Advisory: General Social Survey Has Created Social Media Archive, a New Source for Public Opinion Data

Chicago, December 14, 2022 – NORC at the University of Chicago is giving social scientists and other researchers an easy way to fold social media conversations into their research projects with the launch of its General Social Media Archive. The Archive complements NORC’s long-running, highly influential General Social Survey (GSS).

NORC experts say the tool gives users access to social media content over time, offering a perspective on the opinions, attitudes, and behaviors of the public engaged with social media. Data from the archive will be available to the public in early 2023.

“As people and organizations have flocked more and more to social media to express their views on virtually every topic of contemporary life, we wanted to mine this rich source of public opinion data and so we created the General Social Media Archive,” said Michael Davern, NORC’s executive vice president of research. “This year marks the 50th anniversary of the General Social Survey, and we are excited to enhance the publicly available data on important topics and opinion expression to understand the drivers of social change.”

The General Social Media Archive will allow users to identify and track trends and monitor general sentiment about a range of topics. The archive will consist primarily of data from Twitter’s Streaming Application Programming Interface (API) and provides researchers with two major metrics: the amount of messaging about a topic and the average sentiment of messages about that topic. The archive will be curated by NORC’s Social Data Collaboratory.

NORC hopes to release additional years of data to the General Social Media Archive in the future.

“The aim of the GSS has always been to keep a finger on the pulse of the topics and issues affecting American society. As an increasing portion of Americans’ lives are lived online and through digital technology, researchers must use multiple methods and types of data to understand these perspectives,” said Amelia Burke-Garcia, program area director with NORC’s Public Health department. “The addition of a social media archive to the existing GSS data set demonstrates how the GSS is helping researchers do exactly this. I am thrilled that the GSS is releasing these data and am excited to see how the research community will use them.”

The first set of data from the archive that the GSS has released covers the pressing topics of marijuana, abortion, guns, the environment, and same-sex marriage from 2019 to 2021.

Contact: For more information, please contact Eric Young at NORC at or (703) 217-6814 (cell).


About NORC at the University of Chicago 
NORC at the University of Chicago conducts research and analysis that decision-makers trust. As a nonpartisan research organization and a pioneer in measuring and understanding the world, we have studied almost every aspect of the human experience and every major news event for more than eight decades. Today, we partner with government, corporate, and nonprofit clients around the world to provide the objectivity and expertise necessary to inform the critical decisions facing society. 

About the General Social Survey

The General Social Survey (GSS) is a nationally representative survey of adults in the United States conducted since 1972. The GSS collects data on contemporary American society in order to monitor and explain trends in opinions, attitudes, and behaviors. The GSS has adapted questions from earlier surveys, thereby allowing researchers to conduct comparisons for up to 80 years.