15th ACM Web Science Conference: Inequalities in the Face of Concurrent Crises

30 April – 1 May 2023

Austin, Texas, USA (and online)

With the full conference program now being available on our website (https://websci23.webscience.org/program/), this second bulletin gives you an overview of the different events taking place throughout our two conference days.

Day 1 (Sunday, 30th of April) starts with the opening ceremony, introducing this year’s conference theme of Inequalities in the Face of Concurrent Crises and providing some information about the logistics and the various activities surrounding the WebSci’23 conference. The paper sessions happening throughout the day are on Politics and Ideology, Language and Emotions, and Online Communities and Digital Analytics. They are presented in a bit more detail and with little sneak-peeks of the exciting contents you may expect to learn about below. The day closes with the first of three keynotes; we are honored to invite internet-pioneer Bob Metcalfe to the stage, who will share his thoughts on the past, present, and future of the web with us. Afterwards, the Web Science Trust is inviting the conference participants to a reception event.

On Day 2 (Monday, 1st of May), we start with yet another keynote; make sure to get up early and join for Dhiraj Murthy’s talk. Afterwards, we will have the paper sessions on Fairness and Bias, Harmful and Problematic Behavior, and Misinformation and Misperceptions. David Rand’s keynote will then provide the perfect segway into our “The Future of Web Science”-panel. On the panel, we will have our conference chairs Dame Wendy Hall and Noshir Contractor discuss the future of web science with Deborah McGuinness (RPI), Weihang Wang (USC), and Ricardo Baeza-Yates (Northeastern University). The panel is moderated by Emőke-Ágnes Horvát, yet another of our conference chairs. After the panel and to close the conference in style, we will have the Awards Session. Make sure to join either in person or virtually when the winners of this year’s Web Science Trust Test of Time and Best Paper Awards are revealed! And for those who like to plan ahead, we will also learn about the location of next year’s conference.

If this all sounds as interesting to you as it does to us, make sure to use the opportunity to register. Registration is still open both for in-person attendance in Austin as well as for virtual attendance. Read more about the registration modalities on our website (https://websci23.webscience.org/registration/). 

Not yet convinced? Then keep on reading below and learn about the amazing presentations we will have during the first day’s paper sessions! And stay tuned, as a deep dive into the paper sessions on the second day will follow soon.

For this and everything else #WebSci23, keep an eye on the hashtag on social media, and check our website for further updates.

Best wishes

WebSci’23 Conference Committee

Paper Session 1 (Sunday, 11:00 AM – 12:30 PM): Politics and Ideology

Our first papers session of the conference is packed with social media studies into issues of politics and ideology online. 

We will learn about the communications patterns around changes in governments in democratic nations through our two first papers. Kunihiro Miyazaki and colleagues will present their work on the “honeymoon” effect, exploring how the activities of social media users might help explain the phenomenon of high approval ratings for newly elected leaders. Right after that, we will hear from Francesco Pierri, who puts a focus on the understudied but highly impactful topic of digital advertising in the run-up to elections. 

Political communication is also the subject of study in the next papers of this session. Hong Zhang and colleagues not only propose a hashtag-based stance labelling method, but also explore the hidden connections between seemingly independent political topics. After that, Paulo Henrique Santos and colleagues present their work on the political debate that is happening through TikTok videos in Brazil, sharing their insights on how to study this much discussed but arguably still understudied platform.

The first paper session ends with an exploration of the ideological spaces that women create for themselves online by Utkucan Balci and colleagues. While they extend their study of Reddit communities to the places to which some of the communities that were banned migrated to, Amaury Trujillo and Stefano Cresci studied the impact of exactly such moderation decisions. In the final paper of this session, they take a closer look at the user-level effects of moderation decisions on Reddit.

Paper Session 2 (Sunday, 1:30 PM – 3:00 PM): Language and Emotions

The first session on Sunday afternoon provides an overview of some of the most recent research into the intersection between language and emotion

Jinfen Li and Lu Xiao go first and present how they developed their Multi-EmoBERT tool to help identify multiple, co-existing emotions within a single text. Applying their method to fake news datasets, they explore the relationships between veracity, stance, and emotion. While Julie Jiang and colleagues also use emotions as a dimension of analysis, their research takes another direction, focusing on the subset of geotagged Tweets. Comparing them to a random dataset of Tweets, they discuss the characteristics of geotagged Tweets and raise awareness for potential issues of representativity when working with this specific type of social media data.

Hadi Asghari and colleagues take a closer look at the important topic of accessibility and inclusion. They explore the prevalence of “Leicht Sprache” – language meant to be easily understandable – on the German web and derive a set of technical and policy recommendations for a more inclusive web based on their findings.

The first of two studies into mental health issues within this paper session comes from Juhi Mittal and colleagues. By comparing and contrasting the Reddit posts sent to mental health subreddits by users who are also active in immigration subreddits to those of users that are not, they explore the changes in the language of mental health around immigration experiences. Also leveraging online language markers on Reddit, Tingting Liu and colleagues develop prediction models for detecting symptom of depression discourse and show that these models even work reliably for texts from other sources.

In between these two studies working with Reddit data, Dominik Bär and colleagues present their work on the social media activities around open-source journalism, using the example of the Bellingcat Twitter account. They look at the relative importance of open-source journalism for the traditional media ecosystem, explore the characteristics of successful user engagement, and assess the impact of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on the sentiment of the follower base towards Bellingcat.

Paper Session 3 (Sunday, 3:15 PM – 4:45 PM): Online Communities and Digital Analytics

The last paper session of Day 1 is all about exploring the characteristics of online communities and the digital analytics tools available for that.

Tom Alby starts the session with a talk on Google Analytics and the use of its features by webmasters, discussing whether or not their capabilities and data literacy as well as the requirements imposed by the GDPR led to the most efficient use of web analytics methods.

Mohit Chandra and Munmun de Choudhury – one of the winners of last year’s Test of Time award – will present their recent work on the effects of Covid-19 on employee experiences, focusing on the state and a potential new future of (remote) work post-pandemic.

Yuki Yanagida and colleagues go next with their study on the relationship between web information-seeking behavior and post-purchase satisfaction, leveraging insights from web search logs and product ratings on an e-commerce site.

In a study that is potentially relevant for the many web scientists relying on crowdworkers for their research, Catherince C. Marshall and Frank Shipman investigate the differences in bad data from surveys fielded in 2013, 2018, 2019, and 2022.

Focusing on yet another platform, Pier Paolo Tricomi and colleagues take a closer look at what is popular on Instagram, studying the underlying mechanisms that drive engagement. From their interpretable models, they derive guidelines for creating successful posts – so don’t miss this presentation if you want to kickstart your Instagram-influencer career!

The day of presentations closes with Alyssa Sha and colleagues, who propose a tool to link topics across Q&A platforms like Zhihu and Quora. They compare the results of their Wikidata-based method with outputs generated via GPT-3, addressing existing issues in the large language model.