What Texas Researchers Hope to Learn Studying Obama’s Social Media Archives

Texas researchers will do a deep dive into the first social media president’s online presence.

By Rhonda Fanning & Alexandra HartJanuary 10, 2017 10:34 am| ,

As President Barack Obama leaves office, one of the legacies he’ll leave behind is his social media presence. He was one of the first presidents to use social media in such an extensive way, across multiple platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

A professor at the University of Texas School of Information will be the first to do a deep dive into the complete social media record of the Obama administration, in hopes of exploring how this new institution has altered the landscape of the presidency.

Amelia Acker will be leading the research. She answered a call from the White House for creative and new uses for social media data. She’ll use the information to teach her new metadata course.

“The data archive itself illustrates the power of social media adoption rates over the past eight years,” Acker says. “The idea here is to use this cutting edge broad archive … to learn about the metadata concepts and preservation standards to provide long-term access to digital collections like this.”

Acker says Obama’s social media use was a way the public could engage with the administration more directly than before. She says a deep dive into the data will help show that.

“It will illustrate how these different kinds of platforms of media reach Americans where they’re already at and how they already share and access information about their communities, current events and so on,” she says.

But Acker says the value of the archive is less about President Obama and more about the future of understanding media in a shifting world.

“I think it’s a really big gift to the public to make this data open and available,” she says.

Written by Beth Cortez-Neavel.