Talk by John McLevey explores theme of democracies in crisis, Dec. 3

In the seventh installment of the Science & Technology Studies Seminar Series at York, University of Waterloo Professor John McLevey will present “Democracies in Crisis? Online Deception, Disinformation, and Political Polarization in Comparative Perspective.”

The event runs Dec. 3, and is the final event for the 2019 year. It takes place in Bethune College Room 203 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. The event is free to attend.

STS Departmental Seminar Series - December 3rd – Dr. John McLevey (University of Waterloo) – “Democracies in Crisis? Online Deception, Disinformation, and Political Polarization in Comparative Perspective” @ Bethune College Room 203
John McLevey

In 2016, the American election and the U.K. referendum to leave the EU opened up a new set of questions about the role of social media in changing the distribution of information and news, in creating online echo chambers, and enabling new types of coordinated disinformation campaigns that manipulate public discourse, amplify extremist political views, and undermine democratic governance.

In the first part of this talk, McLevey will compare two network-based disinformation tactics that likely have micro-level effects on the formation of political beliefs and behaviours, and macro-level effects on political polarization. He will then draw on social network analysis, natural language processing, and automated deception detection research to propose a methodological strategy for studying these tactics at scale, and to better understanding their micro- and macro-level effects.

McLevey is an associate professor in the Department of Knowledge Integration at University of Waterloo, and is cross-appointed to Sociology & Legal Studies, the School of Environment, Resources & Sustainability (SERS), and Geography & Environmental Management (GEM). He is also a policy fellow at the Balsillie School of International Affairs and a member of the Cybersecurity and Privacy Institute at the University of Waterloo.

His work focuses in on the areas of social network analysis and computational social science, with substantive interests in: science, technology, and democracy; and environmental governance and social movements.