When People Are Products: A Social Media Lecture

Monday, June 25 at 7 pm in the Salem Family Auditorium

When People Are Products: Facebook, Misinformation, and You - A Social Media Lecture by Scott Kushner

Facebook has recently been the subject of intense scrutiny, with CEO Mark Zuckerberg spending hours on Capitol Hill answering questions from Senators and Congresspersons. At issue were concerns about how Facebook manages data collected from its users, and what measures the company has taken to ensure that information its users provide is kept secure and shared only in ways that users authorize. Although Facebook has alarmed activists and scholars for years, politicians have become worried as news reports have emerged suggesting that the company condoned misinformation campaigns in the run-up to the 2016 U.S. elections.

To make sense of all this, we first need to understand what Facebook is, how it works, why it works that way, and what sorts of relationships it creates with its users, its advertisers, and its partner corporations. URI Professor Scott Kushner will help us understand what kind of company Facebook is, what makes its business work, and what implications this holds for all of us—whether we use the service or not.

Scott Kushner is Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication Studies at the University of Rhode Island’s Harrington School of Communication and Media. Kushner is a scholar of media and culture whose work asks how seemingly unremarkable media technologies shape society, culture and politics. He’s published essays in top academic journals and presented work at conferences across North America. Right now, he’s working on two main projects: a cultural history of the ticket, which regulates access to cultural events, and a cultural history of lurking, which we understand in today’s media landscape as the practice of not generating content when the generation of content is expected. He holds degrees from Wesleyan and Duke Universities, has worked at Rutgers and McGill Universities, and is currently Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication Studies at the University of Rhode Island’s Harrington School of Communication and Media.

Free and open to all.

Sponsored by Friends of Barrington Public Library.