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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

Event: Discussing The Promise of Access with Daniel Greene

Join CITAP on Friday, September 10 for a discussion of The Promise of Access with author Daniel Greene and CITAP researchers Alice Marwick and Tressie McMillan Cottom. The panel will take place in the Pleasants Family Assembly Room in Wilson … Continued

a map of the United States with 48 states in blue and Vermont and Maine in gold

New report: State Regulation of Election-Related Speech in the U.S.

Today, the UNC Center for Media Law and Policy, in partnership with the Center for Information, Technology, and Public Life (CITAP), published a research report titled State Regulation of Election-Related Speech in the U.S.: An Overview and Comparative Analysis. The report … Continued

Announcing the 2021-22 CITAP affiliate community

The Center for Information, Technology, and Public Life (CITAP) is pleased to welcome its 2021-2022 cohort of faculty, postdoctoral, and graduate student affiliates. This year’s affiliates represent institutions spanning the Research Triangle and the globe, including North Carolina Central University, … Continued

a diagram connecting scientific motivation to designing data collection or defining the use of existing data to construct measures, test, explore, and create analysis.

Measurements that matter

How should social science make use of the vast new stores of data generated by modern technologies? Last week in Nature, Deen Freelon and his co-authors David Lazer, Eszter Hargittai, Sandra Gonzalez-Bailon, Kevin Munger, Katherine Ognyanova, & Jason Radford grappled … 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.


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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