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.
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.
We recognize that effective analysis of technology platforms and information systems requires:
- A holistic approach grounded in history, society, culture, and politics;
- Centering analyses of how social stratification/differentiation—including race and ethnicity, gender, class, and sexual identity—shapes ecosystem dynamics;
- Prioritizing questions of power, institutions, and economic, social, cultural, and technological structures; and,
- Making clear normative commitments to equality and justice.
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.
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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: