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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.


Research

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.

Experts

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;
  • 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.

Latest News

Zeynep Tufekçi talks into a microphone

SILS and CITAP congratulate Zeynep Tufekci on visiting professorship at Columbia

The UNC School of Information and Library Science (SILS) and Center for Information, Technology, and Public Life (CITAP) congratulate Associate Professor Zeynep Tufekci on joining the Craig Newmark Center for Journalism Ethics and Security at the Columbia University School of … Continued

Cover of CDS Syllabus

Launching the Critical Disinformation Syllabus

Many of the stories that pundits, journalists, and scholars tell about disinformation begin with the 2016 US presidential election and focus on the role of social media platforms in spreading and generating false content. At their worst, these narratives imply … Continued

cartoon of a protest showing flags and fists

“We Dissect Stupidity and Respond to It”: Response Videos and Networked Harassment on YouTube

When remix culture gets ugly: in American Behavioral Scientist, Alice Marwick, Becca Lewis, and Will Partin dig into YouTube’s tradition of “response videos” and how they drive harassment campaigns. In their work, Dr. Marwick and her co-authors review the cycle … Continued

Legitimating a platform: evidence of journalists’ role in transferring authority to Twitter

In a review of news stories from 2018, Shannon McGregor and Logan Molyneux found that, when relying on tweets in a story, journalists “spent precious few words adding context, qualifiers, or modifiers.” They find no evidence that journalists citing tweets … Continued


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.

  

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