Mock Social Media Website Tool

We (Arvin Jagayat, Carson Pun, Becky Choma) are developing a new methodology to help facilitate experimental research on social media. This methodology is intended to complement existing observational (e.g. behavioural data collected via APIs) and correlational (e.g. surveys) social media research methods. It aims to do this by providing a unique environment – a mock social media website – where participants can interact with content in a manner that is similar to their natural social media use.

To our knowledge, this is the first research methodology to allow for researchers to fully control all of posts that participants see, and allow them to interact with them in a relatively ecologically-valid environment that (with the example cover story) simulates various psychological conditions (e.g. presence of an audience) present in natural social media use.

This paradigm can be used to test proposed design changes to social media and how people react to different stimuli with a high degree of experimental control, while minimizing the generalizability of their interactions. It is our hope that this paradigm will help compensate for potential confounds in other social media research designs, and help build stronger arguments for causality.

You can visit the OSF repository for more details.

If you are interested in this tool, want to collaborate, or have questions, critiques, feature requests, or anything else, you can reach out to Arvin on Twitter or via e-mail.

Video Demonstration

You can watch the following video to get a brief overview of the tool we are building:

You can also watch a demonstration of a prototype version of the mock social media website tool using the experimental condition for the first study in Arvin Jagayat’s dissertation research below:

Try the Website for Yourself!

You can interact with a demonstration of a prototype version of the website here, using the following information to log in:

  • Authorization
    • For control condition: “control”
    • For experimental condition: “experimental”
  • Credential
    • If your input value does not work, try another until you find one that works. Values that do not work are ones that already exist in the database, which is just rejecting duplicate participants.
  • Password: “spsp”

Note: As of writing, it is not recommended to visit if you are on a device with a sub-1920×1080 display. What you see and interact with at the link represents an unfinished product that is undergoing constant development and is not representative of the final version that will be released publicly.

Photo Source: Manypixels. (n.d.). Free to use Illustrations by ManyPixels.[illustration].