges in using the internet in a way that is safe and helpful. Aspects of their online communications, such as if they are easy to reach, honest, and quick to respond, are all important for their roles. This project constructs a database that contains information about how public elites respond on social media and other public online forums. It includes those in leadership roles at the national and state levels, and in the largest U.S. cities, and covers their posts on many different websites. The database is important for researchers studying public leadership and communication, public leaders who want to understand different approaches to online communication, and journalists who follow public figures online. The database also provides internet companies with information about online communication with and by public elites.This project assembles a database about public online discussions with prominent public figures in the U.S. across a variety of online platforms. These data are used to create measures of public figures' positions relevant to their prominent roles in society. Transparency, responsiveness, and accessibility are some of the aspects of online behavior that can be evaluated with these measures. The investigators use an experimental approach to determine the relationship between online communications and elites' responses. Some questions to be asked include: Are public figures more likely to respond quickly to comments when elections are close? When health and/or security threats emerge in the areas they represent, how quickly do public figures work to inform their followers? This project provides data, tools, and illustrative research to help many different types of users understand how prominent public figures engage online. Software for data analysis is also made available so others can analyze similar data.This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.
Effective start/end date9/1/238/31/26


  • National Science Foundation: $649,380.00


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