Facebook Shuts the Gate after the Horse Has Bolted, and Hurts Real Research in the Process

A public response from leading members of the Internet research community.

Mark Zuckerberg appears before the US Congress, 10 Apr. 2018. (Image: Prachatai on Flickr, CC-BY-NC-ND)

In reaction to the Cambridge Analytica controversy, Facebook has recently announced a substantial tightening of access restrictions to the Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) of Facebook, Instagram, and other platforms it owns. Other platform providers are likely to follow suit. The APIs are the means through which third parties access data on these platforms, such as when banking, retail, or even dating apps like Tinder access Facebook data to verify the identity of their users.

While these changes may generate some positive publicity for the company and its beleaguered CEO Mark Zuckerberg, they are likely to compound the real problem, further diminishing transparency and opportunities for independent oversight. The net effect of the new API restrictions is to lock out third parties and consolidate Facebook’s position as the main analytics and advertising broker. Contrary to popular belief, these changes are as much about strengthening Facebook’s business model of data control as they are about actually improving data privacy for users.

Collateral Damage

Up to now, thousands of social scientists around the world have also been using API data from Facebook and other social media platforms to study various online communities and to independently and rigorously investigate the impact of such platforms on our media and society. Such research is undertaken in the public interest and is often overseen by the research ethics review boards of universities and/or by national data protection agencies.

Indeed, research ethics have been a consistent concern in the Internet research community for the past two decades already. The leading international community of researchers in the field, the Association of Internet Researchers (AoIR), has regularly published detailed, gradually evolving research ethics guidelines since 2002, paying particularly close attention to the ethics of social media research.

As researchers at leading international research organisations, we are deeply concerned about the collateral impacts of the new API access rules implemented by Facebook and other platforms.

An informal call by one of us, Danish researcher Anja Bechmann, to list the published research that has relied on API data from various platforms resulted in an impressive collection of articles within just a few hours, and documents the societal significance and scale of such research; the future of this important work is now at risk. It is this work — in the public interest, independent, and sometimes critical of Facebook and other social media platforms — that is most likely to suffer from API lock-downs. In spite of, and even because of, the recent troubles with data misuse by malevolent third parties, better API access for legitimate data users is urgently necessary.

Providing API Access for Scholarly Research

Facebook has now also announced a new initiative “to help provide independent, credible research about the role of social media in elections, as well as democracy more generally”. This is delivered in partnership with several philanthropic foundations and overseen by a hand-picked group of scholars, mainly from the United States, who will “define the research agenda” and manage a peer-review process for research project proposals. In principle, we welcome this new engagement with researchers — but we suggest that the engagement model Facebook has chosen for this initiative falls well short of what is required, and fails to provide sufficient support for free and independent scientific research. (Note that the freedom of science is recognised as a human right.)

The narrow terms of reference for this initiative (elections and democracy), the requirement to adhere to a research agenda defined by the selection panel, and the selection process itself are inherently excluding a much broader range of research that investigates the impact of Facebook on all aspects of society. Indeed, we have seen the consequences of such selection processes before: in 2013, for example, Twitter selected only six of the more than 1,300 applications for its ‘Twitter Data Grants’ programme. The projects chosen through such processes may well be worthy and important, but they represent only a minuscule subset of all the scholarly research that could and should be conducted, in the public interest, on platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.

By being so selective about which research they actively support, the platforms exclude the critical voices to which they should be paying keen attention; they also tend to privilege US research over broader international collaboration. This creates an unacceptably imbalanced environment for social media research. Facebook’s new initiative is set up in such a way that it will select projects that address known problems in an area known to be problematic; it is unlikely to provide data access to research that addresses yet-unrecognised problems, or research that deals with issues broader than elections and politics.

We therefore argue that the platform providers — and the research advisors they collaborate with — cannot be allowed to position themselves as the gatekeepers for the research that investigates how their platforms are used. Instead, we need far more transparent data access models that clearly articulate to platform users who may be accessing their data, and for what purposes.

Such data access is crucial because independent, critical, public-interest research that is conducted in university contexts and is overseen by ethics review boards can diagnose emergent problems and suggest possible remedies. Locking out such research doesn’t make the problems go away, but simply hides them from view. Had Facebook and Twitter listened to scholarly concerns about undifferentiated third-party data access, political bots, and ‘fake news’, for instance, they could already have acted on these issues well before the political upheavals of 2016.

Instead, as some of us have argued for some time, if such research is locked out as a result of the coming API change, all that will remain is the shallow, commercially focussed analysis provided by the major market research companies that are strategic partners of or commercially dependent on Facebook and Twitter — this is neither in the interest of the users, nor ultimately good for the platforms themselves. Now more than ever, strong independent research on these platforms is urgently needed: rigorous, ethical research access to platform APIs actually protects users and enhances evidence-based social media literacy.

A Different Approach to Granting API Access

So how should API access be managed to ensure that such independent, critical research in the public interest can be conducted while protecting ordinary users’ privacy? We see four key points here: 1) Straightforward scholarly data access policies; 2) Custom APIs for research purposes; 3) Accept the use of research data repositories; 4) Open and transparent engagement with the research community.

Straightforward Scholarly Data Access Policies

First, social media platforms must provide broad-based data access to scholarly researchers at universities, if those researchers can demonstrate that their work is approved and closely monitored by ethics review boards or national data protection agencies that secure frameworks for compliant research solutions. Platforms, or their intermediaries, cannot pick favourites here: this would almost certainly lead to the exclusion of critical research that points to the problems and not just the benefits of social media. Furthermore, it would create a significant Matthew effect, where only researchers from well-known universities are granted access to API data, because of the legitimisation and PR this would generate for the platform in question.

At a time of heightened concerns about user privacy, substantial API-based access to public communication on these platforms is crucial for scholars precisely because it is only such research that can provide a transparent and independent assessment of the problems that the social media platforms are facing. Unlike the platforms and commercial research companies, universities can be trusted to take an independent perspective and to manage research ethics with great care and nuance: incorrect assessments, overt bias towards the platforms, and unethical engagement with social media data would seriously damage their public standing and destroy future careers.

Custom APIs for Research Purposes

Second, this also requires API-based data access services that are specifically tailored to research rather than commercial uses. At present, most social media platforms insist on providing one undifferentiated API offering for all users, including third-party end-user applications, commercial data analytics companies, and scholarly research. The platforms’ terms of service are typically written with commercial uses in mind, and rarely address use by researchers.

It would be more sensible to provide a dedicated API for research purposes, whose terms of service explicitly require that the research conducted using the data is in the public interest, and for public rather than commercial benefit. This would encourage a focus on the rights of platform users in such research projects, and would in turn provide a strong prohibition against problematic collaborations and data sharing with companies like Cambridge Analytica.

Accept the Use of Research Data Repositories

Third, current API terms of service prevent the sharing and publication of social media data alongside the peer-reviewed scholarly analysis, even in appropriately aggregated and anonymised form and through the safe repositories now available for research data. This is deeply problematic for the cross-checking and replication of research results: much like the platforms themselves, our research, too, becomes a black box whose internal logics cannot be critically examined. This is already a crucial issue for outputs from the internal research teams of the platforms themselves, whose accuracy simply cannot be independently reviewed.

Instead, then, what is necessary is an acknowledgment by the platforms that researchers have a legitimate need to share their data with each other, in a controlled and ethical way, and that the best way to do so is openly and transparently through the carefully controlled data repositories that already serve other academic fields, from genomics to econometrics. Rather than preventing the use of such safe, managed facilities for data sharing through their terms of service, platforms should work with university researchers to determine meaningful, workable approaches to sharing data that protect both the privacy of users and the integrity of the data. We acknowledge Facebook’s new initiative as an important first step on this path — but this must go much further still, and involve the relevant scholarly communities more fully.

Open and Transparent Engagement with the Research Community

Finally, then, this also requires the platforms to engage fully, openly, and transparently with the research community — beyond a lucky few researchers, and especially also beyond the narrow field of computer science that Silicon Valley firms have mainly engaged with. Social media are named so for very good reason, yet the platforms’ history of engaging with publicly funded social science, information, and media and communication studies, and related fields has been patchy to date.

This focus on the technological over social aspects of social media is arguably the root cause of the platforms’ persistent difficulties in understanding and reacting to user concerns, and it needs to be addressed urgently. We are pleased to see some progress on this front in recent announcements and activities — but much more work remains to be done. There are no easy technological remedies to the problems that the platforms are currently experiencing: it is now the task of social science to develop ideas not just for how the platforms might respond but, more importantly, also for how society itself may address these problems.

Time for a Rethink

If the current trend in API policy continues, only two forms of research that draw on ‘big data’ from social media will be available: self-interested, non-public research by the platforms and their commercial partners that is usually not subjected to independent scholarly review on the one hand; and on the other hand, nefarious, big-data social media intelligence and influence operations by unscrupulous actors who have long since learnt how to bypass any API limitations by exploiting technical loopholes and tricking users into weakening their own privacy protections.

In that scenario, the problems with the major social media platforms — including how they are used and abused — will not go away, but the independent, critical, public-interest scholarly research that alerts society to these problems will be severely hampered. To prevent this, we need a considerable reorganisation of the relationships between platforms and academic researchers — if necessary facilitated by relevant legislative and regulatory frameworks.

For better or for worse, social media are now a fundamental part of society: they are how many of us follow the news, socialise, consume entertainment, engage in politics and activism, teach and learn, fall in and out of love, and so much more. Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms may come and go over time, but it is unlikely that social media’s role in society will diminish any time soon.

Only strong, independent, data-enabled scholarly research can help society understand how these platforms are being used for these and other purposes. Such research is necessary both so that we can each make informed choices about our own social media use and the role we want these technologies to play in our everyday personal and professional lives — and it is crucial to how we decide collectively, through our democratic processes, how the platforms should be held to account. The platforms are now not only the principal gateway to social networking, but also to all research into social networking, and that gateway must be kept open for any independent, public-interest researchers around the world, as long as they adhere to the strict ethical standards of scholarly research.

(Would you like to sign this call? Please add your name and affiliation here.)

Signatories (at the time of publication)

Professor Axel Bruns
Digital Media Research Centre, Queensland University of Technology
President, Association of Internet Researchers

Research Director Anja Bechmann
DATALAB & Fellow at Aarhus Institute of Advanced Studies, Aarhus University
Co-chair, Association of Internet Researchers’ Ethics Working Group and project, “Internet Research Ethics 3.0”

Professor Jean Burgess
Professor of Digital Media and Director, Digital Media Research Centre
Queensland University of Technology

Professor Andrew Chadwick
Centre for Research in Communication and Culture
Loughborough University

Professor Lynn Schofield Clark
Professor, Chair, and Director, Estlow Center for Journalism and New Media, University of Denver
Affiliate Professor, University of Copenhagen

James H. Quello Professor William H. Dutton
Director of the Quello Center for Media and Information Policy
Michigan State University

Dr. Charles M. Ess
Professor in Media Studies; former Director, Centre for Research in Media Innovation, University of Oslo
Co-chair, Association of Internet Researchers’ Ethics Working Group and project, “Internet Research Ethics 3.0”
Past President, Association of Internet Researchers

Professor Anatoliy Gruzd 
Canada Research Chair in Social Media Data Stewardship
Director of Research, Social Media Lab
Associate Professor, Ted Rogers School of Management, Ryerson University, Canada

Professor Susan Halford
Executive Director, Web Science Institute
University of Southampton, UK

Dr. Alfred Hermida
Associate Professor and Director, School of Journalism, University of British Columbia
Co-founder,
The Conversation Canada

Professor Jeanette Hofmann
Berlin Social Science Center
Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society
Weizenbaum Institute for the Networked Society

Professor Phil Howard
Director, Oxford Internet Institute, Oxford University

UIC Distinguished Professor Steve Jones
Professor of Communication, University of Illinois at Chicago
Co-Founder, Association of Internet Researchers

Professor Christian Katzenbach
Senior Researcher, Alexander von Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society, Berlin 
Interim Professor, Institute for Media and Communication Studies, Freie Universität Berlin

Assistant Professor Hai Liang
School of Journalism and Communication
The Chinese University of Hong Kong

Dr. Seth C. Lewis
Shirley Papé Chair in Emerging Media, School of Journalism and Communication
University of Oregon

Associate Professor Winson Peng
Chair, Computational Interest Group, International Communication Association
Michigan State University

Dr. Cornelius Puschmann
Senior Researcher
Hans-Bredow-Institute for Media Research

Professor Jack Qiu
School of Journalism and Communication 
The Chinese University of Hong Kong

Dr. Kelly Quinn
Clinical Assistant Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago
Treasurer, Association of Internet Researchers

Professor Richard Rogers
Digital Methods Initiative, University of Amsterdam
Academic Director, Netherlands Research School for Media Studies

Associate Professor Luca Rossi
Data Science & Society Lab, IT University of Copenhagen

Professor Adrienne Russell 
Mary Laird Wood Professor
Department of Communication, University of Washington

Professor Jennifer Stromer-Galley
Professor and Director, Center for Computational and Data Sciences, Syracuse University
Past President, Association of Internet Researchers

Professor José van Dijck
Distinguished University Professor
Utrecht University, The Netherlands

Dr. Katrin Weller
Senior Researcher, Computational Social Science Department
GESIS — Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences

Professor Oscar Westlund
Oslo Metropolitan University, Volda University College, University of Gothenburg
Editor-in-Chief,
Digital Journalism

Professor Jonathan J.H. Zhu
Chair Professor of Computational Social Science
Director of Centre for the Communication Research, City University of Hong Kong

Professor Michael Zimmer
Associate Professor and Director, Center for Information Policy Research, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Co-chair, Association of Internet Researchers’ Ethics Working Group and project, “Internet Research Ethics 3.0”

Additional Signatories (after publication)

Jingwen Zhang
University of California, Davis

Wouter van Atteveldt
Associate Professor, Communication Science, VU University Amsterdam; Chair, ICA Computational Methods Interest Group

Annie Waldherr
Assistant Professor, Department of Communication, University of Münster

Daniel Maier
Freie Universität Berlin

Dr. Xinzhi Zhang
Research Assistant Professor
Department of Journalism, Hong Kong Baptist University

Daniela Stoltenberg
University of Münster, Germany

Prof. Dr. Barbara Pfetsch
Freie Universität Berlin

Christian Baden
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Mark A. Poepsel
Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville

Dr Scott A Eldridge II
Centre for Media and Journalism Studies, University of Groningen; Associate Editor, Digital Journalism

Stine Lomborg
University of Copenhagen

Turo Uskali
Department of Language and Communication Studies
University of Jyväskylä, Finland

Jozef Michal Mintal
PhD Student and CARWST Research Fellow, Matej Bel University

Prof. Thorsten Quandt
University of Munster

Lewis Mitchell
University of Adelaide

Anette Novak
Senior consultant, former CEO of RISE Interactive institute and Swedish government’s independent media commissioner

Benedikt Fecher
Humboldt Institute for Internet and Society

Prof. Dr. Mike S Schäfer
University of Zurich

Dr. Johannes Breuer
Senior researcher, Data Archive for the Social Sciences, GESIS — Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences

Nicholas John
Department of Communication, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Tama Leaver
Associate Professor and Head of Internet Studies, Curtin University

Katharina Kleinen-von Königslöw
University of Hamburg

Dr. Bente Kalsnes
Oslo Metropolitan University

Henk Huijser
Queensland University of Technology

Martin Hilbert
Prof. of Communication, Computational Communication Research Lab, University of California, Davis
Distinguished Scholar, Kluge Center, Library of Congress

Dr. Thomas Poell
University of Amsterdam

Felix M. Simon
Independent/Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism

Dr. Neta Kligler-Vilenchik
Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Daghan Irak
MédiaLab Sciences Po Paris

Elliott Bledsoe
Independent communications and social media consultant

Dr Robert E Gutsche Jr
Senior Lecturer in Critical Digital Media Studies, Lancaster University

FABIO GIGLIETTO
Università di Urbino Carlo Bo

Associate Professor An Nguyen
Bournemouth University, UK

Chris Peters
Aalborg University Copenhagen

Javier Ruiz-Soler
PhD European University Institute

Carl-Gustav Lindén
University of Helsinki

Marc Esteve Del Valle 
Assistant Professor in Media Studies and Journalism, University of Groningen, The Netherlands

Nadia Dresscher-Lambertus
University of Aruba

Bonnie Brennen
Nieman Professor of Journalism, Marquette University

Associate Professor Liza Potts
Michigan State University

Samuel Greene
King’s College London

Tim Hutchings
Durham University, UK

Nico Carpentier
Professor at the Department of Informatics and Media, Uppsala University

Ulrika Hedman
University of Gothenburg

Dr. Stefanie Duguay
Assistant Professor, Department of Communication Studies, Concordia University

Raquel Recuero
Universidade Federal de Pelotas (UFPEL)

Christian Goebel
University of Vienna

Professor Mélanie Millette
Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM), Laboratoire de communication médiatisée par ordinateur (LabCMO)

Ester Appelgren
Södertörn University, Sweden

Dr. Ysabel Gerrard
Department of Sociological Studies, University of Sheffield

Seth Lewis
University of Oregon

Luca Hammer
Student at University of Paderborn

Anders Olof Larsson
Professor, Kristiania University College, Oslo, Norway

Carsten Schwemmer
University of Bamberg

Bianca Reisdorf, Assistant Professor
Quello Center, Department of Media and Information, Michigan State University

Raymond Serrato
Governance and Innovation Expert, Democracy Reporting International

Elinor Carmi 
Royal Holloway, University of London, UK

Professor Victor Pickard
Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennnsylvania
Co-director of the Media, Inequality & Change (MIC) Center

Professor Giovanni Boccia Artieri
University of Urbino Carlo Bo

Dr. Jon Tennant
Open Science MOOC

Associate Professor Jeremy Hunsinger
WIlfrid Laurier University

Jakob Linaa Jensen
Research Director of Social Media, Danish School of Media and Journalism

Eugenia Siapera
Associate Professor, Dublin City University

David Brake 
University of Alberta

William Moner
Elon University

Shawn Walker
Assistant Professor of Communication and Social Technologies
School of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Arizona State University

Lance Bennett
University of Washington, Seattle USA

Megan Squire
Elon University

Marc Smith
Social Media Research Foundation

Ece Gurleyik
Media Studies grad student

Antonella Napoli
University of Salerno, Italy

Marco Bastos
City, University of London

Matthew Crain
Queens College, CUNY

Andy Turner
Centre for Computational Geography, University of Leeds

Arnim Bleier
GESIS — Leibniz-Institute for the Social Sciences

Anders Fagerjord
University of Oslo

Dr. Mirko Tobias Schäfer
Utrecht Data School, Utrecht University, Netherlands

Professor Göran Bolin
Media and Communication Studies, Södertörn University, Sweden

Rebecca Kern-Stone
Associate Professor of Communication,Manhattan College

Arnt Maasø
Associate professor, University of OSLO

Yu-Chung Cheng
Associate Professor, Department of Mass Communication, Hsuan Chuang University, Taiwan

Aske Kammer
IT University of Copenhagen

Bernhard Rieder
University of Amsterdam

Claus Toft-Nielsen
Associate professor, Aarhus University, Faculty of ARTS, School of Communication and Culture.

Tarcizio Silva
Brazilian Institute of Research and Data Analysis

Marcelo Alves
PhD Candidate UFF, RJ — Brazil

Esther Weltevrede
Assistant Professor of New Media and Digital Culture, University of Amsterdam. Digital Methods Initiative.

Shelley Boulianne
MacEwan University

Anat Ben-David
Open University of Israel

Kjerstin Thorson
Michigan State University

Jan-Hinrik Schmidt
Hans-Bredow-Institute for Media Research

Natasha Bachini
PhD candidate for the Sociology Postgraduate Programme at the Institute of Social and Political Studies of Rio de Janeiro State University (IESP-UERJ).

Boullier Dominique 
EPFL

Brian Keegan
University of Colorado Boulder

Roberta Bracciale 
University of Pisa, Italy

Kevin Wagner
Florida Atlantic University

Professor Michael Karlsson
Karlstad University, Sweden

Nick Anstead
London School of Economics

Daniel Gayo-Avello
University of Oviedo

Professor Steen Steensen
Head of department, Department of Journalism an Media Studies, Oslo Metropolitan University

Gerret von Nordheim
TU Dortmund University

Professor Paul Dourish
Chancellor’s Professor of Informatics and Associate Dean for Research in Information and Computer Sciences, University of California, Irvine, USA

Dr. Jenna Jacobson
Ryerson University

Dr. Andrew Iliadis
Assistant Professor, Department of Media Studies and Production, Lew Klein College of Media and Communication, Temple University

Fadlan Khaerul Anam
Department of Sociology, University of Indonesia

Eli Skogerbø
University of Oslo

Professor Kath Albury
Swinburne University of Technology, Australia

Pieter Verdegem
University of Westminster

Harald Hornmoen
Oslo Metropolitan University

Marloes Geboers 
Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences

Donna Smith
Professor, Ted Rogers School of Retail Management, Ryerson University

Dr. Stina Bengtsson
Media and Communication Studies, Södertörn University

Glen Fuller
University of Canberra

Ioana Literat
Assistant Professor of Communication, Media & Learning Technologies Design, Teachers College, Columbia University

Associate Professor Mark Gibson
Monash University

Natalie Hendry
Deakin University

Michael Stevenson
University of Amsterdam

Mark Pesce
Honorary Associate, Digital Cultures Program, University of Sydney

Dr Jennifer Hagedorn
UNSW

Ehsan Dehghan
Digital Media Research Centre, Queensland University of Technology

Brenda Moon
Queensland University of Technology

Sriram Mohan
University of Michigan

Professor Cornel Sandvoss
University of Huddersfield

Dr Einar Thorsen
Head of Research for the School of Journalism, English and Communication
Bournemouth University

Tim P. Vos
Chair and Associate Professor of Journalism Studies
University of Missouri

Katy Pearce
University of Washington

Petter Bae Brandtzaeg
SINTEF

Rich Ling
Nanyang Technological University

Francesco Bailo
The University of Sydney

Prof. Dr. Ulrike Klinger
FU Berlin
Weizenbaum Institute for the Networked Society, Berlin

Nicolas Suzor 
Queensland University of Technology

Dr. Marko Bachl
University of Hohenheim, Department of Communication

Frederic Guerrero-Solé
University Pompeu Fabra of Barcelona

Anne Kaun
Associate Professor in Media and Communication Studies
Södertörn University, Sweden

Brady Robards
Senior Lecturer in Sociology, Monash University, Australia

Daniel Jackson
Bournemouth University

Julius Reimer
Hans Bredow Institute for Media Research, Hamburg

Dr. Christian Nuernbergk
Trier University

Simon Lindgren
Umeå University

Tim Highfield
University of Amsterdam

Michaël Opgenhaffen
University of Leuven

Kasper Welbers
VU University Amsterdam

Stefano Doronzo
University of Milan

Alex Gekker
University of Amsterdam

Jason Gainous
University of Louisville

Jeff Hemsley
Syracuse University

David Wagner
German Graduate School of Management and Law (GGS)

Claudia Zucca
University of Exeter

Carlos d’Andréa
Federal University of Minas Gerais, Brazil

Tobias R. Keller
Department of Communication and Media Research, University of Zurich

Christoph Lutz
Assistant Professor, Nordic Centre for Internet and Society

Graeme Robertson
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Davide Beraldo
University of Amsterdam

Matteo Magnani
InfoLab, Department of Information Technology, Uppsala University

Matteo Gagliolo
Université libre de Bruxelles

Andrew Schrock
Chapman University

Catherine F. Brooks
Associate Professor and Associate Director
School of Information, University of Arizona
Founding Director, Arizona iSchool’s Center for Digital Society and Data Studies

Dr François Nel
University of Central Lancashire

Erik Nisbet 
Ohio State University

Andra Siibak
Professor in Media Studies
Institute of Social Studies, University of Tartu

Chip Roberson
CEO — Brandle, Inc.

Niki Cheong
The University of Nottingham

Heather Ford
University of New South Wales

Marcelo Santos
Universidad Finis Terrae (Chile)

Scott Wright
University of Melbourne

Libby Hemphill
University of Michigan

Frances Hodgkins
Doctoral Researcher
Grand Canyon University, AZ USA

Jared M Wright
Purdue University

Elisia Cohen
Professor and Director, Hubbard School of Journalism and Mass Communication
University of Minnesota

James Meese
Lecturer, University of Technology Sydney

Harry Febrian
Universitas Multimedia Nusantara

Kim Osman
Digital Media Research Centre
Queensland University of Technology

Sarah Anne Ganter
SFU

Linards Udris
Senior Researcher, Department of Communication and Media Research
University of Zurich

Suay M. Ozkula 
University of Sheffield

Fernando van der Vlist
University of Siegen and University of Amsterdam

Renee Barnes
University of the Sunshine Coast

Edward Hurcombe
Queensland University of Technology

Robert Gorwa
University of Oxford

Sergi Xaudiera
Universitat Oberta de Catalunya

Marisa von Bülow
Political Science Institute
University of Brasilia, Brazil

Marius Rohde Johannessen
Associate professor, University college of Southeast Norway

Professor Ulrike Klinger
FU Berlin, Weizenbaum Institute for the Networked Society, Berlin

Dr. Julia Niemann-Lenz
Hanover University of Music, Drama & Media

Ariadna Matamoros-Fernández
Lecturer in Digital Media at QUT

Professor Sivaldo Pereira da Silva
Centre for Research in Communication, Technology and Politics (CTPol)
Communication College, University of Brasilia

Olga Bogolyubova
Clarkson University

Peter Kerkhof
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Jillana Enteen
Associate Professor of Gender and Sexuality Studies; Convener: NUDHL
The Northwestern University Digital Humanities Lab, Northwestern University

Margaret R. Weeks
Institute for Community Research

Catherine Son
PhD Candidate, University of South Australia

Prof Svetlana S. Bodrunova
Head, Center for International Media Research
St.Petersburg University, Russia

Troels Runge
IT University of Copenhagen

Jessa Lingel
University of Pennsylavnia

Dr Jonathon Hutchinson
University of Sydney

Célia Gouveia
ISCTE-IUL

Dr. Andrew Herman
Wilfrid Laurier University

Lukasz Szulc
London School of Economics and Political Science

Sheizaf Rafaeli
Center for Internet Research

Dr. Yaron Ariel
Dept. of Communication, Yezreel Valley College

Aviv Landau
Center for Internet Research, Univ. of Haifa

Amiram Markovich
Center for Internet Research, Univ. of Haifa

Amit Rechavi
Center for Internet Research, Univ. of Haifa

Carmel Kent
The Internet Research Center, Haifa University

יעקב הכט
חוקר עצמאי

Sharon Ringel
Columbia University

Ofer Bar-ziv
Center for Internet Research, Univ. of Haifa

Daphne Raban
Center for Internet Research, Univ. of Haifa

Lydia Jiryes
Center for Internet Research, Univ. of Haifa

Avner Kantor
Center for Internet Research, Univ. of Haifa

Dorit Geifman
The Center for Internet Research, University of Haifa, Israel

Gilad Ravid
Ben Gurion University of the Negev

Frida Elek
Center for Internet Research, Univ. of Haifa

Dr. Nirit Weiss-Blatt
University of Southern California

Tellef S. Raabe
MPhil student, media sociology, University of Cambridge

Aim Sinpeng
Lecturer in Politics, University of Sydney

Dr Emily van der Nagel
Independent researcher

Michael J. Jensen
University of Canberra
Editor,
Journal of Information Technology and Politics

Feffer Esther
S.T.C.

Nele Heise
Independent Digital Media and Communication Researcher
Association of Internet Researchers’ Ethics Working Group and project, “Internet Research Ethics 3.0”
ECREA Radio Research Section Young Scholars’ Representative

Benny Bornfeld
Internet Research Center, Haifa

Miller Hadar
Center for Internet Research 
Univ. of Haifa

Jeanne Rubner
German Public Broadcasting

Prof. Dr. Klaus Schoemann
Jacobs University Bremen

Jutta Mata
Professor of Health Psychology, University of Mannheim, Germany

Sonja Utz
Leibniz-Institut für Wissensmedien

Vlad Vasiliu
University of Haifa

Andy Freeman
Lecturer, Creative and Social Technologies, Goldsmiths, University of London

Sapir sela 
Student

Wuenscher
Institut für Hochschulforschung (Science Studies)

Nicole B. Ellison
Karl E. Weick Collegiate Professor of Information
School of Information, University of Michigan

Cuihua (Cindy) Shen
University of California, Davis

S. Mechernich
University of Cologne, Germany

Luyue Ma
University of Washington

Dr Damien Spry
Queensland University of Technology; University of Sydney

Dr Chao Sun
University of Sydney

Yehuda Ullmann
Rambam

Weiwei Xu
University of Sydney

Yoram Kalman
Omilab, The Open University of Israel

Raul Ferrer Conill
Karlstad University

Timothy Graham
Australian National University

Professor Ben Light
Associate Dean Research
School of Health and Society, University of Salford, UK

Audrey Courty 
Griffith University

Laurie Waller
Technical University of Munich

Lillian McKenzie
Griffith University

Hartmut Wessler
Institute for Media and Communication Studies
University of Mannheim, Germany

Max Grömping
Institute of Political Science, Heidelberg University

Dr. Bartłomiej Łódzki
Section of International Communication, Institute of International Studies
University of Wroclaw

Jeroen de Vos 
University of Amsterdam

Alexander Halavais 
Arizona State University

Associate Professor Irina Shklovski 
Technologies in Practice Research Group
IT University of Copenhagen