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Communications and Media

American University Experts Available to Comment on Social Media, Misinformation, Online Extremism & 2020 Elections

What: As the election draws nearer, Facebook and other social media networks vow to tighten up on content displaying misinformation, election meddling, and potential calls to violence around the election. This week, Facebook said that it will take extreme measures to “restrict the circulation of content” if the election in November turns to chaos, or mass civil unrest and violence.

This is a step further than any other network has taken. The network also plans to ban political ads a week before the election and any ads prematurely declaring a winner on Election Day.

American University scholars are available to discuss the misinformation, its effects and how to stop it, social media and politics, online extremism and recruitment, social media censorship, and digital campaigning.

When: September 25, 2020 – ongoing

Where: Via phone, video conferencing and email.

Experts Available:

Laura DeNardis is the Interim Dean, School of Communication, and a globally recognized Internet governance scholar. Her research addresses the social and political implications of Internet design and policy. Her books include: Information Technology in Theory (2007); Protocol Politics: The Globalization of Internet Governance (2009); Opening Standards: The Global Politics of Interoperability (2011); and a forthcoming book, Global Internet Governance to be published by the Yale University Press. She is a fellow of the Information Society Project at Yale Law School and the vice chair of the Global Internet Governance Academic Network. She was awarded a postdoctoral fellowship at Yale Law School.

Brian Hughes, PhD is an adjunct professor in the School of Communication. His work explores the impact of communication technology on political and religious extremism, terrorism, and fringe culture. His work seeks to identify the affective and material commonalities between extremists of differing ideologies, cultures, times, and places. Hughes and his research have been featured on NPR and he is an emerging career fellow with the Center for Analysis of the Radical Right.

Ericka Menchen-Trevino is an assistant professor in the School of Communication, researches the intersection of political communication and digital media studies and the ways citizens receive and process information about public life.

Jason Mollica is a professorial lecturer in the School of Communication, is a former radio and television anchor/reporter/producer. Prof. Mollica is available to comment and discuss topics related to media and politics, especially campaign messaging and how they are viewed and examined through social and digital media. He can also comment on political debates, current issues, and how it impacts the history of U.S. politics.

Saif Shahin is an assistant professor in the School of Communication. His research focuses on critical data studies, social media studies, and global media and politics, and is underpinned by a normative commitment to social justice. He also teaches classes on media, technology and democracy and digital media and culture. He can comment on the impacts of digital media and misinformation.

Aram Sinnreich is a professor and chair of the Communication Studies division at American University’s School of Communication. His work focuses on the intersection of culture, law and technology, with an emphasis on subjects such as emerging media and music. His latest research explores lexical patterns can serve as lie detectors to supplement fact checkers on social media.

Jorhena Thomas, is an adjunct professorial lecturer in the School of International Service and School of Public Affairs, is an expert in international affairs and intelligence. She has extensive experience in intelligence analysis, intelligence-led investigations, and homeland security. At AU, Prof. Thomas runs a practicum course on disinformation that focuses on helping U.S. Government entities address the evolving use of information warfare by nation states. She has recently co-authored a training module developed to help state and local election officials, technology companies, media outlets, and the Intelligence Community to prepare for election-related disinformation that may impact their work in the coming months. Prof. Thomas can discuss issues related to intelligence, homeland security, terrorism, and disinformation in the context of the 2020 presidential campaign.