JITP 2011: The Future of Computational Social Science

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Analyzing publicly available content on various social media sites such as YouTube and Twitter, as well as social network sites such as Facebook, has become an increasingly popular method for studying socio-political issues. Such public-contributed content, primarily available as comments, let people express their opinions and sentiments on a given topic, news-story, or post, while allowing social and political scientists to extend their analysis of a political discourse to social sphere. We recognize the importance of Facebook in such analysis and present several approaches and observations of collecting and analyzing public comments from it. In particular, we demonstrate what it takes to do this manually, what we could learn from it, and how we can automate this process using a Facebook Harvester tool we have developed. In addition, we show how a hybrid approach can be formed giving us quick and easy data collection, and meaningful data analysis with substantially less effort than a manual approach. We believe these methods and tools will be highly valuable for political scientists in studying various political discourses as they take place in the Web 2.0 world.