Civil Liberties in the Time of Health and Economic Crises

Just Tech Covid-19 Rapid-Response Grant – Summer 2020

Abstract

As the United States and the rest of the world confront the global health threat of Covid-19, how do citizens view the fundamental trade-offs between health, liberty, and economic well-being? As these tradeoffs become particularly salient during a pandemic, what are citizens willing to sacrifice and what are they steadfast in supporting no matter what the circumstance? How does this vary across countries and geographies within countries and what is unique about preferences of citizens of the United States? Finally, what factors may shape these preferences? To answer these questions, we will launch a large scale, representative cross-country survey at various phases of the Covid-19 pandemic. The survey is designed with a heavier sampling focus on the United States, while also covering Italy, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, South Korea, and China. This survey precisely measures citizens’ preferences over public health policies, civil liberties, and economic outcomes, as well as their evolution over time. Moreover, the survey allows us to leverage both quasi-experimental and experimental variations to understand factors that shape citizens’ preferences.

Research Team

Principal Investigator

David Yang

Prize Fellow in History, Economics and Politics, National Bureau of Economic Research

  • Bio ▾

    David Yang is an assistant professor of economics. His research focuses on political economy, behavioral and experimental economics, economic history, and cultural economics. In particular, Yang studies the forces of stability and forces of changes in authoritarian regimes, drawing lessons from historical and contemporary China. Yang received a BA in statistics and BS in business administration from the University of California at Berkeley and a PhD in economics from Stanford University.

How Covid-19 Is Changing Workplace Surveillance: American Workers’ Experiences and Privacy Expectations When Working from Home

Just Tech Covid-19 Rapid-Response Grant – Summer 2020

Abstract

The future of work is increasingly intertwined with widespread data collection of employee data for workplace monitoring, safety and efficiency tracking, predictive analytics, and performance evaluations. With the global Covid-19 pandemic, work practices have shifted significantly, and many office workers have moved from on-site office environments to working at home. Initial evaluations suggest this shift has not reduced the amount of surveillance occurring; rather, it raises new questions about the appropriateness of collecting data about employees within the home context. This project investigates the sociotechnical implications of emergent workplace and working-at-home surveillance practices due to Covid-19. Through a national survey of American workers, we will examine how individual and workplace factors influence their attitudes toward workplace surveillance. In addition to collecting descriptive data, we will also use factorial vignettes to assess American workers’ level of (dis)comfort about surveillance practices that currently exist or may emerge in the near future. Findings from this project will provide important insights into how new surveillance technologies are being deployed in different industries, how aware different employees are about these new practices, and will highlight key concerns workers might have about different forms of surveillance. The results will also inform both companies and developers regarding appropriate information flows and uses of technology, and how to communicate surveillance practices to workers so that employees are fully informed about any new data practices. Finally, this study will launch a new larger research initiative by the PIs on the unequally distributed harms associated with workplace surveillance.

Research Team

Principal Investigators

Jessica Vitak

Associate Professor, University of Maryland, College Park

  • Bio ▾

    Jessica Vitak is an associate professor in the College of Information Studies at the University of Maryland and a subject matter expert in data privacy, surveillance, and ethics. Her research examines the social and ethical implications of big data and empowers people through education and tools that help them make more-informed decisions when using technology. Read more about her research at https://pearl.umd.edu.

Michael Zimmer

Associate Professor, Marquette University

  • Bio ▾

    Michael Zimmer is an associate professor in the Department of Computer Science at Marquette University and a privacy and internet ethics scholar. His research focuses on digital privacy, internet research ethics, data ethics, and the broader social and ethical dimensions of emerging technologies.

Covid-19, Precarity, and the Counternarratives of PSWs: Photovoice and Change

Just Tech Covid-19 Rapid-Response Grant – Summer 2020

Abstract

This project seeks to understand the experiences of personal support workers (PSWs) during the Covid-19 pandemic. Many PSWs in Canada continue to provide their essential services through the pandemic, with increased precarity and vulnerability in their care work and personal lives. We will recruit twenty PSWs to participate in arts-based research (photovoice) to understand their experiences of care work during the pandemic. We will begin with a critical consciousness-raising focus group, where we will ask each participant to think about the ways in which their care labor remains invisible, thus increasing their precarity and vulnerability as a PSW. We will then ask the participants to create, on their own, an image that would represent these reflections. After they have created a photovoice, each participant will collaborate remotely with a visual artist to finalize their image and develop an artist’s statement about the image. There will be a second focus group, where participants will be able to share their images and reflections with one another in dialogue. We will use the photographs, statements, and any themes from both focus groups to gain a deeper understanding of their experiences. We expect to receive counternarratives about vulnerability, visibility and care, community, and strength from the participants. We will share the photographs and statements from the participants on online media platforms (e.g., Instagram, TikTok, Pinterest, Twitter, and virtual galleries) to engage the larger community and increase the potential to support positive change for PSWs.

Research Team

Principal Investigator

Patricia Van Katwyk

Associate Professor, University of Waterloo

  • Bio ▾

    Dr. Trish Van Katwyk has been designing, facilitating, and writing about arts-based research for over 10 years. Her community-based research engagements have been with youth, community members experiencing exclusions due to mental health, poverty, and newcomer status, as well as with Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth and adult community members exploring possibilities for alliances. Van Katwyk has used dance, sculpture, comic books, illustrations, paintings, digital storytelling, and theatre as methods of arts-based research. Her critical arts-based research has been participatory, collaborative, and community-immersed. Knowledge mobilization activities have included dance performance, public installation, comic book distribution, conference presentations, art exhibits, and academic journal articles.

Policing Race and Place During a Pandemic: A Multi-City Study of Police Contact During Covid-19

Just Tech Covid-19 Rapid-Response Grant – Summer 2020

Abstract

Do racial disparities in police contact intensify during a pandemic? While recent research suggests racial and ethnic minority groups experience disproportionately high rates of Covid-19 infection and death, no studies have systematically examined the degree to which law enforcement practices have simultaneously become more burdensome for communities of color. This project aims to study the relationship between racial segregation, urban inequality, and hyper-criminalization, and whether these factors are associated with inequities in police enforcement during a historic public health crisis. We study the changes to police practices by developing a novel dataset of police contact (arrests, police-investigated crimes, and 911 calls) from eight cities representing the four main regions of the US. Using temporal, spatial, and hierarchical modeling strategies, we aim to study patterns and inequalities in police contact before, during, and after the stay-at-home mandates were enacted. Over-policing and disparate practices have been shown to have significant health consequences and reduce public trust in the law. Through a study of publicly available police reports in a diverse set of cities, our project promises to yield new insights into policing in urban neighborhoods, with the goal of directly informing and advancing more equitable public health responses.

Research Team

Principal Investigators

Jessica Simes

Assistant Professor, Boston University

  • Bio ▾

    Jessica T. Simes is an assistant professor of sociology at Boston University with expertise in urban inequality, mass incarceration, and quantitative spatial methods. Her work has been published in the Journal of Quantitative Criminology, Social Science & Medicine, and City & Community. Her forthcoming book, Punishing Places: The Geography of Mass Imprisonment in America (University of California Press), uses administrative data on geo-referenced prison admissions to study racial inequality and place stratification underlying the broader system of punishment. Simes is committed to public sociology, and uses maps to vividly describe social inequality in criminal justice encounters.

Jaquelyn Jahn

Postdoctoral Fellow, Harvard University

  • Bio ▾

    Jaquelyn L. Jahn is a postdoctoral researcher at the Stone Center for Socio-Economic Inequality at CUNY Graduate Center. Her social epidemiologic research applies public health frameworks to understand the consequences of mass incarceration and police contact. She has published in the American Journal of Public Health, Social Science & Medicine, and the American Journal of Epidemiology.

Resilient Latinos: Educational Pathways and Careers in the Age of Covid-19

Just Tech Covid-19 Rapid-Response Grant – Summer 2020

Abstract

Consistent with other crises, the Covid-19 pandemic portends substantial challenges to Latino college students, many of whom are first-generation college attendees and members of lower-income families. Significant increases in the percentage of Latino students enrolled in institutions of higher education are offset by Latinos’ persistent lag in college completion compared to other racial/ethnic groups (Excelencia in Education 2015). Disruptions created by Covid-19 threaten to exacerbate existing inequities and create new challenges to Latino student success. While Latinos are often characterized as “at-risk,” several studies have found that many Latino youth demonstrate resilience in crises which allows them to recover and adapt to adverse life situations. This project seeks to understand the impact of the pandemic on Latino university students in a Hispanic-erving and research level 1 Institution with one of the most diverse Latino student populations in the country. We combine survey data with a data visualization project that uses ArcGIS Story Map to engage Latino students in project-based learning. StoryMap combines interviews, text, interactive maps, and multimedia content to allow students to share their experiences with the pandemic in digital form. These stories can be examined for commonalities and the resources and adaptive strategies used by participants. Our goal is to provide needed information on the support structures, networks, and campus climate necessary to advance Latino college student well-being and academic achievement and to build a model of resilience available to all students.

Research Team

Principal Investigators

Pamela Quiroz

Executive Director, Inter-University Program on Latino Research

  • Bio ▾

    Pamela Anne Quiroz (PhD, University of Chicago, 1993) is executive director of the national research consortium the Inter-University Program on Latino Research. She is director of the Center for Mexican American Studies and professor of sociology at the University of Houston. A researcher of youth, family, and identity, Professor Quiroz is author of Adoption in a Color-Blind Society (Rowman and Littlefield). She has published in the Journal of Research on Adolescence, Journal of Family Studies, Sociology of Education, Anthropology of Education, and Childhood. She has been a fellow at the Center for the Advanced Study of Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University, the Institute for Research on Race and Public Policy, and the Great Cities Institute. Professor Quiroz has received research grants from the National Science Foundation, American Sociological Association, US Department of Education, and Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality. She served as editor of Social Problems, the journal of the Society for the Study of Social Problems (2014–2018) and is currently vice president (elect) for the Society for the Study of Social Problems. Her books Personal Advertising: Dating, Mating, and Relating in Modern Society (McFarland Press) and Latinos Navigating the Academy (Oxford University Press) are forthcoming.

Maira Alvarez

Director, IUPLR Houston Office

  • Bio ▾

    Maira Alvarez (PhD, University of Houston, 2019) is the Houston director for the headquarters of the Inter-University Program on Latino Research, and a scholar of Hispanic studies and digital humanities. She is currently the team leader for the digital project, Latino cARTographies, Houston’s first portable interactive digital board featuring Latino visual art on a 3D map. Her digital scholarship also includes Borderlands Archives Cartography, a transnational archive that consists of a digital map that displays a US-Mexico border cartography and records geographic locations of nineteenth- and mid-twentieth-century newspapers. She is a team member of Torn Apart / Separados, a rapidly deployed critical data and visualization intervention in the USA’s 2018 “Zero Tolerance Policy.” Dr. Álvarez is also a member of United Fronteras, a team-based digital humanities project that features a digital map and record works about the borderlands. Professor Álvarez’s forthcoming publications include “DH Challenges: Working with the United States and Mexico Borderlands Archives” and “Nuestra Frontera: Fronterizas Contesting Toxic National Discourses in the 21st Century."

Jeronimo Cortina

Associate Professor, University of Houston

  • Bio ▾

    Jeronimo Cortina is an award-winning associate professor in the Department of Political Science and the associate director at the Center for Mexican American Studies at the University of Houston. He earned a PhD in political science from Columbia University, where he previously earned a master's degree in public administration and public policy from the School of International and Public Affairs. Dr. Cortina specializes in survey research, immigration, development, and quantitative methods. His work has been published in scholarly and policy journals such as Political Research Quarterly, Policy Studies Journal, Social Science Quarterly, American Politics Research, Foreign Affairs in Spanish, and the Harvard Journal of Hispanic Policy. His latest books include (with Andrew Gelman, David Park, and Boris Shor) Red State, Blue State, Rich State, Poor State: Why Americans Vote the Way They Do, published by Princeton University Press; A Quantitative Tour of the Social Sciences, published by Cambridge University Press (with Andrew Gelman); and New Perspectives on International Migration and Development (with Enrique Ochoa-Reza), published by Columbia University Press.

The One with the Rumor: Diffusion of Covid-19-Related Misinformation in Pakistani Twitter Conversations

Just Tech Covid-19 Rapid-Response Grant – Summer 2020

Abstract

During the current pandemic, misleading information has been spreading along with the pathogen. The availability of different social media outlets and access-enabling tools have amplified their dispersion. In Pakistan, the historical legacy of colonial subjugation contributes to a feeling of mistrust towards modernity and its epistemic expressions in the praxis of science and medicine. This burden of the past creates a conducive environment for the reception of ideas that do not require scientific verifiability or qualifies as a safe medical practice. There is, thus, a cascade of misinformation or contradictory statements on social media which is creating hurdles in implementing effective public-health interventions due to public disinclination to support them. Whilst foregrounding the historical contingency for the receptivity of such information, our project aims to delineate the contours of debates about science, rationality, and medicine that continues to inform the public debate on such a critical issue as Covid-19. In this project, we will study the content of Pakistan-based Covid-19-related tweets with a specific focus on political content, health-related content, risk framing, and rumors. Our argument is that by recognizing the historical imperative of responses to modern science and medicine, characterizations of information/misinformation on social media can be more effectively understood. In other words, it is not simply important to document different types of rumors and misinformation circulating on social media but to explore the reasons for which they come into circulation in the first instance and their resonance in a particular political context.

Research Team

Principal Investigators

Ali Usman Qasmi

Associate Professor, Lahore University of Management Sciences

  • Bio ▾

    Born and raised in Lahore, Ali Usman Qasmi received his formal education from Government College University, Lahore. For his doctoral studies, he worked at the South Asia Institute of Heidelberg University. After completing his PhD in 2009, he was the Newton International Fellow for post-doctoral research at the Royal Holloway College, University of London. He has published extensively in reputed academic journals such as Modern Asian Studies and Journal of Islamic Studies. He is the author of Questioning the Authority of the Past: The Ahl al-Qur’an Movements in the Punjab (2011). His second monograph, The Ahmadis and the Politics of Religious Exclusion in Pakistan (2014), was the recipient of the Karachi Literature Festival (KLF) Peace Prize in 2015. Qasmi has coedited several volumes as well, including Revisioning Iqbal as a Poet and Muslim Political Thinker (2010), The Shi‘a in Modern South Asia: Religion, History, and Politics (2015), and Muslims against the Muslim League: Critiques of the Ideas of Pakistan (2017). Since 2012, Qasmi has been teaching history at the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) School of Humanities and Social Sciences. He is currently working on a monograph on the ideas of citizenship and belonging in Pakistan.

Nousheen Zaidi

Associate Professor, University of the Punjab

  • Bio ▾

    In 2008 Dr. Nousheen Zaidi received her doctoral degree in biochemistry from Eberhard Karls University, Tubingen, Germany. After completing her PhD training she moved to New York City and started her post-doctoral research at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. There she worked from 2009 to 2010. In early 2011, Dr. Zaidi joined the Drug Discovery Group, Oncology, Johnson and Johnson (J&J), Belgium as a postdoctoral research associate. At J&J, she worked on a project related to tumor metabolism. In late 2012, Dr. Zaidi moved to Lahore to join the faculty of the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, Punjab University. Her lab continues to focus on tumor metabolism that has emerged as one of the most exciting and dynamic fields of research for the academic and industrial scientists working in cancer therapeutics. Dr. Zaidi is mainly interested in studying the role of de novo lipid synthesis pathways in cancer cell development, progression, and survival. To study the relative importance of dietary and endogenously synthesized lipids for cancer cell progression is one of the key aims of her ongoing/future projects.

Covid-19 and the Education Crisis in the Global South: Digital Divide in Public University Students and Teachers in Colombia

Just Tech Covid-19 Rapid-Response Grant – Summer 2020

Abstract

The closure of universities and the move to online classes due to the Covid-19 outbreak have emphasized inequalities in regions such as Latin America. This research looks at the impact of Covid-19 on higher education in this region. Drawing on Colombia’s largest public university, the National University of Colombia (UNAL), this study sets out to understand how Covid-19 has affected students and teachers’ access, usage and skills of information and communication technologies (ICT) to better understand the appearance of new forms of digital and social inequalities. This research asks: (1) In what ways do limited ICT for e-learning affect new online courses and public university students’ decision to remain enrolled? (2) What are the characteristics of limited ICT for e-learning among public university students and professors? (3) What actions should be taken to reduce limited ICT of public university students and professors? To answer these questions this study will collect information using remote methods. The gathering of information includes surveys via email and interviews via telephone calls or virtual meetings with students and teachers at the Medellin Campus. The expected outputs of this research include: On a short-term basis (a) a report for the university’s “Covid-19 emergency program”; and (b) dissemination of the results and responses of Covid-19 in the context of education through the UNAL’s radio station and digital newspaper, both of which have a considerable outreach nationwide. The long-term output entails an article in order to engage with an international community.

Research Team

Principal Investigators

Lirio Gutiérrez Rivera

Assistant Professor, Universidad Nacional de Colombia

  • Bio ▾

    Lirio Gutiérrez Rivera is an assistant professor in political science at the National University of Colombia-Medellin Campus. Her research focuses on urban violence, security, gender and urban planning, and recently migration in Latin America, in particular Honduras and Colombia. Her recent research looks at contemporary Honduran migration. Based on her work as an expert witness for Hondurans seeking asylum in the United States. and Europe, this research sets out to understand how the global agenda on crime and migration control are connected to the displacement of thousands of Hondurans in their home. Lirio has published in various journals, such as the International Journal of Urban and Regional Research and Global Crime. She is the author of the book Territories of Violence: State, Marginal Youth, and Public Security in Honduras (Palgrave 2013).

Johanna Vásquez Velásquez

Associate Professor, Universidad Nacional de Colombia

  • Bio ▾

    I am an associate professor in the Economics Department of the National University of Colombia. I am an economist with a PhD in engineering who specialize in the fields of economics education, specifically, on the relationship between dropout and retention and social development in the developing world. My work uses a variety of multi-criteria decision making and microeconometric techniques to study individual incentives and impacts of dropouts in higher education.

Addressing African American Infant Mortality Using Technology during the Covid-19 Crisis

Just Tech Covid-19 Rapid-Response Grant – Summer 2020

Abstract

It is well known that Covid-19 has had a disproportionate impact on Black Americans who were already overrepresented in health disparities. We do not yet understand its impact on infant mortality. A critical issue in Cleveland, Ohio, babies born to Black mothers are three times as likely to die within their first year than those born to White mothers. Addressing this, Birthing Beautiful Communities, an innovative, Black-owned and run perinatal support agency, supports Black women and their families through their pregnancies, births, and their babies’ first year. This study explores pandemic-required service shifts. Research questions include: (1) What are the outcomes of births during Covid-19? (2) What is the meaning of services for clients and staff in the context of social distancing? (3) What are the implications of technology in infant mortality prevention programming? We expect the findings to have implications for healthcare service delivery for Black women and their families.

Research Team

Principal Investigators

Cyleste Collins

Assistant Professor, Cleveland State University

  • Bio ▾

    A mixed-methods researcher with a background in psychology, anthropology, and social work, Dr. Collins’s work is interdisciplinary and community based, and examines social problems and interventions focused on social determinants of health. Her research utilizes quantitative and qualitative research approaches and integrates findings to help build knowledge about effective interventions in addressing health disparities. A collaborative, community-engaged researcher, she has led or co-led on more than 17 community-based research projects. Previous projects have examined experiences with housing instability, homelessness, and foreclosure, impacts of paid sick leave, addressing health disparities among low-income African American adolescents, community gardening initiatives in African American communities, refugees’ health and mental health needs, and increasing research capacity in community organizations. Her most recent work examines interventions focused on reducing African American infant mortality rates. She partners with a local perinatal support organization, Birthing Beautiful Communities, to examine the impacts of perinatal support services, work currently supported by the State of Ohio. Her most recent work is examining the impacts of Covid-19 restrictions on delivery of perinatal support services. She currently serves as the evaluator for the Case Center for Reducing Health Disparities’ NIH U54 multiyear initiative, Involving Communities in Delivering and Disseminating Health Disparity Interventions.

Heather Rice

Assistant Professor, Cleveland State University

  • Bio ▾

    Heather M. Rice (PhD, APRN-CNP, PMHS) received her doctor of philosophy from Case Western Reserve University in 2017. She is a board-certified pediatric nurse practitioner that works in child and adolescent psychiatry as well as a professor and researcher at Cleveland State University School of Nursing. Dr. Rice is an active member of several academic, community, and professional organizations that advocate for child and maternal health, mental illness and trauma prevention. Dr. Rice is passionate about health equity and advocates for the needs of children and families. Dr. Rice’s research focuses on neighborhood conditions, maternal health, toxic stress, and infant mortality in African American women. She is currently co-principal investigator working with the community organization Birthing Beautiful Communities (BBC). The project, Survive and Thrive: A New Future for African American Babies, is developing an explanatory algorithm to identify the macroeconomic and microeconomic causal links that lead to infant mortality. The core intervention will lead to the development of a mobile app that combines social and clinical interventions for the mother, father, and navigator (perinatal support professionals [PSPs]). Through this research initiative, PSPs will receive additional training as community health workers and work directly with families utilizing the mobile app.

Race, Risk, & Remote Organizing: Asian Workers’ Movement Building during Covid-19

Just Tech Covid-19 Rapid-Response Grant – Fall 2020

Abstract

What political and technological strategies do Asian and Asian American workers and organizers use to respond to differential exposures to risk, such as economic uncertainty, physical safety, and heightened policing and surveillance, during the Covid-19 pandemic? The ongoing and unknown duration of the pandemic requires further investigation to understand how long-lasting disasters shape processes of community organizing, advocacy, and recovery, particularly for racially marginalized populations. In this current moment, remote digital tools are used for both organizing and work, functioning as a terrain where community organizing interfaces with the policy arenas of labor, technology, and policing given issues of risk, privacy, and safety. This project works closely with New York City–based grassroots collectives organizing Asian migrant workers in informal economies and adapts qualitative research processes to base-building needs of community partners. In addition to in-depth qualitative interviews with workers, this study conducts a series of focus group interviews with organizers in worker-led movements that function as peer skill-sharing sessions with the goal of learning more about how community organizers leverage technologies in organizing practices during the pandemic. This research enhances understandings of Asian migrant workers’ technology and political practices and enables shared learning and collaborative knowledge production.

Research Team

Principal Investigator

Rachel Kuo

Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

  • Bio ▾

    Dr. Rachel Kuo studies race, digital technologies, and social movements. She is currently a postdoctoral research fellow at the Center for Information, Technology, and Public Life at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She holds a PhD from New York University in media, culture, and communication. She is part of the core research team for the AAPI Covid-19 project, which examines the ongoing pandemic as it shapes the lives of Asians, Asian Americans, and Pacific Islanders in the US. She is on the qualitative team alongside Dr. Vivian Shaw (sociology, Harvard University), Christina Ong (sociology, University of Pittsburgh), Dr. Cynthia Wang (communication, California State University, Los Angeles), and Susanna Park (global health, Oregon State University). She is also a founding member and current affiliate of the Center for Critical Race and Digital Studies and also a cofounder of the Asian American Feminist Collective.

Divergent Spaces: Digital Platforms, Gentrification, and Neighborhood Organizing during Covid-19 in NYC

Just Tech Covid-19 Rapid-Response Grant – Fall 2020

Abstract

Urban social and economic disparities have come out in sharp relief in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic in New York City, marked by new political organizing and large-scale protests over racial and economic injustice. These mobilizations are taking place across social and mobile technology platforms, such as neighborhood mutual aid and support groups, in ways that are unprecedented. But practices on mobile apps and social media often reproduce existing inequalities. This project examines how emerging technologies contribute to divergent experiences of urban space in gentrifying neighborhoods of Brooklyn, through participatory research with groups in Prospect Heights, Clinton Hill, and Crown Heights. Conceptually, it draws on approaches from anthropology, cultural geography, and feminist technology studies to understand how intersections of race, gender, and class take place on and through technology. Historically, both technology and public space have constituted white, masculine, middle-class domains. How are current technology platforms enabling or challenging existing structures of power, such as neighborhood groups on Facebook, Nextdoor, and Whatsapp or community organizing on Slack and Instagram? Methodologically, the project is grounded in digital ethnography, bringing the established tools of anthropological fieldwork to online, digital spaces. The research includes remote participant-observation and open-ended interviewing with organizers and participants in neighborhood and community groups including mutual aid groups, neighborhood associations, business associations, and activist organizations. The findings will offer insight for participants, technology designers, and policymakers into how technology practices produce multiple, divergent experiences of urban space that challenge but also re-create inequality.

Research Team

Principal Investigator

Jordan Kraemer

Associate, NYU Alliance for Public Interest Technology, New York University

  • Bio ▾

    Jordan Kraemer is a media anthropologist and digital ethnographer studying emerging technologies from critical and feminist perspectives. She is currently studying digital technologies and public space during the Covid-19 pandemic in New York City, and recently completed a book on social and mobile media among an emerging middle class in post-unification Berlin, under review at Cornell University Press. She teaches courses on queer and feminist STS at NYU's Tandon School of Engineering and was previously a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at Wesleyan University's Center for the Humanities. In addition, she consults as an ethnographer for nonprofit clients such as the Anti-Defamation League and Civic Signals, and writes and speaks on identity, representation, and precarity in the knowledge economy.

Complicating the Digital Divide among First-Gen College Students: How Covid-19 Impacted Academic and Career Persistence

Just Tech Covid-19 Rapid-Response Grant – Fall 2020

Abstract

Due to the disruptive nature of the Covid-19 pandemic, first-generation (first-gen) undergraduate college students have experienced significant changes in how they learn, engage, and receive support from their academic institutions. First-generation students are likely to bear the ‘brunt’ of Covid-19 repercussions with a lack of access to university resources such as on-campus computers and wireless technology, exacerbating the digital divide in higher education amongst students in rural and low-income communities. Our research goals are to (a) identify the influence of Covid-19 on the digital divide, which disproportionately impacts first-gen college students at minority-serving institutions, and (b) to investigate to what extent their academic and career persistence are impacted by the digital divide during the pandemic. Data will be collected using a mixed-methods approach that includes an online survey and follow-up focus groups. Descriptive and inferential statistics will be used to identify the characteristics of the students and the impact of Covid-19 on the students’ family/personal life; efficacy and satisfaction with university support services; adaptations to curriculum and instructional changes; and changes in academic and career intentions. Our research helps to address the social, political, and economic inequality that affects first-generation college students at minority-serving institutions.

Research Team

Principal Investigators

Olivia D. Johnson

Assistant Professor, University of Houston

  • Bio ▾

    Dr. Olivia Johnson is an assistant professor in retailing and consumer science in human development and consumer sciences in the College of Technology at the University of Houston. She is committed to teaching, research, and mentorship of undergraduate and graduate students within and outside her discipline. Dr. Johnson has taught a wide range of courses in consumer behavior, retailing, merchandising, research methods, and consumer psychology. Her research focuses on political consumerism primarily as it relates to the networks created by connective movements on social media, as well as the intersection of consumption and cultural subgroups such as millennial and Latinx consumers. She has presented her research at a variety of conferences and has been published in journals such as the Journal of Consumer Behavior, Social Media and Society, International Journal of Retail and Distribution Management, and Computers in Human Behavior. Dr. Johnson’s service to the academy focuses on decreasing the gap for underrepresented and marginalized students in their persistence toward academic study.

Tomika Greer

Assistant Professor, University of Houston

  • Bio ▾

    Dr. Tomika W. Greer is assistant professor of human resource development (HRD) and Undergraduate HRD Program Coordinator in the College of Technology at University of Houston (UH). She earned a BS in chemical engineering, MEd in Instructional Technology, and PhD in HRD from Texas A&M University. Before graduate school, she worked for 10 years as a management consultant and training and development professional in several organizations.

    In her research, Dr. Greer uses a social justice lens to study postsecondary education/training, job transitions, and work-life integration in order to help women and marginalized groups manage and develop thriving and sustainable careers. She is particularly interested in the effects of Covid-19 on these aspects of career development for marginalized people whose communities were initially hardest hit by the pandemic. Her research is published in Human Resource Development Review, New Horizons in Adult Education and Human Resource Development, Advances in Developing Human Resources, New Directions in Adult and Continuing Education, Journal of Applied Instructional Design, and International Journal of Project Management. Dr. Greer is the recipient of several awards for research and teaching excellence. She is also a member of the Board of Directors for the Academy of Human Resource Development (AHRD).

Barbara Stewart

Professor, University of Houston

  • Bio ▾

    Dr. Barbara L. Stewart has served as faculty member and administrator for more than 30 years as director, associate dean, chair, and coordinator. She earned the rank of full professor in 2004 at the University of Houston as well as at the University of Louisiana in 1983. Additionally, she has taught at Louisiana State University, San Diego State University, City College of Chicago/University of Maryland (European programs for the military), Palomar College, and San Diego City Colleges. Dr. Stewart earned an EdD in curriculum and foundations from Brigham Young University (1979), an MS in consumer and home economics from Utah State University (1974), and a BA in clothing and textiles from Brigham Young University (1973). Dr. Stewart’s recent research endeavors focus on the learning/teaching enterprise, especially with regard to online technologies. She has authored more than 240 scholarly publications, texts, and presentations. Her research ($1.1 million) and fee-based ($30 million) funding efforts total in excess of $31 million. Dr. Stewart has served in numerous professional leadership roles, including currently as chair of the Assembly of Higher Education, American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (AAFCS), founding member of the AAFCS Leadership Academy, and AAFCS Leadership Council.

Holly Hutchins

Professor, University of Houston

  • Bio ▾

    Dr. Holly M. Hutchins, PhD, is a professor of human resource development and department chairwoman in the College of Technology at the University of Houston—a Carnegie Tier One and MSI University. Her research expertise is in training transfer, program evaluation, and faculty professional development and leadership. Dr. Hutchins is also a co-principal investigator on a five-year National Science Foundation ADVANCE institutional transformation grant (Center for Advancing UH Faculty Success), where she co-leads efforts to increase the recruitment, retention, and advancement of women and women of color faculty in STEM-related disciplines.

    Dr. Hutchins’s research has appeared in Human Resource Development Quarterly, Performance Improvement Quarterly, Human Resource Management, Human Resource Development Review, and Journal of Workplace Learning. Her research and teaching has been recognized through awards, as a Fulbright Specialist Scholar (Scotland), in interviews through media outlets, and from professional research associations.

The Unsettling of Old Norms by a New World of Covid-19 Public Health Surveillance

Just Tech Covid-19 Rapid-Response Grant – Fall 2020

Abstract

Covid-19 health surveillance has created a profound and rapid shift in who is disabled in society. This international study will interrogate how Covid-19 health surveillance has disrupted the line between the able and disabled to understand the impact of regulatory interventions, and responses to exclusion and disablement. The disability civil rights struggle and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 built upon a long history of segregation and oppression, with the line between able and disable always shifting slowly. Covid-19 health surveillance has changed this and caused a rapid paradigm shift in how existing disabilities are restricted in public spaces. The result is that many people who have not previously identified as having a disability now experience disablementy. What was a minor health condition is now a major barrier to entering public spaces, education, and work. Covid-19 health surveillance has unsettled ability norms, for example:

  • A person with a pre-existing persistent dry cough may confront greater barriers in entering many public spaces now than a person who uses crutches.
  • A person who has high blood pressure and thus a consistent high temperature may confront greater barriers to using public transport than a person who is profoundly deaf.
  • A person with a respiratory condition, who previously had minor inconveniences, may find their inability to attend work more disabling than a person in a wheelchair.

This project will illuminate the experiences of historically marginalized people, and illustrate how groups not historically marginalized are now likely to experience disablement.

Research Team

Principal Investigator

Paul Harpur

Associate Professor, University of Queensland Law School

  • Bio ▾

    Dr. Paul Harpur is an associate professor with the University of Queensland Law School, is chair of the UQ Disability Inclusion Group, is a former Fulbright scholar and former Paralympian. He is an International Distinguished Fellow with the Burton Blatt Institute, Syracuse University, academic fellow with the Harvard Law School Project on Disability, a non-executive director with Help Enterprises Ltd, and guide dog user. Dr. Harpur was recognised to receive a 2019 Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Student Learning, as part of the Australian Award for University Teaching program. Dr. Harpur’s citation is “for outstanding leadership in translating disability strategy into a vision of ability equality and core university business.” He believes in ability equality strongly and works for a world where we no longer talk about us and them, and instead just about us.

A Great Equalizer or a Rampant Discriminator? Understanding Implications of the Digital Education System for Schoolchildren

Just Tech Covid-19 Rapid-Response Grant – Fall 2020

Abstract

During the Covid-19 pandemic, when schools are adopting new forms of pedagogy, it is vital to understand the usefulness of online methods and arrangements made by parents and teachers in the absence of classroom teaching. To capture the changes in teaching methods and challenges faced, we will study in-depth the implications of rapidly evolving teaching methods and learning arrangements for schoolchildren and their families. A participatory and consultative approach will capture diverse perspectives and adaptations to the Covid-19 crisis. This study will employ mixed methods of data collection, including desk review, data analysis of available datasets, online surveys, and key informant interviews through telephone/online. Data on gender equality and equity will be collected to understand the use of digital platforms in the education system. The findings will reflect on the coping strategies adopted by the stakeholders for over a year with Covid-19 (2019–20 academic year).

Research Team

Principal Investigators

Disha T. Gupta

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  • Bio ▾

    Dr. Disha Tewari Gupta has 12 years of experience in the areas of public health, nutrition, gender, migration, and education. She is proficient in data collection, developing implementation plans, and training field staff. She has also worked with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and donors such as UNICEF (India & Philippines), the United Nations Development Programme (Philippines), the UN Population Fund, UN Women, and the European Commission. She has proven herself as an international evaluator, health lead, technical consultant, and maternal and child health expert. She has a PhD and MPhil in population studies from Jawaharlal Nehru University and an MA from Syracuse University, NY.

Navneet Kaur Manchanda

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  • Bio ▾

    Navneet Kaur Manchanda has eight years of experience in the areas of public health, education, health, employment, and disability. She has skills in data management and analysis and has worked with International Labour Organization, the World Bank, etc. She has hands-on experience in quantitative and qualitative research and analysis, documentation, and report writing. Some of her contributions include: Study on Skill Training Programme for Underprivileged Undergraduate Students; Social Protection Floor in Odisha, funded by the International Labour Organization; India Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY); and the Universal Health Coverage Project. She holds an MPhil in economics from Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.

Ajay Kumar Singh

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  • Bio ▾

    Ajay Kumar Singh earned his master’s from the Indian Institute of Forest Management, Bhopal, in 2012–14. His area of expertise includes monitoring and evaluation, quantitative and qualitative research and analysis, documentation and report writing. In the last 6 years, he has worked on projects related to education and skill development, enterprise development, family planning, strengthening community-led institutions, livelihoods, SHG and women’s empowerment, clean energy, climate smart agriculture, etc. He has experience managing and handling large data sets and monitoring field surveys as well. He also brings experience working with global funding agencies like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Rakesh Kumar Mishra

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  • Bio ▾

    Dr. Rakesh has more than five years of professional and research experience in the domain of demography, public health, gender, nutrition, and urbanization. He has worked across a variety of projects, including “Scale and Nature of Deprivation among Children and Adolescents in Urban India: An Empirical Analysis” and “An Empirical Study on the Quality of the Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO) in India: Dimensions to be Considered in the Move towards a Quality Index,” etc. with several renowned organizations: UNFPA, UNICEF, the Population Council, the National Institute of Urban Affairs, and Jawaharlal Nehru University. As a quantitative expert, he has been engaged in assignments to conduct qualitative research and analysis, documentation and report writing.

Homophobic Covid-19 Surveillance on Social Media in South Korea

Just Tech Covid-19 Rapid-Response Grant – Fall 2020

Abstract

This is a six-month-long ethnographic project investigating how queer people are coping with public health surveillance on social media in Covid-19. It aims to understand how public health surveillance on social media has been formed and worked in discourses about Covid-19, which resembles the homophobic HIV/AIDS discourse in South Korea. In doing so, the project will help various actors in the public, private, and civil sectors (e.g., queer activists, media industry, policymakers, public health services, and the general public) to understand and criticize how surveillance has been deeply entrenched in our media lives and cultures, in line with the anti-queer sentiments around public health. Specifically, this project will focus on the media contents that shape, reproduce, and challenge Covid-19 discourses and on the media practices that facilitate and resist surveillance of queer people in the mediasphere: for example, online news coverage on a Covid-19 cluster around local gay communities, online communities’ reactions to the coverage, and queer influencers’ social media contents on Covid-19 discourses. Through remote mixed-methods—including digital ethnography and networked content analyses of news coverage and social media contents, this project will answer the questions: How do public health interventions reshape the form of public surveillance on queer people online? What roles do queer influencers play as online communities, in reaction to such surveillance, while coping with the health crisis? This will inform broader understandings of the interplay of public health interventions and social structures, including power and identity, which is fueled and challenged on social media.

Research Team

Principal Investigator

Jin Lee

Research Fellow, Curtin University

  • Bio ▾

    Dr. Jin Lee is a communication media scholar exploring the question of “How do marginalized people struggle to make their own lives across different media?” She focuses on media intimacies in popular cultures, particularly media practices and visibility of social minorities across the “old” and “new” media. She has published six journal articles and three government reports on various aspects of media intimacies and media ecologies, which appear in peer-reviewed journals including Media International Australia, Social Media and Society, Critical Studies in Media Communication, and government reports including KISDI Annual Report. She is a research fellow in internet studies at Curtin University, Australia. Prior to her academic career, she worked as a researcher at the Korean government–affiliated think tank Korean Information Society Development Institute.

Covid-19 and New Norms of Surveillance: BIPOC Perspectives on Public Health

Just Tech Covid-19 Rapid-Response Grant – Fall 2020

Abstract

As much as Covid-19 has been a battle against a deadly virus, it has also been a battle over information. While any new disease or illness produces uncertainty about transmission, treatment and care, the global scale of Covid-19 and its intense politicization in the US and elsewhere has created an extremely fraught information environment. On the one hand, reliable information about Covid-19 is crucial in terms of prevention and treatment. On the other, Covid-19 offers a cover for collecting personal information in ways that can threaten privacy and normalize surveillance. This project investigates the surveillance implications of contact tracing, centering Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) perspectives. Drawing on feminist participatory action research methods (Gatenby and Humphries 2000) and abolitionist anthropology (Shange 2019), we ask: How do people of color and other historically over-policed groups experience contact tracing? How does contact tracing impact understandings of safety and surveillance for these same groups? Under what circumstances do these groups see contact tracing as a valuable form of community aid, and under what circumstances is contact tracing experienced as an intrusive form of surveillance and policing? Our investigation works towards a grounded and multi-faceted understanding of contact tracing that captures both the benefits and the harms presented by public health surveillance.

Research Team

Principal Investigators

Jessa Lingel

Associate Professor, University of Pennsylvania

  • Bio ▾

    Jessa Lingel (she/hers) is an associate professor at the Annenberg School for Communication and core faculty in the Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies Program at the University of Pennsylvania. She received her PhD in communication and information from Rutgers University. She has an MLIS from Pratt Institute and an MA in gender studies from New York University. Her research interests include digital inequalities and technological distributions of power. Using qualitative methods, Lingel studies how marginalized and countercultural groups use and reshape digital media.

Andrea Ngan

Service Designer Strategist, City of Philadelphia's Service Design Studio

  • Bio ▾

    Andrea Ngan (she/her) is a design strategist and community organizer building collaborative design and organizational strategies to envision caring, just, and joyful futures. She co-initiated the Creative Resilience Collective in 2017, the Design Justice Network Philly Node in 2019, and currently serves as a service design strategist for the City of Philadelphia’s Service Design Studio.

August (Bo) Guang

Data Scientist, Brown University

  • Bio ▾

    Bo is a senior genomics data scientist at Brown University, member of Free Radicals, and budding farmer with the Tooth&Nail collective. They obtained their PhD in applied mathematics and computational biology from Brown University in 2018. Their primary research interest is in quantifying uncertainty in phylogenetics workflows. Both their research practices and organizing work are guided by the belief that crisis and uncertainty are a gift and that we must be involved in shaping how change happens.

Feini Yin

Journalist, WHYY

  • Bio ▾

    Feini Yin is a multimedia journalist, organizer, and community fishmonger living on Lenape land currently known as Philadelphia. Feini works at the intersection of science and social justice, with the goal of supporting people in having power, knowledge, and access to choices when it comes to their food, environment, health, and wellbeing. They are the program administrator for Fishadelphia, a student-run, community-supported fishery in Philadelphia. They also organize with Creative Resilience Collective, a mental health justice group, and Free Radicals, an activist collective dedicated to creating a more socially just, accountable, and liberatory science through political education, community-led research, and grassroots organizing. In their free time, Feini enjoys fishing, cooking, reading, and spending time in nature with their dog and loved ones.

Landlord Tech Watch

Just Tech Covid-19 Rapid-Response Grant – Fall 2020

Abstract

This project, Landlord Tech Watch, is a collaborative effort between NYU’s AI Now Institute, the AntiEviction Mapping Project, and people.power.media. Together, we have built and are continuing to enhance a website dedicated to studying and mapping landlord technology, or the digital platforms used by landlords and property managers in ways that disempower tenants while further concentrating power in the hands of corporate landlords. Landlord tech includes practices and systems of digital surveillance, data mining and aggregating, tenant screening, biometric data collection, short-term listing services, smart home monitoring, platform real estate, and more. Landlord tech has been exacerbated in the age of Covid-19, as new technologies are being deployed to track residents in the name of virus detection and rent strike punishment, while at the same time tenants are facing unprecedented housing insecurity and rental debt. Our website invites tenants to self-report what types of landlord tech are being deployed in their residences and neighborhoods, and helps inform users about the widespread use and potential harms associated with these technologies. This is particularly important since landlord tech companies are private and have no incentive to publish deployment geographies or associated harms. This SSRC Just Tech Covid-19 Rapid Response Grant will enable me to maintain and update the project’s website, but also to analyze survey data, conduct interviews with survey respondents, compile a database of relevant laws and policies related to landlord tech, convene a small workshop with tenants experiencing landlord tech, and write a report detailing our findings.

Research Team

Principal Investigator

Erin M. McElroy

Postdoctoral Researcher, New York University

  • Bio ▾

    Erin McElroy is a postdoctoral researcher at New York University’s interdisciplinary AI Now Institute, researching the digital platforms used by landlords in order to surveil and racialize tenants. This work brings together humanities frameworks in order to theorize property as a technology of racial dispossession. Erin is also cofounder of the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project, a counter-cartography, digital geography, and multi-media collective documenting landscapes gentrification while producing tools for resistance. Crucial to this project is the idea that technology, maps, and data can be used in order to produce techno-urban futures other than those of racial technocapitalism. Erin earned a doctoral degree in feminist studies from the University of California, Santa Cruz, with a focus on the politics of space, race, and technology in postsocialist Romania and post–Cold War Silicon Valley. More recently, Erin co-launched the open access peer-reviewed Radical Housing Journal in order to foster housing justice transnationally.

Pandemic, Technology, Family Socioeconomic Backgrounds, and the Impact of Covid-19 in Ghana

Just Tech Covid-19 Rapid-Response Grant – Fall 2020

Abstract

The upsurge in the spread of the coronavirus has affected many people, especially in developing countries. However, less attention has been given to how the current pandemic is differentially affecting students from low-income families in Ghana. Although schools have closed and are now utilizing remote learning to teach students, some students are more likely to be disadvantaged. Thus, instead of education and Covid-19 being a great equalizer, remote learning is exacerbating these differences. In a developing country such as Ghana, where online instructional tools are not part of the educational system, educators, teachers, and students may find it very difficult to adopt this type of learning style. Moreover, the pandemic has caused some parents to lose their jobs and livelihood, whereas others are working from home. This research intends to examine how parents are balancing their paid work with supervising the academic work of their children. We will explore the challenges and experiences of students, teachers, and parents during this remote-learning era.

Research Team

Principal Investigator

Mark Obeng

Lecturer, University of Ghana, Legon

  • Bio ▾

    Mark Kwaku Mensah Obeng is a lecturer at the Department of Sociology, University of Ghana, Legon. Mark lectures primarily in the field of tradition and change, where he explores the changes that have taken place in the Ghanaian society since 1900 and the factors driving social change in Ghana. His teaching and research adopts an institutional approach. His substantive areas of interest include the economy, formal education, and the emergence of the new elite. On the economy, Mark has been writing broadly on China–Africa economic engagement. His recent publications have appeared in Asian Ethnicity, Canadian Journal of African Studies, Contemporary Journal of African Studies, Review of Social Studies, and Legon Journal of Sociology. His last major research project, entitled Deconstructing the Uptake of Made-in-China Products, was supported by the Building Africa’s Next Generation of Academics project (BANGA-AFRICA) of the University of Ghana with support from Carnegie Corporation of New York.

“When Will the Vaccine Arrive?” Expectations and Misinformation over Covid-19 Vaccines on Social Media in Colombia

Just Tech Covid-19 Rapid-Response Grant – Fall 2020

Abstract

Under the assumption that nations in the global South are welcoming and in need of vaccines, and given years of massive immunization campaigns championed by international organizations, misinformation on vaccines has been understudied in Latin America. However, the current pandemic has spread along with misleading information regarding treatments to control the virus, bringing to the forefront debates about a possible vaccine. Drawing on the case of Colombia, this study aims to identify the different types of information and misinformation circulating on social media regarding a Covid-19 vaccine to better understand how contradictory information can influence future immunization campaigns. The proposed research specifically asks: What are the main contents and debates circulating on Twitter and Facebook about immunization against Covid-19? How does this information change over time as efforts to produce a vaccine progress? And how do social media users interact with Covid-19 vaccine information and misinformation? To answer these questions, we propose a mixed-methods research design that combines text mining and a nationally representative online survey. We will study Colombia-based tweets and Facebook posts that focus on political debates, public-health policies, scientific developments, and rumors. The survey will collect information from a nationally representative sample to assess to what extent citizens’ opinions align with social media content and the political attitudes that characterize them. By recognizing Covid-19 immunization discourses on social media and how they influence citizens’ views of a potential long-term solution to the virus, our results shed light on future challenges to vaccination plans.

Research Team

Principal Investigator

Juan Carlos Rodriguez-Raga

Associate Professor, Universidad de los Andes

  • Bio ▾

    Juan Carlos Rodriguez-Raga is associate professor of political science and the codirector of the Observatorio de la Democracia at Universidad de los Andes (Colombia). He received his PhD from the University Pittsburgh in 2011. Rodriguez-Raga’s research looks at political behavior and institutions. His current interests include the impact of social media on political decisions made by elected officials and common citizens, as well as the attitudes, perceptions, fears, and expectations of grassroots right-wing citizens in Latin America. His research on these subjects makes use of a variety of methodologies, including textual analysis, web scraping, and public opinion surveys. Dr. Rodriguez-Raga has published multiple articles and book chapters both in English and Spanish on political institutions, electoral systems, political parties, legislatures, and high courts. He has led the studies of the Americas Barometer in Colombia since 2004. In 2017, Rodriguez-Raga was a member of the Special Electoral Commission created by the peace agreement between the Colombian Government and the FARC guerrilla group.

Disconnection, Digital Resilience, and Differently Abled Communities in the Covid-19 Pandemic Indonesia and Vietnam

Just Tech Covid-19 Rapid-Response Grant – Fall 2020

Abstract

The Covid-19 pandemic brings many new challenges. While the internet and technology have promised to connect people and elevate quality of life, that has not been a case for differently abled communities. In response, we assess the usefulness of technologies for the differently abled in Indonesia and Vietnam to seek, use, and share information during the pandemic. We critically study the role of technological companies in facilitating diverse users to be digitally resilient during the pandemic. Practically, the findings can help generate viable ways of promoting alliances between private and public sectors in centering the need of the differently abled in emerging economies. Theoretically, the findings hold a promise to expand the existing approaches to explain digital resilience of differently abled communities living in different socio-political ecosystems in the global South.

Research Team

Principal Investigators

Abdul Rohman

Lecturer and Researcher, RMIT

  • Bio ▾

    Abdul Rohman investigates communication and social change in Southeast Asia, primarily Indonesia and Vietnam. He has led projects related to peace education, political education, and the use of information communication technologies for social change in Indonesia. Abdul’s research interests revolve around the world of disadvantaged communities and grassroots organizations.

Dyah Pitaloka

Independent Researcher, Ronin Institute

  • Bio ▾

    Dyah Pitaloka researches inequalities, marginalization, and issues of community development and social justice in Southeast Asia, intercultural and cross-cultural communication in contemporary health care, and the impact of new media and technology on social change. The community-grounded projects that she conducted look at how cultural meanings are negotiated and co-constructed by community members in their interactions with various social, structural, educational, economic, religious, and policy contexts that surround their lives.

Contact Tracing Fake News: Ethnographic Analysis of Covid-19 Misinformation in Three Global Communities at Risk

Just Tech Covid-19 Rapid-Response Grant – Fall 2020

Abstract

During the Covid-19 pandemic, access to quality health information structures individual and community risk for health inequality. Increasingly, social media is functioning as a primary method by which vulnerable populations receive and share Covid-19 information—and misinformation. While many researchers have begun network analysis of the spread and correlates of Covid-19 misinformation, few have engaged in context-rich research that gets at how people appraise, make sense of, and perpetuate misinformation across social media ecologies. To address this gap, we propose a six-month-long comparative ethnographic research project in the favelas of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro Brazil, the Southside of Chicago, and the rural borderlands of northwestern Guatemala. Each context is marked by inequality, limited health-care access, and growing use of social media for information dissemination. They vary in social and environmental characteristics, and national/local public health response. We will leverage existing ethnographic networks to “contact trace” misinformation from key informants back through and beyond the community, elucidating how and why misinformation—and Covid-19 spread itself—plays out differently across global contexts.

Research Team

Principal Investigators

Nicole E. Rosner

Postdoctoral Fellow and Postdoctoral Scholar, University of Chicago

  • Bio ▾

    Nicole Rosner is a postdoctoral fellow at the Mansueto Institute for Urban Innovation and a postdoctoral scholar in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Chicago. Her research concerns the everyday politics of city-making and the violent reproduction of social, spatial, and racial inequality. Her regional interests lie in Latin America, particularly Brazil, and she has recently begun research in Latinx communities in Chicago. Her current book project, tentatively titled “Remaking the City, Unmaking Democracy,” analyzes the erosion of liberal democracy in Brazil through lived experiences of “green” urban renewal in Rio de Janeiro’s working-class communities of color. Nicole’s research has been supported by numerous grants and awards, including from the Fulbright-Hays and the Inter-American Development Foundation (IAF). She received her PhD in sociocultural anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley, with a designated emphasis in global metropolitan studies, her MSc in city design and social sciences from the London School of Economics, and her AB from Harvard University with honors.

Luisa Rivera

PhD Candidate, Emory University

  • Bio ▾

    Luisa Maria Rivera, MPH, is a PhD candidate in anthropology at Emory University. Her research examines the biological embedding and intergenerational transmission of trauma, violence, and inequality in Latinx communities. She conducts mixed-methods ethnographic and biosocial research in northwestern Guatemala and urban communities in the US. Her work is supported by the National Science Foundation, the Wenner Gren Foundation, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, where she is a current health policy research scholar.

Lis Blanco

PhD Candidate, State University of Campinas

  • Bio ▾

    Lis Blanco is a PhD candidate in anthropology at the University of Campinas (UNICAMP), Brazil. She holds an MA in social anthropology and a BA in social sciences from UNICAMP. She was a visiting scholar at the Food Observatory at the University of Barcelona, Spain, and in the Anthropology Department at the University of California, Berkeley. Her current PhD research examines the transformation of the category of “Hunger” into “Food Insecurity” through the social trajectory of the Zero Hunger Program. As a sociocultural anthropologist focused in Latin American contexts, she is interested in the study of public policies and statecraft intertwined with the production and consolidation of social and economic inequalities. Lately, she has been working with international cooperation research projects on Covid-19’s socioeconomic consequences in poor households and on food access in vulnerable communities. She is the editor of PROA Journal of Anthropology and Art, a member of the Laboratory of Symbolic Production and Anthropology, and a member of the Brazilian Network of Researchers in Food Security and Sovereignty.

Christof Brandtner

Postdoctoral Scholar and Fellow, University of Chicago

  • Bio ▾

    Christof Brandtner is assistant professor at EM Lyon, a fellow at the Mansueto Institute for Urban Innovation at the University of Chicago, and a senior research fellow at the Civic Life of Cities Lab at Stanford University. As an organizational sociologist, Christof studies how practices intended to solve social and environmental problems in cities emerge, diffuse, and change. His published work examines organizational responses to institutional changes, including urban resilience to public health and climate crises and professionalism in urban civil society. He is currently completing “Cities in Action: Climate Change and the Organization of Cities” (under contract with Columbia University Press). Christof holds a PhD and MA in sociology from Stanford University.

Aline Nascimento

Doctoral Candidate, Social Anthropology, National Museum in Rio de Janeiro

  • Bio ▾

    Aline Maia Nascimento is a Black Brazilian social scientist and social justice activist. She is a doctoral candidate in social anthropology at the National Museum in Rio de Janeiro as well as the executive coordinator of the Human Rights team at the Observatório de Favelas, a social organization located in the Maré favela in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Her research focuses on the ways in which homicide victims' mothers organize their activism to ensure life and justice by denouncing police violence and preventing Black youth death. Using anthropological ethnographic methods, the research explores how mothers’ political participation impacts public homicide prevention policies and drives new ways of understanding society's organization, social justice, and democracy in Brazil.

A Room with ICD10: Navigating Vulnerability and Shelter through the Electronic Medical Record during the Covid-19 Pandemic

Just Tech Covid-19 Rapid-Response Grant – Fall 2020

Abstract

San Francisco is known as a city of innovation and inequality, where the massive footprint of tech giants like Twitter and Salesforce overlook sprawling tent encampments. In the US, it was among the first cities to take an aggressive approach to controlling Covid-19, instituting a shelter in place (SIP) ordinance on March 17. Then, April 10 saw an outbreak at the city’s largest homeless shelter. A public outcry emerged, resulting in a flurry of rapid decisions to commission 7000 hotel rooms for the homeless. To date, there are nearly 50 hotels around the city featuring onsite medical and nursing care. The Electronic Medical Record (EMR) is a key technology used to triage homeless persons residing on the streets into SIP hotel rooms according to vulnerability criteria established by the CDC. Personal narratives of medical history must be verified by persons working for the public health department using a specific EMR called Epic, a program used across many large health systems, which provides access to a limited dataset of local hospitals. This research project examines the forms of surveillance and care in play in these SIP hotels and their relationship to the EMR. In the context of the Covid-19 SIP hotels for the homeless, this project asks: What is the role of the EMR in defining or contesting vulnerability? Further, how do modes of risk and care circulate between digital platforms like the EMR and the forms of living and dying occurring in these sites?

Research Team

Principal Investigator

Naomi C. Schoenfeld

Nurse Practitioner, San Francisco Department of Public Health

  • Bio ▾

    Naomi C. Schoenfeld is a medical anthropologist and public health nurse practitioner in San Francisco. She has worked for the San Francisco Department of Public Health for 18 years and previously held a position as assistant clinical professor at the University of California San Francisco School of Nursing. She received her PhD from the University of California, San Francisco/UC Berkeley Joint Program in Medical Anthropology in June 2020. Her dissertation research intervenes in medical anthropology, STS, and critical global health. She conducted ethnographic research examining (post)socialist technoscientific formations through Cuban cancer vaccines. Her new research brings her ethnographic lens to her years of clinical experience with marginalized and vulnerable communities in San Francisco by examining a novel emergency program providing thousands of rooms in tourist hotels to persons experiencing homelessness during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Impact of Covid-19 on Gig Economy Work in India

Just Tech Covid-19 Rapid-Response Grant – Fall 2020

Abstract

The gig economy is generating huge employment opportunities worldwide. Per an estimate, India’s gig economy is estimated to grow at 25–30 percent annually in the past 4–5 years. It is emerging as a promising employment solution for the growing unemployed labor force, experienced professionals, less-educated workforce, retired people, and women who quit their jobs for family responsibilities. Despite the potential of gig economy work, there have been concerns about its ability to provide decent work to its workers and the lack of formal employer-employee relations, job security and employee welfare, benefits in the case of illness, maternity leave, protection against discrimination, etc. Such job insecurities have been worsened by the spread of Covid-19 in the country, where the demand for gig services has declined drastically, while those who have continued to work are operating on the frontlines, risking their lives. The proposed study stems from the above conundrum faced by gig workers, and aims to provide an assessment of the impact Covid-19 on their livelihoods in urban areas of India, through online and telephone interviews. For the analysis, fair work framework will be used to measure the decent work standard in the gig economy. It will propose a national policy framework for gig workers to bridge the inadequacies of their relationship with organizations and the workplace and foster safer work environments with assurance of job security.

Research Team

Principal Investigator

Balwant Singh Mehta

Senior Fellow, Institute For Human Development

  • Bio ▾

    Dr. Balwant Singh Mehta is a senior fellow at Institute for Human Development, Delhi. He has authored 10 books, and over four dozen of his articles have been published in peer-reviewed national and international journals on employment, inequality, poverty, child welfare, and information and communications technology for development- and human-development-related issues. He has received the Amy Mahan International Fellowship from Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Spain; research fellowship from Singapore Internet Research Centre, Singapore; the Emerging Researcher Award from the International Development Research Centre, Canada; and Excellence Award in Labour Economics from Amity University, India. He writes opinion pieces for The Pioneer, Livemint, Outlook, Business Standard, Financial Chronicle, India Water Portal, NetIndian, Counter View, IndraStra Global, The Citizen, Observer Research Foundation (ORF), India Development Review, Swarajya, India Cultural Forum, Idea for India, India Spend, and The Quint. He also writes blogs for Times of India and Navbharat Times on contemporary issues, and he is also the editor of the journal Development Policy Review. He holds a PhD in development economics from Jamia Millia Islamia University and a postdoctoral in economics from the Indian Council of Social Science Research, New Delhi.

Covid-19 and Noncommunicable Diseases: A Case Study on Bangladesh

Just Tech Covid-19 Rapid-Response Grant – Fall 2020

Abstract

Since the Covid-19 pandemic began, many people who need treatment for diseases like cancer, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and diabetes have not been receiving the health services and medicines they need . Noncommunicable disease (NCD) patients with lower socioeconomic status are vulnerable to non-adherence to medication and adverse health outcomes. The problem is particularly exacerbated during the ongoing Covid-19 epidemic due to loss of jobs and wages coupled with disruption in patients’ usual drug access sources. Similarly, a temporary closure of outpatient facilities in government secondary and tertiary care facilities has been declared in Bangladesh, though some facilities have been converted into dedicated Covid-19 hospitals. This project will engage different stakeholders in prioritizing NCD management through situational analysis and by identifying a coping strategy for NCDs management. A policy brief will be developed to ensure NCDs clinical management in the Covid-19 treatment protocol. Additionally, treatment and research guidelines will be prepared for providing NCD-related activities.

Research Team

Principal Investigator

Shamim H. Talukder

Chief Executive Officer, Eminence Associates for Social Development

  • Bio ▾

    With over a decade of experience as a development professional in areas of public health, Shamim H. Talukder is exploring the scope of innovative ideas and skills in research, designing essential and need-based studies, surveys, and techniques. As CEO for Eminence, He has provided technical and strategic leadership for the expansion and scale-up of activities for the sustainability of the organization and maintenance of excellent relations with high government officials, policymakers, donors, and coordination and strong partnerships. Moreover, he has worked as the secretariat of different national and international societies related to health and nutrition, leading participation in policy formulation and implications processes. His experience combines strong analytical and management skills with expertise in participatory appraisal, strategic planning, operations and program management, review, policy advocacy and analysis, research and evaluation focusing on maternal and child health, reproductive health, non-communicable disease, urban health, communicable disease, and nutrition.

American’s Perceptions of Privacy and Surveillance in the Covid-19 Pandemic

Just Tech Covid-19 Rapid-Response Grant – Fall 2020

Abstract

Governments around the world have introduced technology to monitor and curb the spread of Covid-19. This project seeks to understand Americans’ attitudes toward such public health surveillance measures. We propose to extend our existing project that used online surveys to investigate support for specific digital surveillance policies, particularly exposure notification apps. Our research has found that the American public is largely unsupportive of digital surveillance measures, even as they are tepid about expanding traditional contact tracing. Grant funding will be used to conduct a three-wave panel survey that builds upon our existing research. We plan to supplement our survey research by conducting in-depth interviews with contact tracers, who can provide insights into the nature of public concerns regarding both digital and non-digital surveillance. We also plan to interview users of an exposure notification app that we have been recruited to pilot test and to use findings from these interviews to provide feedback on app design and messaging.

Research Team

Principal Investigators

Baobao Zhang

Postdoctoral Fellow, Cornell Society of Fellows

  • Bio ▾

    I am a Klarman Postdoctoral Fellow in the Cornell Society of Fellows. At Cornell, I am based in the Department of Government; I have a secondary affiliation with the Department of Information Science. In Fall 2021, I will start as an assistant professor of political science at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University. I am also a research affiliate with the Centre for the Governance of AI at the University of Oxford.

    My current research focuses on trust in digital technology and the governance of artificial intelligence (AI). I study (1) public and elite opinion toward AI, (2) how the American welfare state could adapt to the increasing automation of labor, and (3) attitudes toward Covid-19 surveillance technology. My previous research covered a wide range of topics, including the politics of the US welfare state, attitudes toward climate change, and survey methodology.

    I graduated with a PhD in political science (2020) and an MA in statistics (2015) from Yale University. In 2019–2020, I worked as a postdoctoral fellow in MIT’s Political Science Department and a fellow at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University.

Sarah Kreps

Professor, Cornell University

  • Bio ▾

    I am the John L. Wetherill Professor in the Department of Government, adjunct professor of law, and Milstein Faculty Fellow in Technology and Humanity at Cornell University. I am also a non-resident senior fellow in the Foreign Policy program at the Brookings Institution.

    My research focuses on the intersection of technology, politics, and international relations, the subject of five books, including, most recently, Social Media and International Relations (Cambridge University Press, 2020).

    I have a BA from Harvard University, MSc from Oxford University, and PhD from Georgetown University. Between 1999–2003, I served on active duty in the United States Air Force.

Nina McMurry

PhD Candidate, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

  • Bio ▾

    I am a postdoctoral research fellow in the Institutions and Political Inequality Unit at the WZB Berlin Social Science Center and a research affiliate at MIT GOV/LAB. I received my PhD in political science from MIT in September 2020.

    My research focuses on political representation, government accountability, and state-society relations in post-colonial democracies. Current areas of research include the political effects of collective recognition and land rights, civic education, colonial legacies, and the politics of state surveillance. To date, I have conducted research in the Philippines, South Africa, Guatemala, South Sudan, and the United States.

Laurin Weissinger

Cyber Security Fellow and Lecturer, Yale Law School

  • Bio ▾

    Laurin B. Weissinger is a lecturer at the Fletcher School, Tufts University, and a researcher with the Computer Science Department, Tufts University. He also serves as the Cybersecurity Fellow at Yale Law School and is a visiting fellow with the Information Society Project at Yale Law School.

    Laurin studies and teaches cybersecurity from a holistic socio-technological perspective and utilizes multidisciplinary methods to explore the technical, social, and political aspects of cybersecurity in practice, as well as global cyber governance. Focussing on network analysis methodologies, he currently serves as a guest editor for a special issue on data collection for the Social Networks Journal.

    Laurin received his DPhil (PhD) from the University of Oxford, where he conducted an in-depth study of trust assurance in cybersecurity. Additionally, Laurin holds an MSc from Oxford and an MPhil from the University of Cambridge. Laurin is a Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP).

Pandemic Technologies, Inequalities, and Social Solidarity: A Qualitative, Longitudinal Study of Ecuador's Covid-19 Emergency

Just Tech Covid-19 Rapid-Response Grant – Fall 2020

Abstract

This project examines the role that technology has played as Ecuador’s Covid-19 emergency has unfolded. Given the reality of widespread, historical social inequalities in the country, often expressed in terms of class, ethnic, or place-based identities, this study seeks to understand how differing perceptions about and access to technologies during the pandemic have shaped the experiences of a diverse range of Ecuadorians. For example, how have the country’s inequalities been reinforced and/or challenged in terms of digital divides and differential access to technologies such as smartphones, Internet connectivity, or biomedical technologies such as Covid tests? What roles have local or indigenous technologies or knowledge played in responses to the pandemic, particularly in locations where public health infrastructures may be mistrusted or undeveloped? How do people use technologies in their everyday lives to signal social solidarities or social exclusions towards others, such as through the use of tools like contract-tracing apps or thermometers? Through in-depth interviews with people across all major geographic regions of the country and from diverse backgrounds in terms of gender, age, class, ethnicity, and other social identities, this study will be able to analyze the roles and impacts of technology in the context of Ecuador’s pandemic. Through attention to diverse perceptions and levels of access to technologies, the study can help diagnose how pandemic technologies may either reinforce or break down social inequalities, with an eye toward policy recommendations that may improve the uses of technology to bolster greater social solidarity and inclusion.

Research Team

Principal Investigators

Michael D. Hill

Professor of Anthropology, Universidad San Francisco de Quito

  • Bio ▾

    Michael D. Hill (PhD, Emory University) is professor of anthropology and was the founding chair of the anthropology major at the Universidad San Francisco de Quito (USFQ) in Ecuador. His research and teaching interests include tourism and heritage, Andean ethnic identities, organizational anthropology, and life history and collaborative ethnographic methodologies. He has published numerous articles in research journals such as the Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology, Ethnos, Ethnohistory, Childhood, and the Journal of the American Academy of Religion. He is author of a chapter on the cultural economies of tourism in the edited collection The Andean World (Routledge, 2018), and his forthcoming book is a life history of social mobility in the life of indigenous co-author Georgina Maldonado (Para aprender a viajar así: movilidad social en la vida de una mujer quechua, Instituto de Estudios Peruanos and USFQ Press, 2020). He possesses a strong record of projects involving interdisciplinary and inter-institutional collaboration, including directing a project on organizational culture with Ecuador's largest private-sector bank and coordinating research teams for a museum exhibition and book on religious diversity with Quito's City Museums (Diversidades espirituales y religiosas en Quito, Ecuador: Una mirada desde la etnografía colaborativa, USFQ Press, 2018).

Consuelo Fernández-Salvador

Associate Professor, Universidad San Francisco de Quito

  • Bio ▾

    Consuelo Fernández-Salvador is associate professor in the Department of Anthropology at the Universidad San Francisco de Quito and holds a PhD in development studies from the International Institute of Social Studies, Erasmus University Rotterdam. Her research interests have focused on ethno-politics, extractivism, and development, particularly around large-scale mining in the southern Amazon region in Ecuador. She is co-editor and co-author of the book La Amazonía Minada. Minería a Gran Escala y Conflictos en el Sur del Ecuador (with co-editors van Teijlingen, Leifsen, and Sánchez-Vázquez, USFQ Press-Abya Yala, 2017). Recently, she has also been involved in collaborative research on organizational cultures, as well as community tourism and the impact of Chinese mega-infrastructure on local populations. She is now the coordinator for Ecuador of the Latin American Consortium of the international research project, “Solidarity in times of a pandemic.”

Remote Access: a digital archive

Just Tech Covid-19 Rapid-Response Grant – Fall 2020

Abstract

How are pandemic-related shifts toward remote participation reliant upon the undocumented labors of disability communities? In mainstream culture, remote participation was often denied to disabled people until the pandemic made these accommodations necessary for most people. Yet historically, disability communities formed through new technologies and media: newsletters and phone trees connecting the post-polio community, which shared tips for making homes more accessible and later, the use of internet listservs to create Autistic community. During the pandemic, many disabled people quickly adapted by turning to technological tools already honed by disability culture, including online activist meetings, parties, conferences, and file sharing. Remote Access: a digital archive will document disabled communities’ relational, aesthetic, and political uses of remote technologies. It will show that many of the same technologies used widely during the pandemic were developed through disability ingenuity, resourcefulness, and experimentation.

Research Team

Principal Investigator

Aimi Hamraie

Associate Professor, Vanderbilt University

  • Bio ▾

    Aimi Hamraie is associate professor of medicine, health, and society and American studies at Vanderbilt University, where they direct the Critical Design Lab. Hamraie is author of Building Access: Universal Design and the Politics of Disability (University of Minnesota Press, 2017) and host of the Contra* podcast on disability, design justice, and the lifeworld. Their interdisciplinary research spans critical disability studies, science and technology studies, critical design and urbanism, critical race theory, and the environmental humanities.

Singapore’s Surveillance Experiments on Low-Wage Migrant Worker Dormitories: Implications for Singapore and Other Nations

Just Tech Covid-19 Rapid-Response Grant – Fall 2020

Abstract

The narrative of Singaporean exceptionalism has been globally reproduced in how the country has successfully managed the Covid-19 pandemic, where Singapore is self-branding as a model managerial SmartNation that has built an extensive digitalized and surveillance infrastructure for others to emulate. Many of these technologies appear to have been developed and tested in low-income migrant worker dormitories. Straddling science and technology studies (STS) and migration studies, this project examines the racialized and gendered processes of producing social exclusion and inequality in Singapore. Our aims are first, to understand whether and how low-wage migrant worker dormitories have become such experimentation sites, and second, to explore the differential implications of the surveillance assemblage for both the Singaporean “community,” other migrant workers, and other nations who may adopt Singaporean technologies. Our research questions are: (1) How have the purpose-built, private-publicly owned dormitories housing Singapore’s largely South Asian low-wage migrant workers (LIMWs) become experimental sites for testing Singapore’s rapidly growing arsenal of surveillance technologies (contact tracing apps, wastewater surveillance, CCTV, health surveillance through testing, etc.)? (2) How is the surveillance assemblage reproducing the racialized and gendered hierarchies of labor constructed through the nation’s immigration regime? With what implications for international would-be adopters? (3) How are LIMWs using technologies to counter-surveil their employers, the state, and NGOs? We expect to find that dormitories are testing sites, that surveillance is tied to the racialized and gendered hierarchies of the immigration regime, and that workers are attempting, with little success, to counter-surveil employers and the state.

Research Team

Principal Investigators

Monamie B. Haines

Assistant Professor, Nanyang Technological University

  • Bio ▾

    Monamie Bhadra Haines is an assistant professor of global science, technology, and society at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, and before, was an American Council of Learned Societies Postdoctoral Fellow in Global STS at the Ohio State University. She has two major research foci. First, she studies the political and cultural implications of energy transitions in Asia with a focus on social movements and the relationship between science and democracy. Her current book project, Democratic Reactors: Nuclear Power, Activism, and Experiments with Credibility in India, examines how diverse Indian polities have resisted and accommodated different manifestations of nuclear energy from the 1960s to the present, with the aim of understanding the different practices and imaginaries of Indian democracy. Monamie's next project comparatively investigates how public-private partnerships in development communities are creating energy solutions and new markets in contexts of humanitarian crises to understand how power is centralized, vulnerabilities are reproduced, and alternative futures are made possible through the technologies of financialization and surveillance embedded in renewable energy systems for the poor. Her second focus, precipitated by the pandemic, investigates the implications of surveillance in nonliberal contexts such as Singapore, and is more oriented toward public scholarship and interdisciplinary collaboration.

Laavanya Kathiravelu

Assistant Professor, Nanyang Technological University

  • Bio ▾

    Laavanya Kathiravelu is an assistant professor of sociology at Nanyang Technological University. Her research interrogates the nexus of contemporary migration and cities, particularly how these two categories of analysis interact with each other in social and spatial terms. She has explored this in her PhD looking at labor migration and city-building processes in Dubai that culminated in her monograph Migrant Dubai: Low Wage Workers and the Construction of a Global City (Palgrave MacMillan, 2015), which examined the affective and non-formal modes of performative citizenship in the two city-states. The project suggests that ethnographic examinations of Asian migrations offer alternatives in conceptualizing the politics of urban integration in more processual and transnational terms. Her current research expands on her interests in migrants and urban areas by looking at middle-class Indian migrants and new citizens in Singapore—a group that has been largely under researched but has contributed to the increase in Singapore's minority racial groupings. Her work aims to disrupt the victimhood discourse surrounding marginalized migrants and broaden understandings of contemporary cities with a focus on more embodied and affective modes of everyday life, including friendship and social networks in contemporary city life.

Junjia Ye

Assistant Professor, Nanyang Technological University

  • Bio ▾

    Junjia Ye completed her PhD at the Department of Geography, the University of British Columbia, and is now an assistant professor in geography at Nanyang Technological University. Her research interests lie at the intersections of difference and diversity, critical cosmopolitanism, class, gender studies, and the political-economic development of urban Southeast Asia. Alongside ethnographic methods, she uses film and photography techniques in collaboration with research respondents to create visual narratives through her work. The fundamental question that underlies her research and teaching programs is: What accounts for how social and economic inequalities are constituted through people's mobilities to, through, and from diversifying cities? Her first monograph, entitled Class Inequality in the Global City: Migrants, Workers and Cosmopolitanism in Singapore (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016), won Labour History's 2017 book prize. Her current study problematizes the notion of “migrant integration” by investigating how inequality emerges through forms of differential inclusion. She addresses the politics of diversification by showing how diverse peoples are incorporated through uneven modes of governance, ordering, and management. In all her interests, she aims to develop research that is timely, socially relevant, and always with the possibility of collaboration and public and student engagement both in and out of the classroom.

Technological Transitions in the US Local Food System in Response to Covid-19

Just Tech Covid-19 Rapid-Response Grant – Fall 2020

Abstract

This project asks how local food producers and distributors are using emerging digital technologies to connect with consumers and manage farm labor in ways that will have consequences for agricultural sustainability, surveillance capitalism, rural labor, and access to fresh and healthy food in the post-coronavirus era. The pandemic has exposed weaknesses in America’s centralized, data-driven food system, including crop destruction when retailers cancel bulk orders and viral outbreaks when farmworkers and meat processors cannot socially distance in their work. Despite this attention to larger producers, the pandemic has also disrupted local food networks that rely on decentralized, idiosyncratic digital surveillance to plan farmwork and reach markets. As small farmers and local food distributors switch en masse to replace face-to-face networking with digital tracking systems, the ways that they manage data form an invisible infrastructure governing risk, food access, and the consolidation of power within these networks. We propose to interview local farmers, food distributors, and digital tool developers, recording their experiences of this transition alongside de-identified screenshots and workflows of the tools they use to manage and organize data. These data include worker health, supply orders, food access, and farm productivity, presenting ethical and logistical problems for farmers and local food supporters. Just access to food and work requires urgent research to understand the technology-mediated systems that connect farms and eaters. By centering the collection and interpretation of data, this project analyzes how sociocultural biases in data management inform the decision-making that will shape the post-coronavirus rural economy.

Research Team

Principal Investigator

Andrew Flachs

Assistant Professor, Purdue University

  • Bio ▾

    Dr. Andrew Flachs researches food and agriculture systems, exploring genetically modified crops, heirloom seeds, and our own microbiomes. Born and raised in rural Pennsylvania, he graduated from Oberlin College with dual bachelor of music and bachelor of arts degrees in 2010. He earned his PhD from Washington University in St. Louis in April 2016 and was a 2016–2017 Volkswagen Exchange Postdoctoral Research Fellow with the Heidelberg University Karl Jaspers Centre for Advanced Transcultural Studies. He is currently an assistant professor of anthropology at Purdue University. His work among farmers in North America, Eastern Europe, and South India investigates ecological knowledge and socio-technological change in agricultural systems spanning Cleveland urban gardens, Bosnian heritage farms, Indian cotton fields. Andrew's research has been supported by public and private institutions including the Department of Education, the National Geographic Society, the American Institute of Indian Studies, and the Volkswagen Foundation, while his writing on agricultural development has been featured in numerous peer-reviewed publications, Salon, and National Geographic magazine. His book Cultivating Knowledge: Biotechnology, Sustainability, and the Human Cost of Cotton Capitalism was published in 2019 with the University of Arizona Press.

Algorithmic Work, Vulnerable Bodies: Instant Delivery Workers and Turkey’s Public Health Crisis during Covid-19

Just Tech Covid-19 Rapid-Response Grant – Fall 2020

Abstract

This project examines the unintended health consequences of Covid-19–related public health policies in the algorithmically governed instant delivery sector. As the government in Turkey advised all citizens to stay at home, retail companies seized this as an opportunity to expand their online markets and delivery outreach at the urban level. Instant delivery workers are thus squeezed between the government’s public health policy that encourages self-isolation and in turn increases customer demand for instant delivery, and retail companies that seek to exploit this policy. This project examines the bodily experiences of instant delivery workers employed by the two most popular delivery applications in Turkey during Covid-19. These two applications are unique in that they promise to deliver goods in less than thirty minutes. As the algorithms running beneath these platforms significantly shape the location, time, and cost of instant deliveries, their workers race against time in a densely populated Istanbul, incessantly traveling between small depots and ultimate delivery destinations. As such, risks of traffic accidents, work-related stress and illnesses, and viral risk overlap to exacerbate the already existing public health emergency for these workers. This project investigates how Turkey’s instant delivery workers manage the risk of Covid-19 at the intersections of bodily and psychological health, labor precarity, and algorithmic control in a supposedly weightless and contactless economy. The findings of this research will be used to develop humanitarian technologies and smartphone applications that prioritize the mental and physical health of vulnerable working populations.

Research Team

Principal Investigator

Ergin Bulut

Associate Professor, Koç University

  • Bio ▾

    Ergin Bulut received his PhD from the Institute of Communications Research at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Currently, he works as an associate professor at Koç University's Media and Visual Arts Department, where he teaches classes on media industries, video-game studies, media sociology, and media and populism. He researches in the areas of political economy of media and cultural production, video-game studies, media and politics, and critical theory. He is the author of A Precarious Game: The Illusion of Dream Jobs in the Video Game Industry (Cornell University Press, 2020). His work has been published in leading journals including Media, Culture & Society, Triple C, International Journal of Communication, Communication, Culture and Critique, Critical Studies in Media Communication, Television and New Media, and Communication and Critical-Cultural Studies. In the 2019–2020 academic year, Bulut was a visiting researcher at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, and faculty fellow at the Center for Advanced Research in Global Communication at UPenn.

Covid-19 Social Impact Scenarios: Bridging the Knowledge Gap between Technical System Outputs and Policymaking

Just Tech Covid-19 Rapid-Response Grant – Fall 2020

Abstract

In response to the economic crisis caused by Covid-19, the Togolese government implemented a new national policy to provide the country’s poorest households with subsistence cash transfers to help them survive the next few months. PI Blumenstock has supported the Togolese government by developing machine-learning algorithms that help identify the poorest households with the greatest need for these cash transfers. While the technical system holds great promise, it also raises important societal and ethical concerns. For instance, how might the use of predictive algorithms in the provision of social welfare impact physical safety, economic justice, and privacy or leave out critical populations? Even if the data are carefully protected, whose privacy might be at risk and in what ways? Toward mitigating large-scale unintended harms, this research entails developing and testing a new tool in the Togolese context—Social Impact Scenarios—that (1) engages impacted communities to identify situated societal and ethical concerns and (2) employs narrative storytelling to make those concerns, tensions, and tradeoffs visible, and at times actionable, to technologists and policymakers throughout the technical design and data-driven policymaking process. While Social Impact Scenarios will be developed in the Togolese context, our intention is for Social Impact Scenarios to be used more broadly as a tool to support data-driven policies that account for situated societal and ethical concerns.

Research Team

Principal Investigators

Joshua E. Blumenstock

Associate Professor, University of California, Berkeley

  • Bio ▾

    Joshua Blumenstock is an associate professor at the UC Berkeley School of Information, the director of the Data-Intensive Development Lab, and the faculty codirector of the Center for Effective Global Action. His research lies at the intersection of machine learning and empirical economics, and focuses on using novel data and methods to better understand the causes and consequences of global poverty. Joshua has a PhD in information science and an MA in economics from UC Berkeley, and bachelor’s degrees in computer science and physics from Wesleyan University. He is a recipient of the National Science Foundation’s CAREER award, the Intel Faculty Early Career Honor, a Gates Millennium Grand Challenge award, a Google Faculty Research Award, and the UC Berkeley Chancellor's Award for Public Service. His work has appeared in a variety of publications, including Science and Nature, as well as top economics journals (e.g., the American Economic Review) and computer science conferences (e.g., ICML, KDD, AAAI, WWW, CHI).

Zoe Kahn

PhD Student, University of California, Berkeley

  • Bio ▾

    Zoe Kahn is a PhD student in the Information School at UC Berkeley, where her research investigates how technologies impact people and society, with a focus on algorithmic decision-making and responsible innovation. Zoe's research surfaces rich and actionable insights for building more just and equitable technical systems. She brings an interdisciplinary background to her work that blends sociology, technology, law and policy. Zoe is a fellow at the UC Berkeley Center for Technology, Society, and Policy, Center for Long-Term Cyber Security, and Algorithmic Fairness and Opacity Group. She received her BA summa cum laude in sociology from New York University.

Transformative Social Innovations in the Governance of Small-scale Fisheries in the Indian Ocean Region

Dar es Salaam University College of Education

Abstract

Small-scale fisheries are vital in achieving quality lives and sustained livelihoods in island and coastal communities. Nevertheless, some fisheries governance systems create conditions that significantly impede small- scale fishers from unlocking and realizing socio- economic potentials of their small- scale fisheries sector. Many small-scale fishers and community organizations in the Indian Ocean region have expressed their dissatisfaction with their fisheries governance systems and have initiated and implemented social innovations to transform them. This project will examine some social innovations initiated and implemented by members of coastal communities to profoundly change unfair and ineffective fisheries governance systems in their areas in order to draw lessons from them on initiating, promoting and sustaining bottom-up transformative social innovations.

Research Team

Principal Investigators

Almas Mazigo

Assistant Professor, Dar es Salaam University College of Education

  • Bio ▾

    Dr. Almas Fortunatus Mazigo holds a PhD in applied ethics from Stellenbosch University in South Africa, a master of arts in development studies from University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, and a bachelor of philosophy from the Pontifical Urbaniana University in Italy.

    Dr. Mazigo is a lecturer and researcher at the Dar es Salaam University College of Education of the University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania. He also serves as the Coordinator of DUCE’s Center for Social and Policy Research.

      

    Dr. Mazigo has interest and expertise in phronetic social science research, monitoring and evaluation of development interventions, development ethics and global justice, management of public service and organizational ethics, business ethics and corporate governance, ethics and leadership in business and politics, ethical climate change responses, sustainability thinking and practices, transformative social innovations, gender issues, and management of small and medium enterprises.

    Dr. Mazigo has successfully conducted research on fostering responsible climate change management, sustainable business practices, cultures and ethics of sustainability, ethical leadership practices, and sthical issues in development practices, and published his research findings in prestigious international journals such as the Journal of Human Development and Capabilities and Etikk i praksis-Nordic Journal of Applied Ethics.

Johan Hattingh

Professor, Stellenbosch University

Mahmudul Islam

Professor, Sylhet Agricultural University

  • Bio ▾

    Mahmudul Islam is an assistant professor at the Department of Coastal and Marine Fisheries at Sylhet Agricultural University in Bangladesh. He received his PhD from the University of Bremen in Germany. His PhD research contextualized poverty and vulnerability in the livelihoods of coastal fishing communities in Bangladesh. With a background in marine science, oceanography, and fisheries development studies, Dr. Islam is an interdisciplinary marine social scientist with interests in coastal social-ecological systems. He has more than ten years of experience in conducting research on coastal communities, small-scale fisheries, and marine conservation in Bangladesh. Some of his works focused on policy and marine management, thus he has gathered experiences in working at the science-policy-interface. His recent research interests include marine protected areas governance, climate change impacts, and disaster risk reduction in coastal Bangladesh. Recently he led a research project on the implementation of the Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries (SSF Guidelines) in Bangladesh small-scale fisheries.

Participants

Sariaka Rakotondrazafy

Founder & Volunteer Leader, Impacting Lives through Opportunities (ILO)

Sunil Santha

Associate Professor, Tata Institute of Social Sciences

Julius Mngumi

Researcher and Assistant Lecturer, Dar es Salaam University College of Education

Kyoko Kusakabe

Professor, Asian Institute of Technology

Moenieba Isaacs

Professor, University of Western Cape

Sounding the Monsoon

University of Pretoria

Abstract

‘Sounding the Monsoon’ brings together scientific understandings of climate change with everyday experience through creative strategies that explore changing human-ecological-monsoonal relations in the Indian Ocean region. Through digital modes of collaboration, we will be testing the potential of dialogues between sound, music, photography, film and climate mapping to explore how the monsoon is changing, and how human and non-human lives are changing with it. The geographic focus of this SSRC Transregional Collaboratory on the Indian Ocean Planning Grant project is on Ilha de Moçambique, the culturally and ecologically important island in the Nampula Province of Mozambique.

Research Team

Principal Investigators

Jonathan Cane

Postdoctoral Fellow, Faculty of Humanities, University of Pretoria

  • Bio ▾

    Jonathan Cane is a postdoctoral fellow in the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Pretoria. With Noëleen Murray, research chair at the University of Pretoria, he is working on a project called “EAST: N4/EN4,” which studies minor architectures and infrastructure that connect South African and Mozambique along the N4/EN4 highway corridor. He is the principal investigator on the SSRC-funded project “Sounding the Monsoon.”. He holds a PhD in art history from the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, and is the author of Civilising Grass: The Art of the Lawn on the South African Highveld (2019), a queer postcolonial study of gardening in Johannesburg and its surrounds. His practice-based research and design work have been exhibited and published on numerous platforms. His two decades of output has resulted in video artworks, installations, a number of typeset and designed publications, and, most recently, web-based works. The recent project, “60+: Queer Old Joburg,” (2018) is a queer web archive of cruising in Johannesburg during apartheid.

Euclides Gonçalves

Director and Researcher, Kaleidoscopio

  • Bio ▾

    I am a social anthropologist and director at Kaleidoscopio - Research in Public Policy and Culture, based in Maputo. Together with colleagues Rufus Maculuve and Décio Muianga, I am working on a research project on the soundscapes of the Indian Ocean in Mozambique, which explores the influences of the Indian Ocean in the sonic cultures and production of musical instruments in Mozambique. I am also a research partner on Meanings of Memory Associated with the Indian Ocean and the Slave Trade, which focuses on the implications of the retrieval of histories of violent pasts for communities in Mozambique. This project is part of an international collaboration with the Department of Anthropology at George Washington.

Lindsay Bremner

Professor of Architecture, University of Westminster

  • Bio ▾

    My current research project, Monsoon Assemblages, is an interdisciplinary inquiry into the impacts of changing monsoon climates in three Bay of Bengal cities—Chennai, Dhaka, and Yangon. It was awarded a European Research Council Starting Grant in 2015. The research is studying the monsoon as both a global weather system and as an embodied experience, deeply entangled in historic lived environments. It comprises an interdisciplinary team of researchers (architects, an anthropologist, and a political scientist) to advance research of lived environments as indivisibly natural, social, and political, and the monsoon as an organizing principle of urban life. It has opened up new political, theoretical, and aesthetic agendas for the spatial design disciplines and the environmental humanities through cartographic, image-based, and analytical work.

Participants

Rufus Maculuve

Co-founder; Executive Director, Kaleidoscopio; Music Crossroads

Samid Suliman

Lecturer in Migration and Security, School of Humanities, Languages and Social Science at Griffith University

Kaya Barry

University Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Griffith University

Ben Pollock

Co-founder, 4D Island CIC

Rupture, Gendered Adaptation, and the Social Economy of Indian Ocean Fisheries

Centre for Poverty Analysis

Abstract

The objective of this proposed planning project is to convene an international, interdisciplinary group of scholars who conduct research on fisheries across four Indian Ocean countries - India, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, and Tanzania. Collectively, we plan to develop a comparative project that investigates emerging economic and environmental changes in the region and how these are mediated by intersectional social relations: gender, ethnicity/race, caste, class, and place. Our overarching research question is to understand how different regional social economies of fisheries in the Indian Ocean shape possibilities for adaptation to rupture.

Research Team

Principal Investigators

Gayathri Lokuge

Senior Researcher, Centre for Poverty Analysis

Amalendu Jyotishi

Faculty, School of Development, Azim Premji University

  • Bio ▾

    Dr. Amalendu Jyotishi is professor at the School of Development, Azim Premji University. His research work covers issues relating to natural resources and institutions from institutional economics, legal pluralism, property rights, and historical perspectives. He has several, research papers, book chapters, and a couple of books to his credit apart from several conference papers and proceedings, popular articles, and book reviews. He is one of the core research members of Asian Initiative on Legal Pluralism and was the coordinator of the group during the period 2012 to 2015. He was also an Executive Committee member of Indian Society for Ecological Economics during 2018–2020. His current portfolio of research interests includes fish for food security, dried fish value chain, Village Commons, and sustainability in subsistence economy. Dr. Jyotishi has collaborated in research projects supported by organizations like the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research, Swedish International Development Agency, World Bank, International Water Management Institute, Oxfam (GB) Trust, Aga Khan Rural Support Program (India), South Asian Network for Development and Environmental Economics, Australian Research Council, Social Science and Humanities Research Council, and Canada and Indian Council of Social Science Research. He is also an advisor to an online video magazine on development and environment issues named as Re[View], thereview.org.in, and part of the scholars tracing the 200-year-old local history through http://www.buchanansjourney.org. He writes poems in his personal blog shyamalee.blogspot.com and in http://www.mirakee.com/amalendu.   His University profile can be found in: https://azimpremjiuniversity.edu.in/SitePages/amalendu-jyotishi.aspx.

Holly Hapke

Director of Research Development, School of Social Sciences, UC Irvine

  • Bio ▾

    Dr. Holly Hapke is a geographer and interdisciplinary social scientist with research interests in political economy, rural development, gender, fisheries and food production systems, livelihoods, migration, and ecological conflict. Her research projects have examined the impact of technological transformation and globalization on artisanal fishing communities, fish markets, and fisherfolk livelihoods in India; technological transformation in the flue-cured tobacco industry of eastern North Carolina; transnational Latinx migration in the US South; and the cultural impacts of Gulf migration in India. Current projects include (a) a transdisciplinary study of the role of fisheries in food security for the urban poor in India and Ghana (FISH4FOOD); and (b) a study of the social economy of dried fish in India with collaborators in India and Canada (Dried Fish Matters). She is currently a research scientist and Director of Research Development in the School of Social Sciences at the University of California, Irvine where she facilitates the development of inter- and transdisciplinary team science research projects.

Participants

Karin Fernando

Senior Research Professional, Centre for Poverty Analysis

Derek Johnson

Professor, University of Manitoba

Kyoko Kusakabe

Professor, Asian Institute of Technology

Ajit Menon

,

Joeri Scholtens

,

Proposal to Develop a ‘Southern Collective’ for Transdisciplinary Collaborations on the Northern Indian Ocean

NUS

Abstract

The northern Indian Ocean region, incorporating the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman and Laccadive Seas, can be seen as an understudied marine transcultural borderland. This project aims to build a transdisciplinary ‘Southern Collective’ of natural and social scientists, and non-academic experts to address societal and environmental problems facing coastal communities in this region. Our collective will undertake activities to address two broad climate and livelihood related themes for interdisciplinary research, namely transboundary coastal and marine resources, and forced migration and adaptation. The Southern Collective will co-create digital learning modalities in order to re-center local knowledge around these themes. We will also create a web-based portal to facilitate grassroots public engagement and democratize knowledge generation in and for the region.

Research Team

Principal Investigators

Annu Jalais

Assistant Professor, South Asian Studies, National University of Singapore

  • Bio ▾

    I am an environmental anthropologist currently assistant (promotion expected to associate by the end of 2020) professor at the National University of Singapore’s South Asian Studies Program. My interdisciplinary research and teaching experience focus on: The human-nonhuman interface; Environment and climate change; Religious identity and migration; and Caste and social justice. My primary region of specialization is South Asia, specifically Bangladesh and India. My secondary zone encompasses Southeast Asia and China, especially around Indian Ocean exchanges in the religious and cultural realms. My academic scholarship, based in engaged ethnography, focuses on (a) social and cultural dimensions of forest-, river-, and sea-dependent communities; (b) marginal Muslim communities and migrants; (c) alarming developments such as increased suicide and out-migration rates, due mainly to the threat of climate breakdown across the Bay of Bengal resulting in fast-disappearing forest-land, harsher cyclones, and rising sea-levels in adjacent coastal landscapes. These life-threatening transformations have jolted me into trying to make my academic work more relevant, and for this I am committed to working with individuals and organizations that want to make a change and are motivated to working with multi- and inter-disciplinary teams (from previous experience on European Commission and AHRC grants). I grew up in India, am at ease working in villages and slums, fluently speak Bengali and Hindi, and can manage some Oriya, Assamese, and Tamil. Becoming an engaged anthropologist has been my response to our collective concern over global environmental degradation, rising social inequalities, and dispossession (particularly heightened in these times of Covid-19 pandemic).

Aarthi Sridhar

Programme Head, Dakshin Foundation

  • Bio ▾

    Aarthi Sridhar is a founder and trustee of Dakshin Foundation and has headed its Communities and Resource Governance Programme for over ten years. She is also pursuing a PhD from the University of Amsterdam on the social history of fisheries science in India. Trained in diverse traditions within the social sciences, her professional roles straddle academic and practitioner spaces. Her current academic interests centre on historical and contemporary socio-legal studies, science and technology studies, environmental history, and sociological studies of science. Her empirical focal areas are coastal and marine environments, resource politics, maritime infrastructures, and practices of environmental norms and justice. As a practitioner, she has facilitated the creation of some of India’s early collaborative experiments for coastal and marine environmental governance and worked with various local and national civil society networks. She enjoys collective effort projects and has worked with diverse disciplinary teams to write essays, make documentary films, technical websites, field manuals, and other learning material on the subject of marine environments and people.

Rapti Siriwardane

Researcher, Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research

Alin Kadfak

Researcher, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

  • Bio ▾

    Alin Kadfak is a researcher in the Department of Rural and Urban Development, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences. Her current research explores labor rights in sustainable fishing policy as a global environmental governance mechanism, using Thailand and Myanmar as case studies. Her research interests include resource governance within fisheries and coastal landscapes in the Global South. Her doctoral dissertation, defended in 2018, explored how urbanization has influenced the lives and livelihoods of small-scale fishers, and how the coastal landscape (water-land nexus) is understood and contested in India. In her current project, she expands her focus to global fisheries governance, by exploring how labor rights have become an emerging standard for multi-actors (state and non-state) in influencing how fisheries’ supply chains are governed. Her research is informed by critical engagements with (urban) political ecology, global environmental governance, labor-rights, and critical geography.

Participants

Ahilan Kadirgamar

Senior Lecturer University of Jaffna + Chairman, Northern Cooperative Development Bank

Sujatha Byravan

Independent Consultant and scientist, Chennai

Avilash Roul

Guest Faculty, IIT Chennai

Mohammed Saiful

Scientist, Bangladesh Agricultural University

Khushi Kabir

Social Justice rights’ campaigner, Nijera Kori

Than Pale

Professor, Anthropology Department, Yangon University

Pradeep Singh

Research Associate, IAAS Potsdam

Oceanic Power: Gulf Aid, Islamic Ethics, and Climate Change in Zanzibar's Offshore Search for Oil & Gas

State University of Zanzibar

Abstract

As oil-rich Gulf States seek to diversify away from non-renewable resources, the East African islands of Zanzibar court their aid to search for offshore fossil fuels in a quest to become the “Dubai of East Africa.” Yet such drilling agreements threaten to further disrupt competing coastal economies and ecologies already vulnerable to the effects of climate change. This project examines the ethical, political, and environmental stakes of this transnational enterprise, including the use of Islamic narratives to justify competing potential futures such as both extractive and sustainable orientations toward coastal resources.

Research Team

Principal Investigators

Issa Haji Ziddy

Associate Professor of Religious Education, State University of Zanzibar

  • Bio ▾

    Dr. Issa Ziddy is an associate professor of religious education at the State University of Zanzibar (SUZA). He obtained his PhD in curriculum development & methodology of teaching from the International University of Africa in Khartoum, Sudan. His research and publications in Arabic, Swahili, and English concern the history of Islamic education in Zanzibar, Muslim-Christian relations, Gulf-Zanzibar connections, and Islamic teachings on current issues. He was a visiting scholar in Islamic studies at the University of Leipzig, Institute of Oriental Studies in Germany, Bayreuth University in Germany, and in Northwest College in Wyoming through the Fulbright Visiting Scholar Program. He has partnered with the government and organizations in Zanzibar seeking to bring Islamic leaders into their work in educating communities on pressing current issues, including gender-based violence, family planning, and positive discipline for children in homes and schools and environmental issues.

Caitlyn Bolton

PhD Candidate, City University of New York

  • Bio ▾

    Caitlyn Bolton is a PhD candidate in cultural anthropology at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. Her research centers on transnational currents of Islamic reform, development, and knowledge exchange in Zanzibar and the Gulf. Supported by the Wenner-Gren Foundation, Social Science Research Council, Fulbright-Hays, and the American Council of Learned Societies, her dissertation examines transnational Islamic organizations working in development and education in Zanzibar, and the role of religion and religious knowledge in their approaches to progress and social change. She speaks Arabic and Swahili, has a BA in anthropology and africana studies from Bard College, an MA in near eastern studies from New York University, and has worked at Harvard Kennedy School’s Middle East Initiative and the Cordoba Initiative.

Mary Mtumwa Khatib

Research Officer, Lecturer, Department of Geography, State University of Zanzibar

  • Bio ▾

    Dr. Mary Khatib is a lecturer in the Department of Geography at the State University of Zanzibar. Her dissertation, titled “A Changing Climate: Local Adaptations in Northern Coastal Communities’ Livelihoods of Unguja Island, Zanzibar,” examined the effects of the changing climate on local livelihoods highly dependent on coastal resource extraction in northern Unguja island, Zanzibar. She has partnered extensively with the government and NGOs on research projects related to climate change and livelihoods in Zanzibar, and has conducted research with the Department of Education and Vocational Training.

Mangroves and Tangled Futures: Agrarian Change, Energy Extraction, and Coastal Ecologies in Mozambique and Western India

University Eduardo Mondlane

Abstract

We use the mangrove as a conceptual-ethical-empirical anchor to advance horizontal connections across disciplinary hierarchies, promote decolonial knowledge production, and understand political and environmental linkages between Gujarat and Mozambique. We aim to reframe coastlines through oral histories, installations, and soundscapes and create a new ecology of collaboration between Gujarat and Mozambique. Ultimately, this project will allow us to arrive at a) a portrayal of how the two coasts are connected through transnational coal and agribusiness b) how they compare when we investigate their mangrove-agrarian entanglements across land and sea, and c) questions they generate for long-term robust collaborative research on Inter-Asian trade agreements, transboundary dilemmas of environment-society, and their connections with local aspirations, and resource extraction.

Research Team

Principal Investigators

Inês Raimundo

Professor of Human Geography; Director of Center of Political Analysis, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences; University Eduardo Mondlane

  • Bio ▾

    Dr. Inês Raimundo is the former director of the Centre for Policy Analysis and professor in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at Eduardo Mondlane University, Maputo. She is a human geographer and ethnographer and foremost specialist on migration in Mozambique, including international and transborder dynamics, as well as internal rural-urban mobilities and forced displacements from environmental disasters. Her scholarship also makes her a leading policy expert on linkages of food insecurity, gender, poverty, infectious diseases, and informality in southern Africa. In her most recent direction of research, Raimundo is a leading scholar on the social and environmental aftermath of the cyclones Idai and Kenneth, which hit the southeastern coast of Mozambique in March 2019, considered two of the worst tropical cyclones on record to affect Africa. Coastal destruction of infrastructure and ecologies translated to intense inland flooding, from Beira City into the Gorongosa hinterland, Raimundo’s ancestral home. Her experience in post-disaster and displacement research has led to her interest in critically reimagining scholarly collaborations. The international teams she was involved with fundamentally misunderstood power asymmetries of knowledge production and horizontal team-building. This is needed for critical environmental work among agrarian populations that face repeated disappointments by research procedures. These experiences inspire her desire to facilitate this innovative transnational and Global-South-led collaboration. Major focuses are: Situated histories of concepts of sustainability; Questioning representativity; Subverting hierarchies of expertise; and Political implications of nature and culture divides in contemporary social sciences, including emerging discussions of Africa in the Anthropocene.

Chandana Anusha

PhD Candidate, Yale University

  • Bio ▾

    Chandana Anusha is finishing her PhD in anthropology at Yale, on coastal development and socio-ecological change in Gujarat, India. Fieldwork experiences since 2006 inspire her engagements with uneven effects of state-sponsored infrastructural projects on landscapes and lives. As a volunteer investigating the impact of a massive dam project in her home state of Gujarat, she observed changing crop practices as farmers adapted to dam construction. During her master's at Delhi, she engaged in a collaborative study on forest councils and agrarian households in India's Central Himalayas. She saw that people’s attachments to forests persisted even when their material needs did not depend on them. In 2011, she took these questions of dependency and access to a wildlife sanctuary in Gujarat, where the state had rehabilitated people displaced by the dam. She studied the implementation of a law guaranteeing indigenous rights to forests. Engaging with government officers, activists, and forest dwellers she observed mapping and counter-mapping activities. She also engaged in collaborative ethnographic research of a Muslim girls' school in Ahmedabad amid rising religious polarisation. With her PhD, she expands her focus from forests to coasts, where twenty-first century Indian state aspirations of geopolitical ascendency through international trade, have transformed the Indian coastline into a new frontier of resource control. She conducted over 18 months of ethnographic research, engaging with farmers, fishworkers, and graziers, and visiting port officials to understand how their ideas of a good life, best practices of land-use, and imaginations of prosperity became enmeshed in a mega-port project meant to expand and accelerate Indian Ocean connections.

Serena Stein

Postdoctoral Researcher, Wageningen University

  • Bio ▾

    Serena Stein is completing her PhD in anthropology at Princeton University and is currently a postdoctoral researcher at Wageningen University, the Netherlands, in the Sociology of Development & Change Group in the Centre for Space, Place & Society. Her research examines emerging agribusiness and resource frontiers in relational, interlinked geographies across the Global South, at the intersection of environmental and economic anthropology, political ecology, and technology studies. In particular, she focuses on the entanglements of former colonies in southern Africa and rising economic powers; agrarian change amid foreign land acquisition and new plantations; shifting norms of gender, kinship, and human-environmental relations; and localized experiences and practices of climate crisis and intervention. Stein is doubly -rooted in Brazil and the United States, with long-term investigation of 'kindred' relations between Brazil and Mozambique in historical and unfolding everyday encounters among aid, agribusiness, and extraction. She spent 28 months from 2015 to 2018 working closely and farming with smallholder farming communities in northern Mozambique and has collaborated with peasant and environmental advocacy groups, international organizations, and national universities and research groups in Mozambique (including UEM, IESE, OMR) addressing food price volatility, biodiversity conservation, seed politics, agricultural toxicities, land tenure, and reimagining fieldwork and research methods since 2011. Recent work also involves multimedia exploration of farmers and environmental change on the sacred Mount Namuli in center-north Mozambique, as well as indigenous practices of soil regeneration and multispecies conviviality in zones of extraction.

Participants

Ambika Aiyyadurai

Assistant Professor, IIT Gandhinagar

Marlino Mubai

Assistant Professor, University Eduardo Mondlane

Tarquinio Mateus Magalhães

, Eduardo Mondlane University

Environmental Refugees: Climate, Health, and Livelihood in the Indian Ocean World

University of Sussex

Abstract

The livelihood of coastal communities is at risk as climate change events accelerate natural disasters such as tropical cyclones, and growing inequalities and displacement are pushing vulnerable littoral populations to migrate to cities and rural hinterlands in South Asia and East Africa. Our planned program seeks to advance the under researched field of climate change, livelihood, migration and health issues in the Indian Ocean littoral by mapping the subjective experiences of migrant families, and highlighting the wealth of community coping strategies that exists within supposedly vulnerable communities focusing on case studies in India, Bangladesh, Tanzania and Mozambique.

Research Team

Principal Investigators

Debojyoti Das

Lecturer and Global Research Associate School of Global Studies, University of Sussex, UK

  • Bio ▾

    I am an anthropologist, focusing on the borderlands of eastern India and the Indian Ocean world. My work is deeply interdisciplinary, bridging my training as an ethnographer with extensive use of visual media and oral sources. My current research focuses on climate change, health and wellbeing, natural disaster, migration, and sustainable development issues among Dalits and ethnic minorities in the Indian Ocean littoral. I have interests in transdisciplinary and community focused work which feeds into the use of different qualitative methods and tools for action research. Besides academic peer reviewed publications I have contributed to newspapers, blogs, photo exhibitions, seminars, and stakeholder’s workshops. I am also the recipient of the Inter Asia New Paradigm Grant (2019–20). I have contributed papers to peer reviewed outlets such as the Journal of the Indian Ocean Region, Journal of South Asian Development, Economic and Political Weekly, European Bulletin of Himalayan Research, Asian Ethnology, among others which have a high impact factor.

Simi Mehta

CEO and Editorial Director, Impact and Policy Research Institute

  • Bio ▾

    I have a background in political science and international relations. My research areas include policy perspectives of sustainable development and climate change issues, linking them to international political economy, agriculture, food security, and impact on health and nutrition. I hold a PhD from the School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University and was a Fulbright Fellow at Ohio State University. Currently, I am the CEO and editorial director of the Impact and Policy Research Institute (IMPRI), New Delhi. At IMPRI, we have established the Centre for Environment, Climate Change and Sustainable Development for studying environmental changes and their impact on society and economy. I must point out that my participation in this planning grant has been made possible through deliberations supported by the SSRC Scholarly Borderlands roundtables held at University of Dar es Salaam in 2018, where I met other participants and researchers from Tanzania, India, and the US working in the Indian Ocean Region.

Stephen O Maluka

Associate Professor of Public Health, Dar es Salaam University College of Education

  • Bio ▾

    Dr. Stephen Maluka is an associate professor of public health at Dar es Salaam University College of Education of the University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. He has been involved in a number of multi-country research projects on health policy and systems including the following: strengthening fairness and accountability in health systems priority setting at district level; supporting decentralized management to improve health workforce performance; understanding the effect of the takeover of informal sector health insurance scheme by a formal sector scheme on universal coverage in terms of risk pooling and purchasing; universal health coverage in Tanzania and South Africa: monitoring and evaluating progress; Consortium for Health Policy and Systems Analysis in Africa; improving access to health services and quality of care for mothers and children in Tanzania under the Innovating for Maternal and Child Health Programme in Africa; engaging non-state providers toward universal health coverage in Tanzania; and examining effects of decision-making space on health systems performance in Tanzania (RIGHT). Professor Maluka has published more than 30 articles on various public health issues in international, peer reviewed journals.

Participants

Bina Sengar

Assistant Professor, Department of History, Baba Saheb Ambedkar Maratwara University

Shababa Haque

Program Officer, International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCAD)

Almas Mazigo

Assistant Professor, University of Dar es Salaam

  • Bio ▾

    Dr. Almas Fortunatus Mazigo holds a PhD in applied ethics from Stellenbosch University in South Africa, a master of arts in development studies from University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, and a bachelor of philosophy from the Pontifical Urbaniana University in Italy.

    Dr. Mazigo is a lecturer and researcher at the Dar es Salaam University College of Education of the University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania. He also serves as the Coordinator of DUCE’s Center for Social and Policy Research.

      

    Dr. Mazigo has interest and expertise in phronetic social science research, monitoring and evaluation of development interventions, development ethics and global justice, management of public service and organizational ethics, business ethics and corporate governance, ethics and leadership in business and politics, ethical climate change responses, sustainability thinking and practices, transformative social innovations, gender issues, and management of small and medium enterprises.

    Dr. Mazigo has successfully conducted research on fostering responsible climate change management, sustainable business practices, cultures and ethics of sustainability, ethical leadership practices, and sthical issues in development practices, and published his research findings in prestigious international journals such as the Journal of Human Development and Capabilities and Etikk i praksis-Nordic Journal of Applied Ethics.

Victoria Makulilo

Lecturer-DUCE, Political and Public Administration, University of Dar es Salaam

Daniel Zacarias

Lecturer, Eduardo Mondlane University

Upasona Ghosh

Assistant Professor in Anthropology, Indian Institute of Public Health

Climate Change, Political Economy, and Connectivity in the Red Sea Arena

New York University - Abu Dhabi

Abstract

The Red Sea Arena, spanning East Africa to the Arabian Peninsula, is one of the most unequal in the world. This project starts with the urgent question of how, in one ecological region, some of the richest and poorest societies in the world are weathering today’s profound climatic, economic, and political transformations. By creating a network of specialists across the usual boundaries of African Studies and Middle Eastern Studies, across disciplines, and across institutions located throughout the Arabian Peninsula and East Africa, this project enables a deeper investigation of how environmental transformations and political economies unite this region.

Research Team

Principal Investigators

Nathalie Peutz

Associate Professor of Arab Crossroads Studies, NYU Abu Dhabi

  • Bio ▾

    Nathalie Peutz is associate professor of Arab crossroads studies at New York University Abu Dhabi. A cultural anthropologist, she has conducted wide-ranging, ethnographic research in Yemen, Djibouti, and Somaliland. Peutz completed her BA at the University of Pennsylvania and PhD at Princeton University. She is the author of Islands of Heritage: Conservation and Transformation in Yemen (Stanford, 2018), which examines the impact of environmental conservation, development, and heritage projects in prewar Socotra, Yemen's Indian Ocean archipelago and one of the most biologically diverse places in the world. She is also the co-editor of The Deportation Regime: Sovereignty, Space, and the Freedom of Movement (with Nicholas De Genova, Duke, 2010). Her work has been supported by the American Council of Learned Societies, the Institute of Advanced Study in Princeton, and the Bellagio Center of the Rockefeller Foundation, among others. Peutz is currently writing a book on Yemeni refugees and Ethiopian migrants in the Horn of Africa.

Alden Young

Assistant Professor of History, University of California Los Angeles

  • Bio ▾

    Alden Young is assistant professor of African American studies and a faculty member of the International Development Studies program of the UCLA International Institute. A political and economic historian of Africa, he is the author of Transforming Sudan: Decolonization, Economic Development and State Formation (Cambridge University Press, 2017). Young is particularly interested in the ways in which Africans participated in the creation of the current international order and has research interests on both sides of the Red Sea. He has done extensive fieldwork in Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, Jordan, and the United Arab Emirates.

    Young’s current research project examines how Sudanese intellectuals and businessmen conceptualized the rise of the Arab Gulf beginning in the 1970s and built economic, political, and labor relationships between Sudan and the Gulf region. He is also engaged in two collaborative research projects: a study of post-partition conflicts in the Horn of Africa (e.g., Sudan–South Sudan and Ethiopia-Eritrea) with political scientist Michael Woldemariam, and a study of East African ideas of federation. Along with Nathalie Puetz of NYU Abu Dhabi, Young has been awarded a research grant by the Social Science Research Council to conceptualize the Red Sea as a region of study.

     

    A frequent contributor to international media outlets such as Al Jazeera, Foreign Affairs, and Foreign Policy, Young is a non-resident fellow at the Quincy Institute and was a member of the School of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study of Princeton University for the 2019–2020 term.

Participants

Ian Hoyt

Student, NYU Abu Dhabi

Yesmine Abida

Student, NYU Abu Dhabi

Anatoli Lemma

Student, NYU Abu Dhabi

Rifal Imam

Student, NYU Abu Dhabi

Online Identity and Political Speech in Social Media

Social Data Research Fellowship

Abstract

This project uncovers how changes in exposure of one’s online identity affected individuals’ online political speech. Online commentary is an important form of political speech on social media. Anonymity on online platforms is often cited as a fundamental characteristic that exacerbates social commentary’s role in disseminating misinformation and the incivility of online exchanges. Will imposing an online identity change users’ online behaviors? Using a natural experiment on South Korea’s dominant online news platform, Naver, we examine the role of social identity in alleviating the spread of misinformation and incivility in online discussion. Naver moved away from the YouTube model (complete anonymity) and became closer to the Facebook model (revealed offline identity) by making comment histories available to the public. This sudden policy change created an online identity for users of the news platform. We will investigate whether Naver’s policy change affected the frequency of commenting and proportion of vulgar comments, containment of misinformation in comments, and types of articles that online users selected to comment on. The timing that Naver chose to change its policy coincided with a rapid increase in Covid-19 cases and the active campaigning period for legislative election in South Korea. In addition to the general effects of the policy change, we especially focus on (i) Covid-19 related misinformation and partisan polarization in framing and processing health information, and (ii) incivility and polarization during the campaign period for the South Korean general election, which was held on April 15, 2020.

Research Team

Principal Investigator

Hye Young You

Assistant Professor, New York University

  • Bio ▾

    Hye Young You is assistant professor at the Wilf Family Department of Politics at New York University. Her primary research interest focuses on how organized interests and money influence democratic representation in the US, at both the national and local levels. In particular, her research explores the mechanism behind the lobbying process and sheds light on organized interest groups that play crucial roles in the political process but have been understudied, such as local governments and foreign interests. Her research also focuses on American political institutions and how institutional designs shape individual behaviors. She received her PhD in political economy and government from Harvard University in 2014.

Infodrought and Infodemic: Conceptualizing Information Vulnerabilities on Social Media

Social Data Research Fellowship

Abstract

Exposure to high-quality political information on social media is unequally distributed across populations of internet users. Some people experience social news feeds that contain substantial amounts of high-quality information, while others are exposed to very little political information—or even to substantial quantities of low-quality or harmful content. Under these conditions, we lack a conceptual framework to understand who is most vulnerable to harmful effects of misinformation on social media, and to explain why. The goal of this project is to identify social media users who should be considered vulnerable populations in terms of their exposure to political information online. The first specific aim of this project is to develop a typology of political information vulnerabilities that takes into account: (1) the quantity of political information to which a social media user is exposed, (2) the quality of that information, and (3) users’ attitudes toward the media (e.g., media trust). The second aim of the project is to examine how social media information vulnerabilities are related to traditional categories of inequality (socioeconomic status, race, and gender). To do so, we propose a qualitative research design: 60 interviews with social media users with an emphasis on populations traditionally underserved by news (low income, low education, BIPOC), combined with social media profile data donation. The expected outcomes of this project are to advance our theoretical understanding of the causes and consequences of political information inequalities on social media, and to propose a reinvigorated public agenda for research on information vulnerabilities.

Research Team

Principal Investigator

Kjerstin Thorson

Associate Professor, Michigan State University

  • Bio ▾

    Kjerstin Thorson is an associate professor in the College of Communication Arts & Sciences at Michigan State University. Her research explores how people use digital and social media to learn about and participate in politics, especially youth and young adults. Her current projects investigate how social media platforms are reshaping the visibility of news and politics—especially in local communities—and the democratic consequences of information inequality. Her work has appeared in top academic journals, including Political Communication, Information, Communication & Society, New Media & Society, and Communication Theory. She loves big ideas and believes that great social science research can change the world. Dr. Thorson received her MA from the University of Missouri School of Journalism and her PhD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Community Partisanship: How Local Processes Produce National Politics

Social Data Dissertation Fellowship

Abstract

How does place continue to matter for politics in an era of social media politicking? Although the concepts of red and blue states are familiar to most Americans, we have little understanding of how that patchwork emerges from the everyday processes and interactions of the people who live within it. We know even less about how local politics are being transformed as political discourse moves more and more online. To understand how local contexts produce the geography of American politics even as social interaction becomes increasingly virtual, my dissertation follows three communities through the 2020 presidential campaign. They are similar Midwestern towns located in predominantly rural counties, and yet they vote for opposing parties in presidential elections: one is staunchly Democratic, another is devoutly Republican, and a third has a voting history that is more mixed. What is it about these communities that continues to influence similar people to vote differently? How is political engagement on social media perpetuating or eroding the role of community life in shaping residents’ political behavior? To answer these questions, this study has three key components: longitudinal interviews of voters at five points during the 2020 campaign; comparative case selection that allows for evaluation across the three communities; and social media analysis exploring how voters are interacting with local social media discourses during the campaign. The results of this research will shed light on how a social media-based political environment is reshaping the role of place in American politics.

Research Team

Principal Investigator

Stephanie Ternullo

PhD Candidate, University of Chicago

  • Bio ▾

    Stephanie Ternullo is a PhD candidate in the sociology department at the University of Chicago, specializing in political and urban sociology. Ternullo is particularly interested in how place matters for political outcomes. How do the communities where people live shape the way they understand national politics? And how does place continue to matter for politics in an era of social media politicking? Although the concepts of red and blue states are familiar to most Americans, we have little understanding of how that patchwork emerges from everyday interactions. We know even less about how the relationship between those interactions and political understandings are transformed as political discourse becomes increasingly virtual. To understand how local contexts continue to produce the geography of American politics, Ternullo’s dissertation follows three Midwestern communities during the 2020 presidential cycle, drawing on multiple methods and data sources. Ternullo uses quantitative methods to identify field sites, qualitative and quantitative methods of analyzing local politicians’ social media activity, and longitudinal, in-depth interviews with voters for the bulk of the analysis. This research advances the scholarship on partisanship and spatial polarization in American politics by re-orienting its focus away from individual-level factors and toward place-based processes of sense-making.

Voter Education in the Digital Age: State and Local Election Official Use of Social Media

Social Data Research Fellowship

Abstract

Each election cycle, state and local election officials in the United States are tasked with informing voters about what is needed to vote. As the use of social media has proliferated in elections, election officials have started using these accounts to educate constituents about the voting process and highlight changes in voting procedures. This study proposes an examination of voter education efforts through social media by these officials. Specifically, it proposes data collection on the use of Facebook and Twitter for all state and local election jurisdictions in the United States during the 2020 general election cycle, and a social media content analysis focused on voter education posts by all 50 states and a sample of local jurisdictions. I expect that larger, better resourced, socioeconomically advantaged jurisdictions, and jurisdictions where the majority of the voter population is white, are more likely to have election officials consistently using social media for voter education. Tangible products of this research will be a novel dataset of state and local election official social media usage during the 2020 general election cycle, scholarly publications, and a foundation for over-time data collection during future elections. With the ability to quickly convey information on platforms that are widely available and consistent in form from user to user, social media accounts of state and local election officials stand to be a potentially vital place for the public to seek accurate information about how to properly vote, especially during an election cycle disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Research Team

Principal Investigator

Mara Suttmann-Lea

Assistant Professor, Connecticut College

  • Bio ▾

    Mara Suttmann-Lea is an assistant professor of American politics in the Department of Government and International Relations at Connecticut College. Suttmann-Lea studies election administration in the United States, focusing on voting reforms and voter education. Suttmann-Lea’s research examines how the intermediaries between election laws and the public—election officials, campaign and party organizations, and poll workers—shape participation and engagement in elections. In addition to academic work, Suttmann-Lea also engages in public-facing scholarship, and has written for the Washington Post and the London School of Economics American Politics and Policy blog.

    Suttmann-Lea’s SSRC Social Data Research Fellowship examines how state and local election officials in the United States use social media to educate followers about the voting process during the 2020 election cycle. Along with examining their efforts to educate voters about how to register and vote in person, Suttmann-Lea focuses heavily on voter education efforts pertaining to mail voting. This research is especially pertinent given the significant changes being made to the administration of elections to ensure safe and healthy voting in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Some Politics Are Still Local: Strategic Position Taking in Modern Campaigns for Congress

Social Data Dissertation Fellowship

Abstract

Over the past several decades, American congressional elections have transformed from campaigns centered around local issues into nationally oriented—or “nationalized”—contests. Today it would seem that parties offer voters the same choices throughout the country, with each candidate in each district running on the same party-driven platform. To remedy our current state of politics, reforms must be made to refocus candidate attention away from national politics and back toward local concerns. To achieve this aim, it is crucial to take stock of our current electoral environment. My dissertation constitutes an important first step toward this endeavor by providing a comprehensive overview of the state of modern campaigns. Further, employing data on issues-of-the-day like the Opioid Epidemic and #MeToo movement, I identify the conditions under which candidates still “go local.” To explore congressional candidate campaigns, I embark on an ambitious data collection effort. I plan to collect the policy platforms from campaign websites for all primary election candidates for the House of Representatives who ran in 2018 or are running in 2020. Once completed, this collection will be the first comprehensive data set of candidate campaign platforms. These text data will provide important insights into how today’s candidates employ social media in their campaigns.

Research Team

Principal Investigator

Rachel Porter

PhD Candidate, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

  • Bio ▾

    Rachel Porter is a PhD candidate in the Department of Political Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She received her MA in political science from the University of North Carolina, and holds a BA from the University of Georgia. Her research interests are in American political institutions, congressional campaigns, primary elections, and quantitative methods. Most recently, her research has focused on how differences in gender and political experience affect candidate self-presentation in primary elections. This work is forthcoming in Political Research Quarterly.

    In her dissertation, Porter explores the dynamics of modern campaigns for the House of Representatives. She demonstrates that in today’s party-driven, nationalized elections, congressional candidates still run on the local projects and problems important to constituents. To illustrate some of the ways candidates “go local” in modern campaigns, she employs an original data set of text from congressional campaign websites. This collection of over 29,000 policy positions from nearly 4,000 candidate websites constitutes the first comprehensive data set of congressional campaign text on issue positions. Employing these data, Porter investigates if and how candidates discuss important issues-of-the-day like the opioid epidemic and the #MeToo movement in terms of their local constituency.

Does Demand Create Its Own Supply?: YouTube Politics during the 2020 Presidential Campaign

Social Data Research Fellowship

Abstract

YouTube is increasingly important for American politics. Long dominated by extremists, the demand for political media on YouTube means that there are now “channels” run by people from every point on the ideological spectrum. Increasingly cheap and simple technologies have lowered the barriers to entry, and direct payments from YouTube for popular channels has incentivized some to make careers as political YouTubers, and the 2016 election was a catalyst for many. I have identified 1,433 channels that primarily discuss American politics. My first goal is simply to characterize this population: How many videos will they produce in 2020, what topics are most prominent, what are their ideological leanings, and how popular are they? The primary research question aims to understand how these people decide what kind of media to produce: Are they mostly ideologues, hoping to promote an agenda, or are they profit maximizers who shift their messages to better accommodate their audiences? By examining the full transcript of the videos and all of the comments by viewers, I will test whether demand is driving supply: does the content of the comments left on a channel’s earlier videos predict the content of that channel’s future videos? If extremist content is mostly supplied by ideologues, the implied policy solution for YouTube extremism is to demote, suspend, or ban individuals who espouse extremist views. If that content instead comes from profit maximizers, the solution is to demonetize individual videos that espouse extremist views, eliminating the incentive for anyone to produce those videos.

Research Team

Principal Investigator

Kevin Munger

Assistant Professor, Penn State University

  • Bio ▾

    Kevin Munger is assistant professor of political science and social data analytics at Penn State University. He received his PhD from New York University in 2018. Munger's research looks at how social media and other contemporary internet technologies have changed political communication. Munger has published research on the subject using a variety of methodologies, including textual analysis, field experiments, longitudinal surveys, quantitative descriptions of social media trace data, and qualitative theory. Munger's research has appeared in leading journals like the American Journal of Political Science, Political Behavior, Political Communication, and Political Science Research & Methods. His present interests include cohort conflict in American politics and developing new methods for social science in a rapidly changing world.

Social Media Incivility and Candidate Gender during the 2020 US Election

Social Data Research Fellowship

Abstract

Women are severely underrepresented in political office in the United States. This project investigates whether incivility—a concept capturing a range of norm-violating behaviors such as ad hominem insults, vulgarity, stereotyping, threatening democracy, etc.—present in social media environments exacerbates this problem. Do uncivil social media environments put women candidates at an electoral disadvantage? The project will answer this question through a quantitative content analysis and an experiment. The research team will gather social media posts targeted at women candidates and their opponents from Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram during the 2020 general election. Using a mix of human and computer-aided content analysis, the research team will uncover whether women are targeted with more (and more severe) types of social media incivility than men during a campaign, and whether these patterns are consistent across social media platforms. Additionally, using the patterns of incivility uncovered in the content analysis, we will conduct an experiment designed to test the effects of exposure to social media incivility on public opinion. Using these methods, the project offers a test of whether women candidates are more heavily targeted with incivility than men on social media, and advances prior research by examining platform differences (e.g., Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram), novel types of incivility (e.g., democratic threats), and the effects of exposure to uncivil social media environments on support for women candidates and desire to get involved in politics.

Research Team

Principal Investigator

Ashley Muddiman

Associate Professor, University of Kansas Center for Research, Inc.

  • Bio ▾

    Dr. Ashley Muddiman (University of Texas at Austin, PhD) is an associate professor in the Department of Communication Studies at the University of Kansas, as well as a faculty research associate with the Center for Media Engagement. Her research explores political media effects, specifically those related to digital news and political incivility. She has studied how people select news stories to read in digital news and social media spaces, has examined incivility in the New York Times comment section, and has investigated ways to encourage people to overcome their partisan biases when interacting with digital news. In addition to her theoretical work, Dr. Muddiman has developed innovative research designs, including a method for researchers to use when analyzing textual content in large datasets. Dr. Muddiman’s research has appeared in top academic publications in the communication and media fields, including the Journal of Communication, Political Communication, Communication Research, and New Media and Society. Her dissertation was awarded the Lynda Lee Kaid Outstanding Dissertation Award, and her work has received top paper awards from divisions in the National Communication Association, the American Political Science Association, and the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication.

Theorizing Social Media Skepticism: How Two Distinct Types of Skepticism Impact Information Behaviors and Election Legitimacy

Social Data Dissertation Fellowship

Abstract

This project theorizes two distinct types of social media skepticism and tests their antecedents and ramifications in the context of the 2020 US presidential election. Despite the consensus on the importance of fostering skepticism for an informed citizenry, exactly what constitutes and underlies “healthy” skepticism toward social media misinformation is largely unknown. Existing research provides both hopeful and concerning findings on how social media skepticism relates to democratic outcomes. This project seeks to (a) establish conceptual and empirical differences between “accuracy motivated” and “directional motivated” skepticism toward social media misinformation and (b) identify the influence of discourses in news stories and social media utterances in fostering these two types of skepticism. Most importantly, this project seeks to (c) examine differential impacts of these two types of social media skepticism on outcomes crucial to democratic governance, including how citizens selectively choose ideological information, discern misinformation, and form views about election legitimacy. Using computational and panel survey approaches, this project tests these propositions with a combination of social media data, news media data, and public opinion data. While the definition of “healthy” skepticism will likely be the subject to a normative debate, the findings from this project will provide novel empirical evidence on the diverging consequences produced by two types of social media skepticism associated with how citizens consume information and interpret elections.

Research Team

Principal Investigator

Jianing Li

PhD Candidate and Knight Scholar of Communication and Civic Renewal, University of Wisconsin–Madison

  • Bio ▾

    Jianing "Janice" Li is a PhD candidate and a Knight Scholar of Communication and Civic Renewal in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at University of Wisconsin–Madison. Li's research centers on misinformation, misperception, and fact-checking in new communication ecologies. Using computational, experimental, and social neuroscience methods, Li's work examines citizens’ knowledge in contested political and public health issues, psychological and contextual mechanisms contributing to misperceptions, dissemination of and discourse around misinformation in digital media environments, and effective corrective messages that facilitate belief and behavior change. Li's work has appeared in the Journal of Communication, Political Communication, Mass Communication and Society, and Social Media + Society, and in book chapter form at Routledge. Li also provides ongoing research support for COVID-19 Wisconsin Connect, a mobile and desktop app offering misinformation correction, social support, and helpful resources about Covid-19 to Wisconsinites.

Visualizing a Pandemic: Epistemological Conflicts over Covid-19 Data on Social Media

Social Data Dissertation Fellowship

Abstract

Data visualizations like “Flatten the Curve” have shaped the political discourse around public health responses to Covid-19 in crucial ways. Experts are using visualizations to track the spread of the virus, and these graphs have proven critical for encouraging people to practice public health protocols like social distancing and wearing masks. However, as thousands of charts flood online media, there is a pressing need to study how they are being created, disseminated, and understood in order to mitigate confusion and the spread of misinformation. This project seeks to combine methods in computer science, computational social science, and digital ethnography to study how conversations about data—what numbers we can trust, and what visualizations should be critiqued—unfold in discussions about the coronavirus and about public policy. How are users on Twitter and Reddit rhetorically deploying visualizations to frame arguments about public health, economic recovery, and the role of data in policy making? How can data and their visual representations be manipulated online to support different policies?

By taking a mixed methods approach to understanding how data visualizations about Covid-19 circulate, this project allows us to introduce interpretivist frameworks and methodologies to computer science while leveraging computational power to answer qualitative questions about media ecologies on Twitter and Reddit. Indeed, this sociotechnical approach to analyzing the online dissemination of data visualizations will become especially critical with the upcoming 2020 presidential election and future discussions about a coronavirus vaccine.

Research Team

Principal Investigator

Crystal Lee

PhD Candidate, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

  • Bio ▾

    Crystal Lee is a PhD candidate at the History/Anthropology/Science, Technology, and Society (HASTS) program at MIT, a researcher at the Visualization Group in the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), and a Fellow at Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society. Lee’s research focuses on how people interpret and make multisensory data visualizations, and Lee is currently working on a project that focuses on how data visualizations about the pandemic circulate online. Lee also writes about the relationship between technology and disability, and is interested in mixed methods research that combines humanistic questions with data science and critical cartography. Previously, Lee was a visiting research scientist at the European Commission and graduated with high honors from Stanford University.

Longitudinal Investigation of Algorithmically Curated Content for Misinformation on Social Media Platforms

Social Data Dissertation Fellowship

Abstract

My research aims to tackle the problem of algorithmically curated misinformation on social media platforms by auditing search systems to investigate their role in surfacing misinformation by either recommending fake content or by ranking it higher in the search results. Through my research, I answer the following questions: How can we systematically and ethically investigate online search systems for misinformation? What role do user attributes (gender, age, political affiliation), user actions (click-action, like-action, follow-action, etc.), and high-impact events (elections, Covid-19, shootings, etc.) play in amplifying the misinformation surfacing in algorithmically curated content like search results and recommendations? What is the longitudinal impact of these attributes on the amount of misinformation presented to users? How can we empirically quantify the prevalence of this misinformation?

To further this research, I am designing audit methodologies to measure algorithmically curated misinformation on multiple online platforms across various user features, external event occurrences, and popular search queries. Using this methodology, I will conduct an exhaustive set of carefully controlled experiments to audit Web and social media search interfaces with a focus on YouTube and Amazon. My research will result in tools that can automatically run audit experiments to test for personalization and amplification of misinformation in search systems.

Research Team

Principal Investigator

Prerna Juneja

PhD Student, University of Washington

  • Bio ▾

    Prerna Juneja is a third-year PhD student at the University of Washington Information School. She is advised by Dr. Tanushree Mitra and is a member of the Social Computing Lab. She is interested in computational social science, wherein she applies methods from statistical modeling, machine learning, and natural language processing to study the credibility of content on social media platforms. Her research involves designing and deploying auditing pipelines to study biases in algorithmic platforms and their impact on society with a long-term goal of designing spaces that communities and users can trust. Currently, she is investigating social media platforms for algorithmically surfaced misinformation that appears in search results and recommendations and studying the attributes that amplify such misinformation. As evident from her research direction, she deeply cares about algorithmic transparency and accountability.

    Previously, she obtained her master's degree in computer science from IIIT Delhi. After graduation, she worked as a software engineer at Dell EMC for three years, where she garnered four awards for her work: the Dell Champion Award in 2018, and Excellence@Dell Bronze Award in 2018, 2017, and 2016. Her research has been published at several venues, including CSCW, GROUP, COMPSAC, and BPI.

Solidarity and Strife: Democracies in a Time of Pandemic

Social Data Research Fellowship

Abstract

Focusing on social media datasets culled from Twitter, Reddit, and Youtube, this project takes a comparative approach to assessing the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on political polarization and solidarity in the United States and the United Kingdom—two nations governed by populist leaders who initially denied the seriousness of the viral outbreak. It will examine public discourse surrounding the forthcoming US elections and the actualization of Brexit in the context of the pandemic. Under the mentorship of the principal investigators, at least two graduate student research teams will attend to the dialectics of solidarity and strife that are shaping contemporary political processes and animating social media movements in these two democracies. Working together, the researchers will develop an innovative methodology for evaluating the intersection between the pandemic and democratic discourse, using sentiment analysis jointly with user accounts’ meta-data to measure political cohesion and polarization. To situate the study of the social media landscapes in conversations about emerging best practices, two complementary research initiatives will be formed: a data-intensive training program for the graduate student researchers and a cross-disciplinary seminar series. The seminars will ground topic-specific inquiry in ethical reflections that are rooted in political economy, setting qualitative frames around methodological and ethical questions. Funding will underwrite this unique collaboration between two social science research infrastructures at UC Berkeley: D-Lab and Social Science Matrix. Outputs will include substantive research projects on the datasets, the training workshop and seminar series, and a white paper on the ethics of social media research.

Research Team

Principal Investigator

Marion Fourcade

Professor of Sociology; Director of Social Science Matrix, University of California, Berkeley

  • Bio ▾

    The project represents a unique collaboration between UC Berkeley’s two social science research infrastructures: D-Lab, a hub for training in data-intensive social science, and Social Science Matrix, an incubator for cross-disciplinary social science research. The principal investigator, Marion Fourcade, professor of sociology and director of Matrix, has written extensively on digital technologies, algorithmic regulation, and social media. She is currently conducting a research project using computational methods to study the transformation of discursive practices during the European sovereign debt crisis. Fourcade's collaborator David Harding, professor of sociology and director of UC Berkeley's D-Lab, has extensive experience with the collection and analysis of large-scale administrative data using advanced statistical methods. He currently codirects an NIH-funded graduate training program in computational social science. D-Lab executive director Claudia von Vacano runs the D-Lab’s methods’ training program and is a computational scholar specializing in hate speech and social media data. Gregory Renard, a technologist specializing in natural language processing methods with more than 20 years’ experience in the private sector, will also serve as a project advisor.

Reconsidering the Connections between New Media, (In)Equality, and Political Participation in the United States

Social Data Research Fellowship

Abstract

In an ideal democracy, many voices are expressed and heard. In US American democracy, this ideal has not yet been realized; marginalized groups, including Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC), women and gender minorities, and those with low socioeconomic status have been systematically excluded from equal participation in politics. Although the Internet brought optimistic predictions that its openness was intrinsically more inclusive and democratic, research demonstrated that the early elites of the Internet era looked a lot like pre-Internet elites. While the expression of opinions proliferated online, traditional inequalities—both in whose voices were heard online and in how that attention transcended into offline political action—remained. However, there are reasons to believe that new forms of political communication and participation enabled by social media are shifting this imbalance. A growing body of evidence suggests that social media, especially Twitter, may be shifting the balance of who has voice and influence in the public sphere, allowing ordinary citizens greater access to influence mainstream politics. This research examines how Twitter has changed political voice and attention dynamics, and in turn, how these changes translate to offline political behavior, including voting and making campaign donations in the 2020 US presidential election. This research will demonstrate whether and how Twitter has changed how marginalized groups experience political voice, attention, and participation in the United States.

Research Team

Principal Investigator

Brooke Foucault Welles

Associate Professor, Northeastern University

  • Bio ▾

    Brooke Foucault Welles (she/her) is an associate professor in the Department of Communication Studies, core faculty of the Network Science Institute, and director of the Communication Media and Marginalization (CoMM) Lab at Northeastern University. Combining computational and qualitative methods, Foucault Welles studies how online communication networks enable and constrain behavior, with particular emphasis on how these networks mitigate and enhance marginalization. She is the coauthor of #HashtagActivism: Networks of Race and Gender Justice and co-editor of the Oxford Handbook of Networked Communication. Other recent contributions include a series of studies of the transformative power of networked counterpublics, techniques for the longitudinal analysis of communication event networks, and guidelines for the effective use of network visualizations as communication tools. Dr. Foucault Welles received the Northeastern University Excellence in Teaching award in 2017 and the International Communication Association’s award for Applied/Public Policy Research in 2020. She teaches classes in social science research methods, children and media, networked communication, and social network analysis. Dr. Foucault Welles earned her PhD from Northwestern University and BS and MS degrees from Cornell University.

Historical Analogy, Covid-19, and the 2020 US Election: How Historical Misinformation Undermines Democratic Institutions

Social Data Research Fellowship

Abstract

Understanding how history is used and abused is essential to unmasking falsification in the public register. This project researches the use of historical analogies amidst the Covid-19 crisis in the lead up to and aftermath of the 2020 US election to analyze the role of social media in normalizing misinformation. In this multiplatform data analysis, we explore how far-right extremist and populist groups use false historical claims to cultivate civic mistrust in institutions and experts and evaluate in what way this enters the mainstream. By evoking historical analogies, from the legacy of National Socialism to a mythic vision of the American historical past, they foment civil discord around hot-button issues including race, immigration, and disease origin and transmission, and large-scale state investment in the economy, public health, and lockdown measures. We will map out how this delegitimizes liberal democratic institutions, policies, and traditions by rewriting the histories that undergird them, histories that are themselves fraught especially on matters of race. Our research asks: What tactics, strategies, networks, and repertoires enable these misinformation campaigns to take hold? How and in what way does it bubble up from social media into the mainstream? And to what extent is it drawing from or pushing the agendas of mainstream political actors in the US election campaign? The data generated from this research will provide a baseline of analysis for more comparative work considering the role of radical and populist actors in shaping how history is used to advance undemocratic agendas through participatory media.

Research Team

Principal Investigator

Jennifer Evans

Full Professor, Carleton University

  • Bio ▾

    Jennifer Evans is professor of history at Carleton University and a member of Royal Society of Canada. Her research revolves around histories of love, hate, sexuality, and everyday life in contemporary Germany and transnational perspective. In recent years, she has turned to the role of memory in social media and how populists use historical claims to spread misinformation. Together with colleagues at Carleton, she is undertaking a multiplatform analysis of memory and misinformation in the Canadian social mediascape (https://carleton.ca/populistpublics). Her SSRC fellowship explores the circulation of historical analogies during the Covid-19 pandemic in the lead up to the US election.

    Alongside her academic work, Evans undertakes collaborative digital projects like the New Fascism Syllabus (www.NewFascismSyllabus.com) and the German Studies Collaboratory (www.GermanStudiesCollaboratory.org). Her research has been supported by a variety of grant agencies and institutions including the Social Sciences Humanities Research Council of Canada, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the German Academic Exchange Service, the German Historical Institute, the Humboldt University of Berlin, the Berlin Program of the Free University of Berlin, Sciences Po, and the Fondation Maison des Sciences de l'Homme. She has written for the Washington Post, the National Post, the Globe and Mail, and The Conversation.

The 2020 US Elections Post-GamerGate: Political Discourse among Iranian and Iranian-American Gamers on Social Media

Social Data Dissertation Fellowship

Abstract

Social media and video games are increasingly a part of everyday life, impacting our social norms and values across the world. Yet, the social phenomenon of connecting on mediated platforms, as it spans across borders, nationality, age groups, and gender, reinvigorates national ties, and solidifies political cleavages (Akhavan 2013). The proposed dissertation field research will elucidate how Iranian-American and Iranian women gamers use Twitter, Reddit, and Twitch.TV, and World of Warcraft (WoW), a massive multiplayer online game, as spaces of discourse regarding the US 2020 elections. These platforms are also consequently used for the algorithmic rise of the alt-right, through the circulation of memes, leading to a networked ideology of racism online (Daniels 2018). My project examines this political ecosystem among Iranian and Iranian-American women, who produce political discourses, and how the alt-right undermines democracy through the spread of disinformation. For groups such as these, gaming has emerged as a site of political expression, experimentation, aspiration, and a place of play (Motamedi 2019; Sisler 2018). As such, I argue that the affective dimensions, or rather the intensities of the election, will pose new findings on networked publics by articulating the sociopolitical discourses produced among the transnational community in the US. Through postcolonial and feminist frameworks, I will collect data from social media platforms and WoW to show the embodiment, meaning the lived thought, emotion, and feeling, among Iranian and Iranian-American women who are entangled within networked publics of racism, misogyny, and Islamophobia online (Berlant 2011; Stewart 2007).

Research Team

Principal Investigator

Melinda Cohoon

PhD Candidate, University of Washington

  • Bio ▾

    Melinda Cohoon is a PhD candidate in the interdisciplinary Near and Middle Eastern Studies program at the University of Washington-Seattle. As a Roshan and Digital Humanities fellow, she is the principal investigator of a Twitch.TV project on affect and aesthetic analysis of video games entitled "Digital Iran: Anticolonial and Imperial Narratives in Video Games." The Digital Iran project particularly looks at Twitch.TV as a popular culture media form and circulation of information. Melinda's interest in live broadcasting media has led her to inquire more about Iranian and Iranian-American women gamers who stream online. Through untangling the affective dimensions of the Iranian and Iranian-American women gamer experience, her field research will provide an alternative perspective to the traditional public sphere by highlighting the transnational dynamics and gendered discourses of power within the gamer community. As such, her field research will concern Iranian, Iranian-American, and the alternative right-wing gamers during the US pre- and post-election cycle, on mediated platforms of Twitter, Twitch.TV, and Reddit. By focusing on the game World of Warcraft across these social media, she will trace discourses, hashtags, and memes to elucidate how networks and community engagement impacts democratic practices such as the spread of disinformation.

Leveraging User-Generated Social Media Content to Understand Misinformation in American Politics

Social Data Research Fellowship

Abstract

While many claim that social media websites facilitate the spread of fake news, current research overlooks the role that content written by social media users plays in misinforming the public. Facebook posts and tweets can contain false information without being subject to rigorous fact-checking. This means that individuals may be exposed to inaccurate information from their online friends without even knowing that they should question it. In this project, I propose to study the extent to which user-generated content on social media platforms distorts information reported by mainstream news outlets. Using a variety of natural language processing methods, I will examine the text of social media posts made by news outlets, as well as the text of comments on those posts, between 2016 and 2020. In an effort to understand which types of news content are more likely to become distorted in the comments, I will conduct an experiment designed to capture the causal effect of the initial news source and the salience of the topic on information distortion. This project stands to change the way we think about misinformation on social media and point toward the need for a different toolkit for trying to combat the problem.

Research Team

Principal Investigator

Taylor Carlson

Assistant Professor, Washington University in St. Louis

  • Bio ▾

    Taylor Carlson is an assistant professor in the political science department at Washington University in St. Louis. She received her PhD in political science from the University of California, San Diego in 2019 and her BA in public policy and psychology from the College of William & Mary in 2014. Her work focuses on understanding the content and consequences of political conversations. Of particular interest is understanding the ways in which individuals distort information they consume in the news as they discuss it with other people, both online and face-to-face. She uses a variety of methodological approaches, including novel experimental designs, surveys, and text analysis of data generated from experiments and on social media. Her work has been published in several peer-reviewed journals, including the Journal of Politics and American Political Science Review. Her first book, coauthored with Marisa Abrajano and Lisa García Bedolla, was published with Oxford University Press in 2020. Her second book, coauthored with Jaime Settle, is under advanced contract with Cambridge University Press. She is currently working on a third book manuscript based on her dissertation research, which won the Jean Fort Dissertation Prize at UC San Diego in 2019.

Comparative Study of Regional Institutions for Democratic Defense: Seeking Methods for Regional Collaboration in Asia

Hitotsubashi University

Abstract

Research Team

Principal Investigator

Participants

Maiko Ichihara

Associate Professor, Graduate School of Law, Hitotsubashi University

Framing and Sharing News on Social Media

University of Canberra

Abstract

Many Australians access news by following news outlets through social media. The interactive affordances of social media platforms enable users to also create, cocreate, and distribute information. The project examines how news and information are circulated, and how this is changing the news ecosystem in Australia. We investigate how Facebook users respond to different types of information. We examine what types of news and information are widely shared and how they are framed by those who share the information.The project has three aims: to identify distinct temporalities between categories of news and non-news platforms; to analyse differences in interactions with news and non-news URLs and domains; and to investigate polarisation in news and its implications for sharing practices.

Research Team

Principal Investigator

Sora Park

Associate Professor, University of Canberra

  • Bio ▾

    Sora Park is associate professor of communication and associate dean of research at the Faculty of Arts & Design, University of Canberra. Her research focuses on digital media users, media markets, and media policy, and she has written widely on how digital media are transforming communication, media, and society. She has led international collaborative research projects on different segments of the population on their uses and non-uses of digital technologies and the internet using multiple data collection methods. Her recent book, Digital Capital (Palgrave Macmillan, 2017), examines how people access, use, and engage with digital technology, and the resulting inequalities in digital society. Her current projects include a longitudinal data analysis of household, income, and labor dynamics in Australia funded by the Australian Research Council, and an international comparative study on the uses of messaging apps for information and news sharing funded by the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia and the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. She is part of the global network of Reuters Institute Digital News Report representing Australia.

Participants

Caroline Fisher

Assistant Professor, University of Canberra

  • Bio ▾

    Caroline Fisher is an assistant professor of journalism at the University of Canberra. She is a member of the News and Media Research Centre and co-author of the Digital News Report Australia. She received her PhD in communication from the University of Canberra. Fisher’s research interests lie in journalism and political communication. Her journalism scholarship focuses on impacts of digitization on news consumption, trust in news, professional boundaries of journalism, and journalist-source relations. Her political communication research centers political uses of social media, political PR, and shifting power relations between politicians and journalists. Fisher received the Anne Dunn Scholar of the Year Award in 2018 for excellence in communication research; a top paper award for the Journalism Division of the International Communication Association 2018; and the Early Career Researcher Award 2017 in the Humanities and Arts at the University of Canberra.

Glen Fuller

Associate Professor, University of Canberra

  • Bio ▾

    Glen Fuller is an associate professor of media and communication and head of the School of Arts and Communication at the University of Canberra. He conducts research on media cultures in the context of technology, experience, and sociocultural change. Fuller is a chief investigator on the Australian Research Council–funded Discovery Project “Pedalling for Change,” researching the intersection of cycling culture, active transport policy, and media discourses.

Michael J. Jensen

Associate Professor, University of Canberra

  • Bio ▾

    Michael J. Jensen is associate professor at the Institute for Governance and Policy Analysis and the News and Media Research Centre at the University of Canberra. His research concerns political campaigning, the involvement of digital technologies in political organization, propaganda, and foreign influence operations. He has published articles previously in the International Journal of Press/Politics, the Journal of Information Technology and Politics, and Information, Communication, and Society and edited volumes with Cambridge University Press and Palgrave.

Jee Young Lee

Lecturer, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of Canberra

  • Bio ▾

    Jee Young Lee is a lecturer at the School of Arts & Communication at the University of Canberra, and Digital News Report Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the News & Media Research Centre. She is a statistical support advisor at the Graduate Research Office at the University of Canberra, providing research students with specialized statistical assistance. Her current research focuses on the impact of digital technology use on social practices in accessing and sharing information, especially within the context of the growing networked news consumption among individuals and groups.

Yoonmo Sang

Senior Lecturer, University of Canberra

  • Bio ▾

    Yoonmo Sang (PhD, University of Texas at Austin) is a senior lecturer in the Faculty of Arts & Design at the University of Canberra where he is a core member of the News & Media Research Centre. Before joining the University of Canberra, he taught as an assistant professor at Howard University. His primary research interests center on the intersection of new media technologies and the law, focusing on how sociocultural and technological changes advantage and/or disadvantage different stakeholders. He brings his international perspective and cross-cultural research experience to the study of the intersection of new communication technologies and the law. He is on the editorial boards of three journals: Social Media + Society, Communication Law Review, and the Journal of Media Law, Ethics, and Policy Research, a journal of the Korean Society for Media Law, Ethics, and Policy Research.

How Does Facebook Influence Parliament?

Royal Holloway, University of London

Abstract

The recent revolution in digital technologies has made fundamental changes to our political discourse. Concerns about the impacts of these changes on our social and political fabric vary, from broad issues like the rise of populism, polarization, and posttruth fake news, to specific impacts on the day-to-day business of politics. In this project we will develop tools to quantify the influence of public Facebook activity on a democratic institution. By quantifying how the sharing of a topic on Facebook can be used to forecast parliamentary discussion on the same topic, we can statistically find evidence for a causal relationship between Facebook and parliamentary activity. Our primary data sources will be the official Hansard transcript of UK parliamentary discourse and new data released by Facebook that contains URL-sharing frequencies. We will also include traditional media sources as a control dataset. We will demonstrate our key results to the public in an engaging way by visualizing how bursts and rhythms of social media activity can shape parliamentary debates and agendas. Our results will directly contribute to guidance for parliamentarians to more effectively manage and mitigate the impacts of misinformation, disinformation, and other viral social media on their limited schedules. A key methodological advance from our project is the ability to infer causal relationships between sections of society based on which topics they are discussing.

Research Team

Principal Investigator

John Bryden

PhD Supervisor and Honorary Research Fellow, Royal Holloway, University of London

  • Bio ▾

    John Bryden is a research fellow at Royal Holloway, University of London, and also a fellow of the London College of Political Technology, Newspeak House. Bryden is interested in the interface between mathematics and social sciences, specifically applying models to human behavioural interactions. His work includes early studies of cultural groups on Twitter, investigating Donald Trump's Twitter support, and detection of cultural transmission between individuals. His background includes a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and mathematics before working for six years as a software developer in industry. Following that, Bryden has worked 15 years in academia, publishing over 20 academic manuscripts studying social animals from aphids to bees to humans. Moving toward political behavior, Bryden has developed a close understanding of the UK political system through working at the London College of Political Technology. More information about his work is available at jbryden.co.uk.

Participants

Lewis Westbury

Fellow of Newspeak House, University of Oxford

  • Bio ▾

    Lewis Westbury is a fellow of Newspeak House, a software engineer, and a volunteer. He holds an undergraduate degree in computer science from the University of Cambridge and is currently working on a master’s in software and systems security at the University of Oxford. He has a strong interest in open data and democracy developed through his time as a fellow of the London College of Political Technologists, Newspeak House. Westbury is a proficient full-stack software developer and has worked on a number of enterprise services carrying large amounts of data across his career. Through his voluntary activities running Police Rewired (a group for volunteer professionals working on projects in public safety), Westbury has supported projects that pioneer new uses of open data sources. Westbury has a unique view of technology and an interest in studying the impact of social media on society.

Facebook Information Diffusion and Protest Mobilization: State-Level Analyses of the 2018 March for Our Lives Demonstrations

Arizona State University

Abstract

Social movements have defined themselves as integral parts of participatory democracy. Although social media, and Facebook in particular, has been underscored as a catalyst of contemporary social movements, the relationship between Facebook information diffusion and actual protest mobilization has yet to be adequately studied. This project aims to explore ways in which Facebook information diffusion, represented by temporal Facebook URL data, led to the mobilization of March for Our Lives, one of the largest student-led demonstrations in American history. Two goals are proposed: First, we will examine diffusion patterns of movement-relevant information, categorized into (a) trigger events, (b) movement agents, (c) actionable events, and (d) misinformation that discredits the cause of movement. As part of the first aim, we will examine how the political and demographic characteristics of each state influences information diffusion patterns. Second, we will conduct statistical modeling to examine the effects of information diffusion–related variables on the onsite protest mobilization in each state. In addition to Facebook data, we will leverage government, academic, and news sources. This project will use state-level aggregate data only, posing a minimal risk to user privacy.

Research Team

Principal Investigator

K. Hazel Kwon

Associate Professor, Arizona State University

  • Bio ▾

    K. Hazel Kwon (PhD in communication) is an associate professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. Her research centers on social technologies with an emphasis on the dynamics in which networked environment influences citizen engagement, collective sense-making, news diffusion, and incivility. Kwon’s work is interdisciplinary in collaboration with information scientists, computer scientists, and mathematicians. The National Science Foundation, HASTAC (Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Alliance and Collaboratory), and the US Department of Defense have supported her research. As an active researcher and scholar, Kwon has received multiple awards, including the Herbert S. Dordick Dissertation Award from the International Communication Association, the Emerging Scholars award and the Jung-Sook Lee Award from the Association for Journalism and Mass Communication, Kappa Tau Alpha Research Award from National Honor Society in Journalism and Mass Communication, a top four paper award from the National Communication Association, and a visiting scholar fellowship from the Social Media Lab at the Ted Rogers School of Business, Ryerson University.

Participants

Shawn Walker

Assistant Professor, Arizona State University

  • Bio ▾

    Shawn Walker is an assistant professor of critical data studies in the School of Social and Behavioral Sciences in the New College at Arizona State University. His research focuses on new forms of political participation emerging on social media platforms and the related challenges of collecting, analyzing, and working with data from these platforms. This work examines how new forms of political participation emerge on social media platforms through the analysis of social media posts surrounding social movements, protests, and elections. His work on social media methods addresses gaps in our understanding about social media data, collection methods, and the implications (ethics, representation, etc.) of using those methods. He received his master’s and doctoral degrees in information science from the University of Washington Information School and degrees in international studies and liberal studies, with a focus on public policy and technology, from Northern Kentucky University.

Exploring the Dissemination of Misinformation on Facebook in the United States

Princeton University

Abstract

Too little is known about basic patterns in the consumption and spread of online misinformation. This project will explore this topic by focusing on a particular recent incarnation of online misinformation, so-called fake news. How often does it appear in the average person’s Facebook News Feed? How did it arrive there? How common an activity is sharing fake news, and what does its distribution look like? To answer these and related questions, we propose to analyze the unprecedented new dataset of shared URLs to be made available by Facebook and Social Science One. By querying the data for matches with lists of specific web domains and Facebook pages designated as “fake news” purveyors or persistent sources of misinformation, we will assemble as complete a picture as possible of the prevalence, dynamics, and spread of both misinformation and disinformation on Facebook.

Research Team

Principal Investigator

Andrew Guess

Assistant Professor of Politics and Public Affairs, Princeton University

  • Bio ▾

    Andy Guess (PhD, Columbia University) is an assistant professor of politics and public affairs at Princeton University. Via a combination of experimental methods, large datasets, and machine learning, he studies how people choose, process, spread, and respond to information about politics. Recent work investigates the extent to which online Americans’ news habits are polarized (the popular “echo chambers” hypothesis), patterns in the consumption and spread of online misinformation, and the effectiveness of efforts to counteract misperceptions encountered on social media. Coverage of these findings has appeared in the New York Times, the New Yorker, Slate, the Chronicle of Higher Education, and other publications. His research has been supported by grants from the Volkswagen Foundation, the Russell Sage Foundation, and the American Press Institute and published in peer-reviewed journals such as the American Journal of Political Science, Science Advances, and Political Analysis.

Participants

Jonathan Nagler

Professor of Politics, New York University

  • Bio ▾

    Jonathan Nagler is professor of politics and affiliated faculty at the Center of Data Science at New York University. He is a codirector of the NYU Social Media and Political Participation Laboratory. Nagler is a past president of the Society for Political Methodology, as well as an inaugural fellow of the Society for Political Methodology. Nagler's research focuses on voting and elections and the role of social media, as well as traditional media, in politics. He has been at the forefront of computational social science for many years and pioneered innovative methods for analysis of discrete choice problems. Nagler has produced recent papers on the nature of online ideological media consumption of individuals, the amount of hate speech on Twitter, the impact of exposure to online information on knowledge of politics and political attitudes, and the impact of media coverage of the economy on economic perceptions. Several of these papers have combined survey data with social media consumption in novel ways. Nagler has been a Fernand Braudel Senior Fellow at the European University Institute, a visiting scholar at the Russell Sage Foundation, and has taught at Harvard, Caltech, and the ICPSR and Essex Summer Programs in Political Methodology. He is a coauthor of Who Votes Now? (Princeton University Press, 2014).

Joshua Tucker

Professor of Politics, New York University

  • Bio ▾

    Joshua A. Tucker is professor of politics, affiliated professor of Russian and Slavic studies, and affiliated professor of data science at New York University. He is the director of NYU’s Jordan Center for Advanced Study of Russia, a codirector of the NYU Social Media and Political Participation laboratory, and a coauthor/editor of the award-winning politics and policy blog the Monkey Cage at the Washington Post. He serves on the advisory board of the American National Election Study, the Comparative Study of Electoral Systems, and numerous academic journals, and was the cofounder and coeditor of the Journal of Experimental Political Science. His original research was on mass political behavior in postcommunist countries, including voting and elections, partisanship, public opinion formation, and protest participation. In 2006, he was awarded the Emerging Scholar Award for the top scholar in the field of Elections, Public Opinion, and Voting Behavior within 10 years of the doctorate. More recently, he has been at the forefront of the newly emerging field of study of the relationship between social media and politics. His research in this area has included studies on the effects of network diversity on tolerance, partisan echo chambers, online hate speech, the effects of exposure to social media on political knowledge, online networks and protest, disinformation and fake news, how authoritarian regimes respond to online opposition, and Russian bots and trolls. Tucker has been a visiting professor at the Fundación Juan March in Madrid, Spain, and Luiss Guido Carli University in Rome, Italy. His research has appeared in over two dozen scholarly journals and his most recent book is the coauthored Communism’s Shadow: Historical Legacies and Contemporary Political Attitudes (Princeton University Press, 2017).

Breaking Echo Chambers: How (and Which) News Diffuses across Polarized Groups on Facebook

University of Navarra

Abstract

Studies have documented counterproductive results of challenging people’s misbeliefs, as social media participants tend to distribute into polarized groups that limit their exposure to diverse opinions and react negatively to opposite views. Thus, questions are still open on which type of content might be able to shorten the distance between such polarized groups. Identifying the news’ characteristics able to encourage sharing across distant groups is important to elaborate more effective debunking strategies. In our project, we aim to detect what types of news content (e.g., true vs. false news, emotional connotations, topic, etc.) that are more likely to cross boundaries between echo chambers on Facebook through network brokers—users that occupy structural holes between those groups and connect people with divergent ideas. Our findings hope to shed light on news diffusion within and across groups and to support practitioners in the design of posts that can break echo chambers’ barriers.

Research Team

Principal Investigator

Massimo Maoret

Professor, IESE Business School, University of Navarra

  • Bio ▾

    Massimo Maoret is an associate professor in the Strategic Management Department at IESE Business School and a European Commission Marie Curie Fellow. He received a PhD in management from Boston College in 2013.

    Maoret’s research focuses on how social networks influence individual and organizational performance. He has studied how informal relationships facilitate the innovativeness of knowledge workers, and the process through which new organizational members become socialized by developing their networks in their new jobs. He has also analyzed how organizations in the public and private sectors exchange knowledge in large technological consortia, and how the stability of task-related interactions boosts organizational competitiveness. In a recent TEDx talk, Maoret reflected on how technological changes, and the respective changes in social networks, may explain the diffusion of fake news and how individuals make sense of their surrounding reality.

    His work has appeared in multiple academic outlets, including Organization Science, the Strategic Management Journal, Journal of Organizational Behavior, Advances in Strategic Management and the Proceedings of the Academy of Management. He currently serves on the editorial review boards of the Academy of Management Journal, Organization Science, Journal of Management, Journal of Management Studies and Organization Studies.

Participants

Jordi Torrents

Lecturer, IESE Business School, University of Navarra

  • Bio ▾

    Jordi Torrents has a PhD in sociology from the University of Barcelona. His thesis, “The Structural Dimension of Cooperation: Cooperation Networks as Cohesive Small Worlds,” focused on the empirical analysis of cooperation among developers on the CPython and Debian open-source projects. He has worked in several international research projects at institutions such as Columbia University, University of Lugano, and IESE Business School. His role was mainly data processing and quantitative analysis focusing on network analysis, natural language processing, and regression modeling. Torrents is also an independent software developer and consultant. He has worked on the back-end development of a large electronic invoice online platform and related projects, such as the development and implementation of a multiclass classification neural network for parsing PDF invoices, and the implementation of a high-availability cryptographic signature package for PDF and XML documents. Regarding programming skills, Torrents is proficient in Python, R, and Ruby, and also has experience in JAVA and C. He has worked extensively with the Python scientific software stack (numpy, scipy, matplotlib, sklearn, networkx).

Maria Giulia Trupia

PhD Student, IESE Business School, University of Navarra

  • Bio ▾

    Maria Giulia Trupia is a PhD candidate in the Marketing Department at IESE Business School, specializing in consumer behavior research. Using both experimental and observational data, she studies how people make decisions and the role played by their emotions in such a process. She is also interested in how consumers form judgments and inferences based external cues and information. Before joining IESE, Trupia worked as a research assistant in the Marketing Department at Bocconi University, where she conducted research in different fields of consumer behaviour (e.g., cognitive psychology) by using sophisticated techniques such as eye racking. Prior to her academic career, Trupia also gained professional experience by working at several marketing companies, both in Italy and the UK.

Identifying Best Practices to Correct Misinformation on Facebook

George Washington University

Abstract

Can misinformation shared on Facebook be corrected? Or are citizens doomed to believe what they read? Recent evidence suggests that the former is closer to the truth—misinformation can be corrected. In this project, we will identify the best methods of doing just that. With the data provided, we will break new ground on the semantic determinants of misinformation shared on Facebook. We also investigate what sort of fact-checking approaches have proven most fruitful in reducing the sharing of misinformation on Facebook. Ultimately, we will know both what kinds of misinformation are most likely to be shared over Facebook, and we will have evidence regarding the best tactics for rebutting it.

Research Team

Principal Investigator

Ethan Porter

Assistant Professor, George Washington University

  • Bio ▾

    Ethan Porter is an assistant professor at the George Washington University in the School of Media and Public Affairs. He received his PhD in political science from the University of Chicago in 2016. His research has appeared or is forthcoming in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences; Journal of Politics; Political Communication; Political Behavior; Behavioural Public Policy; Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory; Politics, Groups and Identities; and Journal of Experimental Political Science among other journals. He has also written for the New York Times, the Washington Post, and other popular publications and has received grant support from the National Science Foundation and the Omidyar Network. False Alarm: The Truth about Political Mistruths in the Trump Era, a book coauthored with Thomas J. Wood, was published in 2019 by Cambridge University Press. His second book, ​The Consumer Citizen, is under contract with Oxford University Press.

Participants

David Broniatowski

Associate Professor, George Washington University

  • Bio ▾

    David Broniatowski is an associate professor in the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at the George Washington University who conducts research in decision-making under risk, group decision-making, online information spread, and behavioral epidemiology. He has recently published a formal mathematical model of Fuzzy Trace Theory and is an expert in online disinformation, especially pertaining to vaccines. His work has been featured in several leading media outlets, including the New York Times, the Washington Post, NPR, CNN, and several others.

Pedram Hosseini

PhD Student, George Washington University

  • Bio ▾

    Pedram Hosseini is a PhD student in computer science at the George Washington University. His main area of focus is natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning. He has a background in software engineering, having worked in industry as a software developer/engineer with experience in working with big data and database management.

Thomas J. Wood

Assistant Professor, Ohio State University

  • Bio ▾

    Thomas J. Wood is an assistant professor of political science at the Ohio State University. His research has appeared in the American Journal of Political Science, Political Behavior, and other scholarly venues. Thomas is the coauthor of Enchanted America (University of Chicago Press) and False Alarm (Cambridge University Press). His research has been covered by Slate, the New York Times, Vox, and NPR, among other locations. He received his PhD in political science from the University of Chicago.

Looking beyond the Crisis of Democracy: Patterns of Representation in Israeli Elections

Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Abstract

Western democracies have been suffering for several decades from the “crisis of representative democracy”. This crisis is evident in the citizenry’s disaffection with politics and politicians, declining voter turnout, and the upsurge of antiestablishment and populist candidates and parties, among other phenomena. Against this backdrop we ask whether we witness the end of representative democracy or rather a vital change in the manifestations of representative democracy. Based on Pitkin’s classic multidimensional conception of political representation, our project offers a harmonious analysis of these dimensions together in the Israeli political context, as pronounced in the discourse of (1) three major actors in democracies (politicians, media, and citizens); (2) across platforms (speeches, policies, social media, news coverage, and public opinion surveys); (3) while taking into account the reciprocal relationships among these actors and platforms; and (4) and the longitudinal dynamics. By using our state-of-the-art computational algorithm for content analyses of big data, we hypothesize that politicians represent their citizens in much more symbolic ways (by emphasizing shared experiences, narratives, and values) than substantive (actual policy activity). This is due to the increasing personalization and populism in Israel, the rise in collective identity considerations in Israeli politics, and the rise of social media—which enables representatives to address their constituents directly. Moreover, by gauging a wide range of elements in the Israeli political discourse—values, narratives, frames, issues, and vocabulary—we will examine whether changes in the discourse regarding representation result from developments among the public or from strategic manipulations by political elites.

Research Team

Principal Investigators

Tamir Sheafer

Professor, Hebrew University of Jerusalem

  • Bio ▾

    Tamir Sheafer is the dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel. Sheafer’s research is focused on issues such as the role of charisma in politics, political personalization, and information processing of politicians. Currently, he leads two large-scaled projects. The first centers on the effects of political culture and narrative proximity between nations and people, and their role in such issues as international communication flow, public diplomacy, and electoral behavior. The second develops advanced state-of- the-art computational text analysis methods for analyzing and understanding complex and multilayered public discourse around the world.

Shaul Shenhav

Professor, Hebrew University of Jerusalem

  • Bio ▾

    Shaul Shenhav is an expert on political narratives. He leads two large-scaled projects. The first centers on the effects of political culture and narrative proximity between nations and people. The second develops advanced state-of- the-art computational text analysis methods for understanding multilayered public discourse around the world.

Participants

Dror Markus

PhD Student, Hebrew University of Jerusalem

  • Bio ▾

    Dror Markus is the programmer of our system for computational content analysis. His research explores the effect of the “Information Age” on traditional parliamentary structures, procedures, and mechanisms of information collection, with a specific focus on the influence of new information channels and sources (e.g., social media, media, interest groups).

Guy Mor

MA Student, Hebrew University of Jerusalem

  • Bio ▾

    Guy Mor is a programmer of our system for computational content analysis. He studies the preference structures of political elites and the public and how they affect the quality of democratic representation. Besides survey-based data, his research utilizes the inference of political preferences from textual data and social media behavior.

Alon Zoizner

PhD student, Hebrew University of Jerusalem

  • Bio ▾

    Alon Zoizner is a research associate in this project on the crisis of representative democracy in Israel. His research focuses on how election campaigns are portrayed by journalists and politicians, and how this affects citizens' political attitudes, reflected in social media and public opinion surveys.

Studying User Behavior in Reaction to Mis/Disinformation on Facebook

University of Washington

Abstract

Social media is increasingly used to spread false information (mis/disinformation) at scale, with potentially broad-reaching societal effects. The Facebook data made available via Social Science One gives us a unique opportunity to observe how such content spreads and how users share or interact with it. In this work, we will leverage the Facebook URL Shares and CrowdTangle datasets to conduct formative research at the foundation of the current mis/disinformation phenomenon. Specifically, we will study (1) user behaviors on Facebook (e.g., reactions and clicks) in response to mis/disinformation or related content and (2) potential behavior differences between different groups or types of users. In addition to being of independent scientific and societal interest, our results will support the development of interventions (e.g., user interface designs or user education efforts) to help people interact thoughtfully with potential mis/disinformation and ultimately to curb its spread.

Research Team

Principal Investigator

Franziska Roesner

Associate Professor, University of Washington

  • Bio ▾

    Franziska (Franzi) Roesner is an associate professor in the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering at the University of Washington, where she codirects the Security and Privacy Research Lab. Her research focuses broadly on computer security and privacy for end users of existing and emerging technologies. She is the recipient of an MIT Technology Review "Innovators Under 35" Award, an Emerging Leader Alumni Award from the University of Texas at Austin, a Google Security and Privacy Research Award, and an NSF CAREER Award. She received her PhD from the University of Washington in 2014 and her BS from the UT Austin in 2008.

Are We More Willing to Speak Up When We Share Without Clicking? A Study of Political Content Sharing on Facebook

Pennsylvania State University

Abstract

The small screen size and rushed nature of mobile phone use create bandwidth limitations for users, leading them to be less deliberate and more spontaneous in their online interactions. This has resulted in the widespread phenomenon of sharing without clicking. When online users see a link or headline that appears to be aligned with their ideology, they are more likely to share it rather than scrutinizing the contents of the link or story. Does this mean they are being more honest in expressing their stance when they share without clicking? We seek to answer this question by investigating users’ sharing of political content on Facebook. What types of content are more often shared without clicking? Would the content shared without clicking be less moderate and more closely aligned with the user’s ideological affiliation? We expect to see more sharing of extreme, rather than moderate, political content and more often without clicking, which would be indicative of spontaneity. We expect to pair this data with concurrent investigations on the role played by device in predicting sharing behaviors, wherein we expect mobile device use to be associated with more spontaneous sharing of political content. Together, our findings can advance our understanding of the role played by communication technologies and the affordances and contexts of social media in influencing online political discussion, and thereby inform design of interfaces and interventions for fostering more robust deliberation.

Research Team

Principal Investigator

S. Shyam Sundar

James P. Jimirro Professor of Media Effects & Codirector, Media Effects Research Laboratory, Pennsylvania State University

  • Bio ▾

    S. Shyam Sundar (PhD, Stanford University) is James P. Jimirro Professor of Media Effects and founding director of the Media Effects Research Laboratory at Pennsylvania State University (http://bellisario.psu.edu/people/individual/s.-shyam-sundar). His research investigates social and psychological effects of digital media, including mobile phones, social media, chatbots, robots, smart speakers, and algorithms. His experiments examine the role played by technological affordances such as interactivity in shaping user experience of mediated communications in a variety of interfaces. He has extensively studied online sources and their effects on information credibility. An ongoing project funded by the National Science Foundation explicates fake news, building a taxonomy of different kinds of false information for the purpose of developing machine-learning tools that can automatically detect fake news. Sundar edited the first-ever Handbook on the Psychology of Communication Technology (Wiley-Blackwell, 2015) and served as editor-in-chief of the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication from 2013 to 2017. Identified as the most published author of internet-related research in the field of communication during the medium’s first decade, Sundar is a Fellow of the International Communication Association and recipient of the Paul J. Deutschmann Award for Excellence in Research from the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication.

Participants

Guangqing Chi

Associate Professor of Rural Sociology and Demography and Public Health Sciences, Pennsylvania State University

  • Bio ▾

    Guangqing Chi is an associate professor of rural sociology and demography and director of the Computational and Spatial Analysis Core of the Social Science Research Institute and Population Research Institute at the Pennsylvania State University. His research is focused on socio-environmental systems, aiming to understand the interactions between human populations and built and natural environments and to identify important assets (social, environmental, infrastructural, institutional) to help vulnerable populations adapt and become resilient to environmental changes. He studies climate-driven migration and left-behind children in Central Asia, permafrost erosion impacts on coastal communities in Alaska, and ecological migration in China. He is an expert in spatial analysis and an author of the book Spatial Regression Models for the Social Sciences (SAGE, 2019). He leads the establishment of an infrastructure for collecting and managing Twitter data as well as a capacity in processing and analyzing the 50 TB data that have been collected. He also leads a project funded by the National Science Foundation to study the (mis)representativeness of Twitter data and develop weights to generalize the data; this endeavor will create opportunities for social scientists to take advantage of the rich social media data.

Jinping Wang

PhD Student, Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications, Pennsylvania State University

  • Bio ▾

    Jinping Wang is a doctoral candidate of mass communications at Pennsylvania State University. Her research interests include social and psychological implications of communication technologies. Specifically, she focuses on how different technological affordances shape the way individuals disclose their opinions, emotions, and identities, as well as how these expressions continue to influence both senders and receivers. She also has computational and programming skills to scrape web data and analyze them using techniques such as natural language processing, machine learning, and network analysis. Her work has appeared in leading conferences and journals and has won several awards.

Junjun Yin

Assistant Research Professor, Social Science Research Institute & Associate, Institute for Computational and Data Sciences, Pennsylvania State University

  • Bio ▾

    Junjun Yin is an assistant research professor at the Social Science Research Institute and Population Research Institute, Pennsylvania State University. His research interests center on computational GIScience with a focus on developing geospatial Big Data analytics for studying urban and population dynamics concerning urban mobility, accessibility, and sustainability. To exploit the research opportunities brought by various types of geospatial Big Data, one of his current research themes is collaborating with other social scientists using Twitter data as a geospatial Big Data source for addressing social problems and societal issues. His work in using Big Data for social science research is enabled by state-of-the-art high-performance computing environments supported by the Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE) and the Institute for Computational and Data Sciences at Penn State.

The Social Media Behavior of Venezuelan State Media: A Case Study on TeleSUR English

Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana in Medellín

Abstract

TeleSUR is a media company founded, funded, and managed by the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. Conceived to operate as a means by which to disseminate socialism and help foster a multipolar world order, TeleSUR doesn’t just report on the news— it seeks to direct political change. This investigation combines exclusive Facebook data, public information, interviews, and surveys to quantitatively and qualitatively analyze TeleSUR’s English language media operations. It will chart Venezuela’s media projects to influence the political values, attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors of United States citizens on matters of public policy and civic engagement on social media and in person. It will determine if Venezuela’s geopolitical values are evident in TeleSUR’s news coverage and what they are; we will graph the extent of their coordinated inauthentic behavior on Facebook and visualize the extent of TeleSUR’s media and political partnerships.

Research Team

Principal Investigator

José Ricardo Zapata

Professor, Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana in Medellín

  • Bio ▾

    José Ricardo Zapata holds a PhD in information and communication technologies from Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Spain, and a master’s in telecommunications engineering from Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana, Colombia. Currently a professor at the Faculty of Information and Communication Technologies at Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana, he has more than 15 years of academic experience in undergraduate and postgraduate courses in Data Mining, Python and R for Data Science, Audio Content Analysis, and Signal Processing.

Participants

Luciano Gallon

Professor and Leader of Technology and Innovation Management Research Group, Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana in Medellín

  • Bio ▾

    Luciano Gallon is a professor at Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana in Medellín, Colombia, where he leads the Technology and Innovation Management Research Group (GTI.UPB) and teaches System Dynamics, General Systems Theory, Complexity and Management of Knowledge, and Technology and Innovation. His research interests are in the areas of systemic perspective, system modeling, system dynamics, sociocybernetics, and sustainable development. Memberships include IEEE, IEEE Technology and Engineering Management Society, International Sociological Association (ISA), ISA Research Committee on Sociocybernetics, and the System Dynamics Society.

Ana Miralles

Professor, Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana in Medellín

  • Bio ▾

    Ana Miralles is a PhD in social sciences, social communication, and journalism; former UNESCO consultant; creator of the project "Voces Ciudadanas"; and author of five books investigating the relationship between communication, communities, and democracy.

Ariel Sheen

Project Manager, Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana in Medellín

  • Bio ▾

    Ariel Sheen is a Colombian national scholarship awardee working on his PhD in the Technology and Innovation Management program at Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana in Medellín. A graduate of New York University's Experimental Humanities Master’s Program, he's also worked extensively as a digital media strategist, data scientist, and business intelligence consultant.

Using Facebook Engagements to Assess How Information Operations Microtarget Online Audiences Using “Alternative” New Media

University of Washington

Abstract

There is a pressing need to understand how social media platforms are being leveraged to conduct information operations—efforts by state and nonstate actors to manipulate public opinion through methods such as the coordinated dissemination of disinformation, amplification of specific accounts or messages, and targeted messaging by agents who impersonate online political activists. In addition to being deployed to influence democratic processes, information operations are also utilized to complement kinetic warfare on a digital battlefield. In prior work we have developed a deep understanding of the Twitter-based information operations conducted against the White Helmets volunteer group in Syria, efforts that attempt to diminish sympathy and solidarity for both the White Helmets and the civilians living in the government-opposed areas of the country. Extending upon this work, our proposed research is concerned with how Facebook is leveraged within information operations against the White Helmets, and how a subsection of the “alternative” media ecosystem is integrated into those operations. We aim to understand the structure and dynamics of the “alternative” media ecosystem that is utilized by information operations to manipulate public opinion, and more about the audiences that engage with related content from these domains. Our research will provide insight into how Facebook features into a persistent, multiplatform information operations campaign. Complementing previous research, it will provide insight into how a subsection of the alternative media ecosystem is leveraged by political entities to microtarget participants in specific online communities with strategic messaging and disinformation.

Research Team

Principal Investigator

Kate Starbird

Assistant Professor, University of Washington

  • Bio ▾

    Kate Starbird is an assistant professor at the Department of Human Centered Design & Engineering at the University of Washington. Starbird’s research is situated within human-computer interaction and the emerging field of crisis informatics—the study of the how information-communication technologies are used during crisis events. One aspect of her research looks at how online rumors spread during natural disasters and man-made crisis events. More recently, she has begun to focus on the spread of disinformation and other forms of strategic information operations online. Starbird earned her PhD from the University of Colorado Boulder in technology, media, and society and holds a BS in computer science from Stanford University.

Participants

Ahmer Arif

Research Assistant & PhD Candidate, University of Washington

  • Bio ▾

    Ahmer Arif is a PhD candidate at the University of Washington’s department of Human Centered Design & Engineering. His research falls at the intersection of computer science and social science and is situated within the field of computer-supported cooperative work. He uses a combination of empirical methods—including qualitative, computational, and network analysis—to examine small group and large-scale interactions in online settings within contexts of mass disruption like terrorist attacks and civil wars. A major focus of his work has been to examine how different groups use communication technologies like social media to spread, shape, and confront problematically inaccurate or deceptive information in these settings. His work touches on broader questions about the intersection of technology and society—particularly around how we might use and shape our tools for cooperative civic purposes to reliably and effectively promote human flourishing. He is an international student from Pakistan with a background in computer science and English literature. Outside of academia, he’s had the good fortune to work as a researcher and consultant with several large organizations like Facebook, Yahoo!, the World Bank, and the United Nations Development Programme.

Andrew Beers

Research Assistant & PhD Student, University of Washington

  • Bio ▾

    Andrew Beers is a PhD student in the University of Washington's Human Centered Design & Engineering program, living in Seattle. Until the summer of 2019, Beers worked at the Quantitative Translational Imaging Lab (QTIM) at the Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging. His work at the QTIM particularly focused on machine learning as applied to medical imaging scans, as well as development for the imaging program 3D Slicer and the Python package DeepNeuro. Before that, Beers was an undergraduate at Brown University in the Environmental Studies Department researching historical records of climate change in the North Atlantic ocean.

Tom Wilson

Research Assistant & PhD Candidate, University of Washington

  • Bio ▾

    Tom Wilson is a PhD candidate in the Department of Human Centered Design & Engineering at the University of Washington. Wilson’s research focus is online information operations—understanding how social media platforms are being leveraged by state and nonstate actors to distort public opinion. By combining quantitative methods—e.g., to identify patterns, networks, and anomalies—with in-depth qualitative analysis, Wilson’s research takes a human-centered approach, developing a comprehensive understanding of these sophisticated, nuanced activities, including collaborative (but not necessarily explicitly coordinated) activities.

An Ecological Approach to Disinformation Spread on Social Media

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Abstract

Much disinformation research focuses on how social media facilitates the spread of deliberately inaccurate information. However, Americans consume news from many sources and encounter stories across information channels. Thus, studies that examine only social media or a single platform miss the full ecology of news consumption. This project takes a mixed-methods approach to the origins and dynamics of disinformation, including stories that “jump” between media formats and sources. Comparing apolitical, right-wing, and left-wing case studies, we will analyze differences in how stories spread across media. Using auxiliary Twitter and Reddit datasets, news media data from Media Cloud, and Facebook’s political advertising archive, we will examine how and when stories appear on other platforms, in political ads, and in mainstream media, enabling us to analyze Facebook as part of a broader media ecology and determine the comparative role of media sources in spreading disinformation.

Research Team

Principal Investigators

Alice E. Marwick

Assistant Professor, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

  • Bio ▾

    Alice E. Marwick is an assistant professor in the Department of Communication and Principal Researcher at the Center for Information, Technology and Public Life at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She researches the social, political, and cultural implications of popular social media technologies. In 2017, she coauthored Media Manipulation and Disinformation Online, a flagship report examining far-right online subcultures’ use of social media to spread disinformation, for which she was named one of 2017’s Global Thinkers by Foreign Policy magazine. She is the author of Status Update: Celebrity, Publicity and Branding in the Social Media Age (Yale University Press, 2013), an ethnographic study of the San Francisco tech scene that examines how people seek social status through online visibility, and coeditor of The Sage Handbook of Social Media (Sage Publishing, 2017). Her current book project, The Private Is Political, examines how the networked nature of online privacy and visibility disproportionately impacts marginalized individuals in terms of gender, race, and socioeconomic status.

Deen Freelon

Associate Professor, School of Media and Journalism, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

  • Bio ▾

    Deen Freelon is an associate professor in the Hussman School of Journalism and Media and Principal Researcher at the Center for Information, Technology and Public Life at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His research covers two major areas of scholarship: (1) political expression through digital media and (2) data science and computational methods for analyzing large digital datasets. He has authored or coauthored more than 30 journal articles, book chapters, and public reports, in addition to coediting one scholarly book. He has served as principal investigator on grants from the Knight Foundation, the Spencer Foundation, and the US Institute of Peace. He has written research-grade software to calculate intercoder reliability for content analysis (ReCal), analyze large-scale network data from social media (TSM), and collect data from Facebook (fb_scrape_public). He formerly taught at American University in Washington, DC.

Participants

Daniel Kreiss

Associate Professor, School of Media and Journalism, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

  • Bio ▾

    Daniel Kreiss is associate professor in the Hussman School of Journalism and Media and Principal Researcher at the Center for Information, Technology and Public Life at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Kreiss’s research explores the impact of technological change on the public sphere and political practice. In Taking Our Country Back: The Crafting of Networked Politics from Howard Dean to Barack Obama (Oxford University Press, 2012), Kreiss presents the history of new media and Democratic Party political campaigning over the last decade. Prototype Politics: Technology-Intensive Campaigning and the Data of Democracy (Oxford University Press, 2016) charts the emergence of a data-driven, personalized, and socially embedded form of campaigning and explains differences in technological adoption between the two US political parties. Kreiss is an affiliated fellow of the Information Society Project at Yale Law School.

Shannon C. McGregor

Assistant Professor, Department of Communication, University of Utah

  • Bio ▾

    Shannon C. McGregor is an assistant professor in the Department of Communication at the University of Utah. McGregor's research addresses the role of social media and its data in political processes, with a focus on political communication, journalism, public opinion, and gender. Her published work examines how three groups—political actors, the press, and the public—use social media in regards to politics, how that social media use impacts their behavior, and how the policies and actions of social media companies in turn impact political communication on their sites. Her work has been published in journals such as the Journal of Communication, New Media & Society, Political Communication, Journalism, and Information, Communication & Society, and she is the coeditor of a book (with Dr. Talia Stroud), Digital Discussions: How Big Data Informs Political Communication. More information about her work can be found at www.shannoncmcgregor.com.

Megan Squire

Professor of Computing Sciences, Elon University

  • Bio ▾

    Megan Squire is a professor in the Department of Computer Science at Elon University in North Carolina. She applies data science techniques to the study of niche and extremist online communities, specializing in the creation of infrastructure to collect, curate, and federate large amounts of metadata, textual data, and image data. Her recent projects include network analysis of radical right extremist groups on social media, including Facebook and other sites. Squire is the author of two books on data cleaning and data mining and over 35 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters, including several best paper awards. She has earned nearly $500,000 in external competitive grant funding from the National Science Foundation, the Computing Research Association, and in-kind equipment and computing time donations from industry partners. In 2017, she was named the Elon University Distinguished Scholar, and in 2018 she was named a senior fellow at the Center for Analysis of the Radical Right.

A Comparative Analysis of the 2017 Cybersecurity Strategies of Japan and the United States: Implications for Healthcare and Government

College of William and Mary

Abstract

Research Team

Principal Investigator

Participants

Dorothea LaChon Abraham

Associate Professor, Information Systems, College of William and Mary

How Factional Discord Shapes Patterns of Party Leadership and Policymaking in Congress

Harvard University

Abstract

Research Team

Principal Investigator

Participants

Ruth Bloch-Rubin

Assistant Professor, Political Science, Harvard University

Test Grantee

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Abstract

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Research Team

Scoping the “Fake News” Problem: What Fraction of Americans’ Information Diet Is Fake News, or Even News at All?

University of Pennsylvania

Abstract

Since the 2016 US presidential election, the production, distribution, consumption, and influence of false and otherwise misleading news has emerged as a topic of urgent interest among researchers, journalists, and policymakers. Underlying this widespread concern are two assumptions: first, that news-related content broadly construed comprises a significant fraction of the total information diet of ordinary Americans; and second, that the prevalence of fake news is comparable to, or even greater than, that of mainstream news (Silverman 2016; Vosoughi, Roy, and Aral 2018). In this project we propose to examine both these assumptions by quantifying the prevalence of different categories of content—non-news, news in general, and fake news—on Facebook, Twitter, and in a representative panel of web users. In addition, we will examine how these fractions vary by region, age, gender, and ideological leaning. Our objective in answering these questions is to place the ongoing debate around the impact of fake news and social media platforms on democratic processes in the broader context of the total information diet of Americans, as well as to suggest further directions for media research in general.

Research Team

Principal Investigator

Duncan Watts

Principal Researcher and Partner, University of Pennsylvania

  • Bio ▾

    Duncan Watts is a principal researcher and partner at Microsoft and an A. D. White Professor at Large at Cornell University. Prior to joining Microsoft Research in 2012, he was from 2000 to 2007 a professor of sociology at Columbia University, and then a principal research scientist at Yahoo! Research, where he directed the Human Social Dynamics group. In July, he will join the University of Pennsylvania as the Stevens University Professor of computer science, business, and communication. Watts’s research on social networks and collective dynamics has appeared in a wide range of journals, from Nature, Science, and Physical Review Letters to the American Journal of Sociology and Harvard Business Review, and has been recognized by the 2009 German Physical Society Young Scientist Award for Socio and Econophysics, the 2013 Lagrange-CRT Foundation Prize for Complexity Science, and the 2014 Everett Rogers M. Rogers Award. He is also the author of three books: Six Degrees: The Science of a Connected Age (W.W. Norton, 2003), Small Worlds: The Dynamics of Networks between Order and Randomness (Princeton University Press, 1999), and most recently, Everything Is Obvious: Once You Know The Answer (Crown Business, 2011). Watts holds a BSc in physics from the Australian Defence Force Academy, from which he also received his officer’s commission in the Royal Australian Navy, and a PhD in theoretical and applied mechanics from Cornell University.

Participants

Hunt Allcott

Associate Professor of Economics, New York University

  • Bio ▾

    Hunt Allcott is a principal researcher at Microsoft Research, an associate professor of economics at New York University, a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research, and a coeditor of the Journal of Public Economics. He is a scientific director of ideas42, a think tank that applies insights from psychology and economics to business and policy design problems; an affiliate of Poverty Action Lab, a network of researchers who use randomized evaluations to answer critical policy questions in the fight against poverty; and a faculty affiliate of E2e, a group of economists, engineers, and behavioral scientists focused on evaluating and improving energy efficiency policy. He was also a contributing author of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fifth Assessment Report. Professor Allcott holds a PhD from Harvard University and a BS and MS from Stanford University. Before coming to NYU, he was the Energy and Society Fellow in the MIT Economics Department and the MIT Energy Initiative. He has also worked in the private sector as a consultant with Cambridge Energy Research Associates and in international development as a consultant to the World Bank. New York University is an economist at Microsoft Research. He has a PhD in applied economics from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. He has written extensively, in both the academic and popular press. His work pushes the boundaries on varying data and methods: polling, prediction markets, social media and online data, and large behavioral and administrative data. His work focuses on solving practical and interesting questions including mapping and updating public opinion, the market for news, effect of advertising, finance, and an economist take on public policy.

David Rothschild

Economist, Microsoft Research

  • Bio ▾

    David Rothschild is an economist at Microsoft Research. He has a PhD in applied economics from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. He has written extensively, in both the academic and popular press. His work pushes the boundaries on varying data and methods: polling, prediction markets, social media and online data, and large behavioral and administrative data. His work focuses on solving practical and interesting questions including: mapping and updating public opinion, the market for news, effect of advertising, finance, and an economist take on public policy.

Characterizing Mainstream and Nonmainstream Online News Sources in Social Media

Virginia Tech

Abstract

This investigation will provide new perspectives to address digital misinformation on Facebook by focusing on the following question: How can we establish differences between mainstream and misleading sources of online news? We will empirically investigate misleading online news sources to develop a deep understanding of their behavior on Facebook along the following threads: topical and writing-style differences from mainstream sources, user engagement distinctions, and the corresponding temporal changes. This inquiry is expected to be transformative. First, through large-scale quantitative explorations, this work stands to contribute to computational social science by laying bare the differences between mainstream and fabricated news sources. Second, by investigating features of online news sources and understanding how people interact with news sources with varying levels of credibility, this work is poised to contribute novel results for improving news literacy among citizens.

Research Team

Principal Investigator

Tanushree Mitra

Assistant Professor of Computer Science, Virginia Tech

  • Bio ▾

    Tanushree Mitra is an assistant professor of computer science at Virginia Tech, where she leads the social computing research group. She and her students study and build large-scale social computing systems to address information disorders in social media platforms. Dr. Mitra is particularly interested in addressing socially relevant problems that are created by social computing technologies and which are often amplified by participation in online social platforms. Her work uses a range of interdisciplinary methods from the fields of data mining, machine learning, natural language processing, and human computer interaction. She received her PhD in computer science from the School of Interactive Computing at Georgia Tech. Her research has been recognized through multiple awards and honors, including an NSF-CRII award, an ICTAS Junior Faculty Award, an Honorable Mention at ACM SIGCHI, an IBM PhD fellowship, and GVU Center’s Foley Scholarship for research innovation and potential impact. Many of her academic contributions have received widespread press coverage by notable news outlets. She has also conducted social computing research in the neXus group at Microsoft Research and the Collaborative User Experience group at IBM Research.

Participants

Md Momen Bhuiyan

PhD Student, Virginia Tech

  • Bio ▾

    Md Momen Bhuiyan is a PhD student in human-computer interaction in the Department of Computer Science at Virginia Tech. His interest primarily lies in addressing issues arising from human interaction in news propagation in social media. Using theories from social science and computational methods from data science, machine learning, and natural language processing, he designs and investigates such social interactions in online communities. He has previously worked under an NSF grant and presented a poster in CSCW. At Virginia Tech, Bhuiyan is advised by Tanushree Mitra and is a member of the Social Computing Lab. Prior to joining this research group, he received a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology and worked in the software industry in Bangladesh for a year. After graduating from Virginia Tech, Bhuiyan plans to join the industry as a researcher to apply his knowledge in building safer online communities.

Shruti Phadke

PhD Student, Virginia Tech

  • Bio ▾

    Shruti Phadke is a first-year PhD student in the Computer Science Department at Virginia Tech with a master’s in computer engineering. She studies online hate group communication and the influence of conspiratorial thinking on social media. Her focus is on situating already established theories of group behavior from social psychology in the context of new virtual identities that are specific to the online world. Particularly, how such identities transform over various social spaces and how they motivate community participation and engagement. She benefits from a strong computer engineering background, with skills in programming, analysis, and design in her research. She has shown excellence working in both industrial setup through numerous internships and academic settings through research and teaching assistantships. Further, she has been recognized as a J N Tata scholar and summer research fellow by IISC, Banglore. She has also volunteered at conferences such as CSCW and ICWSM as a student volunteer and a reviewer.

Prerna Juneja

PhD Student, Virginia Tech

  • Bio ▾

    Prerna Juneja is a first-year PhD student in the Computer Science Department at Virginia Tech. She is advised by Dr. Tanushree Mitra and is a member of the Social Computing Lab. Her research interests are broadly in social computing, natural language processing, and machine learning. Currently, she is studying content moderation practices on Reddit, with a focus on how rules and norms are enforced by the moderators in the subreddit communities.

    Previously, she worked as a software engineer for three years at Dell EMC in Bengaluru, India, and obtained her master’s from IIIT Delhi. During her master’s, she worked in the Software Analytics Research lab and published papers in COMPSAC and BPI.

Social Media and Elections in Kenya and Zimbabwe (SoMeKeZi)

Namibia University of Science and Technology

Abstract

This research project focuses on two African countries—Zimbabwe and Kenya—that have experienced the mass circulation and production of fake news and disinformation in their last national elections. Using virtual ethnographic, data scraping, social network analysis and audience studies, this study aims to examine the extent to which social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and WhatsApp were used as conduits to share facts, half-truths, and falsehoods, and to misinform and spread political conspiracy theories during the 2017 and 2018 elections in Kenya and Zimbabwe respectively. This study analyzes the phenomenon of fake news and disinformation from two main angles: practices and motivations of producers (how and why people create fake news and disinformation), and meanings derived from these texts by consumers (how consumers of fake news decode them based on the preferred, oppositional, and aberrant readings of texts).

Research Team

Principal Investigator

Admire Mare

Senior Lecturer of Communications, Namibia University of Science and Technology

  • Bio ▾

    Dr. Admire Mare is a senior lecturer at the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST), Department of Communication, Faculty of Human Sciences, Windhoek, Namibia.

Understanding Problematic Sharing Behavior on Facebook

Ohio State University

Abstract

In an information environment where sharing decisions influence how billions of people around the world learn about science, politics, and their community, it is crucial that we understand how these decisions are made. Of particular concern are what we term “problematic sharing behaviors,” including sharing dubious news and falsehoods. We will pair Facebook data with time series data describing high-profile events and documented changes to the Facebook platform. We aim to produce two types of explanations of sharing behavior. The first will focus on temporal patterns. For example, it is likely that the proportion of “problematic” sharing will vary by day, month, or season. The second type of explanation concerns the influence that important social events and technological changes have on problematic sharing. High-profile crises, from natural disasters to acts of mass violence, are likely to lead to some forms of problematic sharing, while changes to Facebook are intended to constrain it.

Research Team

Principal Investigator

R. Kelly Garrett

Associate Professor, Ohio State University

  • Bio ▾

    R. Kelly Garrett is an associate professor in the School of Communication at the Ohio State University. His research interests include the study of online political communication, online news, and the ways in which citizens and activists use new technologies to shape their engagement with contentious political topics. His most recent work, which was supported by a National Science Foundation CAREER Award, focuses on how people’s exposure to and perceptions of online political information are related to their political beliefs. His work has been published in journals such as PLOS One, the Journal of Communication, Communication Research, Political Behavior, and the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, among others. More information about his work is available at http://www.rkellygarrett.com.

Participants

Robert Bond

Assistant Professor, Ohio State University

  • Bio ▾

    Robert M. Bond is an assistant professor in the School of Communication at Ohio State University. His core research interest is in political communication, behavior, and attitudes, specifically how our social networks influence our political behavior and communication practices. His work frequently uses computational methods to understand why people behave as they do, how they communicate, and what the effects of communication are for politics. Much of this core area of research uses big data to study social influence on political behaviors and attitudes, including large-scale field experiments on turnout and observational work on ideology. In addition to these main areas of research, he has studied the development of political attitudes and behaviors in the social networks of adolescents, social network effects on aggression, and social attitudes about prejudice, using social network techniques.

Ceren Budak

Assistant Professor, University of Michigan–Ann Arbor

  • Bio ▾

    Ceren Budak is an assistant professor of information and assistant professor of electrical engineering and computer science, College of Engineering at the University of Michigan. Dr. Budak's research interests lie in the area of computational social science, a discipline at the intersection of computer science, statistics, and the social sciences. She is interested in applying large-scale data analysis, machine learning, and network science techniques to study problems with social, political, and policy implications.

Jason Jones

Assistant Professor, Stony Brook University

  • Bio ▾

    Jason Jones is an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology and the Institute for Advanced Computational Science at Stony Brook University. In his work, he takes advantage of massive datasets to re-examine what we think we know about human behavior. For example, he has collaborated with Facebook to conduct experiments regarding social norms around voting—each experiment generating data from millions of participants. In another collaboration, he and his colleagues re-imagined and redefined Granovetter's "strength of weak ties" hypothesis by taking into account the work histories and social networks of millions of people around the world. Broadly, his research interests involve the application of computational social science to predict political, health, and other social behaviors.

Drew Margolin

Assistant Professor, Cornell University

  • Bio ▾

    Drew Margolin is an assistant professor in the Department of Communication at Cornell University. His research focuses on macro-level influences on the production of discourse through the analysis of digital, observational data. His recent work focuses on the conditions conducive to effective fact-checking and the influence of large-scale events on the expression of emotions.

Investigating Digital Outrage as an Engine of Disinformation

Yale University

Abstract

How does disinformation spread online? We propose a psychological process model whereby disinformation triggers especially high levels of moral outrage, which facilitates its spread via two mechanisms: engagement-driven newsfeed prioritization, and “mindless” re-sharing behavior. Disinformation is designed to propagate, and previous work has shown moral emotions are highly contagious in online settings. High levels of user engagement with moral content may then prioritize that content in users’ newsfeeds. Moreover, intermittent social reinforcement of outrage expressions (through “likes” and “shares”) has the potential to transform initially deliberative expressions of outrage into “mindless” habitual re-sharing of disinformation. We will test our model’s predictions on data from Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Finding empirical support for our model has potential to inform the development of practical solutions for detecting disinformation and preventing its spread.

Research Team

Principal Investigators

Molly Crockett

Assistant Professor of Psychology, Yale University

  • Bio ▾

    Dr. Molly Crockett is an assistant professor of psychology at Yale University. Prior to joining Yale, she was an associate professor in experimental psychology, fellow of Jesus College, and distinguished research fellow at the Oxford Centre for Neuroethics, University of Oxford. She holds a BSc in neuroscience from UCLA and a PhD in experimental psychology from the University of Cambridge, and completed a Wellcome Trust Postdoctoral Fellowship with economists and neuroscientists at the University of Zurich and University College London. She received the Early Career Award from the Society for Neuroeconomics in 2018 and was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum in 2017. Dr. Crockett’s lab investigates the psychological and neural mechanisms of human morality, altruism, and economic decision-making. Her research integrates perspectives from social psychology, neuroscience, behavioral economics, and philosophy, and employs a range of methods including behavioral experiments, computational modeling, functional brain imaging, field studies, and "big data" analyses. This work has appeared in Science, Nature Neuroscience, Neuron, PNAS, and Nature Human Behaviour. Current interests include how narratives shape moral behavior; moral outrage and political polarization; and how modern technologies might be changing the way we relate to one another.

William Brady

Postdoctoral Fellow, Yale University

  • Bio ▾

    Dr. William Brady is a National Science Foundation postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Psychology at Yale University. Prior to joining Yale, he completed his PhD in social psychology at New York University. His award-winning dissertation work investigated the psychological processes that make moralized content spread in online networks. His current research investigates the psychological processes that drive people’s interactions during moral and political engagement online, and how digital environments shape the expression of emotion and our moral values. He leverages multiple methodologies that include social media and big data analytics, behavioral experiments, and computational modeling. His work has appeared in PNAS, Trends in Cognitive Science, and Journal of Experimental Psychology: General.

Participants

Guillaume Chaslot

Research Engineer, University of Paris-Est

  • Bio ▾

    Guillaume Chaslot is a research engineer at the University of Paris Est, and an advisor at the Center for Humane Technology. He completed a PhD in computer science at Maastricht University, focusing on Monte Carlo methods for Computer Go. After working at Microsoft, YouTube, and Google, he created the website AlgoTransparency.org to analyze the impact of YouTube's AI on major societal issues.

Kate Klonick

Assistant Professor of Law, St. John’s University

  • Bio ▾

    Kate Klonick is an affiliate fellow at the Information Society Project at Yale Law School, an assistant professor of law at St. John's University Law School, and a Future Tense Fellow at New America. She holds a PhD from Yale Law School, where she wrote on the legal history of using shaming as a means of criminal enforcement in comparison to viral online shaming in social media today and the history and development of private governance in online speech specifically related to Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook. She also holds a JD from Georgetown University Law School, where she was a senior editor of the Georgetown Law Journal and founding editor of the Georgetown Law Journal Online. Dr. Klonick’s research and writing looks at networked technologies' effect on the areas of social norm enforcement, torts, property, intellectual property, artificial intelligence, robotics, freedom of expression, and governance. Her work on these topics has appeared in the Harvard Law Review, Maryland Law Review, New York Times, The Atlantic, Slate, The Guardian, and numerous other publications.

Killian McLoughlin

Research Associate, Yale University

  • Bio ▾

    Killian McLoughlin is a research technician in the Department of Psychology at Yale University. He holds a BA in philosophy and English literature from University College Dublin as well as an HDip in psychology from Trinity College Dublin. Before moving to Yale, Killian returned to University College Dublin to complete an MSc in social data analytics. During this time he also worked as part of an academic and civil society partnership on a project cataloging and publishing paid Facebook advertisements related to the Irish abortion referendum of 2018. This became a computational exploration of the sources and content of micro-targeted political advertisements on social media, which demonstrated overseas influence and untraceable financing of political ads in the Irish context. Killian currently works on projects investigating online moral outrage expression and perception using big data and machine learning methods. Recent research topics include gender differences in the experience of outrage online and in economic games, and ideological asymmetries in perceiving political outrage online.

Platforms, Ideology, and Demographics: Sources and Impact of Polarization on Propagation of Disinformation and False News

Harvard University

Abstract

Through combining Facebook data with data from the Media Cloud platform, this study maps political communications in America in the first two years of the Trump presidency. From Facebook data comes patterns of attention to millions of news stories; Media Cloud provides hyperlinks to, tweets about, and text from these same news stories from January 1, 2017, to the 2018 midterm elections. Beyond the map of political communications, comparing these sources of data also lets us ask: Do patterns of asymmetric polarization on the open web and Twitter appear on Facebook as well? And, what explains attention to false news, Russian disinformation, extremist content, and resistance to fact-checking: Is it the political leanings of users? Other attributes, such as age or geographic region? The insularity of the user groups they occupy? Or is it the choice of media outlets? The answers will provide guidance on how we might try and address polarization and disinformation.

Research Team

Principal Investigator

Yochai Benkler

Jack N. and Lillian R. Berkman Professor of Entrepreneurial Legal Studies, Harvard University

  • Bio ▾

    Yochai Benkler is the Berkman Professor of Entrepreneurial Legal Studies at Harvard Law School and the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University. Since the 1990s he has played a role in characterizing the role of information commons and decentralized collaboration to innovation, information production, and freedom in the networked economy and society. His books include Network Propaganda: Manipulation, Disinformation, and Radicalization in American Politics (Oxford University Press, 2018) and The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom (Yale University Press, 2006), which won academic awards from the American Political Science Association, the American Sociological Association, and the McGannon award for social and ethical relevance in communications. In 2012, he received a lifetime achievement award from Oxford University “in recognition of his extraordinary contribution to the study and public understanding of the Internet and information goods.” His work is socially engaged, winning him the Ford Foundation Visionaries Award in 2011, the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Pioneer Award for 2007, and the Public Knowledge IP3 Award in 2006. Benkler has advised governments and international organizations on innovation policy and telecommunications, and serves on the boards or advisory boards of several nonprofits engaged in working toward an open society.

Participants

Edoardo M. Airoldi

Millard E. Gladfelter Professor of Statistics and Data Science, Temple University

  • Bio ▾

    Dr. Edoardo M. Airoldi is the Millard E. Gladfelter Professor of Statistics and Data Science at the Fox School of Business at Temple University. He also serves as director of the Fox School’s Data Science Center. Airoldi joins the Fox School from Harvard University, where he had served since 2009 as a full-time faculty member in the Department of Statistics. He founded and directed the Harvard Laboratory for Applied Statistics & Data Science, until 2017. Additionally, he held visiting positions at MIT and Yale University, and served as a research associate at Princeton University. A distinguished researcher, Airoldi has authored more than 140 publications and earned more than 12,000 citations. His work focuses on statistical theory and methods for designing and analyzing experiments on large networks and, more generally, modeling and inferential issues that arise in analyses that leverage network data. Airoldi earned his PhD in computer science from Carnegie Mellon University, where he also received his master of science degrees in statistics and statistical and computational learning. He earned a bachelor of science in mathematical statistics and economics from Italy’s Bocconi University.

Justin Clark

Web Developer and Data Analyst, Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society, Harvard University

  • Bio ▾

    Justin Clark is a web developer who makes internet websites for the Berkman Klein Center, and he enjoys it quite a bit. Previously, Clark worked as a software testing intern for Herdict and as a web developer/general-tech-guy for a concert venue in central New Hampshire. In his free time, Clark enjoys learning things and not learning things on the internet, facilitating for Soliya, writing profiles of himself, hangin' with his ladyfriend, roaming the earth, using Oxford commas, and hiking.

Bruce Etling

Data Scientist, Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society, Harvard University

  • Bio ▾

    Bruce Etling is a data scientist at Harvard University's Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society. He works primarily with the Media Cloud and media manipulation teams. His research is focused on methods for the study of online behavior and political speech, including social network analysis, network modeling, and automated text analysis. He previously served as the director of the Internet & Democracy Project at the Berkman Klein Center, where he coauthored a number of papers on the Russian internet and mapping of online political networks. Prior to Berkman, he was a foreign service officer with the US Agency for International Development and served in Afghanistan, Russia, Cambodia, and Washington, DC. Etling has a PhD from the University of Oxford (Oxford Internet Institute) and a master of arts in law and diplomacy from the Fletcher School at Tufts University.

Robert Faris

Research Director, Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society, Harvard University

  • Bio ▾

    Robert Faris is the research director at the Berkman Klein Center, where he contributes and provides oversight to research at the center. His research includes the study of digital communication mechanisms by civil society organizations and social movements, and the emergence and impact of digitally mediated collective action, as well as the influence of networked digital technologies on democracy and governance and the evolving role of new media in political change. His current work includes applied research into the networked public sphere drawing on the Media Cloud platform, the monitoring and measurement of internet activity and content controls based on the Internet Monitor platform, and research into the phenomenon of harmful speech online. He is the author, along with Yochai Benkler and Hal Roberts, of Network Propaganda. Prior to joining the Berkman Klein Center in 2006, Faris worked in Latin America and Asia on issues related to economic development, public policy, and environmental management. Faris holds an MA and PhD in international relations from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University and a BA in anthropology from the University of Pennsylvania.

Jonas Kaiser

Affiliate, Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society, Harvard University

  • Bio ▾

    Jonas Kaiser is an affiliate at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society and associate researcher at the Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet & Society. His research is located at the intersection of digital and political communication. Kaiser’s research interests are online extremism, public sphere theory, online misinformation, and digital methods. He is currently working on a book for Oxford University Press on how the far-right in Germany and the United States is (ab)using the internet's affordances. Kaiser earned his PhD (doctorate of philosophy) at Zeppelin University for his thesis about climate change skepticism in Germany. His work has been published in journals like International Journal of Communication, Communication and the Public, and Environmental Communication and has been featured in German as well as US news media. At Berkman, he is thinking about the role social media platforms play in creating a networked public sphere. He has, for example, written about the role YouTube's recommendation algorithms play in fostering filter bubbles, what topics (far-)right media outlets are covering during and before domestic elections, and how journalists and academics might overestimate Twitter's relevance for society.

Aaron Kaufman

PhD Candidate, Harvard University

  • Bio ▾

    Aaron Kaufman is a PhD candidate in political methodology and American politics at Harvard University. His research interests leverage cutting-edge methods in computer science and causal inference to answer substantive questions about public opinion, voting patterns, and elite behavior. Additionally, he produces open-source tools to help survey researchers conduct more efficient and unbiased research. He is committed to research transparency and open science. In his dissertation, he builds, tests, and experimentally validates a computational model to estimate partisanship from free text. He extends this model to predict the relative biases of public opinion survey questions and show that voters respond predictably to texts with varying bias. Furthermore, he shows that survey firms have consistently trended toward writing more conservative questions over the past two decades.

Momin M. Malik

Data Science Fellow, Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society, Harvard University

  • Bio ▾

    Momin M. Malik is a multidisciplinary researcher who brings statistical modeling to bear on critical, reflexive questions with and about large-scale digital trace data. He is broadly concerned with issues of algorithmic power and control, and of validity and rigor in computational social science. In addition to empirical work modeling social media and mobile phone sensor data, he works on how to understand statistics, machine learning, and data science from critical and constructivist perspectives, on ethical and policy implications of predictive modeling, and on understanding and communicating foundational problems in statistical models of social networks. He has an undergraduate degree in history of science from Harvard, a master's from the Oxford Internet Institute, and a PhD from Carnegie Mellon University's School of Computer Science.

Hal Roberts

Fellow, Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society, Harvard University

  • Bio ▾

    Hal Roberts is a fellow at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University. He is a cofounder and the technical architect of the Media Cloud project. Media Cloud is an open platform that seeks to better understand the networked public sphere by providing tools and data for quantitative and qualitative studies of online media content. He is the coauthor of the book Network Propaganda: Manipulation, Disinformation, and Radicalization in American Politics, which uses the Media Cloud platform to analyze the American media ecosystem during the 2016 election and the first year of the Trump presidency. He has published papers using Media Cloud on the intersections of online media, democracy, and public health in the Columbia Journalism Review, International Journal of Communications, Political Communications, Journal of Health Communications, and Health and Education.

Mapping Disinformation Campaigns across Platforms: The German General Election

Technical University of Munich

Abstract

During the German general election in 2017, there were coordinated attempts to disturb online public opinion. Disinformation campaigns used different social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. They managed to infiltrate the online reporting of major German news outlets. Due to the distributed character of disinformation campaigns, these attempts were hardly noticed by the public, and their real dimension has not yet been revealed. We will use data from Facebook about shared URLs in combination with our unique dataset of the political online discourse in Germany, including 700 million tweets and 1.8 million URLs of media content shared by Twitter users, time series of media reports on the German political parties, and political polls to answer two questions: What was the real dimension of a disinformation campaign that was linked (by Twitter) to the Russian Internet Research Agency (IRA)? Is there a measurable effect of the disinformation campaign, either on news reports on the parties or directly on polls? To answer these questions, data access to the Facebook URL Shares dataset is requested to measure the distribution of content from disinformation campaigns across platforms. The starting point of the project is a list of Twitter accounts that Twitter has publicly linked to the IRA.

Research Team

Principal Investigator

Simon Hegelich

Professor of Political Data Science, Technical University of Munich

  • Bio ▾

    Simon Hegelich is professor of political data science at the Technical University of Munich. He works at the intersection of political science and computer science. He is interested in the political dimension of the ongoing digital revolution as well as in implementing new methods in political science such as machine learning. Hegelich studied political science at the University of Münster (Germany), where he also received his doctorate and acquired his postdoctoral teaching qualification (habilitation). From 2011 to 2016, he was managing director of the interdisciplinary research center FoKoS of the University of Siegen. In 2016, Hegelich was appointed associate professor at the Bavarian School of Public Policy. Since 2018, Hegelich has been appointed member of the Department of Computer Science at TUM. Hegelich has been advisor to the German government and the parliament on different topics of disinformation and the public online discourse.

Participants

Joana Bayraktar

Student Assistant, Technical University of Munich

  • Bio ▾

    Joana Bayraktar studies political science at the Bavarian School for Public Policy at the Technical University of Munich. Since August 2018, she has been a student assistant for the professorship for political data science.

Fabienne Marco

Research Assistant, Technical University of Munich

  • Bio ▾

    Fabienne Marco is studying politics and technology (MSc) and mathematics in data science (MSc) at the Technical University of Munich after completing her BSc in mathematics. In her master’s thesis she is dealing with classifying sexism in social media. She also passed different language certificates in Russian, English, and Spanish. During her studies, she gained experience at different companies as a working student. Since April 2017, she has worked for the professorship for political data science as student research assistant.

Orestis Papakyriakopoulos

Research Assistant, Technical University of Munich

  • Bio ▾

    Orestis Papakyriakopoulos is a researcher at the Bavarian School for Public Policy at the Technical University of Munich. He studied civil engineering (Dipl. Ing) at the National Technical University of Athens and philosophy of science and technology (MA) at the Technical University of Munich. In the past, he has served as an engineer, as well as in the communication and administration of science. Furthermore, he conducted research in civil engineering, risk analysis, and econometrics in Germany and the USA. Currently, Papakyriakopoulos is a research associate in political data science, analyzing questions of applied and philosophical nature on politics, digitalization, and artificial intelligence. Besides publishing scientific articles in the aforementioned fields, he has given various interviews. Papakyriakopoulos teaches theoretical and applied courses for bachelor’s and master’s students related to the field of political data science.

Juan Carlos Medina Serrano

Research Assistant, Technical University of Munich

  • Bio ▾

    Juan Carlos Medina Serrano is a data scientist working at the Bavarian School for Public Policy of the Technical University of Munich. He was born in Mexico and studied engineering physics at the Tecnológico de Monterrey. He later moved to Germany, where he obtained two master’s degrees: computational science and data engineering and analytics. Medina Serrano has worked as a data scientist for companies like BMW, Bosch, and Siemens. Currently, he is pursuing a PhD and his research involves the spread of misinformation in social media and its effects on the political landscape. He has participated in several radio interviews and in TV program such as The Stream from Al Jazeera and Sat.1.

Morteza Shahrezaye

Research Assistant, Technical University of Munich

  • Bio ▾

    Morteza Shahrezaye did his bachelor studies in economics and statistics in Iran. Afterwards he moved to Siegen, Germany, to do a master’s in economics. Due to his expertise in scientific programming, he was collaborating with three different research groups at university. He learned to develop mathematical and statistical models in different programming platforms. This helped him to start working at a German startup as machine learning developer, designing computer vision algorithms applied to panaromic videos. In March 2016, he moved to Munich to start his PhD as a computer scientist at Technical University of Munich (TUM). Shahrezaye is currently doing research mainly on networks and their use in social sciences. He specifically tries to extract knowledge from huge social activity networks consisting of billions of nodes and edges. The second branch of his research is natural language processing using artificial intelligence and deep learning tools. He also teaches statistics and mathematics at TUM.

False News on Facebook during the 2017 Chilean Elections: Analyzing Its Content, Diffusion, and Audience Characteristics

Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile

Abstract

With its high levels of social media use and online political participation but decreasing levels of voter turnout and institutional confidence, Chile is particularly at risk of the spread of mis- and disinformation. The little scientific evidence that exists suggests Chileans are highly exposed to political rumors and conspiracies. Against this background, this research project aims to examine the breadth, sharing, and users’ consumption of misinformation on Facebook during the 2017 Chilean presidential election campaign. Specifically, the project tackles four research goals: (1) to measure exposure and sharing of false news relative to verified news; (2) to determine the content attributes that predict misinformation sharing; (3) to analyze users’ emotional reactions (like, sad, angry, etc.) to false news relative to verified news; and (4) to build a sociodemographic profile of exposure to misinformation to analyze whether voters were more exposed than nonvoters to false news.

Research Team

Principal Investigators

Sebastián Valenzuela

Associate Professor at the School of Communication & Associate Researcher of the Millennium Institute for Foundational Research on Data, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile

  • Bio ▾

    Sebastián Valenzuela is an associate professor in the School of Communications at Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile and Tinker Visiting Professor in the University of Wisconsin–Madison’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication. His research concerns the role of journalism and social media on public opinion. He is also an associate researcher at both the Millennium Institute for Foundational Research on Data (IMFD) and the National Research Center for Integrated Disaster Risk Management (CIGIDEN). There, he studies information and misinformation acquisition on social media. He has authored more than 50 peer-reviewed publications, and his work has been awarded by several associations, including the International Communication Association (ICA) and the World Association for Public Opinion Research (WAPOR). Currently, he is editor-in-chief of Cuadernos.info, a journal specialized in communications in Latin America, Portugal, and Spain, and chairs the Latin American advisory committee for Social Science One. He also sits on the editorial board of several scientific publications, including the Journal of Communication, Communication Research, Digital Journalism, and the International Journal of Public Opinion Research. Valenzuela completed his PhD in 2011 at the University of Texas at Austin.

Magdalena Saldaña

Assistant Professor in Journalism, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile

  • Bio ▾

    Magdalena Saldaña is an assistant professor in the School of Communications at Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, where she teaches journalism and social media, data visualization, and research methods. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a master’s degree in social research, both from Universidad de Concepción, Chile, and a PhD in journalism and mass communication from the University of Texas at Austin. Her research interests include digital journalism, social media, political communication, and Latin American studies. Her work has been awarded by the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC) and the Midwest Association for Public Opinion Research (MAPOR). In addition, she has received a number of important awards in recognition for academic achievement and excellence in journalism education.

Participants

Benjamín Bustos

Associate Professor of Computer Science, Universidad de Chile

  • Bio ▾

    Benjamín Bustos received a doctoral degree in natural sciences from the University of Konstanz, Germany, in 2006. He is an associate professor with the Department of Computer Science, University of Chile. He is head of the PRISMA Research Group, and he is also an associate researcher with the Millennium Institute for Foundational Research on Data (IMFD). He leads research projects in the domain of content-based multimedia information retrieval. His research interests include similarity search, 3D object retrieval, multimedia mining, semantic web, metric/nonmetric indexing, and pattern recognition.

Juan Pablo Luna

Professor of Political Science, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile

  • Bio ▾

    Juan Pablo Luna is a professor in the Institute of Political Science at Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile. He received his BA in applied social sciences from the Universidad Católica del Uruguay (UCUDAL) and his PhD in political science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is the author of Segmented Representation: Political Party Strategies in Unequal Democracies (Oxford University Press, 2014) and coauthor of Latin American Party Systems (Cambridge University Press, 2010). In 2014, along with Cristóbal Rovira Kaltwasser, he coedited The Resilience of the Latin American Right (Johns Hopkins University Press). His work on political representation, state capacity, and organized crime has appeared in the following journals: Comparative Political Studies, Revista de Ciencia Política, the Journal of Latin American Studies, Latin American Politics and Society, Studies in Comparative International Development, Política y Gobierno, Democratization, Perfiles Latinoamericanos, and the Journal of Democracy. He is currently associate editor of Latin American Politics and Society and coedits Cambridge University Press Elements’ Politics and Society in Latin America.

Jorge Pérez

Associate Professor of Computer Science, Universidad de Chile

  • Bio ▾

    Jorge Pérez is associate professor in the Computer Science Department at Universidad de Chile and associate researcher at the Millennium Institute for Foundational Research on Data (IMFD). His research interests include data exchange and integration, semantic data management, natural language processing, and the theory of deep neural networks. He has received several awards for his research, including the best paper award in five international conferences (ISWC2006 in Atlanta, USA; ESWC2007 in Innsbruck, Austria; PODS2011 in Athens, Greece; WWW2012 in Lyon, France; and ISWC2017 in Vienna, Austria), the Microsoft Research PhD Fellowship (Redmond, USA, 2009), the Ramón Salas-Edwards Award from the Engineering Institute of Chile (2012), and the Semantic Web Science Association Ten-Years Award (Kobe, Japan, 2016) for his work on the SPARQL query language. His interests also include the analysis of social and political data and the inclusion of computational thinking skills at the school level in Chile.

Bárbara Poblete

Assistant Professor of Computer Science, Universidad de Chile

  • Bio ▾

    Barbara Poblete is an assistant professor in the Computer Science Department at Universidad de Chile and associate researcher at the Millennium Institute for Foundational Research on Data (IMFD). She holds a PhD in Computer Science from the Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Spain. She was a researcher for Yahoo! Labs for five years, first in Barcelona and then in Santiago. Her research areas are web data mining, social network analysis, and web IR. She is associate editor for the IEEE Transactions on Knowledge and Data Engineering Journal, editorial board member for Foundations and Trends in Information Retrieval (FnTIR), and senior PC member for the conferences SIGIR and KDD (and PC member of several other top-tier conferences in her areas). Her work on time-sensitive credibility in microblogging platforms, published in WWW 2011 and in the Internet Research Journal (2013), was the first on this particular topic (with ~2,300 citations according to Google Scholar), and has been featured in mainstream media such as Scientific American magazine, the Wall Street Journal, Slate, the Huffington Post, BBC News, and NPR.

Studying Polarization, Misinformation, and Manipulation across Multiple Platforms and the Larger Information Ecosystem

New York University

Abstract

Malevolent actors have exploited online platforms to spread misinformation and influence political processes. Though platforms are responding to these concerns, responses are rarely coordinated, and addressing issues on a single platform does not address the underlying threats. Rather, a macro view across these platforms is critical since users engage and information spreads across multiple platforms. We therefore propose a study of political, polarizing, and manipulative content spread across the social media information ecosystem in the context of the 2018 US midterm election; the models and methods we develop are applicable to other electoral contexts as well (e.g., the 2018 Mexican election). Building on communications theory, social contagion, and complex network formation, we will test hypotheses and research questions about how this content spreads across platforms by combining existing SMaPP lab data collections with analyses from the Social Science One Facebook URLs dataset.

Research Team

Principal Investigator

Joshua Tucker

Professor of Politics, Affiliated Professor of Russian and Slavic Studies, and Affiliated Professor of Data Science, New York University

  • Bio ▾

    Joshua A. Tucker is a professor of politics, affiliated professor of Russian and Slavic studies, and affiliated professor of data science at New York University. He is codirector of the NYU Social Media and Political Participation (SMaPP) laboratory, director of NYU’s Jordan Center for Advanced Study of Russia, and a coauthor/editor of the award-winning politics and policy blog the Monkey Cage at the Washington Post. He serves on the advisory boards of the American National Election Study, the Comparative Study of Electoral Systems, and numerous academic journals. His original research was on mass political behavior in post-communist countries, including voting and elections, partisanship, public opinion formation, and protest participation. More recently, he has focused on the relationship between social media and politics. His research in this area has included studies on the effects of network diversity on tolerance, partisan echo chambers, online hate speech, the effects of exposure to social media on political knowledge, online networks and protest, disinformation and fake news, how authoritarian regimes respond to online opposition, and Russian bots and trolls. His research has appeared in over two dozen scholarly journals, and he is the coauthor of Communism’s Shadow: Historical Legacies and Contemporary Political Attitudes (Princeton University Press, 2017).

Participants

Richard Bonneau

Professor of Biology and Computer Science, New York University

  • Bio ▾

    Richard Bonneau focuses on three main areas of data science: (1) systems biology, e.g., learning biological networks from genomics data, (2) designing and predicting protein and protein-mimetic molecular structure, and (3) computational social science with a focus on social network enabled science. In the area of genomics and systems biology he has played key roles in achieving critical field-wide milestones. In the area of structure prediction, he was an initial author on the state-of-the art Rosetta Code, which was the first code to demonstrate accurate and comprehensive ability to predict protein structure in the absence of sequence homology. Dr. Bonneau is a codirector of the SMaPP lab at NYU. His expertise in data science, leading large-scale systems biology consortia motivates many contributions to SMaPP lab. His experience with lab-based science, industry collaboration, and network science are key to SMaPP lab’s innovative construction. Dr. Bonneau was selected by Discover magazine as one of the top 20 scientific minds under 40, and a recent review in the top biology journal, Cell, lists Dr. Bonneau's 2007 paper on the prediction of global dynamic regulatory networks as a landmark paper in field of systems biology. Dr. Bonneau is a founding member of the Flatiron Institute, a new large-scale effort to create an intramural data science center at the Simons Foundation. Dr. Bonneau is a PI on the initial Moore-Sloan data science environments grant and part of the group of faculty at NYU that created the new Center for Data Science at NYU.

Cody Buntain

Postdoctoral Researcher, SMaPP Lab, New York University

  • Bio ▾

    Cody Buntain is a postdoctoral researcher with SMaPP. His primary research areas exist at the intersection of data science in social media and the social sciences, specifically how individuals engage socially and politically and respond to crises and disaster in online spaces. Current problems he is studying include cross-platform information flows, temporal evolution/politicization of topics, misinformation, and information/interaction quality. Recent publications include papers on influencing credibility assessment in social media, consistencies in social media's response to crises, and characterizing gender and directedness in online harassment.

Andrew Guess

Assistant Professor of Politics and Public Affairs, Princeton University

  • Bio ▾

    Andy Guess (PhD, Columbia University) is an assistant professor of politics and public affairs at Princeton University. His research and teaching interests lie at the intersection of political communication, public opinion, and political behavior.

    Via a combination of experimental methods, large datasets, machine learning, and innovative measurement, he studies how people choose, process, spread, and respond to information about politics. Recent work investigates the extent to which online Americans' news habits are polarized (the popular "echo chambers" hypothesis), patterns in the consumption and spread of online misinformation, and the effectiveness of efforts to counteract misperceptions encountered on social media. Coverage of these findings has appeared in the New York Times, the New Yorker, Slate, the Chronicle of Higher Education, and other publications.

    His research has been supported by grants from the Volkswagen Foundation, Russell Sage Foundation, and American Press Institute and published in peer-reviewed journals such as the American Journal of Political Science, Political Analysis, and Science Advances.

Jonathan Nagler

Professor of Politics, New York University (Codirector of Lab)

  • Bio ▾

    Jonathan Nagler is a professor of politics and affiliated faculty at the Center of Data Science at NYU. He is a codirector of the NYU Social Media and Political Participation Laboratory. Nagler is a past president of the Society for Political Methodology, as well as an inaugural fellow of the Society for Political Methodology. Professor Nagler's research focuses on voting and elections, and the role of social media, as well as traditional media, in politics. He has been at the forefront of computational social science for many years, and pioneered innovative methods for analysis of discrete choice problems. Nagler has produced recent papers on the nature of online ideological media consumption of individuals, the amount of hate speech on Twitter, the impact of exposure to online information on knowledge of politics and political attitudes, and the impact of media coverage of the economy on economic perceptions. Several of these papers have combined survey data with social media consumption in novel ways. Nagler has been a Fernand Braudel Senior Fellow at the European University Institute, a visiting scholar at the Russell Sage Foundation, and has taught at Harvard and Caltech. He is a coauthor of Who Votes Now? (Princeton University Press, 2014).

Megan Brown

Research Engineer, New York University

  • Bio ▾

    Megan Brown is a research engineer and data scientist at SMaPP. She is especially interested in studying cross-platform media manipulation, understanding bias in machine learning and AI, and the effect of computational information recommendation systems on political information and behavior.

SHARENEWS: Predicting the Shareworthiness of ‘Real’ and ‘Fake’ News in Europe

University of Amsterdam

Abstract

Given the central role that information plays in democratic societies, one of the pressing challenges for the social sciences is to better understand which information (news, but also disinformation, misinformation, and malinformation) citizens are exposed to. While traditional media are still the main source of information for some groups of citizens, in other groups, this exposure is increasingly shaped by what others share on social media. However, our understanding of what actually gets shared, or not, is limited. The proposed project aims at explaining and predicting the sharing of information in the domain of news and politics in four European multiparty systems—Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Poland. We know from decades of research on news values that some characteristics inherent to or ascribed to news events (such as the relevance, importance, unique character, or involvement of elite actors) influence what is considered newsworthy; in addition, the specific framing of a news story (for instance, putting an emphasis on conflict or human interest) can lead to increased attention. We have comparatively little evidence, though, about the role of these features when it comes to the shareworthiness of news. We then compare whether these features have a different role when comparing legitimate news with so-called fake news, when comparing mobile devices with desktops/laptops, and when comparing countries.

Research Team

Principal Investigator

Damian Trilling

Assistant Professor, University of Amsterdam

  • Bio ▾

    Dr. Damian Trilling is a tenured assistant professor affiliated with the Political Communication & Journalism program group within the Department of Communication Science at the University of Amsterdam. He focuses on using computational methods to study communication in the domain of news and politics, especially in an online context. He publishes on news sharing on social media, including Facebook, as well as on computational methods to analyze large-scale social media data. He has both domain expertise and technical expertise, including the use of cloud computing environments, databases (both SQL and NoSQL), and programming in languages like Python for computational social science. In earlier work, he combined techniques of web scraping, querying the Facebook API, natural language processing, and machine learning in order to understand the "shareworthiness" of news stories, a concept that has subsequently been addressed by other researchers, too. He is founding assistant editor of the journal Computational Communication Research.

Participants

Wouter van Atteveldt

Associate Professor, Vrije Universiteit (VU) Amsterdam

  • Bio ▾

    Wouter van Atteveldt (1980, PhD in artificial intelligence in 2008) is associate professor in the Department of Communication Science at Vrije Universiteit (VU) Amsterdam. He has published on text analysis of political communication and methodology in political science, journalism, and statistics. He received a veni-grant in 2011 for a study of political discourse using computational methods, a Digging into Data challenge grant in 2017 for a global comparative analysis of news coverage about terrorism since 1945, and recently, a JEDS/NWO grant to measure online news consumption and study the prevalence and effects of filter bubbles. He taught courses on political communication and public opinion, a summer school on Big Data, and gives workshops on text analysis. He developed the Amsterdam Content Analysis Toolkit (AmCat), developed packages for the analysis of text data in R, and is cofounder of the Interest Group on Computational Methods of the International Communication Association (ICA).

Denis Halagiera

PhD Candidate, Adam Mickiewicz University Poznan

  • Bio ▾

    Denis Halagiera is a PhD student at the Faculty of Political Science and Journalism at the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań, Poland. His research interests include digital misinformation, disinformation, and fact-checking.

Jakub Jakubowski

Assistant Professor, Adam Mickiewicz University Poznan

  • Bio ▾

    Jakub Jakubowski is an assistant professor at the Faculty of Political Science and Journalism, Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan, Poland. His main research interests are in the field of populism, social media, and the role of citizens in political communication. He has participated in domestic and international projects about populism, such as COST Action. Besides research work, he is cocreator of ProScholars, an online platform for academic research promotion.

Juhi Kulshrestha

Postdoctoral Researcher, GESIS – Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences

  • Bio ▾

    Juhi Kulshrestha is a postdoctoral researcher at the Computational Social Science Department at GESIS – Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences in Cologne, Germany. Prior to that she obtained her PhD from the Max Planck Institute for Software Systems (MPI-SWS), Germany. Her research focuses on studying the bias and diversity in news and information that users consume on online social media and on evaluating the role played by automated retrieval algorithms, like search and recommendation systems, in shaping the users' information diets. She has developed frameworks for measuring the bias and diversity in the news and information that users are consuming via algorithmic recommendation and search systems on web and social media platforms. More information at: www.juhikulshrestha.com.

Judith Moeller

Assistant Professor of Political Communication, University of Amsterdam

  • Bio ▾

    Judith Moeller is an assistant professor of political communication at the University of Amsterdam. Her research areas are media effects on political participation, the effect of emerging technologies on democracies, and AI and news use.

Cornelius Puschmann

Senior Researcher, Hans Bredow Institute for Media Research

  • Bio ▾

    Cornelius Puschmann is senior researcher at the Leibniz Institute for Media Research in Hamburg, where he coordinates the international research network Algorithmed Public Spheres and the HBI’s activities in the area of computational social science. From January to July 2013, Puschmann was a visiting fellow at the Oxford Internet Institute at the University of Oxford, and from September 2013 to August 2014 he was visiting assistant professor in the University of Amsterdam’s Department of Media Studies. From 2015 to 2016, he also served as visiting professor of digital communication at Zeppelin University in Friedrichshafen. From fall 2015 to 2016, he was a faculty associate at Harvard University’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society. Puschmann has a background in communication and information science and is interested in the study of online hate speech, the role of algorithms in the selection of media content, and methodological aspects of computational social science. He serves on the editorial boards of the Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media and Global Perspectives.

Agnieszka Stępińska

Professor, Adam Mickiewicz University

  • Bio ▾

    Agnieszka Stępińska is a professor at the Faculty of Political Science and Journalism at the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań, Poland. Her main area of research is political communication. She also conducts studies on journalism and media content. She participated in several international research projects, including Foreign News on TV, the COST ACTION IS1308 Populist Political Communication in Europe, Comprehending the Challenge of Mediated Political Populism for Democratic Politics, and Journalistic Role Performance Around the Globe.

Sebastian Stier

Senior Researcher, GESIS – Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences

  • Bio ▾

    Sebastian Stier is a senior researcher in the Department of Computational Social Science at GESIS – Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences in Cologne. His research focuses on the use of digital media by political elites and the reception of their messages by citizens. He is integrating digital trace data and methods from computational social science with approaches from the fields of political communication, political behavior, and comparative politics.

Cristian Vaccari

Reader in Political Communication, Loughborough University and University of Bologna

  • Bio ▾

    Cristian Vaccari (PhD, IULM University in Milan, 2006) is reader in political communication at the Centre for Research in Communication and Culture at Loughborough University. He studies political communication by elites and citizens in comparative perspective using a variety of methods. He is the editor-in-chief of the International Journal of Press/Politics and the author of Digital Politics in Western Democracies: A Comparative Study (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013). His personal website can be found at www.cristianvaccari.com. He tweets as @25lettori.

Claes de Vreese

Full Professor, University of Amsterdam

  • Bio ▾

    Claes H. de Vreese is professor and chair of political communication and director of the program group Political Communication & Journalism in the Amsterdam School of Communication Research (ASCoR) in the Department of Communication Science, University of Amsterdam. He directs the U Amsterdam Research Priority Area Communication and Personalised Communication. He is the founding director of the Center for Politics and Communication. Finally, he is affiliated professor of political science and journalism at the University of Southern Denmark. His research interests include comparative journalism research, the effects of news, public opinion, and European integration, and the effects of information and campaigning on elections, referendums, and direct democracy.

The Demographics of the Sharing of Hyperpartisan News in Brazil

University of São Paulo

Abstract

This project aims to investigate the demographic characteristics of users who shared mainstream and hyperpartisan news in Brazil in 2017 and 2018. In a previous investigation, we found a polarized structure of interactions with Facebook pages dedicated to seeding hyperpartisan news links. Another previous study we conducted with a limited sample showed a significant difference in the age of those interacting with Facebook pages seeding mainstream media news links and those interacting with Facebook pages seeding hyperpartisan news links (those interacting with mainstream media pages were considerably younger). These findings, although limited, were consistent with other data collected with surveys in polarized mobilizations that showed that the protesters’ age in such demonstrations is typically over 35. By using the Facebook dataset of shares for 2017 and 2018, we want to verify if our preliminary findings are confirmed. We also intend to analyze other characteristics of the sharing of mainstream and hyperpartisan media news links such as reach, diffusion, interaction, and consumption.

Research Team

Principal Investigator

Pablo Ortellado

Professor of Public Policy, University of São Paulo

  • Bio ▾

    Pablo Ortellado is a public policy professor at the University of São Paulo. His research interests lie in the intersection between social mobilization, public policy, and digital communication. He is the director of the Research Group on Public Policies for Information Access and an op-ed columnist at the Brazilian daily Folha de S. Paulo.

Participants

Márcio Moretto Ribeiro

Professor of Information Science, University of São Paulo

  • Bio ▾

    Márcio Moretto Ribeiro is an information science professor at the University of São Paulo. He has a PhD in computer science with an awarded thesis on knowledge representation and reasoning. He was also a researcher at the Center of Logic, Epistemology and History of Science at the University of Campinas. He codirects the Research Center on Public Policy for Information Access. His main line of investigation is on social media analysis, the polarization of the public sphere, and fake news.

The Role of Facebook in Legislative Campaigns in Chile (2017)

Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile

Abstract

How does Facebook shape electoral campaigns and election results in contemporary democracies? Available research confronts several limitations to addressing that question effectively. This proposal seeks to jointly tackle three limitations: (1) the perils of conceptualizing the online campaign as the “only” or “main” campaign activity; (2) the limits set by analyzing highly visible (usually national-level) campaigns that do not vary in terms of the socioeconomic and local political context in which they are deployed; and (3) the limits set by analyzing campaigns mainly in highly developed Western societies, which might constrain the observed “varieties of social network use” in a broader range of societies. Our research exploits the synergies of jointly analyzing Social Science One data with the data we have already gathered on (a) the 186 online electoral campaigns (in Twitter and Facebook) of congressional candidates that ran in Chile’s 2017 elections; (b) the “on the ground” campaigns of 17 additional candidates for which we also have observed online campaigns; (c) contextual data on candidate’s traits, electoral strategizing, campaign funding and spending, and districts political and socioeconomic characteristics; (d) the online presidential campaigns that occurred concurrently with the congressional campaign, inducing some candidates to exploit coattail effects; and (e) a database of 50 campaigns observed in the pre-Facebook era in comparable districts to those sampled in 2017. Our transdisciplinary team is already working together at Chile’s Millennium Institute for Foundational Research on Data, a leading research center in Latin America that specializes in assessing the sociopolitical impact of “data” in contemporary societies.

Research Team

Principal Investigator

Juan Pablo Luna

Professor of Political Science, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile

  • Bio ▾

    Juan Pablo Luna is professor of political science at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, with a joint appointment at the Instituto de Ciencia Política and at the Escuela de Gobierno. He received his BA in applied social sciences from the UCUDAL (Uruguay) and his PhD in political science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is the author of Segmented Representation: Political Party Strategies in Unequal Democracies (Oxford University Press, 2014) and has coauthored Latin American Party Systems (Cambridge University Press, 2010). In 2014, along with Cristobal Rovira, he coedited The Resilience of the Latin American Right (Johns Hopkins University Press). His work on political representation, state capacity, and organized crime has appeared in the following journals: Comparative Political Studies, Revista de Ciencia Política, the Journal of Latin American Studies, Latin American Politics and Society, Studies in Comparative International Development, Política y Gobierno, Democratization, Perfiles Latinoamericanos, and the Journal of Democracy. He is currently associate editor of Latin American Politics and Society and coedits Cambridge University Press Elements’ Politics and Society in Latin America.

Participants

Cristian Pérez-Muñoz

Associate Professor of Political Science, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile

  • Bio ▾

    Cristian Pérez-Muñoz is an associate professor of political science at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile and a junior researcher at the Millennium Institute for Foundational Research on Data. He earned his PhD and MA from the Department of Political Science at Washington University in St. Louis. His teaching and research interests include normative political theory, public policy, and applied ethics. He has published manuscripts and won major research grants on ethical aspects of redistributive programs such as tax policies, income distribution proposals, the production and provision of essential services, street-level charity programs, and welfare policies. His research in these areas has been published in Political Research Quarterly, Political Studies, The Political Quarterly, the Journal of Public Policy, the Journal of Social Philosophy, the Journal of Theoretical Politics, Critical Review of Social and Political Philosophy, and Social Theory and Practice, among others. He is also the coeditor of Revista de Ciencia Política (RCP).

Barbara Poblete

Assistant Professor of Computer Science, Universidad de Chile

  • Bio ▾

    Barbara Poblete is an assistant professor in the Computer Science Department of the Universidad de Chile and an associate researcher at the Millennium Institute for Foundational Research on Data. She holds a PhD in computer science from the Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Spain. She was a researcher for Yahoo! Labs for five years, first in Barcelona and then Santiago. Her research areas are web data mining, social network analysis, and web IR. She is an associate editor for the IEEE Transactions on Knowledge and Data Engineering journal, editorial board member for Foundations and Trends in Information Retrieval (FnTIR), and senior PC member for the conferences SIGIR and KDD (and PC member of several other top-tier conferences in her areas). Her work on time-sensitive credibility in microblogging platforms, published in WWW 2011 and in the Internet Research journal (2013), was the first on this particular topic (with ~2,300 citations according to Google Scholar), and has been featured in mainstream media such as Scientific American magazine, the Wall Street Journal, Slate, the Huffington Post, BBC News, and NPR.

Fernando Rosenblatt

Associate Professor of Political Science, Universidad Diego Portales

  • Bio ▾

    Fernando Rosenblatt is associate professor and chair of the Political Science Department at the Universidad Diego Portales, Chile. He studies the reproduction of activism in party organizations in Latin America. He has coauthored a study of the effects of positive incentives for compliant taxpayers in Montevideo, Uruguay, and has studied the effects of a housing policy in Uruguay. He has published in Comparative Political Studies, Party Politics, Latin American Politics and Society, Latin American Research Review, Democratization, Política y Gobierno, and Revista de Ciencia Política. His book, Party Vibrancy and Democracy in Latin America, was published in 2018 by Oxford University Press. In collaboration with Verónica Pérez and Rafael Piñeiro, he has a forthcoming book entitled How Party Activism Survives: Uruguay´s Frente Amplio, which will be published by Cambridge University Press.

Sergio Toro

Associate Professor of Political Science, Universidad de Concepción

  • Bio ▾

    Sergio Toro, PhD in political science, is associate professor and chair of DemoData (Informational Center for Democracy) at the University of Concepcion. His academic interests are comparative politics, Chilean politics, and data science for public policies. His research has been published in journals such as Journal of Legislative Studies, Electoral Studies, European Journal of Political Economy, Bulletin of Latin American Research, World Political Science Review, and Revista de Ciencia Política, among others. He was consultant for the United Nations Development Programme in Chile (UNDP), president of the Chilean Association of Political Science (ACCP) (2014–2016), and visiting scholar at universities in Spain, Ecuador, and the United States.

Sebastián Valenzuela

Associate Professor at the School of Communication & Associate Researcher of the Millennium Institute for Foundational Research on Data, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile

  • Bio ▾

    Sebastián Valenzuela is associate professor in the School of Communications at Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile and Tinker Visiting Professor in the University of Wisconsin–Madison’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication. His research concerns the role of journalism and social media on public opinion. More specifically, his work delves into three themes: (a) uses and effects of social media on citizenship, diffusion of information, and psychological well-being; (b) the influence of the news media on public opinion formation; and (c) the antecedents and consequences of informal political conversations. He is also an associate researcher at the Millennium Institute for Foundational Research on Data (IMFD) and the National Research Center for Integrated Disaster Risk Management (CIGIDEN). There, he studies information and misinformation acquisition on social media. He has authored more than 50 peer-reviewed publications, and is editor-in-chief of Cuadernos.info, a journal specialized in communications in Latin America, Portugal, and Spain. Relatedly, he chairs the Latin American advisory committee for Social Science One and sits on the editorial board of several publications, including Communication Research, the Journal of Communication, and the International Journal of Public Opinion Research. Valenzuela completed his PhD in 2011 at the University of Texas at Austin.

“I Read It on Facebook”: How Do Conversations on Social Media Escape the Agenda-Setting of News Media?

Sciences Po médialab

Abstract

We posit the following hypothesis regarding the circulation of news in the public space. With the advent of new digital technologies, the public space has split into two distinct yet deeply intertwined social and technological spaces. On the one hand, there is the traditional media arena mostly composed of journalists and politicians, which is still the place for defining public issues and the public agenda. On the other hand, the average citizen may or may not decide to share and comment on news stories on social media. In the former model, the agenda-setting role of media was essential to the framing of public opinion. With social media, each individual can easily select his or her own source of information. In turn, his choices may influence his greater circle of friends. We present the following fundamental question: How and in what way is Facebook reshaping news that the general public is exposed to? The US elections and the English Brexit have recently demonstrated how critical the question of news and misinformation circulation is for the sake of democracy. In this project we will measure two types of audiences for every French news outlet during the recent French presidential and legislative elections. Audiences refer to both the number of visits to a media outlet’s website and shares on Facebook. The Facebook URL Shares dataset will also offer the unique opportunity to examine the properties of news stories that stimulate conversation on social media.

Research Team

Principal Investigator

Jean-Philippe Cointet

Associate Professor, médialab, Sciences Po

  • Bio ▾

    Jean-Philippe Cointet holds a position as associate professor at Sciences Po médialab and develops research in computational sociology using various methodologies (network analysis, text analysis, machine learning, etc.). He is also an associate researcher at INCITE, a research center in the Columbia University Sociology Department. Since his PhD (defended in 2009), he has been working on the modeling of online discussions and social interactions. He also has experience in designing a large-scale infrastructure project. He created the platform CorText, an open online platform for the analysis of large textual corpora in social sciences.

Participants

Dominique Cardon

Associate Professor, médialab, Sciences Po

  • Bio ▾

    Dominique Cardon is head of the Sciences Po médialab. Originally trained as a political scientist, he is now a renowned scholar in digital sociology. He has written several essays and books on the governance of Wikipedia and public expression on social networks and blogs. His work tries to articulate an analysis of the digital public space and dynamics of public expression and social interaction online. More generally, he develops and uses digital methods to tackle social science research questions about political commitment, cultural practices, and online sociability. His more recent work investigates the social and political role of algorithms and artificial intelligence in our society.

Guillaume Plique

Research Engineer, médialab, Sciences Po

  • Bio ▾

    Guillaume Plique, 27 years old, is a research engineer at médialab. He was trained as a political scientist (master’s degree) and also graduated from the HETIC engineer school. He is a proficient developer (mostly Python and JavaScript) and also leads several open-source development projects related to text analysis, network visualization, and algorithmics. Having worked for national archives and local governments, he furthermore has significant experience with data and intellectual property issues. He speaks eight languages, including Latin and ancient Greek.

How Hyperlink Sharing on Facebook Influences Civic Engagement and Elections in Taiwan

National Chengchi University

Abstract

How sharing of political information/disinformation on social media influences democracy is an important and urgent global issue. Taiwan is the only democratic society in the Chinese-speaking sphere. Studying sharing by Taiwanese Facebook users allows us to understand the role of social media in this society and to see the patterns and effects of disinformation diffusion across societies. Technically, the aim of the project is to identify and characterize the most frequently shared URLs on Facebook by Taiwanese users in public events. By combining computational and qualitative methods, we aim to approximate the public’s opinions by analyzing the shared content. We seek to identify the sources of disinformation (i.e., fake news) and to characterize the mechanism of fake news formation in Taiwan. Additionally, the project will attempt to determine whether the echo-chamber effect takes place and how it is involved in the propagation of disinformation among Taiwanese Facebook users.

Research Team

Principal Investigator

Pai-lin Chen

Professor and Chairperson of the Department of Journalism, National Chengchi University

  • Bio ▾

    Dr. Pai-Lin Chen is currently professor and chairperson of the Department of Journalism at the National Chengchi University, Taiwan. His project focuses on the ecological changes of news organizations by analyzing online news content. It is a three-year grant from the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) in Taiwan. He has studied the use of social media during periods of major public events in the past few years. Most of his research is currently supported by an interdisciplinary team, with researchers from communications and computer science backgrounds. He teaches data journalism, social analytics, information visualization, etc.

Participants

Kung Chen

Professor and Director of Computer Center, National Chengchi University

  • Bio ▾

    Kung Chen is a professor in the Department of Computer Science at the National Chengchi University (NCCU), Taiwan. His research is focused on aspect-oriented software design, programming languages, and the interaction between programming languages and software design. Prior to joining NCCU, Dr. Chen worked in the software industry for a few years, and taught at National Taiwan University of Science and Technology and Tatung University. While in the industry, he was the chief architect for several web application development tools and frameworks. Recently, Chen finished an aspect-oriented design and implementation of declarative access control for web applications. With colleagues at National University of Singapore, he is developing a static and coherent aspect weaving system for higher-order functional languages. Chen is a co-organizer of the Asian Workshop on Aspect-Oriented Software Development (AAOSD) and a program committee member of the Fourth Asian Symposium on Programming Languages and Systems (APLAS 2006). He completed his PhD in computer science at Yale University in 1994, and his thesis is about a parametric extension of Haskell's type classes.

Yu-Chung Cheng

Associate Professor, National Chengchi University

  • Bio ▾

    Dr. Yu-Chung Cheng is currently an associate professor in the Department of Journalism, National Chengchi University (NCCU), Taiwan. She was educated at National Taiwan University (NTU) with a bachelor’s degree in zoology and at NCCU with a master’s degree in journalism. From 1999 to 2001, she served as a journalist for the Economical Daily News, a major financial newspaper in Taiwan. She studied at the Department of Journalism in NCCU and received her PhD degree in 2009. She was a postdoctoral scholar at NCCU from 2009 to 2011, and it was during this period of time that she began interdisciplinary collaborative research with computer scientists. Afterward, she joined Hsuan Chuang University as an assistant professor in 2011 and became an associate professor in 2015. She moved to NCCU as an associate professor in February 2019.

    Her research interests are social media, computational communicational methodology, data journalism, digital humanity, science and risk/crisis communication, and science and technology studies. Her online CV is on https://erenlai.academia.edu/YuchungCheng. Her email is yuchungc@nccu.edu.tw.

Shiuh-Feng Shih

Data Scientist, National Chengchi University

  • Bio ▾

    Mr. Shiuh-Feng Shih is currently a data scientist in the Department of Journalism, National Chengchi University (NCCU), Taiwan. He was educated at NCCU with a master’s degree in computer science. From 2013 to 2019, he served as a data scientist in several projects relating to mobile user behavior tracking, data visualization, machine learning for classifier, natural language processing, web information crawler, social media data analysis, and extended fields. He has experience in Python programming with scikit-learn, gensim, and jieba and database experience in MariaDB (MySQL), InfluxDB, and MSSQL. His email is jeffy.sf@gmail.com.

Measuring the Effects of Peer Sharing on Fake and Polarized News Consumption

Northeastern University

Abstract

Why do people consume and share fake news online? Previous work has shown that news consumption and sharing emerges from complex interactions among news sources, news content, and user characteristics: users consume and share ideologically aligned news and shun the opposite. This behavior is further complicated by fake news, which can amplify content’s ideological and emotional characteristics without the constraints of truth, and by peer sharing, which may reduce institutional barriers to fake news and amplify local, peer-to-peer polarization. Identifying the mechanisms by which peers amplify fake and polarized news remains challenging, however, because social media has coevolved with polarization and shifts in the news media landscape. To illuminate these mechanisms, we begin by developing new natural language processing (NLP) methods to measure the ideology and emotion of news content and to assess how ideology and emotion of news content affect sharing and consumption. Having established this baseline, we then exploit a natural discontinuity to identify specifically peer-related effects on sharing: recent public changes in the Facebook algorithm abruptly shifted the balance between peer- and media-sourced news, allowing us to use difference-in-difference and other longitudinal estimators to measure changes in polarized or fake news and discover how peer-sharing affects these tendencies. This combination of NLP, network, and discontinuity approaches should provide unique insights into the interactions between news, ideology, falsity, and peer sharing, and shed light on important questions such as how social media may have affected polarization, fake news, and political knowledge in the recent era.

Research Team

Principal Investigator

Nicholas Beauchamp

Assistant Professor of Political Science, Northeastern University

  • Bio ▾

    Nicholas Beauchamp is an assistant professor at Northeastern University in the Department of Political Science and a core faculty member of the Network Science Institute and the NULab for Text, Maps, and Networks. His research uses techniques from natural language processing, machine learning, Bayesian statistics, and network analysis to examine how discussion, argument, and deliberation affect political opinion in domains such as legislatures, campaigns, the judiciary, and social media. Recent work has included using Twitter data to model deliberation and to predict political polls; tracing hate language evolution in individuals online; modeling and visualizing political debates; using neural networks to predict votes from bill text; and algorithmically generated persuasive text. He is currently working on a larger series of projects that model political deliberation as the strategic exchange of ideas drawn from complex mental networks of interlinked beliefs.

Participants

David Lazer

Distinguished Professor of Political Science and Computer and Information Science, Northeastern University

  • Bio ▾

    David Lazer is a professor of political science and computer and information science and the codirector of the NULab for Texts, Maps, and Networks. Before joining the Northeastern faculty in fall 2009, he was an associate professor of public policy at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and director of its Program on Networked Governance. He holds a PhD in political science from the University of Michigan. Professor Lazer’s research centers on social networks; governance, or how the patterns of institutional relations yield functional or dysfunctional systems; and technology and its use in communication. An authority on social networks, he has written several papers on the diffusion of information among interest groups and between these groups and the government. He is the coeditor of Governance and Information Technology: From Electronic Government to Information Government and has also written extensively on the use of DNA in the criminal justice system.

Donghee Jo

Assistant Professor of Economics, Northeastern University

  • Bio ▾

    Donghee Jo is an assistant professor of economics at Northeastern University. He is a faculty affiliate with the Network Science Institute and NULab for Texts, Maps, and Networks. He specializes in political economy and development economics, and the current primary focuses of his research are political polarization in developed nations and propaganda in developing nations with nondemocratic regimes. He has led several experimental studies online—he developed a mobile news application and distributed this app to the general public of South Korea to experimentally study the effect of selective exposure to like-minded media. He also successfully ran an experiment in collaboration with BallotReady.org, a website that provides information about the candidates of elections in United States. BallotReady.org had 3.8 million unique users in the 2018 US general election, among which approximately 1 million users were included as experimental subjects. His works have been funded by the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab and Laura and John Arnold Foundation, and one of his works has appeared in the Washington Post. More information about him can be found at http://dongheejo.com/.

Kenneth Joseph

Assistant Professor of Computer Science and Engineering, State University of New York at Buffalo

  • Bio ▾

    Kenneth (Kenny) Joseph is an assistant professor in the Computer Science and Engineering Department at the University at Buffalo. Prior to that, he was a postdoc at Northeastern's Network Science Institute and a fellow at Harvard's Institute for Quantitative Social Science, and completed his PhD in societal computing at Carnegie Mellon University. His research interests include quantitative modeling of stereotypes and prejudice, and how such biases are obtained via social and traditional news media. Recent work has appear in a range of publications, including Science, WWW, and New Media & Society. You can find more information on his work at his website, http://kennyjoseph.github.io/.

Lu Wang

Assistant Professor of Computer Science, Northeastern University

  • Bio ▾

    Lu Wang is an assistant professor in Khoury College of Computer and Information Sciences at Northeastern University. She received her PhD in Computer Science from Cornell University and her bachelor’s degrees in intelligent science and technology and economics from Peking University. Her research mainly focuses on designing machine learning algorithms and statistical models for natural language processing (NLP) tasks, including abstractive text summarization, language generation, argument mining, information extraction, and their applications in interdisciplinary subjects (e.g., computational social science). Wang received an outstanding short paper award at ACL 2017 and a best paper nomination award at SIGDIAL 2012. Her group's work is funded by National Science Foundation (NSF), Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity (IARPA), and several industry gifts. More information about her research can be found at www.ccs.neu.edu/home/luwang/.

Do Fact-Checks Slow the Spread of Misinformation on Facebook and Twitter?

Harvard University

Abstract

A great deal of time and energy have been invested in fact-checking as a way of countering misinformation and false beliefs. Yet it remains unclear whether fact-checking actually decreases the influence of misinformation. Numerous lab-based and online experiments on fact-checking suggest that it can reduce belief in false claims. However, these studies examine the effects of fact-checks on individual-level cognition under artificial conditions. The dearth of population-level studies has left many important questions unanswered, and consequently, the efficacy of fact-checking in a real-world setting is still unclear. To fill this gap, this proposal aims to understand the efficacy of fact-checking at a societal level. We propose a study using historical Facebook and Twitter data that will examine four key research questions:

  1. In the days following the release of fact-checks, do shares of claims labeled false taper off on Facebook and Twitter?
  2. How are the effects of fact-checks on related claims mediated by sharer and sharer-friend ideology, region, and demographics?
  3. Does fact-checking affect the likelihood of a claim to recirculate?
  4. How does the distribution of Facebook user reactions to claims and fact-checks change over time, and do they interact?

Research Team

Principal Investigator

Matthew Baum

Marvin Kalb Professor of Global Communications, Professor of Public Policy, Harvard University

  • Bio ▾

    Matthew A. Baum (PhD, UC San Diego, 2000) is the Marvin Kalb Professor of Global Communications and professor of public policy at the Harvard Kennedy School. Dr. Baum's research focuses on the role of the mass media and public opinion in contemporary American politics and foreign policy, as well as on the role of misinformation in American politics. He conceived and co-organized a scholarly conference on fake news and misinformation at Harvard University in February 2017, entitled “Combating Fake News.” He is also creator of the “Combating Fake News” Google Group, which serves as a collaborative hub and intellectual sounding board for over 500 researchers interested in this substantive area. He is also co-lead-author of “The Science of Fake News,” which appeared in Science in March 2018, and currently serves as a member of the American Region subcommittee of the Social Science One project. His research has been published in over a dozen scholarly journals, such as the American Political Science Review, American Journal of Political Science, Journal of Politics, and International Organization.

Participants

Nicholas Beauchamp

Assistant Professor of Political Science, Northeastern University

  • Bio ▾

    Nicholas Beauchamp is an assistant professor of political science at Northeastern University. He received his PhD from the NYU Department of Politics in September 2012, specializing in US politics (political behavior, campaigns, opinion, political psychology, social media) and political methodology (quantitative text analysis, machine learning, Bayesian methods, agent-based models, networks). His dissertation develops new techniques in text analysis to model the interplay between speech, belief, and behavior in legislatures, campaign advertising, and online communication. His current research projects examine argument and long-term opinion change online, the spread and evolution of ideas over Twitter, and predicting and explaining Supreme Court decisions using the text of legal briefs.

Nic Dias

Researcher, Harvard University

  • Bio ▾

    Nic Dias is a researcher at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center. He leads scientific research undertaken by the center’s anti-misinformation initiative, the Information Disorder (ID) Lab, and helps devise the social monitoring workflows that power the lab. Dias’s research interests include how mis- and disinformation spread online, the effective correction of false beliefs, and how individuals and groups make content moderation decisions. He uses a variety of research methods including experiments, surveys, interviews, focus groups, and computational techniques.

Nir Grinberg

Postdoctoral Researcher, Northeastern University

  • Bio ▾

    Nir Grinberg is a research fellow at the Harvard Institute for Quantitative Social Science (IQSS) jointly with the Lazer Lab at the Network Science Institute of Northeastern University. He completed his PhD in computer science at Cornell University under the supervision of Professor Mor Naaman as part of the Jacobs Institute at Cornell Tech. During his PhD he interned at Facebook (twice), Yahoo! Labs, SocialFlow, and Bloomberg. Prior to Cornell, he received an MS in computer science from Rutgers University and a double major BSc in physics and computer science from Tel-Aviv University. In his research, he combines machine learning, natural language processing, and statistical methods to learn about human behavior in the real world using large-scale datasets. The principal goal of his research is to influence system design to enable people to allocate their attention more efficiently and effectively. His dissertation focused on computational methods in the study of individuals' attention online, for example to digital news or social media.

Cameron Hickey

Technology Manager, Harvard University

  • Bio ▾

    Cameron Hickey is an Emmy Award–winning journalist, cinematographer, and software developer and has covered science and technology for thePBS NewsHour with correspondent Miles O’Brien for the last 10 years. Since the 2016 election, he has focused on building tools to investigate misinformation on social media. At the Shorenstein Center at Harvard’s Kennedy School, Hickey leads the Information Disorder Lab, a research project focused on monitoring, investigating, and analyzing problematic content online.

David Lazer

Distinguished Professor of Political Science and Computer and Information Science, Northeastern University

  • Bio ▾

    David Lazer is a professor of political science and computer and information science and the codirector of the NULab for Texts, Maps, and Networks. Before joining the Northeastern faculty in fall 2009, he was an associate professor of public policy at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and director of its Program on Networked Governance. He holds a PhD in political science from the University of Michigan. Professor Lazer’s research centers on social networks; governance, or how the patterns of institutional relations yield functional or dysfunctional systems; and technology and its use in communication. An authority on social networks, he has written several papers on the diffusion of information among interest groups and between these groups and the government. He is the coeditor of Governance and Information Technology: From Electronic Government to Information Government and has also written extensively on the use of DNA in the criminal justice system.

Briony Swire-Thompson

Postdoctoral Researcher, Northeastern University

  • Bio ▾

    Briony Swire-Thompson is a postdoctoral researcher at Northeastern University’s Network Science Institute and a fellow at the Harvard Institute for Quantitative Social Sciences. Her research investigates what drives belief in inaccurate information, why certain individuals are predisposed to refrain from belief change even in the face of corrective evidence, and how corrections can be designed to maximize impact. Swire-Thompson’s PhD is in psychological science. Prior to joining Professor Lazer’s lab, she was with the Cognitive Science Laboratories at the University of Western Australia and was a Fulbright scholar at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Political Science Department.

Patterns of Facebook Interactions around Insular and Cross-Partisan Media Sources in the Run-up of the 2018 Italian Election

Università di Urbino Carlo Bo

Abstract

Before, during, and after the 2018 Italian election, several controversial cases raised concerns over the impact of problematic information on the democratic process. Mapping Italian News (MINE) was designed to address these concerns by analyzing a set of political news stories and their patterns of engagement on Facebook and Twitter. We estimated the political leaning and insularity of 634 news sources, found that populist parties tend to rely on insular media sources, and detected patterns of interactions on Facebook that seem to be significantly affected by the insularity of the source and the sentiment toward different political actors. This project is conceived as a follow-up of MINE. Limits in publicly available data hindered investigating the crucial question of whether the observed behaviors of online partisan communities are strategically organized or spontaneously grassroots. Grounded in existing literature, we thus designed a set of measures and related research questions to tackle this issue.

Research Team

Principal Investigator

Fabio Giglietto

Associate Professor, Università di Urbino Carlo Bo

  • Bio ▾

    Fabio Giglietto, PhD, is an associate professor at the Department of Communication Sciences, Humanities and International Studies at the University of Urbino Carlo Bo, where he also teaches social media analysis. His main research interests are theory of information, communication, and society with a specific focus on the relationship between social systems and new technologies. On these topics, he has published extensively in journals such as the Journal of Communication; Information, Communication and Society; Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media; Social Media + Society; and Social Science Computer Review.

    Since 2010, he has been a member of the board of the Research Committee 51 on Sociocybernetics of the International Sociological Association. He is also a member of the International Communication Association, the Association of Internet Researchers, and the Italian Association of Political Communication. Since 2014 he has been the editor of the Journal of Sociocybernetics (ISSN 1607-86667).

    In 2017, he led Mapping Italian News Media Political Coverage in the Lead-up of 2018 General Election (https://elezioni2018.news/). This project was supported, in part, by a grant from the Foundation Open Society Institute in cooperation with the Information Program of the Open Society Foundations.

    A full, up-to-date list of publications is available at https://goo.gl/pbXyBd.

Participants

Laura Iannelli

Assistant Professor, Università di Sassari

  • Bio ▾

    Laura Iannelli (PhD) is an assistant professor in sociology of culture and communication at the University of Sassari (Italy), where she teaches political communication, public relations, and digital media and communication.

    Her primary research addresses the complex practices of participation in the production and circulation of political information within the contemporary media ecosystems. She has extensively published on these topics. Her authored works include two monographs: Hybrid Politics: Media and Participation (Sage, 2016) and Facebook & co: Sociologia dei social media (Guerini, 2010). She is a member of the editorial board of the international scientific journal ICS - Information, Communication & Society.

    In 2017, she was granted principal investigator of a two-year research project entitled Facebook & Co: Disinformation in the Hybrid Media System by the Autonomous Region of Sardinia. The project developed innovative survey techniques that leverage the Facebook Ads system; a paper was published in 2018 in Social Science Computer Review. Since November 2017, she has participated in the research network activated on the project entitled Mapping Italian News Media Political Coverage in the Lead-up of 2018 General Election (MINE), funded by Open Society Foundations and coordinated by Professor Fabio Giglietto (University of Urbino).

Giada Marino

PhD Candidate, Università di Urbino Carlo Bo

  • Bio ▾

    Giada Marino is a PhD candidate at the University of Urbino Carlo Bo in sociology of communication, and her dissertation is focused on ephemeral user-generated content and online self-presentation. She is coauthor of the book chapter “Binge-Watching the Algorithmic Catalog: Making Sense of Netflix in the Aftermath of the Italian Launch,” in the volume Netflix at the Nexus: Content, Practice, and Production in Streaming Television, edited by Peter Lang (forthcoming). In February 2018, she attended the Digital Media Research Center Summer School at Queensland University of Technology. Since December 2017, she has been a member of Mapping Italian News Media Political Coverage in the Lead-up of 2018 General Election research team as a junior research assistant. In July 2017, she attended the Digital Methods Initiative Summer School at the University of Amsterdam.

Nicola Righetti

Postdoctoral Researcher, Università di Urbino Carlo Bo

  • Bio ▾

    Nicola Righetti, PhD in sociology and social research, is a research fellow at the University of Urbino Carlo Bo, member of the Mapping Italian News project team, and temporary professor of sociology at the University of Verona (Italy). His research interests are in the field of sociology of culture and communication, with a focus on digital and computational methods, data mining and text mining techniques, and R software.

Luca Rossi

Associate Professor, IT University of Copenhagen

  • Bio ▾

    Luca Rossi is associate professor in the Department of Digital Design of the IT University of Copenhagen and scientific coordinator of the Data Science & Society Lab. He is active in the field of digital methods for social sciences. His research has always been highly interdisciplinary, trying to connect traditional sociological approaches with computational approaches. He did research on online social network sites and online information propagation during crisis events. At the same time, he worked on extending social network analysis techniques for social media analysis. Within this field of research, he is working on new approaches for unstructured communities detection and mapping based on the study of multiplex networks.

Augusto Valeriani

Associate Professor, Università di Bologna

  • Bio ▾

    Augusto Valeriani (PhD, Siena University, Italy) is associate professor in sociology of communication at the Political and Social Sciences Department of the University of Bologna and codirector of the master’s in new media and marketing communication at BBS, the University of Bologna Business School. His research focuses on political communication, digital media, and journalism. He is also a member of the academic board of the PhD program in political and social sciences of the University of Bologna and was a visiting research fellow at the University of Westminster, London (2005–2006) and at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania (2009–2010). Valeriani has published three monographs and several book chapters on topics related to journalism studies, political communication, and global communication, with a focus on digital media. He has authored articles appearing in several international journals, including Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication; New Media and Society; International Journal of Press/Politics; Information, Communication and Society; Middle East Journal of Culture and Communication; Sage Open; and Italian Political Science Review.

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