LGBTQ+? Post to social media frequently? We need your input!

Recruiting for this study is now closed – thanks for your interest! Follow us on Twitter @nusocialmedia to hear about future studies.

The Social Media Lab at Northwestern University invites you to participate in a research study that explores how LGBTQ+ people manage their identity on social media platforms.

Pride FlagThis research aims to help us understand the challenges faced by LGBTQ+ individuals in circumstances that may change quickly online, especially in terms of how you learn and adjust in service of your own identity-related goals. We hope to use the findings from this study to identify ways of designing online spaces where it is easier to understand how you can keep yourself safe over time while also allowing yourself to still express your identity.

Participants will participate in a summer research project based in a secret Facebook group. For seven weeks, you’ll participate in a short (~20 minute) weekly exercise related to how you make choices around sharing (or not sharing) your identity as a LGBTQ+ person on social media platforms. You will then be compensated $25 for completing the seven weeks, and finish with an online exit interview (~30-60 minutes) for an additional $25. You can be paid via Venmo, PayPal, or Amazon gift card – your choice.

A quick sample of the activities you’ll be asked to participate in:

  • Drawing a “map” or diagram of how you think the platforms that are most important to you work
  • Sharing short stories about times you’ve been surprised by or disappointed in the social media tools available to you
  • Talking about how you learn, and how you’d like to learn, about technology tools
  • Writing a letter to a tech CEO to tell them how they can help you out

To participate, you must identify as a member of the LGBTQ+ community (e.g., bisexual, gay, trans), be at least 18 years old, be living in the US, and post to social media frequently – at least three times a week or more. You must also have a Facebook account to participate.

To participate in this study, or to ask any questions, please email the PI, Jeremy Birnholtz, or co-investigator Mike DeVito from the Department of Communication Studies at

This study is funded by the Northwestern’s Graduate School, the Department of Communication Studies, and the US National Science Foundation, and it has been approved by the Northwestern University Institutional Review Board (Study #STU00209612).

Code of Conduct

Our research group is meant to be a safe and open space for our participants. As such, the group operates with the following code of conduct:

  • The Group is Not a Submission Form – this group is for organizing and building community solidarity, not for directly answering the research prompts. For your safety and privacy, please contain your answers to our actual research prompts to the secure forms we link each week.
  • What happens here stays here – Though you are welcome to share your experiences, feelings, etc in this study with others afterwards, please refrain from repeating others’ names, likenesses, etc outside of the group.
  • Reactions Only: Each week, we ask that you react to the weekly prompt post in group once you’ve submitted your answer via our secure forms. Please keep your interactions with these posts to just reaction emoji and general questions about the week’s activity (e.g., clarifications). Any personal information should only go in the secure form.
  • DM Me – If something offensive, problematic, or hurtful is posted to the group, anyone may message any member of the study team to report it. However, please turn encrypted mode on via the settings wheel in the Messenger window first in order to protect your privacy. You may also use the “report to admin” tool.