At CITAP, 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—shapes unequal information ecosystem dynamics
  • Prioritizing questions of power, institutions, and economic, social, cultural, and technological structures
  • Making clear foundational commitments to equality and justice

Common topics found in our work include

  • Political processes: Politics happen online and offline, and technology platforms shape how we think about politics. We study these shifts and what they mean for our public life.
  • Democracy & equality: Digital communication poses threats and offers promises(?) to democracy worldwide. We explore how democratic movements and equality evolve alongside rapid societal and technological change.
  • Mis- & disinformation: False and low-quality information generates revenue and power for its creators while undermining public trust. We seek to understand how such campaigns thrive and how to counter them.
  • Platforms, networks, & infrastructure: Technology platforms are modern forms of infrastructure, and how they're designed and operated influences the operation of power. We research how platforms shape our society.

Research Projects

The Political and Civic Applications Division (PCAD): PCAD develops software to support research into information environments. Its first application, PIEGraph, collects full Twitter feed data from a representative panel of participants, enabling a holistic study of the role of low-quality information in context. Their latest release, PykTok, is a TikTok scraper to capture videos and metadata for research.

Critical Disinformation Studies: The concept of disinformation does not account for vast social, cultural, and political differences in how people distinguish between legitimate and illegitimate forms of persuasion—or the long histories behind strategically false information. The Critical Disinfo Studies project rethinks the assumptions behind disinformation research and expands on what “counts” as disinformation.

CITAP Digital Politics: Tech platforms and digital media have fundamentally changed electoral politics. CITAP Digital Politics publishes resources tracking and analyzing how platform policies, state laws, and ethics shape how campaigns communicate with voters. Recent reports include tracking platform policies on U.S. political speech and state laws governing election misinformation.

Disinformation in Context (DisC): DisC investigates how people come to believe fringe, extremist, and conspiratorial views they encounter online. DisC researchers spend time in fringe internet communities to understand the complexities of “radicalization" and focus on how power and identity shape these communities' beliefs.

The Keyword Integrity and Learning Lab (KWILL): The KWILL team seeks to identify search keywords curated for nefarious purposes and understand how these keywords draw on their target communities’ identities and deep stories. Their work includes efforts to predict keyword curation before data voids are filled and to understand how search keywords are used across different languages and cultural contexts.

Future Journalism: Widespread social media usage has changed the business model and practice of journalism, while threats to democratic governance require new frames for covering politics and providing accountability. The Future Journalism project produces insights and recommendations for navigating these changes.


Research Outputs

Transparency reports as CSR reports

November 1, 2023
How can we understand the motivations, audiences, and meanings of transparency reports produced by information and communications technology (ICT) companies

CNN Can Kiss My As$

October 18, 2023
Who in the United States consumes far-right news media, and what does this consumption mean for American democracy

Regulating Facial Recognition Technology

October 9, 2023
We analyze the regulatory patchwork used by state and local policymakers to govern facial recognition technology in the absence of federal legislation

Platforms are Abandoning U.S. Democracy

September 26, 2023
Bridget Barrett and Daniel Kreiss argue platforms risk repeating the mistakes of the 2016 election nearly eight years on

A review and provocation: On polarization and platforms

September 26, 2023
Is increasing polarization—the distance between politically meaningful groups in society—inherently bad for democracy

‘Do your own research’: affordance activation and disinformation spread

September 20, 2023
We explain how pundits, propagandists, and conspiracy theorists ‘activate affordances’ to validate their claims

Social media policy in two dimensions

September 14, 2023
American public opinion on who should be responsible for content governance is complicated

Recentering power: conceptualizing counterpublics and defensive publics

June 19, 2023
What do researchers lose by failing to consider power when studying digital networks and right-wing publics

A Review and Provocation: On Polarization and Platforms

April 20, 2023
Polarization is the necessary byproduct of the struggle to realize democracy in unequal societies

#Politicalcommunicationsowhite: Race and Politics in Nine Communication Journals, 1991-2021

April 6, 2023
Understanding communication requires accounting for social and cultural difference, especially race and ethnicity