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People, Platforms, & Power

The Center for Information, Technology, and Public Life (CITAP) is dedicated to understanding the growing impact of the internet, social media, and other forms of digital information sharing in the context of the people who design, use, and govern them.


CITAP explores technology as it’s embedded in societies structured by economics, race, politics, culture, and more. Common themes found in our work include:

  • Coding inequality: New technologies frequently recreate and reinvent historical inequalities. We explore the interplay of technology and bias, and contextualize it in light of broader social, economic, and political shifts.
  • Networked publics: Social media enable new forms of collaboration and connection. We study how people come together, coordinate, organize, and move on- and offline.
  • Platform governance: Given the significant role social platforms play in politics and journalism, we consider how tech companies amplify and regulate user speech, set and enforce internal policies, and how these decisions shape public discourse.
  • Identity & disinformation: Social media amplifies content that triggers strong emotion, while political discourse increasingly appeals to audience identity. Our research examines how mis- and disinformation plays on deeper social narratives.


Photos of Zeynep Tufekci, Alice Marwick, Daniel Kreiss, and Deen Freelon
Photos of Francesca Tripodi, Tressie McMillan Cottom, and Shannon McGregor

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.

Our Approach

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


Latest News

Morally Motivated Networked Harassment as Normative Reinforcement

This week, Alice Marwick published a new piece in Social Media & Society. “Morally Motivated Networked Harassment as Normative Reinforcement” explores how communities band together to reinforce their shared moral norms by harassing perceived violations of those norms. She sums … Continued

Image of a tweet that reads If you feel like you have been left to your own devices to fend for yourself in academia during this pandemic and you realize it's impossible doing this alone... well, we agree. New pub in Communication, Culture & Critique.

Academic Caregivers on Organizational and Community Resilience in Academia

Welcoming a new piece from CITAP senior faculty researcher Shannon McGregor and co-authors Sun Joo (Grace) Ahn, Emily T. Cripe, Brooke Foucault Welles, Katy E. Pearce, Nikki Usher, & Jessica Vitak on the need for institutional support for crises. Crises, … Continued

icon representing a network of people

Call for 2021-22 CITAP affiliates

Should you be a part of the CITAP affiliate community? We’re now accepting applications for accepting applications for both Faculty and Graduate Student Affiliates for the 2021-2022 academic year. Affiliates can come from a broad range of academic and research … Continued

Power in Ideas cover image

New book: Power in Ideas

CITAP celebrates the release of Power in Ideas, by Kirsten Adams and Daniel Kreiss. The book offers three case studies on how ideas emerge, acquire legitimacy, travel across fields, and ultimately become powerful in political communication. They trace the histories … Continued

CITAP Digital Politics

Platforms and digital media have fundamentally changed electoral politics. Launched in January 2020, offers a set of resources for analyzing how platforms, law, and ethics shape the ways campaigns communicate with voters.


Connect with CITAP

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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:

Knight Foundation Hewlett Foundation Luminate