In Content or Context Moderation? by Robyn Caplan illustrates the organizational contexts of three types of content moderation strategies by drawing from interviews with 10 major digital platforms.
Data Craft analyzes how bad actors manipulate metadata to create effective disinformation campaigns and provides tips for researchers and technology companies trying to spot this “data craft.”
report | 10.17.18
Weaponizing the Digital Influence Machine: The Political Perils of Online Ad Tech identifies the technologies, conditions, and tactics that enable today’s digital advertising infrastructure to be weaponized by political and anti-democratic actors.
In Governing Artificial Intelligence: Upholding Human Rights & Dignity, Mark Latonero shows how human rights can serve as a “North Star” to guide the development and governance of artificial intelligence.
The report draws the connections between AI and human rights; reframes recent AI-related controversies through a human rights lens; and reviews current stakeholder efforts at the intersection of AI and human rights.
Alternative Influence: Broadcasting the Reactionary Right on YouTube presents data from approximately 65 political influencers across 81 channels to identify the “Alternative Influence Network (AIN)”; an alternative media system that adopts the techniques of brand influencers to build audiences and “sell” them political ideology.
report | 07.18.18
This report by Data & Society Researcher Bonnie Tijerina and Michael Zimmer is the culmination of gatherings that brought together different privacy practitioners to discuss digital privacy for libraries.
“While the recent surge in privacy-related activities within the library community is welcome, we see a gap in the conversations we are having about privacy and our digital presence – a knowledge gap, a lack of shared vocabulary, disparate skill sets, and varied understanding. This gap prevents inclusion across the profession and lacks clarity for those responsible for building tools and licensing products.”
Drawn from the experiences of U.S. ridehail, care, and cleaning platform workers, “Beyond Disruption” demonstrates how technology reshapes the future of labor.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 | 02.21.18
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.
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 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.
“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.
 Full text here.
 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.
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
Freedom of the Press Foundation (link goes to resources)
American Civil Liberties Union – Privacy 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
Rad.Cat (link goes to resources)
Southern Poverty Law Center
report | 05.15.17
New Report Reveals Why Media Was Vulnerable to Radicalized Groups Online
report | 03.01.17
report | 01.18.17
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.