Dr Farida Vis

Research Fellow in the Social Sciences

BA (Staffordshire University), PhD (Manchester Metropolitan University)

Dr Farida Vis


+44 (0)114 222 2654

Twitter: @flygirltwo

I joined the University of Sheffield in 2012 as a Faculty Research Fellow. During 2012-2015 my Fellowship examined ‘Big Data and Social Change’, focusing on social media, Big Data, data journalism and citizen engagement. For 2015-2017 it will focus on ‘The Futures of the Visual Web’, advancing some of these earlier concerns through a specific focus on visual aspects of the web and social media.

I direct the Visual Social Media Lab, which brings together a group of interdisciplinary researchers from academia and industry interested in analyzing social media images. The lab was launched last year as part of the ESRC funded Transformative Research project ‘Picturing the social: transforming our understanding of images in social media and Big Data research’. In the lab I am principal investigator on a number of funded projects, and focus on issues around Algorithmic Visibility, investigating how platforms make images visible to users and why this visibility matters (for example in relation to civic participation).

I have developed critical methods and tools for analyzing social media data and have worked in this area for over a decade. High profile interdisciplinary and cross-sector projects include leading the social media analysis on the ‘Reading the Riots’ project led by The Guardian newspaper, which examined 2.6 million tweets following the 2011 UK summer riots and produced an award-winning visualization (by The Guardian interactive team) which showed how rumors spread on Twitter.

Taking seriously the need to engage beyond academia, I sit on the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Social Media and the Board of Directors of the Big Boulder Initiative (BBI) a new organization focused on the sustainable future of the social data industry. As part of the BBI I am working on creating new and innovative ways for social data researchers from a range of sectors to share ideas and work together more closely.

I also teach a popular postgraduate module on social media analytics, now in its fourth year. I welcome PhD applications connected to the interests of the Visual Social Media Lab.

University Responsibilities

  • Module Coordinator: Researching Social Media (PG).
  • Member of the Digital Societies Research Group.