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CITP Seminar: Breaking The Black Box: How CITP’s Digital Witness Lab Uses Data-Driven Investigations to Expose Surveillance and Misinformation

Date and Time
Tuesday, October 3, 2023 - 12:30pm to 1:30pm
Sherrerd Hall 306
Surya Mattu, from Princeton University

Surya Mattu
Digital Witness Lab is a research initiative that collects data to expose surveillance, misinformation, and other harms on digital platforms. We build independent, public, and open-source resources to scrutinize data-driven technologies so we can demand accountability for their harms. In this talk, our flagship project, WhatsApp Watch will be discussed  and it will be explained how our approach to tech accountability research is informed by a over a decade of experience working in newsrooms and research contexts.

More general information about the lab and our research focus areas will be provided  as well as potential opportunities for students to get involved in our work.

Bio: Surya Mattu is an award-winning Brooklyn based data journalist, artist and engineer. He builds digital witness tools to investigate algorithmic systems and the ways in which they perpetuate biases and inequalities in society. Mattu leads the Digital Witness Lab at CITP, where he oversees the WhatsApp Watch project.

At the investigative journalism site, The Markup, he created Blacklight, a real-time website privacy inspector, and led Citizen Browser, a first of its kind independent audit of Facebook’s recommendation algorithms. Mattu’s work at The Markup has received public recognition, including two Edward R. Murrow awards and an award from the National Association of Black Journalists. He is also a 2021 University of Michigan Knight Wallace fellow.

Previously, he was a contributing researcher at ProPublica, where he worked on Machine Bias, a series that aims to highlight how algorithmic systems can be biased and discriminate against people. Machine Bias was a Pulitzer Prize finalist for Explanatory Journalism. His work has been exhibited at Somerset House, The Haus der Kulturen der Welt , The Whitney Museum, V&A Museum and Bitforms Gallery.

Attendance at CITP seminars is open to Princeton University faculty, staff and students. Members of the University community may join via Zoom with their University login.

This seminar will be recorded and posted to the CITP website, the CITP YouTube channel and the Princeton University Media Central channel.

If you need an accommodation for a disability please contact Jean Butcher at butcher@princeton.edu at least one week before the event.

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