At close quarters: combatting Facebook design, features and temporalities in social research

Gangneux, J. and Docherty, S. (2018) At close quarters: combatting Facebook design, features and temporalities in social research. Big Data and Society, 5(2), pp. 1-10. (doi: 10.1177/2053951718802316)

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As researchers we often find ourselves grappling with social media platforms and data ‘at close quarters’. Although social media platforms were created for purposes other than academic research – which are apparent in their architecture and temporalities – they offer opportunities for researchers to repurpose them for the collection, generation and analysis of rich datasets. At the same time, this repurposing raises an evolving range of practical and methodological challenges at the small and large scale. We draw on our experiences and empirical data from two research projects, one using Facebook Community Pages and the other repurposing Facebook Activity Logs. This article reflects critically on the specific challenges we faced using these platform features, on their common roots, and the tactics we adopted in response. De Certeau’s distinction between strategy and tactics provides a useful framework for exploring these struggles as located in the practice of doing social research – which often ends up being tactical. This article argues that we have to collectively discuss, demystify and devise tactics to mitigate the strategies and temporalities deeply embedded in platforms, corresponding as far as possible to the temporalities and the aims of our research. Although combat at close quarters is inevitable in social media research, dialogue between researchers is more than ever needed to tip the scales in our favour.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Gangneux, Dr Justine and Docherty, Stevie
Authors: Gangneux, J., and Docherty, S.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences
Journal Name:Big Data and Society
Publisher:SAGE Publications
ISSN (Online):2053-9517
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2018 The Authors
First Published:First published in Big Data and Society 5(2): 1-10
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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