Practicing Information Literacy on Social Media

Ongoing dissertation research

How can we re-imagine social media design to support practicing information literacy? My doctoral prelim exam and dissertation research examine the psychosocial influences of social media design on practicing information literacy—not just that of everyday users but of social media content creators, the powerhouse of today’s information ecosystem. I propose design interventions to nudge purposeful and reflective social media use and discuss implications for information literacy campaigns and policies around social media.


  • Information literacy (IL) campaigns so far have largely relied on instructions and individuals’ voluntary self-control. The big next step should demand systemic changes—to make social media a more information literacy friendly environment.
  • Practicing information literacy (IL) under three key design features of the current commercial social media stream (i.e., feeds):
    • Algorithmic content curation
    • Normative cues (identity cues + social reactions)
    • Attention economy
  • I connect the literature in social media studies, behavioral intervention, library and information science, human-computer interaction, and computer-mediated communication.
  • I invite social media content creators and library/information professionals to envision social media design that facilitates informed and agentic information interactions.


Literature review, semi-structured interviews, mock-up designs, surveys, focus groups

expected Contributions

  • Seek ways to reduce the burden/cognitive load of stakeholders in the information disorder
    • The platform’s burden of content moderation, the information consumers’ burden of fact-checking, the information producers’ burden of algorithmic labor
  • Provide social media design recommendations with regard to content arrangement, interface cues, and behavioral nudges
  • Develop deeper insights into how people understand the interplay between user agency and system agency

Understanding Perpetrators and Public Perceptions of Online Harms

oral & written Communication

some issues we tackle

  • How do we design a less-stigmatizing survey instrument to access people who engage in online harassment?
  • We know online harassment is “serious”…can we quantitatively measure the perceived severity by the general public? What factors contribute to the perceived severity, and how do they differ by different demographics/experiences?
  • ‘Online harassment’ is a vague, controversial umbrella term. What are some alternatives?


Negative Interface Cues Against Online Harassment

Can Dislikes and Flags be used against online harassment—even when the harassment is justified and supported through Likes as an act of moral outrage? Online retributive harassment, or harassment targeted at social wrongdoers (e.g., criminals, racists), is a prevalent, often seemingly justifiable, and thus hard-to-moderate type of harassment that’s intertwined with online shaming and cancel culture. We experiment if negative interface cues (i.e., Dislikes and flags) can signal a social norm against retributive harassment. The negative cues are predicted to overpower positive cues (e.g., Likes) based on the theory of negativity effect—but we reveal a more complicated picture.

Happy to mentor and collaborate with a master’s student, Shriya Hardikar (U of Michigan)

ORAL & Written communication

Some assumptions we challenge

  • People assume that the Dislike button will be abused FOR harassment… but can we experiment if it can be used AGAINST harassment?
  • Online bystanders are often assumed to be helpful and empathetic towards the victim of the harassment. However, they might as well be antagonistic and escalate the situation depending on the social context and their own dispositions.


  • Identify, test, and compare theoretical frameworks of interface cues around social norms and harassment
  • Suggest interface design for bystander intervention that accounts for people’s psychosocial tendencies

Sense-Making of COVID-19 Deaths

WORK in progress

Speaking ill of the dead, particularly those who were average citizens without high social profiles is a widespread social taboo—but we are seeing numerous counterexamples around COVID-19 deaths. I’m investigating how people make sense of COVID-19 deaths, especially the deaths of anti-vaxxers in frustration and anger, which involves online harassment and shaming. Why are people engaging in online shaming of the dead (and sometimes the bereaved)? Rather than dismissing it as an immoral, malevolent activity, I bring in a different theoretical perspective.

Happy to mentor and collaborate with an undergrad student, Angela Voit (U of Michigan), and a master’s student, Manvitha Madem (U of Michigan)

Usability Testing: Mental Health Intervention App for Senior Citizens