The civic engagement team at Facebook has a goal of giving people a greater voice in their government. My work for the past few years has been focused on understanding how people use Facebook for civic participation, improving connections between people and their elected representatives, helping voters be more informed about the candidates for whom they might vote, and other things along these lines. An example of the work produced by the civic engagement team can be found at facebook.com/townhall.
Crisis mapping is when a set of volunteers uses social media and other available information to identify problems that happen during a crisis, validate, and geolocate them so first responders know how to allocate resources. In work with Andrew Mao, Sid Suri, and Duncan Watts, we created an experimental platform for understanding the impact of team size on productivity in the context of crisis mapping. I also worked briefly on Facebook's disaster maps.
Amazon's Mechanical Turk is a crowdsourcing platform where any individual can come and do micro-tasks such as labeling images or classifying websites for small amounts of money. As an online labor market, it also can serve as a pool of low-cost paid participants for behavioral research, and Sid Suri and I wrote a guide on how to use the platform for behavioral research.
In a research project with Flickr, Kellan Elliot-McCrea, Jake Hofman, Sid Suri, and I created an experiment that compared several possible means of recommending photos. This ultiamtely became a feature in Flickr's "Explore" feature on Android.