In 2018, ADL Center for Technology and Society (CTS), with the support of the Robert Belfer Family, launched the Belfer Fellows program. Its fourth class of Belfer Fellows comprises three leading academics studying disinformation, deplatforming, and toxicity in online games. The Belfer Fellowship program advances ADL’s work by promoting awareness around online hate and digital citizenship, as well as implementing these projects for the wider social good.
The 2021 fellows are:
Laura Edelson, a Ph.D. candidate in Computer Science at New York University’s Tandon School of Engineering. Her project aims to measure misinformation and hate speech aimed at the U.S. Spanish-speaking and Asian American communities by analyzing political advertising on Facebook. Edelson studies online political communication and develops methods to identify inauthentic content and activity. Her research has bolstered reporting on social media ad spending in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Atlantic. Prior to her current time in academia, Edelson was a software engineer for Palantir and Factset. During her time in the tech industry, Edelson’s work focused on applied machine learning and big data.
Dr. Megan Squire
Dr. Megan Squire, Professor of Computer Science at Elon University in North Carolina. Her project will collect, analyze, and visualize quantitative data from social media platforms to understand the impact of various types and levels of de-platforming and demonetization on far-right individuals and groups. Squire’s main research area is applying data science techniques to understand niche and extremist online communities, particularly radical right-wing groups on social media. Dr. Squire is the author of two books on data cleaning and data mining, and over 40 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters, including several Best Paper awards. In 2017, she was named the Elon University Distinguished Scholar. She currently serves as a Senior Fellow for data analytics at the Southern Poverty Law Center, and as a Senior Fellow and head of the Technical Research Unit at the Center for Analysis of the Radical Right.
Dr. Constance Steinkuehler
Dr. Constance Steinkuehler, Professor of Informatics at the University of California, Irvine. Her project will examine how online games normalize toxicity and extremism among adolescents and young adults ages 13-25. Steinkuehler researches the cognitive and social aspects of online multiplayer video games and esports. Current projects include studies of teenage boys and gameplay, parenting, and videogames, and impacts of the North America Scholastic Esports Federation high school esports league. Steinkuehler formerly served as Senior Policy Analyst under the Obama administration in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, advising on games and digital media, and she founded the Higher Education Video Games Alliance (HEVGA), a national network of game-related programs.
The Belfer Fellowship program is possible due to the continued generosity of the Robert Belfer Family.
ADL Center for Technology and Society will work with the new fellows as they pursue research in previously unexplored areas. The fellows will also augment ADL’s ongoing research efforts to help quantify and qualify online hate in a variety of social media sites, gaming platforms and other online communities. As ADL continues to work on multiple fronts to make the online space less hateful, the fellows’ research will expand upon this expertise and activity.