A Korean, a German, and an American walked into a meeting room in the middle of Jerusalem… This is not the beginning of a bad joke, but rather a description of the start of the DigitalValues research project. In October 2019, an international team consisting of Bumsoo Kim, Rebecca Scharlach, Blake Hallinan, Saki Mizoroki, and Tommaso Trilllò, led by Limor Shifman, convened at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem to investigate the construction of values on and through social media. With nearly 3 billion users worldwide, social media has emerged as an important arena where values are expressed, contested, and shaped. YouTube videos, Facebook posts, and tweets reflect what people across the globe consider desirable or reprehensible. Algorithmic recommendation and content moderation practices establish what is important and permissible---and what is not. Understanding this pervasive value ecology is key to deciphering the political, cultural, and social processes governing the twenty-first century.
Funded by the European Research Council (ERC) [ID 819004] , the DigitalValues research team is conducting the first comprehensive study of values in social media. Carried out comparatively in five languages (English, Italian, German, Japanese, Korean), DigitalValues analyzes explicit talk about values on social media, the implicit construction of values through genres of user-generated content, and the evaluation of values through the practices of commenting, sharing, and liking. Along the way, the project will assess the relationship between social media platforms, values, and globalization.