Observatory on Social Media launched

May 30, 2016

The power to explore online social media movements — from the pop cultural to the political — with the same algorithmic sophistication as top experts in the field is now available to journalists, researchers and members of the public from a free, user-friendly online software suite released today. The Web-based tools, called the Observatory on Social Media, or “OSoMe” (pronounced “awesome”), provide anyone with an Internet connection the power to analyze online trends, memes and other online bursts of viral activity. An academic preprint paper on the tools is available from the open-access journal PeerJ. The OSoMe project also provides an API to help other researchers expand upon the tools, or create "mash-ups" that combine its powers with other data sources. For example, a mash-up of the OSoMe and BotOrNot APIs allows to study how social bots manipulate online discourse on a given topic. (In the retweet network shown here, large red nodes represent influential bots that affected conversations about #brexit.)

“This software and data mark a major milestone of our research project on Internet memes and trends over the past six years,” said Filippo Menczer, director of the Center for Complex Networks and Systems Research and a professor in the IU School of Informatics and Computing. “We are beginning to learn how information spreads in social networks, what causes a meme to go viral and what factors affect the long-term survival of misinformation online. The observatory provides an easy way to access these insights from a large, multi-year dataset.”