Toussaint Nothias

Toussaint Nothias worked at DCSL from 2018 to 2023. He was the Research Director of the Digital Civil Society Lab, a Senior Research Scholar in the Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society (PACS), and a Faculty Affiliate of the Center for African Studies.  He is a global communication scholar researching journalism, digital technologies, and civil society.

Toussaint initially joined DCSL in 2018 as a postdoc. He started researching Facebook’s Free Basics, a globally widespread initiative to provide supposedly “free” internet access throughout the Global South. His work called attention to the limits of this initiative and analyzed the range of ways digital rights activists have responded to the practice. His groundbreaking article “Access Granted” became a go-to resource on the issue and led him to be referenced and quoted in news outlets, including The Guardian, MIT Tech Review, Wired, The New York Times, and Rest of World.

As Research Director, Toussaint mentored three cohorts of post-doctoral fellows and established a collaborative design process to design and teach the Digital Civil Society seminar. Under his leadership, the class became tremendously popular on campus, attracting students from various disciplines interested in critical and interdisciplinary perspectives on technology and civil society.

In 2021, Toussaint led the strategic planning for the Lab, developing core research programs that emphasize academia-civil society collaborations, interdisciplinarity, and global perspectives. This resulted in several DCSL publications, including reports on Digital Surveillance and the Pandemic and Decolonizing Data (translated in Spanish and Kiswahili); an edited collection on Decoding Digital Democracy in Africa; an article on Nonprofits and Digital Public Policy; and various resources produced by our practitioner fellows including a zine on the social implications of DNAa reading list on Internet infrastructures, and a Kiswahili lexicon of keywords in technology and digital rights. He also secured a grant from the Stanford HAI to develop with Lucy Bernholz an edited volume on AI and freedom of assembly.

Throughout the years, Toussaint was a powerhouse behind various events and workshops, including on the digital divide, the digital civil society conference, the Lab’s speaker series, and on zero-rating and industry-independent tech research. 

At NYU, he is now Clinical Associate Professor in XE: Experimental Humanities & Social Engagement and Affiliate Faculty in the Department of Media, Culture, and Communication. There, he teaches classes on technology, journalism, and civil society, and continues to carry research that supports greater accountability about Big Tech, especially in global perspectives.

You can find out more about his work on his webpage