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Observatory on Social Media

 Principal Investigators: Filippo Menczer & Alessandro Flammini (IUB Informatics)


The Observatory on Social Media, or OSoMe, is a set of tools resulting from a broad research project that seeks to study how memes spread online. OSoMe’s first application was the study of astroturfing, or memes promoted by social bots to create the appearance of a grassroots movement. The first demo that visualized the spread of memes on Twitter was called Truthy. OSoMe comprises hardware and software infrastructure with Web tools that provide end-users with the power to analyze online trends and visualize temporal, geographic, and network patterns of spreading memes and bursts of viral activity. Today, OSoME contains a number of tools that explore how people spread ideas through online social networks.

In 2019, the Knight Foundation and IU together awarded $6 million to expand OSoMe into a research center at IU. The research center will study the dissemination of information and misinformation online, educate journalists, students, and others, and play a role in a future IUB data journalism program.

IUNI hosts the online OSoME project and the IT Team develops many of its tools. Former IUNI Research Scientist Giovanni Luca Ciampaglia (U. of Maryland) and IUB PhD student Clayton Davis were heavily involved in the development of some of the tools. IUNI Director of Information Technology Valentin Pentchev will serve as the new research center’s director of information technology.