1. Kansas State University
  2. »Division of Communications and Marketing
  3. »K-State Today
  4. »Social media and political polarization focus of annual Huck Boyd Lecture in Community...

K-State Today

February 4, 2022

Social media and political polarization focus of annual Huck Boyd Lecture in Community Media

Submitted by Steve Smethers

The Huck Boyd National Center for Community Media will sponsor a lecture — "How you can use network analysis to identify polarization, reduce misinformation, and improve social media" — at 10:30 a.m. Monday, Feb. 14, in the Big 12 Room of the K-State Student Union.

Social media can contribute to hostility and polarization in political discourse. Marc Smith, the director of the Social Media Research Foundation and expert in network analysis, will discuss powerful yet accessible tools that can help make democracy better. The foundation has developed tools, in particular NodeXL, that make it easy and efficient for anyone to identify polarized groups of users, as well as interconnections between groups.

A panel discussion — "Reflecting on debate, influence, and the search for truth in networked publics" — will follow the lecture at 11:30 a.m. Feb. 14, also in the Big 12 Room.

Both events are part of K-State’s Social Media Week.

Smith is a sociologist specializing in the social organization of online communities and computer-mediated interaction. Smith co-founded and directs the Social Media Research Foundation, a nonprofit devoted to tools, data and scholarship related to social media research. He is the co-editor of "Communities in Cyberspace," a collection of essays exploring the ways identity, interaction and social order develop in online groups. Smith is also the co-author and editor of "Analyzing Social Media Networks with NodeXL: Insights from a Connected World," which is a guide to mapping connections created through computer-mediated interactions.

Panelists will include Sara K. Kearns, a Kansas State University Libraries professor who explores how people interact with information; Anan Wan, a K-State advertising assistant professor whose research explores the impacts and effectiveness of social live streaming and influencer marketing in China and in the U.S.; Timothy J. Shaffer, director of the Institute for Civic Discourse and Democracy and associate professor of communication studies at K-State; Heather Suzanne Woods, assistant professor and director of graduate studies in the K-State communication studies department, whose areas of expertise include memes, virtual assistants, online activism and social media, and smart homes; and Nikhil Moro, K-State professor of journalism and mass communications who holds a doctorate in communication law from The Ohio State University. He edits the Journal of Media Law & Ethics, one of the leading peer-reviewed journals in the field.

J. Steven Smethers, director of the A.Q. Miller School of Journalism and Mass Communications, will moderate the panel.