According to Eric P.S. Baumer, an assistant professor of computer science and engineering who studies human-computer interaction, society’s entanglement with social media is more complicated than it may appear. His new research takes a fine-grained look at Facebook use and non-use, using a more nuanced approach than has previously been utilized.

“My analysis reveals that individuals from lower-income households are less likely ever to have had a Facebook account,” says Baumer, who is affiliated with the University’s new Interdisciplinary Research Institute for Data, Intelligent Systems, and Computation. “Yet, social networks have been shown to play an important role in fostering ‘social capital,’ which can be leveraged for accomplishing certain tasks, including securing employment. Also, respondents who had looked for work within the last four weeks were more likely to have deactivated their Facebook accounts—eliminating a potential resource in their job search.”

“Facebook, rather than acting as a democratizer,” he writes, “may be perpetuating existing social inequalities.”

Read the full story—which was covered by Fox News, The Business Standard, and The Economic Times (India), among others—at the Lehigh University News Center.

Eric P.S. Baumer

Eric P.S. Baumer, Assistant Professor of Computer Science and Engineering, Lehigh University