Science Communication and Social Media: NASA Moon Landings to Instagramming Astronauts

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via Pixabay

As part of a series previewing the new book, Communicating Your Research with Social Media.. Information about the authors can be found at the end of this post. 

Science communication has evolved into an essential part of the public outreach and education programs of many scientific organizations. Where television documentaries and public exhibitions were once relied upon for these aims, social media platforms have now brought new opportunities for scientists and communicators to interact with their audiences.

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Fake News, Echo Chambers and Filter Bubbles: Underresearched and Overhyped

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By William H. Dutton, Michigan State University

Don’t panic: An international survey finds concerns about fake news are overblown. studiostoks/shutterstock.com

In the early years of the internet, it was revolutionary to have a world of information just a click away from anyone, anywhere, anytime. Many hoped this inherently democratic technology could lead to better-informed citizens more easily participating in debate, elections and public discourse.

Today, though, many observers are concerned that search algorithms and social media are undermining the quality of online information people see. They worry that bad information may be weakening democracy in the digital age.

The problems include online services conveying fake news, splitting users into “filter bubbles” of like-minded people and enabling users to unwittingly lock themselves up in virtual echo chambers that reinforce their own biases.

These concerns are much discussed, but have not yet been thoroughly studied. What research does exist has typically been limited to a single platform, such Twitter or Facebook. Our study of search and politics in seven nations – which surveyed the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Poland and Spain in January 2017 – found these concerns to be overstated, if not wrong. In fact, many internet users trust search to help them find the best information, check other sources and discover new information in ways that can burst filter bubbles and open echo chambers.

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Video: Communicating Science Using YouTube

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“Using YouTube to connect people who do science, with people who want to learn about science.

YouTube is one of the most effective platforms around for communicating about and learning about science. Yet remarkably, given the number of YouTube users out there with a taste for science, there are surprisingly few scientists making videos.

To us, this presented a no-brainer opportunity to use YouTube as a way of connecting researchers who are passionate about their science, with viewers who are equally passionate about watching videos about it.

And so we created Science Showcase.

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“Tenure can withstand Twitter”: We Need Policies That Promote Science Communication and Protect Those Who Engage

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by Cassidy R. Sugimoto

As scholars, we often take for granted the rights of tenure for freedom of inquiry and research, without acknowledging our responsibilities to engage the public in discourse around this research. This obligation was made explicit in the American Association of University Professors’ (AAUP) 1915 Declaration of Principles on Academic Freedom and Academic Tenure which states that scholars should “impart the results of their own and of their fellow-specialists’ investigations and reflection, both to students and to the general public, without fear or favor.” The responsibility to engage in the public discourse of science is a latent variable in academic freedom that has not historically received the kind of attention it deserves. The rise of social media, however, brings new opportunities and complexities to the issue.

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Why You Should be Skeptical of Science on Social Media

by Futurity.com

Internet commentators love to shout their opinions, but the loudest might not know what they’re talking about.

Jacob Groshek, assistant professor of emerging media studies at Boston University, has written about how online discussion can distort facts and disrupt science communication, including a recent essay in The Conversation.

Specifically, tracking how information about antimicrobial resistance spreads online, he and colleagues found that people who post about science online most often are likely to be the most misinformed.

He recently discussed how both scientists and citizens might be able to combat the troubling spread of science misinformation on social media.

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