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Facebook History Collector: A New Method for Directly Collecting Data from Facebook

Rosanna E. Guadagno, Tonio A. Loewald, Nicole L. Muscanell, Joan M. Barth, Melissa K. Goodwin and Yang Yang
Additional contact information
Rosanna E. Guadagno: National Science Foundation, Arlington VA, USA
Tonio A. Loewald: Loewald New Media, Arlington VA, USA
Nicole L. Muscanell: The University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL, USA
Joan M. Barth: The University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL, USA
Melissa K. Goodwin: The University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL, USA
Yang Yang: The University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL, USA

International Journal of Interactive Communication Systems and Technologies (IJICST), 2013, vol. 3, issue 1, 57-67

Abstract: Social networking sites are a rich source of untapped data. While much research has focused on Facebook and other social networks, less has done so by collecting information straight from the source. The purpose of this paper is to present a new and innovative means of gathering raw data from Facebook via a software program the authors call the Facebook History Collector. Initially developed to study Facebook activity in the wake of a destructive tornado that occurred in Tuscaloosa, Alabama on April 27, 2011, this tool allows for retrieving massive amounts of text, photographs, and videos directly from Facebook during a period of time set by the researcher. In this article, the authors argue that the new method has broad implications for use within the research community as it allows capturing real-time social media interactions. The process of software development, data collection, technical details, and ethical considerations are discussed.

Date: 2013
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