The SMART (Social Media and Ad Relationship Tracking) Project is a yearlong research project by the Institute for Democracy, Journalism and Citizenship and a team from Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies to examine trends in the U.S. presidential race and other top 2024 contests.

The project seeks to illuminate hidden trends and actors spreading and influencing inaccurate information targeting U.S. voters through social media. It is made possible thanks to a research grant from Neo4j and use of the company’s graph database technology and experts.

The research team’s efforts focus on dissecting misinformation themes, pinpointing origins of messages and tracing misinformation by collecting and algorithmically classifying ads run on Facebook and Instagram as well as social media posts on Facebook and X, formerly known as Twitter. The project will also gather input from journalists and the public about the 2024 presidential election, and races for U.S. Senate and key congressional districts.

Jennifer Stromer-Galley, senior associate dean and professor at the ISchool and a nationally recognized expert in political campaigns and misinformation, leads the researchers in collaboration with the IDJC’s Kramer Director Margaret Talev, a Newhouse professor of practice and journalist specializing in American politics, elections and the White House, and research director Johanna Dunaway, a political science professor at the Maxwell School and expert in political communication, partisan polarization and mass media.

You may reach our team at democracy@syr.edu with questions, suggestions or to forward examples of misinformation that may be relevant.