Digital Methods in Social Media Research: A Workshop on Potentials and Limitations

This workshop with Ariadna Matamoros-Fernández and Johan Farkas discusses the challenges and opportunities of studying digital platforms as socio-technical systems.

The first part of the session will draw on Ariadna and Johan’s research as well as the participants’ experience to discuss the potential and limitations of using digital methods for social media research. The second part of the session will focus on YouTube as an object of research.

We will use the YouTube Data Tools (Rieder, 2015) and the RankFlow (Rieder, 2016) to gather data and explore different analytical possibilities (for example, how does YouTube construct relevance in relation to different topics? How does the platform modulate the visibility around certain topics over time?).

This hand-on exercise will be a useful starting point to discuss the importance of treating platforms as active actors in shaping sociality rather than as mere transparent sources of behavioural data on social issues.


Ariadna Matamoros-Fernández is a Senior Lecturer in Digital Media at the Queensland University of Technology, member of the Digital Media Research Centre (DMRC) and the ARC Centre of Excellence for Automated Decision-Making and Society (ADM+S), and ARC Discovery Early Career Research (DECRA) Fellow (2023-2026).

Her research focuses on social media cultures, platform governance, online harms, and algorithmic systems. For her DECRA project, she examines harmful humour’s impact on women’s wellbeing online, how it is poorly managed by social media platforms and has not been integrated into online safety regulation and policy.

Her research has been published in New Media & Society, Social Media + Society, Feminist Media Studies, Policy Internet Review and other international peer-reviewed journals. She is co-author of a forthcoming book on WhatsApp (Polity, with Amelia Johns and Emma Baulch).

Johan Farkas is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Copenhagen’s Department of Communication. He is part of the project “Tell Me the Truth: Fact- Checkers in an Age of Epistemic Instability” funded by the Carlsberg Foundation.

Farkas has written more than 20 peer-reviewed publications, featuring in leading journals such as New Media & Society, Journalism Studies, Social Media + Society, and Critical Discourse Studies. His debut book, Post-Truth, Fake News and Democracy: Mapping the Politics of Falsehood, was published by Routledge in 2019. A second edition of the book will be out in December 2023.



How to sign up

There is a limited number of seats for this workshop, and priority will be given to PhD and postdoctoral researchers at UCPH. The deadline for signing up is 29 November. Sign up for the workshop.

When signing up, we kindly ask all participants to briefly answer the following questions:

  1. Could you briefly describe your current research interests?
  2. Are you currently working with social media data and, if yes, could you briefly describe how?
  3. Do you face any specific methodological challenges in your current work that you would like to share?

We encourage all participants to read the following texts beforehand:

  1.  Matamoros-Fernández, A. & Farkas, J. (2021). Racism, Hate Speech, and Social Media: A Systematic Review and Critique. Television & New Media, 22(2): 205-224.
  2. Rieder, B., Matamoros-Fernández, A., & Coromina, Ò. (2018). From ranking algorithms to ‘ranking cultures’: Investigating the modulation of visibility in YouTube search results. Convergence, 24(1), 50-68.
  3. Leurs, K. (2017). Feminist Data Studies: Using Digital Methods for Ethical, Reflexive and Situated Socio-Cultural Research. Feminist Review. 115(1): 130–54.
  4. Linabary,  J. R. & Corple, D. J. (2019) Privacy for whom?: A Feminist Intervention in Online Research Practice. Information, Communication & Society, 22(10): 1447-1463.
  5. Rogers, R, (2019). Doing Digital Methods. Chapter 1. SAGE Publications.

For the workshop, we kindly ask everyone to bring their laptop.