What is My Social Media Report?

MSMR is a social media research platform developed by researchers in the School of Information at the University of Michigan. Up until now, social media could only be researched one platform at a time, which is a very limited view of how people communicate and share information online.

With this study, the University of Michigan will become the first institution to attempt a large-scale study on the way people use all of their social media across platforms.This research can only be accomplished with participants willing to contribute to the project.

HOW-TO:

Am I eligible to participate in the MSMR study?

You must be 18 years old to participate in the study. You must also have Google Chrome installed on your computer. There are no other eligibility requirements.

What will I have to do as a participant in the study?

Once you install MSMR, you can go about your internet browsing as you would normally. You will receive occasional invitations to participate in optional surveys connected to ongoing research efforts; by participating in these studies, you contribute important complementary information that helps us answer research questions.

How will you use my email address if I agree to be a study participant?

The primary purpose for your sharing your email address is to link all of your devices to the same user profile. In addition, your email address will be used for communication from the research team. Communication may include:

  • Invitations to complete optional surveys
  • Updates about functionality or new features of MSMR
  • Assistance with technical issues for your account
Can I turn off MSMR off?

Yes. If you browse in Incognito mode, all browser extensions, including MSMR, will be temporarily disabled by default. You can permanently uninstall the extension and app at any time.

INSTALLATION:

How do I install MSMR?

MSMR is available as a Chrome browser extension. Currently, MSMR is not compatible with any other browser or mobile operating system. You can install Google Chrome here.

There are two steps to install MSMR:

  1. Follow the links on our home page, where you can download MSMR from the Chrome web store. We encourage study participants to download MSMR on all of their compatible devices.
  2. Register or sign in as a participant in the study. After you install MSMR, the app will guide you through the registration process. If you are a new user, you will be asked to consent to being a research participant and register your email. You will only have to do this once.
Do I have to use Chrome for MSMR?

Currently, MSMR is only available on Chrome. If you would like, you can install Google Chrome here. We are currently working on expanding to be compatible with more browsers and mobile operating systems.

THE MSMR TOOL:

How does My Social Media Report work?

In order to learn about how social media behavior works across platforms, a collection of use data needs to be gathered. MSMR is a tool that enables the collection of data, and runs unobtrusively in the background as you browse the web.

Three kinds of data are collected:

  1. If you visit a social network site, MSMR records that you visited the site and the time of your visit. It does not record the individual pages you visit. You can see a summary of your social network visits by clicking on the MSMR icon at the top of your screen.
  2. MSMR captures visits to some popular non-social media website pages if they include social media links. For instance, if you visit a page on the New York Times website, MSMR will collect the URL of the page, all the links to social media on the page, and record if you clicked on any of the social media links.
  3. MSMR tracks a small number of keywords that may appear in the pages you visit. The only information it collects is the number of times a keyword appears on a page. For instance, during a sporting event, MSMR may count how many times the words “Wolverines” or “Buckeyes” appear on pages you visit.

The full list of websites currently collected for this study can be found here. The list includes some of the 200 most popular websites in the U.S., as ranked by Alexa.com. Websites with sensitive content are not tracked.

Who will see my information?

Privacy of study participants is an important part of the project, and user anonymity will be protected. The research team alone will be able to view your use data, including the page URL, timestamp, and keywords. Any personal identifying information collected during the study will be stored separately from all the social media log information and will never be examined, except as part of technical support if you are experiencing difficulties with our software. All logs will be deleted after 18 months. We will never share your email address or any identifying information about you with any third party, ever.

Your participation is contributing to research efforts on social media use. Study results may be published in research publications and shared with users. Your participation will be completely anonymous in any research results. The data will be aggregated across many users.

What websites are tracked?

The comprehensive list of websites collected by the MSMR tool can be found here.

ABOUT THE PROJECT:

Who is the MSMR research team?
Who has sponsored the project?

Major financial support has been provided by Google, with additional support provided by Facebook. No personally identifiable data will be shared with sponsors.