University of Michigan
News for Faculty and Staff

September 23, 2018

New U-M website aims to help public navigate social media

June 30, 2018

New U-M website aims to help public navigate social media

Topic: Campus News

The University of Michigan is launching a new website intended to help people navigate the social media landscape.

U-M Social and the School of Information Center for Social Media Responsibility have partnered to launch Social Integrity, a new website designed to promote digital citizenship and offer resources to help members of the campus community and general public protect their privacy, spot fake news and learn how best to deal with bad behavior on social sites.

The site’s launch coincided with the ninth annual Social Media Day on June 30.

“Social Integrity is about educating social media users to create a more productive online space and empowering them to use the tools for the betterment of society,” said Nikki Sunstrum, director of social media.

Sunstrum and the U-M Social team within the Office of the Vice President for Communications have worked in the past five years to establish a sweeping proactive and strategic approach to social communications.

These efforts included:

• Collaborating early on with the School of Information to address online harassment when social platform Yik Yak was at its peak.

• Using social media to address crucial topics affecting university communities such as mental health and sexual assault.

• Advocating for the promotion of research through increased faculty public engagement on social media channels.

The Social Integrity site includes tools to help users understand their digital footprint, protect themselves online and cultivate civil social media communities. Among the resources is an interactive game to teach children to be safe explorers of the online world and a glossary of social media vernacular to help parents communicate with their kids.

The School of Information established the Center for Social Media Responsibility earlier this year to address challenges and opportunities that have arisen from the explosive growth in social media, now a primary information source for many.

The center’s mission states its goal is to help and encourage social media platforms to meet their public responsibilities by dealing with the “challenges that come with broad access to public communication channels: harassment; a credibility vacuum; a race to the bottom in the competition for attention; a triumph of mobilization within echo chambers over persuasion across political fault lines.”

Garlin Gilchrist, executive director of the center, said the website’s message that “it’s time to reclaim your space” is meant to empower individuals to do their part to create a positive and civil online environment.

“We provide people who participate in our information ecosystem with tools and insight that will improve the quality of how people connect and share information,” he said. “The Social Integrity site is a key resource that will help improve our collective experience online.”