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Wednesday June 28, 2017

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Ryerson University open social media hub to study online interactions and networks

Ryerson University has opened their newly created Social Media Lab in Toronto, one of many similar workshops opening in the city to research social media and online communication. As more and more people join the ranks of cyber-connected users on networks such as Facebook and Twitter, researchers hurry to investigate more deeply into the ethics and protocols of the data generated by social media. 

“More and more Canadians are joining social media sites,” says Anatoliy Gruzd an associate professor at the Ted Rogers School of Management at Ryerson University and the director of the school’s newly created Social Media Lab.

“All these people contribute all kinds of data about themselves, their relationships, their interests.  This data is publicly available for decision makers,” adds Gruzd who recently moved to Toronto from Halifax’s Dalhousie University to set up the lab.

Grutz believes that while looking at data from social media can answer many concerns Canadians have about various issues, causes and campaigns, examining these new data sets does pose some questions.

“To the average person there is the issue that their data is being used for analysis, sometimes without their knowledge or consent,” says Gruzd.

Gruzd believes that Ryerson is an ideal place to establish research in the Social Media Lab because Ryerson is already home to a number of laboratories and centers that are dedicated to these areas of study like the Digital Media Zone not to mention the university’s partnerships with industry leaders like Google.

While the Social Media Lab at Ryerson is the newest iteration of a social media-focused thinktank, Toronto is well on it’s way to establishing itself as an important social media hotspot.

“We have a very vibrant and active social media community in this city,” says Jenna Jacobson, a PhD candidate at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Information. Jacobson, alongside Gruzd, is one of four co-organizers for this year’s Social Media & Society conference taking place in Toronto on September 27 and 28.

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