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Social Media Experts Available for Commentary on Russian Hacking
On Nov. 1, representatives from Facebook, Twitter and Google are expected to testify publically before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and the House intelligence committee’s Russia Investigative Task Force. These hearings will question how Russian-backed accounts used these social media giants to influence the 2016 election by spreading divisive messages and fake news to American voters.
Syracuse University experts are available for comment before and after the hearings on issues related to social media and technology, the viral spread of news, online communication, fake news, and social media platforms monitoring content and ad buys.
To set up an interview, please contact Ellen James Mbuqe, director of news and PR at Syracuse University, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 315.443.1897 or Keith Kobland, media manager at Syracuse University, at email@example.com or 315.443.9038.
Jennifer Grygiel, (@jmgrygiel) associate professor of communications, teaches courses on social media and social listening at the Newhouse School.
She’s been a vocal proponent of social media platforms employing more people to monitor content, rather than relying on algorithms. She is a sought-after expert on issues of social media and is frequently quoted. Past expertise can be seen in Fortune, USA Today, Wall St. Journal, Slate, Reuters, CBS News, and MSNBC, among others. She recently offered statements about Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO and founder of Facebook, turning over Russian-linked ads to Congressional investigators:
“Mark Zuckerberg may care deeply about democracy as a citizen, but as the CEO of Facebook, he has run his company in a way that directly threatens it. As the controlling shareholder of Facebook he has a conflict of interest–his job is to maximize profits. We cannot simply trust that Zuckerberg will protect our democracy. Corporations do not have integrity. They are institutions that must be regulated and monitored. At best, we hope that they will be good corporate citizens,” says Grygiel.
“Facebook has failed us here too and does not consistently operate in a way that benefits society. It is time for new laws. Only congress can provide the motivation and oversight to ensure that Zuckerberg, and Facebook, do not contribute to unraveling democracies.”
Jeff Hemsley, (@JeffHemsley) assistant professor at the School of Information Studies, is a social scientist who draws on theories from sociology and communication to study social media.
His current research looks at information diffusion in social media networks, with an emphasis on social movements and political events. He is co-author of Going Viral. He has been interviewed by C-SPAN. Business Insider, Wired, and Washington Post on these issues. He recently spoke about the fake news problem at social media companies.
“Clearly, this (fake news) is a hard problem for Facebook, Twitter and Google to deal with,” says Hemsley. “Their algorithms are designed to quickly identify trending content and promote it such that it reaches the widest audience possible. The underlying assumption is that it must be news or interesting. This is analogous to a juicy rumor spread among a network of friends: if it is spreading, it must be interesting. It is easy for those with programming skills to quickly make automated accounts, like bots, that spread content in such a way that they mimic human trends.”
Jenny Stromer-Galley, (@profjsg) professor in the School of Information Studies and director for the Center for Computational and Data Sciences.
She has been studying social media since before it was called social media, studying online interaction and influence in a variety of contexts, including political forums and online games. She has published over 40 journal articles, proceedings, and book chapters. Her award-winning book, Presidential Campaigning in the Internet Age (Oxford University Press), provides a history of presidential campaigns as they have adopted and adapted to digital communication technologies. She has been quoted by the Australian Broadcasting Company, LA Times, The Conversation, Mashable, Top of Mind podcast, and Christian Science Monitor, among others. From the LA Times article Mark Zuckerberg built Facebook into a behemoth whose power he underestimates:
“They’re so good at being a business, but really bad at recognizing its role in society,” said Jennifer Stromer-Galley, an information studies professor at Syracuse University. “It is conceivable the company is so big and complex, there are dimensions and aspects of Facebook no one is paying attention to.”
“That’s to the detriment of our democracy and our society,” Stromer-Galley continued. “If they can’t start getting on top of these problems, they’re going to start getting regulated.”