The social media have already become integrated in the daily lives and practices of millions of people. As a phenomenon, they represent a transition from networked into platformed sociality enabled by the diffusion of social media tools (Van Dijck, 2013). With respect to the social dimension of social media, social media platforms enable user-generated content which allows for self-representation with the objective of influencing others and creating an image that is consistent with one’s personal identity (Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010). Platforms such as social networking sites can thus be seen as interaction machines (Wegner, 1997) where large-scale communal and social interactions create and enable a massive production and reproduction of social data.
The case study research design will be the guiding empirical framework of this project. To understand the production and reproduction of social data, we plan to closely follow local and world news to select a unique case (Bryman & Bell, 2015) of a viral event. This can be about elections, scientific discoveries, natural disasters, or even funny stories that may attract user attention. Considering that these events are spontaneous and time-limited, it becomes natural to leave the selection of the case until the early stages of the project.