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Partisanship, Propaganda, and Disinformation: Online Media and the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election

August 16, 2017

In this study, we analyze both mainstream and social media coverage of the 2016 United States presidential election. We document that the majority of mainstream media coverage was negative for both candidates, but largely followed Donald Trump's agenda: when reporting on Hillary Clinton, coverage primarily focused on the various scandals related to the Clinton Foundation and emails. When focused on Trump, major substantive issues, primarily immigration, were prominent. Indeed, immigration emerged as a central issue in the campaign and served as a defining issue for the Trump campaign.

Teens, Social Media, and Privacy

May 21, 2013

Teens share a wide range of information about themselves on social media sites; indeed the sites themselves are designed to encourage the sharing of information and the expansion of networks. However, few teens embrace a fully public approach to social media. Instead, they take an array of steps to restrict and prune their profiles, and their patterns of reputation management on social media vary greatly according to their gender and network size.

Media Access and Policy; Media Platforms

Teens and Technology 2013

March 13, 2013

Smartphone adoption among American teens has increased substantially and mobile access to the internet is pervasive. One in four teens are "cell-mostly" internet users, who say they mostly go online using their phone and not using some other device such as a desktop or laptop computer.In overall internet use, youth ages 12-17 who are living in lower-income and lower-education households are still somewhat less likely to use the internet in any capacity -- mobile or wired. However, those who fall into lower socioeconomic groups are just as likely and in some cases more likely than those living in higher income and more highly educated households to use their cell phone as a primary point of access.

Media Access and Policy; Media Platforms

Exploring Russian Cyberspace: Digitally-Mediated Collective Action and the Networked Public Sphere

March 2, 2012

This paper summarizes the major findings of a three-year research project to investigate the Internet's impact on Russian politics, media and society. We employed multiple methods to study online activity: the mapping and study of the structure, communities and content of the blogosphere; an analogous mapping and study of Twitter; content analysis of different media sources using automated and human-based evaluation approaches; and a survey of bloggers; augmented by infrastructure mapping, interviews and background research. We find the emergence of a vibrant and diverse networked public sphere that constitutes an independent alternative to the more tightly controlled offline media and political space, as well as the growing use of digital platforms in social mobilization and civic action. Despite various indirect efforts to shape cyberspace into an environment that is friendlier towards the government, we find that the Russian Internet remains generally open and free, although the current degree of Internet freedom is in no way a prediction of the future of this contested space.

Media Access and Policy

Youth and Digital Media: From Credibility to Information Quality

February 16, 2012

Building upon a process-and context-oriented information quality framework, this paper seeks to map and explore what we know about the ways in which young users of age 18 and under search for information online, how they evaluate information, and how their related practices of content creation, levels of new literacies, general digital media usage, and social patterns affect these activities. A review of selected literature at the intersection of digital media, youth, and information quality -- primarily works from library and information science, sociology, education, and selected ethnographic studies -- reveals patterns in youth's information-seeking behavior, but also highlights the importance of contextual and demographic factors both for search and evaluation. Looking at the phenomenon from an information-learning and educational perspective, the literature shows that youth develop competencies for personal goals that sometimes do not transfer to school, and are sometimes not appropriate for school. Thus far, educational initiatives to educate youth about search, evaluation, or creation have depended greatly on the local circumstances for their success or failure.

Journalism, News, and Information; Media Applications and Tools; Media Platforms

The Evolving Landscape of Internet Control

August 1, 2011

Over the past two years, we have undertaken several studies at the Berkman Center designed to better understand the control of the Internet in less open societies. During the years we've been engaged in this research, we have seen many incidents that have highlighted the continuing role of the Internet as a battleground for political control, including partial or total Internet shutdowns in China, Iran, Egypt, Libya, and Syria; many hundreds of documented DDoS, hacking, and other cyber attacks against political sites; continued growth in the number of countries that filter the Internet; and dozens of well documented cases of on- and offline persecution of online dissidents. The energy dedicated to these battles for control of the Internet on both the government and dissident sides indicated, if nothing else, that both sides think that the Internet is a critical space for political action. In this paper, we offer an overview of our research in the context of these changes in the methods used to control online speech, and some thoughts on the challenges to online speech in the immediate future.

Media Access and Policy

Online Security in the Middle East and North Africa: A Survey of Perceptions, Knowledge, and Practice

August 1, 2011

Digital communication has become a more perilous activity, particularly for activists, political dissidents, and independent media. The recent surge in digital activism that has helped to shape the Arab spring has been met with stiff resistance by governments in the region intent on reducing the impact of digital organizing and independent media. No longer content with Internet filtering, many governments in the Middle East and around the world are using a variety of technological and offline strategies to go after online media and digital activists. In Tunisia, before and during the January 2011 protest movement that led to a change in government there, Internet service providers were apparently logging usernames and passwords to hack into and dismantle online organizing and information sharing among protesters. In early June 2011, Google reported a phishing attack targeted at military and human rights activists to gain access to their Gmail accounts. In Syria, a well organized effort known as the Syrian Electronic Army has been carrying out attacks to disable and compromise web sites that are critical of the Syrian regime. These stories are only a few selected from the set that have become public, and an unknown number of attacks go unnoticed and unreported. Many of these attacks are impossible to attribute to specific actors and may involve a mix of private sector and governmental actors, blurring the lines between cyber attacks and government surveillance. In such an environment, maintaining online security is a growing challenge.In this report we describe the results of a survey of 98 bloggers in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) carried out in May 2011 in order to study bloggers' perceptions of online risk and the actions they take to address digital communications security, including both Internet and cell phone use. The survey was implemented in the wake of the Arab spring and documents a proliferation of online security problems among the respondents. In the survey, we address the respondents' perceptions of online risk, their knowledge of digital security practices, and their reported online security practices. The survey results indicate that there is much room for improving online security practices, even among this sample of respondents who are likely to have relatively high technical knowledge and experience.

Media Access and Policy; Media Platforms

The Rise of the News Aggregator: Legal Implications and Best Practices

August 30, 2010

During the past decade, the Internet has become an important news source for the majority of Americans. According to a study conducted by the Pew Internet and American Life Project, as of January 2010, nearly 61% of Americans got at least some of their news online in a typical day. This increased reliance on the Internet as a source of news has coincided with declining profits in the traditional media and the shuttering of newsrooms in communities across the country. Some commentators look at this confluence of events and assert that, in this case, correlation equals causation -- the Internet is harming the news business.One explanation for the decline of the traditional media that some, including News Corporation owner Rupert Murdoch and Associated Press Chairman Dean Singleton, have seized upon is the rise of the news aggregator. According to this theory, news aggregators from Google News to The Huffington Post are free-riding, reselling and profiting from the factual information gathered by traditional media organizations at great cost. Murdoch has gone so far as to call Google's aggregation and display of newspaper headlines and ledes "theft." As the traditional media are quick to point out, the legality of a business model built around the monetization of third-party content isn't merely an academic question -- it's big business. Revenues generated from online advertising totaled $23.4 billion in 2008 alone.But for all of the heated rhetoric blaming news aggregators for the decline of journalism, many are still left asking the question: are news aggregators violating current law?This white paper attempts to answer that question by examining the hot news misappropriation and copyright infringement claims that are often asserted against aggregators, and to provide news aggregators with some "best practices" for making use of third-party content.

Media Access and Policy; Media Platforms

Next Generation Connectivity: A Review of Broadband Internet Transitions and Policy From Around the World

February 1, 2010

Fostering the development of a ubiquitously networked society, connected over high-capacity networks, is a widely shared goal among both developed and developing countries. High capacity networks are seen as strategic infrastructure, intended to contribute to high and sustainable economic growth and to core aspects of human development. In the pursuit of this goal, various countries have, over the past decade and a half, deployed different strategies, and enjoyed different results. At the Commission's request, this study reviews the current plans and practices pursued by other countries in the transition to the next generation of connectivity, as well as their past experience. By observing the experiences of a range of market-oriented democracies that pursued a similar goal over a similar time period, we hope to learn from the successes and failures of others about what practices and policies best promote that goal. By reviewing current plans or policy efforts, we hope to learn what others see as challenges in the next generation transition, and to learn about the range of possible solutions to these challenges.

Telecommunications Infrastructure

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