The Center for Information, Technology, and Public Life (CITAP) at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill researches the intersection of politics and digital technology, studying technologies in the context of the people who design, use, and govern them. In the rapidly growing field of research on the role of technology in our society, CITAP’s work is distinctive, uniting multiple fields of study and methodological approaches with a shared Southern, public-institutional view with strong shared research values.
At CITAP, we recognize that effective analysis of technology platforms and information systems requires
- A holistic approach grounded in history, society, culture, and politics
- Analyzing how social differences—including race and ethnicity, gender, class, and sexual identity—shape unequal information ecosystem dynamics
- Prioritizing questions of power, institutions, and economic, social, cultural, and technological structures
- Making clear foundational commitments to equality and justice
Common topics in our work include:
- Political processes: Technological tools increasingly interact with our political systems and changes how society thinks about politics. Our work addresses political mechanisms like elections, digital advertising, and communication to better understand these shifts and what they mean for the political landscape.
- Democracy and equality: The rise of digital communication simultaneously poses threats and offers promise to democracies worldwide. We explore the ways in which democratic practices and equality evolve alongside rapid societal and technological change.
- Mis- and disinformation: False and low-quality information sources generate revenue and power for their creators while undermining public trust. CITAP research seeks to understand how mis- and disinformation campaigns are created and spread and how they can be counteracted.
- Platforms, networks, and infrastructure: There is a growing awareness of the relationship between communication technologies and the power dynamics that shape society. CITAP works to unearth and explore these dynamics through studies of various communication platforms.
CITAP brings together principal researchers Deen Freelon, Daniel Kreiss, Alice Marwick, and Zeynep Tufekci, and senior faculty researchers Shannon McGregor, Tressie McMillan Cottom, and Francesca Tripodi.
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CITAP Digital Politics
Platforms and digital media have fundamentally changed electoral politics. Launched in January 2020, citapdigitalpolitics.com offers a set of resources for analyzing how platforms, law, and ethics shape the ways campaigns communicate with voters.
Videos of CITAP Affiliates Discussing Their Research
“CITAP capitalizes on the fact that Carolina is home to some of the nation’s leading communication, information, journalism and legal scholars, as well as highly regarded centers focused on media law and innovation and sustainability in local media. We envision the center as a crucible for ideas and a living laboratory for understanding the core information needs of American democracy and other socio-political systems.”
– Gary Marchionini, Dean and Cary C. Boshamer Distinguished Professor
UNC School of Information and Library Science
CITAP is made possible through the institutional support of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and gifts from: