CAT4SMR (Capture and Analysis Tools for Social Media Research) seeks to stabilize and further develop a set of existing and heavily used tools for the collection and analysis of social media data (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Reddit, 4chan). Developed within the framework of the UvA’s Digital Methods Initiative, our tools – Netvizz (currently not available), DMI-TCAT, YouTube Data Tools, 4CAT, and others – have been mainstays of the Dutch and international research landscape for years, allowing researchers to make sense of these increasingly dominant online platforms and the cultural practices they host.
Due to continuous changes in data access (e.g. APIs), legal context (e.g. GDPR), data formats, and terms of service (TOS), researchers’ access to social media platforms has been rendered more difficult and the mission our tools strive to fulfill – easy but robust access to platform data and analysis for researchers in the humanities and social sciences – has become more challenging.
Providing research infrastructures, in this context, is much more than building tools. We are therefore not only investing time on sustainable technical development, support, and maintenance, but also on the increasingly difficult work of negotiating access conditions with platform owners, for documentation and teaching resources, for testing the reliability and reproducibility of results, and for the continuous furthering of methodological innovation.
This project is currently from September 2020 to August 2025.