Alice E. Marwick
Associate Professor/Co-Director of The Center for Information, Technology, and Public Life
Area of Study: Media & Technology Studies
Office: 121 Bynum Hall
Office Hours: By Appointment
PhD, New York University
MA, University of Washington
BA, Wellesley College
Alice E. Marwick is an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication and Principal Researcher at the Center for Information, Technology and Public Life, which she co-founded, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She researches the social, political, and cultural implications of popular social media technologies. In 2017, she co-authored Media Manipulation and Disinformation Online (Data & Society), a flagship report examining far-right online subcultures’ use of social media to spread disinformation, for which she was named one of 2017’s Global Thinkers by Foreign Policy magazine. She is the author of Status Update: Celebrity, Publicity and Branding in the Social Media Age (Yale 2013), an ethnographic study of the San Francisco tech scene which examines how people seek social status through online visibility, and co-editor of The Sage Handbook of Social Media (Sage 2017). Her forthcoming book, The Private is Political (Yale), examines how the networked nature of online privacy disproportionately impacts marginalized individuals in terms of gender, race, and socio-economic status. In addition to academic journal articles and essays, she has written for The New York Times, The New York Review of Books, Slate, the Columbia Journalism Review, New York Magazine, and The Chronicle of Higher Education. Her work has been supported by the Carnegie Foundation, the Knight Foundation, the Luminate Group, the Digital Trust Foundation, and the Social Science Research Council, and she has held fellowships at the Data & Society Research Institute and the Institute of Arts & Humanities at UNC-CH. As a 2020 Andrew Carnegie fellow, she is working on a third book about online radicalization. In 2021, she was awarded the Phillip and Ruth Hettleman Prize for Artistic and Scholarly Achievement by the University of North Carolina.
Dr. Marwick is a qualitative communications scholar who uses ethnographic and critical methods to analyze the sociocultural impact of popular digital technologies. Her guiding research question asks how digital media alters the nature of audiences and the individuals and communities that compose them. On social media sites, audiences are networked, or connected to each other, engendering new social dynamics and amplifying or diminishing others. She is interested in how people contend with such changes in new technologies, how social media shapes individual lives and social interactions, and how power plays into these shifts.
As a principal researcher at the Center for Information, Technology, and Public Life, Dr. Marwick examines the intersections between social media, disinformation, and democracy. She is currently researching how people come to believe fringe, extremist, and conspiratorial viewpoints that they encounter on social media. In 2017 she co-authored a flagship report, Media Manipulation and Disinformation Online, which detailed how a group of subcultural online actors were using social media technologies like 4chan, 8chan, Reddit, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter to coordinate and spread news frames and set public agendas. She received a 2020 Andrew Carnegie fellowship for her project Redpills and Radicalization, which critically examines the concept of “online radicalization” using fieldwork and media theory.
Her forthcoming book, The Private is Political (Yale University Press), looks at the networked nature of online privacy. The ability of people to share information about each other to broad, unknown audiences exposes the weaknesses in both the legal concept of privacy as an individual right, and technological controls which presume individual control over data provision. Unfortunately, the people most vulnerable to the leaks endemic to networked privacy are those marginalized elsewhere. Using interview and focus group data, this project examines how networked privacy particularly affects marginalized populations, with chapters devoted to online harassment; “big data” monitoring of low socioeconomic status individuals; and how LGBTQ+ North Carolinians navigate public/private boundaries.
Other research interests include platform governance, microcelebrity, consumer surveillance, information policy, feminist technology studies, and youth and technology.
2021 Phillip and Ruth Hettleman Prize for Artistic and Scholarly Achievement
2020 Andrew Carnegie Fellow
2019 Faculty Fellow, Institute for the Arts & Humanities
2017 Global Thinker, Foreign Policy Magazine
2016-2017 Fellow, Data & Society Research Institute
Kuo, R. Marwick, A. (2021). Critical Disinformation Studies: History, Power, and Politics. Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) Misinformation Review, 2(3).
Marwick, A. (2021). “Morally Motivated Networked Harassment as Normative Reinforcement.” Social Media & Society.
Lewis, R., Marwick, A., and Partin, W. (2021). “We Dissect Stupidity and Respond to It: Response Videos and Networked Harassment on YouTube.” American Behavioral Scientist 65(5): 735-756.
Freelon, D., Marwick, A. and Kreiss, D. (2020). “False Equivalencies: Online activism from left to right.” Science 369(6508): 1197-1201.
Marwick, A. (2020). “Media Studies and the Pitfalls of Publicity.” Television and New Media 21(6): 608-615.
Marwick, A. (2018). “Why Do People Share Fake News? A Sociotechnical Model of Media Effects.” Georgetown Law Technology Review 2: 474-512.