Halcyon days of social media research

Re-reading, while I write our upcoming policy module, Ben Williamson’s excellent 2015 article on policy labs, in which he uses the hashtag #psilabs to trace connections between various policy actors. I can’t imagine trusting that sort of analysis now, on an automated and thoroughly-gamed internet: how would you know a hashtag was added by the author, or was used in good faith, whatever that means, or meant what you think it does? Hashtags are going to remain something social researchers need to pay attention to, but the days when they behaved in a straight-forward way must surely be over. That phase of social media research is something we can historicise.