Civic Signals Initiative

Discussions of digital space often focus on eliminating troubling content or improving the user-friendliness of the design. We’re proposing that digital spaces, like the physical spaces we inhabit, should use public-friendly design.

This idea underpins Civic Signals, a project of the National Conference on Citizenship and the Center for Media Engagement. As part of this project, Civic Signals released the results of a two-year-long study, the largest global survey of social media superusers to date, which uncovered users’ perceptions of the strengths and weaknesses of many of today’s top online platforms.

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.

As part of the research initiative, the Center for Media Engagement asked social media users to identify the positive and negative aspects of using these platforms. The focus groups took place across five countries, but the responses were surprisingly consistent. More on this study is available here.

The full results of the research can be found on the New_ Public by Civic Signals website. New_ Public is Civic Signals’ media project and digital community space.