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report | 05.22.18

The Oxygen of Amplification

Whitney Phillips

The Oxygen of Amplification draws on in-depth interviews by scholar Whitney Phillips to showcase how news media was hijacked from 2016-2018 to amplify the messages of hate groups.

Offering extremely candid comments from mainstream journalists, the report provides a snapshot of an industry caught between the pressure to deliver page views, the impulse to cover manipulators and “trolls,” and the disgust (expressed in interviewees’ own words) of accidentally propagating extremist ideology.


report | 05.16.18

Searching for Alternative Facts

Francesca Tripodi

Searching for Alternative Facts is an ethnographic account drawn directly from Dr. Francesca Tripodi’s research within upper-middle class conservative Christian* communities in Virginia in 2017. Dr. Tripodi uses Christian practices of Biblical interpretation as a lens for understanding the relationship between so-called “alternative” or “fake news” sources and contemporary conservative political thought.


report | 04.03.18

Refugee Connectivity

Mark Latonero, Danielle Poole, and Jos Berens

Data & Society and the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative’s Refugee Connectivity: A Survey of Mobile Phones, Mental Health, and Privacy at a Syrian Refugee Camp in Greece” provides new evidence of the critical role internet connectivity and mobile devices play in the lives and wellbeing of this population. Findings are based on a survey of 135 adults amongst the 750 residents at Ritsona Refugee Camp in Greece.


report | 03.06.18

Spectrum of Trust in Data

Claire Fontaine and Kinjal Dave

New report finds providing school choice data to parents does not equalize educational opportunity, but rather replicates and perpetuates existing inequalities.

Data & Society Researcher Dr. Claire Fontaine and Research Assistant Kinjal Dave performed a qualitative, semi-structured, interview-based study with a socio-economically, racially, and geographically diverse group of 30 New York City parents and guardians between May and November 2017. Interviews focused on experiences of school choice; and data and information sources.


report | 02.26.18

Fairness in Precision Medicine

Kadija Ferryman and Mikaela Pitcan

Fairness in Precision Medicine is the first report to deeply examine the potential for biased and discriminatory outcomes in the emerging field of precision medicine; “the effort to collect, integrate and analyze multiple sources of data in order to develop individualized insights about health and disease.”


report | 02.26.18

What is Precision Medicine?

Kadija Ferryman and Mikaela Pitcan

report | 02.21.18

The Promises, Challenges, and Futures of Media Literacy

Monica Bulger and Patrick Davison

This report responds to the “fake news” problem by evaluating the successes and failures of recent media literacy efforts while pointing towards next steps for educators, legislators, technologists, and philanthropists.


report | 02.21.18

Dead Reckoning

Robyn Caplan, Lauren Hanson, and Joan Donovan

New Data & Society report clarifies current uses of “fake news” and analyzes four specific strategies for intervention.


“Privacy, Security, and Digital Inequality” by Mary Madden is the first in-depth analysis of the privacy and security experiences of low-socioeconomic-status populations in the United States.

Supported by the Digital Trust Foundation, the report finds that most of those living in U.S. households with annual incomes of less than $20,000 per year are acutely aware of a range of digital privacy harms, but many say it would be difficult to access the tools and strategies that could help them protect their personal information online. The report provides additional insights about mobile device use and demand for digital privacy and security training.

In light of the September 18th announcement by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security[1] about federal agencies’ intent to collect social media information and search history from a variety of immigrant groups, “Privacy, Security, and Digital Inequality” is especially relevant: In particular, the report finds that foreign-born Hispanic adults stand out for both their privacy sensitivities, and for their desire to learn more about safeguarding their personal information.

“Privacy, Security, and Digital Inequality” includes detailed comparisons across different racial, ethnic, and nativity groups, finding that there are substantial gaps across these groups when looking at reliance on mobile connectivity.[2]

“This study highlights the disconnect between the one-size-fits-all conversations about privacy-related risk that happen in Washington and the concerns that are most salient to the communities who have long experienced a disproportionate level of surveillance and injustice in their daily lives,” said Madden, Researcher at Data & Society and lead author of the report. “When those who influence policy and technology design have a lower perception of privacy risk themselves, it contributes to a lack of investment in the kind of safeguards and protections that vulnerable communities both want and need.”

In light of new pressures surrounding immigration policy and status in the United States, the report is a highly relevant snapshot of the demand for privacy- and security-related training among some of the most vulnerable of these low-socioeconomic-status groups. The report also finds a disproportionate reliance on mobile devices, offering a potential starting point for those looking to provide educational resources.

“This report illustrates the many ways in which smartphones have become an indispensable source of internet access for those who may lack other technology resources in their homes and communities,” said Michele Gilman, Venable Professor of Law at the University of Baltimore and Director of the Saul Ewing Civil Advocacy Clinic. “Far from being a luxury, smartphones—with their many benefits and vulnerabilities—offer a critical source of connection to jobs, family, education and government services.”

Gilman, a poverty law expert, also served on the Research Advisory Board for the two-year research project, and co-authored a related law review article with Madden titled, “Privacy, Poverty and Big Data: A Matrix of Vulnerabilities for Poor Americans.”

“Privacy, Security, and Digital Inequality,” is based on newly-released data from a nationally-representative telephone survey of 3,000 American adults. The survey, which included interviews in both English and Spanish, was made possible by a grant from the Digital Trust Foundation and fielded in November and December of 2015.



[1] Full text here.
[2] The analysis of racial and ethnic minority groups in this report is limited by the survey sample size, and does not include detailed comparisons of Asians, Native Americans, and other subgroups. For instance, in this survey, out of 3,000 respondents, just 3% identified as Asian or Asian American.


Additional Resources

For more information about groups working on these issues and in these spaces, we invite you to take a look at resources provided by the following organizations. We welcome additional suggestions:

Center for Media Justice – Resource Library
Equality Labs
Freedom of the Press Foundation (link goes to resources)
American Civil Liberties UnionPrivacy and Technology, Free Speech
Berkman Klein Center
Color of Change
EPIC – Electronic Privacy Information Center
Future of Privacy Forum
Georgetown Center on Privacy & Technology (link goes to resources)
National Hispanic Media Coalition
Our Data Bodies (link goes to resources)
Pew Research Center
Public Knowledge
Rad.Cat (link goes to resources)
Southern Poverty Law Center


report | 05.15.17

Media Manipulation and Disinformation Online

Alice Marwick and Rebecca Lewis

New Report Reveals Why Media Was Vulnerable to Radicalized Groups Online


report | 03.01.17

How Youth Navigate the News Landscape

Mary Madden, Amanda Lenhart, Claire Fontaine

D&S researchers Mary Madden, Amanda Lenhart, and Claire Fontaine explore youth news consumption behavior on mobile and social media. It reveals how young people are adapting to a changing media environment to access news they trust. Executive summary is below

In 2017, what it means to “know what’s going on in the world” has become
a hotly contested issue. Years of change and innovations in the journalism
industry have radically transformed the way Americans consume, share and
even produce their own forms of news. At a deeper level, the public’s eroding
trust in journalistic institutions and the rise of a highly politicized networked
digital media environment have underscored the urgent need to understand
how these disruptions might evolve in the future.
As is often the case with technological revolutions, young people are on
the front lines of change. They are deeply immersed in social media and
mobile technologies in their daily lives, and are tasked with navigating an
increasingly malleable media environment. And as researchers seek to
understand the shifting behaviors and attitudes of today’s young news
consumers, it has become increasingly important to reexamine the shifting
boundaries of what counts as “news.” If we want to understand the place that
news holds in young people’s lives, it is imperative that we understand their
language, their conceptual models, and their frames of reference. These are
the kinds of insights that interpretive qualitative research has the potential to
surface.
In June and July of 2016, Knight Foundation commissioned a series of focus
groups with 52 teenagers and young adults from across the United States
to learn more about how young people conceptualize and consume news
in digital spaces—with a focus on understanding the growing influence
of mobile devices, social media and messaging apps. The research team
conducted six exploratory focus groups of about 90 minutes each in three
cities in the United States: Philadelphia, Chicago and Charlotte, North
Carolina. Participants were between the ages of 14 and 24 and included an
even mix of young men and women.


report | 01.18.17

Intimate Partner Digital Abuse

Michele Ybarra, Myeshia Price-Feeney, Amanda Lenhart, Kathryn Zickuhr

12% of U.S. internet users who have been in romantic relationships have experienced intimate partner digital abuse…

Digital tools are often an integral part of healthy romantic relationships. Romantic partners frequently use digital tools to connect with each other through text messages, photo-sharing, social media posts, and other online activities. These same digital tools can be used in unhealthy ways, facilitating negative behaviors such as monitoring, unwanted picture sharing, and abusive messages — both within the romantic relationship and after the relationship is over. Better understanding how often intimate partner digital abuse is happening, to whom, and in what ways are critical pieces to understanding the scope of the problem.

This report, part of a series of research reports on digital harassment and abuse, examines the prevalence and impact of intimate partner digital abuse. Findings are based upon the results of a nationally representative survey of 3,002 Americans 15 years of age and older conducted from May 17th through July 31st, 2016. Respondents were surveyed on either their landline or cell phone. Interviews were conducted in either English or Spanish. Findings in this report refer to the 2,810 respondents who have ever been in a romantic relationship.

This report, “Intimate Partner Digital Abuse” (press release), complements earlier reports covering the prevalence of online harassment and abuse more broadly, as well as nonconsensual image sharing.


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