CITAP Digital Politics

Understanding how platforms, law, and ethics shape democracy

We need new ways of understanding the policies that technology platforms have in place, how they are interpreted, and the commercial, political, and legal considerations that shape internal decision-making. This research stream provides important context for understanding the role of social media regulation of speech regulation in our democracy.

Featured Work

Platforms & Politics

CITAP Digital Politics analyzes platform governance in light of current and ongoing threats to the democratic process. We offer a series of reports that provide important context for understanding how social media companies navigate crises, what they can potentially do to preclude them in the future, and how they can strengthen democracy in the United States and around the world.

Legal & Regulatory

Both federal and state laws can directly target the content of election-related speech. Although the federal government has largely stayed out of regulating the content of election-related speech, the states have been surprisingly active in passing laws that prohibit false statements associated with elections.

First Amendment limits on state laws targeting election misinformation

Hosted by the UNC Center for Media Law and Policy, David Ardia, Amanda Reid, and Evan Ringel led a discussion about their recent article titled "First Amendment Limits on State Laws Targeting Election Misinformation." The article reviews more than 125 state statutes to conclude that election misinformation regulation varies widely in the types of speech they target and the level of fault they require, with many statutes suffering from serious constitutional deficiencies.


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Digital Politics publications

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 Read More

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 Read More

‘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 Read More

Social media policy in two dimensions

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

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 Read More

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 Read More

#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 Read More

“Too Soon” to Count? How Gender and Race Cloud Notability Considerations on Wikipedia

March 29, 2023
Wikipedia’s editors are more likely to consider you “notable” if you’re a white man Read More

The CITAP Digital Politics Team

Daniel Kreiss standing in a sunlit hallway

Daniel Kreiss

Principal Researcher, CITAP

Cato Distinguished Associate Professor
UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media

Kreiss’s research explores the impact of technological change on the public sphere and political practice. In his most recent book, In Taking Our Country Back: The Crafting of Networked Politics from Howard Dean to Barack Obama (Oxford University Press, 2012), Kreiss presents the history of new media and Democratic Party political campaigning over the last decade. Kreiss is an affiliated fellow of the Information Society Project at Yale Law School and received a PhD in Communication from Stanford University.


Bridget Barrett

Bridget Barrett is a Ph.D. student and Roy H. Park Fellow in the Hussman School of Journalism and Media and studies new media in political advertising. Bridget is interested in the intersection of digital marketing and politics, like how technologies developed for the commercial advertising industry impact political messaging online.

Headshot of Victoria Smith Ekstrand

Tori Ekstrand

CITAP Faculty Affiliate

Associate Professor, UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media

Victoria “Tori” Smith Ekstrand is an Associate Professor at the UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media and is currently serving a three-year term at the UNC Graduate School as the Royster Distinguished Professor for Graduate Education. Her research has focused on critical and interdisciplinary perspectives in media law and free expression, with research on anonymous speech, campus free expression debates, the trademarking of social movement hashtags, online accessibility issues for people with disabilities, and problems with regulating online political advertising.

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Amanda Reid

CITAP Faculty Affiliate

Associate Professor, UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media

Amanda Reid is an Associate Professor in the UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media, an adjunct professor at the UNC School of Law, and Faculty Co-Director of the UNC Center for Media Law and Policy. Her interdisciplinary legal scholarship analyzes meaning-making, including how we make, create, and interpret cultural artifacts around us. She graduated with high honors from the University of Florida Levin College of Law, and she earned a Ph.D. from the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications.

Evan Ringel

Evan Ringel

Research Lead: Regulation of Election-Related Speech

PhD Candidate, Hussman School of Journalism and Media

Evan Ringel is a Ph.D. Park fellow at the Hussman School of Journalism and Media at UNC-Chapel Hill. He holds a J.D. from the University of North Carolina School of Law and an M.A. from Hussman. Evan’s research focuses on the intersection between the First Amendment, civil rights, and government regulation, especially at the state and local level.

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David Ardia

CITAP Faculty Affiliate

Reef C. Ivey II Excellence Fund Term Professor of Law, Co-Director of the Center for Media Law and Policy, and Associate Professor of Law

David Ardia is an Associate Professor of Law at the UNC School of Law and serves as the faculty co-director of the UNC Center for Media Law and Policy. He also holds a secondary appointment as an Assistant professor at the UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media. Before joining the UNC faculty, he was a fellow at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University, where he founded and directed the Berkman Center’s Digital Media Law Project.

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Erik Brooks

PhD Student, UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media