Reimagining current messaging systems on the social internet – UROP Spring Symposium 2021

Reimagining current messaging systems on the social internet

Eleanor Desmond


Pronouns: She/her

Research Mentor(s): Eric Gilbert, John Derby Evans Associate Professor
Research Mentor School/College/Department: School of Information,
Presentation Date: Thursday, April 22, 2021
Session: Session 1 (10am-10:50am)
Breakout Room: Room 18
Presenter: 2

Event Link


While social networks have enabled improved communication globally, it has also exacerbated unsolicited communication and harassing messages which consistently target vulnerable, marginalized groups. Consentful Messaging offers Twitter users the ability to filter potential message senders before the risk of receiving unsolicited messages through a system built on Twitter’s API, Django, MySQL, Python, and JavaScript. The field deployment of Consentful Messaging will reveal how social media users choose to exercise agency over receiving messages and to what extent they wish to customize potential message senders. Consentful Messaging provides the following customizable functions that a Twitter user can use to carve out the network that can initiate interactions: the user can set a threshold of number of followers required for a potential message sender, the system only allows notifications or messages from accounts that the user follows, the user can determine whether the potential message sender is followed by at least one account that the user follows, and verify whether the user has ever replied to a message/tweet from the potential message sender. In short, Consentful Messaging aims to offer a customizable layer of protection to social media users, especially marginalized groups, by providing a board for healthy interactions among users. We plan to deploy the system and conduct a field study sometime in the spring. This field study will help us understand the effectiveness of the approach, and show how and to what extent Twitter users choose to protect themselves from unsolicited messages with the help of technology.

Authors: Jolie Kaplan, Jane Im
Research Method: Computer Programming

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