Civic Signals Research Unveiled at New_ Public Festival

Civic Signals, a project created to explore what makes digital spaces public-friendly, released the results of a two-year-long study, the largest global survey of social media superusers to date, which uncovered users’ perceptions of strengths and weaknesses of many of today’s top online platforms. The results were unveiled by Civic Signals co-founders Talia Stroud and Eli Pariser at the New_ Public Festival.

The research is centered around 14 design principles (“signals”) that together encompass what thriving, healthy social media platforms need to aspire to, from ensuring users’ safety to showing reliable information and bridging connections between groups. The signals were developed through an extensive review of existing literature and research, as well as interviews and feedback from experts across a number of fields and global vantage points and focus groups across five countries.

Civic Signals conducted survey research in 20 countries to understand how people value these signals and how citizens evaluate current platforms on them. The survey asked superusers of each platform, or people who used a particular search, social, or messaging platform most frequently, to indicate whether each signal was important as well as to rate the platform’s performance on each signal. The results reveal not only how different groups view social media platforms but where each platform excels, and where their design falls short.

Full findings are available here.