Digital Civil Society Lab

Postdoctoral Fellow Projects

DCSL hosts exceptional early-career scholars from various disciplines, including the social sciences, humanities, law, computer science, and engineering. Our postdocs engage in research on a wide range of priority issues. These notably include the relationship between data and social movements; the digitization of public goods like libraries; public-private partnerships involving data sharing; the ethics of technological design; the roots, spread, and effects of mis/disinformation;  and the history of digital rights advocacy.

FOIA, Civil Society and Immigration Enforcement.

This project focuses on expanding access to immigration enforcement data for civil society organizations and the public, and on analyzing that data. Specifically, it uses FOIA data to identify opportunities for advocacy and litigation by civil society organizations to protect immigrants; to contribute directly to advocacy and litigation efforts on behalf of immigrants; and to evaluate the effectiveness of civil society efforts to protect immigrants. (2021-2022)

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Automating Suppression

This research examines how innovations in technology—including artificial intelligence, surveillance, and big data analytics—reshape authoritarian power, influence, and control. In particular, it explores how computational propaganda is being used to automate suppression and dissuade the political participation of women, minorities, or activist communities online. (2020-2022)

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Youth, Media Activism, and Communication Counterpower

This project investigates how young activists in Canada, the US, and Cambodia leverage social media to engage in contentious politics and social movements.  Based on field research with 100 young activists (ages 18-30), the project examines how these activists incorporate social media tactics into their political repertoires, as they navigate the emergent dynamics of state and corporate surveillance in the digital world. (2020-2022)

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Digital Information Diffusion and Effects of Disinformation

Based on advanced computational techniques, including large-scale data analysis, online experiments, and  computational simulation, the project aims to build novel theoretical frameworks that can further our understanding of disinformation, increasing political polarization and the manipulation of public discourse. This work aims to identify the causes of the emerging phenomena, to build innovative tools that evaluate and monitor the social impacts of disinformation and bots, and to inform effective intervention strategies. (2020-2022)

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Previous postdoctoral research and projects

Philanthropy, Public Education and Digital Civil Society participation

This project explores the changing role of civic advocacy in American politics, focusing on the rapid increase in philanthropy in public schools. It employs a mixed-methods empirical strategy using archival research, social media data on advocacy and issue mobilization, and a national, longitudinal dataset of private and public spending in public education. (2019-2020)

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Libraries, Cultural Heritage institutions, and Digital Civil Society

This project concentrates on the digital civil society interactions with libraries and other cultural heritage institutions, and on the relevant legal frameworks incentivizing distributed methods for building a content infrastructure accessible online. It examines citizens’ mobilization through libraries – like the Internet Archive – as examples of digital civil society in action, and it also explores ongoing efforts to provide more digital access to content to people with disabilities. (2018-2020)

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An History of Cyberlibertarianism

This project traces the circulation of cyberlibertarianism throughout the US technology community from the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 to the Microsoft antitrust trial in 1999. Cyberlibertarianism is the idea that digital technology should never be regulated and should never be the object of institutional involvement, especially state involvement. The project explores the widely different technology groups that contributed to the apparition of this influential mode of thought, from hackers and technology executives, to computer  engineers, civil liberties advocates, and lobbyists. (2018-2020)

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Free Basics and the African Digital Civil Society

This project traces the expansion of Facebook’s Free Basics program across Africa. By combining archival research and an innovative VPN-based method, the research sheds light on two key interrelated phenomena behind this expansion: Facebook’s growing engagement with civil society organizations; and the focus of digital rights activists across the continent on other issues, including Internet shutdowns, online censorship, and the lack of data privacy frameworks. (2018-2020)

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Distribute, Randomize, Rotate: Democratic Values in Design for Decentralized Data

This project seeks to develop theories of normative ethics for localized and decentralized communication, consensus and trust models such as mobile mesh networks and distributed multiparty cryptographic methods. The project aims to influence the development of digital tools in order to inscribe democratic values at low and middle layers of their design. (2017-2018)

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Exploring Public-Private Data Hybrid

This project explores how the distinction between public and private information goods are blurred through data sharing partnerships and services that combine digital public resources with citizen-generated and commercially-owned data. (2017-2018)

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