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  1. COVID-19 has been a sustained and global crisis with a strong continual impact on daily life. Staying accurately informed about COVID-19 has been key to personal and communal safety, especially for essential workers— individuals whose jobs have required them to go into work throughout the pandemic—as their employment has exposed them to higher risks of contracting the virus. Through 14 semi-structured interviews, we explore how essential workers across industries navigated the COVID-19 information landscape to get up-to-date information in the early months of the pandemic. We find that essential workers living through a sustained crisis have a broad set of information needs. We summarize these needs in a framework that centers 1) fulfilling job requirements, 2) assessing personal risk, and 3) keeping up with crisis news coverage. Our findings also show that the sustained nature of COVID-19 crisis coverage led essential workers to experience breaking points and develop coping strategies. Additionally, we show how workplace communications may act as a mediating force in this process: lack of adequate information in the workplace caused workers to struggle with navigating a contested information landscape, while consistent updates and information exchanges at work could ease the stress of information overload. Our findings extendmore »the crisis informatics field by providing contextual knowledge about the information needs of essential workers during a sustained crisis.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available October 1, 2023
  2. During the COVID-19 pandemic, local news organizations have played an important role in keeping communities informed about the spread and impact of the virus. We explore how political, social media, and economic factors impacted the way local media reported on COVID-19 developments at a national scale between January 2020 and July 2021. We construct and make available a dataset of over 10,000 local news organizations and their social media handles across the U.S. We use social media data to estimate the population reach of outlets (their “localness”), and capture underlying content relationships between them. Building on this data, we analyze how local and national media covered four key COVID-19 news topics: Statistics and Case Counts, Vaccines and Testing, Public Health Guidelines, and Economic Effects. Our results show that news outlets with higher population reach reported proportionally more on COVID-19 than more local outlets. Separating the analysis by topic, we expose more nuanced trends, for example that outlets with a smaller population reach covered the Statistics and Case Counts topic proportionally more, and the Economic Effects topic proportionally less. Our analysis further shows that people engaged proportionally more and used stronger reactions when COVID-19 news were posted by outlets with amore »smaller population reach. Finally, we demonstrate that COVID-19 posts in Republican-leaning counties generally received more comments and fewer likes than in Democratic counties, perhaps indicating controversy.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 1, 2023
  3. Extending the benefits of online reading to people with reading disabilities such as dyslexia requires broader research on reading behavior in addition to existing small-scale eye-tracking studies. We conduct the first large-scale mixed-methods study of the unique reading challenges of people with dyslexia. We combine in-person interviews (N=6), online surveys (N=566) and a novel browser-based tool able to measure detailed reading behavior remotely on a controlled set of five pages (N=477) or as a browser extension (N=89) collecting long-term reading behavior data on self-selected pages. We find a variety of text and page layout factors that pose challenges to readers with and without dyslexia, and identify in-browser reading behaviors associated with dyslexia. Findings point toward improvements to technologies for identifying struggling readers, and to ways to improve the layout and appearance of online articles to improve reading ease for people with and without dyslexia.
  4. Social media provides a critical communication platform for political figures, but also makes them easy targets for harassment. In this paper, we characterize users who adversarially interact with political figures on Twitter using mixed-method techniques. The analysis is based on a dataset of 400 thousand users' 1.2 million replies to 756 candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives in the two months leading up to the 2018 midterm elections. We show that among moderately active users, adversarial activity is associated with decreased centrality in the social graph and increased attention to candidates from the opposing party. When compared to users who are similarly active, highly adversarial users tend to engage in fewer supportive interactions with their own party's candidates and express negativity in their user profiles. Our results can inform the design of platform moderation mechanisms to support political figures countering online harassment.
  5. Adversarial interactions against politicians on social media such as Twitter have significant impact on society. In particular they disrupt substantive political discussions online, and may discourage people from seeking public office. In this study, we measure the adversarial interactions against candidates for the US House of Representatives during the run-up to the 2018 US general election. We gather a new dataset consisting of 1.7 million tweets involving candidates, one of the largest corpora focusing on political discourse. We then develop a new technique for detecting tweets with toxic con-tent that are directed at any specific candidate. Such technique allows us to more accurately quantify adversarial interactions towards political candidates. Further, we introduce an algorithm to induce candidate-specific adversarial terms to capture more nuanced adversarial interactions that previous techniques may not consider toxic. Finally, we use these techniques to outline the breadth of adversarial interactions seen in the election, including offensive name-calling, threats of violence, posting discrediting information, attacks on identity, and adversarial message repetition.
  6. Abstract We define Artificial Intelligence-Mediated Communication (AI-MC) as interpersonal communication in which an intelligent agent operates on behalf of a communicator by modifying, augmenting, or generating messages to accomplish communication goals. The recent advent of AI-MC raises new questions about how technology may shape human communication and requires re-evaluation – and potentially expansion – of many of Computer-Mediated Communication’s (CMC) key theories, frameworks, and findings. A research agenda around AI-MC should consider the design of these technologies and the psychological, linguistic, relational, policy and ethical implications of introducing AI into human–human communication. This article aims to articulate such an agenda.
  7. This interactive poster will discuss challenges and lessons learned designing and deploying ShareBox, a hardware-based system that enables people to share physical resources within local communities. Our goal in sharing the insights and struggles we encountered creating ShareBox is to help other researchers working on similar platforms to avoid the pitfalls that impacted our research.