When news broke that researchers had conducted an experiment using Facebook's news feed, popular media and the Internet reacted intensely. Big social data, such as that produced by Facebook and Twitter, have the potential to transform the social sciences and lead to advances in understanding human behavior. At the same time, the methods used in collaborations between academia and industry raise new ethical questions. 


The 2015 SOBACO Spring Research Symposium will feature Jeff Hancock of Cornell University, who will address the Facebook Emotion Study, including important ethical decision points and insights on why the study generated such massive attention and criticism. He will also touch on the experience of an Internet-scale controversy, from the personal costs to the gift of criticism, and the potential opportunities to move the discussion forward.

The symposium takes place May 14 at 1:30 p.m. at the Carlson School of Management. In addition to Hancock's presentation on Facebook, the symposium will showcase new research from University of Minnesota students and faculty. Projects highlighted in the program cover a variety of topics in social media, social computing, and analytics, including:

  • The potential of touch in human-computer interaction
  • Mobile apps to help treat substance abuse disorders, such as addiction and alcoholism
  • Effects of employer reputation in online labor markets
  • The "Peter Principle" in sales: the best salesperson may not make the best sales manager
  • How dynamic networks of care teams in U.S. hospitals impact health care cost and quality
  • Understanding how children and teenagers use online video sharing platforms in order to design interfaces that support creativity and increase safety

The symposium is open to the public; registration is available online