News and Views
News from CITAP
New Carolina research center to address 21st century questions on digital information
With $5 million in support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Carolina will establish the Center for Information, Technology, and Public Life. Drawing on some of the world’s leading experts in information science, media and journalism, communication and law, CITAP will answer defining questions about the changing nature of society and politics in the digital age. Click to read more.
“The Advantage of Understanding: Equipping Students and Society to Confront Misinformation” by Kevin M. Guskiewicz, Interim Chancellor, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
“Bringing Research up to Speed with the Challenges of the Digital Era” by Zeynep Tufekci, SILS Associate Professor
What’s the line between news and misinformation? UNC is working to find out – Russ Bowen (WNCN) Jul 31, 2019 – How do those articles and posts that seem to fall in line with a person’s values and ideals find them on social media? How about the fake stories meant to prey on a person’s fears? Who’s keeping track of all this? The newly formed and funded UNC Center for Information, Technology, and Public Life is starting to study how it works and how to better control it. Dr. Zeynep Tufekci and Dr. Deen Freelon are helping to lead the effort at UNC.
New UNC Center to Research Technology’s Impact on Democracy – Brighton McConnell (WCHL) Jul 24, 2019 – The Center for Information, Technology, and Public Life will look to discover empirical numbers on ways technologies impact and interact with society. Topics like fake news, the sales of data to advertisers, social media influence on political elections and the entire information environment are all key issues that will be researched.
Researching Democracy in the Digital Age – Lindsay McKenzie (Inside Higher Ed) July 24, 2019 – Leaders at the Knight Foundation, a nonprofit organization best known for supporting journalism and the media, this week announced $50 million in funding for 11 universities and research institutions to support research exploring how social media is influencing democracy. Half of the funding will be used to create new cross-disciplinary research centers at Carnegie Mellon University, George Washington University, New York University, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of Washington.
New UNC center to study information in the digital age – Will Michaels (WUNC) Jul 24, 2019 – School of Information and Library Science Dean and Professor Gary Marchionini discusses the new Center for Information, Technology, and Public Life.
The Technology 202: Knight Foundation invests $50 million into research on tech’s impact on democracy – Cat Zakrzewski (Washington Post) July 22, 2019 – A nonprofit with deep ties to the newspaper industry is investing $50 million into research on technology’s impact on democracy — from countering online disinformation to how companies such as Facebook and YouTube impact public opinion… The foundation plans to stand up long-term research centers on the intersection of technology and politics at five universities: Carnegie Mellon University, George Washington University, New York University, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of Washington. The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation is also investing in several of the centers.
- Also picked up by the San Francisco Gate
UNC to launch research focused on effects of social media, ‘fake news’ – Seth Gulledge (Triangle Business Journal) July 22, 2019 – As social media becomes a dominant source of news and information, new funding will allow UNC-Chapel Hill to study the impacts of the growing cultural phenomenon.
Fake news?: New UNC Chapel Hill Center plans to investigate, keep it real – WRAL Tech Wire July 22, 2019 – Conspiracy theories, hoaxes, rumors, fake news. “We’re in a time where anyone can create information and put it out on the internet,” said Alice Marwick, UNC Chapel Hill’s assistant professor of communication.
Counteracting fake news and privacy invasions: UNC center set to examine digital life – Preston Lennon (Daily Tar Heel) July 22, 2019 – In a digital landscape ripe with questions about privacy, regulations for social media platforms and uncertainty about how consumer data is being used, UNC established the Center for Information, Technology and Public Life — hoping to gather empirical data on some of the 21st century’s underlying phenomena.
Knight Foundation to invest $50 million to strengthen democracy in the digital age – David Neal (Miami Herald) July 22, 2019 – The Knight Foundation will give $5 million each to the following universities that are creating cross-disciplinary research programs analyzing the impact that social media and big data are having on democracy and politics: Carnegie Mellon; George Washington; NYU; the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; and the University of Washington.
Watch and Learn
For additional books and public reports, go the CITAP Investigators page and link to each faculty member’s homepage.
Media outlets regularly seek expert insights from CITAP investigators. Click the links below for recent stories and analyses featuring their research and commentary.
We need a digital infrastructure that serves humanity
UNC School of Information and Library Science (SILS) Associate Professor Zeynep Tufekci discusses hate speech research and the influence of artificial intelligence in her keynote address for UC-Berkeley’s 2019 Digital Humanities Fair.
Altruism Still Fuels the Web. Businesses Love to Exploit It
WIRED (Aug. 2019)
UNC School of Information and Library Science (SILS) Associate Professor Zeynep Tufekci examines the benefits and pitfalls of open source projects.
Trump campaign ads that claim invasion at the Southern border have many outraged
KCBS Radio, San Francisco Bay area (Aug. 2019)
UNC School of Media and Journalism Associate Professor Daniel Kreiss is a guest on KCBS talking about Facebook ads recently used by the President Trump re-election campaign
Why online communities that breed hate and violence are so hard to control
PBS NewsHour (Aug. 2019)
Communication Assistant Professor Alice Marwick speaks with PBS NewsHour about online extremism and what technology companies can do to combat it.
UNC professor studies online extremism as hate groups on the rise in NC
WRAL (Aug. 2019)
Communication Assistant Professor Alice Marwick talks about online extremism and how misinformation, disinformation, and fake news have become more widespread and problematic since 2016.
Are Google and Facebook censoring conservatives? The problem is more widespread than that
The Washington Post (Aug. 2019)
UNC School of Media and Journalism Associate Professor Daniel Kreiss and University of Utah Assistant Professor Shannon McGregor write about their research on whether social media platforms censor certain political views.
New Netflix documentary on Cambridge Analytica doubles as a mystery
The Wall Street Journal (July 2019)
Daniel Kreiss, UNC School of Media and Journalism Associate Professor, talks about whether Cambridge Analytica’s methods had an impact on the 2016 presidential election.
The internet has made dupes – and cynics – of us all
Wired (June 2019)
UNC School of Information and Library Science Associate Professor Zeynep Tufekci explains how the proliferation of online fakes and frauds are quickly turning the internet into a “low-trust society,” which can have serious repercussions for people and businesses.
Focus Carolina: Deen Freelon
Chapelboro (June 2019)
UNC School of Media and Journalism Associate Professor Deen Freelon talks about his work studying how citizens express their political opinions through social media.
Facebook curbs incentives to sell political ads ahead of 2020 election
The Wall Street Journal (May 2019)
UNC School of Media and Journalism Associate Professor Daniel Kreiss talks about tech companies and political ads; the article also cites Kreiss’s related research.
The existential crisis plaguing online extremism researchers
Wired (May 2019)
Communication department Assistant Professor Alice Marwick discusses the current state of researching online extremism.
“Think You’re Discreet Online? Think Again”
New York Times (April 2019)
UNC School of Information and Library Science Associate Professor Zeynep Tufekci discusses the pros and cons of data inference, how such tools can aid public health, but also impede an individual’s ability to get a job, insurance, housing, and more.
‘One of New Zealand’s darkest days’: The Christchurch mosque attack and what we know so far
KPCC – Southern California Public Radio, “AirTalk” (March 2019)
Communication department Assistant Professor Alice Marwick is a guest on “AirTalk” discussing the recent shootings in New Zealand.
The New Zealand shooting shows how YouTube and Facebook spread hate and violent images — yet again
The Washington Post (March 2019)
Communication department Assistant Professor Alice Marwick talks about how large technology companies have a responsibility to govern their platforms.
Why people post fake news
Vice (March 2019)
Communication department Assistant Professor Alice Marwick talks about why people share fake information. Vice also writes about her related research.
Machines Shouldn’t Have to Spy On Us to Learn
Wired (March 2019)
UNC School of Information and Library Science Associate Professor Zeynep Tufekci examines the need to stop excessive data collection practices for machine learning (ML), and to develop privacy-preserving ML methods.
The Imperfect Truth About Finding Facts in a World of Fakes
Wired (Feb. 2019)
UNC School of Information and Library Science Associate Professor Zeynep Tufekci discusses how the loss of credibility in the online era has created a need for digital verification by means of cryptographic digital signing or blockchain databases.
The tech industry’s 2020 Trump trap
Politico (Feb. 2019)
Politico speaks with UNC School of Media and Journalism Associate Professor Daniel Kreiss about Facebook and Google’s sales strategy and cites his research on the role tech companies had in helping the Trump campaign in the last presidential election cycle.
In a New York Times profile, Rep. Steve King once again defends white nationalism
The Washington Post (Jan. 2019)
The Washington Post quotes UNC School of Media and Journalism Associate Professor Daniel Kreiss on how “the face of white supremacy has changed in important ways” that allowed the idea to become more publicly visible.
Attack of the Zombie Baby Monitors
Scientific American (Jan. 2019)
UNC School of Information and Library Science (SILS) Associate Professor Zeynep Tufekci explains how IoT devices are vulnerable against a program called Mirai, which enables hackers to chain millions of devices into a botnet that can target a website and render it inaccessible.
An Avalanche of Speech Can Bury Democracy
Politico (Sept. 2018)
UNC School of Information and Library Science Associate Professor Zeynep Tufekci explains how the excess of information, made possible by digital tools and social media platforms, distracts people from the important information.
The Facebook Dilemma
PBS Frontline (Oct. 2018)
UNC School of Information and Library Science (SILS) Associate Professor Zeynep Tufekci is prominently featured in the two-part documentary The Facebook Dilemma by Frontline PBS. She discusses the controversies surrounding Facebook’s role in the election, the leak of user data, and the violence triggered through content on its platform.
Tufekci has repeatedly raised alarms about Facebook’s business model and its impact social and democratic institutions. In the spring of 2018, she wrote a analyses for WIRED Magazine titled “Why Zuckerberg’s 14-Year Aplogy Tour Hasn’t Fixed Facebook,” and an op-ed for the New York Times titled “We Already Know How to Protect Ourselves From Facebook.” Even before the Cambridge Analytica debacle, she voiced concerns in interviews and editorials, including “Facebook’s Ad Scandal Isn’t a ‘Fail,’ It’s a Feature from September 2017.
The Election Has Already Been Hacked
New York Times (Nov. 2018)
UNC School of Information and Library Science Associate Professor Zeynep Tufekci argues that even if no actual foreign or domestic tampering occurs, the 2018 mid-term election has been compromised because so many people now doubt the legitimacy of the process.
Podcasts help extremists get their message out
CNN (Nov. 2018)
Communication department Assistant Professor Alice Marwick discusses how some individuals use podcasts to spread hateful messages.
‘Success’ on YouTube still means a life of poverty
Bloomberg (Feb. 2018)
Communication department Assistant Professor Alice Marwick shares the disparity between incomes of individuals on network TV and on YouTube.
How social media took us from Tahrir Square to Donald Trump
MIT Technology Review (Aug. 2018)
UNC School of Information and Library Science Associate Professor Zeynep Tufekci explains how digital technologies went from instruments for spreading democracy to weapons for attacking it.
‘Weaponized ad technology’: Facebook’s moneymaker gets a critical eye
The New York Times (Aug. 2018)
UNC School of Media and Journalism Associate Professor Daniel Kreiss talks about the downside to overcorrecting too much when it comes to political microtargeting.
Facebook, Google and Twitter shine light on campaign ads — but only so far
NBC News (Sept. 2018)
School of Media and Journalism Associate Professor Daniel Kreiss talks about Facebook ads and related loopholes.
The biggest spender of political ads on Facebook? President Trump
The New York Times (July 2018)
UNC School of Media and Journalism Associate Professor Daniel Kreiss shares why he thinks a recent New York University study is an “important initial analysis” of Facebook’s political ad database.
Facebook is Trying to Hire News Credibility Specialists
Business Insider (June 2018)
UNC School of Media and Journalism Associate Professor Daniel Kreiss discusses the benefits and challenges of Facebook’s plans to hire credibility specialists to evaluate news postings.
The Supreme Court and Sharia law: How a fake-news story spreads
Politico (May 2018)
Research by School of Media and Journalism Associate Professor Daniel Kreiss is cited in this story exploring why people share fake-news online.
Digitization, Digitalization, and Digital Transformation: Confuse Them at Your Peril
Forbes (April 2018)
Research by School of Media and Journalism Associate Professor Daniel Kreiss is used to help identify important differentiations in terms associated with digital transformation.
How will Google’s innovation continue beyond its 20th year?
The Conversation (Sept. 2018)
UNC School of Information and Library Science Dean Gary Marchionini writes about the origins of Google, current controversy about the company’s practices and where the company could head in the future.
How #HimToo became the anti #MeToo of the Kavanaugh hearings
Wired (Sept. 2018)
UNC School of Media and Journalism Associate Professor Deen Freelon shares how a hashtag, #HimToo, has shifted over time.
Two charts showing how the mainstream media gets minorities wrong
Fast Company (Feb. 2018)
UNC School of Media and Journalism Associate Professor Deen Freelon talks about research that looked into the sentiment of tweets about media coverage by different communities.
It’s the (Democracy-Poisoning) Golden Age of Free Speech
Wired (Jan. 2018)
UNC School of Information and Library Science Associate Professor Zeynep Tufekci explains that new censorship strategies often include the spread of disinformation, bots with intentions to troll and distract, and harassment campaigns. (Jan. 2018)
How to fix Facebook? We asked 9 experts
The New York Times (Oct. 2017)
Communication department Assistant Professor Alice Marwick discusses why Facebook should let users sort their news feeds chronologically.
Red pilled: My bizarre week using the alt-right’s vision of the internet
Wired (Sept. 2017)
Communications department Assistant Professor Alice Marwick shares how the way the alt-right recruits individuals is not that different from other groups.
Twitter finds meaning (and madness) under Donald Trump
The Ringer (July 2017)
UNC School of Media and Journalism Associate Professor Deen Freelon discusses how Donald Trump has changed Twitter.
Mark Cuban says Twitter ‘reaches only 15% of the population’
PolitiFact Texas (July 2017)
UNC School of Media and Journalism Associate Professor Deen Freelon helps PolitiFact Texas discern whether a recent comment by Mark Cuban is true.
Parental Concerns: Social Media Posts Create a Digital Footprint for Children
WRAL (Feb. 2016)
UNC School of Information and Library Science Dean Gary Marchionini and alum Evan Carroll discuss issues related to parents putting images of their children online.