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

Children Online Safety Legislation (OCASL) – A Primer

June 5, 2024

An analysis of the legislation to protect child safety online, driven by moral panic rather than evidence, argues that it is ineffective and harms privacy and free expression.

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Preventing Tech-Fueled Political Violence: What online platforms can do to ensure they do not contribute to election-related violence

May 22, 2024

With extremist militias mobilizing ahead of the 2024 election, platforms must urgently address electoral threats to ensure a peaceful conduct of elections and the holding and transfer of power. 

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Patrons of commerce: asymmetrical reciprocity and moral economies of platform power

May 21, 2024

Aaron Shapiro, Courtlyn Pippert, Jacob Smith & Zari A. Taylor investigate what platforms owe their users and vice versa, using asymmetrical reciprocity to critique platform power and showing through vignettes how users push back against exploitative policies.

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Safeguarding the Peaceful Transfer of Power: Pro-Democracy Electoral Frames and Journalist Coverage of Election Deniers During the 2022 U.S. Midterm Elections

May 7, 2024

Hesoo Jang and Daniel Kreiss find that journalists repeatedly fail to direct public attention to how election denial undermines the legitimacy of the electoral process.

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“You Could Hear a Hair Pin Drop”: Queer Utopianism and Informal Knowledge Production in the Gaylor Closeting Conspiracy Theory

May 7, 2024

Yvonne Eadon analyzes TikTok videos to understand how Gaylor community members parse evidence and collectively develop community lore.

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Strategically Hijacking Victimhood: A Political Communication Strategy in the Discourse of Viktor Orbán and Donald Trump

April 3, 2024

The concept of “hijacked victimhood” illustrates how politicians and others in elite positions craft narratives strategically portraying dominant groups as victims

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Presidential Authority and the Legitimation of Far-Right News

March 28, 2024

How did Trump use the power of the presidency to contribute to the rise of far-right news outlets among Republican legislators and mainstream American media?

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Ms. Categorized: Gender, notability, and inequality on Wikipedia

March 14, 2024

Francesca Tripodi writes to understand how inequalities in whose biographies are flagged as potentially non-notable itself entrenches gender inequality—and perpetuates a culture where women’s accomplishments are systematically devalued and rendered invisible

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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