Yesterday, the MIT Media Lab created the Laboratory for Social Machines (LSM), thanks to a five-year, $10 million commitment from Twitter. Basically, Twitter needs some smart people to figure out how social movements spread on Twitter.

LSM’s goal? To create new technologies to understand the social patterns across the public mass media, social media and digital content. Once these patterns are better understood, new platforms will be created to “act on pressing societal problems.”

“The Laboratory for Social Machines will experiment in areas of public communication and social organization where humans and machines collaborate on problems that can’t be solved manually or through automation alone,” says Deb Roy, an associate professor at the Media Lab who will lead the LSM, and who also serves as Twitter’s chief media scientist.

“Social feedback loops based on analysis of public media and data can be an effective catalyst for increasing accountability and transparency — creating mutual visibility among institutions and individuals.”

According to MIT, LSM will have complete operational and academic independence. And, it can work on various platforms besides Twitter. Other platforms include news organizations and political and social movements.

Twitter CEO Dick Costolo touched on the investment in a statement.

“With this investment, Twitter is seizing the opportunity to go deeper into research to understand the role Twitter and other platforms play in the way people communicate, the effect that rapid and fluid communication can have and apply those findings to complex social issues.”

“The hope is that their research team will be able to understand how movements are started by better understanding how information spreads on Twitter,” said Mark Gillis.

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